Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 1st, 2019

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker.

T.S. Eliot

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



Today’s deal comes from the 1989 European Championship and was declared by Tony Forrester, who played in four hearts on the spade 10 lead. Forrester has been ever present on the Great Britain and now England teams over the last 35 years. He is well known as being both a tough opponent to play against because of his imaginative and aggressive bidding, and also for being an excellent technician.

The contract of four hearts seemed reasonable, but when the spade 10 was led, the risk of a ruff on defense suddenly became a serious one.

If declarer were to win the opening lead and try to draw trumps, the defense would score their ruff, play off their top trumps, then exit in clubs. They would eventually collect a diamond winner.

Forrester had other ideas; he won the opening lead, played the club ace and king, then ruffed a club in hand before playing the heart jack. East won the heart ace and returned a spade. The good news was that his partner could ruff and cash the heart king, but after that, he was endplayed. With only minor-suit cards left, he could exit in diamonds into the tenace or play a club, at which point declarer would pitch dummy’s diamond loser(s) and take the rest via his top spades, the diamond ace, and the three trumps.

This deal emphasizes how often, when you need cooperation from your opponents, eliminating the side suits early can put additional pressure on the defenders, sometimes in unexpected ways.

There are very few clues to go on as to whether a club or heart lead will work out better. Clearly, neither a spade nor diamond looks attractive, but I’d guess a club lead needs less from partner than a heart, where even finding a five-card suit opposite would leave us a long way from establishing the suit.


♠ K 10 3
 J 5 4
 J 10 7 6
♣ K 7 4
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 3 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bobbywolffApril 15th, 2019 at 6:15 pm

Answer to Sunday that didn ot post:

Hi Bruce & Clarksburg,

Bruce, you are not alone in enjoying making
life difficult for your worthy opponents by, when able, to continue your partner’s preempt.

However, by doing so, you may lose your ability to glean a plus score since my guess as to the average number of tricks your side will take at a heart contract would be around an exact 8 or, at the best, add a fraction of a trick more.

Adding to that conclusion, if accurate, is the secondary honors to which your hand possesses figures to score at least a couple+ tricks defensively and if correct, their side might be also held to about the same number of tricks as yours, while playing in their longest trump suit.

By passing two hearts your fondest wish (on this bridge hand) may come true and you might buy it at the two level and barely score it up, but for a good result.

However if the opponents have a good trump suit (TBD) there will be little your side can do about it with even a raise to 3 hearts not doing a good enough job.

Be optimistic since your LHO might think you are relatively short in hearts and ready to pounce on him if he reopens the bidding with only a fair offensive hand. Stranger things have happened.

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 16th, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Very well played hand. An average player might lead a club to dummy’s A and lead a trump hoping that west would win but an able east can work out what is happening and rise with A to give a spade ruff with defense coming to four tricks. Quite an instructive play by declarer