Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 27th, 2019

France and America clash so often not because they are so irreconcilably different, but because they are so alike.

The Economist

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

*Hearts and a minor


On this deal from the first round of last year’s Spingold, Philippe Soulet, playing with Michel Lebel, played the cards to perfection. Soulet and Lebel were members of the Payen team from France that defeated a strong Dutch squad.

West led the diamond king, and East encouraged the suit. West pressed on with two more rounds of diamonds, making Soulet suspect strongly that the attempt to weaken declarer’s trumps meant spades were divided 4-0. Soulet pitched a club from dummy, East winning the diamond queen and returning the heart queen, taken by Soulet with the ace.

Backing his reading of the position, Soulet led the diamond jack, encouraging West to discard his last heart. Soulet pitched dummy’s club and advanced the spade 10, covered by West with the jack. Soulet now crossed to the spade queen and finessed again in spades, then ran the rest of the trumps.

When the last trump was played, East — holding three hearts and the guarded club king — was squeezed. If he pitched a club, declarer would cash the club ace, dropping the king. He could ruff a heart to his hand, which would then be good. If East discarded a heart, Soulet could cash the heart king and ruff a heart. Dummy, with the club ace as an entry, would be high.

West had missed his chance to set the game, though it was far from easy; he had needed to ruff the diamond jack with the spade nine to mess up the entries for the squeeze.

When your partner reverses to show extra shape and high cards, as here, I suggest that the best way forward is to bid two spades, your own suit, whenever you have five or more cards in that suit. It should be forcing for one round but not to game — even though you intend to force to game, of course, regardless of partner’s next action.


♠ Q 10 7 6 2
 A 8
 J 10 6 3
♣ Q 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
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