Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 25th, 2012

But what is Freedom? Rightly understood,
A universal license to be good.

Hartley Coleridge

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

There’s the rub!

Today's problem comes in two parts. Let's look at the opening lead first: What would be your choice as West here? You shouldn't seriously consider leading partner's suit. He hasn't bid it voluntarily — you dragged the bid out of him, and when he had the chance to double a club cuebid, he did not do so. Declarer rates to have six spades and four diamonds, so a club lead could be straight into a tenace. A top heart looks safe, but a trump is best, hoping to protect your holdings in all the outside suits. A trump will not always be safe, but the odds favor it not doing anything for declarer that he might not be able to do for himself. And you might kill a diamond ruff in dummy. And today it would defeat four spades.

But let’s see what the expert declarer did in four spades on the lead of the heart king. He won, cashed the spade ace and king, then led a diamond from dummy to his queen and ace. West was forced to return a diamond, and declarer won in dummy, unblocking his diamond eight, and played a third diamond to his nine and West’s 10, East pitching a discouraging club. What could West do now? Hoping that the diamond six would not prove an entry, he played the heart queen. Declarer ruffed, played the spade queen and another spade, and could win the club return with the ace, then cross to the diamond six to discard the club queen. Contract made!

The auction has made it clear that you rate to be facing a very weak hand with long clubs and short spades. If so, where do you think you want to play? I'd guess a club part-score — wouldn't you? If your partner has six clubs to the jack, he may take four tricks in his own hand in clubs and offer you none in a spade contract.


♠ A Q 7 6 5 3
 Q 9 8 5
♣ A Q
South West North East
Pass 1
Dbl. 2 Pass Pass
2♠ Pass 3♣ 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


angelo romanoNovember 9th, 2012 at 12:18 am

Mr. Wolff, why don’t start by the diamond 9 towards the king ? So you win also with W having diamond AJ unacc. (not probable, but possible)

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Hi Angelo,

Good question, but there is a small reason. Your suggestion is to win the trump lead in hand and then start a diamond toward dummy. If so, you need to lead the 8, trying to eventually enter dummy (to cash the jack of hearts, made good earlier by West attempting to cash the queen) via the 5 of diamonds to the 6. Now after East ducks his ace of diamonds, (necessary to protect his 2nd defensive diamond trick), you plan on ducking, except if and when East plays the jack on the second diamond.

In spite of certain combinations I am inclined to agree that yours is the better percentage play considering East’s TO double, but being short in spades dictates against West having only a doubleton diamond and what if East is dealt a singleton diamond 10 or jack?

Thanks for your pertinent question.

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Sorry, I meant West’s TO double.