Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 7th, 2012

At our club my partner thought he should have tried for a grand slam on a hand where we bid six, making seven. The club expert's response was that in a local game, even if the grand seems likely to make, stay at six no-trump, because club players rarely bid grand slams. So bidding a small slam at no-trump will virtually always tie for a top at matchpoints. Do you agree?

How High Is Up? Sioux Falls, S.D.

Your adviser was absolutely on the money. Grand slams are bid so rarely that you need to know EVERYONE will be in the small slam before you start thinking of one. Sometimes you will have a keycard auction that lets you count 13 tricks, but rarely otherwise.

When playing with an expert, I had an accident on this pair of hands. I held ♠ A-J-10-8-3-2,  A-K-4,  J-8-7, ♣ A, facing ♠ K-7-4,  Q-J-10-7,  A-K, ♣ 10-7-5-2. We were playing two-over-one game-forcing, and the bidding went one spade – two clubs – two spades – four spades – pass. Where did we go wrong?

Missing Link, Lorain, Ohio

I agree with all the calls you made (a jump to three spades by opener should be a better suit). However, opener should continue with five clubs, and should not think of passing. I don't mind Blackwood with an open suit when my values suggest I don't have any real likelihood of two fast losers. Then responder can show his diamond control, and opener will not stop short of the small slam.

What are your views on leading from three, four or five small at no-trump? If you select this suit to lead, should you lead high, middle or low?

Small, Medium, Large; Pueblo, Colo.

Circumstances alter cases, but with that caveat I suggest high or low from three small (certainly high from touching cards) and second highest from four small. From five, a lot depends on whether I think I might want a shift if my lead doesn't work out. If so, I'd lead second highest; otherwise, fourth highest.

Recently you presented this bidding problem: ♠ 8-5-4,  5,  K-Q-8-3-2, ♣ A-10-8-4. After your partner doubled two spades and the next hand raised to three spades, you suggested a cautious call of four diamonds, in case partner had a one-suiter in hearts. If your partner had such a hand, why would he not just bid four hearts himself, directly, rather than doubling first?

Getting to the Point, Bremerton, Wash.

You might double, then bid hearts, with a hand based on high cards not tricks, since your values would be more flexible. By contrast, with a long solid suit and less in high cards, you might bid hearts directly.

I was just reading one of your columns where, after an overcall of a strong no-trump, a pair of French experts bid to a major-suit game. This was allowed to make on a sort of crossruff, leaving me wondering how often a trump lead would be close to automatic on such auctions.

Trump Attack, Dallas, Texas

Right you are! It is surprising how often it is true that when you are facing a strong balanced hand, you should lead trumps against the opponent's contract. The fewer points they have, the more likely that they are going to need to take their trumps separately.

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