Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 25th, 2020


jim2December 9th, 2020 at 12:31 pm

If declarer rises with the AS on the first trick and plays off hearts (pitching the Board’s deuces), what does West discard?

A V Ramana RaoDecember 9th, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps south should be playing a hearts contract
but unfortunately, four hearts goes down two if West leads any card except diamond K else down one due to the mirror distribution in spades and diamonds. My query is between one heart and one NT, which is more reasonable opening bid for south?

jim2December 9th, 2020 at 1:15 pm


I am not Our Host, but he has frequently spoken in favor of 1N openings with 5-3-3-2 distributions, especially if there are stopper quality honors in two of the short holdings.

Bobby WolffDecember 9th, 2020 at 2:28 pm

Hi Jim2,

My guess is that West would (should) discard three clubs and a diamond, helped along (I’m likely dreaming) by East following suit in hearts by first the eight (good spade holding) and then the four (club high honor)), five (nothing in diamonds), seven (not even the jack) as suit preference, relying on declarer’s play up to then, strongly indicating the need to help his partner out.

My above emphasis only screams out what my partnership should have done through the years, not what we did do (or, for that matter, what other very experienced pairs should have done).

Furthermore, I also will guess that, depending on from what hand declarer originated the second heart, that West would then discard high low with his next two clubs, in theory (if, of course, that partnership is playing high encouraging), to discard next the eight first.

Yes, more often than not the defense should not give their hand blueprint to declarer, but with this start in the play, I think it wise. (at least it says here).

And, at the table, even against first class competition, most all adversaries are almost never sure who to believe, a built-in advantage, not to be overlooked, but also not taken for granted.

To be truthful, I only wish that the above would take place routinely, and if bridge can only overcome the current worldwide cheating albatross, eventually, long after our time on earth, our special game would soar past its upside value by teaching both bridge logic and, just as important, not allowing the opportunity to do so, slip past.

However, without the experience learned of what declarer is doing, by cashing his tricks early, (and thereby, at least in theory) usually making the defense easier, an up and coming player needs to take note.

Thank you for your critically important question, without which there will be no learning period, or, at the very least, less high-level talk to enjoy.

A V Ramana RaoDecember 9th, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Suppose West discards two clubs , one diamond and one spade; perhaps even the EW can score five tricks via one spade, two diamonds and two clubs provided east shifts to a diamond when in with a club ( the shift becomes rather obvious by then)

Bobby WolffDecember 9th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Hi AVRR & Jim2,

Since I do not now think, nor ever did, that bridge winning is any way very strongly determined by what may be called pure bridge thinking (not opening 1NT while holding a very good 5 card major suit holding) plus another thought to be serious flaw, (two small) but rather, especially when an auction can be over with one round of bidding, as a 1NT opening often is, since loose bridge lips often not only sink ships, but also contracts.

Keeping that constantly in mind,
my style (and luckily for me, also for my long term great partners), I do not mind not trying to constantly seek perfection, but rather try to create a slippery slope for excellent but honest opponents to have to try harder to guess their way instead of merely having to listen to the bidding to defend double dummy, likely starting with their choice of opening lead.

Because of that preference, do I (we) ever regret it? Most certainly YES! Should I consider changing? Possibly, but what would I do if I was 18 years old now? Decide to do the very same thing I did, only all these years later, feel even stronger about doing it and my guess, so would my esteemed partners.

And to take one more step toward my answer, methinks that to think directly opposite to me or even understanding the difference, but in a fairly close decision preferring (for whatever reason) the opposite, is close to a death sentence for that person of getting anywhere near the promised land, if winning is the ultimate goal.

IMO bridge is nowhere near an exact science, similar to many professional sports.

Perhaps only bowling, golf, and target shooting are exceptions (don’t know enough, except very athletic, about World Soccer to judge, among the major competitons, and I would also might, at one time, have included bike riding, except Lance Armstrong and his history have clouded that now thought.

BTW, while speaking of bike riding, bridge needs to also keep in mind its somewhat shady past. But that is another story for another time, but unless it is TOTALLY ERADICATED our glorious game, at least as a World Championship, is DOOMED!

FWIIW, the four players being in different rooms will (may) eliminate the cheating but while doing so, it will also take much of the social grace as well as the up close and personal overwhelming psychology necessary (IMO) to keep our sensational mind game the best it can be.

Joe1December 10th, 2020 at 1:45 am

Players in separate rooms may eliminate cheating-but would diminish the game. “Son I’ve made a life, of reading people’s faces, knowing what the cards were by the way they held their eyes…” (Kenny Rogers, The Gambler.) Like on-line bridge, fun, but a different game, an enjoyable dimension lost; would it be “real bridge”, debatable for sure. Maybe top end bridge players have better poker faces, but in the amateur game these inferences are often an important and rewarding part of it.

Bobby WolffDecember 10th, 2020 at 2:43 am

Hi Joe1,

As you might have already known, your description, complete with song lyrics, exactly depicts my feelings.

However, it is not an advantage I seek (because there is probably little or none), but rather a certain atmosphere, which all bridge junkies learn to both understand and thrive.

No doubt almost every long bridge match between two good teams, as long as everyone is honest, seemed to be materially effected by psychology, with the advantage usually going to the tougher thinkers, who, in fact, made better decisions, both in the bidding and the play.

Why that is, cannot usually be adequately explained, but today in most all American main sports on TV, the same phenomena exists with the winner usually being the team which performs best when it counts the most.

Particularly the same in bridge except the mind rather than both the body and the mind (in sports) while under pressure, makes the difference. And, as you speculate about 4 room bridge matches, I do not think it will be the same, to which I am very sad for those future bridge players who may never experience what I consider the very best part of playing our sensational game to be the “at the table” exchange of talent.