Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday June 24, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: North


A 10 3 2

A 10 4 3


A K 8 7


J 8

Q 2

8 6 5 4

10 9 6 4 2


Q 7 6 5 4

J 9 6 5

Q 9 7



K 9

K 8 7

A J 10 3 2

Q 5 3


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
3 NT Pass 4 NT Pass
6 Pass 6 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond six

“We combat obstacles in order to get repose, and when got, the repose is insupportable.”

— Henry Brooks Adams

In today’s deal from last year’s match between the Swedish and English women’s teams from the European Championships, both declarers played six no-trump.

In the room not shown here, the Swedish declarer (North) ran into a challenging defense when Nevena Senior (East) found the spade lead, then shifted to a heart when she got in with the diamond queen. However, the declarer could succeed even then.

But let’s say you receive a diamond lead (as did the English declarer), won by dummy’s king. A reasonable plan would be to win the club ace and continue with a club to your hand. With the actual layout you are rewarded by finding out that clubs are 5-1. When you cash the diamond ace and clear that suit, you might discard one card from each of dummy’s majors.

East now probably plays back a heart (best for the defense), which you win with the ace, then play the spade ace and a spade to the king. Now you cash the two diamonds to reduce to a three-card ending, discarding the heart 10 and the club eight from dummy (unless South unguards that suit).

To retain two clubs, West will be able to keep just one heart. Now when a club is played to the king, East will likewise have to retain her spade queen and be reduced to one heart. So you will win the last two tricks with the king and eight of hearts.


South holds:

Q 7 6 5 4
J 9 6 5
Q 9 7


South West North East
1 Pass
1 2 2 3
ANSWER: You must look beyond the fact that you have a minimum in high cards. Instead, focus on the double fit for your side and your fifth trump, plus your singleton club. These three factors, taken together, mean you have more than enough in reserve to bid three spades — which, incidentally, is purely competitive and not a game-try.


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


jim2July 8th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

In the column 6N, it would seem that declarer has a variety of ways to proceed but, one way or another, will concede a diamond trick and try clubs (as 3-3 split is 12 easy tricks).

Thus, declarer will learn early that West has only four major suit cards and that a squeeze is likely against East. That is, East is almost sure to have length in both majors.

As long as declarer recognizes that the KH is the key late hand entry and the KC the late Board entry (and protects them), cashing the top spade honors (and the AH, if a heart is not returned) will reveal that West is 2-2 in the majors and the club suit immaterial (in fact, the entire West hand is not material).

With one round of hearts played, declarer simply arranges to be on the Board at the two card ending with 10S and 3/4H with declarer left with K8 or K7H.

My point here is that the meticulous column line appears only necessary if West turns out to have an unlikley major suit guard. I would probably have made 6N on the actual layout, but might have failed to time it precisely on some others.

Bobby WolffJuly 9th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for the clarity you used to describe the inner workings of what turns out to be a simple squeeze against East (and his major suit length) with, of course the side issue of West having to protect against North’s long club, although on the subject hand that was of little importance.

My long term experience has allowed me to think of high-level bridge learning (squeeze endings certainly lend themselves to that) to two different types of bridge minds: 1. The serious analytical textbook superior scientific approach guided by Clyde Love’s original squeeze elements and how to do it represented, at least to me and through the years by Bob Hamman, Oswald Jacoby, Eric Rodwell, Benito Garozzo, Sammy Kehela, Sidney Lazard, Bart Bramley, Grant Baze, Peter Weichsel, Jean Besse and many other brilliant players, too numerous to mention, certainly deserving of recognitiion, but not well enough known or experienced by me, who had both a specific numeracy bent and a great talent for the game itself and 2. The seat of the pants player who was not necessarily formula conscious nor scientifically inclined, but knew the elements involved, always (or almost) knew locations and distributions of all the important cards and suits and therefore was equally adept at execution. Those players, in my early days, were many of the old time names, Schenken, Mathe, Silodor, Kay, Crawford, Reese, Sobel, Becker, Belladonna, Forquet, Murray, and Tim Seres as well as present day bridge magicians such as Meckstroth, Zia, Chagas, Levin, Balichi, Chemla, Mari, Perron, Martel, Versace, Passell, Lauria, Berkowitz, Levy, Helgemo, Hampson, Branco, Stansby, Lebel, Bocchi, Sontag, Duboin, Sundelin, Hamilton, Helness and Patrick Huang come to mind. Please understand that this list is composed of my encounters only and so by its very nature is going to leave many other, equally qualified players off, but I just wanted to recount my own personal experiences in the hopes of equaling your clarity in presentation as well, of course, as to present to the reader the anatomy of what it takes to arrive at a successful conclusion.

I guess my message also suggests, like the ability to skin a cat, there are alternate ways to beard the bridge lion.