Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 16th, 2020


Iain ClimieMarch 30th, 2020 at 9:11 am

Hi Bobby,

East could also have doubled 3S, so Westcan lead the SK under which East drops the Q. A diamond ruff follows and now the defence goes as per the column line – just as long as East doesn’t assume West has the S10 and try to get 2 ruffs here. In that case, South may either fall of his chair or have to be reminded that it is his turn to play after the S10 wins!



A V Ramana RaoMarch 30th, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
If at all, can the double of four hearts by east be construed as Lightner? In which case, the contract can be set without any sweat. It could be a marginal risk by east which perhaps is justified. Anyway , it cannot be redoubled

Bobby WolffMarch 30th, 2020 at 3:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Perhaps, if after starting with the king of spades, getting the five (or even the queen) from partner West, after ruffing, could (should switch to the 2 of diamonds, hoping partner will rule out returning a low spade (lowest suit, in this case, clubs) for another ruff.

Can’t we all hear the defensive conversation, if and when it didn’t go well during the play. West starting, “Why did you take such a risk with the defense?” “Because I was hoping a good partner like you would have the ten”. “But I led the deuce of spades suggesting clubs, and for the right reason”. “How was I supposed to guess what the right reason was?”. “Because I said so, that’s why”. “If that is true, why did you misplay that hand two rounds ago”. “I did that on purpose, because I am trying to get rid of you as a partner”” “I’m glad of that and happy that you finally succeeded at something”!

From there it then proceeded to get slightly ugly.

Bobby WolffMarch 30th, 2020 at 4:21 pm


Yes, an out of the blue penalty double, even of a game (not a slam) contract, can and possibly should alert partner that something unexpected will be held by his partner, hoping, if detected properly, may lead to winning the setting trick.

However, the sometime slowness of that defensive gambit, might be construed by a TD (or later a committee) as an illegal hesitation, allowing the defense to then get brilliant.

As a many time former appeals committee chairman, situations similar to the above rarely appeared, but when they do, although always subject to scrutiny, need consistency (if any such thing is possible) in making the decision.

The factors involved have to do with first the TD and then the committee’s opinion of the alleged ethics of the (in this case) defenders and, of course, as much as possible dissecting the would be thoughts of those defenders, allowing anything reasonable (and I think, in this case, it passes scrutiny to defend that way, even considering the tempo break).

However the main issue IMO is that this type case should always be a precedent available for the next committee (or for that matter for the TDs to be given) to study for the future, but trying as hard as I could to create those incredibly important precedents, no one, at least up to now (to my knowledge), while I am possibly in my dotage, paid any attention to creating precedents in any bridge judging area.

Sad though it may be, it would never be too late to change that terribly stupid philosophy .. but the reason for not, allows present committees more leeway to favor whom they want to, at least to me, the exact opposite of what should be true.

Iain ClimieMarch 30th, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and we’ve all seen it happen on occasion. I think the most effective partnerships are probably one livelier and one more placid player based on my experience. Any thoughts here? The problem of two placid or two firebrand players can be imagined.


Bobby WolffMarch 30th, 2020 at 6:19 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, although I have no statistics to rely on, my experience will echo exactly what you imply.

With no names mentioned, when I first, long ago (1955 to be exact) played in my first bridge Nationals, on the second round of the Spingold KO my novice team matched up against the #1 seed which included what was thought to be America’s #1 partnership, one outspoken and very aggressive, and the other placid and quiet.

Throughout the whole match the loud mouthed one gave perhaps 30+ lessons to his less famous, but still very talented partner (who made no recognizable mistakes, at least in my limited judgment).

At the end of the day, although we lost by the expected landslide, my opinion, possibly better than many might expect, shouted out to me that the placid one, at least from my then knowledge, was much the better player (in almost all legitimate categories to be measured).

What it proved, I do not know, except possibly the old adage, “Remain silent and be thought a fool, than speak out and remove all doubt”.

However, another worthwhile quote is left, “Always let the winner, not the loser, explain” and I was certainly not among that group.