Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 14th, 2020


Iain ClimieApril 28th, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Hi Bobby,

Playing pairs (in a good field) or Board-A-Match against decent opposition, should South spurn the safety play and bash down the SAK? Obviously in a weak field where some will miss the slam or vs moderate oppo then the safety play makes sense (and obviously does at IMPs or rubber, not forgetting honours) but this could be a bad score or lost board from playing the hand properly. S3-2 with doubleton Q vs any 4-1 break except singleton Q is the trade off.



jim2April 28th, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Double-dummy, there are a couple fun ways to make 6H:

1) Draw trump, complete the elimination, lead the JS, and duck whatever West plays , or

2) Draw trump, complete the elimination and lead small S from hand and duck whatever West plays.

A V Ramana RaoApril 28th, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Hi lain
Playing in six spades, one does not have option but to lay down spade A and K making seven if the dame makes her appearance, making six on normal break but sadly going down today. But perhaps playing six hearts, taking the column line would be ideal with a hope that the pairs bidding six or seven spades would go down. ( And in team event , there should be no question) Perhaps our host, with his wisdom can throw more light

bobbywolffApril 28th, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Hi Iain,

There is really no fool-proof answer to your intelligent question.

With the considerations to which you state, keeping in mind the cinch make available at crunch time, and while at matchpoints, I would tend to settle for making, rather than chancing minus 1. Of course, while being at the table, I, well might change my mind if my instincts suggested that the opponents were disinterested enough to convince me that no bad spade break was available, particularly so since a bad break one way would not change the result.

However, when playing B-A-M and playing in a top event, like the Reisinger at the Fall Nationals in the USA, and against a top team, the above inference would never be present, not allowing me a “tell” and when (and if) the nine appeared on my right I would likely safety play the slam, since the point count was a bit below what others may require, but even then it would depend on exactly who the opposing pair happened to be and exactly what player was sitting East (when he dropped the nine).

Sorry for answering with indecision, but it is very close either way, and MOST important for me to not shy away from its ultimate value to first discuss and then theoretically decide.

bobbywolffApril 28th, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Hi Jim2,

I love your hypothetical intervention, but whether it succeeded in taking either 11, 12, or 13 tricks would still remain, difficult on one’s nerves but certainly a method which has a “real” chance to not result in a shared 1/2 at B-A-M not to mention, and, of course, a possible huge swing at IMPs.

However, perhaps better to play simpler and thought a fool, then not, and remove most doubt.

And especially for you, always being in a no win situation (TOCM TM) with the card gods just waiting for you to play first and await your already determined sad fate.

bobbywolffApril 28th, 2020 at 6:00 pm


While you have pretty well described the emotions felt (including playing the slam in hearts or spades, during the trauma, it still feels, if I can truly remember those powerful moments, that following through with whatever one decides only represents another day at the office, not to be overly concerned with, since perhaps the choice of opening lead on the following hand or even the simple choice of passing the next hand out, while in 4th position, may result in an equal event changing opportunity.

“No rest for the weary” is perhaps the best way to describe the final session of an important national or world bridge championship.

Yes, I truly miss them, but, in fact, I really don’t!

jim2April 28th, 2020 at 7:52 pm

I never claimed the lines were “real world,” but that they would be fun and completely safe double dummy.

The small S lead from hand is particularly amusing.

bobbywolffApril 28th, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Hi again Jim2,

No doubt you’ve perfectly described the above.

I’m in a quandary as to why you think the small spade lead from declarer is particularly amusing, once the ace of spades is played from dummy, and of course, it is then correct to play a small spade from hand next, guarding against the lone queen being with West (for an overtrick), and if not, then ducking any smaller spade from West, but, of course, rising with the king if West shows out.

All of the above is basically automatic, but and, I guess, it needs to be explicitly said for all players, great and small, to fully and easily grasp.

jim2April 28th, 2020 at 11:28 pm

I never said play the AS.

Once trump are drawn and the minor suits eliminated, leading small S from hand works very neatly:

1) West follows small, Board small, Eat wins 9S and must concede ruff-sluff, or

2) West plays 10S, crashing East’s 9S and saves East from the endplay, only to be endplayed himself. But West has the “privilege” of being allowed to choose between a Spade endplay and a ruff-sluff.

jim2April 28th, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Leading the JS and playing low from Board works also, since West can be left on lead after winning the QS, or duck and let declarers JS win.