Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 31st, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


J 10 9 8

8 4 2

Q 10 9 8

6 2


5 4 2

A J 6 4 2

Q J 10 9 7


Q 7 6

9 5 3

7 5 3

8 5 4 3


A K 3

A K Q J 10 7 6




South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: Club Queen

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Many inexperienced bridge players love to take their winners as fast as possible. They flit from suit to suit like grasshoppers, but at the end of the deal they have scattered a trail of losers behind them, unaware of the fact that by not taking all their winners at once, they would have left themselves far better off.


To mix similes and metaphors, bridge, like jiu-jitsu, is an activity where you want your opponents to do all the hard work so that you can exploit their actions.


Here, for example, declarer in six hearts wins the club-queen lead with the ace and cashes the trump ace. If both opponents had followed, the diamond queen would have been established as a home for the spade loser, with dummy’s heart eight the entry to use it.


However, West’s discard is only a minor inconvenience, so long as declarer lets his opponents do the hard work for him. It would be a huge mistake to try to cash the two top spades in the hope that the queen would fall. Instead, declarer plays off the club king and spade ace, then exits with the diamond king. Since it is West who has the ace, the contract is certain, so long as East has at least one card remaining in each of the side suits. Here West takes the diamond ace then must give declarer his 12th trick.


If East had the diamond ace, he would have to exit in spades, forcing declarer to hope that the spade queen is onside.


South Holds:

10 7 2
K 9 3
Q 10 9 5 4
7 4


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. All Pass
ANSWER: This auction strongly suggests that your partner has the clubs under control, but is not a demand for a club lead. If you have a sensible alternative, you can always make that lead. Here, your chunky diamonds are a good practical alternative, so lead one. My choice would be a low diamond, not the 10.


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


jim2November 14th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

In the quiz, the double did not demand/request a club lead, how could partner have done so?

Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Hi Jim2,

I’ve been away for a week so please forgive my delayed answer to your appropriate question.

Bridge, in its application, has taken a change in bidding methods with the hope of improving results as bridge thinking continues to develop.

Since I have always been against significant change without clearly seeing its benefits, I would have led a club, expecting partner to hold about 4 club tricks once I have led them and hopefully an entry to cash them. Others think I am looking for miracles and have turned to what they think, on frequency, occurs more often.

Therefore most readers and serious wannabes to good bridge to judge for himself (or herself) which they prefer. Only then, take the above quiz answer for what it is worth and then decide what you think will be most useful.

Some like chocolate while others prefer strawberry.

Your question is the only constant which will enable the serious bridge player to begin thinking for himself.