Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020


PeteDecember 16th, 2020 at 9:19 am

Hi Bobby,
I hope that you and/or your regulars could comment on aggressive vulnerable weak two bids. Unfavorable vulnerability, first seat in match points you have S-A,6 H-K,10,9,7,6,2 D-J,4 C-10,7,3. Do you open 2H or Pass? What principles go into your decision? What is the expert consensus? Thanks for your help.

Iain ClimieDecember 16th, 2020 at 9:52 am

Hi Pete,

I’ve got to say I would open it on the basis that I’d expect many or most others to do so, the suit has reasonable intermediates (it’ll play OK opposite stiff J for example) and, first in hand, I’m potentially fixing two opponents by taking away space rather than one partner who might have a strong 3 suited hand with short hearts. If the suit were spades, I’d be even more tempted as the oppo won’t be able to settle at the 2 level except, slightly improbably, in 2N.

I might be more careful against either a weaker pair or a pair who have the judgement and defensive skills to leave me in the pit I’ve dug and take the +200 kiss of death, but pairs does tend to encourage bidding and you rarely get caught. A painful counter-example was when partner opened a similar hand (but with a worse suit and more scattered values) at adverse, found me with a 4-1-3-5 hand and an 9 count (so enough to stop the oppo having much on) and the auction went P P X all pass. AQ10xx in H sitting over the bidder was very painful and -1100 the result, although just one bad board.



A V Ramana RaoDecember 16th, 2020 at 10:46 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
While an imaginative play was needed to bring the contract home; but since south knows very well that North does not have four carded heart suit, he could have bid 3 NT considering his solid suit. Even if south becomes declarer and assuming West finds the spade lead, south makes the contract and on any other lead, south makes ten tricks. As such north becomes declarer and will make ten tricks in all probability

Bobby WolffDecember 16th, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Hi Pete,
Yes, I think Iain covered the salient issues, especially the warning against doing so against timid and inexperienced opponents.
An unlucky (for your partnership) event could be timidity by your inexperienced opponents (allowing you to play it, added to your partner having some values (enough to keep the opponents from having a game somewhere) but short hearts, and in spite of your opponents not defending perfectly, still taking you down 2 (-200), that series of events may keep your final score from finishing as high as desired.
However, there are definite advantages to start normal opponents at the 2 heart or 2 spade level, so that it is indeed difficult to give an opinion on what to do.
It was once said:
"You pays your money, you takes your choice" and this is a good time to repeat it.
Finally, since I have always viewed playing bridge from an optimistic viewpoint, I tend to bid when others do not. Not a recommendation, just a fact, but my guess is that Iain does the same.

Bobby WolffDecember 16th, 2020 at 5:22 pm

While I do not disagree with most of what you say, I do not agree that, under any circumstances for South to bid anything but 4 hearts. See last sentence to response.
Sure, it could work, such as this hand, but with any time with you holding a 5-4-3-1 hand and partner indicating an eight card major suit fit would I make such a desperate compromise as to even consider 3NT.
Again and no doubt, bridge sometimes offers strange results where (what I consider) offbeat choices win the day, that, at least to me, does not and should not, tempt solid bridge citizens (to me a necessary quality for success) to agree to a roller coaster ride, while awaiting the dummy to be exposed, even those moments when the opener has not yet chosen his lead.
IOW, while bridge gambles sometimes need to be taken, go for it, but never do it by choice, when a safer avenue (bidding 4 hearts) is, if you'll excuse the expression, on the table.
Only exception may be needing a top on the last hand to win the tournament and somehow, legally being told, that was the case.

Iain ClimieDecember 16th, 2020 at 5:33 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks for the comment and, given that it is difficult to get me to shut up in most situations, why should the bridge table be any different? Your reply to AVRR raises an interesting point, though.

Before lockdown I played at a club where a screen was often put up with a round or two to go (sometimes earlier) with the current scores and positions displayed. I didn’t like the idea at all, I must say, even though it hardly mattered in the greater scheme of things on a club might. Suppose it had been a qualifying round for a more significant competition, though – then a pair might realise they were doing worse (or better) than they thought and modify their game accordingly over the last few boards. I regarded it as verging on UI, albeit not in the context of a hand as such. Any thoughts on this or am I just being old-fashioned?



Bobby WolffDecember 16th, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Hi Iain,

Although I have had little to no experience in knowing what the scores showed while during a game, I suppose my position would certainly be, definitely NO. Since by allowing it, puts more emphasis on the late scores than on the earlier ones, and together with the playing of bridge vitally depending on its honor and ethics code doing so, should, of course, never be allowed.

Strong letter to follow!

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Hi again Iain,

Perhaps I have overlooked the most important reason for my (our) view.

If ever, upon total disclosure of the standings at some late stage of the play, might (would) encourage low scorers to help friends for loyalty or worse (bribery).

It seems any way it is examined
by conscientious people the answer should be NO, likely with the word HELL as the leadoff.