Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I see that the Dutch won the most recent Bermuda Bowl. How much does home advantage matter in the major championships?

Realtor, Charlottesville, Va.

You'd be surprised at how often the home team has done better than expected, so I suppose the answer is that it gives teams that had a small or medium chance a much better one, and the Dutch had already proved they were one of the pre-tournament favorites. Having said that, as the old saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Holding ♠ A-Q-9-4,  K-10-5-2,  Q-5, ♣ K-10-2, would you double one club? And would the vulnerability or form of scoring matter, or even the position at the table?

Entry-Level, San Antonio, Texas

My general approach is relatively sound at the table, but one of the areas that I take a more aggressive position than most is in doubling with opening values and approximately suitable shape. So with the example hand I would always double at any position or vulnerability, but I would need a suitable holding in both majors. Switch the red suits and I would pass (or perhaps bid one spade if the vulnerability or scoring made that appropriate).

I play a relatively standard method of leading and signaling, and I think I understand what to do on opening lead. But when leading and following suit on the second round of a suit, how should I play with three or four cards left in the suit?

Second-Round Blues, Cartersville, Ga.

Say you play a high card as third hand and win the trick. Then, when returning the suit, lead back a high card from a remaining even number of cards, lead low from a remaining three-card holding. And if your high card loses the trick and partner gets in to play the suit again, follow suit with exactly the same card from your remaining holding that you would have signaled with, had partner led the suit at trick one.

Holding ♠ A-J,  Q-7-6,  J-9-8-4, ♣ Q-9-8-3, I raised one heart to two, and my partner jumped to four diamonds. What did this mean and what should I have done next?

Jumper, Dodge City, Kan.

The jump to four diamonds can sensibly be played as shortage, typically a singleton, with hearts set as trump. If that is the case, you have a very good hand in support of hearts, and you can cuebid four spades, letting partner take over from there.

I had an argument with the director at my club when I responded one heart to one club. The next hand bid two spades, over which my partner huddled and bid three hearts. When I raised to four with my eight-count and five hearts, the opponents protested that my action was influenced by his tempo, and the director agreed. I argued that I had no idea what he was thinking about. What do you say?

Mind-Reader, Fayetteville, N.C.

The laws say that when a break in tempo is agreed, no adjustment should be made unless two conditions are met. The break must point clearly toward taking one action, and there must be a logical alternative to that action. Here it is NOT clear what the tempo break suggested, as you said. Your partner could have had too much or too little for his call. Hence, you can do what you like.

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AviJuly 8th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff.
On the question asked by Entry-Level, San Antonio.
Would you not consider also bidding 1NT. the nice spots sway me in that direction.

bobby wolffJuly 8th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Hi Avi,

While an overcall of 1NT wouldn’t be all bad, there are several factors which might sway me against it.

1. Overcalling 1NT at the 1 level should promise, at the very least a good 15 HCP’s and usually 16-18 since the opponent’s will (should) think of penalizing your partnership when they have the lion’s share of the HCP’s (think of the responder of the opening bidder having 8+).

2. When holding four of an unbid major (in this hand both) we should be seeking to find a fit in one of those suits since 8 card fits often play very well and produce more tricks than does NT.

3. Takeout doubles, when suitable, often lead to more cooperative defensive bidding than does a mere NT overcall since it enlists partnership interest rather than just telling everyone what only one defender holds.

4. IMHO the above factors outweigh what you mention of the holding of 2 tens and 1 nine which does slightly suggest the playing of NT rather than a suit.

Thanks for the question since many others may be interested in discussing the difference.