Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 31st, 2015

Bold knaves thrive without one grain of sense,
But good men starve for want of impudence.

John Dryden

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

*5-5 shape, hearts and a minor

That is the question!

There is a school of thought that says that one should lead singletons against suit contracts whenever one has the option to do so. I do not buy into that (although given my success on opening lead you could argue that any strategy I follow other than my own would be an improvement).

Today’s deal was an indication of how even when you do get a ruff, there may be a better strategy than leading the singleton. In one room West led his singleton diamond and received his ruff, East returning his middle diamond in an attempt to show no strong preference for clubs or hearts. West cashed his club ace and exited with a heart. Declarer won in hand and guessed well when he laid down his spade ace, and had no further problems with taking the rest and making his game.

In the other room West looked at his likely trump trick and decided that an attacking lead was more appropriate. Despite the fact that his partner had not raised hearts, West led the heart jack to the first trick, and found the perfect layout to justify his optimism. Declarer ducked the lead, won the second heart and crossed to dummy with a heart ruff to take the spade finesse. Now West cashed his club ace and shifted to a diamond, to take his ruff for two down.

For the record, a trump lead when holding ace-doubleton of spades or king-third would have been far more attractive.

I’d like to go passive here but I don’t have any passive options. I’ll settle for a fourthhighest club, but if I had a lead that was favorite not to cost a trick I’d surely select that instead. My second choice would be a low spade lead, hoping to hit length in my partner’s hand.


♠ K 7 4
 A 5 4
 Q 9 2
♣ Q 10 4 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleySeptember 14th, 2015 at 3:14 pm

You are not alone in making the wrong lead. A certain retired to teaching bridge expert has admitted his partner called him Golden Arm for his less than successful leads.

It is difficult to find the right lead. Perhaps most difficult of all defenses is when each side has the aces of the other sides suits and lose the tempo to defeat the contract.

However, you have successfully for decades disguised this from the rest of us!

bobby wolffSeptember 14th, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Hi Bill,

And disguise and camouflage are the tools of successful magicians.

Although perhaps the ultimate weapon is the rhetoric of political characters, once in office transparency will often rule and poof go their reputations, of course, taking the people with them.

All of us need to keep our eyes and ears open, lest we will be doomed for failure, especially in the bridge world where all that glitters …………