Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 2nd, 2021


Joe1September 16th, 2021 at 11:12 am

Some of these hands I get, some I don’t; at the table wouldn’t have gotten this one. What percentage of experts would have been successful defenders here? How often does this kind of pattern come up, it seems likely to be not rare (I try not to consider outlier positions, already challenging enough with common ones)

bobbywolffSeptember 16th, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Hi Joe 1,

Your post is very appealing, if only for the honesty and unsuspecting modesty it represents.

Most defensive hands need some thought, usually in matching the bidding and early play, to what needs to be done, in order to defeat the contract.

The last paragraph, IMHO, makes tournament bridge, usually called matchpoints, just too difficult to guess what to do, especially with a hand like today. Obviously, if East was signalling a small doubleton spade instead of the queen, the overtrick or overtricks granted becomes enormous, allowing that form of scoring to just be too difficult to fathom.

However at IMPs or rubber bridge, the idea, from the inception of Contract Bridge, is to defeat contracts, oft times gambling defensive plays, which enable that sometimes lofty goal.

Having said the above, the column discussion proves that point. No, I am not in favor of doing away with matchpoints, seemingly the most popular of all bridge activity. However, exit purity, enter calculated gambles, but ones which should not result in nothing short of vast differences with results.

To directly answer your question about successful defenders, perhaps less than 10% of very good, experienced club players might underlead his spade at trick two, but, based on the bidding (suits breaking for declarer and nothing negatively held by the defense apparent) might (should) allow West to make his brilliant underlead, with what actually, in fact what happened, within his imagination.

There usually are other factors which forge some brilliant plays, but bridge being the sensational game it is, a duck does not come down from the ceiling (like the old Groucho Marx TV quiz show, “You Bet Your Life”) saying you won. Therefore partnership defense is often extremely critical in merely trying to defeat declarer with an overtrick or two unnecessarily given instead, when the goal is simply not present, is a small price to pay at IMPs or rubber, but huge at matchpoints.

Finally and very simply, the above is as true as it gets, and I have no remedy for it, but and of course, vastly enjoy IMPs where luck alone does and should not determine huge matchpoint differences.

Your post and question is indeed right on point so thank you Joe1 for beginning the discussion.

Others may appreciate it, however simply because it is not good public relations to talk about faults within playing any form of bridge, especially at the local club, which needs as much business as it can get.

Also matchpoints is a very exciting game to play, which incorporates so many good competitive forms of battle, it certainly is worth playing, but, and of course, it does have that one sometimes fatal flaw, at least to me.

bobbywolffSeptember 16th, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Hi again Joe1,

Sometimes, upon further examination, (not always apparent in timed events), the bidding around the table, together with the now shared dummy exposed, may have contributed to West’s brilliant low spade continuation at trick two.

As the column suggested, since all four players seemed to have good hands (with only 40 Goren points available) favorable distribution, rather than high cards, figured to be the reason. South, particularly with his three heart jump (If holding 5 hearts, then holding 6 clubs a possibility) but if so, almost no way to then achieve a set.

East figured to have the queen of spades, since he too, had shown a sound hand, but, in truth, with diamond support, but still not a jump in diamonds, then would normally be his response.

IOW, high-level bridge, particularly those who have had much experience, involve excellent “feels” from partner. Therefore West decided on the defense he must deliver (placing his partner with the queen of spades) in order to have a decent chance to achieve his goal.

Yes, obviously the dummy holding both the ace and jack of diamonds, helped immeasurably in the bridge detective work.

Possibly I am exaggerating the mind work in action, but, if so, it is because with experience, it seems to bear much fruit in the final determination of how to place key cards and then, of course, what best to do.