Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 18th, 2016

The feeling one has no time to get anything done provides the pressure that guarantees one does get some things done.

Alain de Botton

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


One of the most elegant and unusual endings I have seen came up on this deal from the semifinal of the Norman Kay Platinum Pairs in Reno at last year’s Spring Nationals. Declarer was Martin Fleisher, playing with Chip Martel.

The play proceeded sensibly after the lead of the heart queen to the ace, a spade to the ace, then the diamond jack, ducked (nice defense). Now Fleisher led the diamond queen to the king and ace, ruffed by East. A heart back now would have been best, but East played a spade to dummy’s king. Fleisher cashed the club king, took the marked trump finesse, ruffed a heart in dummy and took another club finesse. As the club ace was led, declarer had reached a four-card ending.

He planned to draw East’s last trump, then play a diamond from hand, forcing West to win and give declarer the rest. But there was a snag: West could play low on the diamond five, and when dummy won the seven, the spades in dummy would be losers.

South could not cash the heart king first, or it would set up West’s remaining heart.

However, on the club ace, West came under unusual pressure. If he pitched a heart, declarer could now cash the heart king before leading a diamond, to score the one more trick he needed. And if West discarded his low diamond, he couldn’t play low on the diamond five!

So in a sense even though West wasn’t in any way forced to pitch a winning card, he was squeezed out of a loser.

To set up a game force and then to show your diamond support you must use fourth-suit forcing first. Some people play one spade as natural and forcing for one round, with two spades being game-forcing fourth suit. I prefer simply to play one spade as game forcing here.


♠ A
 K 5 4 2
 Q J 8 5
♣ A J 10 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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


bobbywolffApril 1st, 2016 at 9:51 am

Hi Everyone,

Mea Culpa! The bidding description in the BWTA applies to 1C P 1D, P 1H, P, not the sequence shown. On the bidding shown, 2 clubs becomes a game force, and should be bid with this actual South hand, with diamond support his next choice over almost whatever North now responds (assuming he does not take complete control himself).

Somehow the shown sequence is confused with North opening one club instead of 1 diamond. In any event while the bridge bidding was intended to start with 1 club, the way it is now shown is very confusing to the reader, and should never have been published.

Obviously errors are made both at the table and also at the desk while trying to discuss different types of bidding sequences. Here we made what is equivalent to a revoke and penalized all our readers and somehow or other it did not get caught before it went viral.

Please forgive.

jim2April 1st, 2016 at 11:49 am

In the Mud Cup, many played the hand in 3N where it was only a matter of overtricks.

The most common auction was a simple 1S – 3N, with the next most common had North doubling the 3H overcall and South converting to 3N.

We defended 3H doubled, of course. Pard led a club, I inserted the 10C and West ruffed. The diamond lead to the 9D came to my JD, I cashed the AS, then led a trump.

Partner won his ace, I got a spade ruff, and then KH …

Bill CubleyApril 1st, 2016 at 3:08 pm

We read this on April 1st, so no problem. Now in 2 weeks will the actual April 1st hand be a certain slam? Not likely, but hope comes with every spring.

bobbywolffApril 1st, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Hi jim2,

Down a record number, one which rocked Slobbovia to even a lower status. It rambled in the countryside and rattled in the dell. Yes, and you caused everyone sitting your way to wonder why they also weren’t defending 3 hearts doubled.

Let the good times roll which does happen, even in the Mud Cup. It may not be regarded as the best defended hand of the tournament, but it likely was the largest set obtained.

bobbywolffApril 1st, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, of course, except I, rather than the BWTA, was the April fool.

And speaking of Hope being eternal, why not? since he lived to be 100.

tummennuskalvoApril 6th, 2016 at 4:40 am

He has qite a lot of experience in window film set
up at workplaces, inns, stores and houses.