Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I’m currently teaching my family how to play bridge. Would you advise me to teach them weak twos or strong twos? Two other areas I’d appreciate your advice are on the subject of negative doubles and transfers. What is your opinion here?

Tommy the Tortoise, Great Falls, Mont.

These days, weak twos and transfers are almost part of Standard American at every level. My gut instinct is to teach them these methods, early, but I’d leave negative doubles — and indeed all doubles – for a while. Start with the non-competitive auctions; contested auctions should follow later.

Holding ♠ Q-J-7-4, K-2, A-Q-10-4-2, ♣ K-3, I assume you would open one diamond rather than one no-trump. If so, what change might you make to this hand to tempt you to open one notrump?

Speed Racer, Leicester, England.

When you have reversing pattern with five of a minor and four spades you would normally open the minor with 17 HCP, or if your points are concentrated in your long suits. This hand is on the cusp, with a minimum strong no-trump and two kings you might want to protect on opening lead. Switch the spade jack and the club three and I bite the bullet and open one no-trump. Sue me.

You recently asked in your column as to what to bid at your second turn with a six-count that included three clubs and two diamonds after an unopposed sequence your way: one diamond – one heart – two clubs. You advocated passing, which I can understand. But doesn’t a new suit by your partner force you to bid?

Blue Label, Jackson, Tenn.

New suits by responder are indeed forcing (except by a passed hand). But new suits by opener, be they on opening bid or rebid are NOT forcing. This is unless a game force has already been set up. Thus jump shifts and reverses by opener are forcing – the former being forcing to game, the latter for one round. You should pass two clubs because you want the auction to be over fast. With the same hand and an extra king, give false preference to two diamonds.

My partner introduced me to a new idea he said was all the rage amongst the fancy, this being a second negative by responder after a two club opening. I was used to a rebid of two no-trump at the second turn to show this hand after an initial response of two diamonds. I’m told that it is now appropriate for the lower minor to show the double negative. If so, what do you do over opener’s rebid of three diamonds?

Hero to Zero, Ashville, N.C.

Yes, the lower minor (three clubs over opener’s rebid of two hearts or two spades, three diamonds over a three club rebid) to be used for a really weak hand. If opener rebids three diamonds at his first turn there is no second negative. But some people use opener’s three diamond rebid to be single suited, calls of three of a major show long diamonds and four cards in the bid major.

Against an uncontested three notrump auction and with fewer than six HCP, where do you stand on the issue of leading from length or trying to find partner’s suit. If you go for a short major, with for example Q-8-4, which card would you lead?

Dropping the Mike, Arlington, Texas

Always lead low from this holding, since partner will probably know from the sight of dummy how many high cards to expect. I rarely lead middle from three, though maybe the 10 from Q10x or jack from KJx to unblock the suit, is possible.

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slarNovember 13th, 2016 at 10:19 pm

In Hero to Zero’s situation, we treat 3H as double negative. The key really is that you have to have a sound 2C opener to bid 3D over 2D because you can easily end up at the 5 level opposite a Yarborough. If you are strong in the red suits and you are in doubt, make a reverse or jump shift. It is pretty rare for someone to pass holding a spade suit. (In a way this is the opposite of Andrew Robson’s column today:

Bobby WolffNovember 13th, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Hi Slar,

No doubt, only giving good advice between you and the Sunday column is satisfactory, but always remember that major disciplines such as captaincy and often used conventions with not only the details but also a consistent feel with your regular partner (if you have one) is where the money is.

It doesn’t matter much what a partnership plays, as long as it is playable, but above all whatever chosen, learned and carefully remembered.