Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 20th, 2021


Iain ClimieAugust 3rd, 2021 at 10:03 am

Hi Bobby,

As a quick follow-up to your final thoughts in yesterday’s column, the mental aspects of competition are not confined to mind-sports (or games if you prefer). Simone Biles the brilliant US gymnast pulled out of current Olympic competition citing mental health issues; she got some flak but film of mistakes in training showed something was going wrong in terms of her control of twists, so the mind-body link had gone badly awry. If she gets things badly wrong, though, it isn’t just a possible lost medal or match but a potentially broken neck. At least we don’t have to worry about that.

East’s silence today was peculiar to say the least, though. Years ago, length in opener’s suit was regarded as a discouragement to bidding but Mike Lawrence’ws complete book of overcalls (back in the 80s I think) suggested that length there suggests partner may well be short and hence will probably have trumps and a ruffing value. Not today, though! Any thoughts on that theory?

Tremendous declarer play by Grude though, especially given the shock at T1. Does east do any better not ruffing? Somehow I suspect not, as the play can go on similar lines to those you suggest on a diamond lead.



Robert LiptonAugust 3rd, 2021 at 12:55 pm

I agree with Ian. My impulse is to bid 2D, both to compete and as a lead director; get in and out early. However there’s always the possibility that the opponents will wind up in Spades, which I wouldn’t mind, and in a suit contract played by lefty, I’m not opposed to a club lead, which reduces the bidding impulse.

Bob Lipton

bobbywolffAugust 3rd, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Hi Iain,

Had almost finished a long discussion especially directed to your very interesting choice of discussion topics, but wham bam, it all went “poof” and off into outer spade. However, start to fear, I am going to try it again.

No doubt Grude was brilliant, and Mike’s advice about suit lengths needs to be respected, but for practical application, those theories melt like the snow when involved with a specific hand, since the most common bid in bridge is simply pass. But for statistical purposes, probably needs to be always included, for whatever its worth, in all percentage tables, but realistically and in fact, is likely not considered.

Along with Bob Lipton and you I certainly would overcall 2 diamonds, but hardly because my holding 4 spades allowed for more diamonds in my partner’s hand, since it also did the same for my LHO, the “hound dog who ain’t no friend of mine”. However since bidding 2 diamonds looks like, at this near beginning time in the auction, the right choice, I’m all in.

Regarding Simone Biles, the sensational USA gymnast, and her horrendous and very embarrassing Olympic disaster, her type of so-called mental problem is, at least to me with my long bridge experience, have also seen that same type of problem (although without the threat of broken necks and such) occur often while playing high level bridge in World Bridge tournaments.

Otherwise superior players sometimes “freeze up” in competition and play well below their capability, possibly because of similar reasons to Simone, an horrific drop in self confidence appearing at exactly the wrong time (for her), and, of course, the team she represents.

What occurred in Tokyo with her does not surprise me that much since events like public speaking as well as “mind” games like bridge and including physical sports which heavily rely on “thinking” such as hitting and pitching in baseball,”quarterbacking” in football and, of course “shooting” in basketball especially “free throws”.

Different in boxing, soccer (except possibly for “penalty kicks”), rugby, but also prevalent in tennis and golf (especially during the later rounds).

There was a long ago saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” which I think is an acknowledgement of the above.

While your news (which I had not heard) about her recent history before Tokyo could be 100% valid, but perhaps it is being suggested to try and take added pressure away, which, no doubt, has caused her even greater embarrassment, despite a remarkable career.

There, I have shortened the above from my way too long effort and now I can take away the “way”, but thanks for your writing and as always, “valued opinion”.

bobbywolffAugust 3rd, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Hi Bob,

We agree, as noted in my response to Iain.

However I do question your “take” on a club lead, especially a low one since I would not want to waste my probably built in heart trick trumping a small club lead by partner which figured to likely cause the loss of a club trick, otherwise entitled.

However, thanks for joining in since this site is constructed for exchanges of bridge talk (with a few exceptions, like today) to which you maintain an earned and important position.

Iain ClimieAugust 3rd, 2021 at 2:19 pm

Hi again Bobby,

Apparently Simone went back on the bar (which I always think is terrifying, especially when they somersault and land back on it) and got a bronze today so well done to her.


jim2August 3rd, 2021 at 2:59 pm

At the Mud Cup, I saw no +420s on the scoresheet.

Instead, there were several +400s and even a couple +430s !!

bobbywolffAugust 3rd, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Hi Jim2,

Probably several -50’s and -100’s also, since 6-5-1-1 containing at least one major suit, especially opposite a balanced hand, adds up to most, as suit oriented.

However the Mud Cup might look at things differently, something other than real bridge.

bobbywolffAugust 3rd, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Hi Iain,

Good for her, but deep down, I believe her suffering was not being worried about injury, but rather than, at the very get go (beginning), terrified of performing the toughest acrobatic and thus the more likely to not be successful, immediately.

Can understand the chagrin and before millions of eyes watching, again something akin to top flight world bridge tournaments, without that number watching, but instead written up and forever for posterity.

Sponsors in bridge seem to have tough skins, able to take the criticism internally without being embarrassed with the winning (or losing), although not fooling many as to their status, in stride.

Possibly because most bridge pros try to look out for not only their own reputations, but also for their boss.

Strange world and, as usual, emphasizing coin of the realm as life’s blood, even though bridge, unlike almost all other Olympic sports, accents mind over physical prowess.