Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Replying to Bobby Wolff at dinner in Boston

Ray and I went out for dinner with Andy Boyles and Shireen Mohandes from London England and Brent and Donna Manley.   Over a middle Eastern meal a few bridge hands were copied on napkins.  First, a lead problem:

Your hand is

KQxxx KJxx x xxx 

You hear this auction:

North South
2 3
3 4
4 6
7 all pass

You are on lead playing in a Swiss team game.  I picked my lead very quickly.  Have you picked yours?

I led a club.  My reasoning was that the “obvious” spade lead could never really do anything useful.  North had solid diamonds and the major aces for this bidding.  It sounded like South had very good clubs.  A club lead just might cut declarer off from dummy.  There was some disagreement with that idea since most people thought South would not jump to the diamond slam without three of them and that rendered a club lead useless.  But I did win most of them over.  And it turned out that was the right lead.  Declarer did have a stiff club and dummy had only two diamonds with partner obliging with three trump.  So declarer had his communications cut and could only make 6.  I hope I would have got that at the table.

We then had a go at the famous “Forcing Pass” hand presented by Judy Wolff in her blog

Separating The Men From The Boys

and recently discussed by Bobby Wolff in his blog

From Another Vantage Point

You recall the situation.  Your hand is

x AQ8xx K10xx Axx 

The auction has been

West North East South
  1 3* 3
pass 4 4 ?

Now Ray and I had already made our choices on this hand, mine being 5 at imps and a pass probably at matchpoints.  All the bridge players at our dinner table picked 5 at all forms of scoring (with one person picking an aggressive 4NT).  Andy  speaking for the majority echoed my comments.  Partner doesn’t know about my good diamond fit.  I know the suits aren’t splitting and I know that partner may have a weak hand (say a weak notrump).  Nevertheless it is putting too much pressure on partner to pass it to him.  We could even be on for slam and 4 could be a make.

I wonder if 90% of experts in the Master Solver’s Club would really pick a forcing pass.  90% of near experts aren’t picking it. 

One of the things that impressed me about Bobby’s response in From Another Vantage point was his comment that you wouldn’t even make a slam try on this hand in an uncontested auction unless partner showed very good hearts (with a picture bid jump to 4). I agree.  And I understand that I would prefer to play hearts to diamonds at matchpoints. 

But I think in a contested auction there are two differences.  First I can’t play 4.  At this point if I am going to try for a contract our way I want to be in the safest one.  Second, I have much less information in this auction.  Partner can have a range of hands.  True that is an argument for passing and letting partner decide.  But partner does not know about the diamond fit which may be more crucial in his decision than his high cards.

So while I am willing to accept the view of the great players who have chosen a forcing pass, I think that they are is a case for 5 as well and I don’t think it would deserve a zero in the MSC.


Paul GipsonNovember 30th, 2008 at 8:03 am

Did Andy mention that he has just been picked for his first international appearance, playing for England in the Home Internationals (Camrose) next March?

Linda LeeDecember 2nd, 2008 at 6:32 am

Congratluations to Andy. He is a fine player and a wonderful person as is Shireen.

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