Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 14th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoAugust 28th, 2020 at 11:17 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But what is the idea of teasing opponents? Unfortunately, it boomeranged with vengeance even clouding south’s vision. Had he reflected for thought, he could have cashed one high spade and ruffed remaining high spade after cashing Q of hearts and decide the further play whether to finesse in clubs or play for minor suit squeeze on east which would have succeeded today.

A V Ramana RaoAugust 28th, 2020 at 11:35 am

Actually, even cashing of one high spade is not necessary. Just ruff a high spade, draw trumps, lead diamond to dummy’s K, cash remaining high spade discarding diamond , come to hand with diamond A and run trumps. East is squeezed without count in the actual layout

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2020 at 12:35 pm


Simpler yet, take SA dumping D , cash HQ, ruff SJ (fine unless East has 9 of them) draw trumps back to dummy and ditch the other D on SK. If I’d been N I’d have asked South to pay me for my lost grand slam which raises a question. Could there one day be a legal comeback for money if declarer does something that culpable?



A V Ramana RaoAugust 28th, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Hi lain
If declarer takes spade A at first trick , there is never any problem. I think our host wanted to narrate the evil effects of teasing opponents . Sure , one who teases opponents is asking for trouble.

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2020 at 1:22 pm


You’re spot on here, but the irresistible human urge to show off or do something impressive or “clever” often ends in tears. The late S J Simon in “Why You Lose at Bridge” described a top-flight expert famous for his pessimistic views on bad splits taking a safety play against trumps being 4-0. It would have worked if they had been 4-0, but they were 2-2 and he walked into some other distributional quirk on a hand where a weak player would have drawn trumps, and our expert promptly went off. I wonder if he was a distant relative of Jim2?



jim2August 28th, 2020 at 1:33 pm

** cough-cough **


A V Ramana RaoAugust 28th, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Hi lain
The play at first trick. I think it is still to do with teasing opponents unless declarer mentally placed that he contracted for fourteen tricks, not just thirteen. Anyway, teasing doesn’t help. If the opponents are assertive, they will remember and repay in kind or Karma will take it’s course as in the column hand.
Let us hear from our host his words of wisdom

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2020 at 2:39 pm


You’ve certainly got a point about Karma; when I was at university I had a girlfriend who played competitive bridge with me (despite being otherwise very intelligent) and I treated her appallingly at the bridge table with predictable consequences for the relationship. I am hopefully now a better person and more pleasant partner. She was not only a very nice, intelligent and pleasant person, she was rich. Looking back at what I was like 40 years ago she’d have been justified in playing the Myrtle Bennett coup!


bobbywolffAugust 28th, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Hi Everyone,

Since I have no specific knowledge of some or all of the behind the scenes goings on, I’ll just relate
what I consider the more likely circumstances of this bridge disaster.

Mr. Perkins, with the natural excitement of, while getting ready to play the dummy and then counting up 13 tricks in several ways (or at least various methods of attack) merely had a small aberration and thought he might as well take that practice first trick finesse just in case he had originally miscounted.

Those events happen more often than thought, probably because of the mind game aspects, rather than physical release, to which our game is often subject.

Away he went, and instead of first going up with the king of spades (somewhat unlikely West started with 10 of them and didn’t even wince when 2 hearts were opened on his right). I think he should throw his club away and then, after cashing dummy’s heart queen lead a low club trumping with his 10 which figures to ward off all evil spirits (except of course for Jim2’s TOCM, which has already won many alert prizes for setting fire to any or every thing which can burn).

Then, when declarer’s senses quicky returned back to his fast wit (but not fast enough) he made up his story about causing East trauma at trick one.

Since none of us will ever be sure (even if contacted now (assuming he is still kicking), why would he disclose anything different and truthfully, who can blame him?

Yes, money lost, but who and which of us can truthfully say that no amount of money (OK, this statement can be challenged) can overcome the singular embarrassment , if you”ll permit the vulgar comment of that particular brain fart.

The devil who presides in bridge, dictating heinous errors, every now and then, will always exist. Better to happen to anyone else, but, of course, not number ONE.

bobbywolffAugust 28th, 2020 at 5:02 pm


I’ll attempt to respond to your specific question,
knowing full well that I have limited knowledge
of psychological drama.

When I was young (a couple of years ago) a friend (at that time and about a similar age) seriously advised me that in order to win consistently at bridge, one needed to take every given opportunity to rub into the opponents their inferiority, despite the win being no more than a lucky break of possibly a suit breaking 3-3 or a finesse winning.

He even went to the extreme, while actually playing against inexperienced opponents, it would be OK, (meaning required) to even explain falsely how they could have done much better and won instead of how they did play and lost.

At first he sounded reasonable, since the next time one plays against someone who is verbally assaulted, those emotions favor his opponent, simply because his or her mind has other compelling reasons to lose his concentration (always ultra important in the bridge winning process).

However, if one goes deep, he should understand that such antics are nothing more than despicable ethical practices, although similar tactics are often used in business, sports and especially in court rooms, although perhaps for mind games they should not be.

While I cannot logically speak for anything but bridge, I do sincerely believe that even trying to intimidate bridge opponents is a serious fault and deserves to be in the rule book (there is some reference to such tactics) as serious enough to be penalized for so doing.

The above has a happy ending, since that friend, some years later, was banished from our game for actively cheating.

While I am not sure what the above proves except perhaps Dame Fortune (who rules our game) apparently is a strict disciplinarian who doesn’t cotton to bridge hanky-panky.

However, if so, she needs to be contacted soon to make up for what she has, through the years, lost touch with doing her job.

bobbywolffAugust 28th, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Hi again AVRR,

Forgot to mention that there is (was?) a specific name for verbal and other mind assaults to which I haven’t heard anyone speak of for many years:

They are called, FISH EYE COUPS and apply to all sorts of illegal attempts (borderline or worse) at advantage. Has anyone heard that name before?

A V Ramana RaoAugust 29th, 2020 at 8:26 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Many Thanks for elaborately dwelling on the subject. Your opinion that players who intimidate opponents should be penalized : perhaps needs to be implemented bringing a semblance of fairness to the game and perhaps even players who shout on partners or creating a scene during a match also should be penalized. The penalty may be small but the humiliation of undergoing the penalty shall be an effective deterrent

bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2020 at 3:36 pm


Your post needs to be taken seriously. However the drawing up of consistent rules and the penalty for their violation is nothing short of difficult.

As I am sure most everyone in the world is following, America is faced with a much more important dilemma involving respect, treatment,
depth of just the right form of punishment (to fit the wrongdoing) and as of yet, and the politics which is totally ingrained, is not close to a workable solution.

Time may tell, but although your suggestion is right-on, we may need to experiment for some time before we improve what definitely needs improving. And like our American horror, we may never reach a compromise to which can be tacitly or otherwise be agreed.

However, thanks for bringing it up, but do not hold your breath, if you are waiting for an attempted solution