Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Neither


K 5 4

3 2

A Q J 6

A Q 5 4


10 7

Q J 10 9 8 5


J 9 8 6


Q J 9 8

6 4

10 9 5 4

10 7 2


A 6 3 2

A K 7

K 7 3 2

K 3


South West North East
1 NT Pass 4 * Pass
6 All Pass

* Balanced slam try with 4-4 in the minors

Opening Lead: Queen

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”

— George Herbert

Locating a 4-4 minor-suit fit after an opening bid of one or two no-trump is usually important only for slam-going hands. Some people play a two-spade response to one no-trump as Minor Suit Stayman, but if you play four-suit transfers, then a call of two spades shows clubs.


However, since North-South was playing transfers in the red-suits at the four-level, the so-called Texas Transfer, the bid of four spades was not natural. Instead, it differentiated between a balanced slam-try with both minors, and one with 4-3-3-3 pattern. This got South to the best slam in double-quick time. Incidentally, North-South has a combined 33 HCP, but there are only 11 tricks in no-trump. In diamonds, with careful play, a ruff in one hand or the other produces a 12th trick.


South won the heart opening lead and cashed the diamond ace-queen. Had diamonds divided 3-2, South would have drawn the last trump and ruffed a heart in dummy or a club in his hand for the 12th trick. When East showed up with four diamonds, it was too dangerous to try to ruff a heart in dummy.


It proved far easier to ruff a club in the closed hand instead. South cashed the club king and ace, then ruffed a low club with a low trump. The diamond king was cashed, dummy was entered with a spade, and the last trump was drawn. Declarer’s 12 tricks came from four trumps and a club ruff, three clubs, two spades and two hearts.


South Holds:

Q J 9 8
6 4
10 9 5 4
10 7 2


South West North East
2 Pass
ANSWER: Your action might to some extent depend on the vulnerability, but I believe the right tactical approach here is simply to bid three spades. This way you give your LHO enough room simply to bid a game, or double and hear his partner bid game. He may thus not be tempted to give up on a safe plus-score to look for slam, without the knowledge of values opposite.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


GalFebruary 16th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

That 11 tricks in notrump are 12 if declarer goes after the right squeeze after conceding a spade.

bobbywolffFebruary 16th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hi Gal,

Right you are and, as you say, in spades, by giving one up to rectify the count.

I would like to proclaim that I arranged the 4 clubs to be with the 6 hearts to test reader acumen, to which you came through with flying colors, but if I did say that, I would be pulling your (and all other great analysts) legs.

Thanks for writing.

jim2February 16th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I think Declarer can duck a spade and always arrive at the following 3-card ending with the lead in the closed hand:

S –

H –

D –

C – AQ5

S – 6

H – 7

D –

C – 3

So, the squeeze works as long as the club defender must defend either spades or hearts. In this layout, it was hearts. However, if the defenders traded minor suit 9s (making East 4-2-3-4), the squeeze still looks to work.

Of course, if spades had split 3-3, no squeeze would have been needed.