Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 8th, 2019

In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.

Mark Twain

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


When South shows 22-24, North does not hesitate to jump to seven no-trump — particularly since he will not have to play it himself.

Despite the spade wastage, the North-South cards fit reasonably. When dummy comes down, South sees that all he needs to do is find four diamond tricks to bring home the grand slam. He must therefore investigate the side suits to plan his play in diamonds.

South wins the king in hand and begins by running clubs, finding West with three clubs. West discards a spade on the fourth club; East gets rid of two spades. It begins to look as though East started with four or five spades, but before finalizing his plan, South runs the hearts.

When East drops the heart 10 on the third round, it looks as though West started with four hearts and East with only three, though East might be fooling, of course. South leads his second spade, and both opponents follow. Since neither the 10 nor the nine has yet appeared, South should assume that West has at least the 10 for his opening lead of the jack.

Weighing up all the evidence, it seems certain that West started with at least four spades, at least three hearts and the three known clubs. At most, therefore, West can have three diamonds — but he may have fewer.

South can thus ensure his slam by taking dummy’s top diamonds first. When West shows out at the 11th trick, South takes the marked finesse through East to make his grand slam.

On blind auctions, it is easy to lead from real length or from sequences. If you can’t do either, you want to find your partner if you are weak, or try to avoid blowing tricks if you have nothing attractive to lead. Leading from ace-third is out. Of the two four-card suits, I prefer almost anything to leading from ace-fourth. A small diamond is the least of all evils, but a doubleton club is not completely absurd.


♠ A 7 5 2
 A 9 3
 Q 5 3 2
♣ 7 3
South West North East
      1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJuly 22nd, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Of course, after pitching a S on the 4th club, W should play the S9 on the second S. I don’t think this will change S’s mind as to how to play the D suit, but at least W would have tried.

PaulJuly 22nd, 2019 at 5:40 pm

On the LWTA I think I understand why the diamond lead is superior. But I would think that a low spade lead would rank higher than the club lead. The reasons are that I may be able to set up three trick in spades while a club lead might make it easy for the declarer by giving away the position of a vital queen. Would be greatly interested in your analysis Bobby.
Regards Paul

jim2July 22nd, 2019 at 6:34 pm

So, should East play the 8S on the opening lead?

If so, then West can pitch the 10 and 9.

David WarheitJuly 22nd, 2019 at 8:31 pm

Jim2: the answer to your question is: “Yes!”. At first I thought that it might be wrong if W had led from J109 tight, but then I realized that, if he had, then S had 13 top tricks, since on the bidding E knows that W’s only high card is the one he led. From those facts do the math and it adds up to 13.

JudyJuly 23rd, 2019 at 1:09 am

Hi ‘ya all,

My iPad is working sporadically and my laptop was even more of a problem. They did not have a three-pronged plug and though after a half hour wait, they finally brought me one .. but for some reason, we cannot get on line.

Thus, Bobby’s responses, will be put on hold until he returns next Monday. Thanks for your patience.



bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Hi Paul,

I tend to agree with you, although methinks a thorough computer simulation might indicate a different order of success.

For the most part, my experience with random simulations, has verified what may be regarded as the overall high-level player choice, but in everyday common situations such as this, we sometimes are surprised.

In any event a common poker retort is likely the answer, “let the winner explain”.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Hi Jim2 & David,

What David implied wins my vote. It will be relatively easy for an experienced player or players (a partnership) to fast find out on this collection that unless both declarer have doubleton spades (a horrible offensive holding) with duplicated values that only a diamond guess (which defender will have the singleton and which the four) and so between the two (defenders) every effort by both should be directed at
giving a good declarer a run for his success rather than a proven choice.

These types of problems do not occur often, but likely more times than
first expected, so that witnessing, or even being involved, can be nothing short of thrilling to understand, and then later celebrate royally, if successful.

Finally, if when playing a lifetime of good bridge, perhaps only succeeding one time in thirty, methinks that would be a very positive result for the defenders. IOW an unlikely happening but when and if it ever occurs, it should be celebrated royally.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 7:20 pm

To Everyone,

Guess what? Judy, as she so often does, GOT IT DONE?