Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 16th, 2020


David WarheitDecember 30th, 2020 at 9:19 am

You say that 4H is the only game “with a chance”. Well, no, If S & D behave, one can make either 5H or 5S. If by “chance” you mean as the cards lie, the same “wily” play might bring home the bacon, although I suppose W would be a bit more likely not to make the same mistake.

Iain ClimieDecember 30th, 2020 at 10:55 am

HI Bobby,

It is easy to blame West here (ask east) but if he does play the S10 he might find South with J98xxx KQJx Ax x or similar and East will still get wound up. TOCM can still strike in lockdown!



Iain ClimieDecember 30th, 2020 at 11:11 am

As a follow-up, the normal play with J98xxx opposite Acc is small to the Ace then one back. If there is any hint that West may have length (e.g. if East has pre-empted) then leading the Jack not only gives the legitimate chance of 10 alone with East but West being dozy with Q10x or even K10x although the latter clearly shouldn’t cover. Give them rope, though ….

A V Ramana RaoDecember 30th, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Hi David & Dear Mr Wolff
Even if spades behave only 5 H will make. Even if west is in a slumber and plays low on south’s spade, south wins six spades and four hearts. The club ruff is taken in the hand so the additional trick disappears in 5 spades and south loses one club and two diamonds . Or am I missing something? Our host can offer comments
( Perhaps there was enough tissue available at the table for West after the deal)

Iain ClimieDecember 30th, 2020 at 2:06 pm


East would probably have grabbed those tissues then rolled them up and thrown them at West. If really annoyed he’d have blown his nose on them first.



Michael BeyroutiDecember 30th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

This hand is a candidate for the “Deepest Finesse” award.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Better New Year to
Bobby and Judy
and all your readers.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Hi David,

Sometimes, when talking about “real” hands, ones with a chance of making (if both played and “guessed” correctly together with the “winning” defense) it is often described different ways, but, for some reason, not makeable nor makable, although this hand is, of course, decidedly not.

Further, this hand being neither, since West though being in charge, guessed wrong, or to be rather harshly vilified with “going to sleep while at the switch”, but only because, as Iain pointed out, declarer’s spade holding could have been J98xxx instead of headed by the KJ.

Bridge, probably more than is realized, often involves delicate subterfuge with tempting, even 1st class competition, into what turns out to be defensive errors which could be right, but, in fact, cause a disaster.

My take on the above is simply a caveat, that a very good player stays alert to that possibility and makes the “winning” play more often than others less concentrated.

With for example, Iain’s J98xxx being declarer’s spade holding, the play of the jack might be the only way to go set, if his LHO had a singleton major honor, so he is less likely to be doing so. Remember West cannot be sure of where the diamond honors are located.

On a somewhat spooky combination perhaps East can first play his deuce of clubs and then follow with his 5 rather than the 6 or 8, indicating diamond strength but then we enter the world of fantasy, since very few human beings can not only keep up with that practice, but play that well to have those different situations arise and most importantly, honor them. Furthermore, that information at another place and time, might be more advantageous to a wily declarer than for the defense.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2020 at 3:29 pm


Thanks for your accurate information, but the discussion, (as I think it should be) is for greater gains like making rather than extra tricks and by that it is certainly not made by me to belittle your accurate advice, but rather to remind all of us to stay alert (sometimes difficult to impossible) in our forum of posting when we can, about random facts not yet disclosed, but of interest.

To me, just another distraction of matchpoint bridge which is just too consuming to spend much time on overtricks, although, not to do so when playing that bastardized game, will not be the choice of duplicate devotees.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Hi Iain,

In these hard to accept days of Covid19, you speak of what could be described as a murder weapon to personally deliver a possible death blow to a deserving victim.

I can see it now, murdered by “MUCUS” although much cheaper than buying a gun.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Hi Michael,

From the ridiculous to the sublime.

Thanks for your well wishes and general good cheer.

Of course, the same back at you in No Trump (not trying to be symbolic) but like good bridge and today’s hand, gotta try and still be sharp.

Perhaps when Mark Twain, who long ago, provided us with such gems as something like, Everyone seems to talk about the weather, but no one really does anything about it, my thoughts turn to obvious in almost every way, there are many bridge cheaters out there and worse, growing in number and until we reduce our requirements and their benefits of silence, our game may disappear in the name of justice for all.

Patience and fairness is fine, but when by crossing every t and dotting every i becomes more important than bridge going up in smoke I vote to have a bridge revolution (since my vast prior experience is solidly, where there is smoke you’ll find a fire a huge percentage of times) and catering to a very flawed bridge justice system we are committing bridge suicide to the game all honest players love with the other side instead, nothing short of HATING
and what else, mightily showing off their off-the-charts inferiority complexes, not to mention very low self-esteem and total jealousy for those who they know are better and more successful and deserving people.


Patrick CheuDecember 30th, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Hi Bobby, Playing online, W 1N E 2D*,W 3C E 4C, W 5C passed out. North led 9S- E K76 KJ762 T5 A84. South AT8542 853 Q86 J..won AS..Could you please advise as to what South should do next and why? 5C was made three times and three other times+1,three partscores in clubs made 10 trks,3N was made many times and some made 12 trks. Regards Patrick

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2020 at 11:08 pm

Hi Patrick,

Need a couple of questions answered:

Could the declaring NT opponent open 1NT with a singleton something? (in this case, obviously hearts) Declarer’s most likely holding in hearts and clubs are 2 hearts and 6 clubs, but if EW are eccentric players declarer might be 2-1-4-6 or worse 2-1-3-7 and we need at duplicate to immediately cash partner’s ace of hearts before it eventually (after drawing trump) is discarded on the good spade. (also probably the singleton queen) assuming the spade lead was from a doubleton, also a heart return by you would keep partner from ducking a heart toward dummy. Chances are that partner does not have a singleton spade, but a spade back is probably the best way to go plus, playing partner for a singleton led.

Declarer is bound to have extra good diamonds, when all he has is the KQ in clubs, QJ in spades and possibly not the ace of hearts, unless it is a singleton which is fairly likely to be the case.

Bidding three clubs in response to the transfer is a partnership matter known by them as to whether they ever open 1 NT with a side singleton.

If you were playing matchpoints, then, of course, the extra trick is crucial, but also a guess. Your EW pair got a good board since NT scores big.

Sorry for my wishy washy response, but I will, just like the rest of the field, attempt to hold them to 11 tricks with a spade ruff by partner, although I am very tempted to lead a heart back against this pair. A diamond back instead is virtually hopeless but can succeed in holding them to one less trick, but because of their poor matchpoint contract it won’t matter much.

Patrick CheuDecember 31st, 2020 at 7:25 am

Hi Bobby, West held QJ AQ K94 KQT932 North 93 T94 AJ732 765 East K76 KJ762 T5 A84 South AT8542 853 Q86 J..EW did not get as good a score as those in 3N. Pard reasoned (not unreasonably) that the lead was a singleton and returned a spade..though QD or a diamond switch was the winning move here..the question here (maybe I have read too many books)..wouldn’t North cash the AD first then switch to 9S to show spade singleton? Assuming North has an ace to cash..just trying to reduce guessing to a minimum..

Patrick CheuDecember 31st, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Hi Bobby,In answer to your question as regards 1N with singleton, it was not stated during the bid and I was not awared of 6C with 3C either..not much help there.

bobbywolffJanuary 1st, 2021 at 12:43 am

Hi Patrick,

Sorry, I was as wrong as I could be, since I relied too heavily on declarer having very little in hearts instead of both the Ace and Queen.

I suppose you were playing matchpoints and if so, for him to select a minor suit (even a six card one) instead of opting to select the major, doesn’t appear right to me, but other folk have different strokes.

And while defending against me, he would have scored up his game plus an overtrick, instead of down one.

Not bad to come out with a learning experience, but, if so, he certainly fooled me with his heart shyness, opposite a known 5 card suit.

However, it appears to be the same +420 he would have scored in 4 hearts, with perhaps more tricks made in hearts if declarer takes the winning road in the play.

Patrick CheuJanuary 1st, 2021 at 7:20 am

Hi Bobby, Thanks again for all that you do for us here.. sharing your thoughts on this difficult game with us and through this very difficult time for everybody. A Happy New Year to all! Best Regards Patrick