Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 6th, 2020


David WarheitJune 20th, 2020 at 9:41 am

I think that the most important thinking on how to play the trump suit is that since W did not lead a high C at trick 1, he must not have a solid C suit and therefore very likely has something else for his bidding, and that can only be either the HQ or the DK, so plan to finesse him for both, since you only need one to be right to make the contract.

Another interesting point: EW can make 5C! Do you think they should have taken the cheap save at 7C?

jim2June 20th, 2020 at 11:49 am

David Warheit –

E-W are missing three cashing aces.

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2020 at 11:54 am

Hi David, Bobby,

I always enjoy David’s comments but in today’s feckless and overbidding world there are plenty of Wests who will open 3C on (say) AQJxxx or AQ10xxx and nothing else, although probably not on 6-3-2-2 shape. There again, the tendency for the opponents to bid on instead of taking the sure plus (or not in this case!) has encouraged an increasingly wild approach, although West could actually have 7 clubs for once. Still, I suppose the vulnerability might cause some level of caution today.

in terms of the save, 7C will certainly get something as there will always be some pairs who don’t bid the slam and some who make it if they do get there. Perhaps much depends on the perceived quality of the declarer although I remember one partner of mine many years ago shoving me into 7C over a making 6S when the room were almost all in 4S / 5S but the save was still cheap. The auction had started 2C (P) 2S and I bid 3C for the lead on x J10xxxx x AKJ10x but found partner with 6 of them. Great fun although my attempt at a poker face failed when he bid 7C apparently.



Michael BeyroutiJune 20th, 2020 at 11:56 am

David, I see three losers for EW in clubs. However, you make a good point: 7C would have been an excellent sacrifice. Even 5 down is OK. I think East had a lot of info from the auction and his own hand to determine that he could bid 7C.

bobbywolffJune 20th, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Hi David, Jim2, Iain, & Michael,

While not contributing much actual wisdom on this particular hand, I will accept A. A. Milne’s call to arms for Pooh as truth and, at least, attempt enabling him, to become Ready for Anything.

EW, though vulnerable, have managed on an early round of bidding, to soar the bidding to 5 clubs, forcing their likely worthy opponents to lose much bidding room and whichever way one wants to look at it, still much more often than not (but not so much in this specific case), have to guess their way to a small slam. Even an apparent highly confident demeanor by both North and South, might well be just window dressing by highly experienced (and no doubt excellent) warriors who have “been there, done that”.

Therefore, at least to me, it becomes percentage, (although certainly not able to judge the quality of the NS hands, but only hoping the defensive preempting) has done its job of, at the least, taking some of the science away from NS, sinking their ability by what is hoped for by EW, to arrive at the right contract.

This hope did not materialize, since, by any standard 6 hearts is the correct final resting place, perhaps in the 75% range, a condition which sometimes occurs, but only when strength plays against strength.

However, it will be no easy task for it to be scored up, even with the singleton spade lead instead of a high club since all the talk and inferences made at the post-mortem is unlikely to dissuade other top players into believing that the heart finesse through the opening pre-emptor, is easily the correct decision (not that it is or it isn’t, only that, in the cold light of Ready for Anything, it is, at least to me, simply a guess).

Another lively debate, particularly coming alive, if that opening lead led to declarer making, is what the thinking should be in deciding on that.

And to now switch gears and discuss that 7 club save. I am dead against that and would consider doing so masterminding, a fault to which top pairs rarely indulge.

In other words, going home with the beautiful or handsome girl or boy one brought to the prom is, or should be, a calling card of all hoping to be top pairs. IOW, especially in considering whether to change gears and take another save (to which 5 clubs was the first effort) it will work better for all partnerships to not try and guess their way into taking a higher level save, which, indeed, will not be granting any good which came from our first gambit, and, at least to me, is the wrong thing to almost ever do, but, of course, someone could
come up, as they usually can, with a special exception.

However, I’ll leave all of us with the following thought. Discipline (when talking about non-cheating bridge players) is simply the most important single word involving bidding by very high-level players, without which, that partnership will always have a significant way to go, if being top drawer is the goal.

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2020 at 6:57 pm

HI Bobby,

Lack of discipline was always my downfall I suspect, plus a failure to cultivate Kipling’s advice on Triumph and Disaster. I recall Alan Sontag in The Bridge Bum describing the rules they all had to follow on the Wei precision team. I could identify with his comment “Some of the rules were aimed at specific players; all were aimed at me!”

Thanks though,


bobbywolffJune 20th, 2020 at 7:40 pm

Hi Iain,

Forgive me if I may tend to agree with your facts, but wholeheartedly disagree with your somewhat veiled conclusion.

As always, when someone (perhaps almost everyone) faithfully admits usual downside habits, in this case, short in bridge discipline, one becomes well more than 50% to correct it and sometimes blasts from even 0% to the 70’s or even middle 80’s in a virtual flash.

Please keep all of us posted on your assent so that I, not you, can prove myself capable of giving good advice.

Of course, since it is not too late for us to wind up at a bridge table as opponents (if not this life, perhaps another in the future).

I am definitely not looking forward to you “cleaning my clock” by simply doubling rather than taking the push, but if so, I’ll rather immodestly blame it all on me.

Table UP!

Jeff SJune 20th, 2020 at 9:33 pm

Hi Bobby,

My thought reading the hand today was something you alluded to in your initial response. Was the spade really the best lead? Sure, you might catch your partner with the ace and instantly set the hand when nothing else would do, but it seems unlikely.

I think I’d look at that QH and want declarer guessing it was on the other side of the table. AC might cost big time if the opps have Kx vs void, but that seems like a pretty slim shot. Maybe it ends up letting through an contract that otherwise cannot be made, but I’d sure be tempted to reach for the AC and hope my partner had the KC for his bid.

Then again, I seem to have a knack for clever leads that fail when everyone else is defeating the contract and end up having to remind myself that sometimes obvious leads are obvious for a good reason. It just seems here there is a real chance that declarer will misguess the location of the queen and go down.

But I’d probably end up facing David who would ignore all that and stick to the double finesse being the soundest approach. Some players are just unfairly good.

bobbywolffJune 20th, 2020 at 10:57 pm

Hi Jeff,

Yes, no doubt if declarer guesses the hearts, an important reason for so doing is likely West’s spade lead,

However, it, at least to me, is not anywhere near a sure thing to play the opening 3 club bidder for three to the queen in trump. Yes he could have two singletons (both majors) or a 1-2 holding in the majors absent the lady.
Or West can hold an extra club, and/or even the AK to justify his singleton spade lead with East originally dealt the two red honors.

One thing going against declarer is that he cannot put off drawing trump, to which, if he could, would certainly be his choice, looking for more evidence as to what was dealt around the table in hearts.

Another somewhat key factor in miss guessing the hearts actually would be the reasons brought up here, against leading a singleton spade for fear of declarer then playing you for the heart queen.

IOW, a singleton spade lead may often not be chosen, in order for declarer to do what sometimes becomes natural, playing the preemptor for shortness when he is known to have a long suit.

How about, what a tangled web we weave when we, at least try, to use double, double cross strategy, with our choice of opening lead, to deceive. I know the above will never make it in New York, but perhaps it would in Austin, Texas (much closer to my previous home).

And do not be so solicitous about David, simply because, although he is truly sensational, it will be difficult to impossible for him to match wits with a player who has the opportunity to place cards anywhere he wants===sometimes known as the FALCON when I am wearing my mask….very often these coronavirus days (weeks, months, but I hope not, years).