Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 10th, 2012

If you play four-suit transfers, why would you also play transfers at the four-level, and what should you use direct three-level actions to mean?

System Geek, Janesville, Wis.

If we have a way to show each of the four suits unambiguously via a transfer, I suggest all the available three-level actions be used to show both minors (three diamonds is 5-5, three hearts and three spades show fragments in that major, 5-4 one way or the other in the minors), all game-forcing.

With ♠ A-Q-5-3,  Q-10-2,  A-J-4, ♣ J-5-2, I assume you would open one club as I did. After a one-heart overcall and a two-heart cue-bid, what would you expect your partner to hold, and what would you do now?

All Points, Houston, Texas

The two-heart call shows club support and at least a limit raise. With a heart stop (however delicate) and a decent minimum opening bid, the problem is whether to jump to three no-trump to show that extra queen at the risk of pre-empting scientific exploration of the hand. I'd risk it, but without the heart 10, I might just bid two no-trump.

I want to make myself a more difficult declarer to play against. Do you have any simple tips to make the play harder for my opponents?

Getting Tough, Muncie, Ind.

How about this simple one? As declarer consider following suit with the second smallest of your small cards and concealing one small card. When winning the trick, always win with the highest of equals, but win with the king from A-K at trick one in no-trump. These plays should make it harder for the opponents to read their partners' length and honor holdings.

I was watching a game of duplicate bridge on the Internet when a player made what looked like an odd decision to me. Holding ♠ A-4,  Q-10-7-6-5,  Q-5-3, ♣ Q-9-3, he heard two spades on his left, doubled by his partner. He bid three hearts and was raised to game — but I expected that he would have bid four hearts himself and not left it to his partner to drive to game. Any comments?

Pressure Cooker, Worcester, Mass.

Perhaps the partnership played that with a weak hand (regardless of shape) they would respond two no-trump to the double as an artificial admission of weakness. So in that case maybe the three-heart bid would show some values, even though it was nonforcing?

If this is not an embarrassing question, would you comment on what kinds of mistakes even the best players find themselves making?

Golden Slipper, Little Rock, Ark.

Some errors are caused by distraction, others by being impatient and therefore overlooking clues to the location of the opponents' cards, both as declarer and defender. Strangely, many say that this fault increases with age, but in my case it has always been something that I have tried to wrestle with, and is not necessarily any worse now than before. A failure to study the opponents' methods in advance in a long match will often impact your ability to judge the competitive auctions well — and a lot of IMPs ride on those decisions.

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