Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 28th, 2019

It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish.


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


**Strong, with a 4-4-4-1 pattern


In today’s deal, from a championship match between Denmark and Iceland, the Danes found six hearts and cashed out for 12 tricks. But the deal offered more interesting play in the other room after a complex strong-club auction had led to a grand slam. (The two-spade response showed any 4-4-4-1 pattern, two no-trump asked the shortness, and the four-heart call showed six controls in aces and kings.)

When there are 12 tricks, there are often 13 — and that might have been the case here when West led a heart rather than a killing low club or a truly imaginative diamond queen.

Declarer started by rattling off six of his seven hearts, on which dummy discarded three clubs, a diamond and one spade. It was now up to West, Lars Blakset, to create an alternative reality if he wanted to defeat the slam. He chose to discard two clubs, blanking his king, then a spade, and finally a diamond. When South led his last heart, West pitched a second diamond. This successfully created the impression in declarer’s mind that West was giving up his diamond stopper. Accordingly, on the last heart, declarer pitched a spade from dummy, a fatal mistake.

If South had thrown the last low diamond from dummy on the heart, then cashed the diamond ace and king, East would have been squeezed in the black suits. But with the spade menace gone from dummy, 13 tricks were no longer possible. One down, and team Denmark had a big swing when it might have been forced out.

On auctions like this, you should pass with 12-14, even when you have a little extra shape. You do have nice controls, but you have no extra shape. Moreover, your partner has bid your singleton — not exactly an indication to bid on.


♠ A K 7 5
 A K 9 2
♣ 8 6 5 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♠ Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bob LiptonJuly 12th, 2019 at 11:25 am

After staring at the double-dummy diagram for ten minutes, I came up with a line for 7Hearts: win the opening lead, draw trump, lead the Jack. If west doesn’t cover, that’s it. If he does, that transfers the Spade menace to East. Play two diamonds, tossing a club, and ruff the third. Run the Hearts, throwing three clubs and a Spade. When you play the last Heart, West must hold onto diamonds and clubs, West must guard Spades and clubs. Easy peasy!


Ken BlundenJuly 12th, 2019 at 1:32 pm

At the table, declarer should pull trump, ruff a spade, run trump.
As played, west should abandon spades, leaving no squeeze.

bobbywolffbJuly 12th, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Hi Bob,

First of all, an abject apology to those readers who became justifiably confused for our transposing what should have been the NS hands with EW.

Bridge teaching and learning is often difficult enough without having to suffer through the hands being skewed, especially so when the directions, as here, are hopelessly backward.

All I can do now is hope that some of our readers, like you, fought their way through the hand requiring much imagination, to eventually understand the point of what this hand is about, the order of defensive discards necessary in order for the defense (in this case West) who together with his partner East, was defending a grand slam in NT instead of declaring it, to fool the declarer into assuming at least one defender (making his partner then also one card off) having started with a different distribution than they did.

To do so is an art, a contradiction to the normal order of how defenders normally discard, immediately discarding cards they know will not be critical later (such as West’s 5th diamond). IOWs since West’s immediate discards, when South is cashing his hearts is to let go of that 5th diamond immediately, with the hope of not being squeezed later, but in fact, all that would do is then alert an excellent declarer as to the true order of what West was doing, instead of what happened when West, in fact did not immediately discard that worthless diamond immediately but instead he threw two clubs first, suspecting that declarer was on his way to a successful squeeze and that he, West, needed to do something to confuse declarer into going wrong at the death of that hand.

And so he succeeded by his brilliant mind battle with a very good declarer who, in fact, underestimated West’s ability to engage him in such a psychological battle and while a grand slam (no less) was at stake.

Thanks for your realistic post, which, in fact, would explain to many readers what lay in store for the defense if West had immediately thrown his 5th diamond instead of the subterfuge of defending in such a clever way as to fool a very good declarer into playing for the wrong end position which amounted to being fooled at the table by a most clever opponent.

Again mea culpa for all the unnecessary confusion today’s bidding diagram must have caused. Absolutely no excuse can justify it.

Ken BlundenJuly 12th, 2019 at 2:12 pm

At 7NT, west should abandon spades, instead of clubs, leaving declarer no chance.

bobbywolffJuly 12th, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Hi Ken,

Since West needed to discard no more than one spade, or else declarer can then establish an extra spade trick, it makes the cheese more binding for this cat and mouse end game.

However, apologies to you also for our unforgivable gaffe and thanks for your worthwhile supposition.

David WarheitJuly 12th, 2019 at 6:35 pm

OK, here’s the complete double-dummy analysis. At 7H, as Ken rightly has stated, win the opening H lead, draw trump, play SAK, ruff a S and run trumps for a nonsimultaneous double squeeze (first W in D & C & then E in S & C).

In 7N, sorry Ken, run 6H, dummy coming down to SAK7 H- DAK9 Cx. W is squeezed in an unusual way. He must hold 3D, of course, but he also must hold 2S, otherwise, with him holding only the singleton SQ, S can cash 3 S tricks. So when S cashes the 7th H, W must do one of 2 things: 1) come down to one C & 2S, in which case declarer discards dummy’s D9, cashes DAK and squeezes E in S & C or 2) come down to SQxx, in which case declarer again discards dummy’s D9 and now leads SJ, forcing W to play the Q and there’s that squeeze on E again. To me this is a most unusual squeeze hand because of the S situation. It only took me all night to figure it out. Question: do you think that, assuming the defense (i.e. W) does everything right, should declarer be able to figure all this out single dummy?

Bob LiptonJuly 12th, 2019 at 7:02 pm

I believe that’s called a hedgehog squeeze, David.

Do you mean my transfer simultaneous double squeeze (or perhaps it’s a simultaneous double transfer squeeze) won’t work?


bobbywolffJuly 12th, 2019 at 9:38 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for all the bridge brain work for not only detailing the job ahead, but also answering the what ifs.

Without you, all readers would have been left with a short shrift and no doubt, just dangling.

bobbywolffJuly 12th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

Hi Bob,

How about, for a name, simply David’s magic or maybe, the spectacular squeeze which scored up the grand.