Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 3rd, 2020


Iain ClimieApril 17th, 2020 at 12:29 pm

HI Bobby,

Ace for attitude, King for count works well here. To what extent would you recommend it against suit contracts in general, suit slams and NT?



jim2April 17th, 2020 at 2:20 pm

I offer one addition to the text.

The text focuses on the TWO card ending, but mostly passes over the THREE card ending, which is just as interesting/important.

When declarer cashes the third and last club on the Board at Trick 11, South and East are already at equal trump length with South holding the trump tenace over East.

East can ruff, and South would over-ruff, draw the last trump, and cash the AD. The text has East discarding, delaying the end another card, so declarer pitched the AD (as stated in text) and led from the Board again.

Iain ClimieApril 17th, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

Just out of interest, how are you doing? I’m absurdly lucky – large garden, plenty of country walks with few others about and we’ve got my 2nd daughter back from Peru at last (she’s a zoologist who was working out there). Lockdowns are driving some people to distraction over here though – one guy measured the distance round his sofa and walked round it until he’d done 26.2 miles. Thank goodness for bridge and other such distractions – this could be a good time to get people interested in learning the basics online to stop then chewing thee carpet or their own left leg.



MirceaApril 17th, 2020 at 2:48 pm

Hi Bobby,

Do you agree with the auction presented? If dummy’s AJ of clubs were in hearts, the slam goes down 99% of the time. The way I see it, even playing 2/1, the jump to 3S is a the problem. Is there a better way to bid this hand?

As far as the lead, it should be obvious to West that declarer is short in hearts, but as Iain said, this can be probed with the lead of the King.

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Hi Iain,

As a bridge instructor, I may touch on the advantage of what you suggest in having either the ace or the king, while defending a slam, meaning asking for count instead of attitude, but likely only as an intellectual enterprise in case of a tornado just striking and our class then being extended as a safety measure against leaving class.

IOW, the times to which it may be an advantage may average less than 10% of a normal lifetime with most students not beginning the pursuit of bridge learning till their twenties. Furthermore the probability of a forget (either the leader or his partner falling victim) are perhaps about another 10 times more likely than not with all the above actual percentages being factored into my answer.

However, thank you for broaching that subject since if West would not continue with a second heart (even so, if his partner trumped the first one) there is not a cow in the US state (Texas) to which I was born (or some may think, hatched) and I can assure you that a loud “Mou” is a very common noise there.

Other than the above, yes, West might (because of his bidding 4NT, asking for aces) play declarer for a known singleton and therefore brilliantly engineer a set by not continuing hearts, but, even that important almost certain inference (stronger than any human memory) is likely not to persuade West from “doing what comes naturally”, although and no doubt, he probably should.

However, much thanks for allowing that worthwhile subject to enter the discussion.

jim2April 17th, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Iain Climie –

Very kind to ask! 🙂

My routine has changed but little. The two places where I volunteer are closed, but that’s it.

I keep writing my science articles, writing SF stories, prepping for a virtual SF Convention, lawn work, indoor exercise equipment, watch a few things on PBS/Prime, and drive tanks around shooting up others in WoT.

Life is good.


bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes and again no doubt the column should have spent more time on the three card ending, in order to make it more clear with East’s dilemma of being “Grand couped” instead of just being “couped” with the difference (going back many years in early contract bridge terminology) trumping winning cards (usually, but not always from dummy) instead of losing ones.

Of course, all of you above are not nearly old enough to remember such trivia or perhaps sadly, are you?

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Hi Mircea,

We do not hear nearly enough from you, so perhaps you need to brush up on your desire to punish NS from reaching this particular slam. Keep in mind that if dummy’s AJ was in hearts, not clubs he would not have bid 4 clubs with no control and although NS had “throwaway values” (extra diamond trick which didn’t matter) besides taking the dastardly 4-0 trump break to almost spell finis to that otherwise very good percentage slam.

Besides, what’s a poor bridge writer supposed to do without hands such as these to discuss?

Anyway, we need your presence back more often so stop dealing with all those unimportant other duties you have confused with the overwhelming joy, bridge will allow.

jim2April 17th, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Dear Host –

You are not THAT much my elder. Of course, I recall.

Mollo especially liked grand coups in his Menagerie hands.

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Hi Jim2 & Iain,

Sorry for butting in.

However, perhaps I know why during Judy’s and my quarantine, I have had sudden bouts of twitching away, avoiding phantom movement, and having nightmares with both war games and exercise equipment, besides other dreams of condemnation over my perfect science theories by others, convincing me of being victimized by TORE (theory of reciprocal enterprise). I now suspect the source.

But, Iain, we are now getting used to each others constant company so that both of our now brutally bruised bodies are, at last, finally beginning to heal, but not done till we declared a cease talk agreement, now in its tenth day.

Iain ClimieApril 17th, 2020 at 4:59 pm

HI Jim2,

Thanks for that and I’m doing well. I finished a job 2 weeks ago but have agreed to delay the new one until 27th April but, if it falls through, I can go back to the last place. Financially I’m safe having paid off the mortgage and having good reserves.

For the moment I’m just restoring a bit of fitness in old fashioned ways long walks and ferocious attacks on the overgrown bits of the garden. I’m also growing some fruit and vegetables (why not – dull but worthy) and generally finding work to do round the house as there’s always something. A bit of play on BBO and catching up with old friends online while I have a chance. The new job should be possible from home so I’ll have to be organised Mon to Friday.

All the best but it sounds like you’re keeping busy and entertained.



bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Hi again Jim2,

Just to protect against your error in Mollo’s description. What’s to like when someone grand coups you?

And for you to deny that you are a whipper snapper is tantamount to saying that your real favorite game was Auction bridge when AKQJ10 opposite a void is the preferred trump suit and s. Axxxxx, h. Axxxx, d. A, c. A needed to be played in NT to get the honors instead of the second hand where the opponents, if played in a suit, may hold them.

Iain ClimieApril 17th, 2020 at 5:06 pm

HI Bobby,

Don’t worry, there are sane forms of exercise rather than the masochistic ones I’m perversely fond of e.g. swimming stupid distances and attacking the gym. Mental exercise doesn’t give you wonky knees, twisted ankles, dodgy Achilles tendons and the like but brisk walks shouldn’t be knocked – unless you stray into a digitised or even real war zone.

All the best to you and Judy but could this be a time to lunch online bridge lessons for bored kids?

Regards ,


David WarheitApril 17th, 2020 at 5:11 pm

OK, S is the X-ray technician you speak of. W’s opening lead is H but then he shifts to a minor. S wins in dummy and leads a S & E plays low. Should S finesse or not? If E has J10 it matters not whether S are 3-1 or 4-0, but otherwise…hmm. Even technicians need to go with the odds, but do you see a case for taking the finesse, asking yourself “why didn’t W continue H at trick 2?”

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2020 at 6:22 pm

Hi David,

Yes, declarer might play East for all four trump (discussion about also holding less than four, but always the J10 would then, of course, only be collateral lack of damage, to perhaps a very worthy thought).

Factors, at least the way I see them, declarer needs to have the highest or perhaps the opposite, lowest (not possessing the king), regard for his LHO. Not only a top analyst but the real overriding reality of West doing the right thing for the right reason and having the present state of mind of the overwhelming confidence of backing his own judgment as to the declarer’s worth as an expert bidder, who would never disregard his duty for not violating the well known rule (at least among the experts) of never asking for aces when off two cashing tricks of the obviously known suit (by all the players present).

Your question would be one to which I would ask all about to be graduates of the bridge school I am hoping for in the future which will take our game to the heights to which I think it is entitled.

If the game ever reaches that level anytime in the near or not so near future I, wherever I am, will be smiling so broadly and in whatever position I may be lying.

Thanks David, for posing an extraordinarily great question, the answer to which, is yes he might and probably should, depending upon the above discussion switch to a minor suit but be foiled by a 2050 (year) declarer who has been there, done that.

However, since we still have 30 years to go, please don’t try that (finessing the spade) at home.