Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 18th, 2012

I see you lead king from ace king. I understand Rusinow leads involve leading second from touching honors. I know from the ACBL Encyclopedia that they are supposed to be "off" in no-trump contracts and when leading partner's bid suit. With the above in mind, what is your take on these methods?

Jaba the Hut, Ames, Iowa

In fact Rusinow leads work well at both no-trump and suits. The problem is that leads of the jack and 10 from short suits are sometimes ambiguous. That said, one should also combine them at no-trump with using the king as an unblock lead from three honors, while the ace is from A-K without the queen or jack.

In fourth seat my partner held ♠ 4,  K-7-3,  A-K-9-4-2, ♣ A-10-5-3 and opened one diamond. After a one-spade overcall, passed back to him, he reopened with two clubs and we missed our penalty. (I had five good spades and nine points.) He said he could not double without four hearts. What do you say?

Lying in Ambush, Torrance, Calif.

In this sequence, reopening when holding full values and short spades is mandatory. The fact that your partner has at least three cards in an unbid suit is more than sufficient. After all, if you pick hearts, he won't exactly be giving you an unsuitable holding to work with. For the same reason a regular takeout double suggests but does not promise four cards in every unbid suit.

What is the definition of a responsive double? Is the critical factor that partner's first action is a double, or that the opponents have bid and raised the same suit?

Dictionary Johnson, Dover, Del.

When partner doubles, you make a responsive double if the opponents raise the same suit, but NOT if the opponents bid a new suit — then your double is business. Conversely, if partner overcalls and the opponents either raise the bid suit or bid a new suit, your double would be values, suggesting the unbid suit(s) — typically with tolerance for partner. By contrast, your bidding a suit suggests more length or strength in that suit, while you may have fewer values and less tolerance for partner.

As dealer I picked up ♠ Q-10-5-3,  9-4  K-7-3,  A-Q-7-2, and passed initially. When I heard a weak two-diamond call to my left, passed back to me, was I right to pass? As it turned out, our side had good play for three no-trump and collected only 100 in undertricks.

Undercooked, Tucson, Ariz.

Some hands are just too hard. If you had guessed to double, partner might have jumped to four hearts, while if you had bid two no-trump, you might have gone for your life when partner was weak. If you can't stand to pass, the only conceivable bid here is two spades — and I'm not foolhardy enough to risk that either.

I held 20 points, no singleton or void, and five spades. Was I supposed to open two no-trump, or one spade?

Goodies Galore, Edmonton, Alberta

When in the right range, you are almost always better off opening two no-trump with a balanced or semi-balanced hand — unless you have a simple way to show your hand. By this I mean that with 5-4 pattern you may prefer to open the long suit and jump in the other suit. Some experts will go further and open two no-trump with a singleton high honor. Without necessarily agreeing with them, the no-trump call sounds very much the right option with your hand.

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Nancy ToddApril 1st, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I am a relatively new bridge player and play party bridge in a group where we change partners every 6 hands. I dealth and opened with one club. The opponent to my right bid 1 diamond. My partner bid 3 hearts. I was stumped. It turns out he was bidding a 7 card heart pre-empt. I thought he was bidding points because I thought only the first partner to bid on a team could use the pre-empt. He says I’m wrong…that it is called overcalling with a pre-empt. Who is right?

bobby wolffApril 2nd, 2012 at 12:55 am

Hi Nancy,

I am sad to report that your partner is correct. If partner would have bid 1 heart it would be natural (at least 4 hearts in hand), but if instead partner would have bid 2 hearts, that is a very strong hand and normally at least 5 hearts in hand, but a double jump, 3 hearts, is preemptive and should hold about 7 hearts, but a weak hand in high card points (about 5 or 6).

Good luck in the start of your bridge career. You will grow to love the game.