Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 5th, 2021


Robert LiptonMay 19th, 2021 at 11:44 am

Although there are plenty of entries as the cards lie, had trump broken 3-0. declarer might have regretted winning the first trick in dummy rather than in his hand .

David WarheitMay 19th, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Better line of play is to play the DK on the initial D lead, rather than finesse the J. This line works if W has DA or if E has DAQ; no chance for E to fool declarer. This also takes care of Robert’s comment.

Iain ClimieMay 19th, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Hi Folks,

Is it worth eliminating clubs as well? If East has DAQ and SK he then has nowhere to go assuming trumps are 2-1? I don’t know how much trust shoul dnb epla ced in West’s failure to lead the DA (if he holds it) but East deserves some credit for not hitting 5D I think.



bobbywolffMay 19th, 2021 at 2:28 pm

Hi Robert. David, & Iain,

Perhaps fittingly Immanuel Kent’s thoughtful quote, generally about a person’s character, should also include for a bridge playing defender’s benefit, “except when defending at the bridge table, when quick thinking and forever counting become critical.

It must be done smoothly so that “possible great defensive plays should be done in tempo”, then not giving the declarer an advantage to cherish and more to the point, “likely giving the farm away”!

Not many can comply, especially those who lack the experience to discount thinking about the wonder and awe of the game but rather use time at trick one to best advantage by preparing “in this case” to falsecard the winning of the first diamond led by the declarer to the jack.

It probably is hands like these which, according to the rules, allowed a defender to take time to think about the whole hand before playing to trick one on defense, even if his play at trick one does not require initial thought.

Yes Iain, East does deserve great credit for not doubling 5 diamonds, thinking it the best lead for his partner to make.

But how rude it would have been to a bridge column writer by destroying the excitement for all his readers.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2021 at 2:40 pm

Hi David,

Yes you definitely have a cogent point about declarer leading a diamond with the intent of playing the ace, since he does need three discards, therefore strategically and in a vacuum, making the king a much better pure percentage play.

Good thinking and for an excellent reason, befitting your very keen mind.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2021 at 2:51 pm

Hi Robert,

Also your point about where and why to win the first club in hand, creating an extra entry to dummy makes sense. The only negative may lie in, by doing so, it might cause West to rise with his ace of diamonds (allowing declarer to then conveniently ruff out East’s theoretical queen), thinking partner may have the king of clubs.

However, while playing against equals that should almost never happen after East gives a negative club signal at trick one.

Thanks for your comment.

Jeff SMay 19th, 2021 at 4:14 pm

Fascinating hand. It seems the purpose of the JD is to place the QD. If East plays it, South knows he has no choice but to play East to have the AD. If East plays the ace, South “knows” West has the queen. If he holds Qx or Qxx, South makes, if he holds any more diamonds, South loses.

That all makes sense to me and seems to go wrong only on this exact holding by East which gives him the opportunity for a brilliant false card. If he had AQxx, would he take the risk that he is letting the contract through when South started with xx and one less spade? He might strongly suspect South would not have bid the slam with that holding, but maybe South was taking a bad gamble.

I agree that the KD is technically a better play, but I can see where South might have thought he was giving himself a small extra chance at no cost especially since a lot of players would not be able to play that false card in tempo even if they found it at all. Afer all, this East did not.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2021 at 7:28 pm

Hi Jeff,

Your post, though with simple terms, explained everything important, necessary for complete understanding.

Yes, there are situations, usually with specific players, not percentages, which suggest guessing differently, but for learning and bridge sake, we probably need to think this is random and therefore not clear.

My main purpose in presenting this type of bridge problem is to allow the reader to enter the world of high-level bridge, without actually not having to be physically present.

Without which, a huge percentage of bridge lovers, or just players, will likely be unable to experience these psychological bridge problems which arise much more often when strength plays against strength..

Thanks again for your accurate summation.