Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Can you tell me about the forthcoming National tournament in New Orleans? Are there games that might be suitable for non-experts?

Archie and Veronica, Shreveport, La.

What a good question! Not only should there be games for complete beginners (there are classes to try to teach bridge in a day) but also for all levels of intermediate and advancing players. For more details check out the ACBL’s New Orlean’s tournament page here.

I held: ♠ 10-6-3-2,  Q-5,  K-10, ♣ A-9-7-4-2, and chose to respond one no-trump to my partner's opening bid of one heart, since I thought that my partner was unlikely to hold four spades. He passed and I made eight tricks in my contract. However, many others responded one spade instead of one no-trump, and found the 4-4 fit and scored better than we did. Was I correct in responding one no-trump or should I have opted for the major?

Rumblefish, Wausau, Wisc.

I would respond one spade if not playing Flannery – expecting that my partner could bid no-trump for himself if he wants. If he bids anything else than one no-trump, I won't feel any worse off. But I do understand your action as a passed hand (I'd be worried about partner passing, and playing one spade in a weak 4-3 fit).

One of the basic rules of defense is that as third hand one plays lowest from a sequence of honors when following suit. But as a defender when you have to split honors in second seat, do you split from the top or the bottom — or is there no general rule?

Albert Hall, Carmel, Calif.

Different people will produce different rules here. How about the following simple one? Play the lower card from the bottom of a sequence of two, and the higher card from a sequence of three. Note that any partnership agreement is far better than none!

The concept of a Mixed Raise has come up from time to time in your columns and in the ACBL magazine. What sequences does this bid apply in – and should I consider adding it to my convention card?

Juggernaut, Spokane, Wash.

The Mixed Raise lets you use a jump raise facing an overcall to be weak and distributional (say, fewer than seven points, with four trumps). When one hand overcalls, if his partner makes a jump cuebid in the opponent's suit, that shows 7-9 points, with four trumps: too much too pre-empt, but not enough for a limit raise. A Mixed Raise may also be used after your partner opens a major, and the next hand doubles. A jump in the other major can then be subverted to a Mixed Raise.

I held: ♠ 7,  K-9-5-3-2,  A-Q-9-2, ♣ K-Q-4 and opened one heart, and heard my partner raise to two hearts over my LHO's one spade overcall. My RHO competed to two spades. What would you do now?

Phillie Fanatic, Philadelphia, Pa.

With a singleton spade the odds strongly favor bidding. Since you do not have quite enough to make a game try, a simple call of three hearts seems to be enough. Change the heart two to the jack and I think you have just enough for a game try (plus lead director) of three diamonds.

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