Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 19th, 2021


A V Ramana RaoMay 3rd, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
The play by declarer demonstrates the power of inference emphatically. Very well played. If only had east kept quiet

A V Ramana RaoMay 3rd, 2021 at 1:55 pm

As an afterthought, had east kept quiet, perhaps west might lead heart ten allowing declarer hypothetical fourteen tricks. Or he might lead a spade and without any inference, south might go down playing for drop of heart Q. Sometimes bridge can be funny

Bobby WolffMay 3rd, 2021 at 2:38 pm


Reason, as explained by C.S. Lewis, could also include the Hackett brothers, being a top pair for years, likeable and extremely ethical, but not as well known world-wide as they deserved to bask in the glory by winning the coveted Romex award for the best bid hand of the tournament.

It was indeed a shame that the declarer, Jason, didn’t have enough dummy entries to verify East having only three clubs to then, by spade inference (because of the bidding and lead), would suggest holding the three hearts instead of only two.

Perhaps Lewis could have somehow added justice to his spectacular remembrance, which, if combined with truth (Both Hackett’s shrewdness) it would have made what happened even more justified.

However in bridge we make do with what was dealt, and that was mightily done, especially in and with heart(s).

Thanks, as usual, for your appropriate discussion, at least everything except the possibility of West leading the heart 10 against that not so grand slam.

Iain ClimieMay 3rd, 2021 at 6:59 pm

Hi Bobby,

7D is clearly better than 7H but I’m just wondering how good it is, although i was hugely impressed by the Hackett boys avoiding hearts. It needs trumps not to be 4-0 with West holding 4, so that is 95% but then hearts have to either drop (2-2 is 40%), be 3-1 with singleton Q either way or be guessable as declarer did today via the important negative inference. That picks up singleton H10 with West but then you can’t count HQ10 or Qx with West as one of the 2-2 cases. It may not therefore be quite as good as it looks in terms of the odds normally needed for a grand slam (65-70% or more if I remember rightly) but you can’t argue with success.

The point about EW playing weak 2-suited 2S opening bids would undoubtedly have the late Terence Reese shouting I told you so, of course. He was adamant that such bids often did more harm than good although the mdoern style is to be as obstructive as possible despite the risks; I’m not sure Easts 1S was terriby sensible either way here.



Bobby WolffMay 3rd, 2021 at 10:02 pm

Hi Iain,

Speaking not as a strict mathematician, but rather as just a hopefully practical bridge lover, I would estimate the chances of a makeable grand slam very close to 50%. Slightly less than that actually, but when other factors are counted, opponents bidding or not, horrible opening leads, or extreme thoughtless defense it will probably round itself off to that number, which for grand slams is definitely below healthy application to gamble.

Lots of experience has occurred since Terence roamed the game, but still no accepted majority opinion on your subject of bidding with weak hands.

No doubt valuable information occurs, but even if it does, is that fact enough to dissuade the mathematical odds? JUAT WIN BABY might be the battle cry to follow.

Perhaps whatever we do will not coincide with what others think. If so, doesn’t that help all of us appreciate even more what a truly
wondrous game we play?

gary olesonMay 6th, 2021 at 6:04 am

If south wins the first heart, West may simply defeat the hand by discarding the spade ace rather than a club. West’s defense assumes that East has the CJ. East’s carding should indicate a high spade honor, allowing West to come to the correct solution. If the first heart is ducked, no defense can possibly defeat this hand.