Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 3rd, 2021


ClarksburgOctober 17th, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Good morning Bobby
Matchpoints Neither VUL E deals and passes
North 765 A864 842 A105
South AJ KQ2 Q76 K9642
Assuming South opens a 15-17 1NT, and playing two-way Stayman, how should the auction go and to what contract?
Further assuming South declares a NT contract, West, on lead, holds:
KQ2 J1087 K953 73. Choice of opening lead?

Iain ClimieOctober 17th, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

FWIW I might pass 1N at matchpoints with that flat 8 count on the basis that marginal games aren’t worth bidding. Against 1N passed out I’d lead HJ as I would against 1N 2N pass but if North raises to 2N via non-GF Stayman I’d probably lead an unhappy (but effective) Diamond although anything bar a club will work fairly well and a spade hits an early jackpot. South’s hand, despite the 5C is pretty ropy too.



Robert LiptonOctober 17th, 2021 at 1:35 pm

1: If north passes or bids NT, as west I lead a heart. Win in hand, cash the CK, lead a club, and duck. Now East should shift to a diamond; they cash four diamonds, throwing a spade from each hand. Making 2.

2: If North tries 2C — which I wouldn’t — I’d try a diamond. After winning four diamonds, switch to a spade. If east leads it, west must unblock one of his honors under the Ace, or continue if south plays the Jack. Now the hand goes down a lot.

Bob Lipton

bobbywolffOctober 17th, 2021 at 2:32 pm

Hi Clarksburg, Iain, & Bob,

While there appears to be a duplication of the eight of hearts, that fact would matter not in my answer and discussion of what I would likely do to in replying to your query.

Yes, I would open 1NT with South and pass with the 3-4–3-3 two ace, but otherwise barren North hand.

While aces are undervalued, the bland distribution and virtual throwaway spot cards (particularly without the possible 8 or hearts) makes playing 1NT instead of 2 or 3 a percentage choice for me.

Obviously very close, but probably a heart lead, with or without that ubiquitous 8, which, in turn
might be a dream lead, not for own side, but for the opponents.

While leading the jack, when holding the 108 combination, would be my preference, without it, I would lead my fourth best.

Just another day in the “matchpoint” circuit where lady luck thrives. but, in the long run, if partnerships would play 1NT instead of 2 methinks it would be worth enough consistent better results to try doing it.

At any rate it could be worth thinking about playing one verses two and two in a suit rather than three especially at “matchpoints”.

Hoping for all things going well for you, including your bridgework, whether it is cards or even. dentistry.

Thanks for keeping in touch.

BTW, with the example hand the declarer can effectively block the diamond suit if the queen is played early (first or second lead) allowing declarer to score up another trick.

ClarksburgOctober 17th, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Correction: Only one H8! West’s on-lead Heart holding was J1097.
Thanks to all.
Now, a “confession” about why I asked the questions.
One Partner and I are trying two-way Stayman; not yet fully comfortable and still feeling our way about how it works in various contexts.
I was South and opened 1NT. Partner elected to bid 2C. In a fit of creativity, (or Beginner insanity), I passed the 2C and played there, making.
All others played in NT and all but one succeeded. As Bobby noted that the the heart lead could turn out to be “a dream lead, not for own side, but for the opponents”.
So, I wondered (1) whether in some situations a Pass of 2C could ever be justified / acceptable and (2) whether a top Spade lead might ever be considered on the basis of needing less from Partner to make it work out

Iain ClimieOctober 17th, 2021 at 8:02 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

If you’re playing a 12-14 1N opposite a passed partner and hold Jx xx Kxx AKJxxx then certainly! The nightmare would be partner running with a weak hand opposite any strength NT but a shape like 3-4-5-1 or even 4-4-5-0 where he is going to pass whatever opener’s reply is. That isn’t going to be popular I feel.

As for leading the SK (which works a treat today), “you know what” will give dummy Jxx(x) or even J10xx opposite declarer’s Ax(x) – ouch!



bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2021 at 2:06 pm

Hi again Iain, Clarksburg & Bob,

Yes, I 100% agree with Iain about not passing 2 clubs for fear of catching any one of Iain’s disastrous dummies.

Lesson for this week: Originality is fine, but only when it works and even when it does, it doesn’t, since both partners will be adversely affected by one remembered bad result, to the extent of sometimes deviating from normal bidding.

Thoughtfully, Iain presented the right examples, certainly not sugar coating it, with that void in clubs.

Also, IMO, Iain spoke accurately about the opening king of spades lead, allowing that choice, many 13 card combinations of that suit around the table, to be a loser, even to those who are not suffering from TOCM TM.

ClarksburgOctober 18th, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Thanks again, Bobby, Iain and Bob.