Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 24th, 2018

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.

James Baldwin

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


Against South’s contract of six no-trump, the opening lead is the heart two, to East’s seven. When South takes his king, his goal is to generate six tricks in the black suits. Unless East is truly a desperado (which is entirely possible, of course), he should have one of the black queens for his opening bid. If East has the spade queen, declarer should be in decent shape, but the play in spades can wait. The best play is to lead a club to the jack at trick two. If this loses, declarer will later take a spade finesse against East. However, when the club jack holds, declarer can focus his energies on taking three tricks from spades. Take a second to consider what declarer ought to do.

While declarer may be able to set up an endplay on West — by “stripping off” the sidesuits and endplaying him — that might require some very careful card-reading. Instead, South can come home straightforwardly against almost any lie of the spade suit — except a real spade stack in West.

The safety play of the ace of spades guards against any lie of the suit except East having a small singleton. In fact, East follows with the nine, so declarer can now lead a low spade from hand and cover West’s card. If East wins the trick, the spades have broken, and declarer can take the rest. But today, East shows out and declarer’s eight holds, so he makes three spades, two hearts, four diamonds and three clubs, losing a spade at the end.

If your partner has a four-card major, you probably won’t beat one no-trump, since partner did not act over the double, and he would surely have bid a decent suit. I guess I’d lead my long suit, and there is no reason to lead any card but the fourth-highest spot card.


♠ K 6 2
 J 7 5
 K J 5 4 2
♣ A 3
South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass 1 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


Pat CravenJanuary 7th, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Hi Bobby:

Declarer is in his hand at trick one so can’t lead from dummy for trick two. Always enjoy the hands and everyone’s comments.

Bobby WolffJanuary 7th, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Hi Pat,

Thanks for the kind words.

Please excuse that significant gaffe in the column concerning leading out of the wrong hand. Of course, declarer should have led a diamond to dummy, before the winning club finesse.

We are delighted that you always enjoy the hands and hope that you fit to be a regular poster. No doubt, by doing so, you’ll attract others to do the same so that all of us will be able to feed our universal addiction to our wonderful game.

Ken MooreJanuary 8th, 2019 at 12:41 am


When trying to maximize a broken suit, like Spades, a safety play is often helpful. But it is often hard to find. Especially “delayed” safety action like todays.

Iain ClimieJanuary 8th, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Hi Bobby,

A small afterthought – what if East plays the C10 at T3 to give declarer a losing option?



bobbywolffJanuary 8th, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Hi Ken,

Yes, belated safety plays are more rare than earlier, but “a Rose is a Rose, is a Rose”, by Gertrude Stein from a 1913 poem, “Sacred Emily” might explain.

While the first Rose, in fact, pertained to a person it still applies to the above hand and is similar to Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name is still a rose”.

And perhaps, as a late coup, will smell at least as sweet, especially when it is necessary for success.

Thanks for your artistic and pragmatic thought.

bobbywolffJanuary 8th, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes and no doubt East should falsecard the queen of clubs at trick 3 when declarer is cashing his second club trick after his successful club finesse.

Always and consistently, a defender, should play, when at that point having equals (here, the queen ten of clubs after the jack is finessed by declarer) as a matter of course. The idea is simple, declarer has now learned that his RHO has the queen of clubs (when the jack holds) so that, in order to not give him any extra possible helpful information, the known card, queen of clubs, should be automatically dumped under the king.

Today, it should not be a difference maker,
especially while playing IMPs or rubber bridge, but perhaps at matchpoints, it might convince a “greedy declarer” to try for an overtrick (no spade loser), and in that process, give away the contract.

Chalk up that potential false card as high-level technique which, in time, will become second nature (always done) to an aspiring expert.