Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 24th, 2017

What would you do if you were in third seat, holding ♠ Q-9-7-4,  Q-4,  K-7-3-2, ♣ A-6-4? The bidding went: one spade from my partner, two hearts to my right, three hearts from me to show a limit raise and four clubs from my partner. What should I do now?

High Flier, Kenosha, Wis.

You have no extras for your initial action, but at the same time you have decent controls, and slam is not out of the picture. You should bid four diamonds now and await developments. You hope partner can use Blackwood; your hand is not worth another slam try, since your heart holding is clearly unattractive.

With extras above a regular forcing two-club opener, do I have to bid more at my next turn than a simple call in my long suit? How should I play a jump to the three-level after a negative response?

Upping the Ante, Wichita Falls, Texas

After the two-club opening, there is never any need to “catch up.” In fact, while some people play those jumps as ace-asking, a better usage of space is to play jumps to three of a major as long diamonds and four cards in the bid major. Thus a rebid by opener of three diamonds denies a four-card major. This allows you to untangle strong hands with diamonds effectively.

I held ♠ K-9-7-5-3-2,  Q,  Q-7-2, ♣ A-6-4, and in second seat was not sure what to open. The suit seemed too weak for a pre-empt, and the hand seemed too weak for a one-level opening. So in the end I passed, and the deal was thrown in, with our side having play for nine tricks in spades. Did I do something stupid here?

Playing Possum, Evanston, Ill.

Your heart was in the right place, though I do not agree with your conclusion. With an ace and a king on defense and 11 HCP, notwithstanding that singleton queen, I would open one spade — though with little enthusiasm. For the record, if you do have a good suit, there is no hand that falls into the cracks between one spade and two spades. Open one or the other, or you will never catch up.

I held ♠ J-4,  K-2,  A-Q-3-2, ♣ K-J-9-7-4, and heard one heart on my right. How would you rank the options of an overcall, a double, a natural one no-trump overcall or even an unusual two no-trump? Would you pass if none of these appeals?

Cul-de-Sac, Vancouver, Wash.

I’d hate to pass here, and a two-club overcall on such a weak suit may be the least of all evils. Of the options you mention, double and two no-trump are unacceptable on shape grounds (too few spades, too few minor cards, respectively). A one no-trump overcall — planning to run to two clubs if doubled — is not absurd.

How should I have handled this deal from a recent pairs game? I held ♠ A-5-4-2,  K-Q-7-4-3-2,  4, ♣ A-4. I opened one heart and rebid two spades over my partner’s game-forcing two-diamond call. When my partner bid three spades, I bid four clubs, and my partner bid four diamonds. What would you do now?

Second City, Winston-Salem, N.C.

I don’t think your hand is worth more than four spades now. You have only one trump honor, and facing a singleton heart, you might struggle to set that suit up. You have made your one try for slam; that is enough.

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