Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 31st, 2020


Steve ConradApril 14th, 2020 at 11:27 am

Hi Bobby,
I went to the Encyclopedia of Bridge and consulted Mathematical Table 1 where the percentages of suit distributions are given. It turns out that when partner has a 5-card spade suit and rebids 2D after partner responds 1NT forcing to your opening bid of 1 spade, roughly 61% of the time his diamond suit will be 3 cards long. Wouldn’t you (usually) rather play in a 5-1 spade fit than a 3-3 diamond fit?

bobbywolffApril 14th, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Hi Steve,

First, yes I would probably, but not necessarily, want to play in a 5-1 fit rather than 3-3 but when the opponents do not know that the declarer only has 3 trump, sometimes, more often than imagined, declarer can steal at least one more trick than entitled.

Next, my mathematical table suggested that, on that sequence when the opener rebid 2 of a suit after opening a major suit and then rebid 2 diamonds he would be 5-3-3-2 only about 34% of the time rather than 61%. Then and to that one might consider that some of those 34% of the times the opponents might have come into the bidding, either early or at the death, again saving that opening bid partnership from trouble. Then, when that 5-3-3-2 doesn’t represent a minimum (12-14) he will have either opened differently or, of course, now bid more aggressively with his rebid and assuming happily ever after reach the proper contract.

All the above should satisfy your fears about having to ignominiously declare a 3-3 fit, although, yes those sad events do occur, but, if the above is true, not nearly as often as you fear. Finally, when showing a preference to partner with only a singleton, doesn’t preclude one’s partner from sometimes bidding on, and if he does, he will have to be very lucky that your misinformation (even though not intentional) may lead to an even greater disaster to occur.

Sorry for all those above words to be said, but perhaps others may. along of course with you,
misunderstand some of the complexities involved if some mathematical truths are not explained.

Good luck and thanks for bringing up those types of subjects for many (I hope) to benefit, but others to fear this or that, but not to have your courage to inquire.

Iain ClimieApril 14th, 2020 at 9:48 pm

Hi Steve, Bobby,

I’m slightly surprised by the findings Steve quotes. Presumably with exactly 5-2-3-3 and a weak hand opener will bid 2C to give more options (and 2N with a stronger one) but the above and exactly 5-3-3-2 shape don’t seem as likely as (say) 5-1-4-3, 5-2-4-2, 5-3-4-1 and assorted less likely others e.g. 5-5 in the pointed suits. Still a 3-3 fit is always challenging to play and there is always the funny side of opponents thinking you’ve got the long trump that partner actually holds then mis-defending as a result.

To what extent is a trump lead on this auction generally recommended though?



bobbywolffApril 14th, 2020 at 10:50 pm

Hi Iain,

While leading a trump may indeed work, my guess is that to do so would still suggest not holding KJx, AQx, etc. and perhaps short spades indicating declarer would be more likely to trump spades safely in the dummy while behind your hand.

However, there are so many different possibilities I would be doubtful of anyone who would tend to suggest it, unless it stood out starting with you having a solid holding rather than a tenace.