Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021


jim2August 17th, 2021 at 10:44 am

I confess that I would play the hand differently.

The question I would begin with was why did West lead a spade? The auction shows that this cannot prevent dummy ruffs.

The only answer would thus appear to be that all other suits appeared risky for some reason despite the fact that both top hearts are missing, along with length. Thus, I would place West with honors in all side suits.

My line would be to win the opening lead in hand and immediately advance a small club. If the KC is with West, I have 10 tricks before trying any other chances (5S-1H ruff-1D-3C). Note that the finesse against East does NOT guarantee three club tricks even if the finesse wins. (If the QC holds, I would likely draw trumps ending in hand and lead a second small club)

A V Ramana RaoAugust 17th, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps there was no hurry to draw trumps. Win the lead in dummy and lead heart. If east is not awake and plays low, south has easy time. With all tenace positions, west will return another trump. Win in dummy and run Q of club, west wins and leads his last trump. Win in dummy and ruff a heart,reach dummy with club and ruff another heart bringing down A for ten tricks. If east plays A of hearts and returns diamond, South can finesse. It loses and west returns another trump. If east follows, there are ten tricks but east shows out . Dummy played high card wins, south ruffs heart high and leads low club! If the club finesse is working, south doesn’t need it. If west plays K for leading another trump, south has ten tricks and if east wins, it doesn’t matter what he returns. If it is diamond, south wins, ruffs diamond, ruffs heart high, club to dummy , ruff heart high , draw trump for an elegant dummy reversal

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, your line of play, especially at IMPs or rubber bridge appears best, but at matchpoints, sometimes by taking a normal club finesse, (queen from dummy), a lucky guess or defensive error may produce an overtrick (or even two on a very fortunate day.

However, while playing against Jim2 and Jim1, the reason for the non-club lead may be, what could be called double dummy excellent by not possessing the king, forcing you back into danger of non-success.

No contradiction by me of your suggestion, other than to avoid playing, if possible, any numbered Jim, through at least Jim4.

Reminds me a little of the young boy being Baptized, but somewhat later than right after birth. As the minister dunks the boy in water, he several times asks the youngster “do you believe?”, and the boy doesn’t answer, but finally after several times he does say “Yes” and when asked to describe what, he carefully announces, “that you are trying to drown me”.

Everyone should wish to play with you as his bridge partner (could not do better) and for that matter, choosing any number you, would also be my choice for my lawyer, as well.

Iain ClimieAugust 17th, 2021 at 2:07 pm

Hi Jim2,

Good points and your line works nicely even if West leads a small heart to East’s Ace at T1 and a diamond (maybe the 8, maybe the 10) comes back although declarerethen mustn’t finesse the Queen – although if East might have K108x(x) in diamonds and be making a surround play, then the Queen should go in. The other point worth making is that a trump lead taken cheaply allows South to ruff at least one heart high in hand.

When you say that the finesse against East doesn’t guarantee 3 club tricks, it does if East has the CK and covers (or doesn’t) at some point due to the C8 & 9, but West could have CK10xx and duck the first club. Now if / when declarer bashes out the CJ hoping to pin C10x or similar he is in for a major disappointment. Should the “1H ruff” be a diamond ruff in the short hand, though?

I’ve got to say that on your line I’m taking the D finesse if the CQ wins, especially at pairs. I get away with it today but maybe don’t deserve to. Repeated trump leads could leave me unable to trump my 4th club and losing diamond.



A V Ramana RaoAugust 17th, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Sorry, south doesn’t have entry for drawing trump in the ending described if east wins the club but today, west has club K ans south sails home. Sorry again for the slip

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 2:32 pm


Yes, your line of play has its merits. However it would even be more likely if the ace and king of hearts is switched by East and West. (normally called bridge columnist advantage in suggesting his play).

In any event, today’s hand looks like it should make, however all of us who blog on this site, at one time or another, have gone down on similar favorites to make, some understandable, possibly others, not so.

However, in order to again bring Jim2 into focus, the remark of “his head starting to hurt”
comes to mind when even thinking about trying to figure the percentage line of one line or another.

The only decent suggestion I’ve ever heard when dealing with such difficult enterprise is simply, “Let the winner explain” and we, in our seats as columnist, have only described the way we suggest, not to say that next time we may not steal yours.

Thanks always for your considerable cerebral effort with your choice or choices.

As said above, you also, should be a top choice, if one is searching for a lawyer.

jim2August 17th, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Iain Climie –

My “guarantee” point was that declarer made three club tricks on any club layout if West had the KC (and no 5-1 or 6-0 splits). If declarer plays East for the KC (and is correct), a correct guess may be required. Have I ever mentioned TOCM(tm)?

(and, yes, I meant 1D ruff — or 2H ruffs, depending on defense leads)

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Hi Iain & AVRR,

No apologies necessary with discussions like this.

Since so many card combinations (and by the different bloggers) it is well nigh difficult for
everyone or, for that matter, possibly anyone to remember who said what or, more importantly, the specific circumstance to which play was made and when.

All in great fun with finally (if patient) we all will arrive at some opinion as to which line may be the better one, but whether we decide or not, the information gleaned will likely help us at least some, especially with card combinations in the future.

jim2August 17th, 2021 at 5:45 pm

Dear Host –

I was going through some boxes and came across my membership tote bag from the Washington DC Summer Nationals


Brings back memories! Literally!

Playing Precision, I am your partner and dealer. Your hand:



Your partner (moi!) thought for a moment over 6S doubled, thinking of redoubling??

jim2August 17th, 2021 at 5:46 pm

Sorry, you have FIVE xDs.

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 6:13 pm

Hi Jim2,

Certainly no redouble and against many top players I know, would not expect to make it.

Partner is almost certainly void in hearts, but LHO would allow for that. Of course, am hoping LHO leads the ace of hearts, but probably not and although I can ruff myself in to establish two diamond discards in dummy, I still am very uncertain as to what will happen.

Yes, I think I have a chance to score it up, but the downside fact is, that LHO didn’t make an uncertain double, since he didn’t have to worry about his partner taking the save.

OK, against a top player I would estimate only a 40% chance of making this baby, and against a cheating pair that 40% falls off to about 5%.

Finally, yes I am happy to have you as a partner, but you just being a human being may
not be enough. Very good players with trump honors will usually not double a slam to increase a set, simply because the math involved doesn’t warrant it.

“Nuff said”, now show me that it is lay down!

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 6:31 pm

Hi again Jim2,

Yes, I remember it well, 1984 and Edith Rosenkrantz’ kidnapping (turned out well with both her and her husband, George living to their late 90’s). How about 1971 or 2 in DC and before that 1961 at the Sheraton Park also in DC where my team got to the final three and a playoff for the Spingold trophy: My team: Curtis Smith (partner), Bobby Nail, Mervin Key, and a neurosurgeon, Dr. Bob Farris from Austin Tx. Each team beat the other, but we finished 3rd by quotient.

Perhaps my most exciting bridge event ever, since the other two teams were world class and I became hooked for life!

Bobby WolffAugust 17th, 2021 at 6:38 pm

Hi still again,

No, I confused that event with a year earlier (1960) in LA at the Ambassador Hotel but in 1961 in DC and at the Sheraton Park my team, quite different, got to the finals of the undefeated bracket before losing to Roth & Stone, Crawford, Becker and Rapee

jim2August 17th, 2021 at 7:50 pm

BTW, my hand:

AKQ xxx

Q J98 xxx

The Precision “Red Book” said that the 16 HCP requirement for 1C could be lowered if one had a 2-suiter, so …


jim2August 17th, 2021 at 9:53 pm

Opening lead was AC from AK …


Iain ClimieAugust 18th, 2021 at 9:13 am

Hi JIm2,

In that case, maybe you should have redoubled! Flippancy aside, how many complete 2-suiters have you ever encountered? I remember a stong 7-6 (None None AKQ10xxx AK10xxx) whihc led to all sorts of fun and games after 1H on my right plus a 0-8-0-5 hand where partner bid 3H over 2N, got doubled and made it. Thos are the only two I can remember though.



jim2August 18th, 2021 at 11:17 am

+1020 was “only” 10.5 on a 12 top, so maybe I should have!

Poor pard admitted afterwards that he wanted to defend 4H doubled and did not enjoy at all hearing my 6S bid.

From my perspective, 7H might possible make, and surely would not be worth 6S doubled even if it did not. That is probably why I did not redouble.