Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 9th, 2022


Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2022 at 11:59 am

Hi Bobby,

If south had a singleton small club rather than the J, how differently would you play here e.g. is a C to the K sensible at T2? I assume if the club were the Q, then playing that would be automatic at T2, or perhaps taking T1 on table and playing a C off table.



bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2022 at 1:56 pm

Hi Iain,

Methinks that South should always lead his singleton club toward dummy at trick two, except, of course, like you stated, do not overtake the initial trump lead, but, if holding the singleton queen then lead his low club from dummy, but do it in tempo, not post haste, since by so doing immediately, would tend to give unnecessary information away as to more likely having the singleton queen in hand.

Playing in normal tempo cannot (or should not) be ever ethically penalized, in spite of what some others may say or imply, simply because if not allowed for all players on every hand to seek normal tempo, if possible, as long as others can agree as to what normal tempo should be, our great game involving ethics, would be unnecessarily penalized.

IOW, if holding the singleton queen of clubs in hand and then taking extra time to eventually win the opening trump lead in dummy and leading a club, unless the declarer would be considered a newbie and thus getting a “pass” for doing this, it should IMO be overlooked and not penalized, but again others may think it is just too difficult to go that far, but, of course, I would beg to differ, and expect a veteran TD to learn to do what should be “his responsibility”.

Yes a gray decision, not black nor white, but doing so, at least to me, is the fair way to go and a great learning experience for all involved, but perhaps I am dreaming, leaving all of us with a bad taste in our collective mouths.

Iain ClimieAugust 23rd, 2022 at 2:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

Although I much prefer bridge to chess nowadays, the issue of tempo and hesitation is not a problem in the latter. There is no possibility of conning an opponent by pausing (although playing a double edged move quickly may fool him/her into thinking you’ve erred) while someone dithering for too long can lose on time.



bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2022 at 6:51 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, the partnership requirement of our favorite game, tends to complicate
keeping it scrupulously “honest”. However playing against players on the cusp of taking advantage as compared to outright cheats is the same thing as “pillow fights” to “atomic warfare”.

Amen, but still we persevere and to the victor go the spoils. However and no doubt. chess is a purer game than bridge, but, at least IMO, nothing
can somehow equal the human talent of guessing one’s way to being right on where all the opponent’s key cards are located and thus finding one’s way to landing an overbid contract.

MirceaAugust 23rd, 2022 at 7:35 pm

Hi Bobby,

Why is declarer allowed to take advantage of hesitations and other similar signs from the opponents when they are not to allowed to do it on purpose? I hope you don’t me asking this

bobbywolffAugust 23rd, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Hi Mircea,

In reverse order, I certainly do not mind you asking any bridge question to which you wanted my opinion.

The important words become, while on defense, any extra emphasis could and usually would be found to be aggressively helping partner decide what to do, using the unauthorized information he is likely signalling to partner.

Also, while on defense it is not considered legal to try and fool the declarer by intentionally trying to lead him astray as to anything applicable to his advantage.

The advantage I am suggesting, which is legal, is for the declarer to notice
habits or other indications usually not done for any particular purpose,

The above is just a rough description, but I hope, makes sense, since it becomes an asset to a player, whether declarer or the defense to be one who gives little to no extra knowledge to the other side, but at the same time is not guilty of helping his partner (while on defense or during the bidding) other than the normal and expected meaning of his play or bid.

The above can be quickly and accurately described is just be natural and play and bid, but do not be guilty of conveying to partner unauthorized information and at the same time not try and lead declarer astray during the play with any intentionally faked action.

Yes, and I repeat, information that opponents give the other side in a natural way and usually just caused by slow or quick play in making a decision can be used by a declarer to help with making a decision, but by doing so is in no way guaranteeing he will be right.

Finally, if a defender hesitates with a singleton before playing it, that should
be unlawful and subject to an adjusted score if a declarer went wrong, thinking he had more than one.

No doubt I could have made myself clearer than I did, but the above will have to do.