Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Where a technique tells you ‘how’ and a philosophy tells you ‘what,’ a methodology will contain elements of both ‘what’ and ‘how.’

Peter Checkland

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



The basic arts of declarer play consist, as a friend of mine once said, of drawing trumps, taking finesses and cashing winners. But there is also a place for squeezeplay and other, more challenging arts. Today’s deal involves both simple and complex skills.

You reach six no-trump and receive the lead of the diamond 10, which you win in hand. Despite your combined 33 high-card points, slam is a fairly dicey affair, thanks to the duplication and wasted values in diamonds.

At trick two, you try a heart to the queen, hoping that it will lose to the ace. It does, and East returns a passive diamond. How should you plan the play from here on in?

No matter how you intend to manage the play outside clubs, you should plan on the club finesse working. You must win the second diamond in hand, cash the club ace — to protect against West having the singleton queen — and must then take the spade ace and queen, followed by the heart king and jack. At that point, you will cross to table with a diamond.

Next, you take the spade king, throwing a club from hand. If the spade jack has fallen, you cash the last spade winner and take the club finesse. If East has kept the spade jack, he must have reduced to two clubs. So now the clubs will produce four tricks, thanks to the club finesse.

Note that if East ducks the first two hearts, he will be caught in a triple squeeze and be forced to concede the overtrick!

While this may look like a dead minimum for a jump to two spades, that is clearly the right call. Your hand improved dramatically when your partner suggested relative shortness in clubs, meaning that all your honors are working overtime. Had your Left Hand Opponent opened a red-suit, it would be less clear that jumping to two spades is the right call — though you might do it anyway.


♠ K 10 9 5
 Q 10 3
 A 7 4
♣ 9 7 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. 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


Ken MooreOctober 27th, 2018 at 2:09 pm


In BWTA, your comment are very helpful anytime you go beyond the basics – points, tricks you can take, and suit control – and put the hand into current context as you did today.

But I would like to know what a “Quantitative” bid. is. The closest I can come is that it means I have “lots of good stuff” over here.

bobbywolffOctober 27th, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the kind words.

First, quantitative merely means that, while forgoing the attempt to analyze, thus not quantify the value of specific cards, other than their supposed average worth (4-3-2-1) and almost always for NT bidding since only with a final NT contract are distributional values involving trump null and void is a so-called quantitative bid of (almost always 4NT used to advantage, asking partner to bid on with extras but to pass if deemed lacking). Yes 5 card suits usually KJ10xx type rather than Jxxxx are worth a bit extra, but I would be misleading you, if I didn’t disclaim and instead guarantee the authenticity of such a process. An educated guess is perhaps the best description.

However, and in conclusion, that word only means that I’m passing on to you, instead of me, the opportunity to make the mistake while setting the final contract.

And “lots of good stuff” will pass muster, but only if that pair bids on and succeeds, “not enough”, if it doesn’t.

Yes, the above is hoping to have humorous overtones, but that is directly pointing out to all who can hear and, most importantly, understand, that our game, especially during the bidding is often an exercise in judgment, not to be mistaken for guarantees.

Finally excellent judgment in bridge can only be attained with experience gleaned (real worth of different card combinations (eg the worth of KQ10xx instead of KQxxx opposite Ax rather than 1087 opposite A96, not with any outside magic, such as in athletics, being able to run like a deer, or be as strong as an ox.

The above is why there are no child proteges in bridge nor will there ever be. Yes, and quite often, youth who have been dealt and then trained to think like a bridge player, but that is only one of many qualities necessary to achieve consistent success. Our game is just that great!

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