Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Say you open one diamond with: ♠ K-9,  K-J-2,  A-7-4-3-2, ♣ Q-9-2, and hear a double to your left, and a redouble from partner, passed back to your LHO. When you hear one spade to your left, passed back to you. Is this forcing? And if you do act do you rebid diamonds, or do something else?

Same Old Story, Lakeland, Fla.

Yes, this auction is forcing but not to game. You have a straightforward call of one no-trump, suggesting a minimum balanced hand with a spade stop. To rebid diamonds, you should have six of them, and probably a respectable hand, since you did not act at your previous turn.

At the club last week I heard a director discussing Goldwater's Rule. What is it, and who was Goldwater?

Tracker, Monterey, Calif.

Harry Goldwater was one of the most popular tournament directors of the 60s and 70s, who suggested that a lead made out of turn should always be accepted because, in his words, "Anyone stupid enough to not know whose lead it is isn't smart enough to make a good one."

What are the rules for pre-empting, if ever, with a six-card suit? If you have: ♠ 4-2,  K-10-6-4,  2, ♣ A-Q-9-8-5-4, I can see the four-card major is a disadvantage, but are there any vulnerabilities where you might act to get in the opponents' way?

Roadblock, Twin Falls, Idaho

In third seat — whatever the vulnerability — you might decide to get in at any price, but in any other position I'd feel that the four-card major was just too much of a liability. I'm also too good to pre-empt if non-vulnerable. I'd be too worried about missing game or slam.

Two terms appearing often in your column are "uppercut" and "trump promotion.," They both relate to the defenders' building extra trump tricks, but I'm not sure of the difference. Could you clarify this for me?

Dictionary Johnson, Baton Rouge, La.

A trump promotion occurs when a defender leads a suit in which neither second hand nor the leader's partner has any cards. Declarer has the option of discarding or ruffing low, thus conceding a cheap trump trick, or of ruffing high and leaving one defender with an extra trump winner. An uppercut is the act of ruffing in with a significant trump spot as second or third hand in order to build a trump trick for your partner if the next player overruffs.

When your RHO opens four clubs, or even three clubs, are you supposed to act or pass with ♠ A-J-9-5-2,  K-9-4-2,  K-2, ♣ Q-5? And if you take action, do you double or bid spades?

Fired Up, Midland, Mich.

You cannot afford to pass with your opening-bid strength and short clubs. Double is flawed, because of the diamond weakness, but it is the call that has the most upsides, whether the opponents open at the three- or four-level.

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Patrick CheuFebruary 17th, 2013 at 11:34 am

Hi Bobby, It would be interesting to know how you would bid this hand, and would the contract be different at pairs or teams?West:AQ10 A32 AK10952 K,East:K432 Q105 QJ6 AJ4.We got to 6NT by East,during the auction, pard(west) asks for the QD,which I ‘fail’ to show through not recognising his bid.Six NT makes +1,and though it was equal top,pard wants to be in seven!?Best Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffFebruary 17th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hi Patrick,

By cashing the AQ of spades early as well as the K and then the ace of clubs (from different hands) and the ace of hearts, before running the diamonds, the odds of making 13 tricks are very high because of the possible doubleton jack of spades, a spade break, or one of the many squeeze possibilities involving the jack of clubs, the queen of hearts and, of course, either opponent having 4 spades to the jack originally, the grand slam would easily meet the percentage requirement (65%+) to being there.

However, your result of a shared top would be jeopardized, all the way down to a shared bottom or worse, meaning that the risk might represent a 90% free fall. If your partner would seriously analyze the result, it is doubtful that he would want to be in seven.

You have not told me who was dealer:

If West perhaps:

W. E. or W. E.
2C 2D 1D 1S
2NT 6NT 2H 3D
P 3S 4C
4H 5NT pick
6D P a slam
6NT at pairs
If East:
E. W.
1C 1D

IMHO, bridge as we know it, and in the absence of a total relay system (all different, but let’s assume very well constructed) it is virtually impossible to even attempt for that partnership to be enabled (mostly from West’s viewpoint) to find every vitally important card East needs (KS, KH, QD, AC) for seven and even then East needs a 4th spade or the QH or QC for trick #13 and/or the combination necessary for a successful squeeze attempt.

Our game is still too difficult to be able to find out every thing necessary and even when one guesses right, but partner has only Qx in diamonds, sometimes they break 4-1 shipwrecking our voyage and reducing our grand slam chances to just over 70%.

Never stop dreaming or better yet, improving, since bridge is truly THE game for a lifetime.

Patrick CheuFebruary 17th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Hi Bobby,the full hand,West:AQ10 A32 AK10952 K,North:86 764 743 109762,East:K432 Q105 QJ6 AJ4,South:J975 KJ98 8 Q853.East(dealer),opens 1C(polish style),pard 2D(gf or 6d10-11),I rebid 2N(weak nt hd,pard prefers 2S fr me),West 3Nt,East 4D,West 4NT(RKCB 1403),East5C(1/4),West5H(asks for QD),I bid 6NT(failing 2 recognise 5H),after long thought he passes.As you can see,7N is there,7D is not so.Very much appreciated thanks,for your great insight and help so that we can strive to improve our play in this great game of ours.Best Regards-Patrick.

Patrick CheuFebruary 17th, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Hi Bobby, I think pard should bid 4D over 2N,slam try, inviting me to cue if interested in D slam otherwise if not, I bid 4N to play. Question is over 2N what is 4N by west? Quantitative?Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffFebruary 17th, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Hi Patrick,

Most (if not all) high-level players play that a jump to 4NT over a usually limited 2NT is always quantitative.

I agree that if given the opportunity in the bidding of jumping to 4 diamonds, which tells both partners, diamonds are going to be our trump (unless overruled at the slam level) the weaker hand should be able to return to 4NT to deny extras, but to cue bid with a control and extras (even though very slight).

The above is what I consider more or less standard procedure throughout the high-level bridge world.

Patrick CheuFebruary 18th, 2013 at 7:31 am

Hi Bobby, many thanks again for your help,much appreciated,especially the fact that diamonds may split 4-1 even with our Qx opp. Ak109xx,thus only 70% grand slam,as you so rightly pointed out. Best Regards-Patrick.

Jeff HFebruary 18th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I attended a lecture given by a director at a tournament where he discussed the Goldwater rule. In his opintion, if the defender wanted so badly to lead a certain suit that he failed to recognize whose lead it was, there was a good chance that it was a favorable lead for the defense. Thus, all else being equal, the lead should probably not be accepted.

bobby wolffFebruary 18th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Hi Jeff H,

Yours is certainly an interesting observation and therefore catering to conflicting opinions.

Perhaps it is a battle between zeal and stupidity to which my experience tends to regard ignorance as trumping any and every other emotion, rendering power driven enthusiasm no higher than second on the list, the result being that the Goldwater rule still reigns supreme, but perhaps not, as first thought, by as a significant margin.