Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 16th, 2018

The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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


It is a theme that bears repeating that when playing teams or rubber bridge, your main focus as declarer must be on making your contract whenever possible. Meanwhile, as a defender, the number of overtricks or undertricks is less critical than trying to beat the contract. Today’s deal is a fine example of needing to keep your eye on the ball. To make your contract of three no-trump, you must come to nine tricks; the 10th trick is far less important. With that huge clue, put yourself in declarer’s place and cover up the East and West cards. You are playing three no-trump on the lead of the heart jack.

The first point is that you should win the opening lead because you would not like it if the defenders shifted to clubs or spades at trick two. So you take the heart and duck a diamond; since you have to lose a diamond, you must retain communications if you can.

East overtakes his partner’s diamond seven to play a second heart. You duck the trick and win the third heart, as everyone follows, then lead a second diamond. When West deviously follows with the queen, it would be natural, but fatal, to assume that the suit was breaking, and to put up the king. If you do, you will limit yourself to two diamond tricks, and the contract can no longer be made. Duck the second diamond, and you will take three diamond tricks and two winners in each of the other suits.

There is no reason to lead anything but a heart here. And you should lead a small heart, not an honor, since if declarer has honor-jack-third of hearts, leading the queen turns his single stopper into a double stopper. Typically, it’s best to lead low from honor-third unless you think you may need to unblock the suit.


♠ Q 6 2
 Q 8 3
 J 8
♣ Q 10 8 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1 1 1 ♠
2 3 ♣ pass 3 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact