Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020


A V Ramana RaoSeptember 16th, 2020 at 11:41 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps after south covers the lead with Q, after winning , east can underlead club three to West asking for a diamond shift. Instead, if south does not cover the lead and West impulsively continues clubs, the play transposes to column hand or even if West shifts to a heart, south prevails by playing small from dummy, east plays ten, south wins K, draws two rounds of trumps, leads heart to A and ruffing finesse in hearts. It does not help West to overruff as the trump is a natural trick. And finally, if east divines south’s heart holding, he can play deuce from hand taking the contract down but that needs clairvoyance.
And if west pauses for reflection after club J holds and leads a diamond, south does not have any play

bobbywolffSeptember 16th, 2020 at 3:21 pm


Yes, while at trick one, it makes no difference in the club suit what declarer does, since upon winning the opening club trick, the defense may or may not continue clubs, it may make it more difficult for the defense to duck the jack of clubs, in hopes of the opening leader continuing the suit, especially considering East has opened 1NT with declarer then allowing West to know that he had both diamond length and presumably strength, although counter balanced by East not overtaking as he did, but then cashing his club ace, a natural, but possibly an impulsive move.

No doubt, while early defense is more difficult to analyze, it should be possible to determine why a diamond shift may be necessary, still declarer could have a singleton king of hearts, 5 diamonds and a would be doubleton club, allowing the setting trick to disappear, at least from West’s view, while looking at a trump trick.

Of course, end of hand squeezes or end play opportunities, are perhaps two of the more difficult problems facing the defense, but that has always been a trouble area, even in highly expert competition.

However, and as always, thanks for your expert thinking while imparting those processes to the would be high level player in the early stages of what he needs to be thinking in order to read the cards played for the best defense.

jim2September 16th, 2020 at 6:40 pm

I am guessing that declarer went for the extra chance of West having the heart ten doubleton.

I might have, instead, played for the extra chance of East having Q10xx. That is. leading a small heart from the Board and finessing the 9H. If East inserts the 10H, then the ruffing finesse is obvious.

bobbywolffSeptember 16th, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Hi Jim2,

Might East have been falsecarding (sort of) from 10xx? Yes he will almost never have Q10xx simply because to do so would only occur if East feared a peak from declarer since it appears so anti-percentage for declarer to guess to do that,

jim2September 16th, 2020 at 9:08 pm

East must have the QH – I agree with the column text argument on that.

bobbywolffSeptember 17th, 2020 at 12:44 am

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I should have known better than to question your certainty of the heart queen being with East since the play showed up the queen of spades before East’s choice of heart play. Thus and according to the EW system East had to hold the heart queen to match up his 1NT opening with its system requirement.

In turn, that changes everything to what you declared.

Shame on me, but the good news is using the opponent’s system requirements to divy up the location of key cards, disallowing for the detective work done by all top players.

Where is Mrs. Gugenheim when I need her to mess up the arithmetic?

jim2September 17th, 2020 at 1:59 am

But I am NOT an expert, so I appreciate how declarer gave himself an extra chance that East might not cover and, if covered, that West might hold 10X of hearts.

I simply do not know how to math such things for comparison purposes, especially when they are combined with declarer next deciding to abandon the 3-3 heart split chance.

bobbywolffSeptember 17th, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Hi Jim2,

Just a short (highly unusual for me) note to challenge your response.

1. If you are not a bridge expert, I, for one, am deaf (true), blind, and worse, not observing.

2. At least to me, being highly efficient at bridge has little to do with knowing exact percentages, in spite of those numbers in math and thus playing bridge, are immutable, but highly overrated.

3. What you possess, the analytical talent to both approximate and then practically apply that bridge blessing to individual action, irrespective of that false god of percentage exactness, but to the specific clues evident by all legal means available, which separates just good to nothing short of great.

jim2September 17th, 2020 at 5:35 pm

You are kind, TY.