Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Could you give me your instinctive reaction as to whether, or when, defenders ought to signal their length in the suit declarer is playing on? I have encountered partners who insist on being given such information, and those who claim to know better than me what is in my hand.

Helping Hans, Lorain, Ohio

My feeling is that while one must give count when helping partner work out when to win or duck an honor, those situations are the exceptions. And one tends to know them when one sees them without needing to make a firm agreement on when to give count. The weaker the declarer, the more inclined you should be to give count. And the weaker your partner, the less information you should give him; he will not notice anyway!

In third seat I held: ♠ A-Q-7-3,  Q-8-6-5-3,  2, ♣ Q-10-2. I responded one heart to my partner’s one diamond opening bid. When he raised to two hearts was I supposed to invite game by bidding three hearts? I can see arguments for doing both more or less!

Levelling Out, Casper, Wyo.

The hand is not good enough to drive to game, but passing seems a little tame. Rather than pass the buck to partner with a call of three hearts, you might bid two spades. That suggests this sort of hand-pattern, and lets partner look at his cards and evaluate his range and degree of fit.

What is your view on concealing a four-card spade suit in response to a one heart opening bid? Under what circumstances might this be acceptable?

Rose Red, Tempe, Ariz.

I assume you do not play Flannery (a two-diamond or two-heart opening to show four spades and five hearts) when a response of one spade would almost guarantee five. You should not bid a four-card spade suit when you have three hearts, in any range up to a limit bid, since otherwise when you support hearts, your partner will expect you to have a doubleton heart.

I assume you would not open this 11-count in first or second seat: ♠ A-9-4,  J-3,  K-J-7-2, ♣ Q-9-5-3? What about in third or fourth seat? And would the vulnerability affect your decision?

Quicksilver, Nashville, Tenn.

I see no reason to open in first or second seat. But in third seat a one diamond lead directing opening bid seems to make reasonable sense – at any vulnerability.

Several of our bridge group are elderly and reneges do happen from time to time. Would you list the different possibilities for penalties after a renege happens?

Slippery Sam, Durango, Colo.

If you did not take the trick and your side won no others, there is no penalty. If you took the revoke trick and no others, the penalty is one trick. If you did not take the trick but subsequently won one or more tricks, then the penalty is one trick. If you won the revoke trick with the illegally played card, (typically by trumping or overtrumping in error) AND your side won a subsequent trick, the penalty is two tricks. A tournament director may always adjust the score if equity has not been restored by the penalty.

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Peter PengApril 5th, 2015 at 2:17 pm

hi Mr Wolff

simple but somehow it does not register with me

on the bidding

1D – P – 1S – P
1NT – P – 3C – P

1. what does 3C show?
2. in the post mortem partner said it was a splinter, singleton A of clubs.

I had a bare minimum, 2-4-4-3 hand and took it as showing game values, but partner had 11 HCP

jim2April 5th, 2015 at 3:51 pm

I not Our Host, but I cannot imagine 3C in that auction as a splinter. Even if it were, which suit would it have been? The diamond suit partner did not support the first time? Or, the responder’s suit that opener has already denied substantial support for?

I would have taken it as a club suit. One question would be what a 2C bid would have shown. On values, for example, if 2C would have been new minor forcing, then how else would responder ever show a two-suited hand (spades and clubs)? Thus, if 2C would have been natural, 3C would show a stronger hand, but still with clubs.

Bobby WolffApril 5th, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Hi Peter, (and thank you) Jim2,

While directly agreeing with Jim2’s answer, let me just slightly amplify:

First, splinter bids have to appear unusual enough to get partner’s attention, so a jump to 4 clubs would be needed to fill the bill as great spade support (4+ spades) and of course, a GF, slam invitational effort.
An example might be: s. AQxx, h. Axx, d. AKJxx c. x. It is better to not have a singleton ace of clubs since partner will be expecting your values to be concentrated in his longer suits and not be wasted (sort of) in not serving as a booster to other cards in that suit. However holding: s. Axxx
h. Axx, d. AKQxx, c. A this hand is good enough to overcome that flaw.

Also, as Jim2 was alluding to, most of the very good serious bridge partnerships, play checkback Stayman a convention which treats a 2 club rebid by the responder as an artificial checkback intended to ask partner for major suit length, therefore relegating a response of 3 clubs as a desire to play specifically 3 clubs, e.g on your sequence close to s. KJxx, h. xx, d. x, c. K10xxxx or, s. Qxxx, h. xx, d. xx c. KQ10xx wherein the original responder attempted to find a 4-4 spade fit and when failing, returned to (what he knows to be) the best trump fit and the lowest level it can be attained.

However, again citing Jim2, in the absence of that best treatment, a jump to 3 clubs is a GF with at least 5 spades and 4+ clubs and by definition a slam try.

Together we will become the Johnny Appleseeds of bridge and try to spread the wonders of our ever developing game to all who are interested.

Again thank you much, both Peter and Jim2, for taking the time and effort to join in that lofty goal.

jim2April 5th, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Please note that the 3C bid in question was made by the spade bidder.

(And not an opener trying to show strong spade support instead of the actual 1N rebid).