Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 17th, 2019

If I am in third seat with ♠ A-Q-8-4-3,  A-9-7,  Q-7-3, ♣ 10-3, and the bidding starts with a weak two diamonds from my partner, should I pass, raise diamonds or introduce my spades?

Prince of Tides, Atlanta, Ga.

The high-cards seem evenly divided here, and we have the best fit (diamonds) and the boss suit, spades. I’d raise to three diamonds, expecting partner to make it at least four times out of five, while maybe giving the opponents space to do something foolish. If they bid game, I will double.

Playing rubber bridge, I held ♠ J-4-2,  K-J-7-5-3,  J-7-3, ♣ Q-10. My left-hand opponent opened four spades, my partner doubled, and I was in the hot seat. Where on the spectrum of take-out to penalty should we play this double, and what would you do here?

Colonel Mustard, Fort Knox, Ky.

My preference for the double leans toward take-out; partner removes with shape or values, but can pass with a flat weak hand. What category does this hand fall into? I don’t know! My partner and I have agreed that we remove to a contract we think we can make, but does this hand have enough to bid five hearts? Whether to sit for the double or bid five hearts might depend on who is on my left.

Where do you stand on the question of doubling a minor suit without perfect shape? Assuming you have 12-16 points, what flaws are considered acceptable for the double?

Roman Way, San Francisco, Calif.

The Italians always doubled when they were broadly suitable for play in both majors, especially loose minor-suit opening bids. When short in one major, your choice is between a pass, hoping to double that major for take-out at the next turn, and an overcall in a four-card suit at the one-level. That call normally requires full values and a chunky suit.

When you open a minor with 4-3 in the majors and partner responds one heart, when do you prefer to raise with three, when do you bid one spade, and when do you bid one no-trump? Does it affect your decision if the next hand has doubled?

Skedaddled, Tupelo, Miss.

Bid spades, then support hearts anytime you possess extra values in high cards or shape. Bid spades, planning to pass one no-trump if you are looking at a balanced minimum with good spades and a decent doubleton in the unbid minor; with bad spades, you might prefer a call of one no-trump. Bid one no-trump immediately with a 4-3-3-3 pattern. If they have doubled your opening bid, you might be more tempted to raise the major when in doubt; partner might not have introduced a weak four-carder, after all.

I recently heard my left-hand opponent open the bidding and my partner overcall at the one-level, after which the next player jumped to two spades to show a weak hand and a long suit. I wanted to double to show cards, but I wasn’t sure if this might be penalty. What say you?

Frozen Solid, White Plains, N.Y.

Your double sounds like take-out to me. (Most players believe you can’t double any lowlevel suit bid for penalty at your first turn.) These doubles may be referred to as Snapdragon, Competitive or fourth-suit doubles, and they show the fourth suit and values, generally with at least tolerance for partner.

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