Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 3rd, 2020


Iain ClimieOctober 17th, 2020 at 10:08 am

HI Bobby,

I think passing 3D doubled is a bit tight e.g. if South leads a heart. North wins and (say) plays one back. East wins and plays a diamond which South must take and then the defence must cash 2C before playing a spade – all for plus 100. A famous football manager over here (Alex Ferguson) described such situations as “squeaky bum time” – applicable whether you’re a spectator, a sports manager or a games player.



David WarheitOctober 17th, 2020 at 10:41 am

Nothing the matter with W’s defense so long as the two H he comes down to are two small ones. E comes down to Jx in each major and DKJ. I don’t think this is that hard for W to do. He knows the exact D position, and he has to hope that his partner has Jx in each major, which of course he does.

bobbywolffOctober 17th, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Hi Iain,

Methinks, it is wild, beyond reason, to consider passing 3 diamonds doubled after North, super aggressively though it may be, reopens with a double.

Sure, it could be right (and probably is) on this specific hand, but my not so educated guess is more likely for East to average going down somewhere between 1 and 2 tricks, but NS to make 3NT (after North reopens with a double) more than 80% of the time.

Besides the trauma involved when, on occasion if both 3NT NS and 3 diamonds doubled EW wind up making (when EW turn up with an oh so lucky, perfect fit, and/or South gets off to a horribly unlucky lead, allowing EW to wind up making is, for future partnership confidence, not worth chancing.

However, as it often turns out, “To each his own” and once a lover of defending (usually more difficult than declaring) sadly, always one.

bobbywolffOctober 17th, 2020 at 3:32 pm

Hi David,

Well thought, but could declarer arrange to wind up in hand, with still a diamond left and then thrust East into the lead at trick 10 with that diamond to lead back into dummmy’s K10 of hearts for the declarer’s eighth and ninth tricks.

Whether possible or not, it would be “cool” for bridge column writers (hint! hint!). Innovative writers, if necessary, can usually change a card or two in order to make it so.

However I always appreciate your exotic bridge thoughts!

David WarheitOctober 17th, 2020 at 4:58 pm

The answer to your question is “No”. After S runs clubs, only 7 tricks have gone by, and once he leads to trick 8, he can never get back to his hand again. After E wins his diamonds, he exits with SJ, S plays Q, W plays A and returns a H. Dummy wins, and although there is now a winning S finesse, unfortunately it requires S to be on lead, something he can never again be.

TedOctober 17th, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Hi Bobby,

Speaking of Flannery (well it was mentioned in BWTA), I’m still figuring out how to respond with various hands. In second seat, matchpoints, both NV, partner opens a Flannery 2D RHO passes and you hold

xx xx AKQJ8x J109

What would you recommend?

Iain ClimieOctober 17th, 2020 at 10:02 pm

HI Ted,

3N and hope the opponents either don,t lead a club or partner has something in clubs. Just as long as he doesn’t have a diamond void….!

Sensible answers from Bobby to follow!



bobbywolffOctober 17th, 2020 at 11:05 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for doing the work and, of course, I completely respect your analysis with no need for anyone to crosscheck.

The above is a very small price for me to pay and well worth what is often a real chore.

bobbywolffOctober 17th, 2020 at 11:20 pm

Hi Ted,

Totally agree with Iain and would be a poster child example for sheer gambling on partner either having the right hand, or the opponents not getting lucky with what they lead. Remember, by bidding 3NT, the opening leader may (at least try) and come up with a surprise lead which sometimes (more often than expected) allows a potentially easy down contract to make.

If, after not succeeding, when the opponent take the first five tricks and your partner now looks at your hand and so much as frowns, you have learned that your partner is both a sore loser and worse, at least to me, doesn’t seem
to understand that sometimes what looks like a stark gamble can also be the right percentage bid to make.

Do not argue back or otherwise defend yourself, but just remember that your current partner doesn’t understand the game we play, nearly as much, as he thinks he does.

TedOctober 17th, 2020 at 11:26 pm

Thanks Iain. That was what I tried and partner of course was 4504. Was hoping there was a better method.

TedOctober 18th, 2020 at 1:02 am

Hi Bobby,

Thank you for your response (although I would have preferred to find out there was a better way to bid it next time!)

While my partner doesn’t tend to make these take a deep breath, close your eyes and bid it types of bids, he has been accepting of the fact that I will take flyers when I believe I may have an edge.

His hand if someone’s interested was

QJxx AJ9xxx — Axxx

bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2020 at 3:13 am

Hi Ted,

Although many of us, including I, think his compromise opening of Flannery is within reasonable expectations, (meaning acceptance, sort of) I think if you compare your effort of 3NT (with the solid diamonds) leaves his distortion as a greater one than yours and IMO by more than a little.

His 4-6-0-3 distribution together with his touching spade honors, the J9 of hearts and another ace instead of a king or less, is just, again IMO, too strong, too much potential and needing less from partner, running the risk of his signing off at the 2 level when up to almost a lay down game will be missed (consider Kx, 10xx, Kxxxx. QJ10).

IOW, if he thinks you were out of line, and still
he opened a Flannery with what he did, while both his opinions are not totally unreasonable, methinks he plays results, which, by the way, many like to play, but by doing so he is running a greater risk than he thinks by being the critical one and then giving himself a pass (so to speak).

Good luck, but keep your eyes and ears open.

bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2020 at 3:17 am

Hi again Ted,

With my age, I failed to even mention the incredibly important sixth heart which tilts the scale significantly to his bid being a huge underbid.

Iain ClimieOctober 18th, 2020 at 8:52 am

HI Ted, Bobby,

The 6th heart is a typo in the hand quoted (there are 14 cards) as Ted said earlier that his partner was 4504. Easily done as I proved a few years ago by regularly mis counting 14 diamonds per hand – only D though.



bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2020 at 9:50 am

Hi Iain,

Though 100% in what you discovered, my hopes are now dashed with intending to bid a making grand slam with an overtrick.

One day that feat will be done and likely there is no specific law to countermand it in the official bridge law book.

Thanks for your eagle eye and further hope for your usual overbidding to succeed

TedOctober 19th, 2020 at 2:39 am

Sorry for the miscount. Remembered partner’s 9 as I was posting and forgot to delete the now extra x.