Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 24th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


A K 9 5

9 7

8 3

J 9 7 5 4



K 10 6 3 2

K J 9 4

A 6 2


J 10 8 7 6 3


10 7 6 5

K 3


Q 4

A Q J 8 4

A Q 2

Q 10 8


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

Opening Lead: Diamond Four

“The eye may see for the hand, but not for the mind.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Many years ago I played a bridge match against a school for the blind. We used Braille cards, and when playing a card, we naturally announced what it was, for the benefit of our opponents. The convention was that only cards over a certain rank were named entirely, the others being described merely as “small.” But “small” is not good enough on some hands. Cover up the East-West cards before planning your line of play in three no-trump on a “small” diamond lead to the 10 and your queen.


You really need to know what that small diamond was, don’t you? If diamonds break 4-4, which you would expect if West had led the four, then there is time to knock out both top clubs, establishing nine tricks with three spades, one heart, two diamonds and three clubs. On the other hand, if diamonds are 5-3, that line of play will probably lead to defeat because East will win the first club and clear diamonds so West can cash the suit when he gets in with the club ace. If diamonds are 5-3, the best chance is to play on hearts, which provide a reasonable chance of four tricks. However, on the actual layout, any reliance on heart tricks is doomed while the club play succeeds.


I would probably play the same way on the lead of the diamond five, but on a higher spot-card lead, I’d assume the lead was fourth highest from five.


South Holds:

9 5 3 2
A 5
Q 8 4 2
A 5 3


South West North East
  1 1 1 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: Your values suggest your partner is limited to a 10-count. The weaker his hand, paradoxically, the better his suit rates to be, relative to his hand, since otherwise he might not have felt it worthwhile to come into the auction at all, with a bad suit and bad hand. So I would lead the heart ace, prepared to surrender a trick to gain a tempo in establishing hearts.


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