Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 6th, 2021


Iain ClimieMay 20th, 2021 at 9:58 am

Hi Bobby,

A bit surprising that West didn’t lead the HK when there is a trap in wait for him. Suppose he does so and South decides to ruff diamonds; he takes T1, plays DK, DA, D ruff, cashes 3 spades ending in hand and ruffs another diamond (it clearly doesn’t help West to ruff in low, althugh perhaps he should ruff in high and play two more rounds of trumps). Suppose he ditches a small club and a spade, though. Now he winds up thrown in with the CA and can cash 1 top trump but has to give south a trick with the H10. If he ditches two spades, he can take CA cash 1 trump denuding dummy and then put partner in with a club for a plain card through and his J7 sits over declarer’s 106. If he tries to be clever and ditch the CA, though, he won’t get the chance to take a second round of trumps.

Maybe South can stop this by ducking the first heart when another high heart gets taken and the play proceeds as above. Any thoughts? Alternatively, if West starts at T1 and T2 with CAx, East takes the 2nd club and returns a small one which has to be ruffed with the 10 does West do best to overuff or discard a diamond?



Robert LiptonMay 20th, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Regardless of the results, I don’t like the bidding or the play. Given south’s flat hand and honors in his short suits, this hand doesn’t look like an opening. The spade overcall is badly considered; do you really want partner to be leading the suit against o Trump? Neither do I think the opening lead of a diamond a good idea. I would tooy with the idea of Club Ace and a low club before starting, like Iain, with the HK.

If south passes, west opens 1 spade, and it’s passed around to south who doubles. Now south has a fine hand for a reopening double, and north plays it at 2H with a spade opening lead, won in hand.

While it’s true that bad bidding makes interesting play, I much prefer good bidding that leads to sensible play.


Iain ClimieMay 20th, 2021 at 1:04 pm

Hi Bob,

I think it may be better fro South to reopen 1N after 1S passed round to him although East might muddy the waters with a forcing 1N reply trying to find a minor suit fit. I sympathise with your comments about good bidding when I’m playing the hand but there is a twisted pleasure in bringing home bad contracts and it can develop the imagination in terms of either finding the only (albeit remote) legitimate chance or, better yet, a spectacular swindle leaving the opponents stunned.



bobbywolffMay 20th, 2021 at 2:46 pm

Hi Iain & Bob,

While I absolutely have no real quarrel with either of your confident views, I, as opinions vary, tend to have my own take
on arguable theories.

First Bob, I prefer and have always, chosen Culbertson’s honor trick method to straight point count in evaluating initial ventures into the bidding. IOW a together AK and another A is enough for me to open the bidding since, at least to me, aces and togetherness of honors rather than ones which stand alone are more valuable than thought (especially in Goren’s 4-3-2-1 value), but I fully and freely admit, that it doesn’t always work out that way.

However I would open the South hand, but would not, if my distribution was any 4-3-3-3, instead of 4-4-3-2, in this case, 3-4-4-2.

Then, and of course, the normal result of a heart contract (with a more normal 3-2 break) would likely score up nine tricks rather than eight, but I agree that instead, playing at the two level is preferred, but as our great game demands and in order to score well in tournaments we need to rise to the occasion, (make our contract), when bad breaks raise their ugly heads.

Leaving the reason for showcasing this relatively lesser important above battle, to only show various winning thoughts about both declarer play, defense and, in actuality the choice of opening lead.

Whether plays, bids, or the choice of opening lead becomes somewhat subjective or not, leading only to allow the reader an experience of (if you will excuse the pun) dealing with it.

My guess is that if hearts become trump for NS, the range of tricks taken will be somewhat divided between eight and nine,
allowing a stop at two hearts far superior to being pushed to three.

No more nor less with today’s competition and I, for one, appreciate both your opinions and especially your efforts and methods with producing them.