Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 23th, 2012

The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

G.K. Chesterton

South North
East-West ♠ A
 A 10 7 2
 K Q J 10 6
♣ 9 7 2
West East
♠ Q 3 2
 5 4 3 2
♣ A Q 8 6 4 3
♠ K J 9 5
 9 8 6 5 3
 9 7
♣ J 5
♠ 10 8 7 6 4
 K Q J 4
 A 8
♣ K 10
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4♣ Pass 4 Pass
4 All pass    


When you end up in game, but when dummy comes down, wish you were in slam, it often happens that you get careless. Such was the case in this deal from the finals of the national pairs, played at the Gold Coast, where all this week's deals come from.

You might argue that all that was required was basic technique, and I would not disagree with you. But that proved surprisingly beyond many of the pairs here.

If North-South had an unopposed sequence here they might well have gotten to six hearts. On a black-suit lead you might be able to come to 12 tricks via six plain-suit winners, four trumps and two spade ruffs. But on a red-suit lead, you probably need the club finesse.

Let’s forget all that; you play four hearts on a diamond lead and count 10 top tricks. You win the diamond ace and cash the heart king … oops! What is the best way to recover? The answer is surprisingly simple: cross to the diamond king and run diamonds; when East ruffs in, you simply overruff and draw trump. That is 10 winners without relying on clubs at all.

So now are you ready to take the challenge: with the board played in four hearts 190 times, how many players went down? Would you believe one quarter of the declarers? I admit that from the North seat on a club lead you have more of a challenge, but still, this was probably not the field’s finest hour.

With the clubs and hearts appearing to behave decently for declarer, the question is whether to go for the surprise attack in spades or to lead your long suit, even though declarer has announced a stopper. Personally I'd vote for the diamond, but I can certainly see the case for the spade lead.


♠ K 8 3
 10 6
 A Q 8 6 3 2
♣ J 2
South West North East
Pass 1♣
2 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 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