Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.

T.S. Eliot

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

*Short clubs and heart support


In today’s slam, if diamonds are 4-3, you can establish the suit and set up a discard. You win the diamond ace at trick one, draw trumps, cash the club ace and ruff a club. When you ruff a diamond to hand, East’s 10 warns you that perhaps the diamonds are not going to break. Indeed, when you cross to the heart eight and lead another diamond, East discards a club. How will you continue?

Since you can no longer establish a diamond winner, you must instead focus on a spade-diamond squeeze against West. One idea would be to reduce West to the doubleton spade king and a master diamond, and throw him in with a diamond. However, because South has the long trumps, there is no entry to dummy to achieve the throw-in. You must aim for a simple squeeze, and that requires you to duck a trick to tighten the screws on West.

If you think about it, you will realize that the only convenient moment to rectify the count is now! Discard a spade on the third round of diamonds, and West will win the trick. He can exit safely with a top diamond, which you ruff, but he will have no answer when you run the trumps.

His last three cards will be the spade K-J and the diamond jack sitting under dummy’s doubleton spade ace and diamond nine. He must discard the spade jack to ensure that dummy’s diamond isn’t high. You will then let go of the diamond nine from dummy and score the last two tricks with the spade ace and queen.

The three-spade call is forcing here (the only non-forcing action is to pass three hearts). Your hand looks suitable for slam, but your partner hasn’t promised a good hand yet. Cue-bid four clubs and be prepared to give up over a sign-off in four spades.


♠ Q 5 3
 K Q 10 9 7 6 2
♣ A 8
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
3 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2018 at 10:09 am

Hi Bobby,

A good line, requiring diamonds 4-3 or West to have 5 D and the SK. Don’t you just know that West at one table would have J10xx x KQJ9x KQx and declarer’s partner might helpfully say (although I hope he / she wouldn’t) “You could have led up to the SQ, then you make it”.

On BWTA, though, if partner bids 4D over 4C (the DK I presume, so the club loser vanishes) or 4H the hand is getting enormous. I suspect I’d be heading for 5S -1 though, as I might try again over 4S. After all, if partner has SAKxxx and nothing, he might have passed 3H while I’m only really worried about a club lead or maybe heart to the Ace and a heart ruff if he has good trumps. If he turns up with SJ10xxxx A Kxx KJx or similar that’ll teach me to be an optimist!



Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2018 at 10:17 am

OK, I’m probably making 5S on that hand, assuming the brakes work and RKC BW is clearly sensible after pard bids 4H. Like partner the other night (who held x AK10 107xx 8xxxx and bid 5D after 1D (4H) at pairs and adverse in case the penalty off 4H X wasn’t enough) I get carried away on occasion.

bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Hi Iain,

You are and continue to be a living, breathing, powerful advocate for all wonders, good, bad, and even indifferent, which regularly grace or not our spectacular game.

Let’s hope that your first sad, but indeed possible, non king of spades holding which LHO may hold will happen to our worst enemy, definitely not to ourselves. And partner not doubling while holding 3 defensive trump tricks, but instead chance 5 diamonds instead is sheer lunacy, but when it somehow works (by making more by his bidding or even the polite opponents deciding to bid one more heart instead) we then will have to listen to partner’s gloat, instead of a due apology.

Of course, partner’s 4 club splinter will take care of our club loser but instead partner may have long spades having the KJ but missing the ace and thus allowing a spade lead to give a “lucky” opponent a spade ruff to defeat a well bid heart slam. (are you listening, Jim2?).

No doubt Iain, Dame Fortune, like other connivers, may have their way, but, in truth, good bridge is indeed so very exciting, especially when the elusive goal of winning is achieved. But most of all, your adventures, as related by you, are spicy enough to still get the vicarious thrills we all so often crave.

IOW please, and also to others, never stop posting, especially when constructive bridge learning, is in the offing.

Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that. I would say that my partner the other night more than makes up for the occasional flight of fancy by being excellent company and a very skilful card player. Between the pair of us, we do get into a range of scrapes by excessive optimism and imagination – perhaps trying to actively wrestle an opponent over the cliff edge of bridge debacles when they were going to slip or even jump anyway. Just letting the opponents get it wrong, while giving them the odd nudge, is an underrated idea at the lower levels, although one of our opponents on the hand in question replied to this suggestion “But where’s the fun in doing that, then?” triggering much laughter from the other three of us.



Bruce KarlsonAugust 23rd, 2018 at 2:44 pm

When the arithmetically challenged (too many things to track) belatedly begin a real or imaginary squeeze in a club game, we count squirms, grimaces and looks at the ceiling by the victim. Not exactly scientific but better than nothing.. lol

bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, gentle pushes of less than expert opponents is, at least to my thinking, a highly winning strategy. Add that to the principle of what is most important, fairly (by the rules) emerging in the victory circle, translates into doing just that.

Finally, if one cannot see the “fun in doing that”, why exactly is he trying to denigrate those who have carefully learned how to succeed?

bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Hi Bruce,

Yes, and no doubt, looking for squirms and such can be a substitute for thinking (sometimes a synonym for concentration) but in truth, not everyone, but most who claim to be arithmetically challenged, can rather go many paces forward, by, instead of either feeling sorry for themselves or more likely, feel insecure and thus lose focus, resolve themselves to just plunge in and learn to swim, ride a bicycle, or drive a car.

Once learned, never forgotten, but first the demons must be dealt with and then discarded.

After all the numeracy is only involved with counting to 13. However, yes, then it has to be repeated several times, and while keeping total control, not begin worrying what bad can happen, but rather how easy it has become.

At least to me, the next hundred years of this world, will be centered on using one’s great gift of mind control, allowing our brains to improve exponentially instead of only arithmetically . No doubt, at least to me, it will happen, only the extent of which will be “up for grabs”.

Although there is a small chance I will not be around at the end to gloat, perhaps those who are, will drink a toast to that process.

Try it and forget the squirms which rhymes with worms and more importantly is not worth the crawling.

Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Hi Bobby, Bruce,

Don’t worry, the guy has a very dry sense of humour and his comment was meant (and taken) in jest. In terms of squirming though, I recall a comment in Love’s classic “Bridge Squeezes Complete”.

After shooting down some naïve advice on squeeze defence he came up with something more practical i.e. make dangerous discards early rather than late and consider (say) dumping the J from KJ9 or similar to make it look like you’ve bared the King/ He also raised an ethical query: “Dear Emily Post, would it be OK for West to wriggle ever so slightly before letting that second club (or whatever) go?” Obviously it is unfair to hesitate for no reason, but what is the best approach here? Is it best to have an early think if you can see you need to find (say) four or five discards, to play everything in strict rythmn after making an early in tempo decision (as per your own Bols bridge tip – I suspect this is ideal) or is there even a danger of UI (and helping declarer) by not hesitating because you have nothing to think about. Practical advice would be welcome here but I’d far sooner let through the odd contract than have somebody query my ethics. Any thoughts?



bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2018 at 10:02 pm

Hi Iain,

While I have little to no new information to discuss about legalities, hesitations, ploys, or even obvious ethical wrongs.

However, one can be close to 100% correct if he “feels” that some of your above topics have not been hashed and rehashed by honest players. The above being the “tip” of the iceberg, suffice it to say that plays such as Nunez (while defending a slam with Fantoni) did his best Hollywood impression (assuming that popular report was correct in reporting the facts) pretending that he lost his way by not cashing (his other ace) before giving his partner a diamond ruff. True, partner could have had many more clubs making his play necessary, but the odds against that seemed to be basically impossible (coordinating the bidding with at least some sense of bridge logic).

However some people do actually believe in Santa Claus and even the Easter bunny so subjectivity still exists. However bridge crooks are bridge crooks, but in a very quiet private room, my guess that all these trials and tribulations get a thorough going through, especially between the born to be bridge felons, who have had their way for so long.

That is, until our Norweigan Boye arrived on horseback and delivered a few silver bullets, which squarely found their mark.

Ken MooreAugust 24th, 2018 at 12:28 am


I have mentioned that i am just now getting back into the game. I need a refresher course on what it means to rectify the count and how to recognize when it is needed.

Could you do that or direct me? I suspect that I am not the only one.

bobbywolffAugust 24th, 2018 at 2:01 am

Hi Ken,

Rectifying the count is only a high-falutin word for the preparation before executing a squeeze.

In order to squeeze an opponent or sometimes both (double squeeze) in order to win an extra trick, the declarer must lose all the tricks he intends to lose first, before the execution of the squeeze which will only win one trick if done successfully.

However, Ken, in order for you to even begin to understand the process you need to buy a bridge book which discusses squeezes and I recommend an old time book by Clyde Love to which I forget the exact name, but any vendor selling bridge books will know which one I mean if you just say, “Love on squeezes”.

Sorry to be evasive, and although being able to execute a squeeze properly will help your game, keep in mind that you will need a thorough education bringing you out of your current level into a more serious one.

From there the progression will be faster if you take it seriously and have a chance to play at least once a week and hopefully much more than that.

If that is impossible or almost I suggest you wait until you have the time to do the above, but meanwhile keep referring to this site and others on the internet until you are ready and able to make a big move toward where you would like to get.

Good luck and do not get discouraged early since it would be easy to do. The rest is up to you.

Finally, almost all of our regulars are really good players from around the world, and what’s more will cotton to helping you improve. However, unless you are ready to do so, it won’t help, unless you make the time for it.

Iain ClimieAugust 24th, 2018 at 9:06 am

HI Ken,

“Bridge Squeezes Complete” is the title if memory serves me rightly. It is at least 45 years old but good card play, unlike bidding, doesn’t date.


Iain 27th, 2018 at 12:38 pm

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