Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Never revisit the past, that’s dangerous. You know, move on.

Robert Redford

W North
N-S ♠ —
 K J 4 3
 A 9 5 4 3
♣ A K 6 2
West East
♠ Q J 10 9 7
 9 2
 K Q 10 8
♣ 10 4
♠ A 6 5
 A Q 8
 J 6 2
♣ Q J 9 8
♠ K 8 4 3 2
 10 7 6 5
♣ 7 5 3
South West North East
  2 ♠* Dbl. Pass
2 NT** Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 Pass 4 All pass

*Spades and a 4+card minor

**Demanding a call of three clubs


This is my final exhibit from last year’s Gold Coast teams tournament in Australia. After North, Simon Hinge had denied real extras at his second turn, he took a flyer to raise his partner’s sign-off in hearts to game.

After the lead of the spade queen, Bill Haughie as declarer discarded a club from dummy. East took her spade ace and correctly returned a top club. Declarer won and played the diamond ace and ruffed a diamond, then cashed the spade king to pitch a club from the board. Now he ruffed a spade, ruffed a diamond, crossed to the club king, and led the fourth diamond from dummy.

When East made the natural play of discarding a club, declarer ruffed in hand, ruffed a club for his ninth trick, and with the heart king-jack still in dummy he could ruff the diamond nine with the heart 10 for his game-going trick.

Let’s rewind to when declarer led the fourth diamond from dummy, establishing North’s fifth diamond. Let’s say East ruffs in with the heart queen; ace and another heart won’t work now. Nor is a club any better, since declarer would simply continue the cross-ruff. But try ruffing the fourth diamond with the heart eight – entirely illogical I know!

Declarer must overruff; he then ruffs a club low, and leads the fifth diamond. When you discard, your partner overruffs East’s heart seven with his nine. Now you take the heart acequeen to set the game.

This defense sets the game when partner has either the heart nine or 10.

When partner has promised only four or more hearts, should we raise with a balanced hand, or rebid one no-trump and ignore the feebleness of our diamond stopper? I opt for the notrump rebid, assuming that if LHO has good long diamonds we may hear from him again, to take us off the hook. And we can compete over two diamonds to two hearts, describing our hand to perfection.


♠ A 6 5
 A Q 8
 J 6 2
♣ Q J 9 8
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 1 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


W. B. Daniel IIIMarch 12th, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Why would West not lead a heart on the bidding since he has 2 hearts and the suit has a good chance of being 4-4?

Bobby WolffMarch 12th, 2016 at 7:35 pm

Hi W.B.,

A good question which should suggest a thoughtful answer.

Yes, your comment is magnified, of course, by its immediate success likely setting the contract 3 tricks, but let us try to explore why a heart wasn’t led:

1. There are two tempting, often recommended leads available, both from common sequences straight from positive opening leads (QS & KD).

2. The convention, Lebensohl, used by NS contained some often overlooked evidence. North responded as he did with 3 clubs, giving his partner a chance to pass, if in fact that was the recommended suit he held and was intending to sign off, but instead then named hearts as that suit. Therefore, by so doing, when North was informed about that, he decided to push on to that game which would often result in finding a great long heart holding from the original doubler (perhaps AKxxx, KQJxx or somesuch). If so, it may be better to start attacking in order to develop trick(s).

3. Once upon a midnight clear sometimes partners heart holding may be compromised by a trump lead (AJx, K10x etc.) which, of course, requires his side to play 1st and 3rd rather than 2nd and 4th, never, in a vacuum, a good idea.

4. Some very good partnerships simply do not like the percentages obtained by often trump leaders (not applicable in obvious trump leading situations often discussed in bridge books), and being a member of one of those for many years I can understand why. In some ways it can be thought of as similar to dying with one’s boots off. Simplistic?, YES, Accurate?, TBD, but important to those who feel it.

While I know not what I would choose on this hand, QS, KD, xH, I do have sympathy for his choice, although deep down I think you are right in your choice and after all, it only meant 3 tricks difference.

Thanks for your question and then, if possible, remember John Brown’s (a long ago famous English bridge writer) quote (almost): “If a very average everyday bridge player always led the right thing he would win every bridge World Championship”. After many years of pondering, I now tend to agree with him.