Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 26th, 2016

The Senate is a place filled with goodwill and good intentions, and if the road to hell is paved with them, then it’s a pretty good detour.

Hubert H. Humphrey

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


You can choose to play or defend two diamonds today. It is from last spring’s Norman Kay Platinum Pairs.

Against two diamonds West led the heart 10, to the king and ace. The club four was returned to the ace, followed by the club queen, won by the king. South led a diamond to the 10 and jack, ruffed the club return, then played the diamond ace and seven. West could win and kill dummy’s club menace, holding declarer to eight tricks.

Should East have ducked the heart king at trick one? Yes. Say declarer leads a diamond to the queen and king. Now if the defenders take their heart ruff (and who wouldn’t?), West can exit with the club ace and another club. But eventually he will be squeezed between spades and clubs, for the contract.

In fact West does better to exit with the club queen, before cashing the club ace. Declarer wins the club king and cannot play a second club, or West can kill the club menace. Instead, declarer must ruff the fourth heart back to hand. Now the black-suit squeeze will work.

The defenders’ retort is not to play for heart ruffs at all, but to shift to the club ace and club queen at trick three, locking declarer in dummy. When South ruffs a club to hand to play trump, West wins and only now takes his heart ruff. Then he can play the fourth club, to kill the squeeze.

So must the defense prevail? Not if declarer plays an unlikely heart himself at trick two – I leave the details to the reader.

If you haven’t seen this auction before you might be lulled into thinking it shows a great hand with clubs. So it does – but it also guarantees four hearts and game-forcing values. So bid four no-trump, Blackwood or Keycard for hearts, planning to head to at least a small slam.


♠ A 10 4 3
 K 9 8 6
♣ K 8 5 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 4 ♣ 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


AviApril 10th, 2016 at 6:12 am

Bobby Hi

BWTA – which slam are you heading to?
from what I understand, partner shows a monster 6-4 hand.
In that case, isn’t the club slam safer, to avoid a club ruff on a Heart slam?

Iain ClimieApril 10th, 2016 at 9:32 am

HI Avi,

I think the answer would normally be 6H (especially at pairs) but suppose partner has something like (say) x AQ9x Kx AQJxxx. As well as avoiding the potential club ruff in 6H, you also have an extra chance of coping with a 4-1 heart break which will scupper 6H. Obviously you can conconct hands to suit either contract, but I think 6C may be 2 IMPs or money well spent if it gives such extra chances. At pairs, the lure of the extra points would probably be too much.