Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 19th, 2012

As dealer, not vulnerable, I held ♠ 8-4,  J,  A-K-Q-J-9-7-5-4-2, ♣ 7. How would you open this hand? What would you do if vulnerable?

Ready for Action, Locust Grove, Va.

Thanks for the question. I think I would simply open five diamonds — although three no-trump to show a solid minor is an option. However, a nine-card suit suggests pre-empting to the maximum. Bid first, apologize later, I say.

In a recent Bid With the Aces, partner opened one club and bid spades twice. Your comment is that your partner showed at least 5-5 in the black suits and a good hand. If he started with a 5-5 pattern, why wouldn't he open one spade instead of one club? Is it to conserve bidding space, or to make it easier for his partner to respond with a weak hand?

Best Foot Forward, Pottsville, Pa.

With 5-5 in the black suits, the question is why if ever you would open one spade, not one club, or vice versa. To start with, when opening a hand 5-6 in the black suits, a one-club call is almost mandatory. With five good clubs and five bad spades, you have discretion to go either way. (I can see a lot of sense in bidding one club here.) However, with five decent spades, especially in a good hand, I would open one spade almost all the time.

Say you are in third seat with ♠ 2,  A-J-6-4-3,  Q-9-4-2, ♣ 10-7-3. Your partner opens one spade, and the next hand overcalls one no-trump. What would you do now? Would you bid, pass, or make a negative double?

Scurrying, Wausau, Wis.

Before we start, let's clarify our terms. A double of one no-trump here is NOT negative, but is penalty — you are about a queen shor for that action, though it is far from unreasonable. If you bid a new suit, you are making a nonforcing call, denying the values to be able to double, so a two-heart call, while not risk free, is an entirely reasonable action.

The other day an expert gave me advice that I either misunderstood or misheard. What I thought he told me was it is prohibited for a player to double on more than two occasions if his partner had passed after the first two times? This doesn't sound right, but I was told this by someone who considers himself an authority.

Double Doubling, Spokane, Wash.

Free advice is worth what you pay for it. A third double is not only legal, but it makes plenty of sense — if your hand warrants it. The third double tends to be more high cards than takeout. Perhaps what your adviser meant is that such doubles tend not to be pure takeout. I'd expect your partner would have to decide whether to defend or bid, but he should know that his partner is likely to have about four quick tricks for the auction thus far, so he would not require a trump-stack to pass.

Say you are dealt ♠ K-J,  A-9-7-4-3,  9-6-2, ♣ Q-10-7 and respond one heart to your partner's one-club opening. What should you bid over his rebid of one spade? Surely you cannot rebid two hearts, and your trump support seems too weak for a raise of either black suit, while you can't bid no-trump without a diamond stopper.

All Exits Blocked, Newark, N.J.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a call of one no-trump. (Yes, the opponents might even take five diamond tricks but surely won't manage more than that.). In fact, I might select that action at pairs, but at teams it looks clear to bid two clubs, hoping that partner didn't rebid one spade with an absolutely balanced hand, when one no-trump would have been best. So a club contract rates to be safe enough.

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