Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 18th, 2017

If it were not for a goodly supply of rumors, half true and half false, what would the gossips do?

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

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


At the 1998 Summer Nationals in Chicago, a hand arose demonstrating the truism that circumstances alter cases. The play of a hand can sometimes follow dramatically different lines, depending on whether there has been any opposition bidding.

You would want to reach six clubs here, in the absence of any opposition bidding. How you get there is a lottery, however; South’s jump to five clubs was as good a shot as anything else, and North felt he had more than enough to raise.

It looks normal enough to ruff a couple of spades in dummy, hoping that the black suits will behave. However, West’s opening bid here makes that line impractical. You have to find a different plan of attack on the lead of the diamond 10.

Strangely enough, the bad spade break is good news, if you think about it from the correct angle. It appears from the lead that West has short diamonds, and that therefore both of the other suits are likely to behave for you.

You must take care at trick one to duck the diamond lead and ruff in hand. Then play the spade ace and trump a spade high, stripping East of all his spades. Now you draw all the trumps and lead the heart king, then finesse in hearts. When East wins, he has only red-suit cards left and must return the lead to dummy, allowing you to discard all your spade losers on dummy’s heart and diamond winners.

There are no clues suggesting that any lead other than the suit in which partner has suggested length (if not necessarily strength) would be right. When you have a holding of this sort facing length, lead the top of a sequence, here the 10. The logic is that the risk of setting up a slow winner for the opponents by wasting an intermediate is sharply reduced.


♠ K 6
 10 9 3 2
 5 3
♣ A Q 7 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 2 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