Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Say you hold ♠ 8-3-2,  K-J-5,  A-Q-9-7-3, ♣ J-7 and respond one diamond to your partner's one-club opening. When your partner rebids two clubs, would you pass, raise clubs, or show where your values lie by bidding two hearts?

Moving Story, Elkhart, Ind.

The danger with a two-heart call is that it is hard to know how to stay out of game after you make that bid. Your partner will assume you have a slightly better hand than you do (though the action is far from unreasonable). Since passing seems too pessimistic, I'd raise to three clubs and hope partner can explore for three no-trump with a nonminimum. On this action he'd show stoppers, not ask for them.

My partner and I play inverted minors. We have agreed that to raise clubs, responder needs five, but only four to raise diamonds. We handle diamonds this way because the odds of a three-card diamond opening seem to be quite low. Exactly what are the odds of opening with only three diamonds, and do you agree with our scheme of responses?

Fiddling in a Minor Key, San Francisco, Calif.

Yes, I agree with your approach. I believe there's a 95 percent likelihood that a one-diamond opening will show four or more cards. Additionally, since I have a natural and nonforcing response of two no-trump available, I can always make this call with a completely balanced hand with four-card support, trying to get to no-trump whenever each of us has a balanced hand.

At my duplicate club I'm never sure when to ask questions if at all. The two situations that concern me are when I know what my opponents are playing and my partner does not, and when I don't believe that the answer to the question will affect my call.

Grill-Master, Augusta, Ga.

You should always feel comfortable in asking questions when intending to bid, even if you think you know what is going on. Also, if your opponents' methods are unusual and you believe they should have been explained, you can clarify for your partner's benefit. (After all, you might be wrong about what the bids mean!) Don't ask till the auction is over if you do not intend to bid, whatever the explanation.

In a recent Aces column, your partner had opened one club and you responded one spade. The next hand overcalled three diamonds and your partner bid four diamonds. You now suggested that with ♠ Q-J-9-8-3,  K-3-2,  10-6, ♣ K-10-7, you should use Keycard Blackwood. How can you use Keycard if you don't know whether the trump suit should be spades or clubs?

Unsuitable, Miami, Fla.

Four diamonds was a control bid agreeing spades. So spades are trump and four no-trump is Keycard for spades. I don't think your partner could ever set clubs via this four-diamond cuebid (though you yourself could suggest clubs at the six-level).

What are the rules about dummy acting during the hand to prevent an infraction? Are the rules the same for leads from the wrong hand and for revokes? What if nobody spots the infraction at the table?

Rules for Dummies, North Bay, Ontario

Dummy can point out to declarer which hand he is in and whether he won or lost the last trick. And he can check whether his partner has revoked. But he can't ask the opponents if they revoked in midhand. However, when an infraction has occurred and been agreed on, dummy may call the director. And at the end of the deal he can also call the director to establish if an infraction has occurred.

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Jeff HFebruary 27th, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Regarding Grill-Master’s question, I thought that there was a prohibition against asking questions for your partner’s benefit, although I do not know if that applies after the completion of the bidding. Cn you clarify?

bobby wolffFebruary 28th, 2012 at 2:00 am

Hi Jeff H,

The rules of bridge, although intended to be very objective, are somtimes not.

What we get back to, and all bridge authorities do not agee, is the motive behind any question asked. All questions asked, when it is the player who asks turn to bid, are OK if pure motives are intended. Pure motives are defined (or should be) as trying to make it clear to the table what a particular bid is supposed to mean, whether or not it is for your use or your partners. Bridge used to be called “a gentlemans game” and by such emphasized that rascals (those who look for edges) should not exist, much less overtly have wrong intentions for asking to alert partner to something he is not supposed to know about his partner’s hand or anything else illegal.

Tournament directors (TDs) would do well to try and understand the situation and decide whether the asker is a rascal or merely is only trying to restore the status quo so that fairness reigns.

Anyone who quotes some special passage from some rule, but does not get involved in keeping bridge totally above board, would do well not to try and be a TD, but if he (or she) is thrust into being one, then he has the OBLIGATION to do right by the game, by interpreting the laws to prevent injustice.