Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 19th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: North-South



Q J 8 7

K 10 4

Q J 9 8 6


J 10 8 4 2

6 5

J 6

A 7 4 3


A 7 5

10 9 3 2

A Q 9 3 2



K Q 6 3

A K 4

8 7 5

K 10 5


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

Opening Lead: Spade Jack

“Skill comes so slow, and life so fast doth fly,

We learn so little and forget so much.”

— Sir John Davies

This week’s deals are all from relatively recent junior championships, showcasing the talents of players from all around the world. The 3rd World University Bridge Championships took place in Tianjin, China, and 27 teams from 22 countries participated. Today’s deal is from the Round Robin match between China A and Sweden. China A (the eventual tournament winners) had double home advantage, as five of its six players attended Tianjin Normal University.


Against South’s delicate three-no-trump game, Liu for the Chinese squad led the spade jack, which promised no higher honor, and East, Jin, won with the ace, then paused to consider.


She could see the danger posed by the club suit in dummy, and appreciated that if South held both top club honors, that added up to seven black-suit tricks. Declarer had to have a top heart for his opening bid, and even if West came on lead and switched to a diamond, dummy’s 10 would halt the run of that suit.


Jin worked out that the only chance for the defense lay with West holding a club honor, plus at least two diamonds. So she returned a low diamond, to the jack and king, and when East came on lead with a club, the diamond return saw the contract down.


The key to the defense was that one diamond trick was unlikely to make the difference between success and failure for declarer, while the defenders needed to get diamonds going to have any chance to set the game.


South Holds:

K 9 4
7 6 4
Q 8 4 3 2
K 4


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 2
All Pass      
ANSWER: Leading from the long weak diamond suit may be the default position, since it is the unbid suit, but it is not especially attractive, and I cannot see any reason to lead a trump or a spade. I suppose this argues that the lead of the club king may be the best way to generate tricks fast for the defense.


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


Jeff SOctober 3rd, 2011 at 2:53 pm

What an interesting hand. If East was on lead to start, it is all very simple. In effect, it worked out that she had a re-do. After taking the first trick, she was able to make what would have been her opening lead to start with!

Not that easy to see at first though. She had to realize that spades were going nowhere even though she could lead them twice more and leading away from AQ to the enemy K doesnt exactly jump up and suggest itself, does it?

I’m happy to say that I saw the winning line for a change AND came up with the same lead in the LWTA problem. OK, neither was all that difficult, but still, maybe I am starting to get the hang of this game.

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Hi Jeff,

Your comments direct themselves to what this game is all about. Small victories brought about by logical thinking.

There are many illusions in traveling the bridge yellow brick road to improvement. First, results are, of course, the bottom line, but never lose sight of doing what the percentage play may dictate.

Sure partner may have led the Jack of diamonds and, if so down would have gone the opponents and much quicker. but that would be playing results instead of what normally should be led against NT in a relatively non-descript auction. Yes West did lead South’s announced 4 card major, but his hand still suggested leading a spade, although a case could be made for other leads. The other thing to notice is that declarer might have had the diamond jack and, if so declarer was always entitled to a diamond trick and it was the right play for East to give him his trick then so that if his partner got in he, as long as he had a second diamond, would romp from then.

Then, when you agreed with the aggressive lead of the King of Clubs on the LWTA hand it suggested that your bridge imagination began to show. Sure the eventual dummy had begun the bidding with an opening club bid, but that didn’t mean that a club lead was wrong. Again it is mostly a guess, but the better players seem to guess right more often than do inexperienced ones.

Stay with it. Bridge is, at best, a difficult challenge, but it will bring along with it, some great satisfying moments, which are not to be missed.