Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 21st, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


A 10 7

Q 10 7 5 2

J 5 3 2



J 9 6 3

9 6 4 3

Q 9

K 5 2


K 8 4 2


K 10 8 6

J 3


Q 5


A 7 4

A Q 10 9 8 7 6


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

Opening Lead: Spade Three

“Do you set your face against the daughter

Of life? Can you never discard

Your curt pride’s ban?”

— D.H. Lawrence

In today’s deal East should act at once by doubling North’s one-heart call. It is generally safer to get into the auction at once than wait until the opponents have limited their values and shape.


When South hears the two-spade call on his left, he should compete to three clubs. With only four spades, West should not bid any further — it is up to East to continue if he has extra shape. As it is, East has no reason to take another call.


When West leads a low spade, the seven is played from dummy and East takes his king. South can see that his losers are one spade, one heart, two diamonds, and, almost for sure, at least one club. His only chance of avoiding one of these losers is to pick up a second trick in spades by throwing his queen under the king and taking a finesse against the jack. With this play, a diamond can be discarded from hand on the spade ace. The lie of the trumps is such that whether declarer finesses the queen or the 10, the ace will bring down the outstanding honor on the next round, so only one trump trick will be lost.


This hand is a slight variation on a deal from the Culbertson-Lenz rubber match. Sidney Lenz declared the deal in this fashion and found the unblock of the spade queen at the table. Just for the record, a red-suit lead defeats the contract.


South Holds:

A 10 7
Q 10 7 5 2
J 5 3 2


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: You have an awkward problem: if the clubs set up, you might make three no-trump. Equally, a partscore in clubs and a game in hearts are both perfectly plausible outcomes. The best way to explore for higher things is to bid three diamonds, but my bet would be that passing is the winner in the long run.


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


David WarheitNovember 5th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

You say: “a red-suit lead defeats the contract.” Yes, but provided that east-west lead a diamond before losing the lead. For example, west leads a heart, east wins. If he then attempts to cash a second heart, play will develop as it actually did & south will make his contract.

Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2011 at 1:02 am

Hi David,

Again you are correct, as usual.

With the variety of bridge hands and subjects to write about there is only room for one or two themes, but I value your comments to whoever has the opportunity to carry the discussion further.