Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 25th, 2019

I assume you would pass in first seat with ♠ J-8-2,  A-5-3-2,  Q-5-3, ♣ K-9-4. If your partner opens one diamond and the next hand overcalls one no-trump, do you double or assume your partner does not have a full opener?

Trusted Traveler, Lorain, Ohio

This is a very slippery slope. You don’t have to double when the auction tells you that your partner has embellished his initial call, because both opponents have bid strongly. But here, I think you do have to double and take your lumps if partner has psyched. If nothing else, it may discourage him from further flights of fancy.

Holding ♠ K-9,  A-Q-7-2,  Q, ♣ A-K-Q-9-6-3, would you open two clubs or one club, and why?

Hi-Lo Country, Bristol, Va.

Minor-suit oriented hands with average controls often handle well by starting low. Opening one club and jumping to two hearts over one diamond or reversing into hearts over a one-spade response tells partner much about your shape and high cards at the two-level. You will seldom be passed out in one club — and if you are, what chance did you have at game?

I have been struggling to learn New Minor after my partner rebids one no-trump, as a way to explore for game and slam. Is it worth the effort to play, and what would you recommend after a jump rebid by opener of two no-trump? Desperately Seeking Something, Tunica,


Yes, New Minor (also called Checkback) is well worth the effort — in the same way that Stayman is an essential adjunct to modern bidding. This way you get to find fits in unbid majors, explore for 5-3 fits, and invite game efficiently. Over two no-trump, using the unbid minor as artificial is possible, but the Wolff Signoff ( works well, too.

When balancing over the opponents’ opening call, I’m aware that a hand like ♠ Q-6-2,  Q-9-7-5-3,  K-10, ♣ A-J-2 is more than sufficient to bid one heart over one diamond. But would you also balance at any vulnerability when playing pairs over a pre-emptive two diamonds, or even a three-diamond opener?

Lucky Luke, Monterey, Calif.

You are right that this is a simple hand with which to balance over one or two diamonds. But do you have enough to bid over a three-level preempt? I guess I might bid when non-vulnerable, but I wouldn’t be thrilled by the prospect.

Say you have ♠ 9-2,  5-4,  A-Q-7-3, ♣ Q-J-4-3-2. After your left-hand opponent opens one no-trump and right-hand opponent transfers into hearts, then passes, do you pass, double or bid a suit?

Gerry the Gryphon, Bellingham, Wash.

At pairs non-vulnerable, I think this is just strong enough to act. The right way to get both minors into play is to bid two no-trump, suggesting both minors. Switch your spades with one of the minors, and you might double. Partner will bid spades or a five-card minor of his own, or scramble with two no-trump to get you to pick a minor.

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Bill CubleySeptember 8th, 2019 at 2:59 pm

I have found it better to open with a one level bid than 2 Clubs as I consider how many bids it takes to describe my hand and how high I must bid to do this. As your former partner said, “Never play me for the perfect hand because I don’t have it.”

I marvel at how many times you won with this handicap. 😉

bobbywolffSeptember 8th, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Hi Bill,

No doubt the decision on what some may think are borderline between a simple one of something and/or an almost GF of 2 clubs is that this choice will more likely have a great effect on whether or not the right contract will be reached.

Other somewhat important decisions will not, in general have as great an effect, since by opening 2 clubs one basically gives away an entire level, in order to inform partner immediately of his likely strength. FWIW I prefer the choice of opening one unless I have 22 hcps or more making partner more likely to take a low road immediately or perhaps, later.

Delving deeper into Bob’s famous quote, he possibly really meant, since neither of us became known as conservative bidders, that we should all learn to play bridge well enough so that we do not have to find partner with many happy surprises, but instead guess the cards well enough to take more tricks as declarer and even more so, on defense.

At any rate, thanks for your kind words.