Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

While all deception requires secrecy, all secrecy is not meant to deceive.

Sissela Bok


S North
None ♠ Q 9 6
 Q J 5
 6 5 3
♣ A K 10 6
West East
♠ A K 10 5 4
 9 7 4
 K J 8
♣ 8 5
♠ 8 7 2
 10 2
 10 9
♣ Q J 9 7 4 3
South
♠ J 3
 A K 8 6 3
 A Q 7 4 2
♣ 2
South West North East
1 1 ♠ 2 ♠ Pass
4 All pass    

♠K

Last month I mentioned in passing that while attitude signals worked to give partner your opinion as to whether to continue with the suit led or whether to shift, there might still be occasions when you would encourage partner’s lead, even if you didn’t like the suit all that much.

The best reason for doing that is that you know you fear the consequences of partner’s shift, if you discourage his lead. Let us look at where we want to avoid partner making the “obvious” switch.

Playing a five-card major system, South opens one heart, West overcalls one spade, North bids two spades to show at least a limit raise in hearts and South bids four hearts.

When West leads a top spade, your systemic play would be the two, but do you really want partner to play a diamond, which is his most probable switch if you discourage spades? You are better off encouraging a spade continuation, (before the rats get at it) and allowing partner to collect his diamond winners if any in the fullness of time.

The point here is that even if partner were psychic enough to shift at trick two to a club not a diamond, declarer would then dispose of his second spade loser on the clubs and make his contract in a different way. From partner’s perspective, a diamond might be essential if declarer was about to build a discard on clubs and spades. His hand might be a 2=6=3-2 shape with the top hearts, diamond ace and club jack.



As 14-counts go, your hand could hardly be any better; indeed I could not imagine stopping out of game. The real concern might be that you would miss slam here, since the right 10-count opposite could make 12 tricks a formality. A jump by you to five clubs should be a splinter, setting diamonds as trump, and letting partner evaluate his assets as best he can.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 3
 A K 8 6 3
 A Q 7 4 2
♣ 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 10th, 2017

He has gained every point who has mixed practicality with pleasure, by delighting the reader at the same time as instructing him.

Horace


N North
Both ♠ A J 6
 7
 K 8 4 3
♣ A Q 7 5 2
West East
♠ K Q 7
 J 9 8 6 5 4
 10 2
♣ 10 8
♠ 10 9 8 5 4
 10 3
 J 9 7 6
♣ 9 4
South
♠ 3 2
 A K Q 2
 A Q 5
♣ K J 6 3
South West North East
    1 Pass
3 ♣ Pass 5 ♣ Pass
5 Pass 5 ♠ Pass
7 Dbl. Pass Pass
7 NT Dbl. All Pass  

♠K

At a Fort Worth sectional, one of my readers, Dick McLamore was South. When he produced a strong jump shift to North’s one-heart opener(!) he heard North jump to five clubs, suggesting good clubs. So he took a pot at the grand slam, once he found a spade control opposite.

When West doubled, North masochistically passed, but McLamore decided that the double had to be based on a club void, the so-called Lightner double. This asks the hand on lead either to attack dummy’s first-bid suit, or to give his partner a ruff. Accordingly he escaped to seven no-trump.

This was logical reasoning, but wrong in every respect. Admittedly, the complete deal would have come as a complete surprise to just about everybody except North, who had had a bidding box accident at her first turn.

Against seven no-trump McLamore captured the spade king lead with the ace. If diamonds were 3-3, he could see there would be 13 tricks for the taking, but West showed out on the third round. Can you see how to advance the play?

Declarer simply ran the clubs, throwing a spade from dummy on the fifth. He already knew from the bidding and play thus far that West had the spade queen and the hearts guarded, but even if East had held four hearts as well as West, the last club would have successfully squeezed both players.

In that scenario only a heart lead would have broken up the squeeze, and anyone who found that would have my admiration.


My guess would be to lead my second highest club, because with such a bad suit I want my partner to be alive to the idea that he might need to shift to a second suit in order to beat the opponents. If I had two sure entries on the side, I might lead fourth highest here.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 3 2
 10 4
 A J 6
♣ 9 7 6 4 3
South West North East
      1 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Can you tell me how to respond to a weak jump response to my opener? Recently I had seven good diamonds (missing the king) and ace-queen third of spades, with a doubleton king and a singleton on the side. My partner responded two spades to my one diamond opener. Would a jump to four spades be sensible, or should I look for slam?

Looking Up, Rockford, Ill.

If you play the two spade call to be natural and weak with a range of 3-6 points or so (one should not normally do it with more) a jump to game looks simple and direct. You will surely not make slam here — partner cannot have an ace on the side and relatively bad trumps, such as six to the king, as he would respond one spade then rebid the suit with that hand. This pre-emptive jump rarely has a trick on defense outside the suit, so even game may prove a struggle.

A bidding sequence that produced a huge disagreement at my club saw our partnership start unopposed: one diamond – one spade – one no-trump – three clubs. In the post mortem my partner said it was a club control, typically shortage. I had a bare minimum, 2-4-4-3 hand and took it as natural, showing gamegoing values, but my partner had 11 HCP.

Agree to Disagree, Pittsburgh, Pa.

If you play New Minor Forcing with a call of two clubs artificial here, then some play three clubs as invitational, some forcing, and some a sign-off! But I think everyone would play it as natural and at least five cards. I suggest you use it for invitational values, with forcing hands starting with two clubs. A jump to four clubs might be a self-agreeing splinter for spades – but you did not ask me that…

We do not play two over one, though maybe we should if the deal described below is anything to go by. My partner opened one heart, and with ♠ 7-2,  J-9-2,  K-4, ♣ A-Q-10-8-5-2, I responded two clubs. Then I supported to two hearts at my second turn over my partner’s rebid of two diamonds. We played there, making ten tricks when my partner passed with a 2-5-4-2 hand – he had the top hearts and the diamond ace, and clubs behaved. How should we get to game here?

Underwhelmed, Indianapolis, Ind.

If you play your bid of two hearts as non-forcing, showing 9-11 points with 2-3 card trump support, then you bid precisely what you have. Partner is allowed to pass with a minimum opener – which is exactly what he had. By the way, if you play this style then you should, I think, play a jump in hearts as forcing, not invitational, and bid fourth suit without a fit. The advantages of two over one are that you don’t need to have this sort of discussion.

I’m very distressed to read about the accusations of high-level cheating in international events, and also of various top players cutting corners in national events, many of which have been covered on bridgewinners. com. Are these sorts of incidents widespread, and are there more or less of them now than there were?

Alarm Clock, San Antonio, Texas

First the good news: screens and live camera coverage mean casual cheating is less likely now than before. Also players are far more aware of their ethical obligations now than they used to be. We won’t ever stamp out collusion but we have the capacity to investigate it if the will is sufficient. Alas, that’s the rub. I don’t believe the powers-that-be are sufficiently determined in this area, yet.

In one of your recent columns, South had ♠ A-K-4-2,  Q-J-8,  A, ♣ A-K-J-9-8 and opened two clubs. South seems to be rather lacking in quick tricks, to me. Also, as you described it, the bidding South rebid three clubs over the waiting two diamonds, then over his partner’s call of three diamonds he bid three spades – and got lucky when he found a fit. Would you prefer a rebid of three no-trump at the third turn, notwithstanding the actual 4-4 spade fit?

Going Low, Spartanburg, S.C.

I tend to open one of a minor with two-suited hands and a long minor, since that keeps the auction low. I would do that here. On the actual auction, over the three-diamond rebid (typically a second negative) I’m fine with three spades, even if it might lead to three no-trump played from the wrong side.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 8th, 2017

We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.

William Hazlitt


W North
N-S ♠ 10 5 4 2
 9 6 2
 10 6 3
♣ 8 4 2
West East
♠ J 9 8 6 3
 J 10 7
 K 2
♣ K 9 3
♠ K
 Q 8 5 4
 A J 9 7 4
♣ 10 7 6
South
♠ A Q 7
 A K 3
 Q 8 5
♣ A Q J 5
South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
2 NT All pass    

♠6

South’s two club opening bid and two no-trump rebid shows a balanced 22 to 24 points, letting North pass gratefully.

South ducks West’s spade lead in dummy, taking East’s king with his ace. He now has two spade tricks, two in hearts, and at best three in clubs. Where will his eighth come from?

South starts by leading the club jack, hoping that West will duck the trick even if he shouldn’t. When the jack holds, he continues with ace and another club and West wins his king.

West has a safe exit in the form of the heart jack. Declarer wins, and cashes the 13th club, discarding a heart from the board. When West pitches the spade three, South must now get out from his hand, with a fairly good idea that West began with five spades and three clubs.

It looks natural to exit with king and another heart, but if he does, East will cash the 13th heart, and declarer’s hand will be squeezed.

Best may be to play West for the doubleton ace or king of diamonds (much more likely than that East has passed a hand with both top diamonds plus some major stuffing in third seat, non-vulnerable). So declarer exits with a low diamond from hand. When East wins cheaply, he does best to lead a second diamond to West’s bare king. But now, when West plays his heart 10, South ducks, wins the next heart, and plays queen and another spade. West must win and concede trick 13 to dummy’s 10.


You will probably feel torn here between raising diamonds and making a negative double, to get hearts into the picture. In a way, four hearts is almost as likely to be the best game for your side as five diamonds, with three no-trump an outsider. My guess would be to double, planning to bid diamonds at my next turn at the three or four level if the opponents compete.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J
 Q 8 5 4
 A J 9 7 4
♣ 10 7 6
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 7th, 2017

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.

Elbert Hubbard


W North
N-S ♠ K 3
 Q 7 3 2
 K Q 6 5
♣ J 9 7
West East
♠ Q J 10 9 5
 9 8
 10 8 3 2
♣ K 5
♠ 8 7 6 4 2
 5
 A 9 7
♣ 10 6 3 2
South
♠ A
 A K J 10 6 4
 J 4
♣ A Q 8 4
South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
1 Pass 2 ♣ * Pass
6 All pass port  

*A maximum pass and heart sup

♠Q

The real issue in today’s slam is to avoid the loss of a trick in each minor. If the club finesse succeeds, you can discard one low club on the spade king, and another on the third round of diamonds. How might you succeed with the club finesse wrong?

Well, if you can sneak a diamond past whichever defender has the ace, you can discard your other diamond from hand on dummy’s spade king, and hold your losers to just one club. Equally, though, if you lead a low diamond and the player with the ace hops up with it, you will still succeed. You will now have two discards coming on the diamonds. Coupled with the discard on the spade king you will find you can get rid of all three club losers.

So which defender should be the intended victim of this maneuver – also referred to as a Morton’s fork? The lack of opposing bidding should provide a clue. The opponents never bid with 10 spades between them; assume West has the club king along with a decent five-card spade suit. With the diamond ace as well, West would surely have overcalled one spade.

So draw trump ending in dummy, and lead a low diamond towards the jack. If East plays low, you win with the jack, cross to dummy via the heart seven and throw a diamond on the spade king. If East grabs his ace and switches to a club, win the ace, cash the diamond jack, and pitch your clubs on dummy’s three winners.


While you do have the fourth suit well stopped, it feels right to support clubs first. Slam in clubs could easily be in the picture, and raising clubs now in no way limits the hand, since the jump shift sets up a game force. No-trump can always come later, but you can see the prospect of spade ruffs in your hand if partner declares clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 3
 Q 7 3 2
 K Q 6 5
♣ J 9 7
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 2 ♠ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 6th, 2017

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.

George Orwell


W North
N-S ♠ A 5 4
 A 4
 7 5 3
♣ A 10 8 7 5
West East
♠ 9 2
 K Q J 10 6
 K 8 4
♣ K J 6
♠ 7 6 3
 8 7 2
 Q 10 9 6
♣ Q 9 3
South
♠ K Q J 10 8
 9 5 3
 A J 2
♣ 4 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

K

How will you play today’s spade game when West leads the heart king?

You win immediately, to avoid a potentially fatal diamond switch. You can count eight top tricks: five in trump plus three aces. One heart ruff in dummy would not help you all that much, because you would still need to set up the clubs. Your best chance is to hope for a 3-3 club break.

Play one round of trump, to the king, and then duck the first round of clubs to preserve communications, ensuring that you can use the club ace as an entry on the next round to ruff out the suit. East does best to win and press on with two more rounds of hearts. What now?

If you ruff the third round of hearts, you will go down. You hope to establish the clubs with one ruff, and will then need to draw trump ending in dummy. But you cannot do this if you have taken a ruff on the board. Instead, discard a diamond from dummy on the third round of hearts. Regain the lead, draw a second round of trump with the king, and you can then ruff out clubs and cross to the ace of trumps to discard two diamonds on the good clubs.

What if East switches to the diamond 10 after winning the first club? You would have to rise with the diamond ace to avoid the defenders reverting to hearts, to defeat you. Again, you can ruff out the clubs and draw trump ending in North, then run the clubs.


You correctly limited your hand with a non-forcing effort at your second turn. Partner then produced a slamtry and your mundane 12-count is suddenly almost worth a drive to slam. Start by cuebidding four hearts, and plan to bid on over four spades with a second cuebid of five clubs. If you trust partner, you know you have golden cards for him.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 5 4
 A 4
 7 5 3
♣ A 10 8 7 5
South West North East
1 ♣ 2 2 ♠ Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.

Aesop


E North
E-W ♠ Q 5 2
 A 10 9 8
 A J 10 9
♣ 6 4
West East
♠ J 10 7
 J 2
 8 7 2
♣ A Q 7 3 2
♠ K 9 8 3
 7
 K 6 5 4 3
♣ 10 9 5
South
♠ A 6 4
 K Q 6 5 4 3
 Q
♣ K J 8
South West North East
      Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass    

♠J

In today’s deal East and West have no reason to enter the auction, and when North makes a limit raise to three hearts, South should simply bid game rather than tip the opponents off to their best lead.

However, when West leads the spade jack, the best play for four hearts is by no means obvious. Declarer is threatened with the loss of four black suit winners if the club honors are badly placed. To avoid the possible threats it looks right to try to set up the diamonds, but you have a choice of strategies.

Best is to draw trump and play the diamond ace then the jack, running it to West, and throwing away a spade loser. If East has the diamond king you avoid losing the second spade. If West has the diamond king, you will be able to throw two clubs away on the diamonds later on by crossing to dummy in trumps.

But there is one more step in the process – and having identified the main thrust of the deal, it would be a shame to fall at the preliminary hurdle. You must duck the first trick both in dummy and in hand, in an attempt to cut defensive communications. Then you win the next spade, before playing on the red suits. If you cover the first spade in dummy or win it in hand, you leave open a line of communication for the defense to cross back and forth in spades, and beat you if West has the diamond king and one or both club honors.


After this start to the auction you are too good to pass but it isn’t clear if your best game will be clubs or no-trump. With a minimum hand you would pass, and a call of three spades should suggest a half-stopper. With what appears to be a full stopper, you should bid three no-trump yourself rather than force partner to bite the bullet with jack-third or even three small spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5 2
 A 10 9 8
 A J 10 9
♣ 6 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 3 ♣ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.

Arthur Koestler


S North
Both ♠ Q 9
 8 6 4 3
 9 8
♣ A K Q 6 2
West East
♠ K 10 8 7 3
 J 7
 Q 10 4 2
♣ 10 4
♠ J 6 5
 K 10 9 5
 K J
♣ J 8 7 3
South
♠ A 4 2
 A Q 2
 A 7 6 5 3
♣ 9 5
South West North East
1 Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass
       

♠7

In today’s deal, facing a one diamond opener, North sensibly decided to drive his hand to game, thus responded two clubs. If his side wanted to play hearts it rated to play better from his partner’s side, and the fit could still come to light later. If you respond one heart you can never really describe your assets properly after that.

Now switch to declarer’s seat in three no-trump on a spade lead. After the spade queen holds at trick one, you have seven fast tricks. Where will you find two more? The right thing to do is to try the heart finesse first. When the heart queen holds, you might change your original plan of playing clubs from the top.

The heart finesse is a discovery play, to determine the goal from the club suit, (in other words whether to play for 3-3 clubs or to protect against 4-2 clubs). By taking the heart finesse, you learn how to play clubs. When the finesse wins, you can afford to duck a round of clubs as your safest route to four tricks in the suit, given that dummy is entryless outside the clubs. If the heart finesse had failed, you would have relied on a 3-3 club split.

Incidentally if the hearts in dummy had been 10-9-6-3 you might have led a heart to the queen, then cashed the ace before tackling clubs, since if either the king or jack fell under the ace, you would have had a guaranteed route to nine tricks by setting up a third heart winner for your side.


A call of four clubs is forcing, showing five or more clubs and four hearts, asking your partner for cooperation in a possible slam. You don’t have quite enough to drive to slam, but by letting partner know what you have, you can try to engage his cooperation. Incidentally four no-trump by him at his next turn would be discouraging, not Blackwood.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9
 8 6 4 3
 9 8
♣ A K Q 6 2
South West North East
    2 NT Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 ♠ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor.

William Shakespeare


S North
Both ♠ Q 5 4
 J 10 7
 A K 8 4
♣ 6 5 4
West East
♠ 10 8 7 6
 K 9 5
 Q J 10 9
♣ 3 2
♠ 9 3 2
 Q 8 6
 3 2
♣ K Q J 8 7
South
♠ A K J
 A 4 3 2
 7 6 5
♣ A 10 9
South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass
       

Q

Facing a strong no-trump, North has enough to raise to three no-trump; against which West leads the diamond queen.

South should win in dummy, hoping to pin a bare nine or 10 of diamonds in East. He cannot afford to duck, since clubs, not diamonds, are the danger suit. Where does he go for tricks? His best chance is to lead the heart jack, and the moment of truth has arrived for East. If he covers the first heart, declarer will make three heart tricks and his contract.

East must play low, allowing his partner to win with the king, thereby retaining the queen-eight in his hand. That way declarer is limited to two heart tricks, since when declarer leads the 10, East can cover, hoping his partner has the nine. It must be right to cover the second time – if declarer has the nine, East’s queen is dead meat. This way declarer is limited to two heart tricks, and when diamonds do not yield declarer’s extra trick, he has only eight winners.

The general rule is that in second seat one should cover the first of touching honors. There are exceptions when you have a doubleton honor, but the rule applies often enough that one should stick with it, and not question it too deeply. This is true whether we are looking at a combination of J-10 or Q-J for declarer or dummy.

Of course as third hand you play third hand high – but that is another story.


When faced with the choice of leading in unbid suits from a sequence or a broken suit, I won’t say that it is no contest, but you need a good reason to eschew the sequence. I can’t think of one here, so I’d go with the club jack. If my LHO had opened one club rather than one diamond I’d guess to lead a diamond, I suppose.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ A 5
 J 9 6 5
 Q 8 4 3
♣ J 10 8
South West North East
  1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

With: ♠ A-Q-2,  K-7,  J-9-6, ♣ K-8-5-4-3 I opened one club, and heard a weak jump to two diamonds on my left. When my partner made a negative double, I was stuck for a call. My instincts were to bid two no-trump without a stopper, but I chickened out and rebid my clubs, which left us in an inferior part-score. Would you contemplate a bid of two spades on the three-card suit?

Tied up in Tinseltown, Los Angeles, Calif.

Introducing the three-card spade suit looks a reasonable shot (after all, you may need to ruff spades in your hand). Your first thought of bidding no-trump here was not a terrible idea, but I’m just too cowardly to want to explain this to partner if I’m wrong! I hate rebidding clubs with such a poor suit.

Would you be kind enough to clarify the meaning of the last call on the following unopposed sequence: when I open one spade and rebid two hearts over my partner’s two club call, he rebids two no-trump. Now at my third turn if I bid three diamonds, what would you expect that to show?

The Sign of the Four, Duluth, Minn.

When partner has already bid no-trump and the auction is below three no-trump, the primary meaning for a call in the fourth suit here is to indicate length not shortage. You suggest a 5-4-3-1 pattern with some interest in playing in a contract other than three no-trump, thus probably extra values. But if your partner had rebid three clubs, three diamonds would be the fourth suit, so initially a probe for no-trump, with maybe a half-stopper.

I just had a friendly (well not so friendly) discussion with the Tournament Director at my local club. As dummy I observed my RHO revoke on the second round of clubs. When he followed to the third club I pointed this out to my partner, and was told in no uncertain terms that this was inappropriate. Can you explain the correct etiquette for dummy?

Punctilious Petra, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

I’ve been caught out here too. There are two contrasting instructions: say nothing as dummy until an irregularity has been confirmed or the end of the hand is reached. BUT if an irregularity has been established and the director is not called, dummy should rectify that omission at once.

I held: ♠ 3,  A-J-9-4,  A-K-10-8-2, ♣ Q-9-4. When I opened one diamond, I heard my partner respond two clubs, game-forcing. Do you agree with my choice of two hearts? Next I heard my partner jump to three no-trump. Can you tell me what my partner showed, and what I should do next?

Bonus Baby, Monterey, Calif.

Yes, your two heart call (suggesting this red-suit pattern) looks right to me. Some might play your partner’s jump to game as Fast Arrival. Not me: I believe it shows extras, with two no-trump suggesting less or more than a strong no-trump. That makes the decision to move on now with a natural slam try of four clubs a straightforward one. You can always stop in four no-trump.

Our two-club opening is forcing to game or four of a minor, except when opener’s rebid is a passable call of two no-trump. Recently as responder I held something like: ♠ 2,  9-6-4,  J-5-3, ♣ K-J-10-7-4-3. Rightly or wrongly, I judged it not quite enough for a constructive three-club response, so bid two diamonds. Playing cheaper minor as a “second negative” is there any way I can unambiguously show the six-card club suit at my next turn?

Minor Minus, Nassau, Bahamas

If you don’t play two diamonds as a positive and a direct two hearts as a second negative, then another possibility is to co-opt a direct two no-trump bid to show this hand. In other words, it describes semi-positive values with long clubs, since that hand is so awkward to describe in any other way. I agree a direct three club call should be a better hand and suit than this.


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