Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 5th, 2020


Iain ClimieMay 19th, 2020 at 9:08 am

Hi Bobby,

There is a little confusion today in the coliumn where it says that East might be thinking West has the SA – but that went at T1. Assuming West would lead 2nd highest (or even top) from xxxx, West must have the SQ so the only real hope is that he/she holds the DA and hence the DJ is clearly right.



jim2May 19th, 2020 at 11:58 am

Yes, as Iain Climie said, the text has a problem.

Basically, declarer can either win the opening lead with the KS and hope to coax a spade return, or play the 10S and hope West led from QJ (a legitimate possibility).

As far as East is concerned, the real dilemma only occurs should the KS win the first trick.

Another way to look at the hand is to consider South’s holdings in spades and diamonds, and note that they can be reversed. If the KS wins the first trick, East must decide which version it is. Axx of spades and Qxx of diamonds, as in the column, or Qxx of spades and Axx of diamonds.

Iain ClimieMay 19th, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

For most South’s holding SQxx opposite K10 the agonised squirm at T1 could be a give away! Ironically the S10 makes South’s task harder. As Bobby once said, “Your tempo is showing ….” It also indicates that pausing at T1 regardless makes sense for declarer unless you’re trying to bulldoze East into making a mistake if you don’t have a problem.


bobbywolffMay 19th, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Yes, the text is an embarrassment to us about the confusion with the ace of spades, which has already shown its colors at trick one.

And, while declarer may have his side strength in diamonds, Ace or AQ rather than hearts, nevertheless the chance to defeat declarer lies with West having the diamond ace (at least third) not the heart ace, making a surrounding play (the diamond jack instead of low) a necessary gambit.

Perhaps a key defensive principle, such as this example, is a prime difference making lesson during the career of an up and coming bridge aficionado, it can and will be more easily learned, when that East player gains experience, usually early in the hand, while defending and, of course, piecing the entire imaginative 52 cards together while separating what it will take to defeat declarer.

On the surface, a very difficult task, but in reality and in practice, only enabling one’s detective talents to what it takes to succeed.

Of course, the fact that the writer is as careless as I am in creating the unnecessary confusion is hardly an example of what it takes to become a better player, but, of course, I just did it to find out who is paying attention.

And, if you believe that, I own a beautiful bridge (structure not the game) I would like to sell you. SORRY!

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Your 2nd post brings up an ethical question which sadly, almost never legally be solved, but is sometimes practiced. Yes, for any legitimate bridge reason, any and all of the players can hesitate before deciding on which play to make, but when one clearly stands out, he or she crosses into becoming unethical if that play is not then immediately (or almost) made.

However, as all of us can guess, the reason and timeliness of that play can hardly be measured accurately as to when that player realized what it was, making the proof of any illegal activity virtually impossible to prove.

However, and among the best players, most all of those indiscretions, when done, are known and although no table penalty will almost never be enforced, all four players at the table will know it is happening when they experience it, making the forthcoming reputation of the culprit far worse than would only a one time specific penalty.

Witness Nathanial Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”.