Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 5th, 2013

I was dealt ♠ J-8-7,  J-9-4,  K-Q-3, ♣ A-5-4-2 and passed, as did my LHO. When my partner opened one diamond and the next player overcalled one heart, I could not find a sensible call. I guessed to raise to two diamonds –but can you do better?

Lucy Locket, Pueblo, Colo.

Put a gun to my head and I will respond one no-trump; the weakness of the heart stop somehow cancels the slight underbid in terms of high cards. Raising a third-in-hand minor opening on three is also reasonable, though.

Can you clarify for me what the meaning of a double in fourth seat should be when a pre-empt has been bid and raised around an overcall by your partner? Specifically, My RHO opened two spades, I overcalled three diamonds, and my LHO raised to four spades, doubled by my partner. Is that takeout, optional or penalties — and would your answer be different if I had doubled instead of overcalling?

Man in the Middle, St. Paul, Minn.

In either case the double is optional, suggesting moderate values and being prepared to defend facing a hand with no real extra shape. It should not be based purely on trump tricks and an otherwise poor hand. With that hand you should pass and hope partner can reopen with a double. The double should be based on 'transferable values, cards that will play well on defense or offense.

I held ♠ A-10-8-2,  K-4,  10-7-3, ♣ 9-8-5-4 in fourth chair and heard my partner double one diamond. I responded one spade, which was passed around to my RHO, who reopened two diamonds. What should be my thoughts here?

Ray of Sunshine, Honolulu, Hawaii

Bid two spades. When your partner doubles one diamond, he promises a sufficiently suitable shape for you to be able to compete to the two-level with moderate values and respectable shape. Note that even a 4-3 fit will play fine, since you rate to be able to ruff diamonds in the short hand.

Quite recently you ran an auction where a player who had passed in first seat responded one heart to his partner's opening of one diamond. His partner now passed and his RHO balanced with one spade. I thought South's response was "one-round forcing," even if he had passed originally. South might have had up to 11, so even if game was unlikely, North's pass might leave South in hot-water, playing in a 4-2 trump fit with four poor trumps. What am I missing?

Stranded, Palm Springs, Calif.

North's pass of one heart simply suggests typically three trumps and a minimum opening, such that one no-trump might appear a less comfortable spot. He might hold a minimum hand with four trumps. Incidentally, there is no such thing as a passed hand's simple response being a one-round force. (You might argue that a fit-jump is forcing if you play that, but how can responder want to force if he doesn't have enough to open?)

When should opener raise responder's major with only three-card support and a six-card suit of his own? I recently opened one diamond and raised a one-heart response to two with ♠ Q-4,  Q-5-2,  A-K-8-7-6-3, ♣ Q-3. My partner thought this was taking an extreme position.

Weak Support System, Anchorage, Alaska

I tend to agree with your choice. I would consider raising with three trumps on most hands, unless the three-card support is very weak and the six-card suit very good, when a rebid of the long suit seems in order. You could definitely persuade me to repeat diamonds with three small hearts and A-K-sixth of diamonds.

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