Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 25th, 2017

I know that to respond one no- trump to a one-level suit opener should show about 6-10 points. But if I open as dealer and my LHO doubles, or even produces a simple overcall, does the range for my partner’s one no-trump response change here?

Trumpet Voluntary, Galveston, Texas

The changes may be relatively insignificant but yes, the values required for a free action here do alter. The values required for the call should start at a decent seven-count in competition up to a good 10 HCP. With a hand where you were stretching to act, just to keep the auction open, the competition allows you to pass.

Holding ♠ 9-2,  K-8-6,  A-J-4-3-2, ♣ J-10-2, you recently advised us to give false preference after the unopposed sequence one spade — one no-trump — two hearts. Could you expound on what shape partner has promised, and why raising hearts would be wrong?

Curious George, Casper, Wyo.

On this auction your partner has guaranteed at least five spades and four hearts. Raising hearts should show four and invitational values, since partner could have only four. Retreating to two spades shows two to three spades. Its attraction is that it keeps the auction open and may lead to higher things — though it may get us to a 5-2 fit instead of a 5-3 fit, I agree.

In your opinion, would opening one club and over partner’s bid of one spade rebidding two hearts be a true reverse? I held six clubs and five hearts and bid it that way. 40 years ago I was told that since clubs and hearts were not touching the bidding could be a touch light. Your opinion please!

Come Alive,
    Salt Lake City, Utah

With a touching two-suiter 5-6 pattern and minimum values you almost always open the higher suit to avoid the reverse. Equally, with 5-6 in a non-touching two-suiter you often bid the long suit first – which will occasionally lead to your reversing over an inconvenient response. Partner assumes extras, but when you repeat your second suit he will know about your 6-5 pattern and may now assume some of your extras come in the form of shape, rather than high-cards.

Can you clarify for me how as third hand you clarify your suit length in the suit partner led, when at trick one you have played an honor to win, or to try to win, the trick.

Seconds Count, Seneca, S.C.

As third hand the spot card you return after winning the first trick with an honor is the same card that you would lead from the cards you have left. So with A-8-4, win the ace and return the eight from your 8-4. With A-8-4-2, win the ace and return the two — what you would have led from 8-4-2. (With A-10-8-4-2 I would return the eight – though opinions vary here.) But say your trick one honor has been captured. If your king loses to the ace, then when partner leads the suit again, from an original K-8-4 follow with the eight next. From an original K-8-4-2 play the two.

A couple of weeks ago you provided an answer to a question – but left the answer open-ended. After a two no-trump opener, how do you set hearts as trumps when Stayman gets a three heart response?

Flighty Flo, Springfield, Mass.

Thank you for holding my feet to the fire. A raise to game is terminal of course, and four no-trump is quantitative, without four hearts, with four of a minor natural and forcing (suggesting four spades). The remaining choices are to jump in a new suit, which is a splinter agreeing partner’s suit, or to bid the other major. Since you can’t have five cards in that suit (you would transfer not bid Stayman) this is an artificial call agreeing partner’s major and promising slam interest. Both sides can now sign off, cuebid or use Blackwood, to taste.

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