Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 30th, 2021


Iain ClimieApril 13th, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Hi Bobby,

Although today’s hand is relatively straightfoward it can still be messed up as you say. I had a few thoughts based on slight changes to dummy, though. Suppose North held DKQJ10 instead plus HJxx and West has the DA. Now the CQ is led at T1 and South might toy with ducking when a second club makes life easy – except that SAQ from West kills the game stone dead at least if South has 3 spades. If he has Kx and Dxxx the opposite is true. So, should East play the CK at T1? South wins, cashes two high trumps and then plays a diamond. West may duck once but takes the 2nd diamond and now has to underlead CJ10x to partner’s 9 (or equal) to get a spade through. If West ducks the 2nd diamond, though, declarer probably plays a third ditching a club but now west wins and plays a 4th D ruffed by East and south still has 2S to lose. Double dummy, the killing defence is for West to realise East has a club entry and either to start off with a small one (!) or to find the underlead.

This got me thinking about honour sequence leads against suit contractss, though. With QJx and J10x, an honour is clearly right while J108x is surely similar. One hands like these with (say) J10xx or QJxx, when would you lead small and when the honour? I suspect that with either 3 or 6+ cards the honour is generally a better shout but with J1043(2) or similar, then what? Any thoughts (always asuming that other leads aren’t more attractive)?



bobbywolffApril 13th, 2021 at 5:53 pm

Hi Iain,

Since your post not only covered almost all the acknowledged bridge front, it went a significant distance in almost discussing some difficult ethical issues.

What about the necessity of East overtaking partner’s club lead, forcing declarer to win the opening lead, but still having the key nine of clubs, but still a mystery to West as to East’s possession of the all important nine for later entry purposes, to thrust forward the “killing 10 of spades, through declarer” (it is a different matter when the opening leader leads the queen, normally guaranteeing the jack, allowing his partner to overtake with the king when holding the 10. Here, he only has the nine, good enough, but how can West be sure?

Possibly by a slow overtake with the king, denying the 10 but very likely showing the 9.

With the bridge world looking for Active Ethics, who is to judge a small, but mighty hesitation, which would not have been made if East did not have the nine, but only smaller clubs to serve as entries, denying that possible defense.

But how is a defender to figure this out without some kind of thought, which, like it or not, might (would) be thought of as unethical, at least by an opponent who lost this hand because of it.

Your next subject about whether to lead an honor or instead low from J10xx is impossible to give the right answer, since I have no idea, and have led both (jack and low) without a legitimate reason to defend or even to dignify it.

Such are the nuances which remind me of (I think) Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it “.

Mainly, my guess, because no one knows for sure, but always a hitch before leading that suit, sometimes is enough to convey unauthorized information (UI), at least by a partnership who was done in, by their opponents who “guessed” right.

To that I also have no correct answer, but only to say, contrary to some bridge playing lawyers, that to do one thing or the other, “sure he or she was helped, but until someone can provide a legitimate and fair way to consistently rule, let it go and try to allow lady luck to even up the opportunities to get even”.

Sorry, to likely cause even more doubt as to how to handle the above (and many other situations), rather than to offer a proper solution, becomes counter productive.

Not like collusive cheating in bridge, which IMO is to bar that culprit(s) forever, since what he or she did, will eventually end the game itself, if lesser punishment is even just discussed.

I can feel the tears already dropping from eyes who “know not what they do”, as opposed to the miscreants who fully realized it, and, if not, should have.