Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 21st, 2014

I to my perils
Of cheat and charmer
Came clad in armour
By stars benign.

A.E. Housman

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


The summer nationals are currently being held in Las Vegas. Therefore all the deals this week come from last year's national championships held in Atlanta.

Imagine that you have reached three no-trump on this deal. (You may not like that first double, but that is what happened at the table, and the options are not especially attractive.) The defenders lead hearts, of course, and can set up their suit while still apparently retaining plenty of entries with which to get in and cash out their suit. Does declarer have any chance now?

As Edgar Kaplan said, where there are eight tricks there are always nine. Declarer can reasonably expect East to be 5-5 in the majors and thus to be the hand brought under pressure.

Declarer simply wins the heart ace and runs five clubs. On the last club, East (who can keep only seven cards) is caught in a triple-squeeze. He wants to hold onto the spade K-Q, his four remaining hearts and the guarded diamond king — but the laws do not permit that.

If East pitches a spade or a diamond, you get your extra tricks from that suit at once. If he lets go of a heart, you can duck a spade and set up that suit, and the opponents will have only three heart tricks to cash before you get in with the diamond ace and take the two further spade winners that you need for your contract.

With a choice of unacceptable alternatives here, on an auction where declarer rates to have club and heart length and partner seems unlikely to have that much in spades, a club is the best shot at a passive lead. A spade seems likely to give up a natural trick in the suit but is hardly less attractive. There might be a case for the diamond ace, but I'm just not brave enough.


♠ K J 8 5 3
 Q 4
 A 10 6 4
♣ 5 4
South West North East
1♠ Dbl. Pass 3
All 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