Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 19th, 2021


Iain ClimieAugust 2nd, 2021 at 9:21 am

Hi Bobby,

Does it still make on a H lead, though, as the HA is removed at an early stage. Difficult to blame East for doubling but I remember a hand form the Bridge Player’s bedside companion where West succumbed to temptation with HQ108xxx (and possibly a 7th one) so doubled 4H on his right. Deeclarer had KJ932 in Hand opposite dummy’s singletone Ace but the overwhelming majority of the high cards. Even on a trump lead, declarer could cash winners, take one small ruff in hand and then repeatedly endplay a trump-bound West with plain cards.

Apparently West’s reaction was to scream “What the **** do you have to double?” to which the answer is clearly “More than broken trumps alone”.



David WarheitAugust 2nd, 2021 at 11:19 am

Following Iain’s excellent point about W not leading a H, I think that this hand is worthy of the 2020 Dufus Award–an award given on an occasion where each of the 4 players commits a dufus. South: should have opened the bidding 1C instead of 1S. Not a major dufus, but he must have known that his partner might go wild with the 432 of spades. West: should have bid only 2H. 3H doubled goes down 2 for a zero. Also, could (should?) have led a H, thus defeating the contract. North: for bidding 4S which as Iain has noted, goes down on a heart lead, instead of doubling and getting a sure top. East: for doubling 4S, which apparently in his partnership means “don’t lead your suit, partner”.

bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2021 at 11:45 am

Hi Iain,

You, both asked the question and answered it accordingly.

Of course with incredibly strong trump holdings by the defense, it is overwhelming tempting to raise the stakes by simply doubling.

However, bridge being the positional and yes, the graceful game it becomes, probably more often than thought, sometimes allows the declarer to time the play to best advantage and score it up.

Of course, the reverse is sometimes true when declarer, either by miss timing or by unluckingly losing trump control, suffers a significant set (several doubled undertricks), but mostly only when a careless or inexperienced declarer is at the helm, does that seem to happen.

No real advice can I give, since on today’s hand East’s trump holding, rather than only flawed judgment, produced this worthy result for the declaring side.

The above, IMHO, and basically from both partnerships, only adds to our mystical knowledge of the specific card combinations, restricting the defense to only book.

Shock to the defense but overwhelming satisfaction to the declarer will result, but with reality, the rhythm of the entire play could and should remain with both sides, allowing all four players present, to be aware of how best to both play and defend these kinds of adverse trump holdings, with the final penalty double, often the handicap handed to the declarer’s side, which may or may not, have led to the possible setting trick.

Finally, whether or not West’s ugly and strong reaction to East’s final double is at all justified, and before such a scream was necessary, West should sportingly ask himself, “Would I have perhaps done the same thing, or, at the very least, be strongly tempted?”

bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for your always accurate follow-up on what might have been.

My take on East’s penalty double likely had nothing to do with West not leading a heart, nor would his partner’s double have that meaning. However, partner being relatively short in the overcalled suit is usually a condition of a sound penalty double, since often the one who doubled is hoping for at least, one trick from partner, naturally starting with the suit he overcalled.

IOW, the reason West did not lead a heart was his tenuous KJ holding, but not East’s double so a bridge philosopher might surmise if that East had one less high card (queen of hearts then held by West) down would have gone the declarer.

Such is the game we play and those aspiring to be top drawer need to learn to not only put up with it, but, in truth, expect it. BTW, David, your post had not appeared when I was writing Iain so my first paragraph to Iain, meant only him.

Iain ClimieAugust 2nd, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Hi David,

Many thanks for the kind comments and also not mentioning the spelling mistakes in a hurried post! Mind you, the defence have to be careful to get their tricks off 3H doubled. If North kicks off with a top diamond, that doesn’t help for a start.



Iain ClimieAugust 2nd, 2021 at 3:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

Sorry a misprint in my post . West the doubler was screaming at himself and the world in general and said (allegedly) what the **** do you have to have to double. My slip!


bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Hi Iain,

Yours was not a misprint, but instead, a miss read of what should have been clear to me

And furthermore, particularly while participating in a mind sport rather than physical, unlucky or better described, emotional situations when and if they arise during play, usually cause more damage than just that one hand, since the subject hand remains in the minds of the culprits who lost, not allowing them positive thoughts about the immediate hands which then follow.

Many an important competition has been decided by not necessarily the loss on that one hand, but on the group of hands played while the unlucky pair from the key hand still are left with the devastating negative thoughts from enemy number “1”, which vitally needs to be forever buried.

A good lesson in life and from our sensational game, to especially when in competition(s) from life, whether games or deals, live for the future (next hand in bridge) not the one which just occurred, where nothing can be done to change it.

Winners thrive on the above, losers continue to fail.