Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 27th, 2020


Iain ClimieAugust 10th, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the main column hand, I know partner is more likely to have majors but then South also knows that I know that, so I’m leading a diamond. This will of course often find partner with Dxxx(x) and SKJ10x but not today. Flippancy aside, what would you lead on the auction as South might suppress a moderate 4 card major here on the basis of a possible bad trump break or even to increase the chance of West leading one. 1N also shuts out any 1 level bids by West, so might cover a multitude of options after the double



TedAugust 10th, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Hi Bobby,

In a pairs game at unfavorable vulnerability LHO opened

1H 1S 4H P
P 5C P 5S
All Pass

Partners hand:
KJ9762 — 10 AKQJ62

My hand:
A3 1043 AQ754 1094

Is there a better way to bid these hands?

Thanks, once again. With so many of us staying home now, your column has become even more appreciated.

Iain ClimieAugust 10th, 2020 at 6:07 pm

HI Bobby,

On the main column hand, would you have led a spade or a diamond? AXxx doesn’t appeal but then South could be hiding a major on the basis that West will probably lead one. I can’t help feeling many weaker players would lead the Dx.



bobbywolffAugust 10th, 2020 at 6:19 pm

Hi Ted,

First, thanks for the kind words, but sad for the many of us (practically almost 100%) who have been severely at least, inconvenienced by the pandemic.

Many years ago I was privy to a wise bridge statement from my mentor at the time. “Once one makes a wrong bid, whether passively or aggressively, it becomes almost impossible to make up for it, and that applies across the board whether the wrong action itself was an overbid, misdirected, or just too wimpy.

BTW, I approve of your partner’s simple 1 spade overcall, since to do otherwise would only complicate future bidding on this hand (chances for it to now go all pass, are almost 100% nil, due to the likely “wild distribution” at large.

Your first pass did not do justice to your ace queen, ace and since you only had a doubleton spade, raising to the four level was not appealing, but an ubiquitous double should show solid values, enabling partner to still act by bidding, since your RHO’s triple raise showed stong hearts, plus your three, allows partner to usually have, at most one and possibly void.

Partner with his monstrous 6-6 hand should
IMO, jump to six clubs, to which you would then pnly pass (although, no doubt your partner would take all 13 tricks in clubs).

Furthermore, it would be impossible for you to now think of partner making a grand slam, although likely (on this hand) cold, by setting up the spades (even the ten and nine of clubs could be required), in case of the opponent’s spades miss behaving.

However, without your informative double, partner should only bid, as he did, five clubs, and because of that, it would indeed be difficult for you to even think of raising to six.

“Little Things Mean a Lot” was once a popular love song, but it also is common in bridge when an opportunity presents itself like your RHO’s 4 heart bid and the cat got your tongue.

Yes, you should discuss this type of bidding situation with partner, if, for no other reason than to clarify what double should mean—-“within the meaning of the whole auction” not just the bid itself.

Making bridge the great game it undoubtedly is, by using both cards and life’s logic, to get excellent bridge results.

Good luck to you with both of us waiting and hoping for face to face bridge to return and the sooner the better.

bobbywolffAugust 10th, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Hi Iain,

Perhaps West led a spade on the tiny inference that South would have bid his 4 card major (possibly spades) if he had one , instead of 1NT and North may have bid 2 spades (checking back) if he indeed himself possess 4 spades.

If he did he will, at the very least, have an excuse for leading the wrong suit, so if trying to please partner, instead of getting off to the winner has priority, by all means choose that.

And although there is actually very little to choose from, with the diamonds a bit stronger by the inclusion of the ten, which tends more often to provide a key card, that fact alone might make the difference.

Perhaps West should expect the dummy to have a long strong club suit (after all West has an ace and queen and partner has made a TO double) so North’s likelihood of long clubs takes on a brighter hue.

If so, Q10xx is slightly more productive than A7xx and the side ace may be the cherished 5th trick on defense. So was the dream, so was the reality, but this hand was based on East making the winning play at trick one, not on sure footing.

The only relevant thing, like the writer of a murder mystery, a bridge columnist does not have to be embarrassed whatever the result, while the actual loser in a real life murder mystery pays the ultimate price. I choose writing.

jim2August 10th, 2020 at 7:22 pm

Ted –

Our Host has given you his answer.

I do not disagree with him that “double” was likely the call to make. The opponents’ bidding, combined with your heart holding, almost guarantees your partner has a heart void (though there are slight chances of a singleton). Assuming your partner has only five spades, he has eight minor suit cards. If he is 4-4 in the minors, why did he not double?

This brings up the next question. Do you play Michael’s? If he is not 4-4 in the minors, he would have a perfect Michael’s bid. If he is 4-4 in the minors, you have a great diamond fit. If he has a 5+ card minor and you play Michael’s, what does his failure to use it mean? Does it imply the same (or better) shape but much greater strength?

These questions are part of why Our Host said to “Double.” The problem in casual partnerships, is that many bids “off the beaten track” are tough to correctly interpret. If he is looking at a heart void, will he think you have a trump stack and want to defend? Sadly, is not legal to bid “Double – Takeout” or “Double-Penalty.”

So, what would you bid if over your Double, he bids 4N? Would you bid 6H and hope it shows 2 aces and a heart void?

After your Pass, could you still recover? He bid 5C after hearing you pass. Would 5D by you now be a cue bid, saying his 5C bid improved you have enough to invite slam? If he then bid 6C over 5D, would you raise to seven?

Much easier to Double.

Patrick CheuAugust 10th, 2020 at 9:00 pm

Hi Ted,Bobby,Jim2,Perhaps ‘Leaping Michaels’ after 1H (4C*) 5S and 6C 17+? Regards Patrick.

bobbywolffAugust 10th, 2020 at 9:32 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your much deeper and more thorough discussion.

For the last generation of bridge (perhaps measured at around 25 years) the high level worldwide bridge players have been trying to make use of most every higher bid available in order to create additional meanings for heretofore meaningless noises (bids).

In that way, as long as bridge logic by both partners is understood, which, at their level and by experience and thought have raised the level of information, given and received by the new cream of the crop.

For this golden opportunity, we owe the many countries who have intelligently inserted bridge as an elective school option to learn and prosper during the middle years on up allowing many to seek out bridge logic, which instead could simply be called life’s logic, painlessly learned, while competing and having serious fun, not to mention challenge.

Here is hoping that this world pandemic does not have a negative effect on this, at least IMO
sensational opportunity.

bobbywolffAugust 10th, 2020 at 9:45 pm

Hi Patrick,

Leaping Michaels, my word I’ve got your drift.

The problem, when 4 Clubs is used non-vulnerable to show both long clubs and long major over an opponent’s 1 of the other major, whether he has s. x h. AKJxx,, x, AQJxxx, or rather, s. x, h. Q10xxx, d. void, c. QJ10xxxx.

Partnerships need intelligent discussion, not just walks in the park, in order to both get on the same wave length (not necessarily one or the other). No shortcuts are ever recommended.

TedAugust 10th, 2020 at 10:18 pm

Hi Bobby and Jim2,

Thank you both. I didn’t Dbl at the table since I was concerned partner had only made a 1 level overcall. I didn’t want to force him to the 5 level vulnerable on what might be 7-8 HCP and a heart void. Probably wrong, but the bid did occur to me.

Patrick, thanks for the Leaping Michaels suggestion.

jim2August 10th, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Patrick Cheu –

Is that bid part of the Orphan Annie System?

TedAugust 11th, 2020 at 12:00 am

Jim2 —

Yes we do play Michaels.

Had I doubled and partner bid 4NT, I’d have bid 5H showing two controls for Spades since they were the only suit mentioned, although with some trepidation that he was intending it as a takeout for the minors.

bobbywolffAugust 11th, 2020 at 4:23 am

Hi Ted,

Continuing along the same path started above, but understanding that, at this point of so-called high level thinking, my guess is that it becomes necessary for would be partners to create troublesome, but realistic situations, and then ask each privately to write down what would be the closest distribution and strength along with the outer limits necessary, of course, perhaps chaotic large differences, but then at least an attempt to reduce the risk if possible.

By so doing, and IMO that partnership will be beginning to deal with the inherent dangers and then see the benefit of such understandings, if and when, they arrive.

The next step is to assess whether the risk is worth the gain. And what is more, whatever their decision, that perspective partnership will have come an important distance toward their ultimate goal.

Patrick CheuAugust 11th, 2020 at 6:32 am

Hi Jim2, Somehow,somewhere,some day,I knew you wanted to be a comedian.But why not you sure make me laugh in this surreal times.An oncall is needed..;-) Regards~Patrick.

jim2August 11th, 2020 at 11:27 am

Patrick Cheu –


One of the things I do is write science and science-history articles and make presentations on such topics. If one does not find opportunities to interject levity and humor, one risks losing one’s audience.