Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 27th, 2020


Iain ClimieDecember 11th, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Hi Bobby,

I played with Julian in the teams at the EBU Brighton Sumer Congress in either 1984 or 1985 and, although occasionally temperamental and excitable, he had an absolute passion for the game and I’m not surprised at his success. Mind you, I always wondered whether his younger brother John might have become a better player but he went to the USA and made a successful career in finance I believe. Their parents were very encouraging; their dad was a keen but moderate payer while their mum was rather stronger and her influence rubbed off to spectacular effect.



Iain ClimieDecember 11th, 2020 at 4:21 pm

PS I must disagree with the quote today, though. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is surely far better than doing the wrong thing for the right reason. As an example, my research work on food security (see but only if you’re really bored) is at least partly based on fuelling my own ego, at least according to my better half.

At bridge, though, it is maddening when our oppo (especially if weaker) do exactly that – consider the %age play in 4S with xx opposite AKJ10xx when a first round finesse picks up all the 4-1 breaks onside except Q alone offside. A weak player may well bash down the top trump first just in case, which will rarely make a difference, but once in a while they’ll wonder how they’ve made a trick more than all the supposedly better players. All we can do as victims is sile sweetly although I have an alternative – saying “well played” to declarer if it was and “well done” if I’ve just been fixed. Just as long as the person on the receiving end doesn’t realise that I’m screaming inwardly, want to shout “Oh For ****’s Sake” at the ceiling (a waste of energy but still tempting) or wonder why partner is sagely nodding agreement or saying “Very Well Done, like cremated steak”.



Bobby WolffDecember 11th, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks for providing the personal finishing touches to a lifetime bridge story.

Yes and I believe often, does talent at the bridge table (which adds desire to sometimes just learn the game) act as a major incentive to a family, creating time for that itch to be scratched.

To me, the interest of numbers over letters can be of prime importance to get started, but I, for at least one, appreciate the bridge history.

Stay well and keep your family safe. Despite the entry of the vaccine, we’ll still have some time to tread deftly.

Bobby WolffDecember 11th, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, our above posts crossed in the mail with yours beating mine by 5 minutes, but not enough to be posted before i wrote.

A possible helpful lesson to be learned, which may or may not make you feel better, when opponents misplay but succeed:

Bridge is full of percentage chances so when one lesser percentage succeeds (even 49%), we feel mistreated and abused.

However, instead, view it like an optimist might, when discovering a pile of horse manure in his front yard, he will (should) immediately (if not sooner) expectingly run to the back yard to greet a brand new and young Shetland pony which must have resulted because of what happened in front.

However, it does take a time to learn to do that, but that time spent at the bridge table instead of all the non-constructive other things you could be doing, will, and no doubt, cause the law of averages to return the disfavor they forced on you.

Besides when money bridge is in your future, its usually a profitable event for him or her to sometimes win as without such, he or she may discontinue his attendance.

Iain ClimieDecember 11th, 2020 at 5:26 pm

Hi Bobby,

Many thanks for that, and you keep yourselves safe too. It would be an absolute tragedy to trip over the last hurdle.


David SnookDecember 11th, 2020 at 8:02 pm

Hi Bobby…

Today’s hand was much fun to try and puzzle out…

Question for you…

I can see why it’s necessary for NS to play on either hearts or clubs first, before tackling trumps, and why the defense sets the hand if W plays a diamond at trick 1.

My question is about why W would play a diamond at trick 1.

Looking at the lay out, the only reason I can think of for W finding the diamond lead is because of the length of W’s diamond suit?

W can’t lead a spade because W doesn’t have one. That leaves hearts, diamonds, or clubs. How might W puzzle out the best possible lead from those three suits? Is it because a) W has a void in one suit, increasing the odds of finding either a void or a short suit in the other hands and b) w/ diamonds being W’s longest suit, that increases the odds, however slight, that leading diamonds might be W’s best shot at giving E a chance at trumping a trick?

It seems to me that leading diamonds is a long shot on W’s part, but one w/ slightly better odds than hearts or clubs?

Bobby WolffDecember 11th, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Hi David,

It is almost like you wrote yourself a letter and then simply intelligently answered it.

No West I know, would ever lead a diamond. Nor would anyone lead a diamond except players who do not know anything about the discipline expected from even beginning players, who are interested in improving their game.

IOW, a diamond lead, on this bidding and with the West hand, is similar to a suit which is not invited to the privilege of being even a 1% choice, when, of course then asked by the entire table to experiment with a diamond lead and see for yourself.

Of course, another way of looking at it, is like arriving at a party and then after being allowed in with greetings, deciding to do a total strip tease as an opening gesture.

Come to think of it, mainly strike the last paragraph since there are certain beautiful girls (or instead people to whom I do not want to hurt their taste nor feelings) who should definitely lead a diamond, or, not quite as rare or dramatic as that, of going ahead and do their thing.

IOW, it should not be decided by an arithmetician (who didn’t play bridge) that the odds of leading a diamond are exactly 8 to 5 against.