Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.

John Peel

S North
N-S ♠ Q 8 3
 10 7 3
 Q 9 6 4 2
♣ A K
West East
♠ J 9 2
 J 8
 A J 3
♣ Q J 5 3 2
♠ 10 7 6 5
 Q 9 6 5 2
 10 8
♣ 8 4
♠ A K 4
 A K 4
 K 7 5
♣ 10 9 7 6
South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


On this deal from a teams-offour match, one declarer had an easy run and made a comfortable overtrick in his game contract. The play had seemed straightforward enough and he was not expecting to gain on the board. But West, his team-mate at the second table, found a way of inducing declarer into error.

Clearly the diamonds had to be developed in three no-trump, so after winning the lead of the club three lead in dummy, both declarers led the diamond two to their king. At the first table West took his ace and led another low club, but now, after winning in dummy, it was easy for South to come to hand with a spade in order to lead a second diamond. When West followed with the three, declarer inserted dummy’s nine. East won, but had no more clubs to play, and so South had 10 tricks.

The second West found a much more imaginative defense. When the first diamond was led to the king, he allowed South’s king to hold. Declarer continued the suit, and this time West followed with his jack.

From South’s viewpoint, this was entirely consistent with West having started with J-10-3 of diamonds and East with the doubleton A-8. If that were the case, it would be fatal to play dummy’s queen on the second round, so West’s jack was allowed to hold. West now cleared the clubs, and coming back on play with the third round of diamonds, cashed his established clubs for one down.

You are too good for a simple raise to two hearts, and the hand doesn’t feel quite right for a call of one no-trump, since you may be offering partner club ruffs in dummy, which he could hardly predict. All that is left is a cuebid of two clubs, the so-called unassuming cue bid, showing a limit raise in high cards. By contrast, a jump to three hearts is nowadays played more about shape than high cards.


♠ Q 8 3
 10 7 3
 Q 9 6 4 2
♣ A K
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass

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Iain ClimieJuly 1st, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Hi Bobby,

It doesn’t work today, but a warped east could play the D10 at T2 when west would win and south would then run the D7 later, losing to the 8. Two closely separated cards e.g. Q10 seem to be the latter e.g. If AJx opposite K9xx is played by finesse (wins), Ace (queen drops) then the finesse of the 9 is marginal against good opposition. Our old friend Grosvenor can lurk in many guises!



Bobby WolffJuly 1st, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Hi Iain,

And speaking of specific combinations the AJx (dummy) opposite K9xx with first a winning thrust of low to the jack and then upon cashing the ace lefty throws the queen, since the queen and ten have become equals once the jack was played it is a slightly different family than Kx opposite AQ108x (dummy) when the king is played from hand righty now drops the jack (from either J, J9, or even from J9x).

The first combination above is fairly common with much experience and only psychology and, of course, other counting and implications often available, with the second one a sort of, out of the blue, thunder.

If no real bridge tell is available it all narrows down to mano vs. mano, but not to participate by the defender is automatically getting the worst of it, since in the first case it is mandatory and the second will usually cause (probably significantly) just a straight up from the top.

Amongst the top, just another psychological battle, but with other two player battles a one-sided victory until the vanquished grows up and participates. In all experienced player clashes there is a certainty there will be a definite winner and loser.

A.V.Ramana RaoJuly 1st, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Hi Mr Wolff
This is with reference to the comment made by Lain.
If East plays D 10 on first round when declarer plays K and if West wins, as declarer needs only two diamond tricks and not three, he comes to hand with a spade/Heart at the first opportunity and plays diamonds inserting 9 and next time wins with D Q to land his contract with Three spades, Two Hearts, Two diamonds & Two clubs. Or Am I missing something?

A.V.Ramana RaoJuly 1st, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Hi Mr Wolff
Sorry I did not read the first line – It doesn’t work today

Iain ClimieJuly 1st, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the useful response to my incoherent post! Sorry about that.


The point I was after with the flippant D10 was that South will take east for D10, J10, J108 and messing about but never D108 so may run the D7 if west takes the DK with the ace, playing for west to have AJ8x. This loses and south then spends the next 3 hands muttering to himself. In similar vein, try playing AK98xx opposite xxx for no loser. Just cash the AK and hope but imagine declarer leads towards the long suit, next hand plays J and the 10 falls under the K. On the next lead towards A98xx the other small card appears. Was it a mistake from QJx or sowing confusion with Jx? Declarer should assume the latter without extra clues but…



Bobby WolffJuly 1st, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Hi Iain,

Your example with AK98xx opposite xxx may or may not be an example of a Grosvenor.

If, and in any way, a defender can suggest that the declarer could not get to dummy to take a second round finess (and there were no other complications) no, it is not a grosvenor. Especially so if that defender was trying to mislead count on that hand before he led his 2nd high card from that suit. Furthermore if the AK98xx was in a closed hand, then rising with an honor is still not a grosvenor since rising with an honor by a 2nd seat defender was merely an error in judgment

In other words, if a play is made which has no positive bridge utility and subjects the defender to losing an unnecessary trick then it probably is a grosvenor. But what about if that defender was betting coin of the realm on his opponents?

Will the beat ever stop? And if so, will at least one person be disappointed that it has?

Herreman RSeptember 12th, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Cool play by West !