Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 6th, 2020


Iain ClimieOctober 20th, 2020 at 9:29 am

Hi Bobby,

I’m normally over-aggressive on opening lead but agree with West’s spade lead today. On a (plausible) club lead, or a less sensible-looking diamond, though, declarer has no chance as the cards lie although he is still OK if East has HAJx(x) or similar.



bobbywolffOctober 20th, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Hi Iain,

Although specifics on any one declarer play or defensive partnership plan usually doesn’t dictate an every hand demand, today’s column certainly concentrates on a necessary and rigid view.

Overall tricks, more often than expected, require clever and original thought with this hand the poster child for proving it.

Entries as such demand that this captivating heart combination be played with reckless precision (but very attentive motive) in its overall requirement of taking two heart tricks in order to guarantee what is needed for success, always assuming that good opponents, if given a chance, will defend in their most effective way, this time, at least attempting to deny their hated declarer, enough dummy entries to pull it off.

Of course, in a normal scenario, there would probably not be the unique situation depicted here, but what should be of interest is exactly that, with both foes (competent declarer and the alert defense) rising in stature to both understand and conduct a battle within a battle to win the day.

Concerning your discussion with passive vs. aggressive choices for opening lead, it, at least to me, does not, nor should not, go unnoticed that two of the three unbid suits will lead to defensive
victory while the other unbid suit, hearts, and the suit chosen, trump, does not.

This is not to say, to either, adhere to an original, perhaps 90 year often heard bridge suggestion, “When in doubt lead trump”.

My answer to that is simply just the opposite, “Lead trump only when the bidding has suggested that by doing so, it will (may) result in the correct defensive strategy to start immediately on what the bidding has suggested, being able to gain advantage by making more difficult for declarer to trump losers in the short trump hand (dummy).

While the above is not the only reason to sometimes select a trump as a good choice, nevertheless it is good strategy to have a positive motive when so choosing.

Finally, methinks and from my experience, at the high-level and worldwide, the very best players are the ones who, while on defense, will, on percentage, select the better opening lead, that practice to distinguish them from others, with equal general analytical bridge ability, but not quite enjoying the number of victories as the ones who face the first card played.

Finally, it can and should be said, that the vital play begins before the first card hits the table and the player who will do it, has only the bidding to guide him, plus, of course, his own 13 ducats.