Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 15th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoAugust 29th, 2020 at 10:27 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
At the table where declare went down : Did east have a chance to peek at his partner’s hand? Otherwise, how his opening bid is explained and finally, do you approve it

bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2020 at 3:18 pm


By examining the conditions, NV vs. Vul, and having what most players would call a complete Yarborough, if ever it becomes appropriate for a psychic opening bid, some, perhaps a few more than that, might just risk doing it.

In any event, I would not worry about any cheating shenanigans (of course I might be surprised) but, if so, East (and perhaps West, as his accomplice) would be protected, at least on this hand, against anyone seriously being suspicious of any hanky-panky.

Believe it or not, but perhaps at the dawning of Contract Bridge in the late 1920s, these types of psyches were much more common than in today’s high level bridge world. My guess for the reason is that world class partnerships do not want to run the risk (not especially on this one hand) but rather of partner having to consider the possibility of his psyching and therein only complicate, because of that possibility, the partnership’s ability to determine real from fake, which if miss read, usually would be disastrous.

However, in truth and such in poker (bluffing), the best strategy is for your partnership to be suspected of psyching, but in reality, never do.

Therefore I, nor should any one else, have the right to not approve it, since its history in the development of contract bridge is well founded and, for that matter, respected.

John StoreyAugust 29th, 2020 at 10:25 pm

Hi Bobby – playing strong no trumps as South I would have though about downgrading the hand and opening 1 Club. I’m 4-3-3-3 and my Club Queen looks iffy. Maybe I’ve been playing against robots too long!

Hope you’re well.

bobbywolffAugust 30th, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Hi John,

Although your thoughts about downgrading a minimum hand and especially a 4, triple 3 distribution is on track, that fact is countered by the value of just naturally beginning the auction with basically undisclosed distribution (though balanced) but specifically unknown to opponents, (even occasionally a 5 card major).

Also a 1NT opening is often very descriptive which, in turn, will allow you to let your partner make the mistake, if a bad result should occur.

Although the above is a joke, it is usually normal practice for top players to try hard to open 1NT for basically the reasons above, which IMO should be sought and thus be honored.

However, if you feel strongly about it, go ahead, but methinks that thinking will wind
up slightly minus in the end, and contrary to what will be likely to happen at the other tables, which is not what a good player like you should prefer.

bobbywolffAugust 30th, 2020 at 4:06 pm

Hi again John,

Another tiny advantage of opening 1NT instead of a suit will be the additional preemptive value of 1NT which may deny your LHO a cheap overcall at the 1 level which, in turn, (and slightly figures) to represent an advantage in a competitive sense and perhaps for a less effective opening lead and/or buying the hand at a lower level, by those pesky and clever opponents.

During these quarantine times, my wife Judy and I are still both fine in body and perhaps spirit, except for those two devastating haymaker punches Judy landed on me in the last week or so (slightly under average for that time period).

Thanks for asking and I cannot wait to tell Judy that, for her to go easy on me, since I now have a friend in you, who may protect me.

Hopefully you are likewise staying well, and holding strong.