Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 23rd, 2011

And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

Julia Carney

East North
Both ♠ A Q 5 2
 Q J 9 5
 A 8 2
♣ Q 3
West East
♠ 10 8 6
 A 8 4 3
 K J 10 6
♣ 8 4
♠ J
 7 2
 9 5
♣ A K J 9 7 6 5 2
♠ K 9 7 4 3
 K 10 6
 Q 7 4 3
♣ 10
South West North East
3 NT*
Pass 4♣ Dbl. Pass
4♠ All pass    

*Four-level minor-suit pre-empt


This spade game is from the Seniors' final of a recent Australian Teams event. You can hardly blame East for leading a top club to the second trick (a diamond shift is easier to find with the sight of all four hands), but that was all the help declarer needed.

Declarer ruffed the second club and drew three rounds of trump with the king, ace and queen, taking care to preserve the trump five in dummy and the trump four in hand.

Now he played the heart king, West taking the trick and returning a heart. Declarer won and cashed the three heart winners to produce a four-card ending with three diamonds and a trump in each hand, while West was down to his four diamonds and East had the doubleton diamond nine and two irrelevant clubs.

The diamond king seemed to be marked in West, so declarer went for his one remaining chance, a one-suit squeeze. Does that sound impossible? Well, watch what happens when declarer leads a spade to dummy’s five. If West pitches his low diamond, declarer will duck a diamond to West and endplay him. If West pitches the diamond 10 or jack, declarer leads a diamond toward the seven, planning to cover East’s card. If East plays the five, South puts in the seven; if East plays the nine, South covers with the queen. Either way, South’s spots are just good enough to take the last two tricks.

This position works only when East has no diamond higher than the nine.

In standard bidding, North's sequence is conventional. It shows four spades and a self-supporting club suit of six or more cards. South has a fifth trump and two potentially useful kings, just enough for a four-heart cue-bid. With any luck partner can take control now and use Blackwood.


♠ K 9 7 4 3
 K 10 6
 Q 7 4 3
♣ 10
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1♠ Pass 4♣ 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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2January 6th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

If anything, you may have understated the cleverness of declarer’s play.

Declarer had to see ahead that the lead would need to be in dummy in the four card ending to have all those chances. This means that, after ruffing the second club with a small trump, declarer had to follow suit to the AS and the QS with the 7S and the 9S, thus preserving the other small trump in the closed hand.

I wonder if North – after play had finished – asserted (facetiously!) that his four level double facing a passed partner was due, in part, to the strength of his spade spots.

(After all, switch the North 5S for the South 3S ….)

Bobby WolffJanuary 6th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, like a great media reporter, you captured the
mood and sharpness of the declarer. Apparently there was little doubt that declarer knew where he was going, what he was playing for, and most importantly, how to achieve it.

As a learning experience, the bidding and opening lead (suggesting that East had 8 clubs) convincing declarer to go for the one suit squeeze (a great description, coming from long ago, but not known by me who it was, possibly Reese).

The other thought worth thinking is that, if East, had been dealt the Kx of diamonds what a beautiful and devastating play for the defense, he would have made, by ducking the first diamond.

BTW and too many years ago, I remember reading about such plays and trying to decide what it would take to recognize them when they appear. The foremost requirement is total concentration, of course mixed in with always counting declarer’s hand while on defense and being ready when the key play is made e.g. declarer leading a low diamond from dummy. Your play might also work, even if declarer holding originally J10xx in diamonds had then decided to play West for both the King and the Queen instead of just one of them. Further, if the declarer had only the J9 instead of the J10 he would know that East would jettison his honor if he led the Ace from dummy.

Does anyone care to argue that bridge is not the game of all games?