Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 4th, 2014

Put none but Americans on guard tonight.

George Washington

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


This deal is from the final of the 1980 Australian National Open Teams. Which game contract do you think North-South should have reached? In my opinion one could argue that once North bid three spades over two hearts at his second turn to promise a good suit, maybe South should have considered raising to four spades.

Note that even with the bad break in spades, and the club and heart finesses failing, declarer should be able to find a way to bring home 10 tricks in spades by setting up the diamonds, or by ducking an initial club lead.

As it was, South declared three no-trump, and the club six was led to the 10, jack and queen. Declarer appreciated that the spades could wait. He ducked a diamond, and East overtook the diamond 10 with the jack to return a second club. West took the trick and cleared the clubs. Now South led another low diamond. West took the queen and played a fourth club, won by East’s nine.

At this point it looks easy to exit with a heart. But look what happens: declarer will cash the ace and king of hearts and catch East in a squeeze. Whether he discards a spade or a diamond, declarer will take the rest. Appreciating that, East found the shift to a spade into dummy’s tenace, cutting declarer’s communications and insuring a diamond trick for himself or a heart for his partner in the ending.

The response of two no-trump to a weak two-bid is a relay guaranteeing at least game-invitational values. So opener must drive to game, whatever your scheme of responses. Assuming you would rebid a feature if you had one, you must choose between a call of three no-trump, implying solid or semisolid spades, or a jump to four spades. I prefer the former action, since I have no side-suit shortage.


♠ A K J 7 4 3
 5 4 3
 8 6
♣ 10 4
South West North East
2♠ Pass 2 NT 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitApril 18th, 2014 at 9:59 am

In the other room, N played 4S. E led his singleton H. Declarer won the A, finessed the SJ and cashed the SAK. He then led a D, and E PLAYED THE JACK! Note that if E plays a low D, W must win and must either give declarer a free finesse in H or C or he must return a D, allowing declarer to establish the fifth D, but with E on lead it’s curtains for declarer. E is awarded the brilliancy prize for the tournament, which he shared with the E defender against 3NT for his leading a spade into dummy’s awesome spade holding.

Iain ClimieApril 18th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Hi David,

Neat but can declarer take the DA and play another diamond? East has to overtake the diamond to avoid west being endplayed, can cash a trump but must now lead a club and North’s losing heart has a home. Still a good try or am I missing something?



David WarheitApril 18th, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Iain: You are missing something. You forget that declarer has to make 2 discards from dummy as he draws trump and a third when E cashes his trump. Those discards are a heart and a club and then either another heart or another club. So the club play that our host mentioned no longer exists.

ArunApril 18th, 2014 at 12:15 pm


I guess I missed something. East must return a club after winning the DJ. If N plays low, he gets a heart discard on the club. The Club 10 with N makes the difference. Of course, if N plays CQ from dummy, then the game is over.

ArunApril 18th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

David: Saw your explanation after the post. Of course you are right.

Rare to see two superb defences on the same deal.

Double dummy, declarer can get home if he plays a diamond without playing a third round of trumps.

bobby wolffApril 18th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Hi David,

Whatever your main occupation, you should, at the very least, have doubled as an active bridge writer.

Your consistent analysis is always right-on, with being able to improve the description of countless bridge hands, by detailing what needs to be done by both the declarer and especially the defense.

You have the wit of Victor Mollo, although not as structured (by the clever use of his menagerie), the determination and bridge acumen of almost never failing with your details, and above all, you discuss the subject hand from the womb to the tomb.

It is indeed pleasurable to read your offerings and I, for at least one, hope you continue to relate to our game and create superior bridge techniques for all to imagine and therefore benefit.

This site is blessed with clever experienced players from around the whole wide world, as well as relative beginners who are on their way, by their detailed questions, to becoming among our best and brightest, and brilliant guest writers which, I sincerely hope, is appreciated by all who read it, especially on a regular basis.

To all, a big thank you. I am forever indebted!

Iain ClimieApril 18th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Hi Folks (especially David),

Yes, I missed something but I’m having another try even with drawing 3 rounds of trumps. Shed a heart and a diamond on the top trumps, then play towards the diamond ace (east playing the jack) and another diamond. East has to overtake and can’t play another diamond so pressures dummy with a trump.

The HJ can be thrown now and now a club through sets up an extra winner for north’s heart loser. If east leads the CJ, though, south does best to play the ace, then small to the 10. Playing the queen leaves the suit blocked and west returns a heart on which east has to shed a club. Maybe declarer can now ruff a diamond and play the last trump though, getting a double squeeze? All double dummy but a bit of fun!