Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Can you tell me about false preference? My partner opened one heart and I held ♠ A-3-2,  Q-4,  Q-9-4, ♣ 10-8-6-4-2. I responded one no-trump and now my partner bid two diamonds. Was I right to pass or should I have bid three diamonds or even two hearts? My partner said I should have given false preference to hearts, but that feels like a lie!

Truthful James, Vancouver, British Columbia

Yes, it is correct to bid two hearts here since a 5-2 heart fit rates to play as well as two diamonds. Moreover, your partner could still be planning to bid on, if he has extras but not enough to force to game — and if he does, you'll be glad you kept the auction open. Make your heart queen the nine and I'd pass two diamonds.

I was watching some bridge online and wondered how many IMPs a good team rates to score in a set of 16 boards. If that is too hard to predict, how many does it rate to lose against an equivalent team?

Number Cruncher, Birmingham, Ala.

I've seen suggestions that the average number of IMPs in total per deal is between four and five. Certainly, if you concede fewer than 1.5 IMPs per board, you will win almost every match you ever play, and even 2 IMPs a board tends to mean good play or very flat deals.

I assume you would pass over a one-club opening on your right, and if so, you would hear your LHO pass and partner double. Holding ♠ K-9-7-2,  A-J-10,  9-7-3, ♣ Q-10-5, do you respond one spade or two spades — or something else?

In the Balance, Pleasanton, Calif.

Good question! This hand is absolutely on the cusp of a jump to two spades. I'd make the call because it gets the whole hand off my chest, but I'd be much happier to have a chunkier four-card suit than this. The jump suggests 8-9 with five spades or 10-12 with four. Facing a direct-seat double, you might have a little less.

I saw recently that a good team had a sports psychologist on its squad. Is that a wise way to spend money, or is it cash down the drain?

Sofa So Good, Atlanta, Ga.

Most pairs in Open (and Senior teams) tend to be a little too set in their ways to get much use from help of this sort. My experience is that juniors and women's teams (possibly because they are less confident or perhaps more open to advice) have used and benefited from such help.

When you open one spade with ♠ A-Q-7-6-3-2,  7,  Q-10-6, ♣ K-J-8, you plan to rebid two spades over any response. Say partner bids a game-forcing two diamonds and then bids two no-trump over your two-spade rebid. Do you now rebid spades or do you bid three no-trump?

Third Time's a Charm, Detroit, Mich.

I love questions that I can respond to with a different answer from my reader's suggestions. It is clear to bid three diamonds now, showing three diamonds, and leaving room for partner to produce delayed spade support with a three-spade call, or for him to temporize with a three-heart call.

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