Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 20th, 2020


jim2June 3rd, 2020 at 10:59 am

If the opening lead were the 2C, I confess that I would have been tempted to lead a small heart towards the 10 H at Trick 2.

A V Ramana RaoJune 3rd, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Reg play at second table, : The apprehension that defense can cash four heart tricks perhaps is only a spectre. This precisely needs West to have two top honours and east to hold the other honour card and nine and west to find the shift. Perhaps too tall an order. South could have gone about his business of conceding a club and hope that defense cannot score four heart tricks. The presence of J , ten and eight of hearts with NS can serve as a deterrent . South scores three spades, two diamonds and four clubs

jim2June 3rd, 2020 at 2:24 pm

I know if I conceded a non-heart, that TOCM ™ would let them cash 4 hearts with spades 3-3 all along.

Interesting math tidbit concerning a 2C lead and the spades distribution. Since the QC play reveals West led from 10532, it suggests West has 3 or fewer spades, and the missing spade spots suggests fewer than 3. That is, with 3 spades of the missing J109853, the odds look good for a 3-card holding that would be a preferred lead over the 2C from 10532. So, spades are likely 2-4, but not worse as that would give West 1-4-4-4, so the chances of a better opening lead that the 2C increase.

So, why did West not lead a red suit despite having 4 in one of them? The missing diamond spots similarly hint at shorter diamonds than hearts.

I would have guessed something like AQxx and Jxx, or maybe KQxx and Qxx.

So, again, I suspect the best line at the table is to duck the QC or win with the AC, and lead small heart towards the Board. In either case, I would have to prepare my apologies if hearts ran and spades were 3-3 all along. But, then, with TOCM ™ I have had practice.

Iain ClimieJune 3rd, 2020 at 4:32 pm

HI Jim2,

West with your luck would have J9x AQx Qxxx 10xx and felt that the club was least likely to cost a trick given his RHO is strong and balanced!



Iain ClimieJune 3rd, 2020 at 5:13 pm


There are extra chances for the defence in hearts e.g. West holds Axx finds small hear to the Q then H to J and Ace then a heart through. East has to have 4 hearts exactly including the 9 though and there are plenty of ways to I agree with your overall view.



Bobby WolffJune 3rd, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Hi Jim2, AVRR, & Iain,

Since the three of you have essentially covered the bases (and then some) on today’s hand from 15 years ago please allow me to digress.

In the old days, perhaps 50+ years ago, the theoretically known top players (of the world) were usually judged differently than today. Reason being that most of the ones in that exalted competition usually played similar systems, (4 or 5 card majors, forcing club or not, similar defensive signals and only a very few, if any, surprises in the ways of unusual gadgets.

Therefore those same individual players, rather than partnerships, were primarily rated on how few hands he or she (usually he), went set on when playing a game or slam (or sometimes even part scores, especially when being crucial to the result), to which he had a deemed legitimate line available to chalk it up.

Both charts were kept (by some) at least in important events like World Championships and events which led up to them, so others may see for themselves, rather than speculate (since and, of course) there was much less reporting (especially detaiis) added to the absence of any kind of long range kibitzing while the matches were in progress.

IOW, methinks even today, that method of ranking had significant merit and though, at least to my knowledge, has faded from existence, still had much to recommend it.

Especially so, since there are so many factors ever present in trying to determine what was right and not so, but the method involved above was and is an important designation which few can deny, with separating the sheep from the goats in that incredibly important and often, decisive arena.

Also, keep in mind that most of the world’s top players had day jobs, which did not allow them to spend nearly as much time together discussing details of their bidding systems, legal defensive signals, and, of course, inferences from their worthy opponents defensive bidding and play, up to crunch time.

And, of course, today’s hand would be a better than average example of that phase.