Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Can you tell me what my options are with the following hand: ♠ K,  A-3,  A-Q-10-5-4, ♣ K-Q-7-3-2? I opened one diamond, and over my partner's one-spade response, I rebid two clubs. Now he bid two no-trump, suggesting invitational values, and I was not sure if I had to give up on slam altogether and just bid three no-trump, or if I should force with three clubs?

Still Hoping, Salinas, Calif.

Beware! Rebidding your second suit would show this pattern, but would be weak and nonforcing. Three no-trump now is reasonable; four no-trump is natural, quantitative, and optimistic. The advance to three hearts is the only other sensible option. It should suggest real extras, including heart length, though in the days that I played on the Aces team, we used the sequence for a strong 5-5 pattern. Maybe the simple way to have gotten your extras across was to bid three clubs at your previous turn.

Although I now live in the United States, I was born in Asia. Do you think there will ever be a world-championship winning team from that continent?

Here's Hoping, Sunbury, Pa.

For the record, both the Chinese women and Japanese seniors have won world titles, and the Indonesian men and women have both reached the finals of world-championship events. The Chinese men probably offer the best current chance of a title — though I would be somewhat surprised if they make it in the next decade.

When opener reverses, what should responder do? How do you distinguish between good and bad hands with support? Specifically, I held ♠ Q-4,  10-8-7-4,  Q-10-5, ♣ Q-7-3-2 and responded one heart to my partner's one-club opening. What should I have rebid when he reversed to two diamonds?

Braking Hard, Helena, Mont.

A convention called Blackout is in common use here by tournament players. This says that the cheaper of fourth suit (two spades here) or two no-trump is conventionally consistent with a weak hand; meanwhile, raising partner directly is game-forcing. Rebidding your own suit shows five or more cards and is forcing for one round. So here I'd bid two spades and hope to raise clubs in nonforcing fashion at my next turn.

Should one play a change of suit as forcing when partner overcalls over a weak two- or three-level pre-empt? What happens if you are a passed hand (or have passed over the pre-empt at your first turn to speak)?

Pre-emptive Strike, Kenosha, Wis.

A new suit is forcing here, though not necessarily to game. But as a passed hand, a new suit should be played as nonforcing but constructive. Having said that, since an overcall of a pre-empt guarantees a good hand, many would play a new suit at the three-level as forcing to suit agreement. That certainly makes sense.

Playing pairs, I opened one diamond, my LHO bid four clubs, and my partner doubled, leaving me to decide if I should act again with ♠ 10-4,  A-J-7-3,  K-Q-8-5-4, ♣ Q-3. I passed and hoped that my bits and pieces would be enough to set four clubs. In fact we did beat it a trick, and my partner did have only three hearts, but five diamonds would have made comfortably enough.

Fading in the Stretch, Charlottesville, Va.

You are supposed to take out your partner's takeout doubles if you can. So with shape, and especially when you do not have trump tricks, strain to remove partner's double, in this case to four hearts. If partner doesn't have hearts, he should know what to do.

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Jane AJune 15th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Hi Bobby,

A hand from yesterday. In second seat, my RHO opened a weak NT (10-13). As it turned out, it was only ten and a really weak NT, but that is OK. It was alerted and explained. I hold 14 points and 2-3-5-3 shape, so I doubled to show a little above the opener’s hand. Partner and I play Landy and this is our agreement that a double would show a bit over the best opener could hold if they open weak NT. My LHO redoubles and we were given misinformation about what the redouble meant. RHO explained that the redouble meant she held two non touching suits. My partner, originally a passed hand, now bids three spades with Kxxxx, passed out, and we are down two for a poor result.

My partner felt I should have held at least three in each major to double the opening weak NT. I wanted to show the balanced hand with decent points. Either way, when my LHO makes the redouble and it was explained that she held two non touching suits, should my partner pass and see what happens next. They make absolutely nothing and the way the cards lie, we can only make one spade or two diamonds.

Should I have bid two diamonds instead of doubling the weak NT open? I was not trying to deceive, but thought with our agreement the double was a better, more descriptive bid.

So many choices.


Bobby WolffJune 15th, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hi Jane A,

Whenever someone preempts, whether it is a very weak NT opening (10-13) or a higher level bid such as a weak 2 bid or an abnormal 3 level preempt skewed results are often the result.

I agree with your double holding 14 hcps and 2-3-5- shape. Partner, depending on how strong his hand, may have been wise to either pass and await developments or bid only 2 spades, giving your partnership more flexibility. His 3 spade venture could have worked out, but didn’t, because of the unlucky doubleton spade you held.

Anything more by me, or for that matter, by a bridge playing genius computer couldn’t pin point this type of problem to save your ship.

However the experience of this happening will only reinforce the value of good judgment in competitive decisions which, at least to me, is more important than technical skill in playing the game.

Weak NT, and Judy and I play it NV 12-14 and more often than not distorts the bidding and makes it come up differently at our table than at every other table, causing different things, both plus and minus to happen.

The important thing to keep in mind is to allow as much flexibility as possible in making bidding decisions to avoid painting oneself into a corner where the only way to get out is directed to a poor result.

The opponent’s bidding system seemed to be well organized according to what your LHO did, redouble to show whatever it showed, but since LHO was not giving the information RHO said she was giving, you probably were entitled to an adjusted higher score, if and when you would have called the TD.

And the discussion goes on and on, but it will stop here and you can now just use your imagination from here on.

Good luck and see you next week at the Riviera.