Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 29th, 2021


Iain ClimieApril 12th, 2021 at 9:59 am

HI Bobby,

Is South being a touch optimistic here despite the extra spade? Would North be bidding like he did with (say) KQxx x Qxxx Axxx or perhaps with a similar hand with 5-3 in the minors? On the 4-1-4-4 hand the slam has almost no play (DK or Kx alone onside would be needed) while matters are not great on the 5-3 hands. The actual hand is quite different of course – the six card club suit to the Ace will have a fair chance of playing for no losers opposite any South holding (even Cxxx just needs a 2-2 break) while the extra Q in the 4-1-4-4- hand shows that shape is relatively poor and it is playing strength that is needed. Even adding the CJ to the 40-1-4-4 hand (when N would open) and the slam wouldm’t be great.



bobbywolffApril 12th, 2021 at 1:25 pm

Hi Iain,

No ifs, and, or buts, but you are right in your assessment of South perhaps being too optimistic with continuing to slam, of course, opposite a passed hand.

However, methinks that definitely with your 4-1-4-4 example, and even with one which includes a 5 card side suit, he, not you, should only bid game. IOW, since with less than a viable 6 card decent side suit, your partner should not be heroic and settle for less.

Obviously meshing hands like this one are unusual, but that 6th club is vitally needed, obviously being not only an extra trick (and a likely one off loser in others), but worth a risk when partner will likely have a fitting card or cards in clubs. Even the queen of spades would and could be vital for slam, meaning, this bidding, even though so little is known, “feels” like what should be held for such a bold venture as inviting slam, opposite a bid which together will be short of the usual high cards necessary to succeed.

IOW, I, the 1NT bidder, is proverbially trusting partner to provide a major source of tricks, offsetting our short high cards, to score up a slam.

The upside distinguishes teamwork from wooden unilateral thinking with its result and indeed, is how good to great partnership should be defined.

All that praise, when in reality, much so in bridge, let the winner explain, since in every case, he will be happy to.

Thanks for your important and wise comments.

jim2April 12th, 2021 at 6:08 pm

I would note that (at least in my partnerships) that the 5S call promised 2 key cards and the QS.

South certainly knows that North is passed hand, but we must not overlook that North is also aware of that same first round Pass. That is, North has done a hand re-evaluation and concluded a slam try should be offered. Thus, North’s holding must have SOME characteristic(s) deeded slam-suitable. In this case, it was the concentrated support and the long ace-headed club suit. It could have been (for another example) 4-0-7-3 with spade support too good to preempt 3D. In other words, North is unlikely to have a bland 4-1-4-4 hand not worthy of opening one of a minor.

bobbywolffApril 12th, 2021 at 7:15 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your contribution to better understand the reasons for today’s bidding.

As, at least somewhat talented players get more experience, they then get drawn to
various combinations of assessing
critical areas of application.

For suit slams, I might list in varying order: 1. not two quick losers, 2. adequate number of tricks available, either top tricks or long side suit establishment and 3. solidity with the trump suit (holding the lady or not as often, at least a combined 10).

Add that to the practical consideration of acceptable declarer play, although for learning purposes this requirement may be, in the long run, more harmful than helpful.

The above is only an alternate
way of presenting our case, but by doing so, and at least for some, it might strike a teachable cord.

However the real news, after all these years of perfection, Jim2 has proven by his example distribution, he is only a human not a god, but could it be, like Covid 19, a different kind of virus?

Mircea GiurgeuApril 12th, 2021 at 8:59 pm

Of course, if was South my KC would morph into KH…. (TOCM?)

jim2April 12th, 2021 at 10:09 pm

Sigh, 4-0-7-2.

Reminds me of a lunch bridge game I once kibitzed. To ensure things moved apace, dummy shuffled and pre-dealt the previous deal to ready it for the next, and sometimes a third deck was kept equally at the ready in case of throw-ins.

South was dealer and began with 1S, doubled instantly by West (and lunch bridge did NOT use t/o doubles), redoubled with intensity by North.

I was standing behind East, whose spades were KQxx.

Of course, the players had drawn their cards from all three of the decks.

bobbywolffApril 12th, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Hi Mircea,

Don’t despair, since if the club king had been in hearts, South would have responded the fastest 4 spades sign-off on record over his partner’s 4 heart (shortness) slam try, (only kidding about the poor ethics).

It takes two to tango and the same number to learn to bid well.

Duplication of values, such as holding a king opposite shortness or a suit where AK10 is facing QJx
is a dreaded disease similar to TOCM, but good partnerships sometimes can determine that during the bidding and thus tread

The above fact, some years ago led to a jump after a suit agreement meaning shortness (singleton or void), a very handy and effective tool for all long-term

Good luck, without which would cause all hopeful partnerships to be denied, but lady luck will always continue to be both fickle and unpredictable.

No room for Lone Wolff’s, not if both partner’s want to fare well.
Also, as a rule, duplicatiomnof values

bobbywolffApril 12th, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Where did that last sentence come from? I’m catching something!

Iain ClimieApril 13th, 2021 at 8:10 am

Hi Jim2,

Don’t worry about the 14th card as I pulled a similar howler that was missed – A10xxxx opposite almost any club holding as a side suit has a fair chance of playing for at most 1 loser (not 0) with xxx opposite needign a 2-2 brak. The power of a side suit like AK10xxx is immense though e.g. with SQJxx Hx Dxx opposite 1NT and finidng partner with spades.