Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 19th, 2016

Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.

Marissa Mayer

S North
None ♠ A 4 3
 8 3 2
 K Q
♣ A Q 7 6 2
West East
♠ Q 10 9
 K Q 10
 9 4 2
♣ J 10 8 5
♠ 8 5
 J 9 6 5
 A 8 7 6 5
♣ 9 3
♠ K J 7 6 2
 A 7 4
 J 10 3
♣ K 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 NT Pass 4 ♠ All pass


When Larry Cohen retired from serious tournament bridge at what many would regard as a ridiculously young age, it was to focus on writing and teaching. Today’s deal is from his latest book: “Larry Teaches Declarer Play at Suit contracts,” available at his website.

Against four spades, South receives the lead of the heart king. He is facing two heart losers, a diamond loser and whatever he might have to surrender in trumps. The percentage play in trumps, missing five, is to lead low to the ace and then finesse the jack. If the suit behaves perfectly, declarer can draw trump and then start clubs, throwing away hearts. But, if he takes the spade finesse and it fails, he will lose four tricks off the top.

What about playing on clubs first? That might work, but if the opponents ruff the second round you are down, and even if they trump in on the third round of clubs, there may well still be residual problems.

The best plan is to partially draw trump. Win the heart lead and take the spade ace and king. If the queen happens to fall doubleton, you draw the last trump and run the clubs, to make at least one overtrick.

What if everyone follows with low spades on the ace and king? Don’t play a third round, but start on the clubs and throw as many hearts away as you can. When the opponents ruff in, it will be with their good trump trick, and you have 10 sure winners.

Where you have raised diamonds and thus cannot be short in the suit, the best lead seems to me to be the diamond nine, which should prevent partner from allowing declarer to score a singleton honor unnecessarily. It might also persuade him to shift, rather than to try to cash out diamonds.


♠ K J 10 2
 J 3
 9 7 4 2
♣ A 6 3
South West North East
    Pass 1
Pass 1 NT 2 2
3 3 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact