Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 20th, 2021


Iain ClimieMay 4th, 2021 at 11:08 am

Hi Bobby,

I’m not so sure about BWTA today, especially if the North hand is something like today’s one (seems plausible) and North were dealer. If I bid 1D and West weighs in with 1H then North can either support double or pass and I then get the spades in. If I bid 1S, North will probably bid 2S or 1N if West passes and I have a tricky decision over 1N whether to bid 2D – North will probably put me back to spades. If West bids a dodgy 2H over 1S, North might support double or stretch to bid 2S if not playing that treatment, which isn’t really ideal. I’d be more worried if there were more shape around, though e.g. West had much longer hearts and bids (say) 4H.

If North’s assets included SKx and DAQxx plus 5 or more clubs, he might reasonably assume he had decent defence only to see an early high D get ruffed and the SK lead turning out very badly indeed; not so bad if he holds CAK of course, when the defence will go quite nicely. I know there is a modern tendency to bid the major much more often but this does seem a bit much of a distortion especially if North is going to rebid spades with a balanced or semi-balanced hand. Also, and perhaps thisnis unlikely, if 5D is the right spot, are we ever likely to find it after this start?

Feel free to shoot me down for being overly stiuck in my ways! I did once run into a strong Scandinavian pair at a (Common Market as was) Junior event in 1981 in Birmingham who were playing Major First, so the approach isn’t exactly knew.



Robert LiptonMay 4th, 2021 at 12:26 pm

I’m afraid this hand raises a big harrumph out of me. If I never misguessed a layout, I would bid 3NT too. The only inference I can take is that west does not hold the SAK and that he must hold the CK for the contract to have any chance. Who has the DQ? Given east’s silence and probable 3 hearts, I would place it in west’s hand and immediately hook it to preserve entry to my hand. Contract down three.

Given south’s willingness to open with this hand, north overbid. Once south does not bid 3NT, I would bid 3D for safety and leave it at that.


Iain ClimieMay 4th, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Hi Rob,

Just had a closer look at the South hand and I take your point. Still, add the H10 and it isn’t quite so bad (lead the CJ at T2 which wins, then start on D) but maybe NS routinely play very week opening bids, even in 1st. I suppose some players might double with the West hand which could flag the likely D shortage but 1H is better, with the option of doubling competitively later.

Still wincing at that South hand though – maybe he was playign GETNIF (Get gthe NT in first) jsut so he didn’t have to put it down on the table.



bobbywolffMay 4th, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Hi Iain & Bob,

Since together you basically agreed, at least about the current discussion, what it takes to open the bidding and how soon to get the major in I will start with that discussion.

I, like both of you, do agree and obviously for some of the same reasons and may add another, partner (if the opponents wind up declaring (certainly possible with 4th hand, West, not yet being heard from, and enough high cards still available, plus, of course, unbalanced distribution still possibly in the mix). Add the other disadvantage if West doubles and East competes in hearts (which could have happened during the first round of bidding) might cause South to lead a spade (unsupported king or the ace) which might immediately concede a trick to the hated opponents.

Also, North’s immediate 1 spade distortion (instead of the more natural and sensible 1 diamond) may well cause his partner to get the wrong picture of what to expect later. All the immediate above is in favor of a simple one diamond from partner, allowing his donkey to bid spades if he happens to also possess the necessary four pieces).

IOW, we agree against bidding distortion, especially when it doesn’t seem necessary, reserving responding in one spade to when it is naturally in line and, most important, allows partner (especially when and if in defense), but also if partner has a very good hand, possibly (together with partner) in the slam zone but never being able to divan South to have more diamonds than spades.

Strong case to follow, but methinks between the three of us, we have already done enough.

Of course, bridge being the game it is, with many other very good players voicing their opinions, very few specific bidding ideas, usually new, but sometimes just innovative, experience the hotbed of enough use to be anywhere near sure of what works best.

If we all believed the famous line of “let the winner explain” too many fakirs might step forward and to their benefit, I guess we all have to agree, if, in fact, we arrive at a reasonable contract, that the more distortion we have caused in the bidding, the better chance the opponents defense will be adversely affected.

gary olesonMay 4th, 2021 at 3:50 pm


A976 K2
KQT73 842
6 Q754
K62 9753


If the HK is allowed to hold, a switch to a club does not defeat the contract. HK925 C2Q3J C49S46. on lead, what can east do? The clubs are ready to run, the best he can do is cash the spade tops and concede the rest.

So, west must continue hearts. now, south must win and continue as the article suggests running diamonds. reaching the position where the final diamond is about to be led, west to discard. What are his final 7 cards? The position should be reasonably clear. West must keep KXX in clubs, and if 3 hearts, declarer exits in hearts after running the CJ. If he keeps a spade and 2 hearts he has thrown a winner away.



A9 K2
T73 8
— —
K62 9753


West can keep 7 cards. 3 clubs are necessary, if he keeps the spade ace he will eventually be thrown in with it discarding it is no better – declarer runs the CJ and exits in hearts (dummy discarding SQ, S8) allowing the defenders to decide who will surrender the 9th trick.
declarer will have taken, 1 H, 5 D, 1 C and the last 2 tricks, either the C AQ, or the S JT. defense can take no more than 4 tricks.