Aces on Bridge


; 8 4

k K Q J 9 7

l 10 7 3

' Q 7 2


; A J 9 ; 10 7 3 2

k 8 5 k 2

l A 9 6 4 l J 8 5

' 10 8 6 4 ' A K J 9 3


; K Q 6 5

k A 10 6 4 3

l K Q 2

' 5

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: East

The bidding:

South West North East


1 k Pass 4 kAll pass

Opening Lead: Heart five

In a teams game, North sportingly raised his partner's one-heart opening to game; a trifle optimistic, given that East was a passed hand, so there was less need to try to preempt the opponents.

Against the game contract, West led a safe trump, won in dummy. Declarer started with a spade to the king and ace. West shifted to a low club, and East tried to cash two rounds of that suit. Declarer ruffed, drew the remaining trump, then cashed the spade queen and ruffed a spade. Next came a diamond to the king. West won with the ace and decided to eliminate dummy's club menace by continuing clubs.

After ruffing that, declarer should have run all of dummy's trumps. That would have caught East in a squeeze between the fourth spade and the guarded diamond jack. There was nothing for declarer to lose by trying this, since he intended to discard his spade unless it was high; he would always come home if the diamond jack were doubleton. Alas, South cashed the diamond queen prematurely, and the contract failed.

Declarer should not have been given the chance, though. Having won the diamond ace, West might have foreseen the danger and returned a diamond to break up the squeeze. However, since this defense would fail if declarer's diamonds were king-queen-eight, West's best play of all is to duck the diamond king. This is safe because declarer is known to have at least three diamonds. If West ducks, declarer has no chance to succeed.


South holds:

; K Q 6 5

k A 10 6 4 3

l K Q 2

' 5

South West North East

1 k Pass


ANSWER: This hand is too strong for a direct splinter bid of four clubs. Start with a forcing heart raise instead (perhaps a Jacoby two no-trump). You might be able to show your shortness later. Unless partner shows a dead minimum, it would only be mildly uncouth to use Roman Key Card Blackwood and drive to slam. After all, facing three key cards, slam should be playable.

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at

[email protected]

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