The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 29th, 2012
What are the merits of odd-even discards as opposed to standard discards?
Gadgets Galore, Olympia, Wash.
A case can be made against standard discards — in the wrong hands. Too many people throw away winners to tell partner what they have, so any method (be it reverse signals or suit-preference discards) that encourages beginning players to keep their high cards is not a totally bad idea.
Playing Standard American, I was involved in the following auction. North, holding ♠ K-4, ♥ A, ♦ A-J-10-2, ♣ A-J-10-8-7-6, opened one club. After a one-spade overcall, his partner, with ♠ 4, ♥ K-Q-10-6-2, ♦ K-Q-7-5-3-2, ♣ 3, bid two diamonds, and the next hand raised to two spades. How should the auction have proceeded?
Sky Diver, Jackson, Miss.
Since, at his second turn, three hearts by North would be natural and forcing, a four-heart call by him would be a splinter. That implies heart shortage and a diamond fit. South can risk a spade cuebid despite his heart wastage (or even bid Blackwood himself next), and the partnership will get to slam now.
I've read your negative opinions on MUD leads from time to time. Are there any other conventions in bidding or play that you strongly dislike?
Nay-Sayer, Danville, Ill.
I'm a very tolerant man — as my wife and all my friends would attest to. Having said that, I don't like playing new suits as nonforcing facing an opening bid in competition. But I'm even less in favor of playing two-over-one as game-forcing in competition. Go for the happy medium of playing a new suit as forcing but, even at the two-level, does not guarantee a rebid.
I ran into a problem with this classic strong no-trump. I opened one no-trump holding ♠ K-J-5-4, ♥ 6-2, ♦ A-K-2, ♣ A-J-9-4. My partner transferred into hearts, then bid three clubs. We play this as natural and forcing; should I simply bid three no-trump or look for higher things?
Excelsior, Waterbury, Conn.
It looks simple to bid three no-trump now, but consider that you could be laydown for slam facing as little as five hearts to the A-K and five good clubs. Bid three diamonds, then support clubs, suggesting a hand of this nature. At pairs you might want to leave three no-trump in the picture, but at teams five clubs really should be safe enough.
Earlier this month you discussed how to calculate the chances of a 3-1 break. How do you extrapolate from that 50 percent number to work out the chances of the 4-1 break missing five cards?
Count M. Upp, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Breaks of 4-1 can be derived from the chance of the 3-1 break missing four cards (that's fifty percent) with the fifth card going to the length. Add to that the chance of the 4-0 break (10 percent) with the fifth card going to the shortage. I'll leave you to work out the precise numbers, but you should get a total of 28 percent, or 14 percent for each defender.