Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Fools, they do not even know how much more is the half than the whole.


South North
Neither ♠ K 5
 K Q 6 4
 Q J 6 5
♣ 9 8 2
West East
♠ J 7 4 3
 9 8
 9 4 3
♣ Q J 10 5
♠ 10 9 6 2
 J 5
 A K 10
♣ K 7 6 4
♠ A Q 8
 A 10 7 3 2
 8 7 2
♣ A 3
South West North East
1 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass    


In baseball they say that if you give the opposing side a fourth out, you will get punished, but in today's deal, South did not take advantage of his extra life.

When West led a club against the heart game, declarer saw nothing better than the 75 percent line of winning: drawing trump, then leading diamonds toward the queen and jack twice. When both the ace and king turned up offside, declarer went one down and blamed the lie of the cards rather than his own carelessness. Can you see what he might have done better?

It was lucky for declarer that West did not lead a diamond, but once South had caught a break at trick one, he should have looked to improve on the line he actually followed. The key is the discard available from dummy on the top spades. It does no good to discard a diamond from dummy — that still leaves you with the same problem in diamonds. Instead, win the club lead and draw trump in two rounds, then cash the three top spades and make the apparently irrelevant discard of a club from dummy. The point is that you can now exit with a club. Even if West wins and shifts to a low diamond, you can simply cover with the jack. This endplays East into returning a diamond or giving you a ruff-sluff.

The approach of eliminating the side-suits when you have spare trump in each hand pays dividends surprisingly often.

When in doubt, lead from a four-card major rather than a minor. While I try to avoid leading from ace-fourth into a strong hand, I have no concerns about leading from any other four-card suit headed by one honor. Here the heart lead looks best, with my second choice a diamond. (There is no third choice.)


♠ A 4
 J 7 4 2
 Q 9 6 4
♣ J 4 3
South West North East
1 NT
All pass      

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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2January 16th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

In the lead quiz, I do not disagree with your analysis, but there is potentially another element worth considering, and that is one’s bidding agreement over 1NT. The opening leader is allowed to consider the nuances or implications in partner’s pass, as well as any other bid.

For example, suppose one’s structure did not allow 2C to be bid with a club suit, or perhaps 2D would have shown a major 2-suiter.

After all, in Sherlock Holmes was allowed to do it (“Silver Blaze”), so should we.

Bobby WolffJanuary 16th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, an opening leader certainly in entitled to consider his own defenses (bidding) against the opponents final contract, before selecting his lead.

Having said that, and, of course, agreeing with you, I must suggest a degree of caution before too much influence of the above causes one to put much stock in what he finds.

Bridge play, even among who some revere as omnipotent, rely on educated learned judgment rather than hope for anything close to perfection.

High-level bridge is only a combination of good technique, experienced judgment and hoped for good luck, usually nothing more nor nothing less.