Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 7th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoOctober 21st, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Indeed, east must have been gratified to note the presence of eight of hearts in dummy before overtaking west’s lead. Without that card in dummy, whether West possesses it doubleton or south possesses it four carded, perhaps defense cannot prevail

A V Ramana RaoOctober 21st, 2020 at 2:43 pm

What I meant is if West has it doubleton and east overtakes the lead, south makes the contract. Tough decision for east to overtake or not

PeteOctober 21st, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Hi Bobby,
This is a question for you and/or your regular contributors. I am curious about defense over notrump openings. I am strictly asking about matchpoints as IMPs may be different. I like Meckwell. I have a partner that wants to use Hamilton/Cappelletti over weak notrump. My feeling is that life is much simpler using the same thing all the time + if one doubles with a strong NT opening, partner will often have a flat hand with 4-6 points and no real place to go. For matchpoints only what say you. Thanks.

bobbywolffOctober 21st, 2020 at 4:09 pm


Yes, there are quite a number of useful bridge classifications in rating groups of players.

At a higher level there are players good enough to make proper use of what they see in front of them, for the declarer, his hand and dummy and, of course for a defender, also his hand and dummy.

To those defensive groups some vary as to how closely they then follow declarer’s card, making the real value of their cards, (often only spot cards) of considerable use, or sometimes of partial value for potential endplays, and, of course, other times of no value at all.

To the really good player, the above is almost child’s play and that knowledge along with figuring out what he needs to do (sometimes clear, other times, speculative) to achieve success which will, of course, determine the final result.

IOW, the ability to rise to that superior level is absolutely required to be as good as one can be, without which, his specific ceiling on his overall ability, will never reach the level he would prefer.

Today’s hand is an excellent example of the above and overtaking partner’s queen with his king becomes a necessity, but, sigh, a huge majority of bridge players would not only not think to do it, but likely never think about doing it and worse, no one present would either have the fortitude to tell him or even, if known, not the manners to make him feel lacking. Good grooming, but horrible for both improving and/or just realizing how great our game happens to be.

Of course, you are correct about Dame Fortune being in control, but instead of using her feminine instinct to only deal that problem to top players, she possibly surreptitiously also rewards herself by seeing others stumble and fail.

However, I beg to differ on your comment about East being wrong to overtake, if and when West has a doubleton queen of hearts instead of the queen being lonely, unless the declarer has an entirely different hand to which I need to think further.

bobbywolffOctober 21st, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Hi Pete,

My guess is that it is a very fine line of difference, between those two different NT defensive conventions, making it difficult to impossible to determine which is better.

Perhaps a computer simulation where several thousand hands can be generated after a normal strong NT (contrived) has been bid and one can then, if he has much time on his hands, to then decide.

However once that task is completed and it is, even then, difficult to determine which is better, with perhaps one method slightly more productive, it will not be worth the effort.

Especially at matchpoints, when the expertise of the opponents becomes so critically important, then that, too, needs to be figured in, which, in turn, believe it or not, might tend to skew the result, making one method the better pure one, and the other, the better tactically (taking advantage of poor competition).

Sorry for avoiding a clear answer, but a long time ago the Aces were fortunate enough to have an early computer to generate possible hands for the same type (but, of course, not identical) of experiment you suggest and though sometimes helpful, in practice, there were too many intangibles present to claim victory or defeat.

Finally, I suggest playing what you were playing since your experience will be, IMO, more trustworthy than something thought worth knowing, but in practice, isn’t.

bobbywolffOctober 21st, 2020 at 4:55 pm


I reread your post and now realize that you were talking about not knowing about the location of the critical heart eight (if it was not in dummy) and thus apologize for my last paragraph. Bridge discussions often need to include suppositions rather than certainty and 100% my fault that I should not get it right.

I’ve done this before and need to work on not continuing to err.

Again, very SORRY, since I have already learned just how accurate your writings and opinions always are.

A V Ramana RaoOctober 22nd, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Honestly, I am humbled