Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 16th, 2021


A V Ramana RaoNovember 30th, 2021 at 11:28 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
South’s play at first table would have succeeded only if spade K came down in one or two ruffs but he could have easily gone down had West held diamond J instead of east overruffing south . West of course defended well ( and of course, Zia’s play on second table was impeccable)denying the additional entry to dummy. And south cou have anyway gone down if east held club J as there was no option but to finesse in clubs for bringing in spades. South may not know about spades but it looks that West held A of hearts but south may not be sure.
South has eleven tricks and needs only one more. So
suppose he wins the lead, crosses to diamond A ,comes to hand with club A and leads five more trumps. In five card position, west cannot afford to have discarded a spade and he needs to retain at least two hearts. Dummy will retain three spades, one heart and K of club. Now, east cannot come to two spades and he needs to discard heart which lets the cat out of the bag and the ruffing finesse is a cinch
And another that did cross my mind. Perhaps Bocchi knew Zia is sitting south on other table and he might work out the ruffing finesse. So Bocchi deliberately took the opposite line which if successful could result in a huge swing and he almost succeeded but for west’s spanner Who knows, Psychology plays a lot in winning matches

A V Ramana RaoNovember 30th, 2021 at 11:31 am

Last para: thought, not that – damn auto correct

bobbywolffNovember 30th, 2021 at 4:00 pm


No doubt I agree with your likely major assumption that the difference of players at the top is one’s superior ability to determine psychology, both in the bidding of if and when, as well as sometime, how much. and including the choice of opening lead, general tempo, and, of course, sometimes, even the order of discards.

All the above may scare wannabes out of the lack of willingness to try to get much better, but instead, once starts leaning (and thinking) in the right direction, the path to success will, like life itself, become easier to lead (pun intended).

Of course, George Jacob’s insertion of the jack of clubs was indeed both necessary and brilliant and will only be done with full concentration to the previous play (no time-outs necessary to think are usually given, since the declarer is usually the one blessed with determining the favorable tempo he desires).

Iain ClimieNovember 30th, 2021 at 6:19 pm

Hi AVRR, Bobby,

Zia definitely had a fair bit of help from the bidding here but a club lead form J9xx is hardly attractive. Could Bocchi have picked up the same negative inference about the likely location of the HA as a result? West with HA can be sure South has HK given the 3N bid and jump to slam whereas with (say) HQ10xx or even an honour sequence the H lead would be far more normal.



bobbywolffNovember 30th, 2021 at 7:29 pm

Hi Iain,

While I definitely agree with most points made in your comment, including the virtual proof of declarer holding the guarded king of hearts, I then “feel” that a club lead, however unattractive, becomes basically normal.

Neither spades, which, if holding the king, I might often consider, intending to “rush” declarer into not maintaining various options for him not losing two immediate tricks, or, of course a simple trump, particularly so if I held only a singleton instead of two.

IOW, I agree that leading from Jxxx is not often productive, but possibly in this case, the better of the options available.

All of a sudden I begin to realize, especially when thought to be in need,
of psyching the lead when the opponents jump to a likely gambling slam, if only to do anything possible to create a needed favorable swing.

“Little by little, we can do great things” could define that very slippery slope.

bobbywolffNovember 30th, 2021 at 7:35 pm

Hi again Iain,

Sorry for making a confusing remark above, since I meant to possibly not have the king of hearts or any major heart control, but attempting to “talk” the opening leader from leading a heart, when looking for what I think is a necessary favorable swing.