Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 19th, 2019

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth and every common sight, To me did seem
Appareled in a celestial light.

William Wordsworth

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


In today’s Common Game deal, my partner played three hearts, making three, when he drew trumps and tested spades but could not develop an extra club trick. The cards appear to lie poorly for declarer, but I saw some pairs had bid to four hearts, and a few had made it. I wondered if that was possible without some defensive help; I asked a couple of players and found the answer.

At one table, West cashed two diamonds, then shifted to a trump. Declarer took East’s jack with the ace, took two top spades and guessed correctly to ruff a spade high, West pitching a diamond. Then he finessed the heart nine, cashed the heart king and ruffed another spade high to squeeze West. When that player came down to his last diamond, declarer eventually threw him in with a diamond, pitching a club from the board. West now had to lead a club and concede the rest.

At another table, the defenders led three rounds of diamonds. Declarer ruffed in dummy and played five rounds of trumps. Everyone came down to five cards, with dummy having one club and four spades. West kept one spade, one diamond and three clubs, while East had to keep four spades and one club. Reading the position perfectly, declarer led the spade nine to the ace, took the club ace and played his low spade to dummy’s five. East won cheaply, but was endplayed.

Had West kept two spades and three clubs, declarer would have taken both top spades and ducked a club to West to endplay him.

One of the critical debates in two-over-one bidding is whether opener’s rebid of his suit in a game-forcing auction should promise six. If you believe that, you are occasionally required either to rebid two no-trump with a flawed hand or to raise responder’s suit with three trumps and a balanced minimum. If you can rebid two hearts here without promising six, that is clearly the right course of action.


♠ 9 2
 A K 4 3 2
 9 7 4
♣ A Q 10
South West North East
1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2May 3rd, 2019 at 12:07 pm

There may be a problem with the column line involving West starting the defense with three rounds of diamonds.

Specifically, South plays the AH at Trick 3, then “guessed correctly to ruff a spade high.”

That accounts for both of South’s high trump.

How then, can South ruff “another spade high to squeeze West”?

Iain ClimieMay 3rd, 2019 at 2:27 pm

HI Jim2,

I think you’ve missed something. When West started with DAKQ, declarer ruffed in dummy and ran off a pile of trumps. I think there is a typo when West starts with DAK and plays a trump, though. South takes the HA (or K), plays SAK and ruffs a spade with the HK or A, then finesses H9 and cashes the HQ, not K. Then the spade ruff gives West a bad time.



Bobby WolffMay 3rd, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Hi Jim2,

You just don’t understand.

Declarer claimed stating his line of play and EW acquiesced. When in a tough contract and all legitimate lines of play, at least the ones which declarer saw, all fail, might as well claim.

In some circles that practice is known as anti_TOCM TM, but if the declarer has enough respect and the opponent’s do not, it often works, probably through a combination of intimidation and, of course, too much regard for that declarer’s ethics.

However, the 2nd line is legitimate.

In truth, we invented that first suggested line of play to just see what percentage of our players would notice our subterfuge.

However if you believe most of the above we would like to sell you one of our prized possessions, and by coincidence it is also called a BRIDGE.

Alas, just wishful writing combined with sorrowful proof reading.

A.V.Ramana RaoMay 3rd, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Hi Jim 2
The last spade is ruffed with last trump by declarer ( not high) as by that time , west is out of trumps and the spade ruff squeezes west

Bobby WolffMay 3rd, 2019 at 2:44 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks for your successful third line. Of course, please read my above missive to Jim2.

Crossed in the mail temporarily gave me false hope that my embarrassment had its limits.

jim2May 3rd, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Just back in from errands.

I meant the line where Declarer plays the AH at Trick #3, as I stated. That was the one where West cashed 2 diamonds and shifted to a trump.

Yes, West is indeed out of trump. I was mis-led by the “Trump high” wording.

Bobby WolffMay 3rd, 2019 at 3:57 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thank you. I feel a little better, although I did say cash the heart king in dummy (dummy didn’t have the heart king, but instead, cashed the heart queen).

Since the column line did work, or, at least now I think it did, all I need to immediately improve is calling a high trump by its rightful name, an error which misled both you and later me.

Sorry, but indeed the proofreader, I, need to do a better job by calling the trump used, the correct one.

Bob LiptonMay 3rd, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Although Mr. Papadapoulous can pull off the 4-suited pseudo-auto-squeeze without the count, followed by a Devil’s Coup throw-in when defending (aka the Angel’s Coup), resulting in four overtricks for the Rabbit in 4SXX, I’ve found it best to reply to every claim more complicated than “I have all the rest” with nine of the last six cards with “I don’t see it.” True enough, the person may be up to figuring out where every card lies to pull off a Vice Squeeze, but make him do it. Quite often he’ll throw the wrong card.


Bobby WolffMay 4th, 2019 at 3:47 am

Hi Bob,

No fool, you!