Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 30th, 2019

Laws were made to be broken.

Christopher North

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


Buoyed by his partner’s strong raise of spades, South thought as a passed hand he could afford to cue-bid five diamonds. North co-operated with five hearts, and South leapt to six spades.

The defenders led a club to East’s jack, then shifted to the heart queen, won in dummy. West threw two hearts as declarer drew trumps.

With clubs apparently 6-4, South knew East had room for only four red-suit cards. West surely had fewer than six hearts, since he had not pre-empted, so East had at most two diamonds in a 3=3=1=6 or 3=2=2=6 pattern.

Assuming West had not underled the club ace, East had very good clubs and had turned up with the heart queen, perhaps alongside the jack. What, then, did West have for his raise to three clubs?

South reasoned West was favored to hold the diamond queen, to give him any values at all. So, backing his judgment, South scorned the percentage play, a diamond to the jack, in favor of leading the diamond jack from hand. This way, he would take the necessary five diamond tricks if East had a singleton 10. He could return to hand with the diamond king for a further finesse, keeping dummy’s trump suit intact.

West ducked the diamond jack in case declarer had a two-way guess. But South had already committed himself, and let the jack run to bring home his slam.

Note: East’s honesty in winning trick one with the jack, not the ace, led to this result by allowing South to drawn the winning inferences.

I t h i n k I w o u l d lead a five-card major on this auction instead of an honor sequence. But here I’m really torn. I suspect the solidity of the sequence makes it a better lead and may still give me time for the club shift. So, I would lead the spade queen.


♠ Q J 10
 5 2
 9 8 7
♣ A 8 6 4 2
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


A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 14th, 2019 at 9:15 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Wishing you
” A Very Happy Birthday and Many More Happy Returns”

Bob LiptonOctober 14th, 2019 at 11:01 am

Today’s LTWA is even tougher than indicated! I would add the H5 into the mix; partner is likely to hold at least four hearts.


Iain ClimieOctober 14th, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Hi Bobby,

All the very best for today and thanks for all your friendly comments and enjoyable articles.

Thanks to AVRR for reminding me too!



PaulOctober 14th, 2019 at 4:21 pm

Hi Bobby,
Happy Birthday. . Wishing you all the best and thanks for being such a wonderful teacher.

Patrick CheuOctober 14th, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Hi Bobby, Happy Birthday and thanks for all your kind help and uplifting comments. Regards Patrick.

bobbywolffOctober 14th, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Hi AVRR, Bob, and Iain

Much thanks for your birthday greetings and well wishes. Above all, I no less than cherish, how only a simple card game (well, not so simple) has brought all of us together, in some cases from around the world, in an intellectual pursuit of a difficult subject, although not really a critical one for each of us in achieving life or liberty, but one which contributes to the pursuit of happiness by its challenge.

AVRR, thank you for your letter which has already started me to feel younger, Iain, to also appreciate you for both your multiple entertaining bridge experiences and, of course, your intriguing personality. And also to Bob for his bridge judgment, although I question why he would want to start out a suit, playing 1st and 3rd to an opening lead trick to which the opponents had seven cards to our six.

Of course, if partner’s four were the KQJ10 or close he would be as right as he could be, but instead, that insight would be more profitable for winning a lottery.

However, the glow with partner to see you leading his 4 card or longer suit might be worth the disadvantage I allude to, proving that opening leads sometimes become a choice from Hell (if you’ll excuse the language and if nothing else often, nothing more that a sheer guess).

bobbywolffOctober 14th, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Hi Patrick,

With your ever so pleasing personality, how can I resist answering your well presented bridge conundrums?

Besides, at least I am hoping and not instead dreaming, that others can profit from our back and forth and, at the very least, cause other bridge lovers, to think about the various always practical subjects, you present.

Perhaps our relationship should supersede the one between the two leaders of our twin great countries. But, instead, we might get less good done than those two, but at least there would be no doubt of how we felt about each other and, that alone, might make both countries better off.

bobbywolffOctober 14th, 2019 at 11:10 pm

Hi Paul,

Thanks for both your comment and the birthday wishes.