Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: North-South


J 10 6 3

K Q J 4

K Q J 5 2


K Q 8 7

6 2

J 10 9 8 7

6 4


5 2

A 10 9 8

A 6 5 3 2

7 3


A 9 4

7 5 3

K Q 4

A 10 9 8


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: Diamond Jack

“Avoid running at all times.”

— Satchel Paige

In today’s deal three no-trump would have been easy, as the cards lay. The final contract (five clubs) gave the defenders more than one chance to succeed.


The opening diamond lead was not a good idea. Dummy was surely short in diamonds, and South was known to have diamond strength, given the two-no-trump rebid. So a trump lead would have been a better idea.


If South ruffs the opening diamond lead and drives out the heart ace after drawing a couple of trumps, East will return a spade and, with hearts breaking 4-2 and both spade honors offside, declarer is doomed.


So how about discarding from dummy at trick one? Even if East wins and returns a spade, South wins the ace, draws trump, discards two more spades from dummy on the diamond K-Q, and winds up losing two red aces but no spades. But what if East doesn’t rush to play the diamond ace at trick one, but instead ducks? Remarkably, the contract can no longer be made. South still has to lose two spades and one heart.


From declarer’s point of view, it is definitely right to discard a spade from dummy at trick one with these combined spade and diamond holdings. Most Easts will grab the diamond ace, thinking they have just been given a gift. However, a strong East player who knows what you are up to will play low at the first trick, exchanging his diamond ace for two spade tricks. That is a play worth adding to your repertoire.


South Holds:

A 9 4
7 5 3
K Q 4
A 10 9 8


South West North East
  2 Pass Pass
ANSWER: When a weak two comes back to you in the balancing seat, you will struggle to reopen the bidding if short (or at any rate not strong) in the opponents’ suit. Here a double is reasonable in an attempt to contest the partscore. Admittedly, one time in 10 you will walk into a penalty double, but more frequently you will make a contract your way or push the opponents up.


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


ZoranOctober 21st, 2011 at 2:24 am

Dear Mr. Wolff,

I would like to ask for your opinion on the following deal. LHO opens the biding with 2H (weak) and everyone passes. Our side is vulnerable. What is your opinion on a lead from diamond suit, with the hand holding SPADES QJ86 HEARTS AQ DIAMONDS 987 CLUBS J1075? What would be your first and what the second choice (if any) of the lead?

Bobby WolffOctober 22nd, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Hi Zoran,

Although there is not much to pick from I would lead the Queen of Spades as my first choice and the Jack of Clubs as second. Third would probably be the nine of diamonds. Of course, the opening leader would be the declarer’s LHO, not you.

ZoranOctober 23rd, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Dear Mr. Wolf,

Thank you kindly for your opinion.

It was lapsus scribere; RHO was opener and declarer.

I wish you good luck in QF.