Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 27th, 2021


A V Ramana RaoMarch 13th, 2021 at 10:04 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Very well played hand. Even with all hands in view, it is difficult to spot the winning play immediately. But my doubt is , had West doubled South’s One NT bid, perhaps north would still bid three diamonds but now, if east bids four hearts ( east knows that West has higher side of points for his double of one NT considering vulnerability say at least sixteen) . Can south venture the slam now?Grateful if you can reflect

bobbywolffMarch 13th, 2021 at 3:07 pm


First, a bridge columnist (in order to get the main bridge idea across, takes advantage, similar to the famous USA comment to which I always suspected, “In order to form a more perfect union”) by indeed glorifying the associated bridge venture ahead.

Fit the defensive hands to magnify the accomplishment to which we might be thought to have succeeded. However, to question or even to think twice about the constructed influence reminds me of Mark Antony’s famous eulogy of Julius Caesar’s motives, “Ambition should be made of sterner stuff”.

IOW, yes, the defensive hands were thoroughly contrived and the play was a thing of beauty as well as Thomas Brooks’ meaningful quotation.

However, when a good declarer sets sail on his chosen play, he looks for a good line, “finding a 75% chance of one of the two club honors being onside (75% probability)”. Next (and, in similar circumstances there should oft times be one) that same declarer then looks for a better one. Therefore finding one is what top level bridge is about and when it becomes necessary, one can then experience the great highs, if and when, such as today, it becomes necessary.

No great other mystery to solve and because of being in control, it can be presented as such.

Thanks for your always welcome superior comments. Your right-on analysis is often the stir which creates the tasty bridge pudding.

Iain ClimieMarch 13th, 2021 at 7:39 pm

Hi Bobby,

On s trump lead isn’t South going off? Given all those high cards it surely makes sense for West to give nothing away.

If West doubles should North try to play 1N redoubled or just punt 4D on the basis that key cards are probably wrong? I could even imagine the auction starting 1N (x) 3N on occasion.



Iain ClimieMarch 13th, 2021 at 7:39 pm

Sorry 5D not 4

bobbywolffMarch 13th, 2021 at 8:24 pm

Hi Iain,

While all you say is correct, from what can be made and, of course, defeated as well as choices of lead and why, the answer is likely the same as, “why many talk about the weather and yet do nothing about it”.

Our game is so overwhelming as to variations together with extremely non-predictable, concerning results. The smallest difference in timing or who is on lead and who has what (sometimes a low card drowns a slam or the other extreme, becomes necessary in the make).

With general principles, it is normally (perhaps 75% of the time) better for the defense to have key cards split between the partners, rather than all held by only one as well as more often better for the declarer and dummy to each have honors to lead up to (with entries to go back and forth) in order to get maximum value for their quest of contract.

With such a fundamental truth, only dame fortune is in control and we all know her to be fickle, except for some reason or another she prefers her person (perhaps lover) to also play those ducats in the right order, in addition, to bidding them to the right level and play them in the right trump suit including sometimes, no trump at all.

Finally, leading a trump with today’s hand will get the job done, but only because of the constant miracles that randomly occur, which to me, will vary from hand to hand.

Better to have a direct line to the Dame’s heart, which perhaps influenced West to start with his king, but like many of us before him, he didn’t have either the last word or the deciding vote.

jim2March 13th, 2021 at 8:50 pm

On that trump lead, what if declarer has been to Vienna and cashes the AC and runs trump?

bobbywolffMarch 13th, 2021 at 10:18 pm

Hi Jim2,

You must possess a white horse, reserved for riding to the rescue and punishing a defender for having way too many assets to manage.

Strictly for privileged declarer play learning the Vienna Coup, a brand new term, at least it was almost 100 years ago, which is a hallowed name but simply an unblocking play (ace of clubs), so that the jack in dummy’s hand will stand as a threat to West as South runs dummy’s diamonds, rendering it impossible for him or perhaps especially her (expecting a beautiful female to be West), if you favor a delightful squeeze.

Leave it for our breathtaking game to endorse a procedure, which first goes out of its way to prematurely establish a winner for the opponents (a club honor) and then forces him to throw it away.

Of course, there may be some card reading choices necessary on the way to the forum, but our hero (declarer) will triumph since with fairy tales and bridge columns, there is always (well, maybe just most of the time) a happy ending.

Much thanks for your well timed, but significant intervention.

David WarheitMarch 14th, 2021 at 12:36 am

Iain: on a trump lead, S wins what is now the first of 2 trump entries, ruffs a H, back to a D, cashes HA discarding SJ, ruffs his last H which just happens to be W’s last H as well, and finesses C10. Endplay!

bobbywolffMarch 14th, 2021 at 2:31 am

Hi David,

Yes, thank you and probably referred to within the column itself, but your description would not require the words we need.

However, as you are very much aware, the principles of gaining tricks by clever timed throw ins are no strangers to the high level game, the knowledge of which is often sought after by many who are both interested and often addicted to their application.

My job is to oversee small doses, but big time interest in the many varied ways in how they make their magic. Possibly something similar to highly professional dancing by gifted performers.

It just seems to gladden hearts and keeps many thinking bridge, which, after all, is my unsaid duty to provide, (with untold help from my team), both for my client newspapers and no doubt, the hoped for promotion and growth of our audience.

A special thanks to you for your brief, but accurate, summary.

bobbywolffMarch 14th, 2021 at 5:20 am

Hi again David,

After re-reading my first paragraph I did not explain it well, since your brief explanation said it all, What I was trying to say is that you described it as well as it could be, but my words could be interpreted differently and for that I apologize.

It has been a long day and I am feeling the effects of it.

Iain ClimieMarch 14th, 2021 at 11:07 am

Hi David,

Spot on as usual. If the spade honours were split though, West would have to exit with a high spade to give declarer a losing option.