Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 15th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoMay 29th, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Quite an interesting hand. The crux of the problem , assuming West holds spade K ( after a small heart lead) is, one should place the missing minor honours. If we decide that West holds diamond K and east club Q, cash one high club and lead diamond Q and if we decide that West holds club Q and east diamond K, then cash one high club and lead club J.
Perhaps can be posed as a good low level doubledummy problem with a low heart lead

Jeff SMay 29th, 2020 at 1:57 pm

“…driving out the spade king” threw me at first. What if West just ducks twice? You have to lead back to hand setting up a minor suit winner to go with three hearts and the KS.

It took me a while to get to taking the first spade with the ace and leading the second spade back to hand. And now all is clear. Interesting hand!

Bill CubleyMay 29th, 2020 at 2:09 pm

BWTA mentions you might have done wrong with the takeout double. I always lay down my aggressive dummy with an apology for overbidding. The good news is partner makes the hand about 98% of the time. The bad news is I get few thank yous. But that is bridge and life.
BTW, there are some distant relatives of mine in town. They are very nice husband, beautiful wife and 3 daughters. Feel free to say hello o some very nice people.

bobbywolffMay 29th, 2020 at 4:33 pm


When it comes down to being thrust into being declarer in a close game (or slam) all any player can do (from very good on down) is play on, using the bidding (sometimes even the lack of it) to help determine where the “key cards” figure to be located.

Here, West is fairly well marked with most to all of the high cards outside the bid suit (clubs) by South. There’s the rub, with, of course, no guarantees, but rather only dreams to build a line of play.

By doing so, at least this time (with full attention to detail) it works (no wonder, since all bridge columnists prefer (or should) happy endings).

However, when shifting from fantasy to reality, oft times sad results follow, to which we all need to, usually in the quiet of thinking it over later, whether being declarer or dummy, before words emerge, which always should be directed toward the best percentage line with close decisions decided in favor of the choices taken by declarer and thus criticism reserved only for easily determined errors., not just glaring.

IOW, the Golden Rule in life as now in bridge, “Say unto others what you would want them to say unto you”.

Yes, most times the above advice is not heeded, but if your partnership is an exception, be very proud, with the reward a much better chance to mutually rise in ability to a successful future.

BTW, for that to happen, both partners need to devote time, effort, and care to all phases of the game, including the postmortems.

bobbywolffMay 29th, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Yes “driving out the spade king” may turn into just playing the ace first, since the odds, because of the bidding, against it being only onside doubleton, is practically nil.

Thanks for your honest comment which becomes helpful when others (more often than thought) feel the same way and like to share which helps us all grow.

bobbywolffMay 29th, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Hi Bill,

We should learn to not expect “thank yous” so when, and if, it happens, we can then appreciate it more.

Proving the above, why are you so sure that your distant relatives are nice people since no reference was given whether they play bridge or not. Especially the three daughters who, if not, do not know what they are missing, even if the youngest is only four or five years old.

However, hello and love to all five (and your wife), but they need to either learn our game or, if not, do not overstay their welcome, allowing you to get back to what is important.

Rich AhrensMay 29th, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Hello, Mr. Wolff.
If you held the West cards in the column hand, what would be your opening lead? Assuming hearts, would you start with a top heart or go low? Is there a general rule as to which choice is better in leading from AKxx against a no trump contract?

Rich Ahrens

bobbywolffMay 29th, 2020 at 9:55 pm

Hi Rich,

Your question is a very good one. However, my answer (and what I suspect would be others)
might be construed as an apology when I say, perhaps a low heart, the king of hearts, or a low spade, with a low diamond a minority choice, but still one to consider.

IOW, sometimes, when dealing only with 4 card unbid choices, major suits have preferences, because the declaring opponents have not bid them, and having higher spot cards with, sometimes work to advantage when partner has key fitting intermediates (developing a surprise small card trick), but a disadvantage more likely, when either immediately giving away a trick, or allowing the declarer to develop one he may not have been able to establish, without that unfortunate beginning.

Always keep in mind that the opening lead privilege allows the defense to at least begin to establish a “key” defensive trick, but at the same time, having to play 1st and 3rd to a trick instead of the cat bird’s position of 2nd and 4th is a definite advantage to the hated declarer.

Having defined that opening gambit (or at least the attempt) we can begin to see what every very experienced player has learned, the choice of opening lead, at best is only an educated guess, with a hope (in many cases) of being lucky enough to be perhaps right in 60% of the cases, a number to which I have probably guessed too high with my optimism.

Finally I, in order to show my bravery I will suggest a low heart, hoping all three other players at that table each have precisely three hearts (with partner not having J10x and, of course the declarer the queen, especially when partner turns up with an entry in another suit.

Sadly, although I might be able to say a few more words, from a practical viewpoint, nothing of consequence will come from them, at least not anything tangibly worth disclosing, already not obvious, nor previously not known by you.

Good luck, a commodity more important than the above.