Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 8th, 2021


jim2November 22nd, 2021 at 11:57 am

I believe the text is saying that:

1) A first round finesse is the best line,
2) Losing the finesse to a singleton KS means down one even if declarer finesses the 10S (and not the QS), and
3) Finessing the QS wins even if the 10S finesse would have won.

Thus, the right play is to finesse the QS.

Iain ClimieNovember 22nd, 2021 at 12:14 pm

HI Jim2,

Spot on, although if the suit is 3-2 with at least one honour onside then 2 finesses will bring home the bacon regardless. The hand did raise an intriguing possibility, though. Suppose that table feel or a different contract (perhaps with East bidding) led to South feeling / “knowing” that East has the SK, plus likely shortage. So he tries a small spade off the table hoping East panics with SKx (Kxx will be less successful). If East held KJ alone, the SK could be a devastating false card as declarer will then take the marked finesse against the J.



Iain ClimieNovember 22nd, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Plus a spade to the Queen first works if West has KJxx of course. Today’s layout is the one where choice of honour makes a difference, although the duck (not recommended normally) also works ironically.

bobbywolffNovember 22nd, 2021 at 3:55 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I get it! Never does the column say that the queen of spades is the right finesse to first take after the initial lead of a spade from hand and, of course, then why.

Good (or even just acceptable) writing should demand the above, so I should and shall apologize for not doing so.

But what kind of bridge ignoramus (tongue supposedly in cheek), wouldn’t suspect, and then be certain, that the above technique was necessary?

“I”, said the wolf, who undoubtedly have been, through the years, going down in slam after slam for not.

Quote the animal (not necessarily the Raven), “Never More!”

The aftermath makes me feel like a “Poe” man.

I wonder whether his friend is still continuing to bring Edgar Allan’s favorite whiskey to his grave every birthday?

bobbywolffNovember 22nd, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, right on about the table feel, but looking around for the missing high cards to which EW may have been entitled to on this hand, would validate nothing but “very fast” passes by even ethical opponents.

However a “peek” might be the only valid

Iain ClimieNovember 22nd, 2021 at 4:18 pm

I mention table feel as there was a story involving GB player Kenneth Konstam who was once playing 6S with dummy holding SAJxx while he had 6 to the 109. His RHO (high stakes rubber) couldn’t resist saying “This is one you won’t make, Konnie” so of course KK stripped the hand, taking a ruff on table in the process before reducing to 109x opposite AJx and endplaying RHO. Loose Lips and all that, although that was an example of why “banter” is not recommended at the table!


bobbywolffNovember 22nd, 2021 at 6:03 pm

Hi Iain,

Thus the challenge for the defense becomes, when trumps are 2-1 EW, to then, instead of Konstam’s opponents, say something to the same effect, allowing the hand in front of dummy to ruff in earlier, with his singleton honor, creating applesauce out of only apples for them, instead of something looking the same, but achieving a slightly different result.

Ho hum, not ironic, but as with Troy, beware of Englishmen, seemingly giving verbal gifts.

PS-Don’t try the above, unless externally provoked.

Iain ClimieNovember 22nd, 2021 at 6:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

Clearly the quality (and low cunning) of RHO wasn’t up to the mark. I recall a Terence Reese story where an old lady was on lead vs 7N with an Ace, and didn’t double or lead the Ace. 13 tricks dutifully arrived. JTR said she should be partly excused as, if she wasn’t going to lead the Ace, she was right not to double.



GinnyNovember 22nd, 2021 at 10:07 pm

Hi Bobby and Friends,

Is this lesson routinely true? If the spots were different does that make a difference? Say we have the 9 in our arsenal.

In my head, I was saying the 4-1 split – cannot lose the first finessing trick if I have to use one of my big 3 (AQ10). Hence – use the queen.


bobbywolffNovember 22nd, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Hi Iain,

Sorta like they say in China, when discussing the race toward a bridge, while in a pan (demic, that is). “Two Wongs don’t make a Wright”.

Yes, Terence was quite the character and IMO, both the best bridge writer and bridge innovator of all time as well as being quite a “feeling” husband to his wife late in life, by taking full responsibility with all his love and time devoted strictly to taking care of her, after an unfortunate accident did her in.

To me, and after I got to know him well, thanks to my oft attended London Times tournament in London every January, where he did not play, but was always on site.

He was truly a total mixture of good, bad, but always both unpredictable and whole-heartedly original and decidedly brilliant.

No doubt, if he was Mrs. Guggenheim’s opponent on that special 7NT hand, he, as the declarer, would have convinced her not to double and because of that, not to lead her ace.

bobbywolffNovember 22nd, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Hi Ginny,

Yes it is true and the art of discussing bridge routinely has no use for bridge and routine to be ever used in the same sentence.

Yes, holding the nine among your 5-3 fit does make a difference and in either hand. If not, then finesse the queen.

However, if playing for money, not glorious masterpoints, the wining trick is to hold those kinds of hands, rather than having to play them perfectly.