Aces on Bridge


; Q 10 9 3

k 7 5 4

l 7 4 2

' 6 5 3


; 6 4 ; K 8 7 5

k Q J 10 8 3 k 9 6 2

l K 10 9 5 l Q 8

' 8 2 ' J 10 9 4


; A J 2

k A K

l A J 6 3

' A K Q 7

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South

The bidding:

South West North East

2 ' Pass 2 l Pass

3 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Heart queen

"'Tis the set of sails and not the gales Which tells us the way to go."

-- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This week's theme is overcoming entry difficulties as declarer when either your own hand or dummy is weak.

In our first deal, South opens two clubs and rebids three no-trump with his 26-count (a three-no-trump opening would show a solid minor and little else). West leads the heart queen, and declarer can count seven top tricks, with a 3-3 club split bringing an eighth. Declarer would prefer not to have to rely on that, so he should focus on scoring three spade tricks.

Leading out the spade ace and a second spade will achieve your goal if the spade king is singleton or doubleton in either opponent's hand. However, if the spade king is with length, that player can duck and kill the dummy. Declarer's best shot is to lead a low spade to the nine instead. The defense must allow this to hold, at which point declarer is in the right hand to finesse the spade jack on the way back. This brings in three spade tricks whenever East has the king. If the finesse fails, declarer falls back on clubs coming in.

Note that the only downside of this approach (in comparison with playing spades from the top) is that West might duck the first spade from king-doubleton. You could argue that if he makes that play, he deserves to beat you!

Incidentally, many play the bidding sequence two clubs - two diamonds - two hearts as either balanced and game-forcing or as hearts, perhaps with a second suit. In that case, a jump to three no-trump at your second turn would be based on a long suit.


South holds:

; K J 8 5 3 2

k 6

l A 8 2

' A J 9

South West North East

Pass Pass 1'

1 ; Dbl. Pass 3 k

Pass 4 k All pass

ANSWER: Lead the spade five. Leading away from a minor-suit ace seems unattractive. You could make a case for leading the singleton trump, but that could give away the whole suit on an auction where your partner appears to have four trumps. Admittedly, a spade is also dangerous, but that at least has the potential upside of setting up a trick.

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at

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