Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 12th, 2012

In second seat would you overcall one diamond with one spade, holding ♠ Q-9-8-3-2,  A-7-4,  Q-9-7, ♣ J-4? If not, what is the smallest change you would make to this hand to make it worth an overcall?

Chicken Little, Texarkana, Texas

The vulnerability and scoring do matter here. I'd pass if vulnerable — especially if my partner was a passed hand — although I suppose at pairs I might be tempted to overcall. However, I'd be unable to resist bidding if the spade nine were the jack. One can rarely afford to stay silent with the boss suit.

Is it appropriate to defend the same way against a strong and a weak no-trump? What should be the cut-off in high cards for going one way or the other — assuming you recommend a separate defense?

Foxy Grandpa, Hartford, Conn.

Against a weak no-trump (anything where the minimum high cards are fewer than 14) you must play a penalty double. A defense that lets you show one- and two-suiters such as Cappelletti is simple and reasonably effective. Against a strong no-trump you can do the same, but you may prefer to get in more actively, in which case Woolsey or DONT achieves that target. You can find a summary here.

I held ♠ Q-7-4-2,  Q-9-7,  A-Q-10 ♣ J-10-7 in third seat. When the auction came around to me, I opened one diamond and passed my partner's response of one heart. When I put my dummy down, my LHO said I should have opened one club with 3-3 in the minors. Is that true?

Grindstone, Calgary, Alberta

You can do what you like, of course. If you can't stand to pass this hand of power and quality, then opening one diamond for the lead has something to recommend it. Whatever the technical merits of opening one club, it IS your weakest suit after all, so why encourage partner to lead it — or support it?

I'm an ancient bridge novice, who deeply appreciates your daily column in Contra Costa Times. Please tell me the meaning of "signaling count."

Number Cruncher, Macon, Ga.

Signaling count means showing an even number of cards by playing high then low, an odd number by playing low then high. After you have followed suit as third hand in an attempt to win the trick, at your next turn signal count from your remaining (not original) cards.

What is my best rebid after I opened one diamond and heard a one-heart response? I held ♠ A-Q-3-2,  4,  A-Q-9-7-3, ♣ A-Q-10. Would you bid no-trump, or spades? If spades, at what level would you bid them?

Easing Down the Road, Mason City, Iowa

A no-trump call is inappropriate when you have a shapely hand. You should bid spades, and the fact that you have no fit for your partner's suit should argue for caution. In my opinion it is better to bid one spade and risk missing game, than to bid two spades and force to game. Switch the hearts and clubs, and you would happily bid two spades.

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