Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

When I hoped I feared,
Since I hoped I dared.

Emily Dickinson

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

*Texas transfer to hearts



Isn't it just like partner to bid most aggressively when you have to play the contract? That happened to George Steiner playing with Gaylor Kasle.

The heart game was no shoo-in here: It was missing the A-J-x-x-x of trump, with two sure diamond losers — and what about the clubs?

West led the diamond 10 in response to his partner’s lead-directing double. East won the king and switched to a low spade. Steiner took the spade in dummy and called for a low heart. Up popped the jack; That was one hurdle cleared.

West took the heart ace and played a second round of diamonds to East’s king. Back came the club 10. Steiner won with the ace, picked up trumps with three more rounds (as East discarded three diamonds), then played a spade to the king and ruffed a spade. It wasn’t a sure thing, but it looked as though East had started with four spades. This meant that his original shape appeared to be 4-1-5-3.

If so, Steiner realized that he could catch East in a show-up squeeze. When Steiner played the last heart from dummy, East had to find a discard from the spade queen and the club 9-7. East discarded a club on the heart, and Steiner threw his spade.

When Steiner played a club from dummy and East produced the nine, Steiner was confident that the queen would drop under the king. It did, and Kasle’s aggressive bid paid off with a near top.

Although you have a maximum hand for your first call, the combination of the negative double on your left (suggesting spade length), coupled with your partner's silence, argue for caution. I don't think you are likely to get badly hurt if you bid two spades now, but I believe you should pass and hope your partner will be able to balance if he has values and the two-diamond bid comes back to him.


♠ K 4 3 2
 K 5
 Q 3
♣ A K J 6 3
South West North East
2♣ Dbl. Pass 2

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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Howard Bigot-JohnsonMay 17th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

HBJ : I just love hands like this because the card reading skill is at a level which sorts the men from the boys. Once East throws a second club the fate of the defenders is well and truly sealed.
As I try so often try to do….which is avoid taking finesses when other much better lines of play are available….I have managed to pull off above average scores. The secret of course is to keep all options open through the timing of the play leaving the finesse option as the last resort.
Nevertheless this rather more straightforward squeeze manouevre provides an extremely instructive hand where aggression, card reading and count really pay big dividends.

Iain ClimieMay 17th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff and Howard B-J,

The spade ruff to isolate the menace is neat, although East hopefully played the spades to suggest Qxx. Yet there may be another clue.

With a singleton club and the heart ace, wouldn’t West lead the club anyway intending to put partner in with a diamond later for a ruff? This doesn’t detract from the squeeze of course but it is an extra indication that declarer’s card reading is correct.


Iain Climie

bobbywolffMay 17th, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Hi HBJ and Iain,

First, thanks to HBJ for his right-on analysis leading to a good teaching tool for all wannabe good (even potentially great) players to aspire.

And his description of the aggression of his disdaining the finesse, card reading by eliminating the normal finesse which if left to only percentage, and the count of the hand which facilitated the declarer rising with his high honor in clubs.

And to Iain for his detective work of eliminating the liklihood of the opening leader having a singleton club and not leading it originally (the dog which did not bark). The above hand deals with the bridge qualities ingrained in better players on display for all to admire.

MouhamedApril 17th, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Your 100% stubit. Who is the kid? The wonrikg people? Those who produce everything around us? In this world the most rich you become the less you work. How can someone who doesn’t know WHATS GOING ON take rational decisions? And then what? the society is the kid and the parents are the big corporations and the managers? cooooooooooooooooooooooome ooooooooooooooooooonnnnn