Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 8th, 2018

Shallow brooks murmur most, deep silent slide away.

Sir Philip Sidney

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

*Two key-cards, no trump queen


When North opens one diamond and immediately raises spades, an optimistic sequence leads South to declare a slam that would be impossible to bring home on a heart lead.

However, when West opts to lead a fourth-highest club, East wins and can do no better than continue the suit. South wins and must now go after diamonds to establish that suit for a heart discard.

Cashing the top diamonds and ruffing a diamond will establish the suit if it is 3-3 or an opponent has a doubleton queen. Then dummy’s trumps will serve as the entries for the good diamonds.

But what if diamonds break 4-2? Declarer will need two trump entries to the board. It is logical to cash one top trump at trick three, and see East follow with the 10. Then declarer plays the diamond ace-king and ruffs a diamond high. When the suit breaks 4-2, as feared, how should declarer plan the play thereafter? Declarer needs two entries to dummy: one to establish diamonds and one to cash them.

Is it better to play spades to be 2-2 or 3-1? The fall of a high spade from East makes it more likely he started with a singleton than with the 10-9 doubleton. So, lead a spade to the eight rather than to the king, then ruff another diamond high. You can draw the last trump with the king and cash the 13th diamond to pitch your heart loser.

For the record: On an initial diamond lead, declarer must play a club himself at trick two in order to come to 12 tricks.

Do you go active or passive here? I do not like a diamond lead, which can give up a trick in so many different ways while really not having much upside. Since the heart spots also spell danger in terms of conceding a trick unnecessarily, I will go with a low spade (the four, not the seven!).


♠ K 7 4
 J 9 7
 A 9 7 2
♣ 9 7 5
South West North East
    2 NT 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


Iain ClimieOctober 22nd, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

What is the best line on a spade lead (especially the 3 followed by the 2)? I suspect win in hand, D to A, club to King (obviously ducked), set up the diamonds and eventually lead another club off table. Although double dummy, what if East plays the C8 at T1? Should declarer be playing the C10 instead to force his hand?



bobbywolffOctober 22nd, 2018 at 6:49 pm

Hi Iain,

While I understand you, after guessing the spades and properly early, leading a club to hand, LHO following with the eight, then while establishing the diamond suit, considering which club to lead from dummy (fearing that possibly West has originally ducked while holding the ace, what to do?

My answer lies in, of course the play up to now, and although it is possible that West has ducked the ace, I doubt that he did, simply because your king could be unsupported, especially at the time you had led the first club.

Therefore, although there is nothing wrong with leading the ten from dummy (with the exception of East having only the lone jack left), then, of course, a disaster. IOWs I would back my above judgment and likely not lead the ten.

However, depending if you know something about the tendencies of your current opponents, perhaps, while at the table, I might do otherwise, but I am only thinking that after the king of clubs wins, the ace is on my right.

The above is sort of a cop-out effort, but at least in this case, is likely my thought.