Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 21st, 2021


A V Ramana RaoJune 4th, 2021 at 11:57 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
While the appealing smother play is available and would elate any bridge enthusiast to execute it, in the present hand a simple loser on loser too would work. South wins the club shift in dummy and cashes A of heart knowing the bad break. Now he can play three rounds of spades pitching diamond. If west pitches diamond, south comes to hand with club and runs ten of heart picking trumps and dummy’s diamond scores ninth trick and if west pitches club, south comes to hand with club and leads ten of hearts. If west covers, dummy wins, south ruffs diamond and cashes nine of heart after which dummy is good and if wet doesn’t cover, south leads a trump to dummy and ruffs diamond and again dummy is good
(The theme and line of play remains same; to capture west’s trump and still make nine tricks but for smother play, it is essential to strip clubs before playing third spade while in loser on loser, it is not)

jim2June 4th, 2021 at 1:33 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

I am on the road and confess that I have not played it out, but East will be the one on lead in your loser-on-loser spade play. This means the defense will have taken four tricks. If East were now to return a fourth spade, how would that work out? For example, West will now have a chance to be void in clubs.

A V Ramana RaoJune 4th, 2021 at 2:01 pm

Hi Jim2
If west started with doubleton club, even smother play doesn’t work as he can overruff third club and cash diamond

jim2June 4th, 2021 at 2:45 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

West has already followed suit in clubs once when East ruffed and returned a club.

In your loser-on-loser scenario, West will be able to discard a second club on the 3rd diamond. East wins that trick when both South and West decline to ruff.

Now, should East return a spade (a fourth round), West will have a chance to discard a third club.

jim2June 4th, 2021 at 3:04 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

Your line may still work. I simply have not played out that 5-card ending.

A V Ramana RaoJune 4th, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Hi Jim2
Yes, while the smother play works irrespective of whether west is doubleton in which black suit, the loser on loser play wins only if west has three carded club . Because if he has doubleton club( and three carded spade) when south plays third club , if he ruffs with intermediate card, dummy can overruff, south plays three rounds of spades ruffing third round low ( knowing it is safe) and runs ten of hearts picking up trumps and if west refrains from ruffing and discards spade, the play transposes into column line with smother. And if west is singleton in any black suit, the contract may not make. So the smother play is superior and also exquisite

bobbywolffJune 4th, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Hi AVRR & Jim2,

Rather than suffer from Jim2’s famous hurting head, I’d prefer AVRR & Jim2 settle their dispute “smother” time rather than right now and, if they decide not to, I’ll accept that chore, but likely not today.

Thanks to everyone who is interested with their required patience. (I’ll, of course, accept willing other volunteers as it may create a valuable learning experience, to deal with smothers).

Brandon TaylorJune 4th, 2021 at 8:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

In re “Bid With The Aces” in The Dallas Morning News today, why not three hearts? I count 11 points (9 HCP + 2 for a diamond singleton), just enough to justify such a bid. You said the sooner you support partner, the better; and I, while not a professional bridge player, couldn’t agree more. But you have the correct answer as a cue-bid of three diamonds, and I simply have to question the logic here, as I don’t see the point merits for such a cue-bid.

If I remember my bridge training correctly, North’s one-heart open shows five hearts in hand and four spades or less. South, meanwhile, has three hearts (total of at least eight!) and five spades (total of at most nine). I could possibly see why one would make a cue-bid as to signal one’s spade strength. But, again, the sooner you support partner, the better, and I think three hearts is the better bid to show your heart support. Because how do we know North doesn’t have less than three hearts?

Also, with just 11 points, our South hand is better suited to be dummy, as North’s opening gives our side at least 13 points. With South’s 11, my three-heart response is a natural game invitation, which North can either accept (four hearts) or decline (pass). In that case, I would never be able to communicate my spade strength, so I could see where the three-diamond cue-bid could come in handy.

But if I want to play a conservative game of bridge, I’d go three hearts any day of the week. Or is there a trap I’ve fallen into here?

bobbywolffJune 4th, 2021 at 11:08 pm

Hi Brandon,

And welcome to AOB.

While you make good bridge sense, a cue bid (3 diamonds in this case) will always suggest a heart fit, and allow partner to differentiate between a direct 3 hearts (to which many, perhaps most experienced players, play as strictly preemptive) and thus not invitational, rather than the value you perceive it to be.

IOW, some length in hearts (at least 4, together with a short suit, likely but not mandatory, the suit the opponents have bid, but perhaps as few as only 3 or 4 hcps).

Thus, the cue bid may ask partner to judge his hand based on the above and is definitely invitational or better in partner’s trump suit, allowing partner to bid game and/or compete higher, of course, depending on how good his hand becomes, expecting a sound dummy with hearts definitely trump.

AOB appreciates your letter and always feel safe in expressing either your views or other bridge subjects, as you see fit.

Thanks for writing,

Brandon TaylorJune 5th, 2021 at 1:31 am

Well, I like to think that Bridge is the kind of game you’d get if Chess and Poker had a child. I’m probably not the first one to think of this, but I’d like to give credit to whoever came up with it in the first place.

bobbywolffJune 5th, 2021 at 1:57 am

Hi Brandon,
While I and perhaps all who write regularly on our chosen site will agree, still there are many who just are not familiar with the challenge, ecstasy, and competitive thrills which are ever present with our game.
For anyone who enjoys intellectual challenges of all types, our wonderful game will lead that list.
Pity to the ones who have never been exposed to it.
Again thanks for all you say.