Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 10th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: North


Q 4 2

9 6 3

A K 9 5 2

9 2


J 10 9


Q 10 6 4

K Q 6 4 3



A K J 10 8 4 2

J 7

8 7 5


A K 8 7 6 5

7 5

8 3

A J 10


South West North East
Pass 3
3 Pass 4 All pass

Opening Lead: Heart queen

“We haven’t the time to take our time.”

— Eugene Ionesco

At the Dyspeptics Club time is money, and the regular players in the rubber bridge game often appear to consider it a sign of weakness to pause for thought. In today’s deal it was therefore remarkable that South was prepared to go the extra mile and think about his problem until he came up with a sensible answer.

East’s classic three-level pre-empt did not silence South, and North had more than enough to raise the three-spade overcall to game. West led his singleton heart queen, and the defense played three rounds of hearts. What do you think South’s best play in this situation might be now?

South saw that if spades were 2-2 and the clubs not unfavorable, he should ruff the heart high and could simply draw trump. But the fact that East had discarded an encouraging club made South concerned about that suit, and with the 7-1 heart break, an even trump split seemed unlikely.

After due consideration (during which time West had ostentatiously shaken his watch to make sure that it was still going), South decided to discard the club 10 on the third heart. He won the club return in hand and decided that diamonds were unlikely to ruff out, since West had at least nine minor-suit cards.

South elected to play out six rounds of trump instead, and on the last one, in the three-card ending, West had to concede, since he controlled both minors and could not retain a high club and three diamonds.


South holds:

Q 4 2
9 6 3
A K 9 5 2
9 2


South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s call shows the unbid suits, spades and diamonds (probably with some club length too) and a full opener. He would not back into a live auction unless he had a decent hand. In that context your hand has real prospects for game, so jump to four diamonds. You could hardly be better here, could you?


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


John Howard GibsonJune 24th, 2011 at 12:47 pm

HBJ : Hi there, this is a hand which sadly exposes my limitations.

All to often squeeze opportunities just simply float by me and this may have been one of them.

Yet if one was to engage the brain into gear, then it becomes all too obvious. After 3 rounds of hearts ( pitching a club ), 6 top spades, West is fixed. The bidding marks West to be holding length in diamonds and values in clubs.

Moreover, it is the only way to make the contract.

However, let’s imagine North holds QJx of spades over West’s 109x, allowing declarer to ruff the third heart high. Declarer’s like me will through MAGICAL THINKING go for two club finesses banking on the club honours splitting. Yet the squeeze is there to guarantee the contract when West turns up with both club honours.

Reading the hands is one thing…..painting a picture of the full layout ( with the info you gleaned ) is another.

Bobby WolffJune 24th, 2011 at 6:44 pm


Only one reason that you are a most valuable asset to the bridge blogging community is that you have an accurate bent to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Very simply, if West does not have 4 diamonds minimum plus both the KQ of Clubs (unless one of the honors falls early) the squeeze will not be effective. Note West did throw an encouraging club signal and all the early evidence is that the minor suits are like they really are. Many hands are not that clear cut, and always remember, the better your opposition the more likely they are to set up a smoke screen.

While that is one of the off the charts beauties of the game it is also part of the challenging nature of it. Going further, while bridge skills, such as quick wit and numeracy, tend to deteriorate with age, experience of seeing through the mirages cunning opponents tend to try and create, usually improve as time goes by.

There is no getting around that winning judgment is always a vital factor, especially in the high-level game of doing the right thing at crucial times. As a concluding opinion, learning how to outwit qualified opponents is possibly analogous to the very best police detectives who have probably taken courses on how to think like a clever law violator.

In any event you have a super talent on putting your finger on the heartbeat of the problem.

Thank you and please keep it going.

David WarheitJune 26th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

John suggests 2 club finesses if dummy has QJx of spades. No! Ruff the 3d heart high, cash one high spade, then AK of diamonds, ruff a diamond, cross to SQ, ruff a diamond, cross to SJ and cash 5th diamond. Making 4 (or 5 if diamonds are 3-3). This fails if W has only 2 diamonds (no way) or has 5 diamonds and KQ of clubs (very unlikely).