Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 13th, 2016

I held: ♠ —, Q-6-5, K-J-9-5-4-3 ♣ A-10-7-3 and was in first seat at favorable vulnerability. Was my decision to open two diamonds unreasonable? In a sense my decision worked well, because we stayed low when my partner had a balanced 13-points with five spades. But the club and heart finesses worked, so we could make three no-trump…result, misery.

Affirmative Actor, Laredo, Texas

Preempting looks against the odds to me because of your side defense and playability in three suits. Make the club three the spade three and I concur with your decision. You always want to try to make your opponents guess, if you have a reasonable way in which to apply the pressure, as here. But sometimes you have to weigh up if misrepresenting your own hand is worth the price. Here, I’d say no. I’d open one diamond and apologize later.

There seems to be an ongoing debate as to when to open one no-trump when in range but holding a five-card major. Do you have any simple rules?

Lawmaker, Holland, Mich.

You should almost never open one no-trump with a five-card major and another four-card suit. Additionally, with a five-card major and 17 points plus a five-card major, open your suit and treat the hand as 18-19. With a bad 15 points and a good suit I will occasionally down-value the hand and rebid as if I held 12-14. Otherwise, unless I have two open suits, I think a strong no-trump is most descriptive, or the least lie, with 5-3-3-2 pattern.

My hand from a recent duplicate game was ♠ A, A-K-Q-J-9-5-3, K-6-5, ♣ 9-4. I chose to open two clubs but subsequently my opponents thought I should have opened one heart with the intention of jumping after my partner’s response.

House Martin, Westhampton, N.Y.

Your hand is on the cusp of a game force – planning to jump to four hearts to show a shapely hand with quick tricks in a long suit but no slam interest. Nothing is perfect, and I’m more flexible with opening two clubs than some. Give me the diamond queen (or the jack on a very good day) and you could sell me on the stronger action.

I held: ♠ 8-3, K-10-9-7-4, Q-7, ♣ K-9-8-2 and heard my partner open a strong no-trump. How should I have advanced this hand?

Open Sesame, Spokane, Wash.

I think you could sensibly go in one of two directions. If playing Stayman but not transfers, bid two clubs and follow up with two no-trump unless you find a fit. If you are playing Jacoby transfers, transfer to hearts then invite game with a call of two no-trump. It would be a slight underbid not to make a try for game, since your good heart intermediates offer your partner a decent source of tricks. Without the heart 10, I might transfer to hearts, planning to pass unless partner broke the transfer, to show a real fit for hearts.

I recently held: ♠ K-J, Q-10-8-5-4, K-9-8-2, ♣ Q-3. I passed the hand, which worked out well enough since my partner had 12 points and the deal belonged in a part-score. But his comment afterwards was that a 5-4 hand with an easy rebid should probably be opened when non-vulnerable. What do you say?

Action and Re-action, Tucson, Ariz.

With a 5-4 pattern and touching suits I tend to open, unless the hand has severe flaws. On this occasion the combination of the absence of aces, plus the doubleton spade and club honors clearly not pulling their full weight, make passing the normal action to me. Move the club queen into the diamond suit and opening the bidding becomes far more attractive. You have more playing strength when your honors are in your long suits.

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