Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 22nd, 2017

There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.

E.B. White

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


One of the partnerships that dominated the pairs scene in the U.S. for over a decade was David Berkowitz and Larry Cohen. On this hand from the early rounds of the Spingold, David Berkowitz as West had to work out what his partner was showing, and then try to decide where to go from there. If you cover up the East and South hands, you can put yourself in his seat.

When Berkowitz led a top diamond against four hearts, his partner’s diamond five was encouraging (consistent with a doubleton or the queen). Giving his partner a ruff was one possible defense — but on the auction declarer was far more likely to have only two diamonds than three. If his partner had three diamonds to the queen, Berkowitz could see three tricks for the defense, but the danger of a minor-suit squeeze loomed large. Imagine that you cash the ace and another diamond; declarer ruffs, draws trumps and pitches his club on the diamond jack. But if you exit passively in trumps at trick two, declarer will be able to draw trumps, give up a diamond, then squeeze you between the fourth round of diamonds and the club king. So what would you have done?

There was only one way to beat the hand, and Berkowitz found it. He led a low diamond at trick two to his partner’s queen. Cohen accurately returned a third diamond, and Berkowitz led a fourth diamond when in with the spade ace, to kill the squeeze.

When the opponents have bid and raised a suit, almost all initial doubles are take-out; this sequence is no exception. Bid three clubs and let your partner take it from there. If he has game-going values, he can act again and let you head for no-trump.


♠ A 7 2
 5 3
 A K 7 3
♣ K 8 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Dbl. Pass

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact