Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 29th, 2017

O but we dreamed to mend
Whatever mischief seemed
To afflict mankind.

W. B. Yeats

E North
None ♠ Q 5
 Q J
 A Q 10 8 3
♣ A J 8 4
West East
♠ A J 10 3 2
 K 4
 J 9 4
♣ 9 7 5
♠ 9 8 4
 10 9 7 5 3
 7 5
♣ 10 6 2
♠ K 7 6
 A 8 6 2
 K 6 2
♣ K Q 3
South West North East
1 NT Pass 6 NT All pass


After today’s deal South must have felt not only that he had earned 14 IMPs for his side, but that he had scored a palpable hit on his opponent. While the defenders often have to disguise their holdings, an excellent declarer can participate in the game of bluff and double-bluff.

In the qualifying rounds of the 1989 Bermuda Bowl France played Chinese Taipei, and Patrick Huang as South declared six no-trump. On Christian Mari’s club lead, Huang won in hand and led a spade to the queen, then took five rounds of diamonds. Mari’s first discard was a low heart, then a low spade. Now Huang cashed his four clubs, on the last of which Mari threw the spade jack. With one spade and two hearts in each hand, Huang had reduced to an ending known as a strip-squeeze, where he had forced West, with a tenace in one suit, hearts, and winners in another, spades, to weaken his holding fatally in one of those suits. All declarer had to do was guess which.

Huang could have exited with a spade, hoping Mari would be left with two hearts and the spade ace, and would have to concede the rest to him. Or he could have taken the heart finesse, which would have turned out even worse. Instead, he decided that Mari’s discards were what a very good player would do if he could see he was going to have to bare his heart king sooner or later. So he played a heart to the ace.

Very nicely done by both sides.

We haven’t discussed ‘inverted minors’ for a while. Here a raise to two diamonds by an unpassed hand in a non-competitive auction is natural and forcing for at least one round. Unless either defender limits their hand with a re-raise to three diamonds, or with a call of two no-trump, the auction becomes game forcing. This is surely the best way to explore for a possible slam.


♠ Q 5
 Q J
 A Q 10 8 3
♣ A J 8 4
South West North East
    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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact