Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Are the rules for bidding in sandwich seat the same as for making an overcall? Yesterday when vulnerable I dealt myself ♠ K-Q-2,  9-7-4,  8-4, ♣ A-Q-8-3-2. I passed, but after one diamond to my left and one heart to my right I felt obliged to bid two clubs. My partner subsequently did not agree. What do you say?

Interrupter, Selma, Ala.

You should beware of overcalling vulnerable at the two-level on suits without decent intermediates, especially when you don't know whether you really want the suit you bid led. Here, why do you think a spade lead would be bad, if that is your partner's natural lead?

A recent column that appeared in the Houston Chronicle dealt with how to play Q-10-x facing A-9-8-x for three tricks. You discussed the fact that running the queen gives the defenders no chance to err, while low toward the queen lets you read the table. Can that approach be extended to advancing the 10 from hand with A-J-x-x in dummy facing K-10-9-x?

Applying Pressure, Madison, Wis.

I like the idea of giving the opponents a chance to play an honor, so here running the 10 to tempt a cover looks best. But move the nine into the dummy and leading the jack from that holding might give you a chance to gauge the opponents' reactions.

With ♠ Q-9-8-3,  7-4,  K-9, ♣ A-Q-6-4-3, should I pass or bid? And does the vulnerability or form of scoring matter?

First Up, Grenada, Miss.

With a decent lead-directing suit and a guaranteed easy rebid in spades, this is a clear-cut opener, even in Standard American. It would not take much to persuade me to pass — for example, make the second suit diamonds, not spades. Equally, move my club queen into hearts so that I held ace-fifth of clubs, and now my suit is no longer one that I feel the need to emphasize.

Playing matchpoints, I was in second seat with ♠ A-K,  K-Q-7-4,  A-10-6-3-2 ♣ A-2 and opened one diamond. My partner, who had five small spades and the doubleton king-queen of diamonds with no other honors, passed. We made five while others played three no-trump and brought it home. Could I have opened with an off-shape call of two no-trump, and should my partner have responded one spade?

Four in Hand, Montreal, Quebec

Yes, that is a respectable but not compulsory two-no-trump opening. With 20 quasi-balanced points, go for the aggressive action. (You may miss a diamond slam but you reach the major-suit games more easily.) I'd also have responded one spade in an attempt to improve the partscore. But nobody did anything stupid; three no-trump, on a club lead, surely needs at least one of the red suits to behave.

I learned the club/diamond responses to Roman Keycard Blackwood as showing 1 or 4 and 0 or 3, respectively, and that is how I usually see it in your columns. But once in a while, the responses are reversed. Is it simply partnership agreement to play it one way versus the other? Is one way advantageous somehow?

Back to Front, Canton, Ga.

Yes, this is no more than a matter of partnership agreement. The 14/30 responses came after the other scheme; there may be a small percentage advantage, but it is more than outweighed by the issue of remembering what you play!

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