Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 5th, 2018

People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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


A simple auction sees West on lead with a blind choice against four spades. While a trump would work best, he can hardly be blamed for selecting a diamond as what appears to be his most passive lead option.

Consider your play before contributing a card from dummy. You appear to have one diamond, three hearts and one possible spade loser if you treat South as the master hand. The good news is that your heart losers can be covered by dummy’s trumps.

Your plan should be to ruff two of the heart losers in dummy, so you have to take the opening lead with the diamond ace to avoid surrendering a tempo. Given a second chance, the defenders might shift to spades, after which you would be unable to ruff two hearts in the North hand.

After winning the diamond ace, you should play a small heart from hand without playing any trumps. As a matter of general technique, you can preserve the heart ace as a re-entry to your hand, to facilitate communications. You take West’s spade switch in dummy, cross to hand with the heart ace to ruff a heart low, then come to the club king to ruff a second heart with dummy’s remaining high trump. Then you can re-enter your hand with the club ace to play trumps and drive out the spade queen.

The defenders can force you to ruff a diamond, but you still have enough trumps left to claim the rest.

This is an ugly hand from which to lead spades. If I did lead a spade, I might select the king rather than a low one, maybe to retain the lead or to make partner’s play in the suit easier at trick one. The club sequence is a reasonably attractive alternative. The club 10 may give the game away in that suit, but nothing else really looks appealing, does it?


♠ K J 3
 J 8 7 2
 J 3
♣ 10 9 7 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
2 ♠ Dbl. Pass 3
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 ClimieNovember 19th, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Hi Bobby,

Would you play the same way on a top diamond lead (the D3 is quite encouraging, suggesting D4-3), especially if the defence kept bashing out diamonds and East was able to discard a heart on the this one? I’m wondering how plausible loss of control might then be, so perhaps declarer would then need trumps 3-2.



Iain ClimieNovember 19th, 2018 at 6:48 pm

As an afterthought, that D10 could be quite handy, so suppose it were a small card instead? I’m sorry to say that at Pairs I would just play spade to the Ace and take the heart finesses, but such habits can be difficult to shake at IMPs.


Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, since there are intangibles seemingly always pressing, it sometimes causes less than right percentage moves, and reading too many bridge columns might hurt rather than help a winning percentage of success.

However, at least the leading of a small heart from hand at trick two is a possible solution, although in spite of, even with a low diamond led, upon the opponents getting in they can arrange to not waste their honors, but alas East will not get in to lead the last high diamond, in case of a bad trump break. At least with the suit breaks on today’s hand.

IOW, who knows how the opponents will handle the diamonds, but even if they do it right, the declarer will be in control making the leading of the small heart from hand immediately the winning declarer play.

The question of preference then would turn on the eventual philosophy of choosing the winning line rather than the alternate but be told that you did the wrong thing while accepting the money from your opponents or instead succumb to the opposite feeling of winning the conversation but losing the tournament and/or your money.

Bridge discussion makes strange bedfellows.

PS: If you let it! Besides, how does that song go, “Don’t change a hair for me, not if you care for me”.

Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2018 at 8:12 pm

Hi Everyone,

And speaking of old songs, Judy and I are leaving on a jet plane (tomorrow for Hawaii and an ACBL Bridge Nationals, one we haven’t been to in many years) “Don’t know when we’ll be back again”, not so, in almost exactly two weeks we will return, “Oh Lord I don’t want to go”, real feeling: a little apprehensive but looking forward to good bridge and seeing old friends. “The taxi is waiting, he’s here at the door. Actually almost, but still 26 hours away.

Thanks for allowing me a little nostalgia, probably because of our ages.

We will try to keep in touch on this site, so please don’t stop writing, but, and, of course, will likely not be able to remedy glitches.

And promises to report all positive bridge plays and news from that beautiful island, but to ignore all ridiculous plays, again, of course, brought on by overwhelming bad luck.

Judy has chosen to kibitz so I will be playing with Mark Lair (well-known) as my partner, with Peter Weichsel (also well-known and Morris Chang, a wonderful old and dear friend as our teammates in the Open Board-A-Match and the Reisinger.

Mircea1November 19th, 2018 at 9:15 pm

So glad to hear you two are going, Bobby and Judy. Have a wonderful time in Honolulu and GOOD LUCK (both at the table and with the trip)!

Bob LiptonNovember 19th, 2018 at 10:05 pm

Enjoy Hawaii, Bobby and Judy. Don’t be more of a hand g than is necessary to win; some of your team mates can play decently, you know.

Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Thank you Mircea1 for your well wishes, not only with the trip but also for the lulu of an honor that you wish for us at the table, which, no doubt, will also require both good breaks and proper finesse

Bobby WolffNovember 19th, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Hi Bob,

Me a hand g? If g was short for hog, I’m the one who is usually told by his partner, to only bid clubs and diamonds.

But still (and when I obey), perhaps I can set a record for proving that the old saying “6 clubs or diamonds always makes when at the other tables, they have stopped at 3NT.”

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