Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 21st, 2013

In response to a strong two-club opening, would you please comment on the two diamond response as a waiting bid, as opposed to showing a suit or controls, with an immediate response of two hearts being a double negative.

Norma Jean, Boise, Idaho

I prefer to use two diamonds as waiting or negative because that can be combined well with a method espoused by Eric Kokish. In these methods opener's rebid of two no-trump shows 22-24, and two hearts forces a call of two spades. Now opener rebids no-trump with a balanced game-force; minor suits show that minor plus longer hearts; three hearts is single-suited hearts. Even if not playing that, I don't think the immediate double negative via two hearts is very useful.

Would the sequence one club – three clubs – four clubs – five clubs ever be bid by two experts, especially two experts who are not a regular partnership? To put it another way, could the above sequence be described as intelligent? With what hands would this be a sensible route to the club game?

Heart to Heart, Bremerton, Wash.

Since we never invite facing an invitation, four clubs is either pre-emptive or a one-suited slam-try with no singleton (else a splinter), not interested in no-trump but looking for a cue-bid from partner. Your sequence is highly unlikely, since opener, with slam interest facing a limit raise, surely has a second suit or shortage and would describe his hand or ask for aces, not reraise his suit.

Does the concept of a free bid or a free raise still apply? If so, can you explain when it is in use?

Django, Sacramento, Calif.

The concept of the free raise showing extra values is best forgotten. One has to compete with a fit for partner, with or without values. So raise partner when you can — except that with a dead minimum and defensive values, especially with bad trump, passing initially may be wisest. The one place where a free action promises slightly more than in a parallel noncompetitive auction is that a one-no-trump response to an opening bid in competition tends to be a good 7-10 rather than 6-9.

What do jumps to five of a major typically show? I was faced with the following sequence: one heart – two clubs – two hearts – three hearts – four diamonds – five hearts. Is the last bid an asking bid or a statement about something specific?

Asking or Telling?, Madison, Wis.

There are many auctions where three suits have been bid (or where the opponents have bid a suit). In those cases a jump to five of the agreed major asks for a control in the danger suit – here, spades. In other sequences a jump in the trump suit most commonly asks for good trump, suggesting the bidder has especially poor trump, but a good hand in all other respects. Occasionally, though, the reverse is true: The call shows good trump and nothing to cue-bid — you generally know which!

Holding ♠ Q-5-4,  A-J-7-3-2,  K-4, ♣ 10-5-2, must I overcall over an opening of one club and one diamond? Does the vulnerability, or whether partner has passed, affect your decision?

In the Weeds, Birmingham, Ala.

Some would argue that a space-consuming overcall (robbing your LHO of the chance to bid one diamond in the first instance) should be made more aggressively than one that takes no space. I do not buy into this, but I would overcall unless at unfavorable vulnerability, facing a passed partner. I do not think the scoring method matters here — but change my heart jack into the 10, and I would be more discreet.

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