Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 20th, 2020


Iain ClimieMay 4th, 2020 at 10:11 am

HI Bobby,

Although I don’t really wish to criticise our excellent ladies team, How good a contract is 6D would you say based solely on the two hands? 3-2 diamonds would seem to be a minimum and either C3-3 or getting spades right. There are maybe too many options at least at single dummy!



A V Ramana RaoMay 4th, 2020 at 10:26 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But east could have easily defeated the slam by ruffing the club from dummy instead of discarding and returning a spade ( which east knows for certain that both south and west were void by now) promoting a trump trick immediately. But then , west’s excellent defense of playing heart Q denying second entry to dummy would not have come to light

MirceaMay 4th, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Hi Bobby,

IMO, 6D is a poor contract. North overbid her hand when she took it one step higher over 5D, so my guess is that this was a “state of the match” situation. If South has a better hand, I’m sure she would have bid something different over 4D. Declarer is lucky not only that trumps are 3-2 but also that West does not have any 2 of the top 3 trumps.

bobbywolffMay 4th, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Hi Iain & AVRR,

Of course, everything you both say is correct. A battle between declarer in a very iffy slam with bad breaks, doing battle with a defense unable to clearly see the other half of their assets.

Chances were taken, opportunities missed, until West, unusually and brilliantly made an entry killing rise in hearts to win the day.

Looking back, perhaps South’s original call of 2 diamonds, lacking the GF values of today’s popular system of having not enough high cards, plus a probable misfit of possessing only a singleton spade (partner’s initial bid suit), should have contented herself with perhaps an original 1NT response.

However, perhaps the English pair were playing Acol, a system which had no such limitation, and, at least on this hand, was the primary reason for them getting too high.

Still the declarer made a gallant effort to succeed, only defied doing so by a brilliancy of West rising with the entry killing heart queen.

As we all have grown to understand that winning bridge is a combination of taking reasonable chances and ordering the playing of cards to best advantage. It almost happened, and would have, if Ms. Vriend (West) would not have literally risen to the occasion and erased that opportunity, but only after EW had missed other chances to shine.

Just another example of the depth of what it takes to win, when top players collide. Perhaps a better description might be the defense being down to their last chance, having failed earlier, but in the nick of time, saving grace.

Thanks to both for your posts which, as always, alerted readers and covered the waterfront on what was involved.

bobbywolffMay 4th, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Hi Mircea,

Without question North’s 6 diamond raise is aggressive, but perhaps she felt like South may have had a little more, or at least a better diamond suit (another interior honor or one more).

Keep in mind that partnership bidding is likely the key distinguishing factor in rating players, particularly ones who compete in World Championships.

Sure, individual brilliance is a mark of a worthy player, but, at least IMO, needs to rank behind the role of partnership in accurately rating the highest rated quality.

MirceaMay 4th, 2020 at 4:55 pm


By the time West made the critical play of HQ, declarer’s hand was all counted (one spade when she ruffed spades, 5 clubs when partner discarded on the second round of the suit and 5 diamonds when trumps were drawn, so at most 2 hearts). Still, playing the queen is counterintuitive, which makes it a nice play, but at this level I would say it should be automatic (although I’m sure West paused for thought before playing it).

This shows once more the importance of counting, which you referred to so eloquently in a post a few days ago.

bobbywolffMay 4th, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Hi Mircea,

Thank you mightily for your post.

Continuing with your theme, it takes tremendous concentration to stay up with the various original distributions, in fact enabling a possible, even just casual, rise with the queen of hearts, prohibiting the eventual make of the contract.

Changing the conversation to the future, I sincerely believe that during the following centuries of life, science will be focused on maximizing the use of the brain, to which, at least for the first trillion+ number of years, it has been somewhat neglected, compared with the other body parts, more easily accessed.

Although only you and I will be around to see it happen, I’ll wager a few dollars on my prediction coming true, keeping in mind if, by some strange occurrence, I may not be around to pay off.

In any event, intense concentration added to quick thinking is indeed a great bridge asset.