Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 7th, 2018

Good luck in most cases comes through the misfortune of others.

Jackie Stewart

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


When West leads the heart 10 against four spades, the defenders have set up two heart winners for themselves in addition to their two diamond tricks. How should you plan the play as declarer?

There is no reason not to win the first trick with the heart ace, because ducking lessens the chance of an overtrick. Obviously, to have any chance of making 10 tricks, you need spades to be 3-2 with the trump queen onside. If clubs are 3-2 as well, then you will make 11 tricks. However, extra care may be needed if spades break and clubs do not.

After winning the heart ace at trick one, you should lead a low club to dummy’s king and continue with a low trump, finessing the jack when East plays low. Next, cash the trump king, and when everyone follows, you are almost home. However, instead of drawing the last trump, you should now cash the club queen. If both defenders follow, only then will you draw the last trump with dummy’s ace and claim 11 tricks.

On today’s layout, you are in luck when it is West who discards, having started with 2-1 in the black suits. You continue with a club to dummy’s ace in order to ruff a club and establish dummy’s eight as a winner. All that remains is to draw the last trump with dummy’s ace, and cash dummy’s long club.

Note that cashing the spade ace and king early is highly unlikely to work, since you need to get two losers away, not just one.

When your partner has two equivalent cue-bids available (two diamonds and two hearts), the higher cue-bid should show four trumps, and the lower should show three. It is technically possible that your partner has six diamonds here, but let’s not confuse “technically possible” with the more normal hand type we see here. I’d bid two spades since I have nothing to spare for my earlier action.


♠ K J 8 5 3
 A 7 3
 Q 7
♣ Q 6 2
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
1 ♠ 2 ♣ 2 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieApril 21st, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Hi Bobby,

Suppose west leads a club. Should the line of play be different? Winning in hand, drawing trumps in 3 rounds the.n ducking a club works but is it an ok line single dummy?



Bobby WolffApril 21st, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Hi Iain,

As is often the case, your query, at least to me, carries with it a close to critical learning experience.

Obviously I, as a bridge player, may be exaggerating its importance, but if West is at all experienced at high level play (therefore a better than average opening leader) I cannot believe that he possesses the queen of spades since by leading a club (which looks like a singleton, waddles like a singleton, and makes noice like a singleton) therefore I heartily endorse three rounds of spades ending in hand and then a second club from hand (especially at duplicate) to then duck when the duck (couldn’t resist), excuse me, the opening leader shows out. Yes, while playing matchpoints, if LHO follows with the five I’ll probably risk everything and play for a club split, in order to at least tie those other opening leaders who didn’t lead a club, but perhaps instead, led a trump.

Yes it could be called a contradiction in terms to call leading a club (in any event, singleton or not) an above average player, but others may have a different rating scale than I, making it necessary for success to sometimes bow (and base the play on it) to them, since they may possess both red kings and not want to lead from either (which I, for one, certainly do not endorse that fear).

BTW, my never being wrong survey (if you believe that, there is a beautiful bridge I would love to sell you), has shown that ducks love to lead singletons, even if the opponents bid them, but never while holding the queen. No dummies them, since they may not give a quack.

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