Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 10th, 2020


David WarheitJune 24th, 2020 at 9:16 am

When W plays S9, it seems he either has SJ9 or singleton 9, If it’s the singleton, funeral music would soon be playing, so I think S should finesse the 10, He now draws trump and knocks out the HA, making 5 as the cards lie, but 4 guaranteed (W would have led a singleton H).

A V Ramana RaoJune 24th, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
West’s six carded club preempt proved to be very effective in this particular case else N S would have been in either three NT or even four hearts which happens to make comfortably. However, perhaps spade finess( after nine appears on first round) is a mistake. If east holds five spades to J, the prospects are indeed gloomy. So south should have resorted to normal play which would have picked up trumps without loss and also retains diamond A entry in dummy for an overtrick. And per West should not have led club J which simplified play for south albeit not capitalised

jim2June 24th, 2020 at 1:22 pm

Would 4N have been to play?

Iain ClimieJune 24th, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Hi Folks,

Is the S9 from 9x or 9xx worth a shot here? Our old friend the Grosvenor coup could follow as a result.

Hi David, if you’ll exclude the very minor comment (although not from South’s viewpoint perhaps) what is a male declarer doing playing in the women’s trials? Flippancy aside, I hope you’re keeping well in the current grim situation.



bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 2:52 pm

Hi David & AVRR,

Confession! We were just trying to lionize the
Palmer-Deas superb female bridge partnership (Palmer’s adroit switch to the “surrounding 10 of diamonds” after a faulty start with the opening lead).

They were a shining light for world women’s bridge with perhaps their most famous bridge
decision, while qualifying to play for the USA in the 1990 World Bridge Championship (held in Geneva, Switzerland) in the Women’s Pair, instead deciding to upgrade and play in the World Open Pair (being played at the same time), perhaps regarded as the toughest test of both good bridge and endurance (10+ sessions) against the world’s finest partnerships, both male and female, but almost exclusively, at least at that time, male.

While I do not remember how they finished, my guess certainly holding their own and I am sure, also doing our country the honor of representing it in the most favorable way with every round to which they played.

In addition they were both well liked and as a side note were always both very congenial and highly ethical as well as respected opponents.

Their recent deaths, only some months apart and both much too young, caused sincere grief and consternation, among all who knew them.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Hi Jim2,

Good question and only a hesitant and embarrassing attempt at an answer from me.

Probably not discussed by many or better described as almost never. During my playing decades, I do not ever remember either the discussing what the bid of 4NT over an opponent’s minor suit during the bidding between two good hands and two with only one suit and good offensive distribution, but also I do not remember that sequence ever raising its appearance.

If meant to play at 4NT, certainly a club stop plus good, long diamonds, but if meant for aces, knowing what suit will be trump and heading to slam, but wanting to know how many aces partner has, either for small or grand slam potential.

Finally, since it might become critically important to be on the same wave length as partner, when and if it comes up in the next millennium, it then needs to be discussed and whether post haste needs to be added, is up to you.

However, at least on this hand, I would still just bid 4 spades, both hoping for that to be a decent contract, but also only just 101% that it is barely possible that partner might also have trouble deciphering its intent, but still willing to make his partner suffer. However and FWIIW,, if forced to make a choice, I would PASS!

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes and no, but no Grosvenor, since that falsecard has an upside, an opponent doing the wrong thing because of it, and by definition a real Grosvenor can only irritate, never gain!

And as for David using the pronoun his while discussing a woman, is it not possible that both his and her as well as he and she will actually be past tense soon, with past not referring to any time lapse but closer to gone?

Iain ClimieJune 24th, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Hi Bobby,

I suppose the S9 from J9x can’t do much harm either in many situations although not if partner has SKx and declarer A8xxx opposite dummy’s Q107. So I suppose the 9 from K9x if declarer leads towards Q10x on table is worth a shot.


bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Hi Iain,

Both the 9 from J9x and Q9x could be valuable if declarer held Kx opposite A8xxx whenever declarer will be better placed to have his RHO on lead rather than his LHO since the nine doesn’t give declarer the option of playing the eight from dummy to get his desired result. All the above, of course, requires the requisite side suit entries to be effective.

Of course, when deception rather than just position is at stake, the different possibilities jump to almost geometrically rather than only arithmetically which to me, correctly described or not, means many more.

What’s more, the player who could, within a relatively marked off time, describe the most of them from any possible beginning, has a significant head start to becoming great at bridge than one who does not have that natural talent, nor the intense desire to get better at it.

Mircea GiurgeuJune 24th, 2020 at 6:27 pm

Deas-Palmer came 4th overall in the Pairs event in 1990, but the source indicates that they played in the Women’s Pair Championship

Mircea GiurgeuJune 24th, 2020 at 6:29 pm

I’m sorry, I found the result for the mixed pairs from the same event. Same ranking, 4th o/a

Bruce KarlsonJune 24th, 2020 at 9:31 pm

AKQ10X on board with two in hand. Probability of taking the third round finesse for the J rather than play for 3.3 C. I like the finesse. Smart?

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 9:51 pm

Hi Mircea,

Yes, they were a consistent pair, so your rankings tended to confirm that.

Undoubtedly one of he best women’s pairs who could compete with the other best overall pairs, regardless of gender.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Hi Bruce,

My guess after 4 of the 6 cards are already determined to split 2-2, that the odds then favor the other two to be 1-1 about 52% and 2-0 about 48%.

Please keep in mind that on whatever the rest of the cards remaining right up to “crunch time”
plus possibly (likely) happened to remain and the exact play up to then (possibly + some other psychological factors) will make that “key” guess closer to 70% (unless the player before the play from dummy shows out or, plays the jack).

Iain ClimieJune 25th, 2020 at 12:16 am

HI Bruce,

Am I missing something but with AKQ10 opposite xxx you can take a 3rd round finesse but AKQ10x opposite xx it is the 2nd round where you have to decide? I prefer basing them down from the top as most others will do so and it tends to save pain.


bobbywolffJune 25th, 2020 at 5:30 am

Hi Iain & Bruce,

Yes Iain, your description, not mine, is on target, but I do agree that playing them straight down is the better answer (and by several %)