Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 2nd, 2018

Thus must I from the smoke into the smother;
From tyrant duke unto a tyrant brother.

William Shakespeare

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


The following deal occurred in the first qualifying session of the Keohane North American Swiss Teams. It was reported by Daniel Korbel and Jonathan Steinberg, the victims of Richard Popper’s expert play.

There was nothing wrong with the auction, but the final contract left something to be desired; the moral is that with two balanced hands, 32 high-card points is not always enough for slam.

Korbel started with the club 10, taken by Popper with the king in hand. He guessed to play a heart to dummy’s king, and then cashed four rounds of diamonds. When the suit divided to his satisfaction, he was still in with a chance of success. It would appear that declarer still needed a 3-3 break in spades, but Popper had other ideas.

A spade to the king and another spade to the ace reduced everyone down to five cards. When declarer led the spade nine from hand, West had to come down to two hearts and thus only two clubs. (West was not guarding a club winner, but by retaining three clubs he had been trying to prevent declarer from taking his club winners).

However, now a club to the king and a club to the queen caught East in an unusual squeeze. That player had to retain his master spade, so was forced to discard down to just one heart. Now Popper could lead dummy’s heart nine to the jack, queen and ace, and the heart seven took the 13th trick!

This type of play was identified as a Vise Squeeze by Terence Reese.

An idea much favored by the experts is to let fourth hand respond to the double of a weak two to show a weak hand either by bidding a suit at the two-level, or (as in today’s deal) by bidding two no-trump as a puppet to three clubs. He then shows his suit or passes three clubs at his next turn. A direct bid of three clubs or three hearts here would be at least a king better than this hand.


♠ 6 4
 A 6 5 2
 10 5 2
♣ 10 9 8 2
South West North East
Pass 2 ♠ 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


Bill CubleyNovember 16th, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Bobby, great declarer play! For me to make this hand I execute a Tripping Stone, not a Stepping Stone Coup. I fall into it.

Wish us luck in the D7 NAP Flight B Sunday. And I hope to go over into my final rank advancement with 2+ more points. Then I have to take Annie to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. Darn it that work so interfered with my bridge playing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ken MooreNovember 16th, 2018 at 11:09 pm

I did some research and found 35 to 40 named squeezes. Really?

Iain ClimieNovember 16th, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the subject of coups, can I tell a hard luck story from tonight at pairs. I held xx Jxx AKxx J8xx and managed to hog 3N opposite AKQ10xxx Axx x Ax for the extra 10 pts making 11 tricks in NT. Sadly the hand on lead against spade contracts had KQ 10 in both hearts and clubs, and practically everybody naturally led one. Rats!



Bobby WolffNovember 17th, 2018 at 12:31 am

Hi Bill,

Yes, you sound so happy that you’re ready to give thanks for just celebrating Thanksgiving.

However you need to be careful and not instead take Ruby to Annie Monday’s. When anyone, even one about to move up a major rank, nears his goal, the optimist that you always are, will expect all of your finesses to work and suits to break.

Love to Annie and hail to the chief!

Bobby WolffNovember 17th, 2018 at 12:35 am

Hi Ken,

If you then add lemon and orange squeezes you you will add two Moore.

Bobby WolffNovember 17th, 2018 at 12:49 am

Hi Iain,

If that same party also had 6 diamonds along with his two KQx and they didn’t either lead a diamond, nor switch to one after you ducked the first rounded suit lead, you would have scored up 12 tricks in NT.

Obviously you got unlucky that an opponent didn’t lead a rounded suit king out of turn. That will teach your partner not to bid NT first.

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