Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 20th, 2019

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now — always.

Albert Schweitzer

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

*Hearts, forcing


North’s response of two no-trump was a Jacoby-style forcing raise in hearts. South ignored East’s intervention and asked for aces, then, once his partner admitted to three key-cards, he made a grand slam try. After North showed the diamond king, South knew what to do.

West led the spade nine, suggesting an original holding of a singleton or doubleton in the suit, given dummy’s spade eight. When trumps broke 4-0, declarer knew East had started with eight spades and five in the minors. Thus, West had to have at least one card in each minor.

Once East followed to both a top club and a diamond, there were only three unknown minorsuit cards in his hand. Therefore, East could not hold a five-card minor, so it was safe to cash a second top club, then a diamond. When East discarded on the second round of clubs, declarer ruffed a spade with the trump king. After cashing the club queen, declarer led the heart two toward dummy. West inserted the eight, and dummy’s 10 won the trick. Now declarer ruffed dummy’s remaining club with the queen, then led the heart three to the five and seven. The heart ace drew West’s last trump, while South threw a diamond. Declarer ended up with two ruffs in hand, four trumps in dummy, and seven side-suit top cards.

Note that if East had followed twice in each minor, it would have been safe to cash the queens of both minors. Finally, if East had discarded on the second diamond, then a diamond could have been ruffed safely in dummy.

This hand may appear too strong for a simple overcall, and in a way it is. But if elect to double, you are likely to find somebody bidding spades and making it awkward for you to get your values across. Your plan should be to bid hearts, then double an opponent’s spade call at your next turn, if necessary, to show extras. That is exactly what you have!


♠ 5
 K Q J 3 2
 Q 7 5 3
♣ A K Q
South West North East
      1 ♣

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


Iain ClimieOctober 4th, 2019 at 9:37 am

Hi Bobby,

A couple of very minor points. East could presumably have 9 spades even after one round of hearts, although that doesn’t affect anything since West has more minor suit cards. Presumably South broaches trumps by starting with a small one to the King, though; the dummy reversal might not work if he unthinkingly starts with the Ace or even the 10. As the only thing which can stop 12 trivial tricks is a 4-0 break (otherwise draw trumps and ruff a diamond), South has to bring all his thoughts to bear on this.

If East somehow had 4 hearts and 8 spades, though, then presumably there is a straightforward minor suit squeeze on West. Just draw trumps in 4 rounds, cash CAKQ and then feed West the last trump.



A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 4th, 2019 at 10:50 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
This vaguely reminds me of a hand read may be zillion years ago : ” Step by step ” by Paul Lukacks in which the iteration between the suits is continued almost till end. I wish I remember the hand fully but not able to recall

Shantanu RastogiOctober 4th, 2019 at 11:07 am

Hello Mr Wolff

Though the column line is better, after spade 9 lead as the cards are there is spade diamond squeeze on east if south runs four trumps and three clubs. Last five cards are south with 4 D and a heart. Dummy 3 D, a Club & spade 8, east 4 D and spade K. On last trump Dummy’s club is thrown and east is squeezed. The key is spade 9 lead.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Bruce KarlsonOctober 4th, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Amazing.. E had 8 spades and can be squeezed. Nit sure why that is inferior but will simply accept it. I might be tempted to try it (assuming I saw it, which is highly doubtful) because it is amazingly counter intuitive. Contrariness is iin my nature…lol

A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 4th, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Hi Shantanu & Bruce
Assuming that I have permission of our host: true, as the cards lay, East gets squeezed in spades and diamonds but the problem is you do not know for certain. For eg ., If you play a club , you will know that East does not have second club but for all you know, East may have been dealt with Singleton diamond in which case you can ruff fourth diamond in dummy. . And in case you have played a diamond after cashing one top diamond and one top club, with East following, it is safe to cash second club and if East does not follow , you do not have entries for squeeze which makes the column line much superior as you have option of ruffing diamond in dummy or if East has Singleton club, the play is reverse dummy as mentioned

A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 4th, 2019 at 3:24 pm

There is a small amendment. In case East follows to second club , you still do not know in which minor East holds three cards. But now it is safe to cash second top diamond and East follows , you cash third high club and make the contract which flexibility is not available if you decide to play for squeeze prematurely

bobbywolffOctober 4th, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Hi Iain, AVRR (thrice), Shantanu, & Bruce,

All of you and I hope I, honor Albert Schweitzer’s timely quote, by clearly speaking the truth. this time about the above bridge hand, but also the vital need to do so about so many subjects in this topsy-turvy political world we all live in.

While this type of attention getting hand is very rare, it might become a proto-type example for both a possible squeeze or dummy reversal for that crucial contract making necessary trick.

Next time, while being the opening leader, we should perhaps, lead low from a doubleton , although that specific aspect did not directly arise in the discussion although it was referred to, via innuendo, by AVRR.

And to add the extra attraction of carefully manipulating one’s trump (usually upon discovering a defensive trump stack) in order to fluidly enable the declarer to extract the defensive fangs, without fatal consequences.

All sometimes done without undue concern, but merely advanced knowledge of the likely possibility, usually based on either the bidding or else the early play.

Can bridge be a great game or what?

Thanks to all of you for your 100% necessary comments, again emphasizing today’s poignant quote.

bobbywolffOctober 4th, 2019 at 5:52 pm

Hi Shantanu,

Please forgive me for not naming you as directly mentioning that possible squeeze, obviously because West, didn’t appreciate the future of his disposing of such a key card, just so that his partner will be better able to predict the hand he held. (Yes, I say so with tongue in cheek).