Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 23rd, 2020


Iain ClimieJune 6th, 2020 at 1:54 pm

HI Bobby,

Normally I’d prefer to lead the S2 from 10842 but I have to concede that those who’d lead the 8 (either attitude or not regarding the 10 as really an honour) have a point today. On a diamond lead, though I suspect declarer has to play clubs from the top (even after the good luck in diamonds) as the defence will surely be taking a spade and at least 3 hearts late on – although I suppose H could be 3-3 when merely knocking out the SA works. Despite the 25 points, the need for a good diamond break as a minimum shows the problems with over-rating misfits, even at teams.



jim2June 6th, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Iain Climie –

“Third or fifth” is another popular expert treatment.

Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt you basically, as usual, tend to cover the bridge waterfront in your analysis.

However, the defense in the other room of the same 3NT by 3rd chair of rising with the ace of spades, instead of (what I think of just casually), inserting the jack, when the 4 was led is certainly unusual and entitled to the compliment of brilliant………..especially when partner showed up with the nothing less than 8 of hearts but?

Sometimes fate in life, probably more often than ever imagined, can play awful negative tricks on what begins as a celebratory moment, but sooner than later reverses itself to at the very least, the exact opposite, when other aspects come into existence.

Changing subjects to the NS bidding, the choice of jumping to three diamonds (instead of only two in order to show the excellent (more or less) solid suit, although minimum opener to go along with an almost before solid (above) is, I think, a common fantasy, which is no stranger to bridge bidding.

Whether that conundrum in bridge evaluation is a plus or minus to the game itself will always be controversial, but whether good or bad for the game, may forever be debated.

Methinks the simple word consistent, will be an overriding factor in that answer.

Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes popular, but it is not clear what lead convention since I just do not know nor have any convenient way to find, (usually either 4th or 3rd or 5th) leaving any of those three choices possible, all including the possible king keeping in mind that a higher spade led will likely suggest no high honor.

Good question or possibly just an answer but, at least to me, like a well oiled bridge detective.

Iain ClimieJune 6th, 2020 at 5:17 pm

HI Jim2,

Many years ago I used to play 3rd & 5th, with attitude leads vs NT and they had some merit. I don’t have the slightly rabid attitude to the game now that I once had, so it is easier to go with the flow as I play with a range of people.



Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2020 at 8:36 pm

Hi Iain,

You and I would likely agree that many similar choices regarding opening leads, legal signals, and even special conventions regarding specific suits shown, hcp requirements, and even relative strengths and suit lengths for preempts are very close when effectiveness challenges safety.

Perhaps the psychological side of the game is at least slightly more important with keeping partner’s attitude positive as well as remaining quiet at the right time in order to allow concentration of both partners to consistently stay at high levels.

In any event what may be right for one partnership is not necessarily so for another.

jim2June 6th, 2020 at 8:59 pm

My point was that there might not be an informational difference between the two spade leads due to partnership lead practices.

Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, in even long term excellent partnerships, many individual practices have either never been discussed, or even if they had been, it was long ago, far away, and likely forgotten.

Do you have an opinion (that you don’t mind giving) on why the jack of spades was not played by East at trick one after the 4 was led and declarer, of course, ducked in dummy?

jim2June 7th, 2020 at 2:04 am

The only reason I can see to play the JS is if East has his JH accidentally mixed in with his diamonds.

The defense is getting a max of three spade tricks (if JS holds) before declarer gains the lead and East knows the diamonds will run. If the defense cashes 3 spade tricks, it will set up the QS, making declarer succeed with only 2 other side tricks.

Since South bid fairly strongly, if he does NOT have the KS, declarer almost certainly has three tricks in hearts and clubs. If declarer DOES have the KS, then he needs only two side tricks once he wins the KS.

East’s club length appears to reduce any chances of 3 or 4 clubs tricks, since South bid clubs. Even if that was 4th suit forcing, the 3N bid promises club strength, especially after seeing the Board’s pointy suit points.

OTOH, the one heart response could easily be a one honor 4 or 5 card suit. I think East can see no chance to beat 3N unless either West has 4 heart tricks on the JH return, or can score 3 and then cash a black winner.

David WarheitJune 7th, 2020 at 10:06 am

Jim2 (& our host): How about W holding SKxxx HAQxx?

jim2June 7th, 2020 at 11:09 am

I would simply chalk it up to TOCM ™ — after so many decades, I am used to it now.

A good partner, however, would also have the 10H in that collection, making it a fielder’s choice.

Bobby WolffJune 7th, 2020 at 4:21 pm

Hi Jim2 & David,

Yes, in baseball by winning the ace of spades and switching to hearts could be called a fielder’s choice instead of the inning ending out (if in fact it failed).

However, and to, (I think David and me) espressly relying on the low spade lead, think that fact highly suggested that West, not declarer held the king of spades, requiring East to play the jack of spades at trick one therein only needing West to then hold the AQ of hearts instead of the magic to which the AK108 of hearts provided.

No more, no less, but nevertheles still matching up pretty well with the bidding, making it very thought provoking. And, at least to me and speaking of baseball (maybe also to David) even during these sad Covid19 times, about the Houston Astros and their highly illegal (drum beat or not) transgressions.

However perhaps TOCM TM is similarly contagious to bridge players meaning even if playing the ace of spades is radically non-percentage at trick one, when TOCM takes over, (and perhaps it isn’t) but in case it is, throw that percentage table under the bus.