Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 9th, 2018

Made it, Ma! Top of the world!

Cody Jarrett, in “White Heat”

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

*Strong heart single-suiter


At the European Open Championships in Poznan, Poland, Sjoert Brink and Bas Drijver of the Netherlands continued to make the case that they are amongst the world’s top partnerships. They shone in both the bidding and the play in this deal.

The partnership plays the four-diamond response to one club to show long hearts, better than an immediate jump to game, so South, Drijver, took control and drove to slam after using Key-card Blackwood.

Drijver had arranged to conceal his diamond shortage from the defenders. So when Jean-Christophe Quantin led the diamond 10 to his partner’s king, Marc Bompis continued the attack on diamonds. Of course, with the South hand on view, it would have been easier to find the club switch, which breaks up any pressure in the endgame.

Drijver ruffed the second diamond and ran all but one of his hearts, pitching all his small clubs. He reduced down to four spades and the club ace in hand, and two spades, two clubs and a trump in dummy.

When the trump eight was led, East pitched a club, as did South. West decided to hold on to his spades; otherwise, declarer would ruff the fourth spade high with the club ace as an entry. So West bared his club king, but Drijver read the position and crossed to the club ace, scoring dummy’s club nine as the twelfth trick.

Incidentally, the reason Drijver rejected the club finesse and played for the crisscross squeeze was that East was a passed hand who had already shown eight points in diamonds.

Should you simply drive to three no-trump here and rely on finding a club stopper opposite? The wiser call of three clubs will ask your partner to bid three no-trump if he can, since the opponents have announced clubs as the danger suit. Incidentally, it makes sense here to play that the no-trump opener should pass the double without a club stopper, then describe his hand if his partner redoubles.


♠ Q 8 2
 10 6 5
 A K J 3
♣ 7 6 4
South West North East
    1 NT Pass
2 ♣ Dbl. 2 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2March 23rd, 2018 at 12:44 pm

I think the text meant ruffed the third spade not the fourth. Also, since the ruff is taken with the last trump, the “high” is only a distraction.

Criss-cross squeezes are the hardest for me to visualize, and I doubt I would have gotten this one at the table.

bobbywolffMarch 23rd, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

While many would be terrific bridge players, would mourn themselves being subjected to TOCM, it is indeed always a blessing to one’s ego (but, of course, not to one’s results).

Explaining further, and, no doubt why criss-cross squeezes are difficult for you to visualize is likely that whatever line involving card location, similar to this hand, you would choose, the other one, such as the king of clubs being onside (but the spade division different, would be the result. Never would you have to explain to a knowledgeable partner why, since the key card(s) defensibly, being equipped with an invisible jumping device, enabling undetected leaps to partner’s hand when profitable to the opponents.

So TOCM begets ITGR (impossible to guess right), but you are to be admired since you have always played for the love of the game, in spite of it being highly unlikely for you to score decently.

And, yes the third spade, not the fourth was the one ruffed. Known as TOTC, theory of total carelessness and one without any redeeming virtue.

Jeff SMarch 23rd, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I had to read it a couple of times. I don’t think it was saying ruff high, I think it was saying ruff the third spade making the fourth spade high (since no one else would have spades at that point since West would have discarded on in this line).

jim2March 23rd, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Jeff S –

Good catch! I cannot argue with that interpretation, but it is not how I interpreted it originally.

bobbywolffMarch 23rd, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Please excuse the sometime confusion, particularly so when actual hands from play are discussed.

In order to do justice to how the hand was bid, played and defended sometimes we run out (or very close) to our maximum verbage, causing us to be not as clear as both we, and our readers, would like us to be.

Ironically it could be similar to Jim2 as he tries to weave through the play, knowing full well to expect the worst.

No one can doubt how much he really loves bridge, kind of like a one armed paper hanger except with one less arm.

Jeff SMarch 23rd, 2018 at 7:41 pm

I wasn’t criticizing. My point was that the text was correct so no TOTC involved :), but that, like Jim2, I just read it differently at first glance.

Joe1March 24th, 2018 at 12:19 am

BWTA. Stayman without a 4 card major? How often does that work?

bobbywolffMarch 24th, 2018 at 1:17 am

Hi Joe1,

Among the sometimes young up and comers, there are those who prefer a simple raise to 2NT as the beginning of a very strong sequence with various type artificial bids to follow. That same group feels that when an original Stayman bidder then winds up in 3NT, the opponents have sometimes gleaned information the declarer would rather them not have.

Therefore they tend to play Stayman with many more hands than those who are thought only sane when they follow the herd. However, unless the 1NT bid is not close to the normal 15-17 I see no reason for any other bid than 3NT with the immediate response, but others may argue, so for them…….