Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 18th, 2017

In response to our one diamond opener in standard methods with ♠ J-9-4-3-2,  A-J-10-3,  J-4, ♣ 7-2, what would you suggest as a response here — one heart or one spade? I wasn’t sure what to do since the hearts are so much better than the spades and with a somewhat weak hand, I didn’t think responder would want to take too many bids. On the other hand, bypassing hearts with one spade might lead to missing a fit.

Douglas Fir, Fredericksburg, Va.

Normally you would bid one spade here, planning to play spades if partner supported them of course. But if he rebid diamonds you would pass, if he rebid one no-trump you would bid two hearts (non-invitational, else we would use new minor or the like). If partner rebid two clubs, I’d reluctantly give preference to two diamonds. As you say, the flaw with the one heart response is to miss a 5-3 spade fit after partner’s one no-trump rebid. No matter how weak the suit, a 5-3 fit rates to play better than a 4-3 fit

Are there any new security devices being considered to try to prevent the recent rash of cheating we have been hearing about at the top level?

Block and Tackle,
    Kansas City, Mo.

The screens currently in use seem to prevent all but the more determined colluders from exchanging information, and nothing is ever going to stop people from cheating if they really want to. I suspect electronic signaling is the method that worries the authorities the most – but if they are doing anything, they certainly wouldn’t tell me (and I might not tell you).

My partner held ♠ 10-7-5,  K-9-6-3,  9-6-2, ♣ J-5-3 with both sides vulnerable. He heard three hearts to his left, double from me, and he had to decide on the least of evils. He chose to bid three spades, and I raised him to game, with a 4-1-3-5 16-count, down three. Our best result comes from defending three hearts doubled, which we can set one on competent defense.

Prince Regent, Dubuque, Iowa

I would guess to pass, because any action I take might cost more than conceding three hearts doubled! Additionally, this rates to be a decent score if we beat it, given the vulnerability, while guessing the best partscore doesn’t rate to score us that well. Incidentally, are you sure you were supposed to bid game here? Didn’t you need partner almost to have a four spade call for him to have a chance to make game, since you are really not providing that many extras for him?

What are the standard requirements for a strong-two opening? It seems people are opening with any long suit and less than 18 high-card points. I imagine there are no set rules, but are there any rules of thumb?

Danny Deaver, Selma, Ala.

There may be no strict high-card limit on the action but you want to have a certain number of honor tricks — I’d say an absolute minimum of at least two and a half quick tricks in aces and kings. I might open a strong two if I’m worried partner might pass my opening bid with a scattered values but no fit, and yet we might still make game. In practice this often means a two suiter is the hand-type that qualifies most when my high-cards might otherwise not justify the action.

My partner faced a problem with nobody vulnerable when he heard a weak two spades to his left, doubled by me. The next hand raised to three spades; would you pass, double or bid four clubs now with his hand: ♠ J-4,  Q-7-6,  K-5-2, ♣ K-Q-10-6-4? And how should I construe a double here – as asking for hearts, or some other suit?

Patted Down, Sunbury, Pa,

My instincts are that one must act here, and a simple call of four clubs makes sense to me. Double suggests both minors, in which case your partner is likely to bid suits up the line – assuming his partner does not have hearts, or he would just bid them over three spades. This is not an exact science, though. Finding a fit on these high-level auctions requires judgment, not to mention a fair amount of good fortune from time to time.

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