Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Play Date with Mr. Miles

I had another chance to play with Marshall recently.

We are still trying to figure out what we play but I have enjoyed all the games I have had so far with Marshall Miles (and who wouldn’t).  We seem to work things out at the table and manage to find the right contract even when a bit confused in the auction.  I hope that I can learn a lot from one of the world’s greatest bridge theorists!

I found this deal interesting.


With East-West vulnerable, East opened one diamond.  I overcalled one spade and West bid two diamonds.  Marshall bid two spades which East passed.  Do you take another bid now?  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I did have a great spade suit with that nice sixth spade.  Marshall wasn’t raising me because he loved his trumps!  I don’t think two spades should be complete noise.  If West had passed than sometimes you bid two spades with less to give partner another chance and to  take away an easy balance from East.   So Marshall figures to have something.  But then again my diamond king is not likely to be a great card.  Is the 6-4 distribution enough to try for game.  What do you think?

I think that most people would pass two spades or maybe bid three spades for play.  And maybe they would be right a lot of the time but not this time.  I bid three hearts and Marshall raised to four hearts giving me a choice of contracts.  Should I play four hearts or four spades?  This seemed an easier decision to me.  I couldn’t think of any hand Marshall could have which would play better in hearts.  Can you?  It seemed I would have more control in spades (not to mention a potential spade ruff).  It turned out that there was some unexpected advantage to bidding fours spades.  I got the queen of hearts lead.  This was Marshall’s hand.


As you can see he had an awesome hand for me, better than I deserved. After the opening lead the hand was pretty well a claimer. (The queen was doubleton). This raised the question how should you play the suit if West leads the diamond jack a more normal lead on this auction.    Let’s say East wins the diamond ace and continues with the diamond queen which you trump.  You draw trump and West turns out to have three trump.  I am going to assume that West throws two diamonds.

The textbook play (check it out in the Bridge Encyclopedia) for three winners is to lead the heart ten and if that is covered finesse the eight the second time.  But I have been reading Marshall’s book Inferences at Bridge, (I really have, Marshall) and let’s stop and think.

It can’t hurt to duck a club now and see what happens.  So I am going to do that.  In my hypothetical game East wins the club jack (West encourages in clubs).  East returns a third diamond as West follows and I trump it.  Since I am running low in trump I am at the moment of truth.  Here is the position


What do I know: East has a singleton spade and the AQXXX of diamonds.  So he has seven cards in the rounded suits.  It looks like he has KJ or QJ of clubs.  I think he is not likely to be 5-5 in the minors since he might have bid again and he might have thrown a club on one of the spades.  So East has three or first hearts then and West has to have a heart honor or I am going to have two heart losers.   So West has Kx, Qx, K, Q.  In all those case I have to lead a small heart from hand.

So based on my assumption that East is not five-five I will play hearts right.  What do you think Marshall?  I know the hypothetical game is my best!


Chris HasneyMay 19th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Ask him for a copy of his book (1st, I think) on how to play duplicate. It’s very dated but still quite good.

Linda LeeMay 19th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I believe we have all of Marshall’s books in our bridge library. I am reading the book on inferences right now because I have been thinking a lot about how that is a huge part of the game and one that usually I am pretty good at…. I want to work on what I believe could be my strength. Anyway, I got an email from Marshall which suggested that he was confused by the blog. To be clear I got the lead of the heart queen from the doubleton queen and the hand was over very quickly. I was speculating more about how to play the hand on a normal diamond lead.

Marshall also thought I should pass 2S. I told him that he was right but I had a feeling and my experience is that sometimes feelings trump science. Anyway, I would welcome the comments about my bid … especially if you agree with me!

Ray LeeMay 19th, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Actually, Marshall wants me to give her a copy of his next book 🙂 Seriously. ‘It’s your Call’ will be out this Fall, and while basically a collection of bidding panel problems, with Marshall as moderator, it contains the inevitable chapter which I might call ‘Marshall’s latest thoughts on useful bidding agreements’. Actually, this book was the genesis for the play dates — I mentioned to Marshall that I’d given Linda two or three tough problems from the book, and that in each case she had come up with the same bid and reasoning as Marshall — even when no-one else on the panel did. “She must be a very good player, then,” was his comment. And the rest is history…

Leave a comment

Your comment