Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 7th, 2022


Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2022 at 9:08 am

HI Bobby,

The DK is a snare and a delusion. With DJxx the hand is much easier to play. At pairs, though, how would you play the hand especially as some North players might pass 1S when just making game shouldn’t be a bad result.



Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2022 at 10:53 am

Hi again,

I did a bit more digging. If trumps are 2-2, South is laughing but can make 12 tricks instead of 11 with the DA onside. If trumps are 3-1 with the DA onside South makes an extra trick by leading up to the DK but risks going off with the DK offside if West has 3 trumps. If East has the 3, he can only get in with a diamond to lead a second trump but that allows the ruff so South is no worse off. Now suppose trumps are 4-0.

If the DA is onside the only way to make the contract is to lead up to the DK although if West has 4 trumps and the DA you’re going another one off. If East has 4 trumps, you’ll get a D ruff in anyway and will just go one off. So in %age terms it is a toss up between trumps 3-1 (50%), West having 3 (50%) and the DA offside so 12.5% vs trumps 4-0 and DA offside (50% of 10%) so 5%.

Your line is thus clearly better at IMPs but what do you do in a rather random pairs field (when some will miss game) or, much trickier, in a tight BAM match against strong opponents?



Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2022 at 10:54 am

Sorry “toss-up” should be comparison.

Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Hi Iain,

Your thrice suggested tales, even your correction, suggested not only on point sound reasoning, but also included the thoughts of a with-it, superior player of renown.

Yes, unless mentioned in our text, the game played is either one of rubber bridge or IMPs, but we have likely never mentioned that fact, so it was up to you to take the ball and run with it (American football, but also either hockey, that is if you give a puck, or world-wide soccer if you need to kick).

However, perhaps this hand or one equally similar should prove once and for all, that the two above versions of our game are pure, not the bastardized one known as “matchpoints”.

Thanks for enabling a thorough discussion to which all experienced players are aware or, if not, should be. Keep in mind, that even some adjectives, while perhaps on-target, do not exclude fun.

Iain ClimieSeptember 21st, 2022 at 2:20 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and what do you think of BAM here as it is effectively 2-table pairs? It has the same twisted effect on bidding and play, I suspect. If the DA is onside, a spade to the Ace then playing a rapid D to the K works while a 2-2 split sees declarer get home regardless so the play doesn’t lose. I’ve never played BAM myself but have been in enough pairs sessions at quiet clubs with 3 or 4 tables to know the absurd effects it can have.

On “fun”, this might be used as an acronym for “Fouled Up Nicely / Nosily / Nastily / Needlessly etc”. There is also a ruder version used in SNAFU and FUBAR which are very popular in engineering where I work. The U is Up both times, with “Situation Normal All” and “Beyond All Recognition” the relevant missing parts. These are VERY popular in the UK, especially in engineering. Do they get used in the US?



Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Hi Iain,

In some (not all) respects, BAM scoring is the purest form of tournament bridge. One team directly against another with no others competing does decide (over the very long haul) which of those teams is better (of course purity would entail the analysis of not so much best percentage play (like par contests) but which team took advantage of all the “tells, trials and tribulations”. calculated as close as possible, to achieve final results.

My guess and over perhaps the 70+ years of my participation a poll of our best players would likely select the Reisinger (held in the USA at the Fall Nationals) as the closest to pure event staged. Of course, since the proliferation of sponsorship, even the Reisinger had to pay that diminishing factor to which I, with many but select others, would have to admit guilt.

Finally, if left to a Shakespeare who played good bridge, he would likely have said, “The play’s the thing in which we will learn the conscience of the king” (or something close to that) which is mostly which adds votes for the Reisinger having been the toughest event to win (at least in the USA).

When you talk about other games, I feel like a newly born animal puppy, barking out to his mother, IOW, overwhelming stupid.

Finally, my guess is that the engineering profession is possibly the career most likely to become the best bridge players, if only because of the huge arithmetical factor involved in both.