Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 5th, 2017

How much easier it is to be critical than correct.

Benjamin Disraeli

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



My first reaction on seeing the South hand in our local duplicate was to wish I was playing rubber. As it was, I could show 23-24 points by opening two clubs then rebidding two no-trump, and North transferred into hearts and offered the choice of games.

I gave some thought to playing hearts on the 5-2 fit – the blockage in hearts suggested that 10 tricks might be easier than nine. Eventually, though, I decided not to mastermind things, and settled for the no-trump game.

The play is not especially complex; but put yourself in South’s shoes on the lead of the spade 10. I’m willing to bet that if this board were slipped into your local club game, at many tables North and East would take turns to cover the first spade. Declarer would win and knock out the heart queen, and collect his 10 tricks without realizing that two serious errors had cancelled one another out.

The point is that South should register that the entries to dummy are few and far between, so he must duck in dummy at trick one to preserve the spade queen-jack as a sure entry to dummy. If declarer covers the first spade and East meanly ducks his king, how can you reach dummy twice (once to set up, and once to cash the hearts)? You can’t.

As an aside; next time you have a bad five-card major but a reasonable hand in response to a two no-trump opener, use Stayman if you don’t think a 5-3 fit is where you want to end up.

The principle of leading fourth highest against no-trump is ingrained in us all. On blind auctions, though, one should only take a good thing so far. Yes, lead from five-card suits, and sequences when you can. But when in doubt, as here, do not lead away from ace-fourth into a strong hand; there are so many ways that this will rate to cost a trick. Lead the spade two instead.


♠ J 5 3 2
 K 9 5
 A 10 5 4
♣ Q 4
South West North East
      1 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