Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 20th, 2022


Iain ClimieJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 12:36 pm

H Bobby,

This may amuse – a picture of a sunken ship with the slogan “It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others”.


Very careless of East today, though. After all if South has the SQ, the contract is going to make anyway and West’s diamond carding should make the position clear in that suit. Also, South surely isn’t cashing the HA if he is vulnerable to the defence cashing the last trump and another diamond.



jim2January 3rd, 2023 at 12:44 pm

On BWTA, would you please address a simple spade raise?

Bobby WolffJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 2:23 pm

Hi Iain,

To not include East’s failure to switch to spades (when in with the ace of clubs) as a FATAL mistake is not to do its horror the justice of that play demanded.

Reminds me of the comment one of our long ago well known bridge playing comedians (I think. “Chico Marx”, Groucho’s brother) made to his partner: “May I ask you when you learned to play bridge? I know it was today, but what time today?”

Bobby WolffJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 2:57 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I will not only address a simple spade raise, but I’ll also proudly mail it.

To compromise with 2 hearts instead comes from a bridge player whose porridge is neither too hot nor too cold, but somehow not quite right, at least according to him or her.

IOW, this partnership has likely discussed various types of trump raises and at least one of them has asked partner, “Never jump raise me with only three trumps since
I will always count on you for at least four”.

Thus, the compatibility of that partnership remains in the balance of following that request and compels the stupidity of finding alternatives to which two clubs, 3 clubs, and two hearts are alive (but not so well). Yes , a jump raise to three spades is my choice (except me having a partner who so demanded the above, to which is an impossible condition to which I would have agreed).

What do you think, cry I? BTW, I had this hand and partner then took control and bid to seven spades while holding: s. KQJx, h. Kxx, d. Axx, c. Axx only to run into a 5-1 spade division instead of 7 clubs or 7NT either of which takes 14 tricks.

Richard HamjeJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 4:26 pm

Hello Mr Woolf,

It’s a new year and I wanted to take a minute to thank you. It cannot be easy to write this every day, to come up with interesting hands and ideas, find quotes, proofread, deal with computer issues, pay for web services that generate no income, etc. I really appreciate what you do. Plus, just maybe, you are helping to keep the game alive.

Thank you!

Iain ClimieJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 5:30 pm

Well said Richard and Happy New Year! Also, Bobby keeps his sense of humour when the Monday Gremlin strikes.

jim2January 3rd, 2023 at 7:48 pm

Again on BWTA, I would not reverse with 2H. Distortion bids like that seem to pan out when the hand has HCP extras for the bid, and this one does not.

Nor would I bid 3C, as the suit lacks a third face honor and has no compensating HCP extras.

Similarly, I would not bid 3S. It is again a bit of a distortion and I lack the AC or a second spade honor to make up for it.

I would bid a quiet 2S. If pard cannot bid on, I doubt we have missed a game. 3N would need the club suit to come in and the absence of suit fillers makes that low odds if pard cannot find a bid over 2S.

Bobby WolffJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 8:16 pm

Hi Richard & Iain,

My reward is twofold in having people like you expressing such gorgeous comments which bring tears to my eyes and joy into my heart.

The secret is to first find extremely talented people (in this case very top-level players) who do more than just help me do my job. They are the heart and soul of everything
that jumps out at the reader about the glories that our beloved game represents.

To just say thank you is as conservative as passing out a lay down grand slam reserved for the fictional Mrs. Gugenheim, who still finds a way to make bridge thrive, through laughing about ourselves, taking life and its tribulations just too seriously, but emphasizing the magical works of many world class players and writers.

Yes, the playing and promotion of bridge can be thought of as trying to save an endangered species, but, if so, the world will also soon realize that a world without bridge playing will immediately be doing away with the greatest intellectual sport
ever conceived, especially with arithmetic acumen, problem solving, psychological
challenges, and not to be underrated, serious mental concentration.

Bobby WolffJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 8:35 pm

Hi Jim2,

Perhaps since while holding s. KQxxx, h. Jx, Qxx, Jxx, and hearing partner rebid 2 clubs it would not occur to me that 4 spades would have a fighting chance to succeed. On the other hand when holding Kxx, Kxx, xx, AQxxx and opening 1 club would certainly raise one spade to 2 rather than rebid 2 clubs or 1NT. Even with xxx in spades and a worthless
doubleton in an unbid suit would I prefer the raise rather than a 1NT rebid.

Perhaps I am in a minority here, but, at the very least, when I do not support partner,
he usually will not be surprised by me having more of a fitting hand than he suspected

jim2January 3rd, 2023 at 8:42 pm

Dear Host –

I did not advocate 2C.

I said that I would bid 2S.

Now, if the Laws allowed me to bid 2.5S, I would do that.

clarksburgJanuary 3rd, 2023 at 10:20 pm

Hello Bobby
Above you said: “…especially with arithmetic acumen, problem solving, psychological
challenges, and not to be underrated, serious mental concentration…”
You have frequently mentioned the importance of “numeracy” and emphasized that it has nothing to do with intelligence or mathematical ability.
I would gladly abandon whatever knowledge and experience I might have now to be “highly numerate” with “serious mental concentration”. I could start all over and likely be a better player in six months!!

Iain ClimieJanuary 4th, 2023 at 1:09 pm

Hi Jim2,

I’m not happy about bidding 2S as I’d bid that with a much weaker hand (say) Axx A10x x K10xxx but I can see your point, especially at pairs when bidding tight games is not so sensible. You can probably guarantee that partner opposite your 2S bid will have ideal cards (including SKQxxx) so that 4S will be an easy make whereas 3S will find some ropy 7 count over there, possibly with only 4S. In either case, it helps if partner doesn’t behave like a “results merchant” afterwards”. How many of us can manage that, though?



Iain ClimieJanuary 4th, 2023 at 1:17 pm

HI Clarksburg,

My numeracy with cards was started by my maternal grandmother who started us playing a simple game (card dominoes) when I and my brothers were small children. From there we went onto whist and then onto bridge.

Card dominoes is a game where you each get dealt a certain number of cards and try to get rid of them all. If the D7 is held, that gets played first on the table otherwise any 7 is played to start. You then play a touching card (or another 7) to the card(s) on table or pick up one if you can’t go, with Ace counting as low. The idea is to get rid of all your cards. A trivial game but it encourages numeracy, inference when someone else can’t play or doesn’t play an obvious card and finding plays which will give you another go next time. I’m still grateful for having been introduced to it before I was 5, though, as it developed a feel for numbers which has been useful at work and the bridge table ever since.



Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2023 at 10:13 pm

Hi Jim2,

I did know that you chose 2 spades, not 2 clubs, so please excuse. However, I felt that hand demanded more rather than less, with the possession of only 3 trumps to jump raise a significantly smaller sin than would be only a mere single raise.

However, I can certainly understand that TOCM can make bridge aggression a losing proposition when suits never break, nor finesses ever work, allowing a +110 on the subject hand the par result. Obviously that insidious bridge disease possesses ears
as well as card migration, now making you a target for its wrath, since you, and you alone, are privy to its power, and it, at least up to now, has not adjusted its evil
to overcome it being fixed.

Beware the Ides of March since your Caesar salad is on its way to be poisoned.

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2023 at 10:29 pm

Hi Iain,

You would only raise to 2 spades with Axx, Axx, x, AK10xxx. While looking at your
hand that ace of clubs was sticking behind the king you knew you had, can only be
the reason for your conservatism.

Perhaps TOCM has replaced Covid 19 as the favored disease to have, at least a good excuse for us old critters who are now hard pressed to understand that spades are a higher ranking suit than the other four to which I have forgotten their names.

Iain ClimieJanuary 5th, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and either the CA or a small one was clearly on the floor! My Guardian angel would have to ensure a really vile trump break so that 2S made, perhaps with an overtrick, but the obvious (and good) 4S went down.