Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 7th, 2022


Iain ClimieMay 21st, 2022 at 10:56 am

Hi Bobby,

Back in the 80s I played with Julian in the teams at Brighton in Sussex. He was good although I felt he needed to calm down slightly. He has since turned into a terrific writer and a very good player.

Would you still take this line at matchpoints or BAM though? After all, East might put his partner with KJ10xx (x) in spades and return one although that would depend on lead style.



bobbywolffMay 21st, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt, brilliant plays like “dumping the queen of spades on the first trick” on today’s layout come out mostly in the newspaper or a bridge book, rather than at the table.

However the declarer has the right, along with the 3rd chair defender, to take his time at trick one (even while holding only a singleton), ostensibly looking over the newly shown dummy, before required to play in tempo.

The ethical problem with that is both the declarer (very unusual, almost never actually done) but then the 3rd seat defender, definitely having the option, can abuse that privilege by playing either quickly (or without any appreciable slower tempo), under the guise of what other option did I have, sometimes a theoretically unethical, bombshell, but only one if he (or she) does take a much slower tempo on other original 3rd seat play.

Sadly, there are players, including all sorts of skill levels, who are not to be trusted while other, very solid extraordinarily ethical ones, who mind (and are conscious) of the rules to which too many times, make it almost impossible to police our greatest game to our best advantage.

At higher levels, most of the world’s great players know which are which, but sadly, little can be done to insure that the justice necessary for fairness, without an ugly scene to develop, is likely to be accomplished.

No doubt, many will have to wait till they continue to play bridge in heaven, instead of the possibility of having to warm up to the devil himself, as one’s partner, or probably worse, his opponent.

And finally, even worse, are the real cheaters (complete with illegal signals) who, after being caught red-handed, are IMO stupidly let back into the high-level game, when in reality the players we have mentioned above are doing it openly, allowing others to help inform them to right their wrongs and all (or at least most) will be forgiven.

bobbywolffMay 21st, 2022 at 7:22 pm

Hi again Iain,

Having failed to answer your pertinent other question, perhaps it was caused by indecision or maybe just because there is no right or wrong answer.

Just another reason why “real” bridge has everything to do with either “making or setting” the contract and not with the next to often impossible subject of overtricks.

Although your query is obviously beyond that, it becomes necessary to grasp the opponents meaning of a jack lead vs. NT, (sometimes denying something higher, while other times not) which is a principle reason for allowing declarer to find out, and doing so whether his hand suggested the answer or not, since declarer is certainly allowed to probe a trip into an opponent’s mind as to what his thinking included.

No doubt the above fact becomes integral, (as you already knew when you probed the problem), but it becomes a bit unwieldy since declarer, if holding the KQ doubleton would likely just play one and not question it, but would a TD allow him to ask such a question?

IMO, he should unquestionably accept that question, for the obvious reasons he had a right to know in making his decision on whether to false card or not, if in fact the opponents led the jack from varied holdings or not.

All very touchy, risking what I would be concerned a difficult answer from a relatively new TD, who had not become accustomed to those kind of questions.

To even complicate further might be, after the situation became viral, when and if it was disclosed to others, they might, depending on what further happened, leave out a “full” description of what had actually happened and added or subtracted erroneous mentions at the table further pointing to possible unethical or not additions or subtractions.

See what your worthwhile discussion has brought about, but to not delve into it methinks would be sugar coating a possible learning experience for everyone, certainly including both you and me.

Thanks for enlivening up this morning.

Finally, yes I would like to think the queen would be the play to make, only because of its sheer beauty at matchpoints and to heck (or stronger) with possible overtricks or the ace of hearts being onside.

I’ll leave it up to you with BAM scoring, but my vote is still YES with playing the queen since it is just too beautiful to forego.

“Ace of hearts onside”? “Yes”, lost the board! “Was it worth it” “Heavens, YES”.


Iain ClimieMay 21st, 2022 at 11:29 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the answer – great as ever!