Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.

Peter Drucker

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


This table produced a swing in a regional team game. I was dummy at the second table, admiring my partner’s line of play.

At both tables North-South competed to three spades on the lead of the club jack. Where my teammates were defending, declarer ducked the club jack lead but East overtook with the club queen to shift to a diamond. Declarer played low and West won the diamond jack then played the club three. East again won cheaply and shifted back to diamonds, leaving declarer with five losers — two in each minor and the ace of trumps.

In the other room East pardonably failed to overtake the club queen at trick one, which had the effect of giving declarer a lifeline. East won the second club and shifted to a revealing diamond nine, on which South played low. Now West won the diamond jack and exited with a trump to East’s ace. Declarer won the next diamond with the ace and ran his trumps, discarding diamonds and a small heart from dummy. In the process of playing off his spades he squeezed West in the red suits so that when declarer led a heart toward dummy he knew to play off the top hearts, confident that the queen would appear from one defender or the other.

This position is known as a show-up squeeze. West is reduced to two hearts and his master diamond, and East only began life with two hearts, so no one can keep the queen guarded.

Your partner’s three heart call asks you to describe your hand in terms of spade suit, club fit or diamond stopper. It shows hearts rather than asking about the suit. With a solid diamond stopper bid three no-trump now. You could persuade me that I hadn’t shown the full quality of my spades yet. I agree; but I’d rather head for no-trump first and hope that we can back into spades later. No-trump can’t wait.


♠ K Q J 5 4 2
 10 2
 A Q 6
♣ 6 2
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 ♠ 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 9:17 am

The “swing” of which you speak was, of course, only 1 IMP, since surely both declarers were playing only 2S. I cannot believe that any North, especially you, raised partner’s rebid of 2S to 3 with the CK looking so worthless.

jim2September 23rd, 2015 at 11:38 am

Well, the 1N bid could have shown as few as 6 HCP in most partnerships I know, and that is not terrible support facing a 6-card suit. Also, if the contract had ended in NT, North would have been declarer.

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Hi David,

Yes David, your say it ain’t so, plaintive wail is true. I needed a defensive hand to decorate my office, and thought defending 2 spades wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Also it has been known for an overcaller to not have the AQ in his best suit, especially after passing first and believe it or not, it did happen in West Virginia at least once before.

However your admonition is worth noting and I promise to move on smartly from here.

I ask you though to not spread the word to others, since I want that ugly cat to stay in my bag.

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for coming to my aid. That big, bad David is bullying me, seemingly behind every tree and just waiting for me to make horrible overbids.

How about playing with me next year at the Lower Slobbian summer tournament in December? I know that LS is in the Northern Hemisphere but they have petitioned the World Weather Service for special consideration.

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Hi again Jim2,

Please forgive me for miss spelling Lower Slobbovian. The penalty for so doing is well known to be a required smooch from Lena, a small effort for me, but a giant step for love.

jim2September 23rd, 2015 at 4:08 pm

It’s a date! The one w/ Lena, too! 🙂

David WarheitSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Thank you for all your kind words, especially considering how difficult it must be to use your hands in the cold place where you now find yourself! There’s actually another consideration. Remember that E passed originally, so not only is he almost certainly sitting over your CK with the AQ, but his partner is almost certainly sitting over whatever your partner holds in S and D. The only ray of hope is that if the opponents hold the HQ, it’s probably W who holds it.

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Hi David,

While your attachment to percentages is laudable, on the right track, and makes for good teaching, the Dame Fortune who rules has always found a way to make its players fall victim to unexpected happenings.

Since we, as players, will usually feel more comfortable and less blameworthy following to whence you speak, my experience seems to remind me more of what happened in West Virginia.

Besides, once the auction is over and the fun begins, at least in my perhaps not so humble opinion, surprise invariably rules, and its every player for himself.

Not that so-called percentages should not be respected, but only that to the victor go the spoils and since bridge is definitely a bidder’s game, when faced with a close final choice, go for it.

Besides being a bold bidder makes one a much tougher opponent and, with time, will wear most adversaries down and then, out.