Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 26th, 2022


A V Ramana RaoMarch 12th, 2022 at 10:59 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Quite an instructive hand. The play sequence must be precise. However, if west were to hold three trumps, south can embark on ruffing spades and doesn’t need the squeeze

bobbywolffMarch 12th, 2022 at 3:49 pm


Yes, thanks for your always constructive comments.

So-called positioning of where the defensive cards may lurk, especially trump, often determine best percentage declarer play and become crucial to success.

Of course finding out ASAP is often a major factor in winning the hand, but too often, the declarer has to make an educated guess before proceeding.

Surprisingly or not, when playing against suspected cheaters, as had to be done so often in bygone years, the declarer never (or hardly ever) benefited from the opening lead, both in substance nor in inference, since they never failed to lead the card or suit to which his partner was damaged.

Just another horror to face until cheating and cheaters are totally eliminated from participation, especially among the so-called elite players.

Without which (that key opening lead) a declarer will begin his high-level attempt at determining the best line of play, starting out with the certain knowledge of the opening leader not getting help from his partner, which, more often than probably expected, is the first tell tale as to the location of distribution and key cards held by which defender.

bobbywolffMarch 12th, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Hi again AVRR.

Made a terrible gaffe above by not including a “NOT damaged” at the end of paragraph four.

Iain ClimieMarch 12th, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Hi Bobby,

A stray thought here on how to play the hand on a club lead. Clearly the CA should be played then DAK, HA, SA and a D to the Q. HKQ ditching clubs gets the bad news and now it is a choice between hoping the SQ drops in 3 or taking the finesse. The latter is more likely to work and successes with the cards as shown. TOCM means that West has found the club lead from (say) Qxx 109xxx x K109x and may even have found the 9.

I remember a hand which Hugh Kelsey wrote up where any moderate player would have just gone for something like one of two finesse so basically 75%. After much thought HK came up with something (echelon play based) he later calculated as around 94% instead. Naturally the 6% cropped up and one of the finesse worked. AAARGH to use the technical term.



bobbywolffMarch 12th, 2022 at 11:09 pm

Hi Iain,

It is these kinds of hands which test Rudyard’ Kipling’s great poem “If” saying something like: “IF you can keep your head, when all those about you, are losing theirs”.

No doubt the above does happen and, in reality, there will likely be a clue as to which line of play becomes the winning one. Those positive clues may be the result of impromptu huddles, a specific opponent’s intensity, or merely if undecided, choosing the more likely percentage line.

Always advantage declarer, unless, usually by inexperienced combatants,
the test of the moment gets blown out of proportion to what it is worth, which, in turn, becomes too much of a burden, restricting the “good guys” from getting there from here.

The greatest positive available is the declarer’s concentration while the right line of play is still flexible. “Seek and thou shall find” is clearly the correct and over riding attitude.