Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 26th, 2013

It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.

George C. Marshall

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


In today's deal from the 2012 NEC tournament in Yokohama, five diamonds is a contract that looks hard to bring home with the club honors split.

At our featured table both the Indonesian and Japanese ladies played five diamonds on the defense of two rounds of spades. They ruffed and drew trump, then played three rounds of hearts early, ruffing in hand. When the Indonesian declarer next ran the club jack, the Japanese west failed to cover and declarer came home easily. The other declarer led a club to the 10, and now a club return killed any chances of a squeeze.

With the sight of all four hands, declarer does best to lead a club to the eight, 10 and queen after drawing trumps. East can later be caught in a simple heart-club squeeze.

So far so good — but what about East-West? Could they bring home four spades doubled if allowed to buy the hand? Three pairs did collect 10 tricks in spades – if you can get there from East, to avoid the heart ruff, the game is extremely hard to beat.

After a diamond lead, you ruff and draw trump, eliminating diamonds en route, then lead a heart to the 10. To defeat you, North must win cheaply and return a low heart. That is far from easy to do, especially if playing regular signals, since South cannot afford to play the heart nine on the first round of the suit, or North is truly endplayed on winning the heart queen!

When opener jump shifts, he should know where he is going — whether it is to raise partner, bid no-trump, or repeat one of his suits. Do not get in his way; give preference to his first suit with no clear-cut second action, as here. By supporting to three diamonds, you give him the maximum room to tell you why he forced to game. A three-spade rebid should really be six, or a better five-carder.


♠ A Q 7 5 2
 7 5 2
 9 6
♣ Q 4 2
South West North East
1 Pass
1♠ Pass 3♣ 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


David desJardinsFebruary 9th, 2013 at 9:36 am

There’s a much better line than playing a club to the ten early. You don’t need West to hold KJTx, just any four hearts to the king (and at least one club honor). Ruff the second spade and cash all but one trump. When you lead your penultimate trump, West has to keep four hearts (to prevent you from setting up the long heart by ruffing), so must come down to only two clubs. After he pitches his club guard, you throw the long heart from dummy, then play a club to the ten, and score two club tricks in the end.

David WarheitFebruary 9th, 2013 at 10:02 am

Mr. desJardins is correct, but his line is a bit double-dummy. South should finesse the queen of hearts after drawing trump and then proceed as he indicates.

Dyslexia alert: It’s west who gets caught in the squeeze, not east. Also, I don’t think it is correct to call it a “simple squeeze”, since the squeeze involves declarer’s threat to ruff the 3d round of hearts. I’m not sure what the correct term is, perhaps “simple ruffing squeeze”.

jim2February 9th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

In the column description on playing 4S, you said “if you can get there from East, to avoid the heart ruff, the game is extremely hard to beat.”

Did you mean West instead of East in that case (in addition to David’s example), as well?

bobby wolffFebruary 9th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hi David, David, and Jim2,

All comments are well directed and correct.

In the Encyclopedia of bridge there are well over 40 different types and names of squeezes which are identified. However just a plain simple squeeze is thought to be a squeeze against only one opponent who is discarding in front of the threat cards and therefore is subject to the simple fact that the declarer will then keep the suit (with one of the threat cards) in the hand to which the player being squeezed has discarded.

Sometimes extra words are added to more closely define a particular squeeze (hence the many types of squeezes named), however I do not see that happening on any hand which only requires the hand behind the one squeezed now discards the irrelevant card.

Sorry for the dyslexic mistakes.

David desJardinsFebruary 9th, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I agree you could finesse the heart queen before running (all but one) trump. It doesn’t change whether you can make the contract, but it make it a bit easier to read the end position, so why not? Conceivably, it might also save you an undertrick in the very unlikely event that the finesse loses.

Warheit’s comment about the ruffing squeeze is wrong. This is the whole reason why my line is better than Bobby’s line (for once!). Bobby’s line only works when West has KJT of hearts, which means the 8H is your threat and you don’t need to ruff a heart. If you play Bobby’s line and East has Jxx of hearts, then when you lead a club to the ten, East wins and returns a club, and you no longer have communication for a ruffing squeeze.