Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.


E North
None ♠ J 8 7 4
 A 8 2
♣ A 9 8 5 2
West East
♠ K 10 6 5 2
 Q 10 6 3
♣ J 6 3
♠ A Q 9 3
 K 9 7 4 3 2
♣ 10 4
♠ —
 Q J 10 8 6
 K J 7 5 4
♣ K Q 7
South West North East
Pass 1 NT* 2 ♣ 2 ♠
3 Pass 5 Pass
Pass Dbl. All pass  



Today’s deal from Kansas City, Missouri, last year was initially reported by Daniel Korbel. Boye Brogeland on Richie Schwartz’s squad, partnering with Espen Lindqvist, was declarer, against John Diamond’s team.

Against five diamonds doubled, Kevin Bathurst led the fifth-highest spade two, to Justin Lall’s ace, ruffed. Brogeland unblocked the heart ace, crossed to the diamond king and ran the heart queen to East’s king, West and dummy both pitching spades.

After Lall returned a club — as good as anything, since declarer was planning to ruff a spade himself — Brogeland took his king and advanced the diamond jack, covered by the queen and ace.

Brogeland now paused to count the defenders’ hands. The combination of the play in spades and diamonds meant that West had started with precisely 5=1=4=3 pattern. Brogeland crossed to the club ace, ruffed a spade and cashed the club queen.

Though West had more trumps than either declarer or dummy, including the master 10, he had no answer when declarer played the heart jack. If West discarded, so would dummy, then South would continue playing top hearts. If West ruffed low, declarer would over-ruff in dummy and run clubs, holding West to one more trick. If West ruffed high and led a trump, dummy would be high.

That meant the Schwartz team had plus 550, for a 4-IMP gain, since five clubs had been bid and made at the other table. Had Brogeland not made his game, the Schwartz team would have lost the match.

The traditional methods in use here mean that your two-diamond cue-bid is forcing to suit agreement. This means that (for example) if you raised two hearts to three hearts here, it would be non-forcing. If, however, you bid two spades, that is natural and forcing for one round. Your partner could make a non-forcing call of two no-trump or three spades, but you will drive to game one way or another.


♠ J 8 7 4
 A 8 2
♣ A 9 8 5 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMarch 29th, 2018 at 10:10 am

HI Bobby,

Having waited a respectable time after my sneak preview (see yesterday) but how much was East’s hyper-light opening bid to blame for the debacle? I can’t imagine West hitting the contract if East opened a weak 2 so were EW playing Lucas 2s or similar (Tartan 2 bids had a brief vogue over here in the late 1970s and early 80s)? 5D undoubled might still make but if East hadn’t opened, would South still have made 5C / 5D I wonder? Also if South started with the DK in that case as a safety play, and East dropped the 9 from Q109x, South might well lead the DJ next – think of the last line of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner for the result: A Sadder and a Wiser Man he rose the morrow morn!



Bobby WolffMarch 29th, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt East’s opening one bid caused a different bidding sequence, instead of 5 diamonds doubled making +550,either 2 hearts doubled EW, maybe then +500EW instead E 2 hearts, P, P, double, all pass or if run out to 2 spades then 5C or 5D NS, result undetermined and of course 5D doubled the same +550 courtesy of Boye Brogeland from Norway.

No doubt, and in the higher echelon, opening bids are getting lighter and lighter which markedly has significant effect on the final contract, some good and some not.

The advocates feel that the first blow in the bidding has a positive effective to finding an exploratory fit while at the same time taking bidding space away from their worthy opponents.

While all the above has a percentage truth to it, whether that fad will remain among our finest remains to be seen. In any event, in order to perform well in the modern game, one cannot, at least IMO, stay conservative, but rather, when faced with a close choice, bid positively to keep from getting run over.

No doubt high-level bridge has always been a “bidders game” but just how extensive that applies likely will determine just how long the present “fad” lasts.

The lament, “Water, water, everywhere and how the oars do shrink, water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” may indirectly sum it all up, perhaps reality while playing bridge or staying alive, during a disaster, while at sea.

Iain ClimieMarch 29th, 2018 at 4:24 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks for that and another quote (about Water) based on Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to go with mine yesterday. I think David Warheit is the book buff so can probably add more.



Bobby WolffMarch 29th, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Hi again Iain,

Sorry, since I meant 2 hearts double EW, +500 NS, definitely not EW, and my quote from the Ancient Mariner was only something like, instead of exact.

Oh well, in the middle of the night what can one expect, but “Mia Culpa”.