Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 16th, 2020


Iain ClimieJune 30th, 2020 at 9:13 am

HI Bobby,

Interesting, intricate and well-read hand – South must have wondered about not just game but possibly higher when he heard North open the bidding only to be relieved to scramble home in 3N eventually. It just goes to show the problems misfits cause, although the bad breaks worsen matters. To what extent should the latter be expected given the former? Just because the N/S hands don’t fit doesn’t mean that the EW hands aren’t fairly balanced, or is there any case for assuming the worst? Opposing pre-empts are a different matter of course.

Can I shoot the gremlin that tried to give West only 12 cards, though i.e. the 4-2-1-5 shape? The BWTA hand is also a good example of ensuring that otherwise idle bids get allocated a decent meaning.



bruce karlsonJune 30th, 2020 at 10:31 am

As a member of the great unwashed, I would splinter 4H with the South hand. On a good day, partner will cue bid the Club A. I will fish for the Spade K and proceed to slam appropriately. If parter shows the Heart Ace, bid 5 and be prepared to duck if 5 gives down. We are all getting older; why not have some fun before the last card is played?

Bruce karlsonJune 30th, 2020 at 10:36 am

Got ahead if myself. Obviously, bid 4 Spades if partner shows the Heart A; no ducking required…

jim2June 30th, 2020 at 11:32 am

In BWTA, I also would bid 4H.

For one thing, it strongly implies a good club suit. After all, there are few other holdings in which one would open 1C that include 4+ spades and a singleton/void in hearts. Maybe 4-0-4-5, but that’s about it.

Iain ClimieJune 30th, 2020 at 11:48 am

HI Jim2, Bruce,

The 4C bid itself implies a red suit shortage as it shows 6C and 4S. I agree it doesn’t tell a partner with Kxxx in one red suit whether it is working or waste paper but part has the chance to bid 4D or 4H now so less space has been consumed. Perhaps I could ask Bobby what his position is here on cue-bidding 1st and 2nd round controls – would 4H from partner mean no D control or no DA? The latter is the older approach but how much better is the former, which is now widespread?



bobbywolffJune 30th, 2020 at 3:46 pm

Hi Iain,

Know very little, perhaps nothing, about the likelihood of opponents distribution, when one pair is fitting (at least in their trump suit), but the other is silent.

Suspect one doesn’t have anything to do with the other, but would listen to mathematicians (ones who play bridge would be required) and, at least in my experience, since each card is dealt separately, unless they enter the bidding, no special pattern should be expected.

The BWTA represents perhaps a thirty+ year update on the specific sequence of one of a minor, Pass, 1 of a major, Pass, 4 of the original minor showing almost always 4-6 and described as only a minimum plus hand in high cards, but a game hand in playing strength. Yes, of course, a cue bid in one of the unbid suits by the original responder is a guarantee of both a first round control in that suit and enough strength to warrant a slam try opposite partner’s presumed exactly 6-4 in support.

However, although perhaps an exception could
be manufactured. s. AKQx, h.x, d. x, c. KJ9xxxx or very similar, that bid should almost require the 6-4 mantle with enough strength for a likely excellent play for game opposite a minimum response by partner.

Very specialized and fairly rare, but close to positive dynamite when appearing. A skip over one short suit would deny first round control, but may have second. TBD later, usually decided by the strength of the 10 remaining cards relative to the expectation of game opposite a minimum after partner decides whether to take the bait and proceeds past game, showing a willingness for greater heights, similar to a wink by a pretty girl.

bobbywolffJune 30th, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Hi Bruce,

A jump to 4 of shortness in the opener’s hand should be made on hands which do not qualify for the above discussion. IOW: 4-4-4-1 or 4-5-3-1 or 4-5-0-4, hands which have 4 card support but not a 6 card decent suit, ready to take tricks, but a hand close to a minimum in high cards, but with now terrific playing potential once partner confirms an 8 card+ fit.

IOW, great fits sometimes even strong enough to overcome TOCM TM. (but, ask Jim2, not always). At least to me the “key” difference lies in the 6th card (often the contract trick) in the original suit bid by the opener, making the above discussion profitable for those who agree.

bobbywolffJune 30th, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Hi Jim2,
We were just talking about you so your ears are probably burning, but with your luck, probably also your house.
While it is true that both bids, 4 of the original suit by the opener and a jump to the specific singleton also guarantee game strength (or close) I think the difference between a 6 card decent suit and fewer, 5 or possibly only 4 is worth differentiating for partner's judgment as early as possible.
Oft times, either bid will get an established partnership to the right contract, but I also think that by having both bids available that partnership becomes better placed for judging slam potential. Simply described, that 6 card decent suit (not Q10xxxx) should tweak partner's decision making ability to better visualize a source of tricks, rather than have to perform magic during the play to get to 12.
Yes the absence of that 6 card advantage is often made up of more high cards held by the opener, but then partner who is looking at what he owns will normally be better placed to arrive at the best contract, and (sorry) not be cursed by those horrible breaks you encounter when bidding 'em up, actually showing a few plus scores.
Perhaps it will require you to grow a mustache as some form of camouflage, but you're entitled to enjoy winning more than most, so why soft pedal it?

jim2June 30th, 2020 at 4:27 pm

One problem that we casual players generally do NOT play in long-established partnerships with lots of shared bidding experience.

If I were North in BWTA and got that 4C response, I would be unsure no matter HOW much the general bidding thought was on the meaning of 4C. That is, we would never had discussed this precise bidding sequence before.

Could South somehow mean it to be Gerber? Is South proclaiming a VERY one-suited hand too strong to open 3C?

This is cognitive dissonance and — here — it can easily be avoided.

Simply bid 4H. It cannot be mis-understood. I have bid clubs and must have heart shortness, 4+ spades, and enough strength to invite slam. What’s not to like?

Now, if I were South and could announce my bid as, “4C showing 4-6 in the blacks with solid or semi-solid clubs,” then that might be different. Even with that, however, how could North learn which red suit was my short one?

Yet, in bidding 4H, South has told North which red suit is short.

The delta is that 4C adds to the club suit info beyond what 1C showed, and implies a short red suit that North cannot easily determine. 4H, in contrast, specifies the short red suit and implies a good club suit beyond what 1C promised.

And no cognitive dissonance.

Our Host has won World Championships, and I have not. But all my bridge play is within casual partnerships and with strangers, and you would not BELIEVE some of my cognitive dissonance anecdotes involving catastrophic bidding sequences. Almost every time, bids that were clear to one were clearly something else to the other. One partner decreed that all strange bids were forcing, and I responded that any sufficiently strange bid could and would be passed. I said that as a deterrence; it has worked.

So, if I have two bid choices. I always choose the one that cannot be misunderstood unless the other is markedly superior.

jim2June 30th, 2020 at 4:54 pm

I would note that I did not see Our Host’s 4:27 post because I posted it within the same minute.

bobbywolffJune 30th, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Hi again Jim2,

Yes and no doubt, I am totally amazed and impressed by your accurate, topical, to the point, practical, expressive, compassionate and professional summation of the bridge world as lived by most, definitely including you.

However just a slight turn to the right (and that direction better describes the now writer, but not including many, if any, sensitive subjects which seem to be bedeviling our former great country).

I, like you, do not desire to confuse bridge partners, particularly ones my age (if any still exist). However, since I would like to impart useful information, not necessarily as important as is preached on Sunday morning or even Friday night or Saturday morning as well as holidays, but, in sad truth, at least to some, even more momentous (since good or bad is generally felt immediately instead of eventually) I feel a necessity to tell it, like I think it is, which sometimes invades your tenets of practicality which you so eloquently described.

Perhaps same type folks, but different strokes.

And BTW, do not think for one tiny second that I do not feel much compassion for so many on my favorite bridge site, not only possessing great talent, but under different circumstances being able to compete at very high levels of our beloved game, but not, by fate, allowed to do same.

Perhaps the above is true for so many in this world who by circumstance alone are denied access to what could charm them the greatest, but alas and alack never are allowed the chance.

So much for my response, but still for everyone except you, I heartily endorse today’s theme and advise adding it to one’s system since, by its very nature, the shock of the double jump may remind anyone under 85 years old that something is going on worth remembering.

But, perhaps on further thought, perhaps you are right, so to all, forget it, if you must.