Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 15th, 2014

A friend saved your column in the Portland Oregonian dated 8/27/06. You stated that the last moment for claiming honors is the start of the next rubber. Is that still correct? My bridge friends and I find this hard to believe.

Late to the Feast, Calgary, Alberta

Yes, that is still correct. Until the rubber has finished, if you can persuade your opponents that you did have honors, the claim is still valid — if not strictly a recommended procedure, since you may be dependent on the kindness of strangers.

What do you consider the best strategy for overcalling against a strong club? Do you go for light initial action, or do you prefer to be able to rely on partner having his bid when he comes into the opponents' auction?

Mixing It Up, Columbia, S.C.

Nonvulnerable, I believe that one should overcall in the majors and with weak jumps rather more freely than against a natural call. The idea of playing two-suited actions or using two-way calls also has some merit. But I frown on random overcalls or psyching intervention.

In third seat, vulnerable, you hold ♠ J,  Q-J-5-4-2,  A, ♣ K-J-10-9-7-3. After two passes, what would you bid?

Ferdinand the Bull, Panama City, Fla.

There is no good answer here. Whatever you bid, either your partner or the opponents are virtually sure to bid spades, so I'd treat this hand as being 5-5 with extras and open one heart. If the opponents promised never to bid, I'd open one club, though. It is only the suit disparity that makes this decision close. By the way, with five spades and six clubs, you should open one club as the rebid is so much easier now.

In fourth seat you hold ♠ K-3,  5,  A K 10-3, ♣ K-J-10-9-6-4. The auction starts with one heart on your left, passed around to you. Do you content yourself with a call of two clubs or would you consider a bid of three clubs? The club game makes if you find the club queen, which is doubleton in opener's hand.

Level Best, Ossining, N.Y.

Nice problem! An intermediate jump to three clubs is the closest I can come with a single call, but bidding two clubs and planning to balance with an unusual two no-trump over a major-suit bid to your left or right is just fine too. Change the hand to remove the club jack and the suit is not good enough for the jump.

Do most expert defenders have their priority for signaling as attitude, count, and suit preference in that order? If not, can you explain the logic of a different priority?

Trail Blazer, Grenada, Miss.

Most defenders signal attitude as their priority, if they think their partner needs to know. When attitude is already defined by bridge logic, count comes next. If both of these signals are irrelevant, or one player's holding is already precisely delineated, suit preference takes center-stage. This last point is one of the major issues that distinguish expert defenders from the less experienced player.

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