Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, 5 October, 2023


Jeff SerandosOctober 5th, 2023 at 4:57 am

Hi Bobby,

I am always left a bit in awe of plays like this one especially when, in retrospect, you can see the logic and imagination behind the play. His partner has already shown up with the KD so it he may have the QC or the JH or he might have neither. It also looks like South has a doubleton heart based on the bidding so East has a better shot at holding the jack than South does.

If he has neither the QC or JH, it does not matter, the contract is making. If he has the protected QC, it looks like the contract will most likely go down even if the 10H gambit runs into the JH in South’s hand. The JH though – if East has that there is no legitimate way to defeat the contract. The imagination though to understand that if his partner HAS the JH, he can sneak the 10H through – that is wonderful. In South’s shoes, who among us would put put up the queen? It looks so wrong.

Great effort by West to work all that out instead of simply tabling the third diamond and putting it down to just the way the cards fell when his partner failed to turn up with the QC. Alas, I certainly would not have seen the possibility and would have gone on the next hand never thinking for a moment that there was a brilliancy just waiting to be played.



Iain ClimieOctober 5th, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Hi Bobby,

If South cashes 2C and then runs the SJ and it loses, then the defence are still there. A small heart from East to the Ace and 10 may well still work but is less likely to happen. East holding HKJ9x will need to be very smart or lucky to find that, especially as declarer might have HA10. Against that, doesn’t cashing the clubs and running the SJ highlight the likely position of the SA and CQ so the defence might rise to the challenge?



bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2023 at 2:06 pm

Hi Jeff,

First, it is both perceptive and heartwarming to have an obviously intelligent guy like you
rhapsodize the game, for all of us veterans, who have been battling it for years.

Next, today’s example included, which may be called deception, West tabling the ten of hearts, simply hoping for partner to hold the jack and declarer not being up to, rising with the queen. Nothing much more nor much less, but just an all out effort for West to giving his best (after careful thought) to conclude that his play, gave the defense the best chance of defeating the contract.

Whether it did or did not is almost never really known, simply because of how difficult it is to figure all the factors (bidding, play up to then, habits and experience of that specific declarer
and whatever else you feel proper to add). All of that type of talk, bound together, is what helps to make bridge, IMO, easily the best and most competitive mind game ever devised.

If there is one, not so secret, commonality among all those who are in the running for extra good player, is a penchant and love for simple arithmetic or for short, “A Numbers Person”.

Thanks for joining our group, since included in our back and forth is a needed sense of humor just to deal with the times when all of us have been at the bridge table, but either missed, for whatever play or bid which turned out a better choice than we made, but then had to face the music, for why?

IOW, at least to me, you’ve gotten off to a wonderful start, now we need for you to continue to be heard, at least for as long as all of us can last throughout the ages.

bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2023 at 2:32 pm

Hi Iain,

While your direct discussion seems right on (IOW, cannot be detailed any better), I, or anyone so inclined, will probably need to perhaps even dig deeper in order to declare
what is percentage the right play. My take is that I’ll initially back your line, but only because you are convinced of it and that alone should drive off doubters.

Age has come into play causing me to lack the energy of youth (with, in this context, 80 something years thought to be a mere baby). However, even now, when it comes to thinking bridge, it does redeliver what might be thought to be a satisfactory effort, made clear by just the love we all have for it to have occupied so much of our time.

bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2023 at 3:04 pm

Hi again Iain,

I lied and then have since delved deeper into your explanation and am now very convinced of your line and more important, rarely does it usually make a whole lot of difference in what order declarer goes about positioning, but with this particular hand, it becomes of immense
proportions, if for no other reason than to keep West from under leading his AK of hearts when that side also has the jack. IOW, and with your example, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but keeping East on lead will never hurt me, or, at least, fool me”.

Iain ClimieOctober 5th, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Hi Bobby,
Maybe South should win the DA at T2, play a club to the Q, perhaps cash the Ace (or just look at the club pips) and then run the SJ or 10 after that. Makes it a bit less obvious that he’s got the 3 high clubs although good defenders might still smell a rat.



bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2023 at 7:18 pm

Hi Iain,

Looking at the club pips is a bit dicey ethically, but a type maneuver often done and difficult
to be strongly condemned. Thus not punished, but a reputation to do such things does follow
those who do, which in itself is a reasonably high price to pay.

Discussing further, should allow an opponent of such, to help himself to that specific information, becoming known to him or her soon after previous similar confrontations with that naughty bird. For him, bad karma is sticky and sometimes just too tempting to vary.

Someone once surmised “There is a sucker born every second” (or something similar, PT Barnum from Barnum & Bailey?), but though true, sometimes that bloke wises up quicker than anticipated.