Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 16th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoJanuary 30th, 2020 at 11:13 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But what prompted West to lead a club shunning the diamond suit? And again, not playing spade Q on east’s switch which is a percentage play as West is known to hold four diamonds , four or more clubs and at least two hearts .We’lll played by both . But if south divines that West holds spade K, there are other routes to success too

A V Ramana RaoJanuary 30th, 2020 at 11:42 am

Actually second sentence should read : again, declarer not playing spade Q. As can be seen , south should have made an overtrick had West led a diamond initially and in the actual play , would have gone down had he played spade Q when East returned spade after wiining heart

Robert LiptonJanuary 30th, 2020 at 1:15 pm

I myself, sitting west, might have decided on an attacking, disastrous Spade lead. True, I would have found partner’s five-card suit, but accurate (i.e. double-dummy) declarer play would have resulted in declarer making the contract handily.


Bobby WolffJanuary 30th, 2020 at 4:22 pm


Most experienced players, at least on this side of the ocean, prefer to not lead from only a jack, but either do not mind from leading from an ace, king or queen when faced with that choice.

Long ago there was one of our best players, Lew Mathe from California, who despised, when given a choice, for leading from jacks or partners who did, and was not shy in enforcing his thoughts. Therefore, although I do not enjoy doing so either, I am not as strong IMO as he.

Also, by the time East switched to a spade, he should have been sure that declarer did have the queen of spades for his minimum point count of 15 so that if he could possibly avoid it. he would.

Bobby WolffJanuary 30th, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, it is possible to originally choose a spade lead vs. 1NT P 3NT. However that lead would probably not occur to most, although while needing a top when playing matchpoints or with the intention of creating a favorable swing while playing IMPs it could turn out to be a rousing success.

However, it may be difficult to find an elite player who would choose that lead as the best percentage choice to start the hand. Although the choice of opening lead is one of the more important decisions to be made (and the most difficult), when strength plays against strength, no one is blessed with the second sight necessary to be especially successful, but leading from K10 doubleton in an unbid suit again IMO, would not be ranked among the most accepted gambles to be made when leading against 1NT-3NT.

Just an opinion, nothing more, quote the “Craven” (coward).

jim2January 30th, 2020 at 8:31 pm

This is a hand for the computer grinders against the human factors types!

Consider a couple of the other possible lines:

1) Play QC, hoping to fetch a cover. When QC holds, lead a low diamond to the 10. Gives up on half the 3-3s but, if West wins, a heart switch may be tough to see.
2) Win the JC, and play back a club, if West ducks = 9 tricks. West wins, finding a heart shift may not easy.

Bobby WolffJanuary 30th, 2020 at 11:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

If I was the coach of the EW (with the column lineup) team, and your declarer rose with the queen of clubs at trick one I would substitute
Robert Lipton in to play West, already after his opening lead, toss a low diamond over to East, (for extra pain) but in any case, win the jack of diamonds when declarer finesses and now go into his original plan to now switch to the king of spades.

Yes, I agree with you that it would be more difficult for Bob, as West, to see the heart weakness, but one just has to play the best he can with what he was dealt.

Methinks that West may need to go to the bathroom when it becomes time to compare, but be prepared for EW offering, at that time, to buy you a drink.

BTW, I have also been bought many drinks by my opponents, so only a tiny amount of chagrin, needs to be felt.

Bobby WolffJanuary 30th, 2020 at 11:43 pm

Hi again Jim2,

I got it all mixed up with who was buying who drinks but I did that on purpose to go easy on you, but if you believe that, I’m a better liar than I think.

jim2January 31st, 2020 at 3:43 am

If Lipton found the KS as you relate, I would drink a lot of stuff that was not Lipton and henceforth hold my cards closer.

Bobby WolffJanuary 31st, 2020 at 5:35 am

Hi again,

Bob Lipton wanted to lead it at trick 1 and here it is at trick 3 already, and it is still in his hand.

The real mystery is what fancy name to give leading an unsupported honor, especially the king, when both Merrimac and Deschapelles Coups are already taken for similar bridge treasures.

Perhaps we could call it, the Lipton Crush Coup which symbolizes, at the cost of a trick, preventing declarer from reaching dummy when he eventually will need to, for a return of more than one trick.

jim2January 31st, 2020 at 1:07 pm


As in the style of auto-wreck.

He Tea-Boned him with the KS.

Bobby WolffJanuary 31st, 2020 at 4:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

Perfectly described!!!

You have always had a wonderful way with words and especially letters. Now TBKS to match TOCM.