Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 2nd, 2017

All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again.

Sir Thomas Browne

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


The auction may look bucolic — essentially South drives to slam facing an opening bid. But he cannot judge exactly which cards his partner has, so gambling on slam seems reasonable; it is, after all, unlikely to be worse than a finesse.

South uses Blackwood after forcing to game and setting spades as trump. When North shows one ace South sees that one ace is missing and contents himself with the small slam.

What would you lead with that West hand? A trump seems sensible; it is unlikely to take a finesse for declarer that he cannot take himself. My second choice is a diamond, my third choice would be the club ace.

When dummy comes down, South must form a plan and count his tricks. He should determine he has 11 top tricks; the 12th trick may come from a club or from an established heart. Best is to win the trump lead, then play off your two top hearts and ruff a heart high (noting that the suit splits 4-3). Now lead a spade to the 10 — you did not waste that card at trick one did you? Ruff another heart, draw the rest of the trump and throw your second and third clubs on the long heart and long diamond. You can give up a club and note, to your pleasure and relief that both the key honors there were offside.

Of course, if the hearts had failed to break, South would be in position to lead a club from dummy, instead of cashing the heart jack.

Dummy rates to put down three hearts in a limited opener, while declarer should have five hearts and a moderate hand. Since you seem to have the clubs under control, my instincts are to lead a trump to try to kill a ruff in dummy in either spades or diamonds. More to the point, nothing else is even slightly appealing.


♠ J 7 4
 A 6 2
 J 9 4
♣ K J 9 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Pass 1
Pass Pass Dbl. 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJanuary 17th, 2017 at 8:07 am

At first I thought you made a mistake when you had declarer cash the second heart before ruffing a heart; after all, hearts could be 6-1. But two things: if they were, either way, the opening lead might very well have been a heart, and there is the very real danger of hearts being 5-2 and spades 4-1, in which case declarer will eventually have to play clubs, but he will be out of trumps, so down he goes, but by cashing HAK before ruffing a third H, he will be able to play clubs while still having a trump. So, well done!

bobby wolffJanuary 17th, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Hi David,

Much thanks since when first you think others have made a mistake, a mistake it usually turns out to be.

All of us appreciate your accurate scrutiny. Every forum needs a sgt. at arms type to make it a legitimate place to exchange sometime subjective views.