Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 15th, 2020


David WarheitSeptember 29th, 2020 at 9:33 am

If South winds up at 6H, the winning (and I believe the correct) line of play is to ruff the opening C lead, cash HAK and then run S, discarding D and eventually ruffing a D in dummy. Note that a very unlikely opening D lead by W defeats both slams.

Shouldn’t South have given his partner the right to choose whether to play 6H or 6S? Had he done so, of course, N would have picked H.

Final point: you forgot to mention that South must discard dummy’s small C on the third S.

Iain ClimieSeptember 29th, 2020 at 10:01 am

HI David, Bobby,

In terms of a diamond lead, East could hit 4D I suppose but then what if South redoubled and they played there? From West’s viewpoint he has a likely heart trick against 6H (maybe not vs 6S) so neither a trump nor a heart makes sense. South’s likely two suiter, clear strength and 4C bid might point to a D but, if East takes T1 he has to shoot a diamond straight back rather than be tempted by the CA.

Was West’s lead a bit thoughtless here? It looks safe, and it might cut communications if South had a singleton club but can it fairly be criticised?



Bobby WolffSeptember 29th, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Hi David,

Yes, the correct line of play, should NS wind in 6 hearts do as you say, cash the AK of hearts and then, if 3-2 with the queen still at large go for the rest of the tricks with a hopefully successful diamond finesse.

However, what more often than most realize, while playing matchpoints, there are additional considerations involving trying for 13 tricks rather than being satisfied with 12 and losing to others who succeeded by going for all of them and succeeding.

At least to me, matchpoints, while very titillating, adds an extra dimension by, and no doubt, creating a too large reward for overtricks (one extra, sometimes is enormous), but, at the same time, is bastardized by so doing. That bastardization is directly related to treating an often insignificant overtrick as a major increase in positive matchpoints for what amounts to only a fraction of what making first an overtrick in a part score, up through that same overtrick or overtricks in a game all the way up to the same for making one in a small slam, which, in turn, at least to me, is making a mountain to what should be, a small molehill.

While not trying to debate something which is not going to change, an up and coming (usually youthful) player should not IMO lose his value judgment and always (or almost) go for that added gusto, since by doing so and not succeeding, going set in a laydown (or almost) contract, can be quite upsetting to oneself, and usually even more so, to one’s partner.

However, this subject is self-evident, but, in order to as quickly as possible, while positively moving up the ladder, both in technique and winning tactics, a partnership needs to discuss this enigma and together decide what to do, (concentrating on the risk involved) with today’s hand, a good example to use,, since not taking all the tricks (diamonds perfectly behaving) could be somewhat costly in lost matchpoints.

Yes, I should have mentioned discarding a club on the 3rd spade, but to even think of doing otherwise is somewhat far below the stature of our group of bridge lovers, but I agree with you, that it is at least a worthwhile factor in clear and proper writing.

David WarheitSeptember 29th, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Dear Bobby: You misstate the correct line of play at 6H. After cashing HAK and finding that H are 3-2, do not (as I stated in my first comment) play for a D finesse (which as the cards lie will cost you your contract), but simply run S, discarding all of dummy’s D, except for the ace, of course, and then eventually ruff your second D.

Bobby WolffSeptember 29th, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Hi Iain,

When it comes to winning leads (such as today) my thought is that trying to find that small needle in that relatively large haystack and while it often makes for curious conversation, especially when it directly involves a critical bridge hand, to do so resembles self-flagellation when the one on lead takes on the responsibility of “feeling” he should have seen through the backs of cards held by the opponents.

“Take it in stride”, say others as they try and console an opening leader, while
also bemoaning as teammates, what might have been.

No, I do not think East should have doubled 4 diamonds since, at least to me, it was far more likely that, by doing so, he wiil both help the opponents arrive at a better contract (and possibly even play it better) because of it and, in truth, not even prefer a diamond lead over partner’s natural club direction.

Bobby WolffSeptember 29th, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Hi David,

Yes, an often bad habit of mind in trying to cover the waterfront sometimes forgetting basic facts, even a rank beginner would recognize.

Sorry for the confusion and only proves just how many times one should proof read, before sending, at the very least, once more!

Thanks for giving me a chance to offer an excuse, even though it never appears enough, since for newbies, who may be reading, then getting terribly misled to the point of total frustration.

Bobby WolffSeptember 29th, 2020 at 4:31 pm

I did it again since in the first sentence, mind, should have been mine, except perhaps either fits.