Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 18th, 2020


David WarheitJuly 2nd, 2020 at 9:21 am

As declarer, seeing E discard on the opening lead, I would have ducked. Now, unless W finds the H shift, I, too, go plus 660, leading C twice from dummy toward my QJxx. The open questions are: what should E discard at trick one, can W find the H shift at trick two and does that depend on E’s discard.

David WarheitJuly 2nd, 2020 at 10:00 am

Slight oops: while I do have 11 potential tricks on my line, the opponents can first take 3 tricks if they win the first H.

Iain ClimieJuly 2nd, 2020 at 3:34 pm

HI Bobby,

Just out of interest, what do you lead as West if it goes (say) 1D 2D (inverted) 3N (too many soft values for slam)? On such an auction (and on the one give) should East be putting the oar in with a Weak Jump Overcall?



bobbywolffJuly 2nd, 2020 at 4:22 pm

Hi David,

This hand being real and, at least theoretical in what might have been, let us examine its every move, by all players, before we place legitimacy where it belongs as well as double dummy nonsense where it doesn’t.

Normal hand, except for the 4-0 diamond break, but everything considered, and, of course, noting it being matchpoints, instead of IMPs, does produce a, more or less, totally different attitude to both pairs, where from almost the get go, NS should concentrate on maximum tricks while EW needs to emphasize the counter.

First, from NS, and considering the meanings of their early round bids, 1C by South, followed by 1NT 17-19, plus 1D by North, showing a positive but denying a 5 card major, both look automatic.

Then pass by East, although a hand changer in result would almost certainly be the majority choice, not so much by its overall weakness, but still at this stage, not so willing to encourage partner to compete (he had passed over the opening bid) but to not necessarily want a heart lead, if South wound up the declarer at a suit contract, particularly spades.
Add to that, it is also even questionable whether a heart lead against NT would be wise since it might easily develop that the heart lead would cause the giving away of an unnecessary trick, without gain, for EW. (BTW, that just named disadvantage is ever present while ever discussing matchpoints and, at least to me, emphasizes the vast amount of luck too often involved.

Next, after South narrowed down the description of his hand, North (perhaps wisely) then psyched his 2 clubs, since in fact he was not interested in whether his partner had a 4 card major (and to my view, even a 5 card one), but instead asked for one, despite.

That bid, (2 clubs) followed by 2NT could have worked to his disadvantage if he had persuaded his partner, South to disclose more about his hand to which it figured to help the defense defend, perhaps especially on choosing an opening lead.

From this point on, nothing much more can be either poignantly expressed (which David discussed). The winner, of course was for East to bid 1 heart, but one, while vulnerable (which he was) probably had more downside than upside, but, at least for matchpoint purposes turned out supremely unfavorable.

Although no great wisdom is either learned nor expected to emerge, except for a tidbit of, while playing against a good declarer, it is more than sometimes wise, to take chances with unfit overcalls since your pair, being subordinate by being defenders, often needs to attempt to make the auction different at one’s table to in an effort to better achieve more matchpoints, or for that matter even huge swings, to which a heart overcall may provide.

bobbywolffJuly 2nd, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Hi Iain,

The only advice I could provide, is that East is just too weak (being vulnerable) to take such a risk. However if his LHO is a known very conservative doubler and the urge to bid as East, surges within, just do it and let the devil (and partner) sometimes join you in mourning, but be prepared to hear language from across the table unsuited for women, children, and smaller framed men who would not be favored to survive, if invited outside.

IOW, NO, but yes only when it accomplishes what you want.

jim2July 2nd, 2020 at 5:25 pm

I think the percentage play in clubs — in a vacuum — is probably what declarer did. It caters to 10x doubleton, for one thing.

I would likely have taken a perhaps inferior view and led to QS and then led a small club toward the closed hand.

In the actual hand, if East wins the KC and shifts to hearts, it transposes to the column text. The only delta is that I would not have a clubs guess (though the spades round might affect things). If The QC held, I would have been absolutely convinced the East held the KC, and played to the AC, and back again to the closed hand. Note, this gains on other holdings, like Kx in East hand. Again, it would transpose to the column text.

bobbywolffJuly 2nd, 2020 at 11:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

Agree with you about winning the diamond and then leading the club queen. However, by doing so I, after losing that finesse, will be surprised that West wouldn’t then play declarer for only two hearts and thus rise with the heart ace and continue hearts, eventually grabbing a diamond trick at the death for -630.

To me, and while representing NS, would likely get close to average with that result, with, of course, the possibility that West may duck the heart, allowing the 97% result. EW’s original distribution plus, no doubt the ace of hearts by then.

No doubt and proven so often, that the difference between IMPs and matchpoints is enormous, with matchpoints the more complicated, but IMPs representing, at least to me, the greater challenge with a lesser overall luck element.

jim2July 2nd, 2020 at 11:59 pm

Yes, two of the reasons for my line of play was to suggest Qx or QJx or Q10x in clubs to hint at longer hearts and use the QS to encourage a safe spade return “through” declarer.

Oh, and one thing not mentioned in the text was winning the opening diamond with the Q, not the K. The Q is the card declarer is known to have, and allows East to wonder if West led from KJ109.

Bobby WolffJuly 4th, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for always trying to educate all of us on superior ways to win tricks, often only trying to create doubt to one defender as to what his partner may have started with, by playing the card he is known to have, rather than a careless one which, in turn, makes it easier for one defender or the other to be sure of the location of a specific heretofore unknown card, either unseen hand (friend or foe) may hold.

jim2July 5th, 2020 at 11:30 am

I was most definitely not trying to educate you, Dear World Champion Host. Maybe some readers might gain a smidge, but even that was not my intent.

I was simply trying to explain why I would have chosen the line I suggested.

Bobby WolffJuly 5th, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Hi Jim2,

Whatever and whoever you were trying to inform, your advice certainly warranted to be said.

Thank you for all your continued contributions, without which all of us, will be disadvantaged.

At the very least, you are, by your very presence, an incredibly positive bridge information source, especially so when a preceding one has not yet mentioned the accurate information you always provide.

Finally, bridge being the complicated game that it is, does not suffer from too many cooks spoiling the broth, especially when one as talented as you, speaks up.