Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 4th, 2022


Steve ConradMay 18th, 2022 at 9:50 am

I have been playing coded 10s and 9s with one of my partners, and I have begged her to lead the 8 from 98 so as to not confuse me in exactly the same way that East was misled when Freeman ducked the opening lead. It seemed to me that every time my partner had led the 9, I got bamboozled. In fact, these days I no longer like leading coded 10s and 9s. What do you think of coded 10s and 9s? How about “strong 10s”?

bobbywolffMay 18th, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Hi Steve,

A good subject and worth discussing.

However, at least IMO, there are conflicting views, but certainly not without disagreement.

First, the nine should never (or close) to be used as indicating anywhere near a strong holding and almost always only the top card held in that suit, although it could be from length (987xx or some such).

Next the 10 should usually be somewhat ambiguous, possibly the top card but also from a single honor topping the suit (A, K or Q followed by 109 and almost always additional length) except against a suit contract when it is never (or almost) from an ace.

The 10 also denies the jack but will usually require the 3rd seat defender to cover partner by (of course, after seeing the holding in dummy) playing his honor.

While not guaranteeing the above, it should suffice to be at least suitable for maximum advantage and rarely (by also using bridge common sense) “bite my tongue” costs a trick or a needed defensive tempo.

Please, no eights led, while holding nines unless the eight is fourth best (or perhaps third best while holding only three) if, in fact, that partnership plays that (To which I recommend, fourth but possess only three and decide that suit to be led).

Also I do not like “strong tens” although they can be at least from honor ten nine against suits or NT but almost never against suits while holding the ace, except in very rare occasions to which I hope to get partner on lead to give me a needed ruff in another suit. Yes I could lead, while defending NT a suit AQ109(x) and playing a standard 4th best (to which I subscribe) but would then likely lead the nine and hope, expect, partner to play me for it (because of his hand and, of course, the bidding).

Good luck with the above and in reality, I expect the result will convince you that by doing so, it is much ado about nothing, or, at least, about very little.

Judy Kay-WolffMay 18th, 2022 at 11:34 pm

My late husband, Norman Kay, and I were quite close to Dickie Freeman and his wife Louise and often socialized with them when they visited The City of Brotherly Love. He was very special indeed!!!

Bill CubleyMay 19th, 2022 at 2:22 am


Stealing a contract is a spectacular way to win at bridge. The heck with counting out a hand.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2022 at 7:51 am

Hi Bill,

Yes, no doubt stealing, violence and general mayhem can be the easiest way to win any and everything, but tomorrow seems to always come.

Except perhaps bridge being given a free pass (pun intended), becomes a glowing example of not only a winning philosophy, but a giant stick of humiliation directed at opponents, which then often continues through future opposition with them. Furthermore it tends to last for some time against those same players.

And when one adds, it being totally legal, you’ve got yourself a keeper.

However, and never forget, any partnership needs to be confident they do not go over any red line, not always apparent.

However one tends to know it, when they experience it, allowing them to slow down, meaning cease and desist and results in going back to just, (as you say) the tried and true way, of just counting.