Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 26th, 2016

There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.

Peter A. Cohen

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


Today’s deal is the third and final hand this month to come from Larry Cohen’s latest book: “Larry Teaches Declarer Play at Suit contracts”, most easily available from his website. Larry is one of the country’s leading teachers and writers. I recommend his latest book for intermediate players.

Against your six heart contract, West leads the diamond king. Both players have taken a slightly aggressive position, South to jump to four hearts (he was too good to open with that call), North to drive to slam with no club control.

The opening lead is unfortunate for you; without it, you could knock out the club ace, then throw a diamond on dummy’s club jack. But now, to pitch the diamond loser you must set up dummy’s spades.

You are very short of entries to accomplish this, so you should not draw trump prematurely, since dummy’s entries are in the trump suit itself. The plan is to take both top spades and trump a spade high. Only a 5-1 (or 6-0) spade break would cause a problem, in which case you may go down an extra trick but it will hardly affect your result, be it at pairs or teams.

Now the point is that even with 4-2 spades, declarer has the entries (because of the heart jack and eight) to trump two spades in hand. After that, you can in due course draw trump ending in dummy. On the fifth round of spades you can jettison your losing diamond and lose only to the club ace.

Different experts will give you advice always (or never) to lead doubletons here. I refuse to do so: when as here you have no attractive suits to lead from, look for safe leads, then if there are none, the least offensive lead. Here I think a club is less likely to cost a trick outright within the suit itself than a heart or diamond. Others may disagree; that is what makes horse racing.


♠ J 9 3
 K 6 4
 Q 6
♣ Q 10 7 6 4
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ 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