Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I saw a letter from an old-school rubber player asking you about what responder’s cuebid meant when his partner opened the bidding and the next hand overcalled. Does a cuebid always show support, even in a minor?

Fumbling Florence, Trenton, N.J.

In a minor, the support may be somewhat limited but since you didn’t bid the other minor or double, you always have at least three trump. For example, after a one diamond opener from your partner and a one heart overcall, what would you bid with an opening bid with 3-4-3-3 pattern and four small hearts?

After an unsuccessful game, my partner suggested that at pairs a player who had balanced the opponents into game should probably double. His logic was that you were already on a terrible board if game was going to make. Could you comment on this?

Chasing the Rainbow, Doylestown, Pa.

Yes but…sometimes your opponents reach a normal game in an odd fashion – and you were going to get an average if you had not doubled. There is however a time to double; and that is when you figure your contract was going to make (for 140 or 130, say) and thus you need to double to make sure your plusscore exceeds that number.

One of my opponents held a minimum opener: ♠ J-7-3, A-Q-9-7-4, 2, ♣ A-Q-9-4 and he bid one heart, and heard his partner respond two diamonds, which they played as forcing to game. Can you comment on the merits of a two heart, two no-trump or three club rebid?

Second Chance, Sioux Falls, S.D.

There is a huge disagreement on what should be a simple question. For me, three clubs suggests real extra shape or high cards, two no-trump suggests but does not absolutely guarantee a stopper in the unbid suits, while a two heart rebid suggests six or a decent five-card suit. All three calls are reasonable here, but I’d lean to the two heart call since it is the most economical. Give me the king-jack of clubs instead of the queen, and I might bid three clubs.

The rumors from chess suggest that electronic devices and computers are being used illegally in that sport. Are players currently permitted to bring cell-phones and other devices into bridge events?

Luddite, Bellevue, Wash.

The ACBL recently experimented with a ban on cellphones but relented and now allows you to bring them in if you do not have them turned on. I might ban cell-phones altogether if I had my way, but I am not yet master of the universe.

One of my opponents recently dropped a card out of their hand onto the table and the Tournament Director explained that this was only a minor penalty card not a major penalty card. They were simultaneously playing two cards from the same suit, if that is of any help in explaining the ruling.

Muddle in the Middle, Eau Claire, Wis.

A minor penalty card is that one arises when two cards in the same suit are played simultaneously, and the exposed card is a small one. This basically gives rise to no penalty either for the player or his partner, but the offender must play the exposed card before any other small card in that suit. If the offending card is the spade nine, you can therefore discard or play a spade honor before the nine, but not discard or play the spade two.

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slarMarch 13th, 2017 at 1:42 am

Banning cellphones altogether seems a bit draconian because there are often situations where there is nowhere suitable to leave them. Not everyone drives to the bridge club and even if you do, there are legitimate uses of phones before the session starts (like finding your partner or reviewing system notes).

However, your mileage may vary when it comes to directors enforcing the no sound/not visible rule. Most directors are loathe to penalize paying customers.

A bridge joke: if the auction goes 1M(p)2M(p);p(p) and the opponents are not vulnerable, responder should bid 4S because if the opponents didn’t balance when you have a known fit, you know everything is coming up roses.

Iain ClimieMarch 13th, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Hi slar,

I think if your phone sounds during a top-level chess tournament, you can actually be defaulted although this may be due to distracting other players. The nature of chess makes assistance via a mobile phone more plausible, though. Declarer can hardly shoot off to the toilet for 5 mins straight after dummy goes down and come back to play the hand impeccably without arousing very raised eyebrows. In the days when I played club and county chess, I’d often stretch my legs if I were ahead on the clock and was happy with what I had planned. I didn’t have a mobile then but there were occasional stories about players secreting written opening analysis about their person (or even written on their arm under a long sleeve, heaven help us).



Bobby WolffMarch 13th, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Hi Slar & Iain,

Necessarily submitted by you two, honest and sincere souls which, although their cases could be amplified in many different ways, but more or less states what our modern world has both brilliantly and as far as illegal communication in many ways, no doubt in bridge, devastatingly created.

What does it all mean and what to do?

It comes to mind , yes, to allow such cell phones, but upon discovery and conviction of a heinous act, a forever ban (yes, eerily compared to the death penalty) but, in the event of no better solution, what else can save our game?

No doubt, cheating miscreants, once done, would be more likely to take that coward’s way out again, so let the people who love bridge and throughout the entire world, band together to secure our unbelievably sensational game and guarantee its honest future.

Also make aiding and abetting such acts subject to severe penalties. Sure precedents should allow perhaps a small (if there is such a thing) implication not 100% under the same rule, but perhaps a sometime long enough ostracism from our game to only for them to just consider their atrocity for just aiding those despicable creatures.

Strong admonition to follow, but what else needs to be said. Strong actions for, if you’ll excuse the comment, dealing with famine and death to a game which we all (or most of us) love.