Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 12th, 2012

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

Julia Carney

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


Today's deal features a small point of technique that might escape you until you see it in practice.

Against your grand slam in spades (yes, North should simply have shown his heart king over the five-no-trump inquiry) West leads the trump 10, and you count only 12 top winners even if hearts break. You therefore need to take one extra trick from a diamond ruff before you draw trump. You win the trump lead with the king, cross to the diamond ace, and ruff a diamond. You then draw trump, throwing a club from dummy. How best now to tackle the hearts for five tricks?

Just in case West holds four hearts to the jack, you should lead your heart 10 to dummy’s ace. When you continue with a low heart to the queen, East shows out. Because of your earlier unblock, the way is then clear for you to lead the heart four to dummy’s nine. You can then discard a diamond and club on dummy’s established hearts.

You can see what would happen if you had kept the heart 10 in your hand. When you led it on the third round, West would play low. With no side entry to dummy, you would then score three heart tricks instead of five.

(This same unblock would be necessary with five hearts to the A-K-8 facing Q-9-2. To protect against East’s having the bare jack or 10, you must unblock the nine on the first round of the suit.)

On this deal your target should be to win your small trumps singly, rather than letting declarer do the same. Best therefore is to lead the heart queen. If you lead the diamond jack, you may let declarer ruff away your diamond winners. With, for example, ace-fifth in spades, a diamond lead would be more attractive.


♠ K J 7 5 3
 J 10 8 3
♣ K 6 3
South West North East
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


David WarheitMarch 26th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Another small point of technique: you should first lead the queen of hearts and then lead the ten to the ace. Now back to the club ace and the rest is as you say. Why the queen first? West could have all 5 hearts (and unluckily for him failed to lead one at trick one). Yes, east might well have doubled 7 spades with a heart void, but it costs nothing to play as I suggest.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 26th, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for showing us superior technique.

David WarheitMarch 28th, 2012 at 6:51 am

If east was void in hearts, then he should double 7 spades to get his partner to lead dummy’s first-bid suit. But what if this east doubled 7 spades? Might not north-south panic and run to 7NT, which on this hand has no play? There must be an occasion when this might be a good idea, but when? What factors would lead one to do something so audacious? Would it be who your opponents are or the event or despiration for a top score? Just think: if this worked, I am sure the story would spread like wildfire, and the next time you doubled a similar bid, your opponents might remember this event and not run, only to find that this time you did have the void and 7NT was there for the taking.