Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 17th, 2021


jim2August 31st, 2021 at 11:22 am

Now, if only there were an opening bid East could have used to show a 4-5 major suit opening bid.

A V Ramana RaoAugust 31st, 2021 at 11:37 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Certainly east goofed but perhaps west need not have given him the chance and I think West needs to take the blame. From the bidding, west knows that south has four carded or longer clubs . If South’s minor is diamonds, east can have at most singleton and probably would not have bid one NT. West also knows that east has a spade honor otherwise his NT bid is not justified as west is seeing eight points in his hand and ten in dummy. So west, after cashing second high club noting Q from east continues with low club forcing east to ruff and east can exit with diamond or even trump will do. Now, if south draws trumps , he needs to lose a club trick, else east can overruff fourth club.
And perhaps in the column line, after south cashes one diamond and repeats trump finesse, he can as well overtake and play spade A and lead either spade or heart as south is sure that only east has both A K of hearts from the bidding. This is just a transposition of the column line

A V Ramana RaoAugust 31st, 2021 at 11:43 am

Hi Jim 2
Perhaps Flannery would work again. I remember that you raised similar issue some time back but EW make only three hearts unless Doubledummy

Iain ClimieAugust 31st, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Hi Bobby, AVRR, Jim2,

A very good player might have seen the endplay coming, so overruffed the S9 and esited safely. A very bad player would have overruffed because they could although they might then have messed up by cashing one herat or even trying to cash 2. Someone in-between (so most of us I suspect, but not Bobby) would think it sensible not to overruff and hence we wind up in the column play.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing as they say… Also, had Wast got his CA tucked away somewhere during the bidding? Juniors are famous (even notorious) for overbidding, with South’s bid at adverse and opposite a passed partner perhaps a bit pushy, so what was that pass, even opposite a 12-14 NT let alone a strong(er) one?



bobbywolffAugust 31st, 2021 at 1:48 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes Fannery (Texas for a bunch of fans, including moi) will get one Flannery, (4-5 with opening bid values), but distortion will get the same one, 1NT.

No doubt bidding hogs have gone way too far in their choices of early NT bidding, before partner has the first chance to choose it.

Iain ClimieAugust 31st, 2021 at 2:24 pm

HI again Bobby,

A few thoughts on BWTA i.e. that there are many options. The steam (even stone) age approach is to bid 3H (forcing) allowing partner to show a 4 card spade suit, raise hearts, cue-bid or bid 3N. Stayman and Smolen clearly work (especially if partner has hearts) but so do transferring via 2D then bidding 2S and taking it from there. Mind you, I’m not sure how valuable those minor suit honours will be – they could be perfect fillers or waste paper e.g. opposite Ax Qxxx A10xx AJx against AQx QJx 10xxx AKx.

Still, on the latter, the oppo may not lead diamonds reminding me of an Andrew Robson tip. “At pairs, don’t pussy foot about with marginal slams – either bid them or don’t” (or something like that). The intelligent checks to avoid bad IMP slams misfire at pairs as you’ve told the oppo what to lead. I did once wind up a pair at IMPs by cue bidding on a hand with spades agreed with 4D (bypassing 4C) when holding DAxx and CAKx and only a very remote likelihood of slam (just worth a try, but part couldn’t bid 4H) and of course I got a small club lead vs 4S. As the oppo would lead 2nd from 10xx(x)(x) and dummy had CJ9x LHO (a friend of my partner who didn’t know me) could not see the funny side of the CJ winning T1 and was vaguely distracted for sev4eral boards against us. Only an IMP on THAT board but ….



bobbywolffAugust 31st, 2021 at 2:26 pm


Yes, your analysis of South’s play, the column’s choice is, as always, correct and well explained, the real tragedy lies with EW and its bidding (East’s choice of opening bid and/or lack of West handling his responsibility to compete).

No doubt EW will have good chances to score up 4 hearts, especially with South’s bidding intervention. True, if South starts with leading a diamond, declarer then needs to guess the location of the defensive trumps, but stranger things have often happened, particularly with the given bidding. Also, if South starts with a club lead, probably normal, the play then becomes much easier for East to become successful.

However, all of us would be extremely pleased to venture a 2 spade overcall (nothing wrong with that, especially when it goes all pass).

Flannery, at least to me, is worth playing, whether in its original form, an opening 2 diamonds, or even just 2 hearts (doing away with that WTB) if system calls for 2 diamonds to be used for something, more preferred.

At least to me, the above is what optimistic and
forward going partnerships need to accent discussing, rather than lingering on the spilled milk of even coordinated defense which often requires unteachable talents (but rather with experience), conceived on the spot.

bobbywolffAugust 31st, 2021 at 2:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, much can be discussed, when two high level players decide to play and begin to discuss the details of their overall system.

At least to me, my choice is overwhelmingly to play two way Stayman (2 clubs not GF but 2 diamonds GF). For both partner’s, from the bidding get go, knowing the strength of one another is almost always a blessing, especially in the early going of attempting to find the best suit or NT.

Transfers are very much overrated, AFAIC, since, among other disadvantages, and on sign-off types of immediate bids over a 1NT opening is that the wary opponents only have one chance, not two, to enter the bidding, taking away an important value showing bid that transfer’s allow.

Sure, on balance, (sometimes hands are played from the wrong side) allowing the strong hand to be the dummy, but, in my experience, the loss there is minimal compared to allowing the opponents to double artificial bids as well as (mentioned above) two shots at the apple.

The other advantages or disadvantages become well known, but at least to me, 2 way Stayman is clearly a better device for any partnership, especially good ones who are more adept at appreciating how to bid good slams and stay out of bad ones, as well as the above already mentioned. BTW I am not a big Smolen fan, although not a vocal enemy either.

BTW, you do a good job above in your overall discussion of the whys and why nots of various high-level opinions signifying, at least to me to which I agree, do something, but sorting out which is best, is next to impossible and IMO will always be so.

Jeff SAugust 31st, 2021 at 3:40 pm

Hi Bobby,

Yes, the simplest was to overtrump, but would a second heart discard have worked as well? That is, keeping the diamond J would keep his safe exit as the transportation issues keep South from cashing two top diamonds. Or is there some nefarious way home for South that I am missing in this line?

bobbywolffAugust 31st, 2021 at 6:07 pm

Hi Jeff S,

No, bridgewise (and I use the word advisedly) it is best to not over trump and then when North switches to a low trump then play the ace and lead the king of spades, not a small one as superior strategy to not have a second trump diminish trump tricks ahead in dummy.

All in a pure plan to read cards and distribution, while protecting oneself against good defense.

bobbywolffAugust 31st, 2021 at 6:14 pm

Hi again Jeff S,

And more times than ever imagined, sometimes 3-1 defensive trump distributions are more advantageous to declarer than are 2-2 allowing
bridge to keep their “best mind game ever” reputation to live forever.

Robert BordenAugust 31st, 2021 at 9:49 pm


Although the column doesn’t specify which order the discard(s) from East are taken,
although it appears that it was a heart followed by a diamond, it is imperative that
the diamond be discarded first and then overruff the 4th club and exit with a pointed suit
card. This prevents declarer from being able to strip east of his exit cards and still be
able to get to his hand to lead the heart 4 towards dummy to end play east.

Jeff SeSeptember 1st, 2021 at 2:02 pm

Hi Bobby,

Probably too late to get an answer to this question, but I think I didn’t ask my original question very clearly. I was talking about East overtrumping North with the KS. That was best and would have defeated the contract. I was just wondering if, once he decided against overtrumping, discarding a second heart instead of discarding the JD would have still defeated the contract.

Thanks again.

Jeff SSeptember 1st, 2021 at 2:18 pm

Hi Bobby,

It is probably too late to get an answer on this one now. I’m sorry, I don’t think I asked my question clearly enough or, maybe, I just don’t understand the answer. I was talking about East overtrumping with the KS. It was the easiest and best way to defeat the contract, but I was wondering if, once he had decided not to overtrump, East could have still defeated the contact by discarding a second heart and keeping the JD.

Thanks again.

bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Yes he could have, since that second diamond lead could have broken up declarer’s play as it goes game plan, by breaking up declarer’s entries to dummy prematurely and not allowing him the necessary heart end play he needed.

Even with all hands exposed, it is sometimes
difficult, at best, to mentally imagine, much less play, one’s 13 cards to absolutely best advantage.

Ironically, with players who cheat, their lack of talent sometimes causes them to not get the best result, in spite of great, though illegal information, communicated to them by nefarious means.

Maybe that above fact was created by lady luck, who (at least I hope), despises bridge cheats and does what she can to lessen their off-the-charts advantage.