Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

I assume you and your partner play Michaels. What would it mean to you if, after your RHO bid one diamond, you passed, your LHO bid two clubs, and your partner then bid three clubs? I bid this with ♠ Q-9-8-3-2,  J-10-9-7-4,  K-Q-9, ♣ —, thinking that it would be obvious that, since I didn't double, I had less than an opening bid and had two five-card majors. Was I wrong?

How's That Again?, Augusta, Ga.

You are theoretically right. But since double is takeout showing a good hand and two no-trump would be unusual for the unbid suits, it is at least arguable that there is potentially some confusion. Incidentally, I'd pass your hand rather than bid. Why tip the opponents off to bad breaks when there is virtually no chance that the hand belongs to your side?

Recently, during a game of rubber bridge, I was the declarer. I was the fourth player to a trick led from my left. I somehow detached the wrong card (too small in value to win the trick) from my hand. I realized it was the wrong card when I tabled it. I then exchanged it for the card I had intended to play to win the trick. My defenders would not allow me to correct this error. Which law should apply?

Lucky Luke, Tucson Ariz.

In layman's terms you can only change your card if it was played with no intention of playing it. The law refers to dropping a card, not playing a card that was wrong. Rightly or wrongly you put a card on the table — not the one that you should have, but the one you intended to play before you realized it was a mistake. You have an extremely high threshold for your play to qualify as "accidentally played."

With this hand would you bid over a weak two diamonds: ♠ J-9-8-3-2,  A-7-4,  Q-9-7, ♣ A-K? Would your answer change depending on the form of scoring, on position, or on vulnerability?

Plumb Tuckered, Grand Junction, Colo.

This is a tough one; You would overcall one spade over one diamond without a flicker, but this case is not so clear. For what it is worth, I would bid except facing a passed partner at teams or rubber. But make my diamond seven the club seven, and double makes good sense too.

We play New Minor Forcing for only one round so that we can find a 5-3 major fit, and then decide whether game is there by making an invitational or help-suit bid. Is this standard, or should we play it as game-forcing?

Musical Chairs, Laredo, Texas

If you play New Minor, then you should use a direct jump by responder at his second turn as invitational, and new minor then three of a new suit as game-forcing. Similarly responder's jumps at his second turn after three suits have been bid (as opposed to a no-trump rebid) are ALL invitational, while all game forces go through fourth suit.

What is the sensible meaning of a sequence where the partner of a no-trump opener uses Stayman, then in response to a major bids the other major ? Should that be natural or artificial — and what would it show?

High Hopes, Torrance, Calif.

After the Stayman inquiry finds a major, you should use responder's jumps as splinter raises of that major. But bidding the other major at the three-level shows a balanced hand agreeing partner's major, with slam interest. Meanwhile, a jump to four no-trump is quantitative, without a fit for partner's major.

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