Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 6th, 2016

It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.

Jackson Pollock

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

*One key-card with hearts as trump


South’s jump to seven notrump in today’s deal was made in the confidence that his partner had the spade king for his initial response. The six diamond reply to the five no-trump ask was for specific kings, so it showed the diamond king while denying the club king.

South did not relax when dummy came down, as he could see that a bad spade break might leave him awkwardly placed. But there was no need to rush things: if spades were splitting at trick one, they would still be breaking kindly for him later on in the deal.

Declarer unblocked his heart winners from dummy, and took one top spade from hand to discover the disturbing news. Then he took the king and ace of spades and his second top club, and ran the hearts.

In the three-card ending, as the last heart winner was led, West had to keep his spade jack so could only keep two minor-suit cards. If he kept two diamonds, then East would immediately be squeezed in the minors. So he came down to the diamond queen and club jack; but now declarer pitched dummy’s spade nine, which has done its job. He could next lead to the diamond king and finesse in diamonds at trick 12, to make his slam.

The underlying technique is known as a guard squeeze, because on the last winner West has to surrender his partial guard in diamonds or abandon control of the club suit. Switch the East and West hands, and the squeeze would not work.

Some play the call of two no-trump in this sequence as a relay, asking for range and the number of trumps in support. Failing that (and one can survive quite nicely without it) this hand is worth one game try, and the most appropriate call seems to me to bid three hearts, showing length and looking for help there.


♠ K 9 8 6 5
 K J 10
 K 2
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bob BordenFebruary 20th, 2016 at 11:17 pm

An interesting alternative ending is to not have cashed the SK and in the 5 card
ending North has Kx – Kx x and South has x A Axx -. On the lead of the
HA West must throw his club guard (else the same ending as the column hand).
North throws Sx as East follows. Now on the lead of the small spade to SK East
is caught and must unguard one or the other minor.

Years ago in my serious playing days we called this a progressive double guard
squeeze, but whatever the name is, they seldom came up.

bobby wolffFebruary 20th, 2016 at 11:57 pm

Hi Bob,

You guys must have had a different language bridge teacher, since I remember that being called a non-simultaneous double squeeze.

Also my guess is that they came up about as often as now, but many of us (certainly including me) didn’t recognize them.

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (please excuse) and anyone artful enough to play this hand either the column way or your way, is artful enough to get all of our attention.

Clyde Love is probably right. The most important feature of a squeeze is losing all the tricks expected early before the one needed to gain is squeezed home. So also sez Yogi Berra!

Bob BordenFebruary 21st, 2016 at 12:10 am


I think it’s more likely we made up the name.

I’m also sure you’re right about not recognizing them, at least until long
after the session ended.

John StoreyFebruary 21st, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Hi Bobby

Is there a name for the 2NT relay to show range and the number of trumps? I like this convention but I wonder what it is called.

By the way, the RSS button works well for your column, but none of the other contributors appear in the RSS feed. It used to show all the contributors to the blog.

Hope you’re well. Thanks, John

bobbywolffFebruary 21st, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Hi John,

Yes, I am barely aware of the new kid on the block, 2NT asking for more description after an opening bid by partner, a major suit response and then a simple raise to 2 of that major. However I do not know the name, if any.

For years, after getting raised (and back then it was done more often than today since more players preferred raising, if possible, with only three trumps) a rebid of 2NT, was natural, almost always only 4 of the bid major, balanced (with usual stopper(s) in the unbids) but NF.

I guess the difference is a question of captaincy, where the oldtimers basically cooperated to choose the right final contract, when a bid becomes artifical as you suggest the captaincy then, of course, flows to the 2NT bidder.

Probably no way to know or even guess the efficiency between new and old, but my guess is that it is about equal and possibly lies with how good the player is who makes the later decisions.

Artificial systems or treatments always have some advantage with hand details, but do not ever forget what I think overrides that edge into being negative….the ability of the non-opening leader of the defense, to much better help the opening leader to what is very underrated in importance….getting off to the best start on defense, instead of him or her having to make a good guess.

Artful and scientific players prefer getting more information on offense, while, should I say practical ones, benefit more from their opponents bad guesses. Yes, I am basically a member of that latter group.

I’m sorry to have no knowledge about the RSS button, also confirming why I lean toward being what I am, an old dog. However, thanks for the well wishes.