Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 12th, 2020


Bruce KarlsonJuly 26th, 2020 at 9:59 pm

The 4 spade opener: Think I would do the same at any vulnerability. Rational? Also, what are the max HCP or playing points fir that bid? Assume loser count should be in the mix. If so, what are the appropriate numbers?

bobbywolffJuly 27th, 2020 at 12:21 am

Hi Bruce,

My choice would be 4S at favorable vul, 3 spades at equal vul, and 2 spades (WTB) at unfavorable.


1. Consistency for partnership.

2. Feel only, with all of the intruders (max HCP, playing points, loser count or anything not invented yet, permanently shelved).

3. While the tendencies of one’s opponents can be important, all the way to critical, for good results, it becomes very difficult to determine and then act, for this type of decision (too little is known about the other 39 cards).

4. If both vulnerable and against generally inexperienced or generally poor opponents change my 3 spade opening to 2 spades also when both are vul, since if it goes all pass, as it will less often against good players, my partnership has a better chance for decent results against opponents who are tournament wise, so being careful takes on a larger result to be considered.

However, Bruce, if you only learn to not depend on trying to count losers or anything related, consider this back and forth discussion profitable. At least IMO, those evaluations are impossible to rely upon.

It may take a while, but the “FEEL” I mention, will come with experience, and that word is what should determine what to do with the variety of vulnerabilities.

Finally, what you DON’T want to happen is, while playing against lesser players is for it to go all pass and still go down 2 tricks vulnerable when partner has a predominantly mediocre defensive hand, but enough defense to deny your opponents making game.

Bruce karlsonJuly 27th, 2020 at 10:07 am

Thnx for taking the time for that detailed explanation. I have put myself in the awkward situation of being off 2 vul against weak opps. Not suicide inducing but in the continuum… lol. Given that you have the boss suit and it is “impossible” fir the hand to be passed out, could pass be the tactically correct opener? The opps will paint a picture and may double a third round 4S.

AviJuly 27th, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Hi Bobby
Taking the mickey answer.
Do you ruff high or low?

Iain ClimieJuly 27th, 2020 at 12:54 pm

HI Avi,

I think Bobby suggested the 9 but that diamond looks ominously like a singleton which raises the spectre of the opening leader having SJx or SJxx. In the latter case, you need the club finesse now as ruffing a diamond is one off.



bobbywolffJuly 27th, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Hi Avi & Iain,

Since the contract is a grand slam, LHO, if he is experienced, or with natural born talent, is, in no special way, likely to have a singleton diamond, any more, and likely less than the percentage tables suggest.

Simply because he doesn’t need a ruff and why lead from a singleton when it may chop up the crucial diamond suit for the defense by giving away partner’s diamond holding on opening lead.

Of course, the determining factor for your good question revolves itself upon what you think is the skill level of your opponents (to repeat, a diamond lead, depending on the bidding to get to the grand slam, is somewhat indicative, more or less, if your particular LHO is experienced enough to try and avoid leading a suit which could allow a free finesse for declarer allowing the only way to make for the opponents (possibly dummy having AK109xx opposite Qx with declarer and a shortage of entries to the dummy).

IOW, similar to Bruce’s question above, a successful declarer’s worth is about (again IMO) 30% mathematical talent, 20% toughness of mind (no identifiable negative complexes) and 50% feel for what a specific opponent or a partnership is thinking when one or the other hesitates at an unusual time or actually plays something causing you, the declarer, to take time to at least try and decide what he or they were thinking.

Anyone who overrates bridge technique or worse, underrates hoped for tells by all opponents, is kidding himself on how to rate players, especially very good ones.

Bad ones are much more difficult to analyze, since there are so many areas in bridge to judge, while when playing against equals, it becomes much more subtle, therefore challenging, but more involving adequate sophistication from an opponent and in an entirely different way.

Iain ClimieJuly 27th, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Hi Bobby,

Good point, especially as partner’s hypothetical DA is hardly going to run away and the holding you suggest would massacre partners DJxxx. There again why no sign of the “automatic” trump lead after which declarer wins, draws trumps and rattles off the diamonds from the top with the C finesse in reserve if LHO somehow holds DJxxxx (when a diamond lead would work of course). Much might depend on the exact bidding but a non-club lead is perhaps a pointer – why not lead one from (say) 109xx(x) or similar?



bobbywolffJuly 27th, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Hi Bruce,

No, I think that hand needs to be opened for all the reasons that preempts often work, and although sometimes only a three level preempt seems wimpy, much more only two, still, especially when playing against inexperienced opponents, try and not be victimized by all pass, which non knowledgeable players sometimes accept.

IOW, stay away, if possible, from thinking
“We were sane in our execution, but unfortunately the patient still died”. I think that occurs more than many think.

bobbywolffJuly 27th, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Hi Iain,

All intelligent advice, except for, while playing money rubber bridge, to be responsible for dealing those hated opponents a possible winning grand slam is definitely a horrible sin, never worth committing.