Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 19th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoNovember 2nd, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Declarer played well taking only chance after trumps showed 4 -0 . But my query is : is there any way of reaching six spades from south hand ?

bobbywolffNovember 2nd, 2020 at 4:23 pm


Thanks for the pertinent high-level bridge question although West may have a very tempting singleton diamond lead. However only a true bridge magician (and even then he would have to also be lucky) could, from South’s point of view, figure that out.

However, especially because of the opponent’s bidding pressure, South has had to start bidding operations at an unsafe level, I concur with his 5 club start, although an immediate jump to 6 diamonds is a practical 2nd choice.

Back to 5 clubs for South, then after North’s normal 5 hearts, then South can simply put all his eggs in one basket and instead of just chirping 5 spades, then jump to 6 spades, expecting (depending on whether his partner is aggressive or, instead, not so). Of course if South only bids 5, North, at least IMO, should certainly then pass.

Two lessons to be learned: 1. High level bridge is not for the fainthearted and 2. How
difficult high level preemption makes it for even
very good opponents, where only educated guesses become the order of the day.

Iain ClimieNovember 2nd, 2020 at 5:36 pm

HI Bobby,

Was East’s double of 5H sensible? I’m not convinced here. What if NS were in a 4-4 fit?

Regards Iain

bobbywolffNovember 2nd, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Hi Iain,

While I agree wholeheartedly, it’s what new to the learning table some players prefer, if for no other reason, than to keep partner from taking a save.

It’s always clear (with rare exceptions, that when your side’s preempt(s) have apparently done its job of causing havoc to your opponent’s judgment) do not take that positive moment to now allow them to better now use their judgment to either extricate themselves to a much better contract, or, at the very least allow them to play double dummy and, at least occasionally, make more tricks by double dummy play, even occasionally to score it up.

However, that very human behavior, called greed, sometimes enters the equation causing partner to bellow, “Forgive him, for he knows not what he does” or something not biblical which might even cause that partnership to invite each other outside to further settle the issue.

Sort of kidding, but only sort of!

Joe1November 3rd, 2020 at 12:48 am

I typically think of Lightner for slam defense. In today’s example I would be afraid of misinterpretation ( but with that sequence what else could it be?). How often and under what circumstances do you advise? I know, a broad question, but this surprised me.

bobbywolffNovember 3rd, 2020 at 2:03 am

Hi Joe1,

Actually the lead directing double concerning 3NT is more prevalent at the competitive tournament bridge, or for that matter social bridge as well, than the Lightner double of slams to which you speak.

IOW, it is been longer on the scene, dating back to the bare beginnings of contract bridge in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Furthermore, since there are many more game contracts than there are slams, that double is wider known than and advantaged more often than the rarer slam double.

Your instincts appear right on, when you exclaim what else could or should be a double of 3NT than lead directing, often giving the opening lead defense a much greater opportunity by not only getting the right suit led, but, just as important, keeping away from the wrong lead.

Yes, it is sort of a broad question, but by asking, getting reassurance as to your thinking, are definite building blocks to a happy future existence while improving in the greatest mind game ever invented.

Strong words by me, but I think warranted and then some, but thanks for writing, for without which, the subject would not be brought up, for others as well as you to not only progress, but to be a Johnny Appleseed with spreading the word.

David WarheitNovember 3rd, 2020 at 7:33 am

Assume that EW never bid, do you think NS should wind up at 6D or 6S and how should the bidding go?

bobbywolffNovember 3rd, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Hi David,

6D, at least to me, is significantly better than 6S, simply because the path to success, without the double dummy magical ace and one diamond lead likely, in the absence, or, of course, the lead of a singleton or from 4 spades plus the defense having good fortune in where the ace of diamonds is located.

Perhaps the following sequence, without opponents entering, should get us there, especially at the real game of bridge, IMPs and/or rubber bridge rather than (bite my tongue) matchpoints, the accepted next best choice (but, at least to me significantly inferior).

NS not playing Flannery:
North South
1H 2D
3D 3S
4S 5C
5H 6D

NS playing Flannery:

North South
2D 2NT (asking)
3D (Fragment) 6D

Yes, no where near the science to which some almost demand, but IMO
not close to possible for South to determine what to expect from either specific diamonds nor specific spades in partner’s hand, just a guess, otimistic from his distribution, especially the Axx in clubs with trump tricks now available in the short hand, but also the recognition that the only real difference between the world’s greatest players is the calculated judgment gleaned plus the total realization of bidding almost never being able to pinpoint all the critical issues necessary in order to be anywhere certain of success or sadly, failure.

Note: This hand is a poster child for the above theory, and if I was South I would be reasonably 75% (but probably not powerfully) pleased with my catch.

I do like to play Flannery and think it a significantly important convention, even if one’s system needed a two diamond opening to show something else, then, instead playing 2 hearts as Flannery and giving up that weak two bid would be (Bob Hamman’s and my choice for almost 30 years with, at least IMO, significant upticks, by so doing).

My wish is now that my computer can separate the indentations allowing the above presentation to be mostly acceptable.

Finally, I thing 6D is markedly superior to 6S, especially with the bidding we chose, its expectations,
and what specific high cards emerged (after the known North’s distribution, once Flannery was used), but even just the Standard American sequence, not as clear, but I hope and think fairly representive.