Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 28th, 2012

I held ♠ A-J-8-3-2,  J-10-7-4,  Q-9, ♣ 9-3, but did not overcall against a strong club. This worked particularly well because the opponents arrived at three no-trump. I opened with a low spade and we took the first five spades for down one. Declarer had gambled on the no-trump game without a spade stopper because neither my partner nor I had bid spades. He had assumed they rated to break 4-4. Should I have bid?

Reassessment, Hackensack, N.J.

The question of whether to overcall against one club is problematic. If your partner had been on lead to the final contract, you might have got a zero, not a top, I suppose I tend to bid at my first opportunity and let them draw the inferences at their peril.

My club teacher said that unless you have at least two aces in your hand, you should not use Blackwood. This teacher plays duplicate bridge successfully, but are there different rules for rubber bridge?

On Demand, Pleasanton, Calif.

This was not good advice, though I understand the sentiment. It is certainly true in a slam-going auction that you shouldn't bid Blackwood if you can't handle a response of two aces or key cards. But you can certainly ask with one ace if you have the appropriate hand.

Would you overcall a weak two diamonds with either a double or a two-heart bid when you hold ♠ Q-10-9-4,  K-J-7-3-2,  A-2, ♣ J-4? What would be your reason for acting, or passing?

Youth Wants to Know, Durham, N.C.

With relatively short diamonds, you are supposed to act with marginal values. While I would have overcalled one diamond with a one-heart bid, I think doubling two diamonds gives you the best chance to find a fit. If partner is weak with clubs, you can blame him for having the wrong hand! Make the hearts just a little stronger, and I'd go for the overcall.

I have zero interest in bridge but I do read your quotes with the anticipation that I will understand one in 10 of them! Just what level of intelligence or study do you think it takes to understand all or most of them? If nothing else, it challenges my mental acuity and I look forward to the stimulation when I connect — which obviously isn't very often!

Tom the Piper's Son, San Diego, Calif.

I'm glad you asked me. When I've written the deal up, I look for a theme in the play or the bidding and try to find a quote that picks up on this. If I am short of inspiration, I look for something funny, or striking.

I like to cut the deck as close to the bottom as I can (my grandpappy having instilled "Cut thin to win" into my subconscious). Recently my cut was questioned. Is there a minimum number of cards that must appear in each pile? And what happens after the cut is made?

The Unkindest Cut, Bay City, Mich.

Each half must have four or more cards in the cut. It is proper for the dealer to put them back in one pile. Good luck and enjoy your bridge. You can download the official rules from the ACBL web site here.

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