Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 8th, 2021


Iain ClimieApril 22nd, 2021 at 2:03 pm

Hi Bobby,

Two quick thoughts here. Firstly, should West start off with a high or low spade (although it may come to the same thing in the play)? Secondly, any case for East putting in a light openign bid of 1C in 3rd position? If he does, then NS will need to get North to play 3N to protect vs the club lead but West will have bid in there so East will now find the spade lead.



bobbywolffApril 22nd, 2021 at 4:27 pm

Hi Iain,

With your first thought, I would choose the 4th best 7, although probably while holding KQ9 of a suit, percentages would favor leading the king.

The above suggestion about the king is centered around not losing to a Jx with partner possessing the 10 or, of course, declarer being a magical (for the defense) 2-2. However, since the opening leader appears to be barren for side entries it looks to me that, although unlikely, one of the key holdings would simply be Ax with partner and to suffer that horror might be too much to even consider.

As strange as it might be, it would likely be doubtful (at least in my experience) for any bridge book ever to even attempt to answer your question, simply because the only possible way to determine is to have a computer simulate perhaps thousands of hands, with normal bidding sequences to 3NT where the opening leader had the very problem faced above.

Further complicating the problem might be the very close percentage difference between the two answers. Far back, now well over fifty years, when personal computers were first coming out, my team of bridge players did have use of one, simulating many different situations with the only one I paid close attention to was the simulation of whether to choose 3NT or 4 of a major as a final resting place with 24-26 hcps, balanced hands but 8 cards in a major suit between the two hands, resulting in the key property for that choice revolving around either the declarer or the dummy having a Qx in a side suit, of course, preferably the declarer, then to choose the 3NT route as the superior contract (advantage of the opening lead producing another trick plus the one less trick required, allowing that possible two trick difference (because of looser leading from suits against NT than major suit games) to make the deciding difference.

Please excuse my discussion which doesn’t effectively answer your question, but, to my knowledge no one bridge author, no matter his expertise, has volunteered to offer opinions, but I suspect that is only because it is difficult to impossible to factor in all the potential thinking necessary.

To segue to your second question, I would not suggest opening 1 club with the East hand above, simply because it figures (at least in my mind) to create more problems than it solves.

However, and believe it or not, with a different vulnerability present (only NS vulnerable) I might (would) open three clubs with it, sure, a gamble, but to my mind a calculated risk (opponents cannot see my hand and I assume they do not cheat) so that I will get a club lead plus the key fact, I have to get very unlucky for their hands to lend themselves to being able to penalize me with a final passed out double.

IOW, the risk of so doing is better, while playing against good opponents, especially when they likely have the lion’s share of the cards and the monkey wrench a preempt might accomplish, at least to me, is worth the risk of an embarrassing result for our side.

However, your tough skin would easily chance that type of risk, as long as other good players available to switch to, in the event of a disaster. (only kidding, at least I think).

Finally, to get into a discussion of all the possibilities of what to do with East’s hand after two early passes becomes not only non-productive but somehow a shade insane.

However, good luck while thinking about it.