Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Albert Einstein (paraphrased)

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


Today’s South belonged to the “quick and dirty” school. He leapt straight to three no-trump over North’s one-club opening, challenging West to find the right lead. That player did not. His choice of the heart four ran to declarer’s queen, who now had six tricks on top.

South could see the danger, if he played on clubs, of losing the setting tricks in hearts, should West have long hearts and the diamond ace. So declarer guessed well to cross to the club ace and play a diamond to the jack. If West had won the queen, declarer would have ducked the next heart, won the third, crossed to the spade ace and led out high diamonds, making the tricks he needed from that suit on a normal break.

As it was, the diamond jack forced the ace. Now, after ducking the next heart to cut the defensive communications, declarer won the heart continuation, crossed to the spade ace and laid down the diamond king. Had everyone followed, declarer would have had to guess whether to press on with diamonds or revert to clubs. The diamond play looks best to me, since playing on clubs works only if West began with honor-third or a small doubleton in clubs.

But as it was, when West showed out on the diamond king, South changed tack and led a club to the nine, leaving communications open while trying to keep West off play. When East won the club queen and returned a spade, declarer went up with the king and claimed three more club tricks to land his game.

This hand is worth one bid, so doubling is the best call, getting all the suits in. If you had the spade king as well, you might consider an overcall of two clubs, having enough to double back in later. But even then, it feels right to get the whole story off your chest at one time.


♠ 10 8 5 4
 A 8 3
♣ A K 10 9 3
South West North East

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 WarheitDecember 5th, 2019 at 10:26 am

You accuse W of not finding “the right lead”. What did you have in mind? Seems to me that S can and probably should make his contract no matter what W’s opening lead, even including HK

MattDecember 5th, 2019 at 2:02 pm

He didn’t “accuse” West of anything. South “challenged” West to find the right lead by jumping to 3NT. There’s a difference, and it should be transparent.

Bobby WolffDecember 5th, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Hi David,

While you are undoubtedly correct in a “double dummy” context, if West would somehow have chosen to lead a spade instead of a heart (or even a low club), both being highly unusual, declarer, not knowing the heart layout, may finesse the club and receive a heart back, making “Albert Einstein’s quote, as applied to our game, come to life”.

Perhaps, it would still be correct to go after diamonds first, in order to protect the queen of hearts, but even then East could have the ace, rise with it and then switch to hearts in time to achieve the defensive goal.

While your comment is very much on point, it, like so often on play and defense, it becomes a game of “cat and mouse” in order to determine the final result.

It makes me wonder what kind of a bridge player, Mr. Einstein would have been, as, at least to me, his quixotic quote verily fits our game.