Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 18th, 2011

After using Blackwood and finding one ace is missing, should I bid slam or should I settle for the five-level?

Playing the Odds, Saint John's, Newfoundland

The simple answer is that you should not use Blackwood if you don't know what to do over the response that shows an ace is missing. However, Keycard Blackwood (which focuses on the four aces and the king and queen of trumps) will generally tell you if two vital cards are missing. If they are not, you will generally want to be in slam (all things being equal).

You recently explained that when a player holds ♠ —,  A-K-Q-5-4,  Q-3-2, ♣ A-K-9-7-6, he must open one heart, not two clubs. I view this as a four-loser hand, which meets the requirements of a two-club opening and best describes the values contained in this hand.

Flaunt It, Orlando, Fla.

The reason why opening one heart is unlikely to miss a game is that even if your partner is too weak to bid, your RHO will surely balance with one spade so you will get your chance to come back into the auction. A jump to three clubs will then show the hand nicely. But the real reason why opening two clubs may backfire is the problem of describing your two-suiter if the opponents pre-empt.

If you make a Jacoby transfer and the opponents intervene, what should your bids mean at your next turn to speak? Specifically, what does rebidding your suit mean –invitational or competitive? And is a double for takeout, for penalties, or is it optional?

Planning Ahead, Mitchell, S.D.

If you rebid your suit, it should not be invitational, because you can double to show values (optional is probably the best word for it). So a suit-rebid suggests six cards and a weak hand. With game-going values, bid game or start with a double and bid on.

Holding ♠ K-7-4,  Q-J-9-5-4-2,  A-4, ♣ K-2, I assume you would open one heart and rebid two hearts when your partner bids two clubs. Now over a bid of two spades from your partner, how should you describe your hand? Would you prefer two no-trump, three clubs or three hearts? Would a bid of three diamonds be asking or telling?

Spoiled for Choice, Spokane, Wash.

I think three diamonds suggests weak diamond length, three hearts suggests a good six-carder, three clubs suggests three-card support, and two no-trump suggests a good diamond stop. So no action is perfect, but three clubs looks like the least committal bid to me as well as being quite economical.

Can you discuss responses to partner's opening bid of a minor in third seat? I thought jumps to the two-level as a passed hand would let my partner know I had 10-plus HCP, but I understand this is not the standard interpretation of the call.

Christmas Carol, Jackson, Miss.

I understand your position but I think there is no real need to jump to show 10-plus. If your hand is unbalanced with 10 or11, you don't need to bounce around. You find out more if you stay low. Partner won't pass a cheap response with or without a fit (for fear of letting the opponents in if she does) if she has a real opening. And you won't make game unless she does.

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