Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 13th, 2017

At IMPs I dealt myself ♠ A-3-2,  A-5-3,  8-6-4-3, ♣ A-4-2, a hand with nine losers and no intermediates. I passed, and the deal was thrown in. At the other table, the opponents opened and played their four-four diamond fit for +90. Any comments?

Better Business, Muncie, Ind.

I’ve not grown rich by passing 12 counts but if I did pass one it would be because it had too few aces, not too many. In judging whether to open the bidding, naming a suit you actually hold is better than bidding a three-card suit. But when you open a weak suit, partner often leads the wrong thing. I might even pretend I didn’t have four diamonds and might open one club. In my opinion, passing is more of a view than opening, but ♠ K-J-2, A-4-2, J-6-4-3, ♣ K-5-4 is a hand I might pass.

I understand Jeff Meckstroth has just been elected to the Hall of Fame. This makes me wonder who might be on your list of candidates who should be considered for the hall but have not made it yet.

Flim-Flam Man, Lakeland, Fla.

All my Aces contemporaries who wish to be considered are already in there (the one exception preferring not to be put forward). I feel that women are underrepresented; if what counts is being preeminent in your own field, then in alphabetical order: Lynn Deas, Jill Myers, and Judi Radin all have a place.

I need help on actions by passed hands. Holding ♠ Q-5,  K-Q-8-5,  9-6-4-2, ♣ J-3-2, my RHO opened one diamond. I passed, and I heard a one heart response to my left. My partner overcalled one spade, and RHO doubled, to show three hearts. Am I strong enough to redouble – or does that send a specific message here?

Rissoles, Evanston, Ill.

A redouble is not conventional. It suggests ownership of the hand (say 10+) typically without support, and asks partner to join in as appropriate – either by bidding a second suit or doubling the opponents. Change your diamond two to the king and you might redouble, though I think I would actually just bid one no-trump. Here, I would pass for the time being.

You recently discussed what a jump to three no-trump in response to an opener should be played as. I agree it must be natural in response to a minor, but what about playing the jump to three no-trump, facing a one spade opening, as an unspecified mini-splinter? While over one heart, three no-trump is a real splinter in spades, and three spades the unspecified mini-splinter?

Inspector Gadget, Grand Junction, Colo.

Thank you! I thought this option might be too complex for my readers, but since you raised it, I agree that it makes sense to split your splinters into regular (12-14 or so) and keeping one call for the (9-11) mini-splinter, letting partner relay to find out where your shortage is if he wants to do so. Interested readers can follow up at: http://andrew-gumperz. html#!/2011/12/splinter-bids-andsome-bidding-theory.html

Would you comment on how to respond to one spade holding ♠ J-8-2,  A-5-3-2,  Q-5-3, ♣ K-9-4? If you would make a limit raise, would your opinion change if the opponents overcalled two of a minor?

Raised Eyebrows, Jackson, Miss.

I would never treat this hand as anything but a constructive raise to two spades in an uncontested auction, and feel even more strongly about that, should the opponents overcall. For the record, make the club four the diamond 10, to give me a potential ruffing value, and I might reconsider…give me the spade 10 as well instead of the two and you’d sell me on the more aggressive action.

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Iain ClimieAugust 27th, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hi Bobby,

The “Better Business” hand with 3 aces reminds me of a possibly apocryphal story from a high stakes rubber bridge game. Dealer, with 10 solid spades and 3 singletons, decided to sandbag by passing and the other 3 players did the same. Cursing quietly to himself he asked his partner if he’d had anything much. “I didn’t think it was worth opening with just 3 Aces and poor intermediates” came the wince-inducign reply.



ClarksburgAugust 27th, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Good morning Bobby
In previous discussions here, you have provided your views on inverted minor-suit raises. This subject came up at our pre-game seminar, and a refresher/ revisit would be helpful.
My current understanding is that:
1) You most emphatically do NOT like the weak preemptive jump to 3m (because it is of limited preemptive value, and actually helps strong opponents, particularly if it normally shows five-long)
2) Presumably then, the jump raise would be a standard limit-raise-strength.
3) You DO like to retain the traditional standard single raise, partly at least, because it comes up frequently.
4) Thus, for a GF raise with support, you recommend the criss-cross jump-shift.
Does the above accurately your advice?

Also, for Pairs playing as above, and also playing a 2/1 style with the agreement that 1D > 2C is a definite GF, there are thus two GF raises available over 1D opening. Can you comment on the hand-types (and strength?) appropriate for those two GF raises.

Your advice will be very helpful to our group.

David WarheitAugust 27th, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Better Business: Simple rule. With 3 quick tricks (as little as 3 aces or AK & A), always open. For proof, start by reading Iain’s comment.

bobby wolffAugust 27th, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Hi Iain & David,

Yes, through all these years, it is still thought to be aces (and kings with them) significantly more valuable than Goren’s allowance of 4 + 3. IOWs Culbertson’s honor trick method is still much greater respected than the commercialized version of strict point count.

In truth, going way back to the early 1930’s the Vienna (Austrian) valuation of 7-5-3-1 instead of 4-3-2-1 carries more weight with today’s expert, of course, therefore rearranging numbers (higher) to account for what it takes to bid what. Of course, after time passes, the comfortable good bridge player doesn’t really allow the number of points to always guide him with his choice of bid, but rather, especially as bidding progresses to later rounds, constantly rearranges his thinking to match the distribution shown, both in competitive and non auctions.

While an ace controls a suit, a lesser value starts out speculative with kings (except singleton) held by declarer, stoppers for NT but isolated queens and jacks often strict gambles.

To be sure, the initial valuation of the high card value of one’s hand starts out iffy at best, but soon takes on more meaning, up or dpwn, (hopefully, in many cases, before the penalty doubles start). Leave it described, Aces are Forever, to add a romantic touch to their being.
Even bridge terminology recognizes that emotion in calling a together king, queen, a marriage, royal at that.

And to prove that some bridge idioms could be thought to be controversial, particularly in our now current discussion, “Aces and spaces” is thought intended to be downplaying their value, and it was and is, but the rhyme of it was often used by a disappointed bridge partner to craftily criticize, rather than be thought to just bellow.

bobby wolffAugust 27th, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Yes, you sum up my thoughts, regarding minor suit raises, accurately, but I have somewhat mellowed and concede that strong single minor suit raises (called inverted) do sometimes play an important part in accurate eventual minor suit bidding (particularly showing strong support when slam in that suit, may be in the air).

However, I still see considerable value with a NF but sound limit raise, for both choice of game contract, 3NT or 5 of the minor, or for just subsiding into a makeable part score.

Preemptive jumps in minor do take away some space, but the uncertainty of the length of partner’s opening minor is enough to detract from its original value. As a matter of update, some top-level partnerships are now opening 2 card minors (particularly diamonds) therefore, while trying to improve their own constructive bidding.

Criss-crossing in the minor suits (1C P 2D and 1D P 3C to show strong raises (GF) in partner’s suit I also recommend, if, for no other reason, to let partner know ASAP what is going to be trump and then deciding level next is now and has always been of great value, and also includes the possible single raising of partner’s best suit (often first one bid by him) when faced with a choice, even though the raise may be only with three cards (often with a major suit, and only when partner first bids the minor when at the two level).

In answer to your last question, as a rebid from the opening bidder when it has gone 1D P 2C P, while holding: s. A, h, xxx, d. KJ10xxx, c. AQx I would definitely raise 2C to 3C instead of the mundane 2 diamond bid which too many players would choose. Even with s. Ax, h. xxx, d. KJ10xxx, c. AQ my thoughts go to 3 clubs working better than the 2 ciamonds everyone would chirp (probably including me) but a wise bird on my shoulder keeps telling me that even then, 3 clubs will better fit partner’s wishes.

My advice to you is to experiment with your partner, by either simulated or real dealt out hands enabling you to let the next generation of bridge players (probably will never happen unless we get bridge in our primary and secondary schools) decide for themselves which is best.

Finally, to set up examples of criss-crossing in order to GF: !D P 3C with. s. s. Kx, h. Kx, d. D. Qxxxx, c. AJxx, then bidding 3NT over either major by partner. but with s. xx, h.Kx, d. AJxxx, c. AJxx bid 3NT over 3S, but 4 clubs over 3 hearts and then 4 hearts over 4 diamonds, then passing a return to 5 diamonds.

Obviously we could continue with many type responses as the bidding developed, but at least you can scratch the surface with just the above.

ClarksburgAugust 27th, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Many thanks. I’ll pass it along to our seminar group.

One thing seems a bit “irrational” and “asymmetrical” to me, about how so many Pairs play both a forcing minor-suit raise and also 1D >2C as GF.
The Diamond suit rates TWO GF calls, while “poor little Minor-suit- sibling” Clubs gets only ONE.
But suppose one had a Responder hand perfect for a 1D>2C start. Now just switch the holdings in the Minor suits…that GF raise not available.
I recall asking you about this at one time, and you said that’s just the way it is.
For simplicity, I have been considering playing 2/1 majors only, and treating 1D > 2C as standard.
Would that be a mistake??

bobby wolffAugust 27th, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Methinks that the major reason (perhaps the only) is that while holding, s. xx, h. Qx, d. Jx, c. KQJ10xxx the ones who favor 2C not GF might think that starting with 1NT will too often go all pass, leaving a makeable part score in clubs not on the table in favor of a down in 1NT.

A compromise may be that 2 clubs is also forcing to game except when the rebid is the lowest allowed in clubs (but then a very good hand plus solid clubs will not have the advantage of rebidding 3 clubs before later making slam tries). The above is usually workable except against big pre-emptors who may (depending on the vulnerability) get the bidding up high early, causing the opening bidder 1D P 2C, 4H auction to lose his forcing pass (often a valuable choice).

Just another in the significant asymmetrical world of exceptions to controlled rules of bidding. One thing for sure is a partnership who both think the same way, then agree on what their personal experiences prefer with no regrets with whatever results (except a mutual future position of changing, if deemed applicable).

Helen Sobel, in her excellent long ago book, entitled “All The Tricks”, had a chapter entitled “Whatever Happened to Diamonds?”. Your future one might deal with the discrimination of clubs.

David SokolowAugust 29th, 2017 at 2:42 am

Hi, Bobby–As always, enjoy reading your column. One correction–Jill Meyers is in the HOF (admitted 2014). Best to you & Judy.

GenevieveAugust 31st, 2017 at 4:02 pm

– Added a lot of improvements. — Fixed some bugs.