Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 30th, 2017

(Science’s) methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman’s cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage yields its club.

T. H. Huxley

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


This deal sees South hear his partner make a limit raise in hearts. While he has a promising hand, the likelihood of slam being better than a finesse is very small. Rather than give information away by cuebidding, it is sensible for him simply to raise to game and give West a blind lead.

West nonetheless finds the best lead, of the spade queen, and South sees that he must develop dummy’s clubs without allowing East to get in. The danger is that East would lead a diamond through South, and set up too many winners for the defense.

The clubs allow for the straightforward finesse or ruffing finesse, but there is a danger in winning the first spade and drawing trump, then taking the ruffing finesse in clubs, discarding a spade in the process. The defenders’ communications remain in place, so West could win the club king and lead a spade to his partner, for the killing diamond shift.

The secret is to hold off on the first spade, take the second, draw trump, and lead to the club ace. Now the club queen is led through East for a ruffing finesse. When East puts up the club king, South can ruff and use a trump entry to dummy to take his discards. But if East had played low, South would have discarded his last spade. Even if West had the club king and took this trick, he would be unable to get East in with a spade, thanks to the duck at trick one.

With an auction of this sort, there are no inferences about whether it is better to lead majors or minors. Dummy doesn’t rate to have four cards in either red suit; declarer could just as easily be weak with hearts as weak with diamonds. It all comes down to the spot cards: the diamonds are far more likely to develop tricks for your side than are the hearts. So I would lead a low diamond.


♠ Q 7 4
 K 6 5 3
 Q 10 4 2
♣ 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 NT 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