Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 9th, 2020


Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 9:42 am

Hi Bobby,

Didn’t West lead out of turn here? The hand lesson is still valuable, though, although maybe East should duck the first diamond smoothly and then the second if declarer runs the 10 after the Q. NOw South can relax (as he thinks) with Diamonds coming in and take the safety play. Oops!



Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 11:07 am

Except if East ducks twice, the Safety Play gives declarer 4C, 3D, 3H and 2S.

Robert LiptonJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Should East duck diamonds twice, South should just start to cash out; the SQ drops stiff and declarer scores up 4C, 3D, 3H & 3S. Someone announces “Grossly underbid” and East has to explain to an irate partner (or team mates) how the contract was cold.


Robert LiptonJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Whoops! My bad. However, since the contract is now cold, declarer might as well cash his Hearts starting with the King. I don’t see any squeeze, but he’s in dummy at this point, and even money players like overtricks. Making 13.


Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Hi Bob,

Not sure where the 3rd spade came from but point taken, as per my second post. East should duck once though in case South dozes off, doesn’t take the D finesse again but starts on hearts. There again South is still home isn’t he? Given 3D, 4C and 2S then he only needs 3H (but can’t afford to lose one) even if East takes first or 2nd D, so HA then H to J is the most likely line to work – any 3-2 with Q onside plus stiff Q anywhere or H4-1 with HQ onside.

Am I missing something?



Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 12:32 pm

No worries, crossed in the post!

Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Sorry, I’m thinking North has another diamond ….. What’s left of my brain is having a very odd day.

Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Hi Iain & Robert,

Of course, not noting the lead out of turn, straight from the author’s error box, is the greater wrong so both of you, Iain’s double diamond duck and Bob’s spade reference as well as cashing the king instead of leading from North rather than South in hearts make the three of us birds (perhaps of the dodo variety) of a feather, who are flocking (careful with the spelling) together.

In any event, here is hoping that other readers will cut through the manure (another lesser inflammatory word) and get the sweeter smell of choosing the right technique.

Changing the subject, by not changing the subject, perhaps the greatest single difference with today’s much greater artificiality present in making use of formerly meaningless specific bids which meant the suit or no trump it supposedly represented to now merely artificial other meanings (such as today’s 3 spades inquiry by South and North’s 3NT reply) is that occasionally, as here, that denomination becomes the final contract, transferring the opening lead to the other.

Obviously some confusion reigns, making us only 99.44 percent guilty, instead of 100, like Ivory soap used to be pure (“it floats”) at least by their advertisement

Yes, only octogenarians or younger people who have studied long ago radio advertising, will recall.

Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 5:26 pm

HI Bobby,

So, going all the way back to the start and playing 6N by South, take the SA and take the D finesse twice unless East takes the first D. If West has DK wins, bingo, play the safety play; if not play the H for 4 tricks as described, picking up HQ alone with East. The great merit of playing an early D to the J is that it is very difficult for East to duck but that is clearly the best play if South is a trusting soul.

Got there in the end…..

On BWTA though, there are 40 points out there somewhere. Partner either has a very strong hand, opener does or RHO is sandbagging by not bidding or redoubling. Someone is surely going to walk or even run into trouble here regardless. I agree with the assessment of 1S, though – partners never have brakes when holding 18 counts or even stronger with 4 decent spades.


Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2020 at 6:08 pm

Hi Iain,

Regarding the BWTA, which could become treacherous unless playing with a very experienced and sensible partner.

While the clever responder may think he is keeping it low by bidding only 1 spade, your assessment rings true and may only cause partner to become a “bull in a china shop”. While 2 diamonds appears to be sensible, it too, could wreak havoc, especially against blood thirsty opponents (perhaps East) who may be “sandbagging”. For those non-poker players, means waiting to act later with a powerful hand.

Leaving the only effort worth considering to bid one club, which is insufficient and when given a chance to make it sufficient merely decline and instead bid either 1 spade or 2 diamonds, which will have the effect of barring your partner (which he will immediately hate, until he later realizes your motive).

*******Emergency, calling all cars and pulling out all stops********please never think of doing such a thing, since winning that hand is not worth being barred from future playing!!!!!!

Besides, it would be better for you, when it came time to respond, just excuse yourself, head for the bathroom, even for the wrong gender, but perhaps your clever partner will figure out the real reason. Never say never, but all (or any) of the above may save that result from disaster, especially if you do not return to your seat, at least your one at the bridge table.

Finally, please repeat after me, “I am only kidding, I am only kidding, etc.”.

ClarksburgJanuary 24th, 2020 at 11:29 am

“…Yes, only octogenarians or younger people who have studied long ago radio advertising, will recall…”
I’m old enough to recall the exact line:
“99 and 44 one hundredths per cent pure. It floats”

jim2January 24th, 2020 at 1:23 pm

I waited out the substantive exchanges above, but find I can no longer resist a making a minor point.

The wording of the text implies declarer must choose between cashing the KH or leading small towards the closed hand.

Since entries are abundant, this is not the case on this hand. Declarer can always lead small towards the closed hand, no matter which heart suit line will be pursued. When the QH appears, declarer will always continue as in the text, even if the original intent had been different.

The delta would occur should East follow with a SMALL heart.

At that point, declarer would either finesse the JH or play the KH with the intention of leading towards the Board holding.

The extra chance of the QH singleton with East is there no matter which line had been the original intent.

bobbywolffJanuary 24th, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Hi Jim2 & Clarksburg,

Although improving from 99.44% pure to 100% may sometimes be overrated, one person among us does not believe in taking the .56% risk.

Perhaps, while suffering from TOCM TM it may become vitally necessary to NEVER be careless about ever going set when 100% is available since by definition, that BAD will happen.

To make it even worse, I have recently heard even 100% may not work if one player has been dealt 14 or only 12 cards.

And thus let the person who never succumbed to a lesser percentage line, throw the first card.

Furthermore “perfect is what perfect does” and the Jim2 model should lead us by example.