Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 16th, 2017

Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed.

William Blake

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


Zia Mahmood has the reputation of a player always looking for the spectacular coup, but he is also a fine technical player, who works hard to extract every possible piece of information before committing himself.

He found a very thoughtful play on this deal, from the Summer Nationals in Washington 15 years ago. It came up in the early stages of the Spingold Trophy, the primary knockout event of the championships.

He reached five clubs here in the face of strong competition in hearts, and West slipped fractionally by leading the heart king and ace (a play for which one can hardly blame him though a club shift beats the game, and a spade might well do so). Zia ruffed, and instead of simply relying on the double finesse in spades, he decided to strip out the diamond suit just in case something happened. Did it ever!

On the second diamond West produced the queen, then Zia ruffed the third diamond high as West discarded. East was now virtually marked with a 2-4-6-1 shape, and Zia decided that East’s preempt, coupled with West’s decision not to double the final contract meant that East was likely to have the club ace. So he worked out that that the right play was to lead to the spade queen, cash the spade ace and exit with a club. It worked: East had the doubleton spade jack together with a singleton club, and when he won his bare club ace, he was endplayed to concede the ruff and discard.

Your partner appears to have a three-suiter but not enough to double two spades for take-out. The question is whether to go active with a club lead or passive with a heart lead. Since you have natural trump tricks, the cards appear to be lying badly for the opponents; so I would go with a low heart (NOT the eight or three).


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