Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 9th, 2012

If your partner opens one club, would you ever consider responding three no-trump, holding ♠ A-Q-10,  9-8-3-2,  A-7-4, ♣ Q-9-7? Or would you bid one heart?

High-Wire Act, Monterey, Calif.

I believe that Eddie Kantar once posited that on moderate hands with a very weak four-card major you might respond one no-trump for fear of being raised with three trumps perhaps. But with a decent hand, that does not apply. Over a raise of hearts you might simply bid three no-trump to offer the choice of games. Concealing the major has a variety of ways to lose — not least that in three no-trump you might receive a painful heart lead!

We play Chicago bridge, and one person in our group claims that you cannot be doubled into game. Another says that if you are doubled, you would get game.

Official Scorer, Midland, Mich.

The key is that at duplicate you use the same basic score as at rubber. To score below the line you must make a contract – overtricks going above the line. If you are doubled, the value of the doubled contract goes below the line. Let’s look at a contract of three diamonds. It is worth 60 (plus 50 for partscore) or 110 at duplicate. Three diamonds doubled is 120 plus 50 plus either 300 or500 for game, thus 470 or 670. What makes it game is that the number to be doubled up is 60, which gets you to more than 100. Check out duplicate bridge scoring here.

When responding to a takeout double in the balancing seat, how do I judge the level to bid at — and what do my doubles mean if the opening bidder acts again? Say I hold: ♠ K-8-4-2,  A-J-3,  Q-6-4-3, ♣ 10-2 and hear one diamond passed around to my partner, who doubles. What would you bid if RHO passes, and what if he bids one heart?

Balancing Act, Danville, Ill.

Because your partner's double can be up to a king lighter than in the direct seat, you need a little more to jump here than in direct seat. I'd consider this hand on the cusp of a two-spade call over a pass on my right, but over a one-heart call I'd be happy just to bid one spade and get to show some values in the process — say 7-10 points.

I'm looking for books of declarer-play hands to try to improve. What collections of deals do you recommend?

Bookworm, Great Falls, Mont.

Of the current crop of writers Eddie Kantar and Julian Pottage produce splendid work. The former has works designed for all possible levels of players. The late Hugh Kelsey and Terrence Reese always challenged readers with more-advanced ideas. Paul Lukacs also produced very interesting deals.

I enjoy your bridge column, though much of the bidding is of a considerably more complex nature than my friends and I use. And I love the quotations that begin the columns and wonder if they are available as a collection or if they have been randomly gathered by you.

Marseillaise, Raleigh, N.C.

I'm often in retrospect surprised that I don't get more questions about the quotations. My routine is to find a theme word from the article and consult a couple of dictionaries of quotations to find something relevant. Once in a while I'll look for a popular song along the theme of the puzzle — but nothing more organized than that.

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