Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

No furniture so charming as books.

Sydney Smith

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


Many of Mike Lawrence’s books on play and defense would surely rank amongst the best ever written on bridge. He has recently written “Tips on bidding” and “Tips on competitive bidding’, but today’s deal comes from the third, “Tips on Cardplay.”

The correct defense to four hearts starts with the lead of the spade king, on which East plays the queen. The queen here shows the jack and tells West that he can underlead the ace if he wishes. It is not, repeat, not, a suit preference signal. West does want to put East in, so he leads a spade to East’s jack. If East leads a diamond now, West will score a diamond trick along with the club ace, to set the game.

But how East should know to return a diamond and not a club? Answer: West will tell East which suit to shift to by leading a suit preference card at the second trick. If West wants a club return, he will lead the spade two. If West wants a diamond return, he will continue with the spade nine, as here. So East should finds the killing diamond switch at trick three.

Why is the play to the second trick suit preference, but not at trick one? A tough question, but in essence, on the first play in any suit if continuation makes sense, the basic signal is first attitude, then count if attitude is already defined. However, where your holding is precisely defined and you have a choice of winners or losers to play on subsequent tricks, that is where suit preference kicks in.

It looks obvious to pass with such a weak hand. But it is good bidding tactics to raise partner with a weak hand and support. Your failure to make a cuebid raise suggests strictly limited values – say, less than 9 HCP. The higher you raise, the harder you make it for the opponents to get together in a major.


♠ 8 5
 Q 8 2
 Q 8 6 3
♣ Q 8 6 3
South West North East
Pass 1 2 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

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