Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 17th, 2020


Iain ClimieJuly 1st, 2020 at 9:51 am

Hi Bobby,

South missed a trick here – would West with Kxx and the 5 top diamonds really pass over 2S? Still a spectacularly imaginative lead although starting I’d expect TOCM to give South a singleton DK.



A V Ramana RaoJuly 1st, 2020 at 10:24 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps you will agree that it was a self goal for south ,the brilliant lead notwithstanding and not to mention west’s equally brilliant pass of two spades without giving anything away. After ruffing diamond, south could have played spade A and back . Expecting West to hold precisely singleton or doubleton spade perhaps is not a percentage play. However, I seek your opinion

Bruce KarlsonJuly 1st, 2020 at 11:15 am

Missing something: should declarer note the encouragement by E? If Not using Rusinow leads, he must have the K, methinks. To loosely paraphrase Lain’s fictional compatriot, S. Holmes: When all else is eliminated, whatever is left must be solution.

Iain ClimieJuly 1st, 2020 at 2:55 pm

Hi Bruce,

Well spotted and you’d clearly draw the right conclusion from any dog not barking in the night or the bridge equivalent e.g. silence during the auction or failure to make an obvious lead or switch. Just occasionally a really weak or really strong player cannot be trusted here though. I can live with being conned by the latter but what happens if it is the former? I once made 8 tricks at pairs in a 2S contract where Mrs. Guggenheim might have made 10 as RHO (who had passed 3rd in hand after 2 previous passes) had shown 11 points and the SK had yet to appear. The finesse (which I could take once) clearly couldn’t work so I played SA then SQ from originally holding SAQJ9xx opposite xx and the SQ ran round to the K on my right then a plain suit came back promoting an extra trick for LHO’s original 10xx. “I didn’t place with you with a 14 count” I said to him; “neither did I” came the reply (he’d had an arithmetic aberration) and we both fell around laughing. A lovely guy though, and he’s steadily improved. Anybody playing the hand without thinking would have taken the finesse and bashed down the Ace…

At least +110 was worth a bit, even if +170 would have been a near top. There again, hard luck stories are all part of the game, and laughing is a better way to cope than screaming, either out loud or inside.



bobbywolffJuly 1st, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt, what happened to South, declarer, could happen to any mortal, certainly I and my guess, likely others.

West passed over the 2 spade opening and then led the queen of diamonds followed by the ace, allowing the declarer to suspect East’s encouraging diamond was likely a count signal not an attitude. Although careless not to inquire, still very human to just take for granted when West continued the ace, that he started with the three top diamonds.

Then after showing up with the spade king, how, in declarer’s opinion, could West also hold the heart king and not have bid (likely 2NT) over the opening weak 2 spade bid?

Most all good declarer’s would assume the same, and West, while trying to get declarer to duck the king of diamonds, if it happened to be in dummy originally (wouldn’t we, at the very least, consider doing so?), instead reaped his reward at the death of the hand instead, by declarer falling victim in another way, but still losing a game swing by so doing.

Yes, we must congratulate West’s daring, although if he did such things often, no doubt he will have some scars, instead of always being congratulated for his bridge bravery.

bobbywolffJuly 1st, 2020 at 3:30 pm


Since declarer had to deal (or, IMO should) with drawing trump early, I think it non-percentage to not hope for the spade king to be corralled, therefore I would probably just finesse for it.

However if declarer felt something strange at the table and decided to not finesse the spade the same sad ending for declarer would likely have transpired with West winning the spade king and then easily getting out safely.

bobbywolffJuly 1st, 2020 at 3:46 pm

Hi Bruce,

While we have all been impressed with Sherlock Holmes’ (Arthur Conan Doyle) famous detective conclusion about eliminating virtual impossible or conservatively very unlikely events to have happened, in today’s hand one cannot be sure of that being true, therefore putting pants on declarer’s effort as still being possible for the king of hearts to be on side since he was likely just careless for not probing further into East’s diamond signal, strongly suspecting the lead of the queen followed by the ace as guaranteeing, not denying, the king.

bobbywolffJuly 1st, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Hi Iain,

Your experience reminded me of a “Recorder experience”, many years ago which happened to me when I was investigating a relatively good but suspicious player’s disappointment when he had gone set in a 2 spade contract, boldly bid by him, since he had peeked at an earlier tables bridge scorecard, left open instead of tightly closed, which clearly said on board 7 that the EW pair had bid and made +140 while playing 2 spades on that board.

When his pair got to 2 spades on that hand (clearly engineered by our suspect) he passed (no dummy, him) but then proceeded to play the hand normally but instead of +140 he wound up -100 (down one).

Being very perplexed, he sought after the NS pair when that session was over and asked him point blank, how did their opponents make 2 spades on that hand, where upon that innocent player, after consulting his scorecard, then apparently apologized to the cheater by explaining, “2 spades, no, it was 2 hearts to which he made three, but what in the world is the difference”?

However, from then and for a relatively long time, no other complaints were filed against that one time only (I hope, but do not expect) “bad guy”.