Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 17th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Neither


K Q 6

A K Q 5

Q 10 9 4 2




4 2

A K 6 5

K 10 7 6 3 2


A 10 8 7 4

7 6

J 8 7

A 5 4


J 9 5 2

J 10 9 8 3


J 9 8


South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 1
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead: Diamond King

“Half the world knows not how the other half lives.”

— George Herbert

The old-fashioned textbooks tell you to lead king from ace-king, which on rare occasions leads to confusion between an ace-king and a king-queen combination. Accordingly, a modern idea (from merely 30 years ago!) is that you normally play ace from ace-king. This method is not foolproof either, since sometimes one leads an unsupported ace; but at least when you lead a king, you have either a doubleton ace-king, or a side-suit singleton.


In this deal from the Cavendish Pairs, the defenders can get the maximum against four hearts by collecting two ruffs. However, at one table, Bart Bramley (West) led the diamond king and shifted to the spade three. The message was not all that clear, since the partnership’s normal lead from ace-king was the king. South did the best that he could — trying to make up for his exuberance in the auction — by putting up the spade queen from dummy and concealing the spade two in hand by following with the five.


At this point East was not sure whether to try to give his partner a spade ruff at once. He took out insurance by cashing the club ace first to see whether he should instead try to score his partner’s diamond ace. Now Bramley carefully followed with the club king under the ace — suit preference for spades — to make his partner’s life easier and to ensure he got his ruff. Thoughtful defense.


South Holds:

Q 9 7 6
10 6
J 8 5 3 2
9 7


South West North East
    1 Dbl.
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. All Pass
ANSWER: Your own hand tells you partner is not doubling on power. He must be doubling for a lead, and he knows you would have led a heart without the final double. Therefore, this sequence calls for an unusual lead, and it looks logical for it to be dummy’s suit. So lead the club nine.


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