Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 24th, 2020


Iain ClimieNovember 7th, 2020 at 10:43 am

Hi Bobby,

Partly West’s fault surely (WHAT!!) – if he just leads the H9, East should work out the spade position even if South rises with the HQ and give West his ruff. Flippant, of course – on a different day, there’d be a cashing heart and East would have D QJx with NS having more solidity elsewhere. East might have wondered if West could have led a singleton spade I suppose, but it wouldn’t appeal, being all too likely to massacre any holding which East might have (as here).

It is interesting that the seemingly safe heart or trump returns (and we’ve all done this at times) are not clever at all as it turns out.



David WarheitNovember 7th, 2020 at 11:11 am

Opening lead by W should be HA, since apparently they normally lead K from AK. Then, when E wins DA, he should ask himself why partner made a funny lead. Answer can only be because he has S void. Of course W may be giving information to declarer by his opening lead, but this seems to be of very little consequence.

Iain ClimieNovember 7th, 2020 at 11:12 am

Actually, thinking about it, South’s aggressive bidding does hint to some extent at a void heart.

Iain ClimieNovember 7th, 2020 at 11:14 am

HI David,

Spot on as usual!


A V Ramana RaoNovember 7th, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
I am not very clear about north’s double of two hearts. Perhaps he should have bid two NT which is more logical.
What he intended by that bid is not clear. The double cannot be for penalties ( considering the vulnerability) West obviously knows about vulnerability and should be credited with an excellent six carded or seven carded suit with distribution . He may utmost go one down in which case NS might have an easy game or even a slam. Luckily south had a four carded diamond suit but he need not have to and on two NT bid from north, NS could have reached four spade contract which appears reasonable eschewing the unmakable three NT . The play as it developed was lucky for south. I still feel east should have ducked the first diamond and there is no play for south ,( finding the spade ruff , however is difficult as mentioned)
I request to share your wisdom
PS : sorry for a long post

jim2November 7th, 2020 at 1:01 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

I am not Our Host, but most partnerships I play in would interpret North’s bid as a Negative Double, denying good support for opener’s suit while promising 4 cards in the unbid major (if there were one) or 4 cards in each minor (in cases such as the column hand). The higher than normal HCP holding is also reasonable, since South’s new suit bid would have to be at the 3-level.

Now, if South rebids spades, a delayed spade raise by North would show something like Hx, which is the actual holding. Additionally, should South rebid a minor cheaply, North would have the option to raise, give a delayed spade raise, or even bid notrump — all depending on what else happens in the bidding. For that matter, should South rebid 2N, North has an easy raise to 3N.

I like the Double here, a lot.

Iain ClimieNovember 7th, 2020 at 2:03 pm

Hi Folks,

Good points from Jim2 but was North’s initial pass rather cautious in themes day and age?


bobbywolffNovember 7th, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, in a vacuum the nine of hearts lead (while a giant gamble) would certainly guarantee a spade void, but alas and alack, the bidding (for the most part) would almost as likely, strongly indicate declarer to be 6-5 in spades and diamonds, therefore too late at trick three to still possess a diamond, not being lucky enough for declarer to carelessly not having played the heart queen at trick one, just in case East had either that queen or declarer was too lazy in not playing it from dummy, himself.

IOW, and IMO it occurs more often than expected, the analysis at the table and during the hand can be easily misread, sometimes only because of the different bidding habits of even top players, who, by their own judgment, such as discussed by our group already, choose differently when faced with a choice (declarer’s unusual choice of the four diamond jump instead of various alternatives, (3 hearts and, 3 or perhaps even 4 spades being well in the ball park, with South keeping even a club contract as a possibility).

It is perhaps strange and indigenous to our beloved game how our top players all play and defend with excess numeracy and very careful timing but often vary greatly when faced with a bidding choice, which sometimes (at least in our champion’s mind) depends on exactly who his partner is, at that moment in time.

bobbywolffNovember 7th, 2020 at 2:52 pm

Hi David,

Nothing incorrect or misleading for West to lead the honor (A or K) he usually doesn’t lead, in order to alert partner of what only could be a spade void, but my guess is that most top players more often do so, (as you mentioned) to not give “real” information to the declarer rather than to inform partner (a highly unusual and extremely low percentage event) although it is very doubtful even long standing partnerships will likely have even discussed such a thing (making it more a bridge column subject than a real discussion).

However, if one occurs and in an important event, the whole worldwide bridge world will come alive with its value.

bobbywolffNovember 7th, 2020 at 3:04 pm


First, most experienced world players, especially in the last few years, have been opening lesser hands than is North and to find someone who doesn’t almost routinely open this one is indeed unusual, although I, for one, can understand his evaluation.

However, after disdaining the opening, yes he could then bid 2NT, but perhaps being older and a Roth-Stoner by nature, wanted to make up for his earlier timidity and chose a negative double to keep his partner from passing at this point

After all, his distribution included holding 4 cards in each unbid suit and perhaps he magically had a feeling that his partner was getting reading to be a published bridge hero if he allowed him to be a slam declarer.

Whatever the reason, he managed his “dream”.

bobbywolffNovember 7th, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Hi Jim2,

I, too, liked his bid a lot, only second to his opening the bidding, but once he did not, his later effort resulted beautifully for his partnership.

We receive our bridge hands from all over the world, and while some may be a tiny bit contrived (perish the thought) we all need to be aware of that possibility, but if some naivety was not suspected before, it may be now, for without which it would be most difficult to find enough real hands to cover countless years of trying to beard that tiger.

However, please keep the above a total secret from everyone else, otherwise I might be called a bridge villain subject to be thrown into a live pandemic with the virus malady, TOCM TM.

bobbywolffNovember 7th, 2020 at 3:24 pm

Hi again Iain,

And yes, my 6-5 designation could easily (and perhaps more likely) be only 5-5, but with a very good hand and almost certainly not two losing hearts,

Sorry for my gaffe!