Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021


David WarheitFebruary 17th, 2021 at 9:35 am

If W were to make an opening lead of a H, the contract must fail. The thinking by W could go: partner’s failure to raise H means he has at most a doubleton in H, so I with the SA might well be able to sweep the H suit, but only if I start playing H right away. Do you think such a plan would be more reasonable than the one actually adopted by W?

bobbywolffFebruary 17th, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Hi David,

Although I am first greatly tempted to agree with you, and especially with your intended result staring me directly in the face, I say no for the following reason(s).

1. For its intent to work it might require the opponent’s heart holding to be 3-3, at least to me, at best about 1/3 of the time. (South is bold to enter the auction with both an only middling hand and somewhat dangerously three small hearts, but instead wait and then assess coming in later).

2. If East had short hearts (singleton) and of course, also not long in spades he should, after West’s systemic 2NT (artificial and showing a minor suit) show his minor suit(s) over North’s 3 spade raise. Therefore East is quite likely to have a doubleton heart and although West is prepared to rise with the ace of spades to lead a third heart, most, if not all, defensive possibilities need to be in favor of that effort to be successful (this time it is).

Add to that the alternative King of clubs lead and at least to me, the pendulum swings to more conservatism, since the ace and one heart (fairly easily might give the trick back to the declarer, plus the tempo lost in so doing).

However, the approved cliche, notable in bridge of “let the winner explain” certainly belongs in our game since the various possibilities are so random on so much of early defense (starting with the blind opening lead) that to even render what could be thought to be logical or even rational, but sadly turn out otherwise.

Finally when “if’s and buts are candy and nuts oh what a merry Xmas we would have”, also applies across the board, particularly with successful opening leads meaning it could be thought of as totally wrong to criticize an opening lead as long as it was thought out based on a plan.

Thus the above is only another thought which methinks is likely to not have as much or more logic than I am suggesting so, again “Let the winner explain and your suggestion is definitely that:”.

However, the one thing beyond a doubt which our today’s discussion emphasizes is how absolutely HORRIBLE it is for especially decent players, to decide to collude to cheat, absolutely KILLING the game for all the honest
players to take the ups and downs lady luck had dealt them rather than them doing away with that emotion by performing in such a “FILTHY” enterprise.

Sorry for the rant, but somehow that above subject constantly is on my mind, because of my love for this game, certainly shared by solid citizens like you and so many others and with the so-called sympathy for them by some who do not share my view and come up with such lenient sentences for those few who are caught, which in truth, only will cause others to try and salve their irresponsible ego by falling off the wagon and turn toward committing bridge felonies!

Sorry for my above explosion, but we are now in the midst of a world wide bridge cheating crises, starting many years ago which, in turn, in spite of conclusive truth by some bridge lovers who tirelessly proved it so, still feel stymied by others, which in turn may lead to the death of yours and my mutually beloved game.

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 17th, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
RIP: here lies a wonderful game called Bridge which was being played passionately for a very long time as the players were enthralled and enchanted by the sheer depth of the game and the intellectual satisfaction it provided. But over a period of time a deadly virus called cheating overtook the game and proliferated and the administrative paramedics just could do anything and the game succumbed to the virus

Dear Mr Wolff
Honestly, I wish that the above obituary is never written.
It is indeed painful to read about the cheating in Bridge and sometimes the people involved appear to be popular even and it appears that the world is fighting two pandemics at present. Hope better sense will prevail and people would play the game for gamesake and not for winning.

David WarheitFebruary 17th, 2021 at 6:18 pm

You added up the points in favor of leading H and opposed and found a small odds opposed, but you failed to consider that if W decides to lead H, he should not lead the Ace but rather a small one, since you have correctly ruled out E having a singleton H. S will naturally never guess that you have underled the Ace, so he will not play dummy’s K, and now he goes down two.

bobbywolffFebruary 17th, 2021 at 7:53 pm


In perhaps the world environment, it has become more popular than ever to at least pretend to take minority and passionate positive views of popular fiascos.

Possibly even more so and the more heinous the better which range from proving guilt (my experience through the years and having individually been likely closer to it than anyone else, and than having to directly deal with it on almost a daily basis, although the cases back then were no doubt collusive cheating, it was not done, at least in the USA, at the top level of the game except in a relatively few times which dealt with international play.

Both the Ethicsal Oversight Committee and the Recorder system as well as the Active Ethics movement were formed by me (with much help from a few key uniquely qualified individuals).

Today, politics rather than police work have taken over with bribery, sloth, lack of knowledge, and different overall interests ruling the day instead of the extreme and dedicated police action necessary, but not often available, and even when it is, some “bad” and/or unqualified people challenge its effectiveness, such as fast talking lawyers who take pride on interpreting all laws in favor of defendants even though, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it likely is a duck! BTW my father, brother, only nephew and only niece were all lawyers and I was also trained like one but opted to go in a different direction.

How anyone can overlook or pretend to make up various excuses for what appears to be obvious serious wrongdoing and either play the not guilty card or almost as horrible, the sympathetic approach to when it storms to “What will poor robin do?”.

Since in these obvious cheating cases it is the robin who is causing it and instead of universal action against, there is, like currently in USA politics, a huge division in how to tackle this beast.

Not to get into how some of our current world bridge leaders to have chosen obfuscation, rather than obvious admission is also beyond my understanding.

How much longer our great game can survive is the very sad, but on the table, question?

Perhaps psychiatrists will blame the world pandemic or other trying times, but methinks to do so, will help eventually, if not sooner, guide our great game to nothing short of total oblivion.

bobbywolffFebruary 17th, 2021 at 8:21 pm

Hi David,

No doubt, if done, a dynamic result especially if accomplished in a formidable event. Add to that the unlikely event of partner having a singleton non-queen, mentioned above and I will agree that East possibly leading a low heart instead of something else rises in value as the right lead to make (with the added caveat of East not having the Q9 and declarer the 10xx) since West may not be a party to East’s brilliancy when declarer plays low from dummy (assuming different heart spot cards held).

I’ll go one step further and suggest on this hand that leading a low heart is a possible lead, but sadly am not yet convinced that it figures to work better than would the club K.

However, my opinion is and will always just simply be how I judge leads and fully admit
that in doing that chore is not anywhere near my favorite bridge pass time and have come to regard it as something I must do at the table fraught with danger and poor remembrances.

Yes, one devastating lead to one’s opponent, especially in a highly built up environment is worth more emotionally than perhaps any other bridge venture, but in reality, I will declare that emotional moment not worth
the sorrow (and my then hypocritical reason for it) when it turns out wrong (especially if the king of clubs would have been more successful).

I regret that I have but one bridge lead to give for my reputation.