Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 9th, 2014

Not by age but by capacity is wisdom acquired.


North North
Both ♠ 7
 A Q 10 9 4 3
 A 10 6
♣ Q 5 2
West East
♠ A J 10 3
 8 7 5
 J 8 5 4 3
♣ 7
♠ Q 6 5 4 2
 K J 6 2
♣ K 9 6
♠ K 9 8
 K Q 9 7
♣ A J 10 8 4 3
South West North East
2* Pass
2 NT Pass 3** Pass
5♣ All pass    

*5 hearts and 4-plus in a minor, or 6 hearts with 10-14 points

**One-suiter with short spades


Over the last decade the standards in senior bridge have begun to rival the open game, and the world championships are contested at the very highest level. The American and German senior teams have met in the late stages of two recent world championships; each side has won one match narrowly. When a 64-board match is won by only 7 IMPs, several deals could have reversed the result. But this board from the final session settled the issue.

At both tables, West led a low diamond against five clubs. In the Open Room, John Schermer put in dummy’s 10, then played a spade to his king. West won with the ace and gave his partner a diamond ruff. East now shifted to the spade queen, but declarer ruffed it in dummy and ran the club queen successfully to make his contract.

In the Closed Room, declarer also won with dummy’s diamond 10, but then called for the club queen. When Steve Landen played low smoothly, South became worried that West would win from a singleton or doubleton club king and give his partner a diamond ruff. Then cashing the spade ace would result in one down. So South quite reasonably went up with the club ace and continued with the 10. However, East won with his king, led a spade to the king and ace, and received a diamond ruff for down one.

Plus 600 in one room and plus 100 in the other gave U.S.A. seniors 12 IMPs and the match.

This auction suggests that your partner had a penalty double of one spade, probably with a six-card suit, and his failure to go past the two-level should indicate that he does not have enough to drive to game. I'd expect him to be in the range of 7-11 HCP, so I would pass, imagining that no game could be all that good for us.


♠ 7
 A Q 10 9 4 3
 A 10 6
♣ Q 5 2
South West North East
1 1♠ Pass 2♣
Pass Pass 2♠ Pass

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Patrick CheuMay 23rd, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Hi Bobby,if East has Ace of spades and ducks the first spade and South held the K and J of spades,the king would still be the right card as there is only the Ace that can beat it..Does the play of the QC indicate that declarer is in two minds as to how the hand should be played? As spades need to be tackled at some stage,now at trick 2 seems best,and there is still the chance of club finesse if all else fails.As the cards lie,the spade to king cuts the defence communication immediately; as if one were to adopt the second line losing to the spade king in East..that spade play is still there.Regards~Patrick.

jim2May 23rd, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Did N-S have a bid over 2N that would show solid hearts?

bobby wolffMay 23rd, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Hi Patrick,

If declarer leads a spade first from dummy at trick 2, declarer should, of course, play the king, but when it loses and West then gives his partner a diamond ruff, the trumps need to be guessed and it will not be easy since there will be only 2 trumps left outstanding (K and a small one, which, of course, makes it very close as to what the right percentage play should be.

Declarer’s play and miss guess is not at all terrible and may figure out to be the best line.

bobby wolffMay 23rd, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Hi Jim2,

We do not know what conventions this pair plays over their own weak two bids, except for what his 3 heart rebid meant (short spades0.

That method has an advantage to partner who will then expect some trump support for the other two possible strains (in this case diamonds and clubs).

Probably, as in most conventions involving weak two bids, a rebid of 3NT should show a solid suit (AKQxxx or better) although it also makes sense to include KQJ10xx with a likely side entry.

jim2May 24th, 2014 at 12:02 am

That was the nuance I was getting at – implied minor suit honors. The absence of such a response would weaken the probability.

I would add that at my table, South would close eyes, bid 3N, rack up 660 and wonder what the fuss was all about.

jim2May 24th, 2014 at 12:05 am

Also, I am finding few hands where 5C makes and 3N would not. That KS is a big card and 11 tricks is a lot more than 9.

If the clubs roll, 3N ~always makes but 5C not necessarily, etc.

bobby wolffMay 24th, 2014 at 12:56 am

Hi Jim2,

Looking at the combined NS hands it appears to me, that those 26 cards would make 5 clubs, at least to me, the overall winner, with both 3NT and 6 clubs in a battle for 2nd best contract.

3NT appears to rely on the club finesse, after a normal spade lead with EW holding 9 of them and only 6 diamonds, while 6 clubs also relies on the club finesse, with a little more to do than that and, again to me, the slam bonus makes 6 clubs a better contract than 3NT.

Many bridge hands, particularly different game contracts with slam in the mix, are very difficult to assess and when one adds different levels of players both on the declaring and defending sides it becomes next to impossible.