Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 5th, 2020


Iain ClimieJuly 19th, 2020 at 10:52 am

HI Bobby,

Perhaps Not picker might like to distinguish between safety plays which intentionally sacrifice a trick and those like the one you state (missing K10x) where there is a genuine extra chance. With J10xxx in hand opposite SAQx for example leading small towards AQ instead of the J avoids the embarrassment of West having singletons K. Another would be compromise when playing pairs after 2N 3N and dummy’s asserts are just AQxxx in a minor opposite declarer’s Xxx. Needing 4 tricks at IMPs, cash K then duck one. At pairs this appears folly but cash K then lead small towards AQ prepared to duck if LHO shows out. Yet it feels more obvious to lead small to the Q.

I suspect that, as you say, this is a really good place to work on at home – identifying no cost extra chances.



Steve ConradJuly 19th, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Hi Bobby,

Would you call the following type of play a “safety Play” or not? You can afford only one more loser, and you have a side suit with 1 loser (which might be able to be ruffed in dummy). In trumps, you have KJx in dummy and Axxxxx in your hand. You lead towards the A and all follow. When you lead towards the KJ in dummy, LHO follows. Now, if you finesse and it loses, you have a trump still in dummy to handle your side suit loser. If it wins, you have only the side suit loser. Is this a safety play?

Steve Conrad

bobbywolffJuly 19th, 2020 at 6:28 pm

Hi Iain,

You’ve brought up an important subject, however one which is not often discussed among the better players, for the not so good reason of the choices vary, depending thrice of the quality of the opponents, entry to one hand or the other, and a variable, usually pertaining to game, IMPs and rubber (securing the contract), or matchpoints (eg. every trick important) and to what choices remain (including what hand to be in or which opponent to possibly favorably be on lead for the declarer, while approaching the death).

Your examples given (worry not that I, at least think, I can guess what you seek, but if confused by my answer, please dig deeper). Yes, leading the jack from Jxxxx toward AQ9xx in dummy is derigueur, in the absence of unusual circumstances to not lead the jack.

Next, while holding J10xxx opposite AQx, it will depend on what the whole hand looks like, what may happen if the jack holds as against what will apparently occur if it doesn’t. IOW, the entire plan of declaring involves entries (usually involved with entries blocked or not) so that all experienced players (you, me, and many others) will always (or should) take that into consideration. Obviously a low one toward the AQx is technically correct, because of the possibility of a singleton K onside, but sometimes, again–usually because of blocked entries, second best is moved up.

With AQxxx opposite Kxx, and all else unimportant, lead them from the top, unblocking the king, but when the AQxxx is otherwise entry less first lead the king and then another, being prepared to duck, sometimes every time, other times only perhaps what game is being played, safety playing for contract by deciding to duck catering to a 4-1 distribution, but gaining maximum advantage by leading the king first and then seeing the 1-4 right before our eyes when faced with a choice (perhaps not the contract trick),

While holding xxx, opposite AQxxx it is perhaps right to duck one in both hands, but perhaps leading low in dummy from AQxxx to induce RHO to rise while holding Kx. IOW, using all war (eg bridge table) maneuvers to gain maximum effectiveness.

No doubt your instincts, rather than your bridge book learning is enough to make you a feared opponent and if I was choosing up sides, that quality of yours, would make you a very early choice, even if I am a scarecrow (possibly one in disguise, but I wished I danced like Ray Bolger).

Please excuse if I overlooked answering a specific question, but, if so, let me hear from you and happy shuttering.

Not a lot of fun, but no doubt the percentage play, since from what we all hear, the stakes are high if we are hoping to ever again TABLE UP!

bobbywolffJuly 19th, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Hi Steve,

Definitely yes, it is a really true safety play, guaranteeing the contract, finesse winning or losing.

Whatever common sense tells you to label it, at least in bridge, I have found to be 100% true.

The reason for it is, at least my guess, bridge is the most logical game (maybe a tie with chess) ever invented with the nomenclature to match.

The above is the reason bridge needs to be taught in our school system like it is in all of china and most of Europe, since everyday logic in every aspect of our off-the-charts- game involves itself with what easily be called the logic of life and how to live it.

Yes there are billions of people who don’t play bridge and some who play, but do not do it well, probably matching why the world is so messed up too much of the time. Nowhere will any person (especially a young one) not benefit from learning the sheer logic of what bridge playing most represents.

However, ranting or not, not everyone will agree, but my thoughts then immediately fly to, how could they know, since they have never experienced the sheer joy of playing it?

A sensational upside for those successful and only a shoulder shrug for those who either can’t or don’t.