Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 9th, 2018

Technique in a pianist never impressed me. I never in my life heard a pianist whom I liked just because of his technique. The moment they start to play very fast I want to go home.

Vladimir Horowitz on Heinrich Neuhaus

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


There are some elements of technique that recur both for declarer and defender, which you can learn and put aside for future use. This deal reflects just one such point of technique that, once seen, should not be forgotten.

As West, you pass initially, but back in with your spades, and the opponents compete to the three-level. If you lead the ace from ace-king, then you might choose to lead the king from a bid and supported suit, or when planning to shift to a singleton. Here, though, your partnership agreement is always to lead king from ace-king.

You shift to your singleton club at trick two. Declarer wins the ace and leads a second spade, which you cannot afford to duck. You shift to the diamond 10, to the jack and partner’s ace. Back comes a small club, and declarer ruffs in with the heart 10.

To ensure the defeat of the contract, you must not over-ruff; instead, discard a diamond. Now your heart spots will be good enough to ensure a second winner in the suit when partner is kind enough to contribute the invaluable nine.

If you over-ruff the heart and play, for example, a diamond, declarer wins in hand and ruffs a spade, then draws trumps and has the diamond jack as an entry to dummy for the club king. He will be able to make his contract when either diamonds or hearts break.

The techniques of promoting trumps by the uppercut and refusal to over-ruff are well worth studying carefully.

We’ll see later this week what works here. You’d expect dummy to have big trump support plus maybe a club void and a source of tricks. The choice seems to be between spades and diamonds, and my instincts are that dummy is more likely to have long spades than diamonds, making a diamond lead more attractive. (It would have been the winner today.)


♠ 9 5 3
 Q 2
 10 8 3
♣ Q 10 7 4 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
Pass 6 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