Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 29th, 2021


A V Ramana RaoFebruary 12th, 2021 at 10:23 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Since east appears to hold both spade A and diamond K, perhaps it is preferable to cross to dummy with a club to play a spade. East wins his singleton A and returns heart . South ruffs and draws trumps throwing a club! from dummy followed by three rounds of clubs ending in dummy. East’s holding in three card position is known and no deception is possible. If he holds one heart and two diamonds, he is thrown in with heart and if he bares diamond K, dummy plays A . Pardon me but the column line would lose if east is dealt with doubleton/ singleton club as he can retain two hearts and K of diamond in the five card position .( If east is dealt three carded clubs , south would again prevail in the column line)

Iain ClimieFebruary 12th, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Hi Bobby,

Any case for East cashing the DK before playing a third heart? It means declarer gets 10 easy tricks as the cards lie but it saves later pain. I like AVRR’s idea but isn’t dummy going to be pressurised first – although 1H and 1D can be pitched on the spades.rather than the club as an alternative idea. TOCM would mean that East had opened light(ish) with no DK and CJ10x of course!



bobbywolffFebruary 12th, 2021 at 5:28 pm


You have made a very good point with the only flaw being East holding either: s. Axx, h. KQJxx
d. Kxxxx, c. void or s. A h. KQJxx, d, Kx, c, J10xxx or even, S. Ax, h. KQJxx, d. K, c. J10xxx.

Psychologically it may feel better to declarer to lead a safer diamond (much smaller combined number) without regard to overtrick which is probably against the odds, but (as sometimes occurs, disregarding thinking about it, since it doesn’t appear to be the main theme).

However, for uncompromising purposes during critique time, your play seems superior, but as Jim2 might say: “my head is starting to hurt”.

jim2February 12th, 2021 at 5:40 pm


bobbywolffFebruary 12th, 2021 at 5:59 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, you have deftly brought out thoughts related often to the bastardized version of our game named “matchpoints” which, while discussing, can usually only be ended with both sides casually just shrugging their shoulders.

And while discussing shoulder shrugs, what about the value of North’s ten of spades instead of a lower one. What giant value it turned out to be and in this case that particular ten should have a hallowed place in the Hungarian Darvas’ great book, “All Through the Pack” for its incredible and necessary role it played in today’s column hand.

Of course, none of us would have bid as North did if only holding the nine instead. However, If you actually believe that, you can then refer to “nose growing with Pinnochio” for shared lies.

Perhaps with my not delving deeper into whether AVRR’s squeeze would work or not, I think it would, but I too, again like Jim2, (different ways to indicate a couple) strongly prefer not to have a painful head.

However if anyone prefers to run that risk, (old age should have some privileges), please list me in the now long line, after working it out.

bobbywolffFebruary 12th, 2021 at 6:22 pm

Hi again,

Curses for me to wrongly name (All through the Pack instead of “Right Through the Pack”, at least I think I’m and it is RIGHT).

Furthermore I wish I knew how to add one of Jim2’s smileys or possibly not if they are expensive or in limited supply.

During this awful pandemic I’m trying to stay six feet away from everyone and happily those people seemed to be pleased, but after a whole year, of smiling faces looking back at me, I am beginning to simply wonder if my motive is the real one.

Iain ClimieFebruary 12th, 2021 at 6:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

If you post via a mobile phone there is an option to use emojis (smiley faces and other symbols).

There are doubtless other ways too.


David SnookFebruary 12th, 2021 at 7:23 pm

So here’s how I played this hand…

After taking the first heart w/ my ace, I want to at least try and find out where the Spade A is, so I play a club to one of N’s honors and then play the S6 to E’s ace (success!). E immediately takes a 2nd heart and next leads a 3rd H, hoping W can trump it so I play one of South’s trump honors. Since there are only 3 trump unaccounted for, I can afford to do this.

After taking the 3rd heart trick, I lead a small trump to my spade 10, then lead trump back to hand, pulling W’s last S and throwing N’s last heart on my final trump trick. E starts getting squeezed here, no? If E holds the final H, then either diamonds or clubs will get bared, so E must throw the last heart on this trick.

I’m now down to diamonds and clubs, as is E.

I play my club A in hand and then lead South’s last club back to dummy’s queen and E is trapped.

I play dummy’s club 8, throwing E in lead and E has to play diamonds into my tenace in dummy.

This line works, correct?

bobbywolffFebruary 12th, 2021 at 9:14 pm

Hi David,

Yes, and I must commend you in going the extra mile to give an accurate play by play, representing the whole process in your successful enterprise.

However, and here is the rub which enables the very best players to usually defeat the ones who want to reach that level, but cannot seem to quite get there.

(drum roll)-East will easily see this end play coming (by being privy to the dummy and having no doubt what the declarer is holding earlier than most (certainly the ace of clubs), consequently on the earlier trump drawing, East will throw away his two low diamonds,
(yes, they are the eight and nine, but whatever they happened to be, all small diamonds would be the same (unable to be useful). Then, unless declarer was counting all suits, he would not know that East had a small heart left to cash at trick 12 for the setting trick.


If declarer cashed the ace of diamonds first, knowing (on the bidding) that East possessed the diamond king, that squeeze predicted clearly by AVRR (sorry AVRR for doubting your description, if in fact I did, which was, of course not my intent, but because of my sloth made an excuse). Of course declarer would then have to give up the diamond finesse, in order to do that if the length in clubs was with West not East.

The play of the ace of diamonds early is known as “A Vienna Coup, invented by an Austrian bridge player, perhaps 90+ years ago, which in bridge language is first, usually declarer playing, but could happen (very rarely) with the defense he would set up a card not highest, the king, by playing his ace first, and then squeeze him out of it..

Since, on this hand, declarer would then, at crunch time (right before he made the key decision as to who was more likely to hold the king and, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE how qualified East, the key opponent, understands the expert game.

Now if you really know all that is involved with the above, then you have the potential to rise to the heights of the game itself, or if you can learn it, by being aware (late in the hand, but before decision time has arrived) all cards played (small cards can be lumped together and need not to be exactly remembered) but hesitations at first help, but the knowledge of why East was squeezed, plus the possibility of a straight diamond finesse could have been the winning play and if that king would have been onside and you disdained the diamond finesse, your partner and likely the opponents will have thought you either lost your mind or and, of course, were betting on the other side.

There, Jim2, my head is now hurting from all the above, but the chance of David moving forward after this discussion is strong enough to me for all of this time spent.

Thanks to all who have read the above and again apologies to AVRR for always (or almost) being right but not getting credit for it. No more will that happen.

bobbywolffFebruary 12th, 2021 at 9:43 pm

Hi again,

My head is now hurting because I left out a crucial part of an impending squeeze, by the declarer holding the jack of diamonds in his hand as a threat card to either opponent who may throw away the diamond king or allow that king to be captured by the ace in dummy (either by finesse or by drop, depending who might hold it and if the queen of diamonds is discarded by declarer (or the ace prematurely cashed) then the jack of diamonds held by declarer might become the game going trick allowing for the make of the contract.

Hopefully this addition will be understood by those who would like to move up the ladder of success with their better understanding of its
inner issues.

David SnookFebruary 15th, 2021 at 7:21 am

Hi Bobby…

And once again, you’re blowing me away with your generosity. I’ve read your commentary over multiple times now, trying to take in everything you’re trying to tell me. There’s a lot there and it sure feels like it’s worth the effort to absorb, in detail.

After learning the basics, straight technical play, really counting the cards played, and learning some of the more ethereal specific plays like squeezes and coups, it seems the higher level one strives for is not unlike chess, where you start trying to plan out 2, 3, 4 moves ahead of the opposition, and out THINK them?

I used to play eight ball on a very regular basis and really loved the game. A lot of the individuals I played had better eye to hand coordination than me and could make long, straight shots I really had to work at, but over and over again, I’d out think them… aha… strategery! And strategery in eight ball is a very real thing.

So what you’re trying to tell me, if I can hear it, is to learn and out think them?

I strive to not disappoint, Bobbie… thank you!