Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 6th, 2012

The ACBL appeal booklets refers to good and bad tempo breaks. I thought they were all bad, by definition. Please explain the difference.

Slow Learner, Twin Falls, Idaho

The ACBL tournaments publish a summary of appeals here. When a player takes a long while to sign off or to double, he is generally conveying unauthorized information to his partner. This is a bad hesitation, and one should strive to avoid such actions. Conversely, many other slow actions do not convey a clear message of what you are thinking about. They are not giving unauthorized information.

Recently you ran a deal where the player in second seat doubled one spade with: ♠ K,  K-10-6-2,  A-K-Q-7-2, ♣ A-J-4. That player then removed a double of four spades by his partner to four no-trump. Was this Blackwood? If not, what did the call show?

Doubly Confused, Selma, Ala.

The four-no-trump bid should have been annotated as suggesting two possible strains in which to play — akin to the unusual no-trump, but here not specifically the minors. Whenever you remove a high-level double, you show a good hand of course. With a one-suiter you'd bid it; with two suits you announce it with an unusual no-trump call, then correct partner's choice if he picks the wrong one.

I'm responding with regard to the letter from the couple who want to learn to play bridge but have no resources where they live. "Bridge for Everyone," by D.W Crisfield, (Morris Book Publishing Co.) is a "Knack Made Easy" book. I know several beginner and intermediate bridge players who have found it very helpful, myself included.

Marian the Librarian, Princeton, N.J.

Thank you. I especially value my readers' opinions on issues like this. The graphics in "Bridge for Dummies" by Eddie Kantar are also helpful for beginners.

Holding ♠ K-7-4,  Q-J-9-5,  A-4, ♣ K-Q-10-2, I assume you would open one no-trump. When the next hand shows the majors and your RHO picks hearts, would you double? I did not do so, and the contract went three down. I felt it was an opportunity lost.

Lucy Locket, Miami, Fla.

You cannot double, at least not in my book. I play that as takeout, typically a hand with a maximum and a small doubleton in hearts — since I might be facing a Yarborough. Maybe if you pass, your partner could find a reopening double with short hearts and a six- or seven-count.

How should I respond to an opening bid of one of a minor when I hold both four-card majors and 6-9 HCP? I know it is standard to bid up the line, but if my partner has a balanced hand with four spades, he may bypass the spade suit to bid one no-trump. Is it reasonable for responder to bid one spade and then introduce the hearts?

Major Major, Tupelo, Miss.

I would never do this unless the spades were very strong and the hearts very weak. My partner would normally bid one spade over one heart with four or more clubs, and if he does rebid one no-trump with a square hand, the board may play just fine in that strain.

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