Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W


A Q J 3

K J 6 2


9 6 4


8 7

A 9 7

Q 10 7 4 3

Q 8 2


9 6 5 4 2

10 8 4 3

K 6

10 5


K 10

Q 5

9 8 5 2

A K J 7 3


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: four

“No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.”

— Fran Lebowitz

When West leads his fourth-best diamond against three no-trump, declarer’s success depends on his play to the first trick. He should reason that West would not have been likely to lead low from a suit headed by king, queen and 10, so that one of those three top honors is marked with East.


Three no-trump is in no danger if the diamonds divide 4-3, so declarer must assume that the suit is not breaking and must strive to overcome the possibility of losing four diamonds and the heart ace.


If the diamonds divide 5-2, declarer must focus on trying to block the run of the suit. South’s correct play, therefore, is to go up with the ace in dummy. This play does not lose even if West has led from K-Q, for the 10 in East’s hand will prevent the run of four tricks. The hearts should be attacked at once, for two tricks in this suit will be enough for game. When West wins with the spade ace, he cannot make more than two diamond tricks, even if East has unblocked his king at the first trick.


You might note that if declarer does rise with dummy’s diamond ace at the first trick, but then makes the mistake of going after clubs by finessing the jack, he should be defeated. West can take his club queen and unblock diamonds, with the heart as a re-entry to get back on lead and cash out for down two.


South Holds:

8 7
A 9 7
Q 10 7 4 3
Q 8 2


South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s sequence suggests about a 17-count with five spades and four clubs. With less, he would simply pass two spades, and with a completely balanced hand he would have raised one no-trump to two. You have a useful potential source of tricks and aren’t ashamed of your values, so bid three no-trump.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


John Howard GibsonFebruary 8th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

HBJ : Yes, only lunatic declarers would set about the club suit first and put the contract at risk. 9 tricks are always there with 2C, 2H, 4S and 1D simply by knocking out the Ace of hearts first.

One thing is certain on the lead and that is East either has the diamond King or 10 ( or possibly both ). Playing the Ace at trick one is mandatory because as you said the suit is either breaking 4-3 or it’s blocked ( and overtaking by West simply sets up another diamond winner for South. Yet another fine example of how crucial it is to make the right decisions at trick one.

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2011 at 3:04 pm


Thanks for once again playing the role of Jiminy Cricket while on the shoulder of Pinocchio.

If only you were there for bridge players the world over, if just to whisper in our ears how to think and then what to do.

However, perhaps the image of all that, will improve the would be bridge games of many players, some of whom may even achieve world class.