Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

It was, of course, a grand and impressive thing to do, to mistrust the obvious, and to pin one's faith in things which could not be seen!


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


The question of whether to lead the only unbid suit when the opponents have confidently reached three no-trump is a vexing one. Michael Rosenberg, formerly of Scotland, is now a world champion in the United States. He resisted the impulse to lead the fourth suit in this deal from the 1995 Vanderbilt and regretted it.

Rosenberg, playing with Zia Mahmood, led a diamond to the jack and king and ducked the club queen. He took the diamond nine with the ace, played a heart, and declarer won this to try a spade to the queen and king. Back came a second spade to the nine and 10.

Zia as East had a choice of three losing options. When he chose a heart, declarer won the king and played the club jack, ducked by Rosenberg again. Now a finesse of the diamond eight was the ninth trick.

This hand represented a 12-IMP swing against the number one seeds in the Vanderbilt Trophy and it represented most of the margin of their loss in that event. The underdog team included Brian Platnick and John Diamond, for whom I had forecast great things at the time they were practicing for the world junior championships, an event they went on to win. Indeed, they have since gone on to collect the open world title in Philadelphia in 2010. Not all my predictions have worked quite as well, so I must make the most of my accurate ones!

Your partner has shown a strong hand and interest in penalizing the opponents. With a balanced defensive hand, it looks right to me to double rather than to pass. Partner doesn't have to sit for this with extreme club shortage, but assuming he has a balanced hand, your best bet looks to be to defend.


♠ K 3
 Q 7 6 2
 A 10 4 3
♣ K 9 2
South West North East
1 Dbl. Rdbl. 2♣

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 CheuSeptember 5th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Hi Bobby,on the question of leads,wonder what you would have led from this hand,South:Q109 A10843 KJ82 8,after the following bidding,all vul pairs,East:1S South:2H(despair) West:3C North:pass East:3S South:pass West:4S pass out.East:AK653 K95 A63 107.West:J7 J62 Q4 AQJ952.North:842 Q7 10975 K643. South led a diamond(not a success),4S makes.On a club lead,if pard gets in with KC should he try for club ruff by South,or switch to a diamond?If a club ruff,then South can exit with 10s to set contract.Ace of hearts lead follow by a second heart or club does not quite work,as the cards lie(QH coming down on sec rd). Regards~Patrick

Bobby WolffSeptember 5th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Hi Patrick,

On your opening lead dilemma, I would rate a diamond lead head and shoulders above any other choice. Partner, who should have a few points since we are so weak did not raise hearts, which he should strain to do since, on this bidding it is very unlikely that the opponents will stop and double, so when the dog does not bark, do not lead a heart (ace).

Second choice, but way down the list would probably be a club (although my real second choice would be the king of diamonds in spite of my rarely choosing a spectacular card), but, at least to me, in spite of the result, a diamond lead stands out.

Patrick CheuSeptember 5th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi Bobby,thanks again for your candid opinion,which will spur me on,to play better next time!Best regards~Patrick.:0)