Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, 7 December, 2023


Robert LiptonDecember 7th, 2023 at 10:25 am

West could have been the hero had he played the H9 at trick 4. Which does not detract in any way from Feldman’s infra-finesse, which I could not find staring at all four hands!

Bob Lipton

Jeff SerandosDecember 7th, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Hi Robert,

But can’t South then play the jack off the board to the queen and later run the heart eight? Or am I missing something? Brilliant hand in any case.



Iain ClimieDecember 7th, 2023 at 1:12 pm

Hi Jeff,

Yes, but South might then place West with H109x so has an extra (and losing) option – never good news. If you’re playing 3N with SQx on table opposite Axx on a spade lead then the Q either works or not. Make it Q10 opposite Axx and the torment starts. One partner of mine was so exasperated by finding no clues on a decision with a side suit of xx opposite KJxx late on in a hand (1 loser only allowed) that he apologised in advance to the opponents, fished out a coin and tossed it – it was his lucky day. Ever seen “No Country for Old Men” where the stakes are a bit higher?

I’ve played with some people on occasion who I wished would do that; as soon as they start thinking you know what is likely to happen. Gerald Abrahams (author of Brains in Bridge) once said something on the lines of “Don’t wake bad partners up. If there is a right card with 5 left to play, he’s got a 20% chance of pulling out the right one; if he starts thinking, the club bookie will quote you 10:1 against at least.” Cynical but we’ve all been there.



Iain ClimieDecember 7th, 2023 at 1:53 pm

HI Bobby,

With all those spades, and knowing that South is expecting a spade lead (so presumably prepared for it), should West actually lead a spade rather than a diamond? East has something over there and asking for the DQ doesn’t seem unreasonable – although the D bid and raise perhaps suggest otherwise. There again, South’s 3D bid maybe suggests doubt (why not bid NT – presumably the situation is GF) here. Any thoughts apart from it always being easy seeing 52 cards!)?



bobbywolffDecember 7th, 2023 at 2:17 pm

Hi Bob and Jeff,

Yes, declarer could do as you say and win, but, because the play of the nine is very unusual, declarer would likely change his plan over to playing West for 109x. Bridge, and its card combinations, are usually just etched in declarer playing them one way, but because of the second hand high falsecard by West, declarer is very likely to go wrong and play for thee 10 to now drop on the third lead of hearts.

Pretty clever these dudes, who set live traps for wannabe successful declarers and this one is worth recording in one’s mind as nothing short of brilliant. Since for all practical purposes West is not involved with hearts, but in reality, he becomes a huge difference maker.

Kudos should be given to Bob for just seeing this glorious trap, and remind all of us, especially myself, just what a great game it is, we try and play, to best advantage.

bobbywolffDecember 7th, 2023 at 2:31 pm

Hi Iain,

No, I think West should mind his partner and lead a spade since, when he doubled a suit for a lead, it also, almost always, especially after first entering the auction earlier, denying other suits for leads.

However, and doubtful it made a difference, but methinks I would bid spades (at this vulnerability) with West’s hand at some point since East saw fit to
join the auction.

Iain ClimieDecember 7th, 2023 at 7:01 pm

Hi Bobby, Gents,

Further points here are that if West has enough guts to smoothly duck the heath with Q10xx, Q9xx or Qxxx (or even the same holdings with 1 fewer heart) then declarer is unlikely to rise with the J while failing to split the 109 holding 109x(s) gives declarer a very nice surprise when the 8 drives out the Q. Placing East with Q9xx, Q10xx or Qxxx still makes more sense, though.



bobbywolffDecember 8th, 2023 at 5:32 pm

Hi Iain,

All you say is correct. Now, your task will be to continue your perfect record, and, if you do, you will be singled out, at least by me, as the greatest player ever. If true, certainly take a bow, if not, join the rest of us.