Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 13th, 2020


jim2February 27th, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Two comments.

1) The text should have been “extra trick in the MINOR suits” rather than “POINTED.” (caps for emphasis)

2) I think declarer should make the hand, but with a reasoning and line different from the column.

Weak-two bids hint at more values than three-bid preempts. Many partnerships hold to a 6 – 10 range with a good 6-card suit and, despite a passed partner, East is vulnerable in what might well be a partscore hand. Thus, declarer has a fair expectation that East has a card outside hearts, so it is either the QD or the AC.

Assuming East began with six hearts (yes, some may do it with five, but East is vulnerable), eleven of East’s original cards are known after the spade ace and the two diamond tops are played.

– If East has the QD, a diamond trick can be secured by either one ruff (if 3-1 in the minors) or a ruffing finesse (if 4-0 in the minors).
– If East is 4-0 in the minors w/o the QD, then a ruff will drop the QD from West.
– If East is 3-1 or 2-2 in the minors w/o the QD, then diamonds will not produce another trick.

– If East has the AC, it is either singleton or doubleton, so clubs must be played from the Board
– If East does NOT hold the AC, then the hand cannot be made by playing on clubs.
(Clubs cannot be 3-3 with East’s eleven known cards.)

Declarer can combine chances:

– use one trump entry to advance the JD, ruffing it when East shows out, and then
– use the last trump entry to lead a small club through East.

Once East follows with a small club and declarer’s honor holds, declarer’s remaining chance is to lead a small club from hand. East’s AC captures only air, and the contract is safe.

jim2February 27th, 2020 at 2:44 pm

I might add that — in the column text — the original declarer could still make the hand as I described above.

That is, once the “queen had [not] come down,” declarer could still have re-entered dummy with the third round of trumps and led a small club. Then, when a closed hand honor held, lead the 4C. There was only that chance, as clubs could not be 3-3 with East having only two unknown cards left.

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 27th, 2020 at 3:41 pm

Hi Jim 2
South’s play had been faulty in cashing top diamonds. East might as well could have ruffed the second diamond. So South should cash A of spades and after West showing out , he is almost certain about nine of east’s cards( almost because again east could have opened with only five hearts but perhaps not considering the vulnerability. )So, south uses his entries to dummy in trumps for leading clubs making whenever east has two or three clubs with A.
Hope our hot endorses

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 27th, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Host not hot ( hazards of typing from mobile)

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 27th, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Actually last line should read whenever east has two clubs with A or three clubs with or without A . Sorry for multiple posts

jim2February 27th, 2020 at 3:46 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

I prefer combining chances, but the risk of a second diamond ruff is real. Since Our Host’s text portrayed the decision point as happening after the two diamond tops were cashed, I mostly worked from there.

Note that giving East a singleton diamond means West started with six. Perhaps West might have led a diamond with that many, hoping for a ruff. This is similar to the ace-fifth of clubs reasoning offered in the text.

bobbywolffFebruary 27th, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes and no doubt your correction and advice are both welcome and even more importantly, at least for NS, should have been heeded.

First, your correction of the MINOr SUITS instead of the pointed ones (spades, already determined, and diamonds, instead of correctly CLUBS and DIAMONDS, since the ship had already sailed when East, not West, unexpectedly showed up with all three of the adverse spades making it almost inferentially impossible for him to hold 4 clubs unless he is void in diamonds (to which he should have made a Lightner double hoping West will figure out, the suit to lead must be diamonds.

I also agree with your resting declarer’s hopes on the original Ax in clubs and the eventual obligatory club play of the small club out of declarer’s hand after one led first to his honors.

Finally, I find fault with West, not respecting South’s “slam” jump and although vulnerable, giving his RHO credit for “knowing what he was doing”. At least to me, especially with his heart holding, West should have known that the evidence then indicated that South had taken the right action, although the actual result of down one, tended to deny my judgment.

However down 800 is considerably better than minus 1430, the result which should have been obtained by EW.

Sometimes, especially while emphasizing results, not should have been, often belies excellent bridge, sometimes sadly making the right decision (EW’s sacrifice), but instead of celebration only feeling despair, this time for NS not EW, but one of South’s own making, although, in this case, South would be spared the ignominy of his declarer play.

bobbywolffFebruary 27th, 2020 at 5:06 pm


Yes, your points are well taken, especially the one about a potential diamond ruff from East, the original weak two bidder who unexpectedly showed up with all three spades.

Of course, the queen of diamonds may be in the short hand, making that line of play possible, but nevertheless risky.

However, as previously mentioned, East will not be void in diamonds, otherwise he should have doubled 6 spades for an unusual lead, which usually, against a suit slam, denotes an undisclosed, up to then, side suit void.

While this hand and many others, while usually all having at least slightly different major aspects, the central subject is always counting, without which the average bridge player, let’s say the lower 99% of them, do not reach out for that ability, therefore and definitely limiting them greatly in ever being able to establish expert status.

To create an analogy, when learning to drive, one is taught to always be concentrating on what you are doing, or else, being irresponsible
with your job (and with your passenger(s), but in bridge, it is the same way, with always concentrating on counting every hand, when declarer or, just as necessary, both defenders.

Finally, to not do so will ALWAYS and from the very beginning, restrict that player to, at the best, mediocrity in performance.

Iain ClimieFebruary 27th, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Hi Bobby, Jim2,

Won’t TOCM give South something like AK109xxxx x AK AKQ with dummy holding Sxx or Sxxx but no entry if you take the save? I’d be happier with Sx (or even xx) as there is always the horrible possibility that partner has an unexpected trump trick when I’ve got a void. Any inhibitions about opening weak 2s off shape also go out of the window in 3rd position. Out of interest, what are your views on not opening weak 2s with 4-6 (or 6-4) in the majors in 1st or 2nd position?



Iain ClimieFebruary 27th, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Sorry, statement of the obvious – unless pard has HA or SQ he won”t have an entry opposite that lot!

bobbywolffFebruary 27th, 2020 at 10:48 pm

Hi Iain,

But if partner has only s. xxx, and the HA it would be a laydown for 14 tricks in NT.

To answer your WTB question I would always open 2 spades while holding 6-4 as long as the 6 is in spades. Never would I not open a WTB, especially in the third or fourth possession, but also in 1st or 2nd, because of holding 4 in the other major.

That opening is just too valuable to not use, every chance I got. When partner can conjure up a raise or better, a jump raise, it even gets more effective.

While at the table and in the real bridge world, the inhibitions against this or that are nothing
short of laughable, at least to me, to prevent me robbing the opponents of bidding room and all the other many ways to gain by so doing.

Even: s. xxxxxx, h. AKQJ, d. xx, c.x. or even s. AKQJ, h. xxxxxx, d. xx, c. x, I would chirp 2 hearts. trading both some distortion and lead advantages for the value of the preempt and the hope for a raise from partner.

However, and as a concession, if I wind up on lead with RHO the eventual declarer, I would choose not to lead my WTB suit.

Strong opinion to follow!