Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 11th, 2019

Then nothing will remain of the iron age
And all these people but a thighbone or so, a poem

Stuck in the world’s thought, splinters of glass
In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain.

Robinson Jeffers

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

*Shortness, agreeing clubs


This week’s themed deals all have something in common in the auction. In each case, either North or South produce a cue-bid, an imprecise term that covers a multitude of evils.

Some cue-bids are hard to interpret, but today’s deal features a gadget that has moved into the modern repertoire and meets with almost universal approval — the splinter. A jump in a new suit in a sequence where a call one level lower would be forcing, the splinter can be played as setting partner’s suit as trump. It simultaneously shows slam suitability and shortage in the suit in question. In today’s deal, since two hearts would have been forcing, North can show club fit and a singleton heart by his three-heart call, after which the auction progresses naturally to slam.

West finds the best lead against six clubs, a trump. Declarer can see that if either minor behaves, he can come to 12 tricks in the form of seven trump tricks and five winners from spades and diamonds, or six trump tricks, two spades and four diamonds.

If both minors misbehave, however, he must set up a heart. The right moment to do that is now, so he wins the club ace and leads a heart. When East plays low, declarer puts in the jack, expecting that East might not have been able to duck the ace here. Once the jack forces the ace, declarer has plenty of time to ruff out the diamonds, then finish drawing trumps and emerge with six trump tricks, two spades, one heart and three diamonds.

You clearly don’t want a ruff here, so you should not lead the club nine unless you think the situation demands passive play. I’d prefer to set up spades if I can, before declarer gets either hearts or clubs going for discards. So, I would lead my partnershipagreed small spade, be it fourth-highest or third and low.


♠ K 6 5 3
 Q 8 4 3
 K Q 8
♣ 9 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 2
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bobbywolffMarch 25th, 2019 at 11:39 am

Hi Everyone,

Even though the opening lead, according to what it is labeled, colored and shaped like a spade, it is intended to be the eight of clubs.

Terrible gaffe on our part which can and will, lead to confusion to many in following the play.

All we can do now is apologize and promise to do better, which is now officially done.

Very sorry!

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 25th, 2019 at 11:43 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Even after hearts J loses to A setting up K in hand, south should tread cautiously. If he becomes complacent and try to set up his hand instead of dummy ( a natural instinct) he would go down for lack of entries and west’s club ten gets promoted. Instructive hand for dummy reversal

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 25th, 2019 at 11:53 am

If the lead is eight of clubs instead of spade, south has tempo.He can win in dummy with Q and once east follows, he can play three rounds of diamonds ruffing third with J. If diamonds break , he can claim but when they do not as in the column hand, he cam lead a club to A in dummy and lead heart finessing J and prevails. As you might have kindly observed my earlier comment pertains to when an initial spade is led knocking out a vital entry from dummy

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 25th, 2019 at 11:59 am

Please read lead club to A in dummy after cashing K of clubs instead of lead a club to A in dummy

bobbywolffMarch 25th, 2019 at 1:03 pm


Yes, your analysis is like a gambler, here in Las Vegas, finding a way to beat the house.

You were analyzing based on what to you appeared to be the eight of spades, not the eight of clubs and apparently are right on both counts, making on a club lead, but not a spade.

The more I interfere the more apologies are needed. Thanks for uncovering the mystery as to why that 8 of spades was clearly shown, but in the text it pretended a club was led.

I also understand your cashing the king of clubs first, before leading a club to dummy which proves two theories. 1. You are indeed a superior analyst and 2. I need to look much more closely before I leap to embarrassment.

Much thanks for your hard work in keeping AOB on track with accuracy, both with the written column and, of course with the proper analysis.

No doubt I would be less embarrassed if you stopped commenting, but, after due consideration, our other readers will be better off with you being involved.