Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 6th, 2017

I can see clearly now the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way.

Jimmy Cliff

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


In today’s hand South’s hand is best described by an immediate jump to three no-trump, suggesting a balanced game-force with a balanced 13-15 points. When North moves on, he is suggesting a balanced 18-19 count. South would be prepared to offer clubs as a trump suit if he had four but not here, and his controls suggest moving directly to the no-trump slam.

The defenders make the natural, but helpful, heart lead. However, despite being gifted the solution to locating the heart queen, the contract is by no means cold. How should declarer play the hand to best advantage?

Good technique here is to win the opening lead in hand and lay down the club ace, just in case East has a singleton honor, then lead a club, planning to duck an honor from West or to cover a small card. By giving up your loser at once, it makes the rest of the hand much easier to play.

You can now win the heart return and cash off the third heart, then all the spades. You next test clubs and find out who began with the club length. In the process of delaying the diamond guess, you get a very full picture of the major suit distributions, since one defender or the other will show out in each suit.

Here, you will find West has five hearts, precisely two spades, and can be counted for four clubs. So cash the diamond ace and queen, and in the two-card ending, finesse against the jack with confidence.

When deciding between an active and passive lead you should ask yourself if you think your cards lie well or badly for the opponents, and if they sound like they are stretching. Here there is no suggestion that the opponents are especially limited, and spades and diamonds do not appear to be lying so badly. All of that suggests going active on lead, with a small heart not a club.


♠ J 10 4
 K 9 3
 Q 4
♣ J 8 6 3 2
South West North East
  1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
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