Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


Q 7 2

Q 4

K 8 7 4

A 9 7 4


K 10 6 3

K 7

Q 10 9 6 2

5 2


J 9 8 4

J 10 6 5 3


K 10 3


A 5

A 9 8 2

A 5 3

Q J 8 6


South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: Diamond Six

“It is admirable to consider how many Millions of People come into, and go out of the World, Ignorant of themselves, and of the World they have lived in.”

— William Penn

Part of the trouble with finding the best opening lead is that we are initially taught a number of rules: “lead partner’s suit,” “fourth highest of your longest and strongest,” etc. These rules are no substitute for listening to the bidding and making a logical deduction.


Let’s look at the West hand. What would you lead against three no-trump? While it could be right to lead a spade, the decent five-card minor is more promising. (When in doubt, pick a major over a minor against no-trump; here you are not in doubt. Five-card suits are more attractive than four-carders.)


Now, which diamond would you pick? The 10 is the obvious choice, but there is a strong case for hanging on to your top cards in the suit. North rates to have minor-suit length since he did not use Stayman, and if he has diamond length, it would be a mistake to squander the queen, 10 or nine.


As the cards lie, a high diamond would be fatal since you would no longer be able to set up the suit effectively. Declarer is under no pressure at all and has plenty of time to establish his nine tricks.


However, look at the play on a low diamond lead. Declarer must duck East’s jack, or else West can use his two entries to establish and cash his diamonds. If East’s diamond jack holds and he finds the incisive spade switch, declarer will lose two spades and one trick in each of the other suits.


South Holds:

A 5
A 9 8 2
A 5 3
Q J 8 6


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
ANSWER: It would be premature to bounce directly to three no-trump. Your side could be laydown for a slam or you might have a better game in either red suit. For the time being, it is quite sufficient to cue-bid two clubs, planning to bid three no-trump at your next turn.


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


JaneNovember 8th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

Welcome home. On the first hand, I had already decided to duck the diamond jack before reading your synopsis. How would east know to lead a spade rather than a heart? Seems like a heart might be more logical looking at dummy, plus holding five and a sure club winner, why not?

In the Bid with the Aces hand, would it be OK for south to bid one heart after north’s bid of one diamond? My partners and I play this as a one round force since south is not a passed hand and bids a new suit. Granted, the likely result is 3NT, but there could be a four card heart suit in the north hand. Hope springs eternal. I know the two club cue bid is forcing for sure, of course.

Thanks in advance.

angelo romanoNovember 8th, 2011 at 6:23 pm

So spade x K – spade x A – clubs x K – spade x Q – all the clubs. West discards a diamond then if discards a spade on the last club, after he takes the third diamond he has to play from H Kx; so I think he has to blank the heart K hoping South doesn’t guess well

jim2November 8th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

angelo romano –

After West wins the KS, he leads diamonds.

jim2November 8th, 2011 at 8:00 pm

angelo romano –

Actually, I think I misunderstood your comment. Could you explain a little more?

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2011 at 12:39 am

Hi Jane,

It is OK to play a change of suit forcing for one round after partner has overcalled, but I prefer not to and use that bid as a limited response which partner can pass. As you suggest, partner can instead respond a forcing cue bid of 2 clubs and get a 4 card major response if partner has one and if not hearts, then jump to 3NT.

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2011 at 12:42 am

Hi Angelo,

Good analysis and it would take a low heart discard, blanking the king to possibly cause declarer to think that West’s original distribution was 3-3-5-2. Then

West will have a surprise for declarer when he gets thrown in, but then produces a 4th spade. Such is the well known game of cat and mouse with the mouse (defense) winning this battle.

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2011 at 12:44 am

Hi Jim2,

Angelo is right, West has two many guards to keep (both hearts and diamonds) and therefore cannot keep his king of hearts safe from being dropped so he has to hope that declarer misreads the ending.

jim2November 9th, 2011 at 2:24 am

One good duck deserves another!

What if West ducks and lets the QS win. Can’t he discard the KS later and keep xS instead? The spade suit would have only been led twice when it came time for his second discard giving him an extra card.

That is:

– xD won by JD (South ducks)

– xs won by QS (West returns the duck)

– declarer does something and loses to KC

– xS won (per force) by AS

– club, club, club making West discard twice

– West can xD discard, as before, but can now spare KS as second pitch

angelo romanoNovember 10th, 2011 at 8:55 pm


that’s brilliant ! and if South, after 3 clubs, plays spades (!) from North, East has to enter with SJ and not play the fourth spade (or West will be squeezed hearts-diamonds) but hearts ! South takes HA and plays the fourth club, on which West can throw his last spade, because he will make the HK and a diamond (or East a heart)

jim2November 11th, 2011 at 3:31 am

angelo romano –

West would have played 10S earlier to force QS (not to let 7S win). Thus, East’s third round spade card could be either the J or the 9, as they would be equals and both able to beat the 6 or 3 still held by West.

Yes, it sure does look like a fourth round of spades would squeeze West! South could come down to Hx in both reds w/o any pain at all!