Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 14th, 2013

A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies.

Oscar Wilde

South North
Neither ♠ K 7 4 2
 8 4
 K 7 5
♣ A J 8 3
West East
♠ 6
 K J 9 7 3
 J 10 9 2
♣ K 10 6
♠ Q J 10 8 5
 Q 10 6
 6 4 3
♣ 9 5
♠ A 9 3
 A 5 2
 A Q 8
♣ Q 7 4 2
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 3 NT All pass


Against your contract of three no-trump, West leads the heart seven to East's queen. You hold up your ace to cut the defenders' communications and win the third round, throwing a spade from dummy. You need three club tricks, but cannot afford to let West obtain the lead.

The normal play when you are missing both the 10 and nine is to lead to the jack, your best shot at four tricks, but here a first-round finesse of the club jack is not best. The point is that West would eventually win the lead by taking a trick with his remaining club K-10 and defeat you by cashing out his hearts. (You would also go down when West started with club K-9-6, provided East unblocked the club 10 under dummy’s jack.)

Since West is the danger hand, you should lead the club queen on the first round, planning to run that card. Here West will cover with the king, won with dummy’s ace. It will then be a relatively simple matter to return to your hand with a diamond and lead to the club eight, ducking into the safe hand.

Incidentally, a sensible play for three tricks in isolation, if you weren’t concerned with keeping West off lead, would be to cash the club ace first. If either the club 10 or nine falls, make your next play on the assumption that this card may be a singleton. For example, if East drops the club nine, you should lead to the club queen next.

There are two approaches here. You can go for what might be described as the 'instant gratification' approach of leading the spade king. Typically this either works and sets the hand or costs your side a critical trick. The passive approach of leading a club is the other way to go I'd choose the club lead myself.


♠ K 6
 10 5 4 3
 J 6 2
♣ J 7 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1
Pass 3 Pass 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJanuary 28th, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

Nice play although if I’d thought of it, west would probably have a singleton CK. There is another way home double dummy which is quite unsound but still rather fun.

Duck the 1st heart, take the 2nd (provided East plays back the H10) and west will probably follow with the 3. Now play a club to the Jack and cash the SAK squeezing west out of a red card. Throw him in with a heart to lead away from the CK at the end. If West plays the H9 at T2 of course, then east wins the 3rd heart and cashes his spades.

Purely a bit of silly fun for Monday morning and not to detract from a good point.


Iain Climie

Iain ClimieJanuary 28th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

you have to cash the 3 diamond winners as well, of course. I hate Mondays!

bobby wolffJanuary 28th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hi Iain,

You’ve definitely earned the title of Mr. Originality in the world wide Mr. Bridge contest.

Yes, you would make the hand, even if West held the K109 of clubs as long as EW failed to manage the heart spots properly (or the author made sure that East held the two lowest 6-3, with his queen, and West then leading his, 4th best, 9, catastrophically and not so successfully tempting East to part with his queen at trick 1).

That line of play would suit either The Rueful Rabbit or perhaps a borrowed Mrs. Guggenheim (from Skippy Simon), if Victor Mollo was still alive and thrilling bridge players. More likely, either of those two characters had their 3rd little heart hidden in their diamonds causing either of them to win the second heart, but then finding it in time to have it drop out of their hand at the opportune moment, after the hand was properly stripped to end play West with his remaining K10 of clubs.

Please don’t hate Mondays since you have entertained all of us with your genius and blue Monday is probably when we need it most.