Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 25th, 2017

This world where much is to be done and little to be known.

Samuel Johnson

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


When North opens one club, South should bounce directly to three no-trump to show a balanced 12-15 points. With this pattern, he does not want to suggest alternative contracts or let the opponents find out more about which suit it is right to lead.

When West leads the spade 10 against three no-trump, South must decide whether to win or duck, and which suit to attack first.

It is normally right to duck when you have two high cards to knock out, but here the fact that you can potentially keep West off play, and that South fears a diamond shift, might persuade him to win the first trick. What next?

If the club finesse works, South will have time to set up hearts and make overtricks. But if the club finesse fails, South will have only four clubs and will therefore need at least one heart trick for game.

So South must go after the hearts first; the reason is that the heart ace would be a certain entry to West for his spades. If West takes the first heart, his entry to the spades is gone. South can duck one spade then finesse clubs, and be safe unless East has five spades. When West ducks the first heart, South can switch to clubs and be sure of nine tricks.

If South tackled the clubs first, East would take the club king and return a spade to establish that suit, while West still had an entry. If declarer ducks at trick one, a diamond switch defeats him.

I can see an argument for a passive club lead – the fact that your partner has not doubled for a club lead should not affect that decision, since you know he is relatively limited. That said, I think I prefer a spade lead, since dummy has by no means guaranteed four spades. I think my second choice would be a diamond.


♠ J 9 3 2
 A 4
 K 8 5 4
♣ 9 7 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2
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