Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday March 28th, 2023


bobby wolffApril 11th, 2023 at 2:39 pm

Hi Everyone,

Yes, before it is asked, I would play differently if playing matchpoints, since an overtrick is very much alive if the K of spades is singleton with West, a much more likely occurrence than all four in the same place.

No doubt a great concession to the phony god of overtrick(s) but very realistic and IMO, needing to be respected. As a matter of fact and because of the different distributions (especially in hearts), out there, it will take a good mathematician to prove which is more likely.

However, the true element of that equation probably makes its answer very close indeed, allowing a theme within a theme to be ever present.

I’ll NEVER TELL (only because I’m too lazy, since it is more complicated than what just jumps out at the presumed solver).

Iain ClimieApril 11th, 2023 at 4:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

4-0 is 10% so 4 with West is 5%. 3-1 is 50% so 3-1 with East having 3 is 25% so singleton King onside is 6.25%. There are other cases though – consider K10x and K9x onside against Kx opposite 109 doubleton. Starting with the J picks up K9x or K10x provided you stick to the rule of restricted choice and take the 2nd finesse – although that loses to one specific case of 2-2 with the King onside. 2-2 is 40%, 2-2 king onside is 20% and there are 3 options there (K9, Kx and K10) of which only the 2nd (6.67%) makes any difference. The K9x and K10x cases though, assuming K?? onside are two of the four possibilities out of 25%. So leading the Jack (based on my ill-remembered Statistics) does seem to be the right choice regardless.



bobby wolffApril 11th, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Hi Iain,

Using your percentages (they feel right-on), wouldn’t the key statistic make the small one from hand about 17-5 (out of 100) in favor of leading a small one and hoping for a singleton king with West as opposed to leading the knave and have all four spades with West. I realize there are other factors, but not enough to offset the above, if we are only talking about the significance of an overtrick while playing a normal contract at matchpoints.

Iain ClimieApril 11th, 2023 at 10:30 pm

Hi Bobby,

I must admit that I’d probably have led small to the Q at the table but I think the extra chances of singleton 9 or 10 with East means the J works out better overall. I realise what will happen to Jim2 here though – lead the J and either West will have K alone or East will have 109 / 10 alone / 9 alone according to what you do on the next round after the King covers and East produces the 10 or 9 and whether the rule of restricted choice plays ball or bites you in the behind.



bobby wolffApril 12th, 2023 at 1:25 am

Hi Iain,

No doubt the answer to our puzzle is “Yes”. Translated to Jim2 that whichever line he takes will come out second best, but, and of course, not for him, to be ashamed.

jim2April 12th, 2023 at 1:16 pm

Actually, I would have gotten lucky on this one!

Win the opening club lead on the Board with the AC, then lead the JS as in the text.

Next lead to 8S, also as in the text, duck the club return or win the diamond one on the Board, and pick up the spades. When in with QS, take the first H finesse, etc.

The real luck part is that we’d be in 3N, making 4 for a top! (That is why N was declarer.)

Thus, I would never have seen this Board. It would have passed over us in a skip round!

Iain ClimieApril 13th, 2023 at 10:19 am

Hi Jim2,

In the UK years ago, there used to be something called “Treets” – an early version of M&Ms with a hard candy shell and chocolate inside. The advertising slogan was “TREETS – melt in your mouth, not in your hand”. A stock joke over here was “He / she is so unlucky that Treets melt in their hand”. I’m sure you know the feeling….

Then there’s “Lucky at cards, unlucky in love”. The converse may not automatically apply but, if it does, you must have the world’s best spouse. Life could be worse!