Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 24th, 2021


TedMarch 10th, 2021 at 6:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

I was kibitzing some very good (although names I didn’t recognize) bridge players on BBO and saw a declarer play that had never occurred to me.

Declarer in a 5C contract needed to bring in the Spade suit for one loser. Dummy held A1093 and declarer Q84. The 3 was lead from dummy and the 8 inserted losing to the J. Then back in dummy, declarer played the Spade A and discarded the Q and lead the 10 for a ruffing finesse. RHO ducked and declarer followed with the 4, making his contract.

bobbywolffMarch 10th, 2021 at 7:28 pm

Hi Ted,

While the high spade spots offered the declarer a high percentage chance of holding his losses in that suit to one, the way he went about it was about the lowest percentage of success he could find.

IOW he not only played it against the percentage, but at the same time, if his RHO would have gone up with his king on the 3rd lead of spades from dummy he would have lost that trick, likely the contract one.

As long as there was no evidence gathered by declarer during the bidding, it would have been normal to play for split honors and thus lead the queen (or possibly the ten) through his LHO and then if it loses, finesse again through LHO for the jack.

Also, and of course, although the whole hand was not given, that specific holding can go to 100% success, while usually playing in a suit contract, by, if possible, not leading the suit at all, and then when, and if, the other two non trump suits are eliminated, then if either opponent can be thrown in forcing them to either lead a spade or give a sluff and ruff (assuming declarer has at least one trump left in both dummy and hand), then that line should be exercised in order to insure losing, at most one trick.

Hopefully the above is clear enough to you, but if it isn’t, please ask the questions which might make it so.

Iain ClimieMarch 10th, 2021 at 7:49 pm

Hi Ted,

Are you familiar with the Grosvenor coup where a player gives the opponent an insane chance which they can’t possibly believe but the victim is so mentally perturbed they mess up several hands. As an absurd example declarer is missing just two trumps (K and J) holding Qxxxxx opposite A109xx. He leads the Q and the next hand with KJ plays the J so declarer goes up with the Ace and that is this equanimity gone for some time.



TedMarch 10th, 2021 at 8:22 pm

Hi Bobby/Iain,

Sorry I don’t have the hand record, but declarer had limited entrances so was not able to lead Spades twice from his hand or do a complete strip of the side suits. Had he put the Q in on the initial lead, of course he’d have been fine, but the recovery was something I never would have thought of. Lack the appropriate level of sneakiness, I guess.

And, as you said, Iain, the play may have had an effect over the next couple hands. Hard to say. RHO was clearly out of sorts when declarer followed to the third round.

bobbywolffMarch 11th, 2021 at 12:12 am

Hi Ted & Iain

My guess is that Iain will agree with me, that there are some players who try to upset their opponents into making more mistakes by taking their minds off the bridge of the moment and on to the hate they feel for them.

Not ethical nor sensible, but, depending on who their opponents happen to be, it might and often does work.

My long term experience with playing in what was then important bridge matches sometimes including the other team’s captain, complaining about my team’s lack of something or other, which, if you’ll excuse me for saying “all trumped up and much ado about nothing”, but possibly achieving its intended mission of upsetting my team’s mood and thus concentration.

Possibly all’s fair in war, love, and bridge competition, but I prefer to stay silent and thought a fool.