Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Authority forgets a dying king.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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


Since the summer nationals will be starting very shortly in Atlanta, all this week's deals come from last summer's national tournament in Philadelphia.

This deal was played in the first qualifying session of the von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs. See if you can find the textbook defensive play found by at least two defenders.

As West you are happy to pass for penalties when your partner finds the reopening double of the pre-emptive two-spade call. For want of anything better to do, you lead partner’s suit, kicking off with the diamond king. The singleton diamond in dummy is not a welcome sight. How do you proceed?

At least two defenders — Billy Eisenberg and Glenn Milgrim — found the play to collect the maximum penalty: the spade king. After that shift, declarer could win the ace, but if she ruffed a diamond with dummy’s queen, the trump trick West had seemingly given up would come back.

Incidentally, on a medium spade switch, declarer could have put up the queen, ruffed out the club ace, then ruffed a diamond low and taken a discard on the club queen. At the end, West would be the victim of a trump endplay, and declarer would have finished only one down.

At these two tables, and quite possibly a few others, the end result was plus 500 for the defenders, good for close to a 90 percent result.

You have a tricky choice, on a hand where it is not clear that you really want a ruff. Partner's bidding would be consistent for some with a hand with a bad spade suit, or a dead minimum overcall and decent spades, or even a hand with spades and diamonds. So leading your spade honor might easily cost you a trick. That argues for risking partner's wrath by leading a club honor.


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


Patrick CheuAugust 5th, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Hi Bobby,LWTA, an alternative lead to pard’s suit,but the reasoning is the main thing!QJ9x-without the 9,would you still lead this,as oppose to Qx of spades?Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffAugust 5th, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Hi Patrick,

Good question and for once I need to asterisk your question, with, it is so close, at least to me, that my bridge mind considers it a tie, even the QJ9x or just the QJ, without the 9. In the LWTA hand, in spite of my admonition that partner may not have had good spades, he might have K10xxx, and 5 small diamonds (and of course, probably another high card) making what is sometimes called a pre-balancing bid since he is the one short in hearts and if his LHO was going to pass out 2 hearts he preferred them to be pushed up, rather than allowed to rest in an eight trick final contract.

Sorry for the guess I am making, but to be sure what is going to happen, would be pretending to be a far more successful fortune teller than I am.

Bobby WolffAugust 5th, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Hi Patrick,

I got careless, since partner is unlikely to have 5 small diamonds (because of my LHO’s opening bid) but may hold Axxxx or some such and another high card.

Sorry for my slipshod attention to detail.

Joan LightbodyAugust 6th, 2013 at 9:11 pm

In the Aug 6 bridge column (4 h by S) in the 7th round W led a club and south ruffed. When did south sluff his jack of clubs?