Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Politics is the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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


West led a diamond against today’s heart slam from Britain’s Gold Cup, and East won his diamond king as declarer followed low.

Declarer was planning to squeeze West in the black suits after running all the diamond and heart winners plus the club ace. Alas for him, East smartly switched to the spade queen at trick two, attacking declarer’s entries. This maneuver could hardly lose, as declarer would not have played small from dummy if he were missing the club ace and could run the spades.

This defense cut declarer off from the diamond ace. If he wanted to cash it to tighten the end position, he would have to unblock the diamond queen and use up his final spade entry to dummy, killing the squeeze. Declarer tossed and turned, but could not find a way to counter this fine defense.

At trick one south might have unblocked the diamond queen under the king. He could then finesse the diamond 10 and cash the ace while the spade entry was intact. Now West would come under the desired pressure.

But if declarer had simply won the spade shift and run all six of his trumps, West would have had to bare his diamond jack in the six-card ending to keep the black suits guarded. That lets declarer overtake the diamond queen and cash the .

He reduces to a top spade and club queen-doubleton in dummy opposite the club ace and two spades in hand. West would be unable to keep two clubs and two spades, and declarer would come home if he read the position.

With a four-card major and longer diamonds in response to a club opening, the normal procedure is to bypass the diamonds with a weak hand, preferring to get the major in at a low level. However, your hearts are so poor that you can afford to ignore them for now and respond in your fair five-card diamond suit, maximizing your chances of finding a fit.


♠ Q
 9 7 6 4
 K 9 6 5 4
♣ J 6 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ 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


A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 30th, 2019 at 11:14 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
But it is not clear why West led a diamond eschewing the safe J of spades lead. Now, even if South guessed diamond K right and leads diamond from dummy , East will hop up with K and return a club ( too obvious ) and South must go down as the Crisscross does not operate as South will not have Club A and is stranded in dummy even if he guessed West’s diamond J is bare in the four card position ( West will retain J & nine of spades , J of diamond and K of clubs) But then, we would have been deprived of reading the column hand . However, had South executed the Crisscross squeeze , it would been quite elegant.

Iain ClimieOctober 30th, 2019 at 12:19 pm

HI Bobby, AVRR,

The classic criss-cross squeeze you describe has its problems as the column notes. With A and 9x opposite Qx and A in the black suits, which of them has LHO (in this case although it works both ways) unguarded. I’m reminded of a line from Clyde Love’s famous “Bridge squeezes complete” where he asked “Dear Emily Post, would it be OK for East to squirm just a little before throwing the J (from KJ8 remaining or similar)?” i.e. not unguarding the King but looking like it.

In this case, though, I think the situation will be a bit easier to read. If West throws two spades, having followed once, then the spades are known to be falling. If West throws one spade, was it from 10xx or J10xx as an original holding? Perhaps a West with S10xx should echo in spades to give the impression of having J10xx but then it is bluff vs double-bluff.

Interesting hand in any event.



Iain ClimieOctober 30th, 2019 at 12:20 pm

PS We’ve just had a general election called this side of the pond. The column quote is absolutely perfect!

bobbywolffOctober 30th, 2019 at 4:34 pm


West led a diamond because East had a chance to double North’s 4 diamond cue bid during the auction, sometimes, but not always a critical feature in defeating a close contract. And if West led the jack (seemingly normal from J108x) this potential crisscross squeeze would instead be presented to declarer, assuming he would take advantage of those complimentary spade spots in order to take 4 tricks from them which, of course, would include the contract fulfilling trick.

Our game continues to be a real challenge and at many levels of expertise, with no one being able to deny a certain luck element which often becomes interwoven in its very fabric.

Further, as a bridge author, I could never deny a frequent changing of spots (or other enterprise) in order to create greater excitement.

However, please keep the above only between us and BTW, continued thanks for your very high level analysis, which always adds to.

A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 30th, 2019 at 4:49 pm

I should have noted the presence of seven of spades in dummy

bobbywolffOctober 30th, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Hi Iain,

Your discussion about the psychology of table feel is right on, especially at higher levels. The winning philosophy is always to be exactly one level higher than your often worthy challenger, since with an even advantage (usually twice or four times) you become a loser since it reaches back to the second or forth multiplication of advantage throws you back to becoming a loser (the true definition of overkill, at least while playing bridge).

However, while changing the discussion to today’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s incredibly accurate quote, if the USA is not proving it, there is not a cow in Texas and, since I spent most of my life in that state, moo became the most common word in my vocabulary.