Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Still you are not satisfied,
Still you tremble faint reproach;
Challenge me I keep aside
Secrets that you may not broach.

D.H Lawrence

North North
Neither ♠ 9 3
 K 6 5
 A Q 10
♣ A K Q J 5
West East
♠ 7
 Q J 10 3
 J 7 6 2
♣ 7 6 4 3
♠ K 8 4 2
 A 9 8
 8 4 3
♣ 9 8 2
♠ A Q J 10 6 5
 7 4 2
 K 9 5
♣ 10
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1♠ Pass 2 NT Pass
4♠ All pass    


In today's deal South might have looked for a slam after the two-no-trump rebid. Over the forcing rebid of three spades, North can cooperate with slam interest or sign off in no-trump or spades with a minimum in context.

As it was, though, it was just as well that South restrained himself, because even 10 tricks proved quite difficult to accumulate. West led the heart queen and declarer rightly refused to play dummy’s king on the first two rounds. (If West held Q-J-10-x-x, East’s ace would appear on the second round and dummy’s king would be worth a trick.)

But how would you continue the play when the defenders take three heart tricks and East then switches to a club? You win in dummy and run the trump nine successfully. When you lead dummy’s last trump and finesse the queen, West shows out. What now? You must aim for a trump-coup end-position where you hold A-J of trumps in your hand and the lead is in dummy. Because of the shortage of entries to dummy, you must cross your fingers and lead a diamond to the 10, ruff a club, re-enter dummy with the diamond queen, and ruff another club. When you cross to dummy’s diamond ace East follows suit, and you have reached the required two-card end position. Your A-J of trumps sit over East’s K-8 and the lead is in dummy. You can play a club and take the rest whatever East does.

Your quick tricks might suggest bidding three no-trump here, but in fact two no-trump will suffice. That shows 18-19 in a balanced hand and lets partner participate in the decision of whether to play in a part-score or a game. A call of three clubs would be cowardly; and on a spade lead it might play equally badly because of the risk of heart ruffs.


♠ 9 3
 K 6 5
 A Q 10
♣ A K Q J 5
South West North East
1♣ 2 Pass 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieNovember 10th, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

Is it wort noting the trap here with the diamond position? Suppose declare plays a diamond the queen first and only then wakes up to the need to generate an extra entry. When he later leads a small diamond from Kx towards A10, west (if awake) plays the DJ to ensure declarer only has 1 more entry not two.


Iain Climie

Patrick CheuNovember 10th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Hi Bobby, would the problem be resolved by playing kd n overtake with ace, n later ply d to 10d as declarer intends to finesse for extra entry?That is once declarer knows trumps are not breaking, and trump reduction play is called for.Best regards-Patrick.

Bobby WolffNovember 10th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Hi Iain and Patrick,

You both add new gambits to an old entry creating problem.

In fact in Goren’s most widely and popular original tome (likely written in the 1940’s), a chapter’s lead hand dealt with what he called the most unusual finesse in contract bridge history (remember contract bridge was relatively young when he named it such). It was either exactly or, if not, close, to the card combination above with the idea of taking a necessary risk to create a contract fulfilling end situation which impressed us all.

While Iain correctly talks about how to foil, if he gets careless, declarer’s plans and you answer another way to counteract that defensive ploy by adding legitimacy to how to do it, you both plant creative and accurate learning experiences.

Since the thought process, not necessarily the exact plays, is what is important, you both serve as imaginative teachers in continuing to get better, while playing our worthwhile game.

Since bridge blogging is dedicated to just such an effort, I sincerely appreciate your constant reminders to add creative and new aspects, if for no other reason, than to enable others to see light they have never before experienced.

Patrick CheuNovember 10th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Hi Bobby, my line is similar to yours except that it caters for singleton jack of diamonds in east(however unlikely),in which case,minus one or two,may be important in a pairs comp,as regards finishing 1st or 2nd. I know what it is like to lose by one point or two.Lol. Thanks again for your enlightening comment. We are always learning from playing this game.Best Wishes-Patrick.

jim2November 10th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

In an alternate universe far, far away, I sat South and raised partner’s 2N to 6N.

Now, if East had led the ace or another heart, declarer (North) would have taken three spades, one heart, three diamonds, and five clubs w/o breaking a sweat. However, East led a small diamond.

West, a nondescript player like myself, blanched slightly as I put down the spade suit. I did not know who had the KS, but I was confident that West did not. Had pard noticed it?

Pard won in hand and ran the 9S, winning. East seemed to relax slightly when his partner followed suit with the 7S. Pard must have seen it, too, because he tapped back down the card he had almost detached from his hand.

After a minute, pard cashed out the minor suits, ending in the closed hand. Oddly, after pitching two of my small hearts, he saved the third and threw spades, instead.

The Board’s last four cards were thus:

H 7
D –
C –

And, as I learned later, partner’s were:

S 3
H K65
D –
C –

No spades were discarded by either opponent. Pard tried the finesse and West showed out. Now, however, he led my preserved last heart won by East, who found himself endplayed into finessing himself.

I asked him what the name of that squeeze was, but he didn’t know.

A nice place, that universe. I hope to visit there again, sometime.

Patrick CheuNovember 10th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Hi Jim2, Maybe you can call it a non automatic stepping stone squeeze, automatic if he keeps the ace heart, but if not, then u cash the kh, n spade finesse n heart disc on ace spades…n just losing last trick-Patrick Cheu.

jim2November 10th, 2012 at 9:36 pm


If it does have a name, I’m sure Our Host knows it. Heck, he may have executed it a dozen times over the years. If so, maybe we can convince him to relate one!

Bobby WolffNovember 11th, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hi Jim2 and Patrick,

That little gambit is named (or at least, should be, an end play squeeze). It can be compared to inviting some friends and some enemies to the bar, offering to buy everyone a drink, but after the first spade finesse and back to his hand to lead his good tricks and when LHO parts with his ace of hearts, declarer MUST then pause (at least 30 seconds) before then throwing the jack of spades, needling both the opponents that he, the declarer is going set, because he only had the queen of hearts, not the king, leaving LHO’s partner with both the king of hearts and the 13th diamond.

Is that an ethical ploy? Yes would say some of the current top professionals, since it will be disruptive to that poor East player for the next hand or so, and we need to always play to give ourselves every possible advantage, even at the risk of losing an overtrick in the unlikely event that the spades were 3-2 all the time.

The end of the story? Not so fast my friends, what if the declarer started with a singleton spade and something like the QJ10 of hearts as well as four diamonds making it wrong for East to keep his spades, but rather keep his ace and another heart, since he could fear what might happen to him if he keeps all or almost all of his spades.

Yes, bridge is great for many things with probably its greatest advantage to ward off the onset of Alzheimers, by continuing to exercise one’s brain.

Also, Jim, I’ve only executed this particular squeeze 11 times over the years, but I will not bore you with relating those hands, although I must admit that I lie a lot.

Patrick CheuNovember 11th, 2012 at 9:39 am

Hi Bobby, your analysis has ,yet again,given us more food for thought. Best Wishes-Patrick.