Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 19th, 2012

It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

Leonardo da Vinci

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

To be advised!

Today's problem is all about defensive bidding and the opening lead. Here, I'd advocate that West jump to three hearts at his second turn — a pre-emptive rather than a limit raise, since with a strong hand you can cuebid instead of jumping.

When the opponents ignore you and bid to four spades, what should you lead?

Many regard the opening lead as the most difficult part of the game (because you have so little information with which to work). There seems to be no reason to lead anything other than the partnership suit, but if you lead a low heart and either declarer or dummy has a singleton, you may never get the lead again — and that might be crucial for the defense.

Quite frequently, when you are the weaker defensive hand, it can work well to lead an unsupported honor in your partnership’s bid and supported suit, thus giving you flexibility on your play to trick two.

If you do lead the heart king, partner should play the queen under it, a clear suit-preference signal for a diamond. Now three rounds of diamonds guarantees the defeat of the contract. Note that if you started with a low heart, all declarer needs to do is guess trump to make his game.

This tactic is NOT a good idea when declarer is playing in no-trump. All too often leading an unsupported honor allows declarer to capture a high card that would otherwise have been pulling its weight on defense.

This deal comes from Sally Brock’s “Leading Questions in Bridge.”

The options are to go passive with a low trump (a bad idea if dummy has no trumps or no entries, and partner has the trump king or ace), or to lead the diamond queen. Both a club and a spade seem to have a big downside and no real upside, so I'd pick a trump, my reason being that I have enough high cards to hope to set the hand on passive defense.


♠ J 9 2
 J 5 2
 Q 6
♣ K 10 8 6 2
South West North East
1 4
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


King DavidDecember 3rd, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Thank you Mr. Wolff 4 sharing with us and your column. At a dupey tourney, My P opened 2C (4 losers or less, multi-suited), RHO bid 3D, and he then my P bids 4D (pwr 2-siuter). I held; J 5, 10 9 7, J 5 4, A 10 9 7 3. I bid 4H and then he bids 5SP (showing 11 Qt’s; pick the major suit slam if hold 1 Ace & bid 7 if have 4card support ). I bid 6H. He informed me that 5SP was showing longer stronger SP (had 7 with AK & 5H-AKQ) than H, and I should have bid 6SP. We made 7 and most bid and made 7H . What is the best way to bid this facing opp’t pre-empt?

bobby wolffDecember 4th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Hi King David,

Just one of the problems concerning “home brew” conventions has to do with responses to the conventional bid itself, since the value range of the original bid is far too wide.

Does one, as responder, have the right card mesh and, sometimes (as here) the right ace opposite a singleton instead of opposite a void as well as the specific quality of the suits which varies from the right mesh to a total mess?

Poetry does not determine, but rather luck, so I’ll leave it to a bridge playing fortune teller to give advice on what to do.

As a final word, when the opponent’s preempt they will get better results since they limit the strong hand partnership’s ability to exchange enough information to be accurate.

All of the above applies to our wonderful game, so my only good advice to you is to preempt as often as you can when the opponent’s are using what they think are wonder bids, which, in truth, only causes them to guess what to do, and wind up asking others what they did wrong.

Good luck and next time bring an up to date modern weapon to fight Goliath, (even if only good judgment), instead of just a sling shot.