Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 30th, 2012

It is incident to physicians, I am afraid, beyond all other men, to mistake subsequence for consequence.

Samuel Johnson

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


Today's deal is from the 1960s British Bridge World Simultaneous Par Contest.

The directed contract was three hearts by South, and the required lead was the unbid suit, diamonds. East wins the opening lead with the 10, and has to decide on a plan at trick two.

The problem is that declarer must be denied diamond ruffs in dummy, but besides that East should realize he must restrict the diamond discards from declarer’s hand.

Ace and another heart apparently solves the first part of the problem: Dummy’s hearts as a source of ruffs are removed. But that does not deal with part two. Declarer simply draws the last trump, then throws losing diamonds from hand on clubs. And if East passively exits with anything but a trump, declarer plays to ruff diamonds in dummy and emerges with at least nine tricks.

The card to defeat the partscore is the heart five. Appreciating that the heart ace is still lurking, ready to deal with dummy’s second trump, South sees that playing for diamond ruffs is a hopeless plan. He cashes the club king and ace, then discards a low diamond on the club queen. If clubs break 3-3, all would be well.

But as the cards lay, West ruffs the third club, returns a trump to East’s ace, and there are still two diamond tricks to come — one down.

On auctions of this sort, when you have no easy lead (e.g., an honor sequence or a five-carder), you tend to look for safety. Here it feels right to lead hearts; dummy rates to have either one heart or two, and as long as partner has any heart bigger than the eight, you should not cost your side a trick. If dummy has a singleton or doubleton honor, you surely rate to build your side quick tricks.


♠ J 9 2
 J 10 7 4
 Q 5
♣ A 6 5 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1
Pass 1♠ Pass 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