Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 17th, 2017

When the sun sets, shadows, that showed at noon
But small, appear most long and terrible.

Nathaniel Lee

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


Wash your mouth out with soap and water if you even thought of opening today’s North hand one no-trump. After North opens one diamond and jumps to three diamonds, South has to decide between passing and trying for the no-trump game. He has only an eight-count, but the diamond jack may be useful in establishing the diamonds. It seems right to me to take a shot at three no-trump.

Now let’s switch to the defenders; as West, would you consider leading the club queen? It is certainly the right suit to lead, but the queen is unquestionably the wrong card. The most likely way to beat the hand is by finding partner with a top honor in clubs, but if that is so, it must be right to lead a small club. It may be necessary to unblock the suit in several scenarios, for example if partner has the doubleton ace, king or 10 of clubs.

OK, let’s switch back to declarer’s seat. When West leads a small club, which club should you play from dummy at trick one?

If the clubs are 4-3, your play will be irrelevant; but the clubs pose no danger, since there are only three tricks for the defenders to cash. If the clubs are 5-2 with East having a significant doubleton honor, you must play the ace to block the clubs. Try it out — and you will see that it works. You win the ace, drive out the diamond ace, and the defenders cannot run clubs whether East unblocked his club king at trick one or not.

Declarer rates to be 4-5 in the black suits, and dummy will be weak with four spades. Since a trump lead rates to cost a trick (and partner might be over-ruffing clubs anyway) the real issue is whether to lead the diamond ace and continue the suit, trying to force declarer, or lead a heart. I vote for the latter.


♠ K 5
 Q 3 2
 A 10 8 7
♣ J 8 7 4
South West North East
      1 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl. Rdbl.
1 Pass Pass 1 ♠
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