Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.

Julia Cameron

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


In today’s deal North emphasized his diamonds then came out from behind the bushes by supporting spades at the four level. Neither opponent had anything further to say, so four spades became the final contract.

When dummy came down, South should have expected to make his game very easily with five trumps and six diamonds plus a heart ruff to give him 12 tricks. At rubber bridge there was, however, no harm in taking out just a little insurance against a bad trump break.

If one of the opponents had four trumps, South knew he would lose a trump trick sooner or later. If this happened late in the hand, the defenders might then be in position to take additional tricks in hearts and clubs as well as their trump trick. South realized he could afford to lose a trump trick and two clubs, but he could not also afford to give up a heart trick.

Having worked that out, South saw that he could ensure his contract by surrendering a trump at the second trick. Dummy’s remaining trump would then prevent the opponents from taking any heart tricks. The defenders could take their two club tricks, but then South would easily win the rest.

If the defenders had forced dummy with a second heart at trick three, or after cashing a club winner or two, declarer could then have come back to hand with the diamond jack to draw the rest of the trump.

Your partner’s use of the fourth suit sets up a game force, and would have left you with an awkward call had East passed. But after the double you have no clear bid, and an easy way to indicate that is by passing now. That should let your partner bid naturally in support of you or by rebidding his suit. Note: if he redoubles, you will put the dummy down.


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

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David WarheitSeptember 21st, 2016 at 10:28 am

At duplicate, S can see his way to 13 tricks, not merely 12. Ruff the opening lead, SA, ruff a second H, DJ, draw trump: 5S, 6D & 2 ruffs. Even if S are 4-1 or 1-4, S leads a S at trick 8 and goes down only if W has CAQ (or possibly only either the A or Q, but W is pretty well marked with the A).

More importantly, I think that E has a pretty clear save at 5H. He knows partner has only 1S and is loaded in H, and he knows that whatever assets NS have in C must be held by S with, of course, his partner sitting over them. Heck, if W had only the CJ instead of a small one, EW make 5H!

Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2016 at 11:17 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA, if you play in 2D Redbl’d, that’ll teach East to make fatuous lead directing doubles – he’ll be on lead. Was he trying to command himself to lead a trump? I think partner could have found a diamond lead anyway but another ship could be heading for the ocean bottom.



Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Hi David,

While all you say is true, the following phrase should apply: “that’s the story of, that’s the glory of bridge”.

Furthermore, once East has jumped to 4 hearts, by high-level partnership edict (and discipline), he should now allow his partner to make further bidding decisions involving future competition. Besides, he has a trump trick to which the rest of the table is not privy, and that fact alone should cause reluctance to even consider saving.

While our game is no doubt, an elegant one, (at least by my standards), making it in no way easily predictable, and thus cause for my continuing repetition of, what determines the differences in results (at the world class level) by the judgment decisions of what to do, not a significant superior technical knowledge of how to bid, play and defend.

Accepting the above, one of the necessary caveats of a competitive high-level partnership, centers around partnership discipline and when passed around to West, a pass and attempt to defend 4 spades (him holding possible defensive tricks plus only a singleton spade, therefore allowing for partner to have a trump stack (sort of). In any event, the play of this hand across the worldwide bridge world would cause a large percentage of 4 spade contracts to go set (my estimate is about 90%), particularly at duplicate pair games, where overtricks (with reasonable controlled greed present) are so necessary for success.

And please realize David, that I am neither attacking your analysis, nor demanding anything unusual, only emphasizing the necessity for “iron” discipline” especially in the bidding for good players to rise in the ability to compete against the very best. East should definitely play the queen of hearts at trick one on partner’s high heart lead, if for no other reason than to suggest to partner not to switch to the obvious suit clubs, after he gets a glimpse at the dummy.

Finally, while hand analysis is often important, during the play, and even after the fact for learning purposes, winning choices are the talent du jour which get the job done.

And with today’s hand that becomes vividly true both in the bidding, the declarer’s play and the defense making it a poster child for what our great game is about.

Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, like there is a time to love and a time to die, there is a time to make a lead director and a time to beware of making one.

Of course, no hand was given with today’s BWTA, but your sentiment about teaching some brash opponents a good lesson is, no doubt, inviting. On this hand there is still some doubt as to who will be the declarer since either could be while playing NT. However if holding KQJ10x and little else except possibly a side king or even ace it might be pertinent that you really want that suit led, and, no doubt, with that type of holding you would agree.

Therefore the task of the two bidders is not to fall victim to that hand, but to only redouble when their opponents are just too frivolous in being heard.

To all the above you are well aware (your use of the word fatuous, proves that) and my motive is only to not scare off lead directing doubles entirely, since, as usual, bridge is very versatile in sometimes being right and other times wrong, but being always right or close, is what being a winning bridge player has always been and, no doubt will continue to be, about.

Finally, if bridge was only that simple, what a wonderful time we would all have, “finickule, finickula”.

Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Hi Bobby,

While I agree that the hand you mentioned is fair enough, wouldn’t it have been better just to bid on the first round while the oppo were less sure of their ground.and when the bid could remove options and bidding space? I suppose East could be lurking with KQ109xx and nothing but it seems unlikely.



Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, some hands should be bid immediately, both for constructive competition and, of course, for simple lead direction. On the sequence in question either of the opponents may wind up the declarer with spades and diamonds making the possible diamond doubler the opening leader, but with hearts and clubs, your partner, and NT (often when it is critical) still up for grabs.

No doubt it would take wild horses to keep you and me from overcalling at the two level with KQJ10x and a side ace (or maybe even a king outside), but not so with other players, even some very good ones, who tend to be conservative.

As a rejoinder to bridge reality, sometimes the fact that one does not double (a sometimes artificial 4th suit) causes partner, in case of a valid choice, to not lead that suit for failure to double, which just reminds all bridge players the responsibility which goes along with trying to play the best bridge he or she can.

Thus, is all of the above worth the effort, only an individual can answer for himself.