Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 29th, 2015

What does the Sandwich no-trump mean — and would you advocate playing it?

Dave in the Deli, Macon, Ga.

Bidding in sandwich seat refers to being in fourth seat when both opponents have acted. Some play that a one no-trump call shows the two unbid suits. But since you could double or jump to two no-trump to show hands of this general shape, the bid of one no-trump here should be reserved for balanced hands of, say, 16-19 points. As a passed hand, one no-trump must be unusual.

I disagreed with my partner who held: ♠ K-Q-10,  A-10-9-8-6,  —, ♣ A-10-9-5-3, when a weak two diamonds opening was passed round. He bid two hearts, and I passed, holding five small spades and a singleton diamond. My sole assets were king-queen-fifth of diamonds! What are the merits of two hearts as opposed to double?

Soupy Susan, Salinas, Calif.

I took a small sample here. My panel is split between pass and double.

The downside of double is that we play spades when we belong in a round-suit; any other action from partner will be more than welcome. So I vote for double, but I think it is close.

I am never confident what to do as opener when my partner raises my second suit. For example, holding: ♠ K,  K-Q-7-3-2,  A-5-2, ♣ K-9-7-2, I heard my partner respond one spade to my one heart opening, then raise my two club rebid to three. Was I supposed to pass or drive to three no-trump?

Jack Sprat, North Bay, Ontario

Partner sometimes produces a courtesy raise with four trumps and nine HCP or so, but you should not assume that to be the case. Rather than going to three no-trump, I’d temporize with the fourth suit, three diamonds, hoping partner can produce heart support. Or perhaps he can bid three no-trump himself — which might be a good idea if he had the doubleton diamond queen or the king-jack of diamonds.

When your partner opens a major-suit and the next hand doubles, how do you deal with all the hands in the range of 4-10 HCP with three or four trumps? The vocabulary of raising or jump raising seems a bit impoverished!

Dromedary, Tupelo, Miss.

Simplest is to play the jump raise as rather weaker than normal. However, with a high-card limit raise or better, jump to two no-trump, a scheme known as known as “Jordan” or “Truscott”. Incidentally, some people also play a two-club response after the double as purely artificial, showing 7-9 points and three trumps, thus letting the simple raise suggest 4-6 points. I like this idea.

After you hear one heart to your right you hold: ♠ A-K-Q-2,  5-3-2,  K-Q-5-3, ♣ 9-4, and have to decide on a call. My partner said I must pass because I don’t have a five-card suit for an overcall, can’t bid NT because I have no stoppers in hearts and clubs, and can’t double because I can’t support all unbid suits. What’s the best solution?

Side-show Bob, Muncie, Ind.

Double is not perfect but certainly almost palatable. Sometimes partners don’t bid clubs, sometimes they have six of them. Overcalling one spade is also acceptable, but switch the diamonds and spades and double is clear — for me. There are many who require the perfect hand to double but as I get older and the number of deals left for me to play goes down, I bid when I can. I may not get another chance…

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ClarksburgApril 12th, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Further to Dromedary’s question and your answer, here are some points for clarification, and for extension to other (stronger) hands.

1) Some would extend the approach of 2C artificial showing 7-9 and three trumps, to also use 2D artificial to show 10 to 11+ and three trumps. Would you also endorse that extension?

2) Assuming you might endorse (or at least tolerate) the above 2D artificial, and knowing you are not a fan of Bergen Raises, the 3C and 3D calls would nevertheless provide a way to show the four-trump equivalents of the above 2C and 2D calls. Any comment on merit / downside ?

3) Presumably the Double can also be ignored to bid Splinters or Jacoby 2NT with the appropriate four-trump Responder hands. That OK?

4) If playing all of the above and standard Redouble (“we own the hand, but I most probably don’t have three trumps”) then might the 2NT call say (“we own the hand and I have three trumps”).

The above is of course a mixture of questions and requests for advice / comment on my own “intermediate club player” thoughts and system notes. Any advice (including friendly raps on the knuckles!) will be most appreciated.

bobby wolffApril 12th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Perish the thought of knuckle raps and general criticism, since the only time I consider that is when my mood coerces me into feeling sorry for myself.

My idea of being in bridge hell would be waking up and finding myself partnering a player who strongly desires to compartment wise all gradations possible to so do. While I will admit that bridge should be exacting, if possible, but if so, you are asking about a subject which is both random and, by far worse, more helpful to the opponents than to the table friendly person present, in the event of the “good guys” winding up on defense.

During the bidding stage all valuations are speculative as to how they specifically match up with partner’s hand. The language used (bidding0 is not nearly sufficient to even begin to usually guess what fits and what doesn’t. It is merely an exercise of overall judgment determined by the partnership experience of playing against those particular opponents and within the category of the event, together with the moods of the four contestants.

In other words, I will suggest that a single raise is the weakest bid, a double raise should have either an extra trump or some outside distributional advantage (an outside singleton is almost always appreciated) while power bids (Redbl, Truscott or some artificiality such as 1 of a major, dbl, 2 diamonds with hearts being the opening or 2 hearts with spades, as showing a maximum 2 level raise, and only paying the small price of not being able to use those two bids as natural.

The above, at least to me, is totally sufficient since to give more information is attempting to futilely gild the lily, which will not even help 5% in making future choices, but instead figures to help the opponents perhaps as much as 20% if they eventually become declarer.

Yes an architect or a research scientist needs to search out perfection, but that trait does not even begin to belong in any bridge discussion, especially concerning aspects of bidding, with the sole exception of bidding slams and even that experience often backfires in reality.,

Sorry to lessen your day, but in actuality I hope to have brightened it by taking the worry away. Never forget that bidding, the sole language used in coding our individual hands, simply is a make do situation and is not to be confused with learning language and grammar in school. EXPERIENCE
rather than right or wrong is the master and always has been, but it takes even our best and brightest bridge students a long time to learn both it and why.

FWIW, I do not recommend any form of Drury after interference, only what I mentioned above. Also conventions. often popular with some, but disliked by others, have much to do with the opponents being consistently advantaged more than the proponents by the use of them.

That will not change by my opposition to them, only the poor results by those who use them and even then, some bridge lovers prefer their artistic use rather than results and that will also not change since secretly those players give up on results and therefore follow their sensitivities.

ClarksburgApril 12th, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Thanks very much for the comment and (implicit) advice, which I, as an everyday visitor here, more or less expected. Hope other readers will see and benefit from your comments.

Favourite Partner and I are, based upon EXPERIENCE, currently moving back toward simpler system and less-aggressive pre-empting in Club games. Also, have been trying all-natural with other Partners in Club games with decent / good results.