Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.

Walter Lippman

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

*one key card and a heart void


In today’s deal from a matchpoint pairs event South’s three diamond call was natural and forcing, and asked North to raise spades if he could. Having found the spade fit, South was able to show his heart void in response to the key-cards ask. After hearing the response, North assumed diamonds would run, and gambled on locating a 13th. And yes, it would have been wiser today to bid the grand slam in diamonds, where 13 tricks would have been easy.

While a club lead would have worked well for the defense, at trick one there was no reason for West to work that out. South could count 12 tricks, and appreciated that East was likely to hold both the heart ace and club king; but the menaces for a squeeze did not seem well-placed.

Still, all declarer could do was run his winners and hope for the best. After ruffing the opening lead South drew trump, then played a fourth round, discarding the club two from dummy. Now came the diamonds, and when the last diamond was played, East was caught in a dilemma.

If he threw the club 10, dummy’s club ace would be cashed and a heart ruff would allow the established club queen to score. Alternatively, the heart 10 discard would permit a heart ruff to establish the king, with the club ace as the means of access.

This position is called a trump squeeze, and it is the see-saw element of such positions that makes it especially attractive, I think.

While there is nothing to be ashamed at about this hand, you could argue for a jump to three hearts to take space away from the opponents. The logic is reinforced when facing a passed hand, since you expect it to be their hand not yours. The counter-argument is that it will help the opponents guess spades and diamonds. I am sufficiently persuaded of this that I would just bid two hearts.


♠ 8
 A Q 10 9 8 3
 6 2
♣ K 10 9 8
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact