Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 1st, 2012

When my partner dealt and opened one spade, I could not decide whether to respond, holding ♠ J,  J-10-9-4-3,  Q-8-5-4, ♣ Q-4-2. I know it adds to six points, but with no aces or kings, I just hated the hand and thought we might get out of control if I bid. What logic should I apply to these positions?

Star-Gazer, Elkhart. Ind.

When you hold an unbid major, the motivation for responding (in case you have game in that strain) is stronger. Here, if partner rebid spades or introduced a red suit. you would not be unhappy that you responded one no-trump. Even if partner bids clubs, you may have improved your side's trump suit. And for sure, if your no-trump bid is not forcing, I would act now — if only to stop the opponents from coming in.

Has putting your column on the Internet worked out well for you?

Net Result, Huntington, W. Va.

Just to remind everyone, you can find back issues of the column at, where I've enjoyed talking directly to my readers. And the fact that occasional points of analysis do come to my attention is reassuring, in that it indicates that the rest of the time I'm not too far off the mark. I'd say making the column available has been a nearly unqualified success.

My partner had a problem when I opened three clubs, and he was clutching: ♠ K-10-4,  A-Q-9-4-3,  K-Q-9-3, ♣ K. Does the vulnerability (we were not, they were) affect the decision to bid? For the record, three clubs was our last making contract!

Missed the Boat, Waterbury, Conn.

One other issue is relevant: What seat were you in? I'd pass a first-in-hand pre,empt, especially at this vulnerability, because I know my partner might take unusual liberties. Over a second-seat pre-empt I would bid three hearts and hope to get to three no-trump or four hearts. It is the absence of aces that worries me though, and this does argue for restraint.

Where do you recommend getting new or used bridge books from? And are there any new authors I should be keeping an eye out for?

Bibliophile, Wausau, Wis.

It is hard to look beyond Kantar, Kelsey, Lawrence and Reese as the big four. Kantar for humor, Kelsey for technical ideas, Lawrence for completeness, and Reese for style. Frank Stewart is always informative and entertaining too. For new books try Baron Barclay; for used books maybe Amazon is best.

In fourth chair one of our opponents held this hand: ♠ J-10-2,  Q-4,  A-J-10-9-4, ♣ K-9-4. I opened one spade, passed back to him. He responded one no-trump and assured his partner after they had played the no-trump game down 500 that his call was correct. Personally, I thought that his hand was too weak and that two diamonds was a more obvious call. What do you think?

Trouble Town, Augusta, Ga.

The range for a balancing no-trump is quite wide — say 11-15. So this hand qualifies in high cards, but I suspect that with no clear spade stop I might have gone the coward's route and bid two diamonds. Certainly, though, the player's choice was not unreasonable — so long as his partner was on the same wavelength about the balancing no-trump having a wider range than in direct seat.

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