Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 3rd, 2020


A V Ramana RaoSeptember 17th, 2020 at 11:39 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
After club K holds, the diamonds present interesting possibilities. South will easily prevail if West held diamond Q and guesses correctly or either E or W holds doubleton K , south can play A and small diamond after cashing remaining high spade and in case east holds K, 10 x , south will still prevail by playing A and small diamond after cashing second high spade as , if east plays low on second diamond, West gets endplayed with J unless he unblocked that card on A of diamonds ( which would be imaginative) as he is known to possess A of clubs. and east cannot play K swallowing west’s J for obvious reasons . If West held J ten doubleton, simply there is no redemption, West is bound to get endplayed. But South will go down if either E or W holds three diamonds with K and J . And the show up squeeze works whenever West held diamond K along with club A or with east holding doubleton diamond K but as mentioned in the column line, if West overtakes the first diamond and leads another, south is put to immediate guess and it is fifty fifty chance. Now, which line to follow is the declarer’s judgment. Hope I am not missing something. I request your wisdom

bobbywolffSeptember 17th, 2020 at 4:43 pm


My choice is to answer you this way: Your wisdom is to always (or at least almost) be 100% correct in your analysis and my wisdom is to expect you to and be delighted for it.

Because of the above, others are spared (if they desire to be) doing the grunt work in both play by play, and, of course, comparing themselves (along with you) of virtually being at the table, while carefully insuring playing it correctly (noting crucial game changing decisions along the way and the whys and why nots directly involved).

All the above reflects very positive on your consistent talent, especially your ability to teach high-level bridge, while not ignoring the sometimes tough choices (eg, East playing his 10 of diamonds in tempo from K10 doubleton) when declarer, at the crucial moment, led a small diamond from dummy, away from AQxxx.

For those serious players with aspirations to
be very good, they, then, must learn (whether defending or declaring) to fully concentrate from the get go on their playing responsibilities, to either make a difficult contract, or, while defending to give their side the best chance to defeat it.

And the above, in turn, separates the sheep from the goats, in what playing bridge and at all levels, what it takes to just be highly competitive, much less a world beater.

Translating the above to an educational department of a first rate country (likely not too many left) could make a major difference in the upbringing of a specific person, with arithmetical talent to do so, but also possessing an innate burning desire to be the best he or she can be, together with feeling the responsibility to give it his or her all.

At least the above certainly rates above the horrible, exaggerated and deceptive reporting
which, at least to my thinking has been very prevalent in the USA, especially during an election year, while pulling out all the stops (at least to me) nothing short of obnoxious methods, similar (hard to compare, but IMO relevant), of a person or partnership, please forgive. which decides to cheat at bridge.

Sorry for the rant, but to not be teaching bridge in our schools, very similar to what is being now done in all of China and eleven countries in Europe cannot be justified.

In any event AVRR, much thanks and appreciation for your continual interest with our beloved game.

David SnookSeptember 17th, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Hi Bobby…

A couple of questiosn about today’s hand, if you don’t mind…

1. In the bidding, you say North’s double of 3 S promises 3 card support.

Does that double promise specifically that N is holding 3 trump, or is it more of a case of saying, “Hey, I do have some trump!”

2. And when S finesses the heart Q at trick 2, is that just a guess that works, or is there reasoning behind that move? When I looked at the lay out before reading your explanation of the hand, I did finesse, but can’t say I had a reason… if the finesse doesn’t work, bidder surely gets set and when it does, bidder can make his hand.

But is there reasoning behind that finesse, or is it just a lucky guess?

bobbywolffSeptember 17th, 2020 at 8:55 pm

Hi David,

Some years ago, someone (I’m not sure whom), came up with a new convention. It was named “support double” and always had exactly three cards in partner’s first bid suit, catering to guarantee exactly three trumps (not more nor fewer) so that partner can know just how many of that combined suit was held by that partnership.

The underlying reason for that convention is to, as usual when competing for the contract, to attempt to find a combined 8 card or longer fit (almost always in a major suit) so then if partner had bid a suit with only four cards, they would then look around for another combined longer suit fit, or of course, possibly no trump.

Like many conventions, while the immediate above is the reason for that tidbit of information, but, although a popular one, does have disadvantages, the worst, allowing the opponents, after more bidding takes place, to also know what that bid means, and what then transpires to know a lot more about how to play that hand should they outbid their opponents as well as knowing for sure exactly how many of that suit should the player who doubled wind up as declarer.

There are other disadvantages, but many are very subtle, not necessary to discuss, but some excellent partnerships choose to play that convention which, in itself, should cause due
respect for its existence. Of course, it is probably not necessary to mention when a player then raises his partner’s suit (again, usually a major suit) he will have at least, but usually exactly, four of that suit.

With a combined holding of 10 trumps missing the king and in the absence of other contrary evidence a finesse, rather than playing for a singleton king is far and away the percentage choice, You’ll notice that the heart finesse was taken before he led a small club toward dummy only proving that bidding six hearts was a mistake, but that kind of result often happens meaning whether one’s partnership was in a good contract or not, the hand needs to be played well to have a chance to make it, and the heart finesse was the right thing to do and by a substantial margin.

Yes, the result was very lucky for the slam bidders, but without player’s luck (usually present in about all games mind or body, mental or physical, should not deter a player for giving his best effort to succeed, whether it was a percentage contract (it was not) but bridge, being IMO the best mind game ever invented, still requires a partnership’s share of luck as much (or more) than almost any other
competition, especially while competing against clever opposition.

David SnookSeptember 21st, 2020 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for such specific and detailed answers to my questions, Bobby.

You’re being truly generous with your experience and knowledge.

I appreciate it.