Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 15th, 2018

He calls his extravagance generosity; and his trusting everybody, universal benevolence.

Oliver Goldsmith

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



In today’s deal from the annals of the Dyspeptics Club, four spades seems like a very good contract, doesn’t it? Indeed, there would appear to be 10 top tricks in the form of nine side winners and a ruff in dummy.

However, West found the best start for the defense when he hit upon the spade-five lead. Dummy played low, and declarer won cheaply in hand. He unblocked clubs and led a low heart from hand, won the trump return with the ace, finding the bad break in trumps, then cashed the club ace to pitch his diamond loser, and led a second heart. East thoughtfully ducked his ace, and West won the trick to play a third trump. Now declarer was left with two inevitable heart losers at the end.

North pointed out that South had needed to be less mean and more forward-looking.

Say South wins the opening lead with the trump eight or higher. As before, he can judge that he has nine top tricks and he should hope the 10th will come from either a heart ruff or a long club.

Again, declarer cashes the club king and leads a heart, but this time, when West wins and leads a second trump, dummy’s seven will win the trick. (If East can cover the seven spades will be breaking, hearts will break, and there will be a heart ruff in dummy.) Then South takes the club ace, ruffs a club high, leads a spade to the ace, ruffs another club, and crosses to the diamond ace to cash the long club for his 10th trick.

Since your partner will often be obliged to rebid two hearts on a five-card suit here, you cannot guarantee an eight-card fit. It feels right to make a non-forcing call of two no-trump rather than raising to three hearts. You are likely to be able to get back to hearts if that is where you belong.


♠ A 7 3
 6 4
 A 8 4
♣ K 7 6 4 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 1 ♠
2 ♣ Pass 2 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


Bob LiptonNovember 29th, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Nice. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out the squeeze, concluding it was some sort of hedgehog I couldn’t figure out.

Even players capable of figuring this out will usually win the open trump lead as cheaply as possible, with the Six, rendering the right line impossible. Maybe it’s a sort of squeeze that requires declarer to hold onto a trump. Win the opening lead, cash the CK, lead a heart, win the second trump on board, lead a heart, east must duck. Win the third trump in hand, lead the third heart, which east must win. Now he returns a diamond and I’ve lost transportation.

Maybe it’s an overtaking/steppingstone squeeze. Win the first trump, don’t cash the CK, but lead a heart at round two….


Iain ClimieNovember 29th, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Hi Bobby,

There is no excuse for stinginess in life or at the bridge table – it can hardly cost to “waste” the S8 (or even 10) at T1 – is a trump promotion or heart overruff really looming? I recall a Bols tip years ago on the lines of “Save the deuce” (or at least small cards).



bobbywolffDecember 1st, 2018 at 2:20 am

Hi Bob & Iain,

There is very little more tg say than has now already been said, both by you two and, of course the column.

However, and one of the earlier habits to acquire when playing the dummy. is to NOT belong to the Honor Conservation Society when it comes to winning certain tricks, such as trick one in this puzzle.

This should be regimen, only makes common sense to first not give a complete count to those worthy opponents early in the hand, but even more important (especially on this hand) is to maintain entry flexibility.

IOW if you see one’s partner often winning the first trick in hand with his lowest card available, merely suggest to him or her to, at the very least, mix it up so as to not become a stereotype and, of course make your instinctive plays so that you’ll perhaps maintain smaller cards which tend to occasionally enable more suitable communication.

Thanks for listening, whether you are or not.

Iain ClimieDecember 1st, 2018 at 11:28 am

Hi Bobby,

My wife would like to tell EVERYONE that away from the bridge table, I can display lamentable stinginess in daft areas e.g. re-using cheap disposable razors until they are absurdly blunt. In the interests of honesty, I have to admit to some very silly quirks!