Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 26th, 2020


MirceaJune 9th, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Just to for curiosity, I put this deal through the double dummy analyzer on BBO and it says that the contract is beatable on a heart lead on the same basis of depriving declarer of entries in either hand or dummy.

In my very limited experience, I noticed that leading from a 6-card suit such as this West’s spades against NT is rarely successful but leading the next best suit usually works better. Obviously this is totally empiric. Is there anything to be said about this, or is it just coincidence (or shooting up balloons with a bow like the picture on the cover page of Mike Lawrence’s excellent book on opening leads)

Bobby WolffJune 9th, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Hi Mircea,

In brief the answers to your three questions are yes, no, and yes.

Before we deal with why, please keep in mind, indeed valuable for evaluating other bridge phenomenons, instead of, at the beginning, just principally concentrating on the one word answer.

Many double dummy (eg all four hands visible)
play problems, while often reasonably simple in where tricks are coming from (especially with suits which need to be originally led from one specific hand) are directly concerned with how many entries to one hand or the other become necessary for success.

On this hand the immediate above becomes critically important with, for example the establishment of the diamond suit in order to secure 4 tricks from them and then, of course, often the extra entry needed to cash those good trick(s). Here a heart lead and then continuation becomes the albatross to victory for declarer, even though in theory that defense will enable a trick for defense before allowing the thirteenth to preside for declarer.

However, in return, declarer will eventually leave two good diamond tricks in dummy, all dressed up, but not ready to go, at least in time.

Your second query is somewhat akin, at least IMO, to what may be called “an old wives tale”, meaning just a myth.

In order to suggest a scientific reason for the above, all I need to do is state, with certain exceptions the longest combined suit held by the defenders by numeric logic, would stand to be the suit most likely to establish enough defensive tricks to create a set. However, the immediate above is fraught with plentiful What Ifs, with strength, distributions, entries, and timing often and varied, (all shapes and sizes) determining the final tally for succeeding.

However, though difficult to impossible to probably prove, to even espouse the conclusion you suggest seems practically impractical to agree or even, for that matter, to even consider.

Finally, Mike’s cover page on his new excellent book on opening leads, probably is symbolic with the immediately above paragraph.

Symbolizing what John Brown, a famous English bridge writer and player wrote in his signature book, “Winning Defense”, back in 1939 when he suggested something very close to, “if a very average player would always get off to the right opening lead while defending, he would win every bridge world championship”.

That truth I have learned (at least I think) is as correct as it can be, only stating that judgment in bridge is, at the very least, on a par with scientific knowledge and applied born talent in the development of a world class bridge player.