Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021


A V Ramana RaoApril 6th, 2021 at 10:55 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But perhaps east can overtake the lead with K and if it is taken, east plays low spade winning spade K and if it is ducked, E W cash two clubs and play low trump again and south has no chance

Iain ClimieApril 6th, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Hi Bobby,

2H – 1 may not be that bad a score on paper as EW can make 3D + 1 – but how to get there? Unless East fancies a very brave double on the 2nd round when there is always the danger that partner will bid 3C instead of 2N showing playability in both minors. With 4-1-4-4 things might be different although then perhaps East would have risked doubling 1S.

if West does echo in spades when South takes the S finesse, though, should South small a rat? After all, there is little point in playing the 9 from K109x or 109xx as declarer is surely playing the Q or J. If East does duck anyway, then S will probably play a C off table, see the CK squashed and then start to woinder how many high cards West has got – DQJ, CAQ and SK is getting close to a bid particularlyt as shape requirements for TO doubles are getting more relaxed in the modern game.



bobbywolffApril 6th, 2021 at 2:21 pm


Yes, you are quite correct in describing the EW winning defense against 2 hearts, but for East to first switch to clubs (after declarer has, of course ducked East’s overtake of his partner’s queen of diamonds on opening lead), is quite a play, and certainly does not appear to be the percentage move, although here it works.

As for the bidding, conceivably, especially while playing matchpoints and against a good declarer, East could rather wildly reopen the 2 heart stop pass by North (with a reopening TO double), feeling that NS has probably arrived at their maximum contract and despite the carefully contrived vulnerability (only EW) by us, screaming out for us not to insist on them playing less than winning bridge, which is always thought to be, “bid em up” and risk sleeping in the street, but better that, than being soft and allowing good opponents to have their way with them.

Of course, none of the above detracts which you always provide all readers, challenges to what actually does happen, and often legitimate ways to keeping lesser results at bay.

bobbywolffApril 6th, 2021 at 2:55 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, your discourse on our hand today is somewhat typically valuable in very competitive bridge, especially when playing matchpoints, where frequency of gain rather than amount, rules the day.

For East to reopen vulnerable (on today’s hand) with what many would describe as both inadequate high cards and unequal distribution, requires steel nerves, and, after a few rounds of exposure, might show up in a later round, together with partner, with both players being thoroughly bandaged and with twin limps.

However, to expect easy sailing while in a matchpoint sea, surrounded by competent big fish awaiting their dinner, is just too much sugarcoating while describing a typical day at the lake.

Add to that to your excellent thought regarding East to duck declarer’s spade finesse, relying on his partner’s spade spot as a guide, while at the same time, keeping up with not giving the show away while trying to analyze partner’s spade spot in tempo.

Herculean might be his task, but what else is new with our magnificent game other than for our leading experts and administrators to reward all our honest players by doing everything possible to WEED out the miscreants who are always thinking how to deviously seek illegal disadvantage.

An easy task? Not on anyone’s life, but to not create significant penalties after despicable cheats get caught, is nothing short of HORRENDOUS!


Iain ClimieApril 6th, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and can i ask a slightly dangeous question. How prevalent is cheating at the very top level and, perhaps more signfiicantly, just below it? Many years ago Sports Illustrated ran an anonymous survey of athletes just below top level (so maybe 10th to 40th in the world, say) and asked if they would take a hypotehtically udetectable drug which would bring them Olympic and/or World Championship gold medals but would kill them before 40 or so; the overwhelming majority said they would – the lure of glory and success was that tempting to those who wouldn’t quite be able to get there otherwise.

Remember also that Achilles in Greek mythology was given the option of a long but mundane life or a short one which would guarantee his name would live forever. When Odysseus on his protracted trip home from Troy meets Achilles’ ghost in Hades, he bewails that choice and wishes he’d been a lowly farm worker with long life rather than a big shot amongst the dead.



bobbywolffApril 6th, 2021 at 5:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Perhaps I’ll use different methodology with my answer.

First, cheating at bridge has long been in the forefront of discussion, going back from my first life’s action, in the very early 1930’s, the famous New Yorker magazine depicting two couples, all four, clothed to the nines, but kicking each other under the table to perhaps illegally signal something of interest during that hand.

However since then, but what has been unofficially under the table, been a discussion of record of how bridge World Championships have been won by great teams (only half right with three very good players teaming with three barely adequate club types to win an innumerable number of them). Very improbable to do, and when one really understands the game and then what it takes to win only one World Championship, improbable goes two steps more to impossible.

By coincidence a very sharp Australian, Avon Wilsmore, wrote a book by the coincidental title of “Under the Table”, which after reading will convince anyone not sworn to be a liar that all those World Championships won were because of that not so difficult task of “seeing is believing”! IOW that type of cheating has been going on since the early 1950’s and probably before, at least in Europe and unfortunately also in the USA, but not in as august of circumstances.

Your then questions of how important is it to turn to cheating and be remembered as a big winner, well that was the hope, and for a while, perhaps as late as almost 1960 there may have been some top players who had doubts, but no longer will such stupidity really exist, except when there will be personal motive to claim to think otherwise. BTW, many will actually claim to think otherwise, but then, if true, are not letting themselves in on the secret that they are keeping from themselves.

As you and I will note, this current world wide Pandemic has no doubt tested the strength, character, and motives of so many people, leaving many of us to change our life, at least our life style, in order to turn the corner and still be alive to talk about it.

However to engage in what you are talking about, being remembered as opposed to just experiencing life first hand, leaves me without a definitive answer.

Yes we are not a living creature for an infinity compared to when we are one, but like someone I might respect in bridge to come up with a new bidding idea, yes I would be interested to hear about it, but until I do, what is there to discuss?

However I will chirp something relevant to your question, I, for one, perhaps joining with 90% of other people in saying to die, having cheated at bridge, is not what I would like to be thinking about as I passed the finish line.

IOW I would die if I had to think about it. No pun intended.

David SnookApril 6th, 2021 at 6:48 pm

What a terrific quote, and from Daniel Defoe, of all people!

That’s gonna end up in a song lyric… mark my words…

(And yes, I do write songs!)

Iain ClimieApril 6th, 2021 at 9:10 pm

HI David (and everybody else reading this),

If you like slightly twisted humour, have a look at e.g. “Consistency” and “Teamwork” which are 2 of my favourites. The site gives a cynical twist to the motivational poster industry. Good luck if you ever try to get anywhere in the music industry which apparently makes shark feeding frenzies look like a vicar’s tea party. It hasn’t stopped a very charming friend of mine (a 6 ft tall very lovely and utterly ditzy German girl called Lena – so much for national stereotypes about serious and sensible) and her boyfriend (Irish I presume) trying to make a go of things via a band called Connach – they’re at Trying to get into the business during a pandemic is akin to selling ice creams during a blizzard.