Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

The loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind ….

Oliver Goldsmith

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

*Limit-raise or better in spades


One of the biggest problems we all encounter at the bridge table is what I have previously referred to as Premature Euphoria. This deal, which comes from a recent major championship, was played in four spades by South in both rooms.

In one room, where the Italians were declaring, West hit upon the devastating lead of the heart queen. Now whatever declarer did, he was sunk.

In the other room Alfredo Versace was not blessed with second sight. He led the diamond queen, which gave declarer a good chance to make her contract. Monica Cuzzi won her ace and correctly shifted to a heart. Versace inserted the queen and declarer won the first heart and crossed to the club king, then played the diamond king to pitch a heart. Now she ruffed a diamond to dummy to play a spade to her king.

Alas for her, Versace could win his spade ace and return a heart to his partner. A further heart then sealed declarer’s fate since the spade jack was promoted to a defensive trick whatever she did next.

Had the play not started so well for declarer, she might well have thought longer and harder about the route to success. All declarer had to do was to duck the first heart trick. She then can win the heart continuation and take the heart discard as before, then lead a trump. West has to win, but the key difference now is that he can no longer reach his partner via a heart for the trump promotion.

Players are always taught to lead fourth highest of their longest and strongest, but with a relatively weak hand, you could consider trying to hit partner. Leading a diamond would be a truly wild shot, but if you find your partner with honor-fourth or -fifth in one major, which suit will be easier to set up? I say spades, so lead the spade queen.


♠ Q J 2
 10 8 7 5
 J 4
♣ Q 6 4 3
South West North East
1 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


John Howard GibsonAugust 13th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

HBJ : What after taking a heart at trick 2 . Over to the king of clubs, followed by the King of diamonds pitching a heart. Then another diamond pitching dummy’s last heart.
what now can the defence do other than make one spade ? Contract made.

bobby wolffAugust 13th, 2012 at 8:15 pm


Yes, your way is at least as good as the line of play pointed out in the column of declarer ducking the heart return of East, coming to her hand in clubs and then throwing away dummies last heart in order to cut the defensive communication in hearts, when West gets in with his spade ace.

Of course, with the devilish opening lead of a heart (done at the other table), the tempo doesn’t work to prevent the spade jack from being the setting trick.

My wish for Christmas is to always get off to the winning lead and dare other bridge players to keep up.