Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 21st, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Neither


K 3 2

A J 10 4

Q 10 7 2

7 4


9 6

Q 9 8 3

A 3

Q J 8 6 3


10 8 7 4

6 5

9 8 6 4

K 9 5


A Q J 5

K 7 2

K J 5

A 10 2


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: Six

“What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?”

— Rev. Sydney Smith

When the opponents find the most damaging lead against your no-trump contract, how you continue may depend on your reading of the distribution of the danger suit. 

Against three no-trump West led the club six. East played the king, which declarer ducked. When East returned the club nine, declarer ducked again and won the third club, pitching a spade from dummy. 

Declarer has seven tricks on top and must decide where to try for the other two. It all depends on how he reads the early play. Two clubs are still outstanding. 

If East and West have one apiece, the play is to continue with a diamond. The defenders will end up with three clubs and a diamond trick, but declarer gets home, regardless of which defender has the diamond ace. 

However, East’s play in clubs indicates that the suit was probably breaking 5-3. The clue is the return of the nine at trick two. Had East started with four, the normal return is the lowest of his remaining three cards, but with three, the top of his remaining doubleton. 

South therefore decided to rely on West to hold the heart queen, rather than East to have the diamond ace. South cashed the heart king, finessed the heart 10, then ran the spades, ending in hand. He successfully finessed again in hearts, with the heart ace providing the ninth trick. 

With clubs 5-3, even if the heart finesse had lost, declarer still would have been safe as long as the diamond ace was with East.


South Holds:

K Q 4
Q J 8 6
10 6 3
Q 4 2


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
All pass      
ANSWER: When in doubt against no-trump, try to lead declarer’s shortage. On this auction it is most likely hearts. The question is whether to lead the queen (the best shot if declarer has a bare 10 or nine) or a low heart, which rates to work better if declarer has a bare ace or king. Since declarer has suggested a strong hand, I marginally prefer the low-heart lead.


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