Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Can you tell me how to respond to a weak jump response to my opener? Recently I had seven good diamonds (missing the king) and ace-queen third of spades, with a doubleton king and a singleton on the side. My partner responded two spades to my one diamond opener. Would a jump to four spades be sensible, or should I look for slam?

Looking Up, Rockford, Ill.

If you play the two spade call to be natural and weak with a range of 3-6 points or so (one should not normally do it with more) a jump to game looks simple and direct. You will surely not make slam here — partner cannot have an ace on the side and relatively bad trumps, such as six to the king, as he would respond one spade then rebid the suit with that hand. This pre-emptive jump rarely has a trick on defense outside the suit, so even game may prove a struggle.

A bidding sequence that produced a huge disagreement at my club saw our partnership start unopposed: one diamond – one spade – one no-trump – three clubs. In the post mortem my partner said it was a club control, typically shortage. I had a bare minimum, 2-4-4-3 hand and took it as natural, showing game-going values, but my partner had 11 HCP.

Agree to Disagree, Pittsburgh, Pa.

If you play New Minor Forcing with a call of two clubs artificial here, then some play three clubs as invitational, some forcing, and some a sign-off! But I think everyone would play it as natural and at least five cards. I suggest you use it for invitational values, with forcing hands starting with two clubs. A jump to four clubs might be a self-agreeing splinter for spades – but you did not ask me that…

We do not play two over one, though maybe we should if the deal described below is anything to go by. My partner opened one heart, and with ♠ 7-2,  J-9-2,  K-4, ♣ A-Q-10-8-5-2, I responded two clubs. Then I supported to two hearts at my second turn over my partner’s rebid of two diamonds. We played there, making ten tricks when my partner passed with a 2-5-4-2 hand – he had the top hearts and the diamond ace, and clubs behaved. How should we get to game here?

Underwhelmed, Indianapolis, Ind.

If you play your bid of two hearts as non-forcing, showing 9-11 points with 2-3 card trump support, then you bid precisely what you have. Partner is allowed to pass with a minimum opener – which is exactly what he had. By the way, if you play this style then you should, I think, play a jump in hearts as forcing, not invitational, and bid fourth suit without a fit. The advantages of two over one are that you don’t need to have this sort of discussion.

I’m very distressed to read about the accusations of high-level cheating in international events, and also of various top players cutting corners in national events, many of which have been covered on bridgewinners. com. Are these sorts of incidents widespread, and are there more or less of them now than there were?

Alarm Clock, San Antonio, Texas

First the good news: screens and live camera coverage mean casual cheating is less likely now than before. Also players are far more aware of their ethical obligations now than they used to be. We won’t ever stamp out collusion but we have the capacity to investigate it if the will is sufficient. Alas, that’s the rub. I don’t believe the powers-that-be are sufficiently determined in this area, yet.

In one of your recent columns, South had ♠ A-K-4-2,  Q-J-8,  A, ♣ A-K-J-9-8 and opened two clubs. South seems to be rather lacking in quick tricks, to me. Also, as you described it, the bidding South rebid three clubs over the waiting two diamonds, then over his partner’s call of three diamonds he bid three spades – and got lucky when he found a fit. Would you prefer a rebid of three no-trump at the third turn, notwithstanding the actual 4-4 spade fit?

Going Low, Spartanburg, S.C.

I tend to open one of a minor with two-suited hands and a long minor, since that keeps the auction low. I would do that here. On the actual auction, over the three-diamond rebid (typically a second negative) I’m fine with three spades, even if it might lead to three no-trump played from the wrong side.

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