Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 15th, 2012

How do you decide between opening a very strong hand at the one-level as opposed to opening two clubs and then bidding your suit? Does your decision depend on whether you have a one- two- or even three-suiter?

Rock-Crusher, Nashville, Tenn.

Opening two clubs on marginal hands with long minors and a second suit works badly; you pre-empt yourself out of two levels of the auction and often lose the ability to define of your hand. Equally, true three-suiters in the range of 21-23 may be best handled by opening a minor. Somebody else normally bids!

Say you open one club with the following hand: ♠ K-7-3,  K-10-6-2,  Q-7-2, ♣ A-J-4. Your partner responds one spade, and the next hand doubles. Should you rebid one no-trump, raise spades, or pass?

Options, Bellingham, Wash.

One no-trump is acceptable, but another conventional action that might (by partnership agreement) be available is to redouble. Some people play this to show three trumps, so a call of one no-trump would deny three trumps. A raise to two spades would show four trumps, whatever your methods, and passing would be a balanced or semibalanced hand unsuitable for a call of one no-trump.

I will be playing in my first pair game next week, having only played rubber bridge and team games till now. Please explain how the scoring works.

Tyro-Maniac, Kenosha, Wis.

Pairs is all about beating the other pairs sitting the same way as you, holding your cards. (The margin by which you beat them is irrelevant.) Imagine 10 results on a single deal. Nine matchpoints are available, one fewer than the number of pairs. Five pairs bid a small slam making exactly, one makes the grand slam, one goes down in it, three make the overtrick. As one of those three pairs, you score a point for beating the five pairs who made 12 tricks in slam, and the pair who went down in slam, and get half a point for each of the pairs who made 13 tricks in the small slam. So you get 7 matchpoints out of 9.

How do you judge what level to pre-empt to when your partner opens two spades and the next hand doubles? With nobody vulnerable you hold ♠ K-9-8-5-4,  10-2,  Q-7-2, ♣ Q-10-6. Is this a hand where you want to force the opponents to bid a slam, or do you want to time the auction to keep them out of slam?

Levelheaded Louis, Elkhart, Ind.

I'd guess our side will lose six tricks in a spade contract so four spades should be high enough for our side as a sacrifice. But can we beat our opponents' slam? Even facing a hand with no side-cards, I'd guess we have more than a 50 percent chance of scoring a trick in each minor or one trick from the minors and a spade. So bidding four spades will give the opponents enough rope to hang themselves. We may go down 500, but it is still worth the effort to make the opponents' life harder.

I use Rosenkranz doubles and redoubles with my partners, these actions showing a high trump for partner, typically in a two- or three-card holding. We have never discussed whether it applies when partner makes a simple overcall of a weak two-bid. What are your views on an auction such as a two-diamond opening on my left, a two-heart overcall from partner and a three-diamond bid on my right?

Zen and Now, West Palm Beach, Fla.

I really don't like the double to mean support for partner. It is more important to get the unbid suits in, in other words, values and no clear call. Here a bid of three hearts would buy the hand (the opponents won't bid four diamonds), so there is no need for a Rosenkranz double, which is most useful in auctions where you rate to be defending.

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