Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 18th, 2018

I have recently been introduced to New Minor Forcing, which was described to me as the equivalent of delayed Stayman to find a fit in my major or an unbid major. When your partner opens, then jumps to two no-trump, is there a parallel auction?

Gold Hunter, Little Rock, Ark.

A simple way to play is that anything but a pass is game-forcing over a jump two-no-trump rebid. To find out about partner’s shape, you can agree to use the unbid minor as potentially suspect. Over this, you would expect your partner to introduce an unbid major in which he has four cards, or to support you with three.

What is your opinion on the lead style in which the jack denies a higher honor and the 10 guarantees one? Is it good or bad in the long run, and what do you play? Incidentally, when playing third and low, how do you lead from, say, K-10-9?

Jacques Spratte, Panama City,

At trick one, I’m strongly against revealing leads like this; I find it helps declarer more than the defense. But in midhand, there are specific positions where it makes sense for the shift to promise or deny a higher card. The sight of dummy should let you know whether to tell the truth or not. I lead strict third-highest from interior sequences, so the nine from the holding you posit.

I have two questions regarding rubber bridge. First, if you defend a redoubled contract of two diamonds and take eight tricks, would you get the game bonus on defense? Second, if you are doubled in two diamonds, how much does that score when it makes nine tricks? Again, is there a game bonus?

Zero Hour, Carmel, Calif.

Non-vulnerable, you double the score for three down doubled, or 500, to make 1,000. Vulnerable, it is twice 800, to make 1,600. These penalties always go above the line; below the line, you enter only the score for bidding and making a contract, never for overtricks or undertricks. In your second question, the 40 for two diamonds is doubled to 80 — entered below the line, which is not enough to make game. Above the line, you get 50 for insult and 100 or 200 for the overtrick, depending on vulnerability.

How should a beginning partnership play jumps in a new suit by a passed hand in response to openings or overcalls?

Fast Learner, Boise, Idaho

Let’s assume all hands with suits worthy of pre-empting are opened. So if you pass and jump, you cannot have that. A simple rule is to play all jump overcalls by a passed hand as natural but too flawed somehow for an initial pre-empt. When partner opens or overcalls, then jumps in a new suit guarantee a real fit for partner and show length and strength in the bid suit. See

When missing six cards including the jack, how likely is that card to appear in three rounds? My partner says a 3-3 break is with the odds; I thought the odds favored a 4-2 break here?

Oddball, San Antonio, Texas

Each of you has a point; I’d call this one a tie. When missing an even number of cards greater than two, the odds tell us the suit will not divide evenly. However, the jack will put in an appearance either on any 3-3 break or when the jack falls singleton or doubleton. These combined chances come in at a little better than even money.

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Peter PengMarch 4th, 2018 at 4:01 pm

I have a different question.

My LHO opens 3H, my partner bids 3S. How many spades should I expect from his hand?

I bid 4S with Ax. I have a strong hand in diamonds. My RHO doubles.

I suspect partner does not have 6 spades. I bid 5D that makes. Depending on lead, 6D makes. 4 spades goes down 3.

I sustain that on that sequence I am captain and can bid what I think makes.

Please comment.

Bobby WolffMarch 4th, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Hi Peter,

Since I wasn’t there for the table action, and have not seen your hand, I am in no position to comment, agree or not.

However, in those highly competitive auctions, and when some opponent doubles, there are no Captains in your partnership, only a matter of judgment.

However, when you turn out right in this case the recriminations from partner may only be in theory and certainly toned down because of the positive result. However, if you had taken it out when either 4 spades doubled was making or even if it was down fewer tricks than was 5 diamonds, the behavior, no doubt, would be considerably less positive.

However, to use one’s judgment by either partner is not partnership baiting, so feel secure you will not be going to bridge jail, at least for that hand, but probably reassure partner that you will be very careful before you venture out next with such a big time decision.

Steve ConradMarch 8th, 2018 at 1:33 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

In your answer to the question below

When missing six cards including the jack, how likely is that card to appear in three rounds? My partner says a 3-3 break is with the odds; I thought the odds favored a 4-2 break here?
Oddball, San Antonio, Texas

you said the probability is slightly greater than 50%. In fact, the probability of that jack falling is exactly 50%. The probability that one specific card (here, the jack) of the six is among the first 3 cards revealed is exactly 50% and is independent of how the cards are divided.

Steve Conrad