Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 6th, 2022


Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Hi Bobby,

I just have this terrible feeling (espeically on a MOnday) that a great mutual friend and regular contributor to this column would take the column line and discover West was (say) 2-5-5-1, 3-4-5-1 or similar although I accept the CQ would be a bold lead – or maybe not if South had shown short clubs. It might even be a shot from CQx hoping to pin singleton J in the South hand. i trust his regular partner would have the decency not to ask why he’d not drawn trumps.,..

Remember S J Simon’s story about a paranoid expert who played a hand very carefully in case trumps were 4-0. They were 2-2and he went off! Still, 4-0 spades onside are probably still more likely than C7-1 that way. If east has a singleton C and a singleton S8,it is one of those days.



bobbywolffJune 20th, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Hi Iain,

I must confess that I was waiting for the first poster who was ready to claim that a singleton Q lead was more or just as likely an event as a 4-0 onside split.

If so, I was not ready to discuss percentages, but rather to say that, at least to me, leading a singleton Q in an unbid suit, would hardly ever be my choice while defending a grand slam.

Of course, trying to guess whether or not, it might be someone else’s pick, is difficult to say.

However, roses to you for cutting to the chase, instead of mildly just saying “No, never mind”!

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2022 at 3:49 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks and restricted choice might apply here as West holding what he did and knowing South to be short might have led (say) the CJ or even 10 to muddy the waters. With his actual holding, I wonder if he could give South what a football (soccer) manager over here described as “Squeaky Bum Time” by dropping the CJ on the second round. Having found West with 4S and (potentially) only 2C, might Declarer now change tack and hope for a minor suit squeeze on East, hoping he had 4+ diamonds as well as long clubs? I think declarer should probably still get this right, but it wouldn’t cost West anything to try



bobbywolffJune 20th, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Hi again,

Yes, I do agree, that Jim2 certainly possesses the overriding bridge genius to take the column line.

But alas and alack TOCM (“theory of card migration”) is so alive and always ready to demand who is boss, I shudder to be within even close proximity to his table when that hand
was played.

Finally, no doubt the trumps were 2-2, but not stopping a kibitzer from decrying the trump break as only an unlucky one, since if Jim2 was to overlook his better percentage play, the alternate humdrum 4-0 offside trump break was then waiting for him with the then conversation proceeding to decry how greedy it is to go down in a grand slam when a made small slam is there for the taking.

jim2June 20th, 2022 at 8:34 pm

🙂 🙂

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2022 at 9:45 pm

Hi Jim2,

I hope you don’t mind me asking but did your Nemesis turn up when you played other games like Poker, backgammon or even the(seeming) non-luck games like chess or go? There is actually good luck in the latter but rarely bad luck (apart from drawing the best player in the first round of a KO tournament, for example). How can this be?

If I make a dumb move at chess giving my opponent a chance to crush me immediately, that isn’t bad luck but my blunder. It is arguably his good luck but, if he misses the crushing reply, and I escape then I’ve had the good luck in turn due to his mistake. There was one famous game (quoted in Kotov’e Think like a Grandmaster I believe) where a very good player as black (maybe Leonid Stein) thought for some time before playing Qd2 attacking a white rook. His fairly strong opponent gave the matter a little thought in turn before moving the rook away to a safe square – but he could have just taken the queen although it would have involved a backwards knight move – such moves are often missed. Two huge slices of luck cancelled each other out and the game I think was drawn.



bobbywolffJune 20th, 2022 at 10:41 pm

Hi Iain,

The separation of skill and luck is often falsely judged, especially while looking for excuses.

In my youth, no doubt, I would have attempted it, but as your examples have shown I can’t, so therefore, I won’t, except to wish you good luck for trying to beard that lion, or is it, lying?

jim2June 20th, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Iain Climie –

It is a constant in my life!

For example, in PanzerBlitz – a board war game I played in my college years, the max odds were 4-1 which resulted in an automatic kill on any die roll. However, one could have odds far above the max 4-1 against an enemy unit in a forest hex, roll a 6, and the unit took zero damage because forest added +1. I got so many 6s under those conditions that I stopped shooting at enemy units in forests unless I could assault them with an infantry unit at close combat, which SUBTRACTED 1, thus nullifying the forest +1.

Iain ClimieJune 21st, 2022 at 7:55 am

HI JIm2,

Thanks and commiserations. I hope it only applies in the games part and not in other areas. Hopefully the converse of “Lucky at cards (and other games too in your case), unlucky in love” applies.


bobbywolffJune 21st, 2022 at 8:00 pm

Hi Iain,

Don’t worry about that “not so little” unlucky at cards, but otherwise dandy.

Bridge players are not so likely to think of themselves “unlucky” in other aspects of life, since after all, how is it possible for an absolutely great person
to experience anything but the best in everything else, while still kicking and screaming and, of course, staying alive?