Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: None

10 6 3 2
J 5
A K 10 8
A 7 3
West East
A K Q 9 8 4
Q 9 8 10 6
9 Q J 5 3 2
K Q J 10 8 6 5 2 4
J 7 5
A K 7 4 3 2
7 6 4


South West North East
    1 1
2 3 Pass Pass
3 All Pass    

Opening Lead:A

“The irresponsive silence of the land,

The irresponsive sounding of the sea,

Speak both one message of one sense to me…”

— Christina Rossetti

This deal from the first final session of the Silodor Open Pairs in Houston last spring shows the benefits of restraint in the auction and reveals the beauties of an unlikely ending.


At many tables, West, having heard his partner overcall one spade, chose to punt five clubs doubled — down 500. However, when Craig Huston held the West cards, he sold out to a three-heart contract by South. I marveled at his restraint, but Craig correctly pointed out that four clubs doubled would be set two and cost 300 points.


South’s three-heart contract is far from easy to bring home, and it was not managed at the table. West will lead his spade ace, then shift to the club king. As declarer, you’ll win dummy’s club ace and guess to play three rounds of hearts. West wins the third heart and plays a diamond, which you win in dummy.


You have now reached an ending as declarer where you have eight tricks in the bag and need to set up one more. Clearly, playing a spade or a diamond from dummy will lead to immediate failure. The winning line, a beautiful one, features two loser-on-loser plays. Lead dummy’s club seven and pitch a spade from your hand, then throw a diamond from hand when West leads the next club! You will ruff West’s next club lead, run your trumps, and squeeze East in spades and diamonds. That’s how to rectify the count!

ANSWER: Partner’s call is natural and forcing. Your most descriptive action (albeit a rather aggressive one) is to jump to four clubs as a splinter-bid, agreeing spades and showing a singleton club. Yes, you would rather have a trump honor larger than the jack, but the opportunity to reach the perfect-fit slam should not be passed up.


South Holds:

J 7 5
A K 7 4 3 2
7 6 4


South West North East
2 Pass 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Howard Bigot JohnsonApril 3rd, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Dear Bobby, I’m sorry I’m not using this comment box to comment on your article, but I would welcome your comments to a blog I’ve just done on ” card sense “, as I believe only top class players such as yourself are best qualified to define what it actually means. Yours John Howard Gibson ( blogger: Howard Bigot-Johnson ).

David WarheitApril 4th, 2010 at 6:35 am

Or: you guess to cash only 2 hearts and exit with the jack of spades. East wins and can only stay alive by returning a diamond honor. Win in dummy, ruff a club, lead a heart to west, who now has only clubs. He leads one, dummy discards a spade and declarer a diamond, and then on the next club, dummy discards and declarer ruffs and plays his last trump, squeezing east. Maybe not as pretty but just as effective. Also, the recommended line works if west never leads diamonds. I think that there is nothing to choose between the two lines; I believe they both depend on the same lie of the cards. Am I right?

Bobby WolffApril 4th, 2010 at 11:52 am

Hi Howard,

I’ll be happy to and be there directly.

Bobby WolffApril 4th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi David,

From what I can see and feel, your last sentence is right on and says everything one needs to say about this hand.

Call your description the anatomy of a squeeze ending and perhaps, at least to some relatively new to squeezes, it describes more graphically what happens to the poor squeeze victim.

Also, at least to me, it capsulizes some of the wonders of our game. Keep in mind, that one can do well in bridge, be an above average player who wins consistently, but never really executes a fairly complicated squeeze. The type of ending which you very accurately describe belongs in a bridge art museum and merely touches on the way to sometimes manufacture extra tricks. However, since the playing of bridge also involves discipline, consistency, partnership harmony, developed good judgment and great concentration, I would say that it has something for everyone. Play it, appreciate it, LOVE it!