Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Laces for a lady; letters for a spy, Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

Rudyard Kipling

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


They say that the looker-on sees most of the game. As a kibitzer at my club, I often wonder whether the players consider the consequences of their actions. All too often, the board is completed and the players move on, blithely unaware of the opportunities missed and chances gone begging.

Today’s deal saw me as North, dummy, with the sort of hand that Terence Reese would have described as a king better than his usual rubber bridge collection. I transferred my partner into two spades, and West hit on the lead of the diamond seven, rather than the club eight. (The latter would have been my choice, if only because it might have been a little easier to read).

East won the diamond king and ace and pressed on with the diamond 10 — the best defense, though she announced afterward that she thought she was defending no-trump. South ruffed with the spade queen, and West over-ruffed and cashed the heart ace, then led a club. Declarer carefully won that in dummy to lead a spade toward the 10, and could no longer be prevented from making eight tricks.

As usual, no one said anything germane to best play and defense in the post mortem. My partner had played it nicely, but how would you comment on the defense?

West missed a trick when he over-ruffed the spade queen; if he had pitched a club, he could ensure that he either would get a club ruff or could ruff the fourth diamond with the spade nine once declarer was out of trumps.

Here your partner has doubled for take-out. You can simply bid either minor, but I’d suggest a call of two no-trump to show both minors. Since you did not bid two no-trump over two hearts, this should not be read as natural. The question is whether you should try for game by raising the Sminor selected by partner. You have just enough to do that if you believe partner has promised extras.


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

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Iain ClimieApril 16th, 2018 at 11:05 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA, I suspect I’d have rolled in with 3C on the first round as if partner has doubled off-shape with say 4-2-5-2) he can bid 3D although I accept this shows extras for some players. Have I been playing too much pairs, though? Is it over-pushy at IMPs, or is it dependent on vulnerability?



Iain ClimieApril 16th, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hi again,

Also, I’m a bit surprised that East didn’t try 3D in pass out position. West might bid 3H which isn’t as good as the potential +50 off 2S but there are plenty of South players who will take the push here.


Bobby WolffApril 16th, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Both your posts suggest, at least to me, a winning attitude toward bridge competition, especially, the matchpoint game, where frequency of gain reigns supreme, against the failure of an occasional significant large loss.

To your relatively bold, but practical, interventions, I will add an immediate 2 heart overcall by a not vulnerable West. My guess is that, on the lie of the cards he will likely wind up with 9 tricks while declaring hearts with three spade tricks (one being a ruff in dummy), two diamond tricks and likely, because of his overruff position, 4 heart tricks.

Obviously, at least on this hand, the luck favored EW, but when considering the normal factors, e.g. blindness of the opening lead, declaring with all assets exposed and available to a clever declarer as opposed to at least some guesswork to both defenders, “give me offense instead of defense, or at least some portion of my entry fee back, since I came to bid”!

At least one can explain that to his compassionate partner (perhaps only on this hand) when that philosophy instead, does go awry.

Thanks for speaking up and find ways to feather ones own nest and, more importantly, at least attempt, to aggravate opponents.

BobliptonApril 16th, 2018 at 6:37 pm

I think the winning line of thought for West is to consider the question of whether he will be getting fewer trump tricks by not overruffing. Surely his trump king will take a trick later, if not immediately! Therefore, he risks nothing and may gain something…. and on this layout, does.


Bobby WolffApril 16th, 2018 at 9:30 pm

Hi Bob,

While I would rate your answer worth an “A”, it might then be followed with, particularly in the case of over trumping, it is often more productive (an extra trick) resulting if the defender (or on rare occasion, the declarer) postpones his overruff, allowing a lesser trump, sometimes only medium ones, to grow in playing stature to an extra trick.

Sometimes aspiring players, blessed in fact by at least moderate numeracy, can feel and thus then understand, the promotion.

Thanks for speaking up, without which, the subject would be left hanging.