Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 27th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoFebruary 10th, 2020 at 10:41 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But on the same fortuitous lie of the cards, south would have made six clubs too. While the temptation to play in a three NT contract is overwhelming, perhaps on this hand it would have better to play in five clubs( six clubs though making , would be ambitious of course)

Iain ClimieFebruary 10th, 2020 at 12:44 pm

Hi Bobby,

At pairs is it better on the hand to just play Ace and another club, hoping that D are 5-4 as the D2 return suggests? There is only a 1 in 4 chance of both finesses working and, if either fails then you could be going more than one down e.g. the H finesse loses and you have some awkward discards to find on 3 diamond winners, then the defence exit with a heart. I accept that this highlights your criticism of pairs, but the same concern applies at Board-A-Match.



Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2020 at 2:20 pm


You said a mouthful when you declared 5 or even 6 clubs the better contract, only needing the clubs to be 2-1 and the spade finesse working with no never mind, to other distributions, at least for only a club game.

That, together with a choice of a simple heart finesse instead, which if working, would then allow the losing diamond to be discarded in dummy, before the opponents got in. And how about a heart lead, which could result in an additional heart trick (it would be almost certain if North became declarer in 5 clubs) but still retained an even chance with South the declarer.

All the above is worth thinking about, except, believe it or not, while at the table and playing the contract of 3NT, the likely contract of choice in all forms of bridge, pairs, imps, and rubber.

At least to me, it is next to impossible, (that itself is even an underbid) to imagine playing this hand at any other contract than 3NT, that being so, at least IMO, in all the above forms of the game listed above. Sure, you are 100% correct in your analysis, but welcome back to the real world where being realistic is so very necessary in making key choices.

Therefore, and simply, the column line at IMPs or rubber is clearly the one to take (heart and spade finesse with the added twist of leading low spades from the dummy) and, possibly never look back on playing the hand safely in 3NT after East not West brandishes the diamond king with, of course, that blankity blank opening lead.

However, stay tuned to my response to Iain and see if you agree with our discussion.

Finally, make every effort with your keen and analytical bridge mind to solve problems the best you can, but do not be shoved off track by worrying about being in the wrong contract. That happens every day in all bridge games, short of heaven above, with being able to concentrate on what to do next with the cards one holds with the final contract already determined, the only thing worth considering with all other thoughts constituting an unnecessary distraction.

However, that, in no way, should prevent you from commenting what you did, but only for the post-mortem or, of course, right here, but not while at the table.

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, of course, while playing pairs there are more often than one realizes, other considerations, such as you mention, to think about.

While playing to make one’s contract is perhaps 90% the usual tiebreaker in favor of doing, perhaps this hand lends itself, of course at pairs or B-A-M, an exception.

My off hand (excuse the pun) opinion is close, since I believe that more than 50% of the pairs will wind up at 3NT, some will manage to play it from North’s side and others may play a club part score or even wind up in spades, likely making that contract, if not too high.

Therefore I will go for the gusto and likely lose a couple of matchpoints, but gain perhaps at least at least a half board or so, in case the long shot line succeeds.

However, I will believe it, if by doing so, I am taking the wrong percentage view, especially if told that, by one who has calculated the exact percentage. No doubt, while playing pairs there will be some number of pairs who duplicate the above NS bidding, but I cannot be sure that a diamond lead is almost automatic, or if it is just how many will gamble it out to make the hand as opposed to going quietly to prevent extra down tricks.

Sorry for my wishy-washy answer, but I, while at the table, and considering the specific problem, may do something different, depending whether or not it is Monday or Tuesday.

However and no doubt, I will say the problem you posed is extremely close

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 10th, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Sorry. In my excitement , perhaps I did not frame my post properly. Perhaps I should have asked: Is there anyway to reach five clubs on this hand ( six would be too ambitious as mentioned) .Only at IMPs and not at pairs as every pair
may prefer NT
P S: just purchased a plaster

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2020 at 4:15 pm


You framed your post just fine.

On this site, when our sensational game bridge is featured, it is not necessary, but sometimes thought to seek ultra polite ways to have to ask or phrase important bridge questions or philosophies.

We call a f—— shovel a f—— shovel and instead try to concentrate on getting our beloved game, correct.

Now, if this hand would be bid 100 times by the 100 best pairs in the world (whomever they may be) not one, IMHO, would reach a club game or slam. If I am wrong and one did, IMO they might make it, but with it they would likely fall out of that illustrative group and at this moment still may be descending in class. (I know that I am challenging some bridge lovers to concoct a sequence which could be believed).

The only other possibility, in these trying times with too many world pairs cheating and still being allowed to even show up at tournaments, much less play, is that they had seen the hand records or instead set the hands up themselves to get their own precious top.

Sorry for my rant, but even the thought of a game or higher club contract reminds me of what is going on, mostly happening in Europe at this time (but in years past, also around the world, certainly and surely including the USA).

In one simple word, No!

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2020 at 4:23 pm

And after checking Lewis Carroll poignant quote,
and in Henry Higgins (of “My Fair Lady’s” fame)
words. “By George she’s got it”.

jim2February 11th, 2020 at 4:30 am

In my TOCM ™ world, West had faced the following lead problem:


Bobby WolffFebruary 11th, 2020 at 5:23 am

Hi Jim2,

Considering the health problem out of China, fortune can always get worse if West held the doubleton diamond J10 and in spite of the lead where declarer covered the queen, king with the ace, he then knocked out the club; when diamonds abruptly stopped after trick 4, South went on to boldly take 10 tricks when he finessed the spade into what he thought to be the non-danger hand and was, of course, richly rewarded.