Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 17th, 2014

You have no control over what the other guy does. You only have control over what you do.

A.J. Kitt

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



In this deal from the Yeh Bros. there were two leads to trouble South's three no-trump. Tony Nunn of Australia led a top spade against Hiroki Kaku's three no-trump. Declarer won in dummy to lead a heart to the jack and queen. Nunn shifted to a diamond to the nine and Sartaj Hans' 10, ducked by declarer, who also ducked the next diamond.

Now a spade came back, so declarer ran the spade and diamond winners. This forced West to discard a club, after which declarer played three rounds of clubs to throw West in, forced to lead hearts into the tenace. (Note that had Hans tried the ruse of false-carding with the diamond queen on the first round of the suit, declarer might have won the trick — and been sunk without a trace).

At another table, where North was declarer in three no-trump, Peter Newell of New Zealand led the diamond queen, ducked all around. After a spade shift, declarer Shen Jiaxing won in dummy and finessed in clubs, then led a heart to the 10 and queen. Martin Reid as West returned a diamond, and declarer took it, cashed all the spades, (East discarding a heart, West a club) then exited with a third diamond to East.

If Newell cashed his last diamond, declarer would discard a heart from dummy and catch West in a simple squeeze. If East did not cash his diamond, but exited with either a heart or a club, Reid would be thrown in with that suit a trick later, to concede an extra trick in the other suit.

Your partner must have a powerhouse (though at the moment you do not know if it is based on diamond support). Your first priority would be to bid three no-trump if you could. Since you cannot, and have already denied four spades, you can bid three spades now, suggesting honor-third in that suit. Partner will tell you where he is headed at his next turn.


♠ J 6 5
 8 7 3
 K Q 10 7
♣ 10 7 2
South West North East
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
3 Pass 3 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


Iain ClimieMay 31st, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the sequence shown without Stayman, I’d have been tempted to lead the HK and definitely a heart if I had KQxx or similar. Another game swing in the wrong column, or at least a lousy pairs score. Can I ask what you would have led as west at IMPs and pairs? I can see the point of S10 at pairs, mind.



Bobby WolffMay 31st, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Hi Iain,

Thee & me! To me, it is not that close and though there are some very high-level conservative opening leaders around the world, for example the whole world class French bridge team (and for many years), my experience, computer simulations and therefore preference, feels otherwise and I go after it, when faced with what I think is a close choice.

Obviously the 10 of spades is tempting to lead at pair scoring but I would rate both the king of hearts and the 3 of clubs slightly ahead of it.

Especially on this bidding since unless the field is full of weak notrumpers, 3NT is likely to be played from the other side (at least a good percentage of the time), making my choice even more significant, and, if so, I like to go out with guns blazing instead of being a wimp.

Different strokes for different folks.

Mircea GiurgeuJune 1st, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Hi Bobby and Iain,

With the defensive strength apparently balanced between both defenders, both in terms on hcp as well as distribution, why not lead the forth best club instead of trying to find partner’s length?

Bobby WolffJune 1st, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Mircea,

While I agree with the possibility of the 4th best club, in IMPs, coming ahead of the 10 of spades, I suggest envisioning what partner may be leading if he, by chance was sitting in my opening leader seat. Suppose him to choose his 4th best heart from 5 to the jack (or, of course, ace), and with that optimism in mind it gets Iains and my point across.

Does it always work? Of course not, but it is the shortest way to defeat the hated opponents, if, in fact, there is a way possible. That is all we can hope for since a large percentage of the time that sequence by them produces overtricks and no legitimate defense can penetrate.

Bridge sometimes becomes just a mindset rather than a technical thing and the blind opening lead is often the chief example.