Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 19th, 2020


Iain ClimieOctober 3rd, 2020 at 10:58 am

HI Bobby,

Ducking the SJ looks brilliant but what if West is 3361 with (say) J1ox? Now a spade to the Ace follows and a club ruff! OK West’s diamond length may make him appear less likely to have 3 trumps but he is short in clubs. If West does have 3 trumps and East Ax or similar then ducking the SJ has just decked a seemingly cold contract!

Any thoughts?



Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Hi Iain,

All possible and somewhat likely, except for South then responding to North’s negative double, with three small spades (if the opponent’s are playing Flannery, (4-5 in the majors) then considerably more probable.

Quite often, being at the table will allow the defense to have a better idea of distributions held by the opponents, simply because of the tempo, visibly felt at the time of a bid, especially an unusual one, and at that time choosing to bid a very weak three card unbid suit, will tend to range from very rare to non-existent, surely not 6+ hearts nor probably 5 good ones.

jim2October 3rd, 2020 at 8:37 pm

The column hand reminded me of one in a team of four game circa 1972 in Indiana (Elkhart? Fort Wayne?).

It was the last board and my partner — sitting South — opened 2D Flannery (as the column South “should have”). Here is how the bidding went:

2D – 3D – 4D – P
3N – P — P — P

Making 3N exactly for a key game swing. I got up quickly as West began criticizing his partner for some mistake in the defense, and dragged my partner away.

For all I know, he may STILL be griping at East. It was not until we were well clear, however, that I asked partner if he remembered the bidding. He looked at me in puzzlement making me realize that I was the ONLY one who knew what had just happened. I can still remember the look on his face when he worked it out.

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2020 at 11:09 pm

Hi Jim2,

A philosophical way of “dealing” with your 48 years ago to 3NT bidding sequence probably was to be predictable since modern “high level” natural bidding has taken a major step to bidding one under the suit one has in order to create more bidding room for partner to show different distributions as well as various values.

I, as a bridge judge, think you acted very properly by rising quickly in order to avoid a TD call. However, it was too late, once the opponents led vs. 3NT, since if fortune had caused your partner to go set, you would have had no remedy.

Your partner did barely fail to set a record for length of time it took to realize a possible disastrous result scored up since it happened to a very good American expert 51 years before he realized the irony of it all.

You told him three years too early.


jim2October 4th, 2020 at 12:00 am

The “West” passed my partner’s 3N bid before I could react, even if I would have, thus “accepting” the insufficient bid.

I hurried away simply to avoid ill feelings and because I could not long keep a straight face as West — who had accepted the insufficient bid — harangued his partner about it being his fault.