Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 1st, 2021


Iain ClimieNovember 15th, 2021 at 10:14 am

Hi Bobby,

Is there any sort of general rule which applies here form East’s point of view and does it depend on dummy’s holding too? I suspect there may be a difference between dummy holding two small cards and three small cards, for example.



bobbywolffNovember 15th, 2021 at 3:54 pm

Hi Iain,

AFAIK, there is no general rule and all I can offer is the simple word, likelihood, especially when playing IMPs or rubber bridge where sets, rather than worrying about overtricks, are always the goal.

This particular card combination lends the 3rd seat defender a clearer description of “what to do” by playing the jack, than being more obscure with the supposed correct 10 play.

Therefore, since partner is a friend, do it for him and together reap the reward when it occurs.

At the very least, when being the 3rd seat defender and deciding to play the ten, you’ll avoid an incredibly nervous wait when partner wins his ace and decides what to do.

From a truthful status, I would regard the playing of the 10 while 3rd seat, instead of the jack, a grievous error,
which punishes partner rather than helping him.

Not all will agree, except, and of course,
the players who really enjoy winning, instead of the other unspeakable possibility.

Of course, when and if matchpoints is the game everything is different and it becomes much closer what to do, but whatever happens, at the very least, West will have an excuse, but I will still play the jack, if sitting East.

As to whether dummy has two or three small hearts, I do not think it a material difference, but two small instead of three emphasizes “getting it right”!

Iain ClimieNovember 15th, 2021 at 5:37 pm

Hi again,

As a follow-up, should East play the HQ or HJ form QJ alone in third position (with dummy holding xxx and partner readable as having at least 4 AND maybe 5)? If a declarer has K10x, it will make no difference and the defence will not be able to unravel their winners anyway if declarer plays on clubs but would you consider playing the Q here? I suspect it might do more harm than good, unlike the column position.

The column hand again shows the need to do homework of course. It is very unlikely that anyone would find the J play at the table I suspect – hence the Hideous Hog’s immortal line “A theoretician is someone who knows exactly the right bid or play just a few seconds after doing something different”.


Iain ClimieNovember 15th, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Also, why was East signalling club length here instead of playing a Smith (or Dorothy Hayden) peter? South will surely have a re-entry to hand having opened a strong NT so what was East’s intention?



GinnyNovember 16th, 2021 at 12:41 am

Hi Bobby,

Is the 1nt opener in 1st seat with 2 doubletons acceptable, routine, “forced”, etc.? Is the fact that both doubletons are in the majors makes this acceptable? Can either be xx? (say, xx, AK, AQJx, Q10xxx).

What happened to easy Monday? (Was this easy?, ugh!) Going back to Monday NYT crossword.

(All in jest.)


bobbywolffNovember 16th, 2021 at 4:49 am

Hi Iain,

A third chair defender should play the J from QJ doubleton, but is not in the same family of plays of the J from QJ10.

The third seat defender in the original discussion is merely making it easier for partner to assume he may have the Q, where if he followed with the routine 10 from QJ10 it might (would) usually make it more difficult for partner to visualize.

Nothing more, but definitely not less. And from QJ doubleton, the play of the gueen should deny the jack.

Finally, the discussion and application of signalling should be determined by the partnership. Most of the top partnerships tend to signal what on that hand might be the more important information to pass to partner.

Yes. there can be (and too often is) a mix-up, particularly among very good players who vary their emphasis, but when push comes to shove, talent of both partners comes together to read any one hand the same.

At least I think the above is true more often than it is not, but I have no proof of it.

bobbywolffNovember 16th, 2021 at 4:58 am

Hi Ginny,

Although a 5-4-2-2 hand is only semi-balanced, most of the high-level players go out of their way to open 1NT except when holding length in both major suite.

Reason being is that an opening 1NT is often quite descriptive plus the additional advantage if partner has an immediate raise, to make it more difficult for the opening leader, as well as both defenders from defending their best.

No other real reason since most random 5-4-2-2 hand are easy to bid by starting with the longest suit, but they then have less chance of getting a helpful opening lead and such.

No other special reason, but methinks all forms of bridge (and the reasoning within) is in fact,
much more fun than the NYT crossword, but perhaps I am either very biased or possibly just dumb with crossword puzzles.

In any event, do not be a stranger!