Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 17th, 2013

This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts.

Winston Churchill

East North
East-West ♠ A K 7
 8 6 5 4
♣ Q 10 8 5 2
West East
♠ 10 5 3
 8 3 2
♣ K 9 7 6 4 3
♠ Q J 8 6 2
 7 4
 A Q J 10
♣ A J
♠ 9 4
 A K Q J 10 6 5
 K 9 7 2
♣ —
South West North East
4 All pass    


If you just looked at the North-South cards in four hearts ,you would expect 10 tricks to be a cakewalk, especially as East's opening bid suggests the diamond ace rates to be onside.

However, the fly in the ointment was the opening lead of the diamond three. Imagine that as declarer you were faced with that situation. You would let East win the diamond ace, cover the return of the diamond queen, and West would ruff and exit with a spade.

With two diamond losers to get rid of, you would ruff a club, go back to the heart nine to ruff another club, and try to put some pressure on the opponents — but nothing would materialize.

Instead, declarer must duck the second trick. No harm will come to South in the unlikely event that diamonds were originally 3-2: he will simply have invested an overtrick as insurance. But if the cards lie as in the diagram, at trick three East will lead a third diamond, covered and ruffed. When West exits with a spade, you win in dummy and ruff a club. Then you play a heart to the nine, ruff a second club, and run the hearts, pitching dummy’s diamond, followed by low clubs. First you squeeze West out of a spade (as he has to guard clubs), then, when you throw dummy’s club queen, East must pitch spades to keep the diamond guard. So trick 13 will be won with dummy’s spade seven.

In this sequence at your second turn the "impossible" two-spade call shows a good raise to three clubs, while a simple raise to three clubs would suggests more shape and fewer high cards, so take the more aggressive route. For the record, had partner responded two diamonds, not two clubs, a simple raise would have sufficed.


♠ A K 7
 8 6 5 4
♣ Q 10 8 5 2
South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2♣ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2January 31st, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I am not sure I would have ducked the second at the table, but the principle is clear enough that maybe I would next time.

Specifically, if declarer realizes a squeeze is the only chance (here, if diamonds are 1-4), it is almost always necessary to “rectify the count.” The only way to do that in this hand was to lose the first three tricks, not just the first two. Hence, duck the second diamond and let West ruff the third.

(btw, nice card, that heart nine!)

Iain ClimieJanuary 31st, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

It shouldn’t make a difference but South should drop the D9 or 7 at T1. There is no obvious reason why west would have led a diamond from xx(x) but it costs nothing. East might think west had 4 spades and had avoided the lead as declarer was ready and waiting for it.


Iain Climie

bobby wolffJanuary 31st, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi Jim2 and Iain,

This type of squeeze, while named a simultaneous double squeeze (wherein both defenders get squeezed on the same trick) is super advanced, but in reality is not nearly as difficult as it appears. As Jim mentioned, causing declarer to duck the 2nd diamond, the count must be rectified, losing all the tricks, in this case the 2nd one on the way to the 3rd round ruff you are sure to have thrust upon you, is necessary for success.

I would liken that play to, when learning to drive and needing to back up, looking in the mirror to make sure nothing of danger is behind you, which we all learn, since it often occurs (more often than double squeezes in bridge) but driving in life is usually necessary and so worth while and extremely important to master.

When an obviously experienced, but weak holding defender, eschews leading his partner’s suit for a small card somewhere (not an ace, king or queen) the declarer should be at least 95+% sure it is a singleton. That information is also shared by the stronger 3rd seat defender hand and should be acted upon with almost 100% certainty.

In no way am I saying that every declarer would duck the second diamond (in real life very few would, especially anyone below a very top of the ladder player), but what I am saying is that this type of play can be learned and if bridge is ever established in our primary schools (as it already is, in much of Europe and all of China) the wonderful logic involved, will eventually enable those students to become problem solvers, more serious thinkers, gain more confidence in themselves, and therein become, on the average, greater benefactors to society as well as creating more self-esteem for themselves.

Why cannot our ACBL B-O-D’s spread the news to our educators using the endorsements by those industrious countries around the world who have seen the light and made it happen.

The endorsements from the bright kids who have had the experience are almost all overwhelming in favor of it. Serious?, yes, Beneficial?, you bet, Social? nothing more constructive, Frivolous? not on your life.

ClarksburgJanuary 31st, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Today’s quotation (Churchill) is a keeper for sure!! Widely applicable. Thanks.

bobby wolffJanuary 31st, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I totally agree!

And some people wonder why Winston Churchill is thought to be one of the true and few monumental icons of the 20th century.

Iain ClimieJanuary 31st, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hi Clarksburg and Mr. Wolff,

Can I point out that some of Churchill’s best quotes are humorous, rather than deadly serious or the great (but much misquoted) WW2 speech in 1940 “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender….”; the tribute to “The few” (some of whom were American) in the Battle of Britain was also magnificent. Instead consider a much more entertaining dust-up with a female political opponent.

“Winston, if you were my husband, I would put poison in your coffee.” “Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it.”

The “…but I shall be sober in the morning” quote is also fun, but possibly not terribly PC!



bobby wolffFebruary 1st, 2013 at 3:33 am

Hi Iain,

I thoroughly enjoyed your candid portrait of “Winnie” and his wit.

On this side of the pond a back and forth communication between the famous PM and George Bernard Shaw started with Shaw inviting Churchill to his new play opening Wednesday night in London, arranging two tickets for him that night and continuing, for him and a friend, if he had one.

Winston wrote back accepting both tickets, but that he preferred Thursday night instead, provided, of course, it was still playing.