Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 18th, 2020


Bruce karlsonSeptember 1st, 2020 at 11:33 am

The lead appears to me to be worse than that. Given the only unknown honor is the king, a return of the spade would seem called for. Am I missing something?

ClarksburgSeptember 1st, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Good morning Bobby
Re today’s BWTA item. Seems (to me at least, based on experience / observations in Club games) there is often inadequate discussion and agreement on meaning of various “advances”. This can lead to bidding wrecks, or at least fender benders.
With so many variables (Vul or not; passed hand or not; single raise; jump raise; new suit; HCP; shape etc) there’s far too much to cover in any detail here.
But could you kindly offer a few cornerstone principles of a sound approach to this part of a Convention Card

Iain ClimieSeptember 1st, 2020 at 2:49 pm

HI Bobby,

Today’s quote reminds of something I heard about alcoholic drink. You can have too much, but never enough. There is a sound reason for that, though – alcohol takes time to get into the bloodstream so, if I were indulging too much at a party and had reached the stage where I “knew” I had to stop based on how I felt, there were still another 2 or 3 drinks waiting to hit my round the head and worsen the next day’ hangover. I am older and rather better behaved nowadays, especially as one hangover caused havoc on the following hand:

None None AKQ10xxx AK108xx at adverse. RHO opens 1H, 1 just bid 2H (alerted but intended as “say something”) and partner correctly answered the query with “He should have spades and clubs” – yes, I should have done. LHO started at AQJ9xxx Q xxx xx and decided to pass not double, pard bid 3C with J 108xxxx xx QJxx and I bid 7C refusing to use the Unauthorised Info. LHO doubled (why, how many spades have I got?) and partner was not troubled in the play. Opponents accepted the explanation had been correct (not the bid) and I felt obliged to apologise. I suspect my LHO still poses that hand as a problem, even though it was in the early 1980s.


bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

First, you have good teaching, therefore learning, and for want of a better description, unraveling, instincts, if for no better word, clarity.

What sets bridge apart, which sadly for our country has not reached our general school system as it has in eleven European countries, and all of China with its over 200 million students is its pure logic (applicable to real life logic), which sometimes transcends memory, simply because of the huge number of surprising variations which often arise in all of bidding and defense involving partnership understandings.

Now to today’s BWTA: Three clubs by South should conveniently be used as a strong bid (limited in some degree by Sputh’s simple overcall) but a plea to partner that “I’ve got a good hand (for a simple overcall) and a fit with you, very interested in bidding game and am wanting to know what feature and/or strength of your hand you would like to now disclose.

Of course, the minimum by North would be a simple return to 3 diamonds which might be as non-descript as, s. x, h. Kxx, d. Axxxxx, c.Jxx.

Yes, South could have chosen to simply pass his partner’s simple overcall of 1 spade, but he decided to search out a better trump suit if there was one. Therefore his rebid should, of course be 3 clubs, meant as a cue bid. What if and instead he could possess s. K, h. Axx, d. AKxxxx, c. xxx where a grand slam in diamonds (or perhaps even 7NT) will be the percentage contract leaving the opening bidder, East with, s. xxx, h. KQ10x, d. void, c. KQxxxx.

Sure, too far fetched for NS to consider reaching that grand slam but, in order to get to a small slam will take good judgment, which all starts with playing 3 clubs as a cue bid, rather than natural.

From the above we can understand that, in order to quantify and even just qualify bridge learning, we need to first know to what level the student(s) wish to progress. The private knowledge of the extremely wide ranges of young people who are introduced to the game becomes a method of determining what a wide variety of knowledge that is necessary to even begin to explore its outer limits.

However, your provocative intent to likely simplify its understanding is well worth this discussion.

IOW, forget bidding a natural club bid and go for the gusto of something much more constructive, not to mention also important.

But before we do please understand that after East’s 1 club opening and South’s 1 spade overcall, followed by West’s pass, if then North would have bid 1NT (instead of 2 diamonds) then South’s 2 clubs would show clubs, with the desire of playing them as trump, since South was also showing at least some length (and strength) in clubs, but the nature of the auction, being so different needs to sink into both partner’s experience in order for them to seek and find the compatibility necessary for a successful union.

Yes, there are many variables, but none nearly as important as the logic of the game, with both partners locked in together by core understandings which will eventually shout out to each other something as simple as GOTCHA!.

And as far as what goes on a Convention card, you are eminently more qualified than I, to determine. Perhaps my view is simply, CC’s do not need to be added or even discussed, similar to it not be necessary to even spell Contract Bridge correctly, only to learn to play it as well as one can.

Finally, I suspect I left beginners merely scratching their heads, but rather than being discouraged, perhaps they may say, I made straight A’s in school, why can I not take a swing at this game for myself, especially after a firm recommendation by governments and knowledgeable educational departments to so do.

bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2020 at 5:50 pm

Hi Iain,

As the beautiful love song lyrics went, “It is a long, long time from May to December, but the days grow short as they then reach September” (incidently today’s date), if that grand slam, bid and made, in the early 1980’s, lady luck, because of your good fortune with partner logically choosing clubs instead of being dealt more spades (hugely more likely) it may be now the time that your bad luck caught up with your bridge (sounds like I’m talking to Jim2).

In any event, I loved your story and only hope you and your family can continue to stay well.

bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Hi Iain,

Sorry, I shouldn’t have said much more likely to have spades, but rather have zeroed in on so lucky to have your partner bid clubs to which you surely might jump to seven. Yes, a gamble but what else is new and it would probably be thought that your bid would be chosen by many.

Iain ClimieSeptember 1st, 2020 at 7:41 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks for that and the and was played 6 times in a county match and created havoc. One auctions started 1H (6D) Dbl (P) P (7D)!! and at least the next hand managed not to double that. One of our pairs cunningly got into a redoubled grand slam via judicious sandbagging (I think) but, at one table, the monster minor hand “bottled it” and decided to double 6S and take the money (7S X is cheap against a making grand). Partner with 6H to the 10 naturally assumed he had a void heart (correct) so led one for him to ruff (not quite so accurate). 6S X and making the other way gave us rather a large net plus.



bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2020 at 10:34 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, you undoubtedly remember how happy you were then and have been treated to almost 40 years of never forgetting that moment.

Net worth? OFF THE CHARTS!

Reminds me of the first time I got out of jail.