Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 28th, 2020


Iain ClimieJanuary 11th, 2021 at 9:45 pm

HI Bobby,

Doesn’t a spade lead scupper a key entry in 4H today. I can only sympathise with West being deduced by the club sequence. Who would honestly not lead a club?



Bobby WolffJanuary 11th, 2021 at 10:26 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, even though I didn’t spend the time to make sure my answer is above reproach, my first run-through agreed with you.

And, of course, your comment is why a bridge columnist gives the opening leader a sound sequence to lead from (clubs) instead of, like in real life, the temptation to lead a spade by including the jack in his assortment.

No doubt it is a bit sneaky to engage in those antics, but what’s a fellow to do?

All the readers, and of course I, appreciate your keen analysis, so I’ll hedge a bit and think of my team’s deception as win, win.

jim2January 11th, 2021 at 11:19 pm

Oddly, 4S by South was by far the most popular contract at the Mud Cup when this hand was played in 2018 in Lower Slobbovia, but not one declarer appeared to have played it as in the column text.

All declarers won the AC, and went AD, D ruff, but there the lines diverged from the column. Instead, they crossed to the AH, eyes doubtless widening at the sight of the heart knave but, sadly, the dry hand records did not record that. Nor do the written records reveal if any of the declarers eyed their West opponents warily.

The data simply showed that at all tables a third round of diamonds was ruffed low, followed by a spade to the table, and a fourth round established the last two diamonds as winners. All that remained was a spade to the Board followed by a good diamond as in the column text.

Bobby WolffJanuary 12th, 2021 at 1:14 am

Hi Jim2,

In Lower Slobbovia there is a history of only teaching one thing at a time and that, in this case, is to play doubletons high, low, not differentiating whether as declarer, defender or even on opening lead.

The idea behind it is to regiment the player’s mind into being consistent, an usual advantage not to be sneezed at.

While it would enable West to overruff the third diamond with his nine, the advantage would only be psychological and, although not gaining anything on this hand, it might soften the opponent’s mind process for future competition.

However the disadvantage, of course, is that, for whatever reason, it is unlikely that non locals rarely return, although the famous LENA never misses that tournament and that alone, should be enough to entice attendance if and when she feels like romance is on the menu.


I promise to let you know if and when we need a new proof reader.

jim2January 12th, 2021 at 2:45 am

If West played the JH on the first trump lead while holding the J9, he would have been rarer than a unicorn in LS!

In any case, since all the Souths ruffed the second diamond with one of their two small trumps at Trick 3 and led the other towards the AH at Trick 4, that left South with only the Q10 of hearts. Thus, West could only over-ruff the third diamond with the KH.

And Lena is indeed a fixture there, though what kind of one remains to be seen.

David SnookJanuary 12th, 2021 at 8:25 am

Well… I’m going to make a fool of myself here and lay out how I worked thru this hand…

I always try playing the hand of the day myself before reading the explanation and here’s how I played this one.

I took the first club w/ the A and then immediately trumped a club, ending up in dummy. I then played the diamond A and trumped a diamond to my hand.

That gave me 4 tricks.

I then played a trump to dummy, picking up the J, and w/ the J gone, trumped another diamond w/ a low heart then trumped a final club back to my hand. I had 7 tricks at that point.

The two high spades were my 8th and 9th tricks. At that point I played another diamond and when E had to cover w/ a final diamond, I trumped w/ the queen and had 10 tricks.

I know seeing all 4 hands is far easier than real play and even at that, it’s sometimes tricky as all get out to find a safe path…

Bobby WolffJanuary 12th, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since only you and Al Capp (of Lil Abner fame) are familiar with Lower Slobbovia (LS) I will assume that all unicorns there, in spite of their name and if any, are multiple horned.

And since only the sensational bridge tourney there is well attended by visitors and of course, automatic for you to attend.

However, our other column advocates may be unfamiliar with their featured attraction, Lena the Hyena, always a damsel in distress, whose presence may be the chief reason that their home grown unicorns have grown additional protection.

And since many bridge beginners enjoy rules to follow, such as high from a doubleton, they perhaps overdo it a bit, but even though very strange, is there much or really any material difference between their idiosyncrasy and what is going on politically in our beloved country right now.

In any event I wish Al Capp was still alive since perhaps only he, could depict it in his inimical and hilarious way. complete with illustrations. which, in turn, could provide laughs rather than cries, not to mention, a full blown portrait of Lena.

Bobby WolffJanuary 12th, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Hi David,

Believe it or not, I have become a fan of your individual method of leaning how to take tricks, regardless of the different theoretical manner.

No doubt, declarer play (as well as often the defense) needs to (after, at least some telling evidence plus of course the bidding and the opening lead has taken place) is a significant guide (and not necessarily consistent from hand to hand), but instead by doing what you do, trick taking (either by being a higher card from your side rather than the opponents) or the utilization of well placed trump (very evident in your current example) becomes the high road to success.

While being a long way away from where you eventually want to become, it, at least in my judgment, is a novel but effective starting point with our difficult game to learn.

The important thing to keep in mind is to stay with it, until your progression becomes easier to understand. IOW, I agree with your starting point as long as you continue to grow your ability to develop tricks the best percentage way, since with that growth will become, albeit slowly, many different ways to, at the very least, staying up with players who have played for many years longer than you, but have no plan or intention to get much better.

We all wish you blue skies and green lights and applaud your effort.

jim2January 12th, 2021 at 5:20 pm

By the way, should any readers still be down here:

Note the jury!!!