Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 13th, 2014

Bad humor is an evasion of reality; good humor is an acceptance of it.

Malcolm Muggeridge

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


When an opening lead suggests that an adverse ruff is in the offing, you may need to take quite careful evasive action to sidestep the problem.

In today’s auction from a team game, North was too strong for a direct raise to the spade game, which would have been pre-emptive, so he bid his club suit first. After South introduced his diamonds, North jumped to four spades.

West now guessed extremely well to lead the club nine, threatening the club ruff which would defeat the contract. The first declarer tackled trumps. East won the spade and returned a club. On winning in hand, South played another trump. West rose with the ace, and if East had followed, the contract would have been safe. But East discarded the heart 10. Getting the message, West returned a heart to East’s ace, and the club return saw the game fail.

Declarer was right in recognizing the danger of a club ruff, but wrong in the way he attempted to avoid it. By contrast, the second declarer appreciated the value of the heart suit. He also received a club lead, but at trick two he led a low heart from dummy toward his jack. East rose with the ace and returned a club, but declarer won in dummy, then discarded his last club from hand on the heart king. Only then did he play a trump. East won, but South was able to ruff the club return high in hand and secure his contract.

The choice between a heart and a diamond is a very close one. The advantage of a diamond lead is instant gratification — it may beat the contract at the first trick. As against that, when you have decent values, the chance you can get partner in twice for the ruffs is very low. The weaker your hand, the more attractive the singleton lead is. Today I'd go for the heart sequence.


♠ Q 7 2
 J 10 8 3 2
♣ A Q 3 2
South West North East
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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Cheng Chun WeiJanuary 27th, 2014 at 9:31 am

But if west hand is
D 8532
C 93
Now, play heart at trick 2 would be wrong.

David WarheitJanuary 27th, 2014 at 9:41 am

Mr. Wei: You are wrong. West wins the HA & leads another C. Win in dummy, cash a H discarding your last C, & lead trumps. Losing only AK of trumps and HA. This is exactly the way Mr. Wolff suggests, meaning whoever has the HA is irrelevant.

Iain ClimieJanuary 27th, 2014 at 11:55 am

Hi Bobby,

A further point on the lead hand is the potential trump trick. If partner has DAJxxx and not much else, you get the ruff but highlight your likely trump length. Lead a heart and perhaps partner echoes with H9x so declarer finesses into your queen and now the diamond ruff may be available. There are hands where the diamond works well, of course, but it is all down to odds.

Hi Chen Chung Wei, welcome to the group.



Iain ClimieJanuary 27th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Sorry, Cheng Chun Wei, Monday strikes again!

jim2January 27th, 2014 at 3:28 pm

This was a terrible hand for us!

I sat North and responded with a balanced forcing raise. Pard showed the singleton heart and I showed a minimum with solid heart stopper by offering choice of games. With that weak spade suit, I think pard should have bid four spades. Possibly seduced by the heart knave, however, he left me in three notrump.

1S – 2N
3H – 3N

All would have been well if the defense had led anything except hearts but, of course, that’s exactly what they did.

So, there I was, with almost the identical problem that the column’s declarer had. That is, if I led spades, the defense was a tempo ahead. For me, though, the danger was not a club ruff but the heart suit. I tried a spade, just in case, but they won and cleared hearts.

I could have cashed out for a plus-600 bottom. But, a bottom is a bottom is a bottom, so I tried the desperation diamond finesse for ten tricks and ended up down two.

I hate Mondays!

bobbywolffJanuary 27th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Hi Everyone,

While Mondays are usually an easier hand for lesser experienced players to grasp, this one may not fit that category.

Add that to a sluggish computer and I need help.

All is well which ends well, but that hasn’t happened yet.