Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 18th, 2013

I could have stemmed misfortune's tide,
And borne the rich one’s sneer,
Have braved the haughty glance of pride
Nor shed a single tear.

Anna Peyre Dinnies

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


In today's deal, after North's strong jump-shift and subsequent raise of spades, South is justified in trying for slam by cuebidding five clubs because of his good trumps and fitting diamond honor,. When North then cue-bids five hearts, it is a reasonable gamble for South to jump to slam because of his good trump intermediates.

When West leads the heart king against the slam, South must win the opening lead, of course. The heart lead threatens the contract, as declarer cannot afford to attack trumps immediately. So how does South get his heart loser away?

It is illogical for declarer to lead clubs before diamonds. It is far simpler to try to discard one heart from declarer’s hand rather than trying for two heart discards from dummy.

All declarer needs is to find the diamonds breaking 4-3, but today is not his lucky day. When South tries to discard a heart on dummy’s diamonds, East inconveniently ruffs the third round. Declarer should now re-enter dummy with a club to lead the fourth round of diamonds, hoping that East has no more spades (or only the ace remaining).

When East foils this plot again by ruffing the fourth diamond as well, South must overruff and fall back on his own club suit to discard hearts from the dummy. West ruffs the fourth club, but, fortunately for declarer, he must ruff with the trump ace while the last heart is discarded from dummy.

When you have nothing but a choice of dangerous leads, you might as well lead from length. At least this way you know that you have a more than 50 percent chance to be setting up long cards for your side. For what it is worth, my second choice would be a low heart.


♠ A J 4 2
 Q 4 2
 K 9 4
♣ Q 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1 NT
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


David WarheitDecember 2nd, 2013 at 1:24 pm

You meant to say lead diamonds before clubs. Dyslexia is such a troubling condition!

bobby wolffDecember 2nd, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Hi David,

Yes dyslexia is a troubling condition and it has shown up much too often with me while attempting to write an accurate bridge column.

However, I think this particular effort is correct as written. Read it again and I hope you will agree.

I appreciate your consistent vigilance.

Iain ClimieDecember 2nd, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Hi Folks,

Just to lower the tone completely dyslexia is an anagram of daily sex. Make of that what you will e.g. that Brits are infamous for their vulgarity, although there are others. The actress Cameron Diaz has given an hilarious interview over here to Grahm Norton which I don’t think US prime time TV would ever dare show).

On the lead hand, except at rubber bridge, the case for a spade is surely that the rest of the room or the other table at teams will lead a spade. Unless you’re chasing a swing or shooting, it seems most sensible.



bobby wolffDecember 2nd, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Hi Iain,

Possibly the only reason US prime time TV would refrain from airing Cameron Diaz’ recent hilarious interview is preferring commercials to entertainment, because of the long range effect.

Your tale also reminds me of my early days of army service of being paid 80 dollars a day, but only once a month.

And what is this comment about following the field with an opening lead and furthermore when living your own life I doubt that you adhered to your own advice. Somehow it doesn’t seem to fit the Iain, we have all grown to admire, respect and more importantly, love.

Iain ClimieDecember 2nd, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Hi Bobby,

My wife would like to know where this new and improved version of me is hiding and why he doesn’t turn up at home very often. Oops!


David WarheitDecember 2nd, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Aw, come on. It should have been completely obvious that I was talking about myself. The only reason I can think why anyone could not have seen that is, yes, you guessed it, daily sex!

bobby wolffDecember 2nd, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Hi Iain,

Perhaps your social personality dominates, not your private one.

bobby wolffDecember 2nd, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi David,

Having it or not having it, that is the question.

And the answer delivered by hand or by fee mail.

Perhaps the answer is a bridge too far.