Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 25th, 2020


Iain ClimieAugust 8th, 2020 at 10:10 am

HI Bobby,
.Two quick points today. Firstly there are players who would lead the C8 from 108x here, and that would give East a horrible time at T1. I’ve always preferred small from 10xx but what do you think?

Secondly, as the play went, Should South really be leading the SJ given the weakness of the suit? Isn’t S to the A and back better? No difference today but East could have Kxxx or some villain might have stiff K.



A V Ramana RaoAugust 8th, 2020 at 11:13 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Indeed a delightful hand for the connoisseurs of squeeze. Yet, if east plays low on the diamond from dummy , it would be rather a tough decision for south. For the squeeze to work, he needs east to hold precisely left with singleton A of diamonds( after he plays low on first diamond) four or more cards in hearts with J and ten and of course the guard in clubs which is patent by now. Still needs too much of luck for south and if he can work out and execute, absolutely brilliant. But once east played A of diamonds, south’s task has been made much easier

bobbywolffAugust 8th, 2020 at 2:21 pm

Hi Iain,

Leading the 8 from 108x and such (middle from three or described as MUD, middle, then up or down, as the situation dictates, has always been at least to me, among the worst lead convention imaginable.

Why?, one may ask, simply, because that lead too often does not allow partner to know whether he is on foot or horseback and although, as its admirers proclaim, it can create mistakes for even good declarers, which, if so, seems to be much too rare to only, just trust.

To cap my belief, once in a full moon the middle card, this time the eight can sometimes be useful to still be in hand rather than in everyone’s discard pile.

Yes, you, of course, are eminently correct in preferring to lead a small trump out of hand, instead of the jack, for the reasons you give, but I can understand (after the opening lead) for declarer to hope for a defensive error, West not covering the king from king and another. And, of course perhaps a small other advantage, the timing of not losing the first trump instead of the second, for whenever that timing, that occasionally, but does benefit the declarer’s overall plan.

IOW, yes you are, and no doubt almost always correct, except…….

Thanks for your beneficial comments.

bobbywolffAugust 8th, 2020 at 2:47 pm


Yes, declarer was indeed fortunate in catching RHO with Ax in diamonds, perhaps Dame Fortune’s gift to compensate declarer for our hero’s disdain for the eight of clubs lead, which not only was best for the defense, but served as a clear warning of not only a devastating defensive club position, but also taking away declarer advantage which later may accrue, when left till the death of the hand.

Regarding East’s defensive diamond ace rise, he clearly was faced with a Hobson’s choice, since by ducking that ace it certainly appeared to him that he would then be a victim of a late hand throw in, forcing him to lead a club back into the AJ.

Since even the top players would do better while playing with transparent cards (although the game would not nearly be as challenging or, for that matter, as much fun) the early defense and even declarer play is usually based on supposition rather than certainty.

And while you are 100% right in declarer’s enjoyment with East’s hopping up with the diamond ace, he, after the beginning, needed something anti percentage good to give him a legitimate chance for success (possibly just an error by East jumping up with the ace while holding more than two diamonds).

No questions (nor answers) are usually given among adversaries, when good players compete, but eventually, usually in private partnerships, later discuss pro and con opportunities.

BTW this last above statement is a good thing (after the emotion of the moment has past) and is often used by winning partnerships to clear the air so that confidence can be restored if and when someone could (perhaps should) have done better.

Thanks to you for your constant sincere efforts to make it easier for lesser experienced players to appreciate what did happen at the table.

Jeff SAugust 8th, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Not that I saw it before you pointed it out, but on further review, the club return at trick 2 looks pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Given the cards on view and assuming normal methods, East can be pretty sure his partner has two clubs and South’s bidding indicates strongly that partner also has three spades. East has one in the bag and sees two other near-certain tricks so at that point the club ruff for the setting trick now becomes something of a standout. I get it, the heart sequence draws the eye, but…

The fact that I didn’t see it doesn’t really change that judgement as I am pretty much RR without that worthy’s uncanny ability to land on his feet. Closer to TT maybe, but I draw the line at WW, his compulsive point-counting not being my style at all . 🙂

bobbywolffAugust 8th, 2020 at 10:21 pm

Hi Jeff,

Straight to the point:

1. Love of the type game good bridge is.

2. Willingness to learn what it takes to succeed and having the moxie to not being embarrassed, nor losing confidence when suffering setbacks, which undoubtedly will occur.

3. Dealing with simple arithmetic (counting to 13 often) as well as fully concentrating on the hand at present. Eventually, you, at the death of the hand will be able to recall (in general, but not the unimportant spot cards) who held what hand, the exact distribution and if you desire, what might have happened but didn’t.

4. Picking a like partner to yourself, who definitely is serious about getting better.

5. Knowing in your heart your talent for deciphering an opponent’s moves and habits is OK now, but optimistically is going to improve by bounds and leaps very quickly.

6. The ability to concentrate fully at the table so that both the bidding and the play of the hand in process will stay with you till that hand is over.

7. Instead of worrying about being a good winner nor, heaven forbid, a good loser, do everything possible to not beat yourself (of course, including your partner).

8. Immediately after a hand is played, your only thought needs to go to the next hand you are about to play.

9. Always include some form of bridge (thoughts, reading, discussion, progressing, etc.) at least for a few minutes every day,, whether you are playing or not.

AFAIK, you have the ability to become good, and if you do, it will be very rewarding, since playing good bridge will always be an asset to your happiness and self-respect.

All to be learned additional legal tricks of the trade will open up like the Red Sea opened for Moses (assuming it might have, but that is not a good percentage bet). However your chances of getting there from here, IS!

It will take some time and much dedication, but you were dealt the specific tools and, I think discipline, to get it done.

Good luck and keep on asking questions.