Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 18th, 2021


David WarheitMarch 4th, 2021 at 11:07 am

The reason those 2 pairs were the only ones to defeat 3NT might be because they were the only ones who were lucky enough to be defending a 3NT contract. It seems to me that N should raise 2S to 4S. Evvn though S is quite unlikely to have much in C or H, he probably has a little something, and the CJ10 is enormous.

Iain ClimieMarch 4th, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Hi Bobby’ and David,

What if South takes the HA and feeds the defence 5 rounds of spades before taking a view in clubs? If East comes down to HK and CKx (he should know to ditch the HK) then the failure of the C finesses doesn’t matter if South reads the position.


Iain Climie

Iain ClimieMarch 4th, 2021 at 4:33 pm

That is HA on the first round just to clarify.

bobbywolffMarch 4th, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Hi David,

You remind me of a bridge version regarding a long ago soap opera type radio show named “Fibber McGee & Molly” when Fibber’s close friend often said (on almost every 15 minute show) “You are a tough man McGee!”.

While not, in fact, disagreeing with your keen bridge judgment, a rebid of 2 spades (or 2 hearts after opener has opened 1 heart) doesn’t really announce a good suit, only being an often made bid to show a minimum hand and now with 5 card majors overtaking 4 card ones as openers, nothing special, just a likely minimum hand with no other 4 card suit in between.

Therefore, because of the above, the responder should (might) allow a little leeway with his continuation, which, of course, North does with his 3 heart rebid instead of locking in spades, especially with such finality.

However, and of course, your judgment tells you, that no more has to be confirmed, spades with your Kx support are trump, rather than scientifically still keeping that decision open for further conversation.

No doubt anyone, especially I, am rising up against your choice, just trying to represent the bid, 3 hearts, which would probably be the most favored rebid by other top players like yourself, Sure, South, after hearing partner’s bid, then chose 3NT while holding A109 in the unbid suit and, of course, only holding 5 spades, but, of course and coincidentally very powerful ones.

Why waste time, you may ask? Simply put, by bidding 3 hearts instead, leaves the room open to play different trump contracts than 4 spades, namely 3NT or possibly even clubs or even hearts (although theoretically South has usually denied holding 4 of them except for the possible exception of being 6-4 with mediocre hearts and a minimum opener).

Finally, and as you can guess, a bridge columnist features a hand which has some sort of play problem, which today becomes a complicated one, especially on defense.

However, in abstract, I hope the above was worth writing, just playing the role of devil’s advocate of what my guess would be the most chosen, responder’s rebid.

However, all readers may enjoy your firm judgment, especially your no nonsense tolerated with eventual if not sooner, worthless alternatives.

bobbywolffMarch 4th, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Hi Iain,

First, yes East would (should) certainly jettison the heart king

Next, after declarer runs the spades (or actually as soon as it becomes obvious to the defense that he has 5 tricks in spades, the defense should become obvious (in IMPs or rubber) and all players convinced what it will take to defeat the contract, although at matchpoints there might be some room to be concerned, because of overtrick(s).

Yes matchpoints often becomes too difficult a game, when both the declarer and the defense (usually only one partner) is facing close to an impossible choice on whether to give up on defeating a contract, just to avoid giving away a crucial overtrick(s) in case declarer guesses correctly where the defensive cards are located.

It is a tough enough game, without that added dilemma which, at least to me, is against what bridge and its scoring system was meant to be about.

Iain ClimieMarch 4th, 2021 at 6:33 pm

Hi Bobby,

A further point would be if West’s H9 were genuine and South had H10x. Now East has to ditch a heart honour and bare his CK (if held) coming down to HK8 and now declarer has to decide if the C finesse was right all along. I’d want to play for the squeeze but sometimes it is possible to fool oneself.


bobbywolffMarch 4th, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, today’s hand seems to zero in on declarer guesses with the only mystery for EW (in this case primarily East, confined to what specific clubs declarer holds, emphasizing especially the jack, but also, possibly the ten and/or nine and if so, how many.

bobbywolffMarch 5th, 2021 at 3:22 pm

Hi David,

After IMO due diligence, I have changed my mind to agree with your early jump to 4 spades, by North instead of what many might say is the more descriptive rebid of 3 hearts.

Yes, I also agree that 3 hearts by North is definitely more descriptive than the finality of a simple 4 spades. However, that fact alone is also heard by their opponents, therein using that information to make a more informed opening lead, quite often a determining factor in choosing a more effective one.

“The enemy is always listening” and although bridge books, well informed bridge teachers, as well as highly competitive world bridge players rarely write or talk about that obvious factor, it, IMO, more often than most would think, can and will determine the result of that hand, making good use, depending of course on their own holding, of what becomes their choice.

Furthermore, the above fact is almost impossible to prove, unless and until someone is able to program a computer which would simulate thousands of hands, approximately half of which encouraged disclosing as much information between partners in the bidding as against others, after gleaning what they considered enough (such as David’s assessment) and then immediately, not later, (usually after another round of bidding), acted upon it.

To me, such as my love for a 4 card major system, have accumulated the experience of learning what I think is its principle advantage, on average, arriving at the final contract sooner than their expert competition (at the other table(s)) sometimes denying their worthy opponents the critical information necessary to defend (or sometimes even compete in the bidding, more to their advantage, starting, of course, with a better educated opening lead and sometimes continuing to confuse them for several more tricks or even better, keeping them from coming safely in the bidding either to occasionally buy the contract, or at the very least, strongly indicate the right opening lead for them.

Thank you David, for, at the very least, causing more thought to be discussed openly, regarding a bridge subject rarely discussed, even among the best world players.

Summing up, it may be a more winning move to give up some so-called beautiful bridge bidding sequences, in favor of short and sweet arrival which, in turn, results in more made contracts with the added advantage of sometimes even keeping great fitting hands (from the opponents) who are not now able to come in the bidding, much less occasionally, not even better able to get in a lead director.

At the very least, I believe the above is worth a thought, since it is indeed difficult to deny its truth.