Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 28th, 2021


A V Ramana RaoJune 11th, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Though south prevailed due to the clubs position, it would have been difficult had east held fourth club and perhaps he could have improved his chances by not covering the lead. East wins the continuation but he might just lead a diamond instead of a passive trump.
Also, if east wins first trick and were not to hold J of diamonds, he can shift to diamonds straightaway instead of continuing hearts which might present the contract due to the endplay on West

bobbywolffJune 11th, 2021 at 4:53 pm


First, Good Morning, next, let’s discuss the thought behind either covering or not covering the original queen of hearts opening lead.

Obviously everyone at the table (probably even including the dummy, though he will have no legal say, in what declarer does),
will understand that since the ace of hearts (and not being singleton) turns up with East, not declarer, then whatever declarer does decide to play could, in perhaps a small way, allow the defense some G2 (short for information) as to, at least what declarer thinks is his best positional advantage after, what will normally be done, the 2nd heart will be cashed next (pretty much a given since, whether it is necessary for the defense to get aggressive, but having to break suits, playing 1st and 3rd, instead of the catbird’s 2nd and 4th, or instead requiring the declarer to eventually, if not sooner, having to play a key suit 1st and 3rd himself (note the diamonds to more or less inexperienced players now reading).

If declarer ducks the heart in dummy, it is almost certain that hearts will be continue to East’s ace and diamonds switched to, if East doesn’t hold the king, queen or jack, especially the jack (with all players vividly seeing the 10 in dummy).

All reasonably elementary, but sometimes a cat and mouse adventure, depending on the overall exact holdings (at that moment, unknown to both sides).

Of course, with this hand East might probably want to hold no honors in diamonds so making it a “slam dunk” at trick 3 to switch to a diamond, presumably one to which your partner will be able to read as nothing higher than the nine.

The above perhaps is overly simplistic but carrying on, if East holds the ace it is safe to lead away from (assuming the possibility of declarer having the singleton king is 99+% unlikely or even, on the bidding, virtually impossible.

OTOH, the declarer will hate to see East now, and fairly quickly, switch to the nine of diamonds which might indicate that both the king and jack are badly located for the offense besides, by now being able to lead them, will render a successful end position for the defense and not for the declarer.

So getting back to your suggestion, if you do not cover the first heart led it may create the easier path for the defense to then cash a second heart and be in its best defensive position with East on lead.

Granted, the above is not difficult to understand, but, if the declarer takes time before deciding whether to cover the opening lead in dummy, he is likely thinking of what is written above and from time to time it becomes helpful all the way to critical to then decide, once that evidence becomes likely for the defense to plan the further play.

Otherwise, AVRR, you have spoken to whatever is necessary in the planning of both the declarer and the defense. However the best, declarer can do, is ward off the unlucky possibility of West having both the king and jack of diamonds and, of course their opponents defending correctly.

On this hand, if the king of hearts is first played, all the 3rd seat defender needs to do is next cash his 10 of hearts, before then switching to the Curse of Scotland (known in bridge lore as the nine of diamonds).

However, the above could and probably should, be thought to be irrelevant, but for some keen students, while now trying to move up steps with their bridge ability, can possibly glean more evidence from their defender’s thoughts.

Apologies for all the above words about such trivia, but to some, it will be somewhat valuable in their quest to improve their game.