Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 9th, 2021


jim2May 23rd, 2021 at 11:46 am

On that first hand, I want to bid 4S, too. But should I?

First, I have a personal rule to tend towards caution when I have two or more doubletons. Hands like that simply need more fitting cards from partner than other shapes.

Second, partner will definitely read this as cue bid — probably showing first round control — but how can he know that it is my ONLY first round control? Sure, all may be will end well if he is looking at all three missing aces, or maybe both minor aces and a singleton heart, but what if he is not?

Third, what will his non-slam bids mean over 4S? Would 4N be ace-asking? If so, will my response turn a plus into minus? If the opponents have a nine card fit, that could so easily become the case. Would 4N instead be something else? We simply have very little space left before passing by 5C. If the minor suits were reversed, 4S would be sooo much less risky.

ClarksburgMay 23rd, 2021 at 1:02 pm

A strong Pair at our club held:
North: K3 KJ10 AK98 A762
South: J A75 Q5432 KQ108
Matchpoints, EW Vul
East started with a weak 2S, The auction went:
2S X P 3S P 4D P 4S P 5C P 5D P 6D
You have often mentioned the various opportunities to make use of the Opponent’s calls, Here we saw a TO Double and two cue bids!
Would appreciate your comments on:
Do you endorse the TO Double rather than a “both minors” call?
Should the second cue bid imply Diamond fit, or just “I’m really strong, tell me more” ?
Is this a reasonable slam? (In the play West chose to lead a very friendly Heart, rather than a Spade)

Robert LiptonMay 23rd, 2021 at 2:18 pm

A heart lead is nice, but a spade lead is almost as deadly. Throw a club on the second spade, draw trump, test clubs, and if they split, throw a heart, making seven. If they don’t split, use the inferential count to determine the HQ location.

Bob Lipton

Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I think South’s final 6D is a bit pushy as he hasn’t got anything more than a minimum double. Still, North has made an awful lot of effort here but May be should be rolling out RKCB himself or just bidding 6D or even NT to protect SK. Why did east not double the spade cue-bids with SAQ to ensure the lead though? Even SQ at T1 Will do if honours are split.



bobbywolffMay 23rd, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Hi Jim2,
No doubt, your summation to the jury definitely does the job, depicting both the danger involved and, of course, crying out for the right helpful information, which because of the pre-emption is not available, certainly without major risk.
No answer, including conservatism, (a simple 5 clubs), is without immense risk (missing a lay down slam) so psychology enters, making my choice of an immediate 6 clubs more (at least to me) my real and unadulterated bid.
Of course, depending on the vulnerability, which was sadly not made available, but by echoing to bid the slam, what are the poor opponents going to do?
It seems to be, and, of course, it could be delusional, but through the years those kinds of ventures clearly, in toto turned out to be a plus, but, while nothing is close to guaranteed, that would be my choice (especially at unfavorable vulnerability, vul vs. not).
IOW, I, like you, and every sane player, my guess is that partner will produce the winning hand to make it, but even if he doesn't, the opponents may then take the save, which no one alive could, at this point in the bidding, know whether that was good or not so.
Of course, from a practical standpoint, one needs to have tough skin to stand up to what may happen that, of course, is horrible. However, in bridge, as in life, many of us have experienced that type of predicament, but, at least in this moment in time, it doesn't prevent a long enough life to still hope it happens again.
4 spades is definitely a cue bid, as would be, any other suit, but clubs would be. Also, 4NT should be ace asking. Yes, having a diamond fit rather than clubs may allow an ace ask to be safer (because of level), but again the opponents, especially good, experienced ones, may still be heard from.
Thanks, as always, for your well chosen, conceived post, even though it might get me assassinated by one of those serial bridge killers who attacks lunatics.
However, if it does, at least I didn't have to live a life of TOCM TM, which, at least to you and me, must be worse.

bobbywolffMay 23rd, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

You present a great hand to bid, and I approve of their whole auction. Actually, yes the second cue bid from the responder is almost a certainly to be a fit in whatever his partner bid, and if it is (with that partnership) then a raise of 5 clubs to 6 might be in order to play the 4-4 fit so that on occasion a loser can be discarded from what will turn out to be the dummy, making maximum use of a 4-4 exact fit in trump to allow (what sometimes turns out to be) the contract trick. Not here, but could be, with the lesser danger of a bad trump break (for the 4-4 fit) still looming.

However, you wouldn’t want me to not warn you of that possibility (or would you?). However I do agree with the original double, and although it is always comfortable to have at least 4 of the “other” major for a TO double, it is not nearly a necessity, especially with a better than average strength double.

Getting to this slam is excellent and the reward of having the slam almost a claimer (except for 4-0 diamonds offside, almost an impossibility with East (being void in diamonds, not raising spades or doing anything)..

However, the result is up in the air with the slam bidders hoping their opponents do the wrong thing, probably by not sacrificing.

It is always nice to hear from you and hope things are going well enough for you and yours.

In the event of this hand, it is almost lay down, making everyone, but the opponents, happy.

bobbywolffMay 23rd, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, your analysis is again good, except for claiming a grand slam made, instead of only a small one,
but I liked the way you played it.

bobbywolffMay 23rd, 2021 at 4:25 pm

Hi Iain,

As always, thanks for your comment, but sometimes it doesn’t pay to double for a lead, when you still expect it, since you do deliver an extra round of informational bidding by those undeserving opponents, who may use that information, both in amount and in text, to their advantage (it may also on some other hand at least imply that another key card held (perhaps an ace) is then held by the partner of the lead directing doubler.

However, you could be right if you were void in some other suit, at least after the hand in being able to criticize your OX for your failure to double indicated another lead.

“What a tangled web we weave…………”

Often an unnecessary exercise, but once in a while critical.

ClarksburgMay 23rd, 2021 at 4:47 pm

@ Bob and Bobby
A Spade lead goes through Dummy’s Kx to the preempter’s AQ. So there is no discard available on SK
As the cards lay, the Heart Queen was Qx in the East, (prempter) hand.

jim2May 23rd, 2021 at 5:26 pm

Clarksburg –

Too bad no one bid 6C to offer a choice of slams.

bobbywolffMay 23rd, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Hi again Clarksburg,

Yes, I became confused as to who was on lead and, of course apologize, for that.

However, it did send a clarion call for then playing 6 clubs (the 4-4 fit) instead of 6 diamonds, to be able to then take advantage of the 5th diamond discard and make the small slam, without having to take the losing finesse into East, the short heart hand.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but, at least one wrong (me) and one right (playing it in clubs, not diamonds) could make this slam.

ClarksburgMay 23rd, 2021 at 6:50 pm

Thanks Bobby, to you and others
Very helpful.
I will pass this “lesson” along to my partners and some clubmates.

Robert LiptonMay 23rd, 2021 at 7:03 pm


Bob Lipton

Iain ClimieMay 24th, 2021 at 9:13 am

Hi Clarksburg,

Was this pairs or teams? At pairs North might toy with 6N(!) which is easy on a spade lead (provided the minor suits don’t misbehave) but trickier on a passive lead. There again, 6D making should have been a pretty good score so let’s not get too greedy.



ClarksburgMay 24th, 2021 at 11:24 am

Only this one Pair bid to a slam.
Many in 3NT declared by North