Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 12th, 2021


David WarheitMarch 26th, 2021 at 10:47 am

You say that East erred in the defense. Well, so did West. All he needs to do is opening lead of HQ, and the contract is easily defeated. You state that W led a club since he knew that N had short H, but he also knows that declarer is going to have to deal with the worst S break possible, and that suggests leading the strongest suit held by the defense.

Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Hi David, Bobby,

Double dummy can South still get home on a heart lead by playing a diamond before a spade? Still a very good point by David of course but my head is starting to hurt analysing his. All DD but I wonder if playing one round of diamonds makes sense regardless as west probably doesn’t have a singleton.



bobbywolffMarch 26th, 2021 at 2:08 pm

Hi David & Iain,

All good defensive points mentioned, but the choice of opening lead, while plausible is realistically debatable since, although void in trump, West cannot be in any way sure that this choice is the way to go. since the declaring side may have solid trump or at least ones which could be immediately drawn, especially after ruffing a heart in the dummy.

If in fact the above is true and, since clubs have not been mentioned, although not necessarily, as here, a weakness , perhaps partner will have a good enough holding to strongly desire the help needed in developing a club trick for the setter.

Methinks, because of the above, all the blame should go to East for not figuring out what the death of this slam will look like at trick 10 and not conveniently allow it to happen by prematurely covering the spade from dummy.

To me, the opening lead is a total guess, with not nearly enough information available for West to lead a heart, to which could be a perfect lead for declarer (not the defense) since it starts out helping declarer secure a trick by ruffing in the short trump hand, possibly allowing the proper timing to make his declarer play an easier task.

However, since my view is also very speculative, I do not have a strong opinion either way, except to be inclined to assess the blame where it belongs, rather than to compare a difficult guess on lead (at least thought to be by me) with a clear avoidable error.

Mircea GiurgeuMarch 26th, 2021 at 6:57 pm

Hi Bobby,

Would North bid the same way with one less spade and one more club? I’m trying to understand how did declarer know that dummy has 3 trumps

Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2021 at 8:31 pm

Hi again Bobby,

Double dummy time on a heart lead. South plays the DJ at T2, taken and east punches dummy with a heart ruffed. Declarer leads the S9 and runs it if not covered then cashes 3C ending on table, cashes a D dumping a heart and now plays another D. East ruffs with the 10 presumably, south overruffs plays a spade to the Ace and plays another diamond ditching the last club if not ruffed and picks up the trumps.

OK, so East covers the S9 and South wins then winces. Again three rounds of clubs ending on table, then D pitching heart and another diamond. East has to ruff low so south overruffs and plays a spade to dummy’s ace then more diamonds picking up trumps again.

Enough of this insanity, though. On a heart lead, South plays a D at T2, ruffs the H return and cashes the SA and now I think he’s off whether East splits his honours or not when the S9 is lead through him. Happy to be corrected though as it is well into the evening this side of the pond.

Huge plaudits to Alan Sontag though for actually bring it home.



Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2021 at 8:37 pm

HI Mircea,

Probably a relay sequence or similar; 3H says more than just short hearts, it (presumably) also indicates 3 card spade support. Alan Sontag used to play a very complex version of Precision if I remember rightly.



Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2021 at 8:58 pm

Hi David, Bobby,

I looked at double dummy lines on a heart lead just for fun. South pays the DJ at T2, East winds and punches dummy so South (if east has dropped his cards) cashes one diamond ditching a H and tries to run the S9. Assume east covers; South wins, plays 3 top clubs ending on table and plays another diamond. East ruffs, south overruffs and plays a small trump to the Ace and feeds east another diamond. So East mustn’t cover the S9 even here.

Now can S get home? He cashes 3C as before then feeds East a diamond which is ruffed with the S10 (say), overruffed and a spade goes back to table for another D play. East ruffs small, South overruffs but is stuck in hand.

All self-indulgent nonsense of course except that it suggests that not splitting honours works even there. Given the S intermediates, there is almost an analogy to not covering the first of two touching honors (or middle cards here).

Back on planet real, declarer will take the H punch and cash the SA when there is too much to do even with a defensive blunder.


bobbywolffMarch 27th, 2021 at 6:43 pm

Hi Iain,

As Jim2 would agree, thanks for doing the head hurting, signifying hard work and love for bridge.

Not only double dummy right, but a trip inside the game, noting how crucial it is to know when and when not, to cover honors as well as to always keep a poker face and tempo, else extra sharp players (very rare) can sometimes just “feel” when to violate percentages and remain on target.