Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, 22 February, 2024


jim2February 22nd, 2024 at 3:32 am

Another interesting line of play would be to eliminate spades before leading a diamond.

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 22nd, 2024 at 12:09 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
But perhaps once trumps break 1-4, declarer could have tried for elopement of his small trumps All he needed is to guess diamonds. He cashes spade A, ruffs spade and leads diamond finessing ten. It doesn’t matter whether east wins or not. Say he wins and returns heart , south wins and leads diamond winning two tricks and continues with diamond. Either south elopes with his trump or makes it naturally if east ruffs.
Hope I am not missing something

Iain ClimieFebruary 22nd, 2024 at 2:13 pm

Hi Bobby,

I think your comment in the last paragraph is spot on. Suppose trumps are 3-2. Dummy could have just DQJ109 and declarer is OK unless East has both top diamonds and West both top clubs. So cash HKQ and play a diamond to the 10 if they break. Duck a club return if this loses to the J (West might well have led a club from KQ9xx so safe) and now things are trivial. If the trumps misbehave as here, the risk is losing 1H, 2D and 1C but 3 losers are inevitable. The best hope is then simply the first round D finesse.

Curious that South’s play didn’t match the sophistication of his bidding but that isn’t a new view. I knew one former England player (who was later murdered heaven help us) telling me about how, when young, he and his partner had a highly sophisticated convention card which did them little good at all in a match against Reese & Schapiro’s team. He also noted that JTR’s derision about their system wasn’t overly charming but apparently he could be like that. I played against Boris Schapiro once and he was very charming and even slightly apologetic after fixing us in a London tiurnament in 1979.

bobbywolffFebruary 22nd, 2024 at 4:36 pm

Hi to everyone including myself,

While, in reality, the success in this hand is basically what it started out to be, because of the bad trump break, a diamond guess and also not overlooking the value (to declarer)
of the nine, rather than the queen, being the winner (extra trick).

Because of my now advanced age, my bridge experiences certainly coincided with
the powerful inclusion of Terrence Reese (brilliant writer, brilliant player) and his entertaining jolly partner to whom I got to be very friendly, Boris Shapiro.

While being a very tough assignment when playing against them, they were both blessed with compelling personalities, Boris with a great and constant sense of humor and Terrence, always being full of bridge and a very droll exterior. Although being asked to explain was never demanded to me, Boris took the cheating chants to heart and, at least to me, acted somewhat apologetic, but guilty as charged, but still allowing his already heady humor to right his belonging, while Terrence (perhaps the best bridge writer as well and at least, certainly and IMO competing justly to be the best player ever, as well). And all I have to say is, yes they were cheating,, but because of their individual personalities, while absolutely no one can justify that horrible access, they, as a pair, might be the one duo to, at the very least, begin to understand and horrors, not be too heady in demanding a simple why.

Iain ClimieFebruary 22nd, 2024 at 4:56 pm

HI Bobby,

I’m intending to get hold of Alan Truscott’s book on the 1965 scandal (for legal reasons it couldn’t be published in the UK for years) having read Reese’s “Story of an Accusation” any years ago. The whole affair was very disappointing and Swimer, the GB NPC, was vilified in British bridge circles even though he tried to do the right thing by pulling our team out of the competition. One curious point was that the method apparently used (showing a different number of fingers behind the cards) seems absurdly simplistic and spottable – shades of foot-tapping and the coughing doctors scandal. Why would people that bright use methods which an alert 12 year old would spot? All very sad.

Ironically my old university partner Steve Green is now head of the English Bridge Union’s anti-cheating operation and sadly I saw a (married) couple of players I knew and liked get a ban for online antics a while back. There were never any accusations of foul play when we played together, despite some success, but some complaints about our tendency to row with each other I suspect. I’m not proud of my attitude problems in my younger days but having to give that guy CPR back in 2011 (after a 25 year break) put a stop to all that.


Robert LiptonFebruary 22nd, 2024 at 8:12 pm

Iain, I have owned both books and read them several times. My conclusion was that neither of them made a strong case for their positions.

I think a good deal of the blame for the messing up of events was laid at the feet of John Gerber, by not allowing the authorities to conduct their investigation before making the accusation. While later writing on the Buenos Aires affair offered compelling analyses that convince me, Gerber’s insistence of making the accusation before the people in charge could conduct their own investigation in situ certainly hampered the accusers.

I, of course, was not in Buenos Aires at the time, being busy with grade school on Long Island and all, and not learning the game at all until 1972. This makes me makes me defer to onsite witnesses.

Bob Lipton

Bob Lipton