Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 17th, 2013

My hand, ♠ K-Q-3,  A-5-4,  J-7, ♣ K-J-9-8-4, looked like a normal one-club opening. The next hand overcalled one heart and my partner bid one spade, which I raised to two spades. Now my partner bid three diamonds, and because I was not sure if he was interested in slam or game, I did not know what to do next. Any ideas?

Lost in Space, Dodge City, Kan.

Good question! Maybe a three-heart probe will let partner disclose his intentions. If he bids only three spades, you can raise to game. If he goes past three no-trump, you can be sure he has a very good hand and can cooperate in a slam venture.

I play in a marathon bridge group and am hosting the bridge event this year. When I handed out an instruction sheet to each team recently, I indicated that on the last deal of a Chicago a partscore is worth 100 points. I was asked why. I was also asked why a side that had an unconverted partscore from an earlier deal wouldn’t get the benefit at the end of the rubber. Can you help please?

Home Rule, Saint John, New Brunswick

You have stated the rules correctly. In Chicago the last deal partscore is worth a bonus 100 points (presumably because you do not get a chance to convert it to game). The other side does NOT get a bonus if they had made a partscore on an earlier deal, as they did get a chance to make game later — and failed to do so. This might seem illogical — but them’s the rules.

Would you double a one-heart opening on your right in all positions — and at any vulnerability — with: ♠ J-8-6,  K-J,  K-10-6-3, ♣ A-9-8-7? Would you ever hold back if vulnerable or facing a passed partner?

Timid Timmy, San Francisco, Calif.

I’m maybe not the best person to answer this question – you could predict in advance my answer would be to double first and reconsider later. It is normally safer to overcall or double earlier than later in almost any auction. Here you have the right shape and values to bid. If partner has a bust, it is his fault.

As a bridge teacher I’m wondering whether I should include transfer responses to one no-trump in my basic lessons. Do you think this is a good idea?

Quis custodiet, Waterbury, Conn.

I understand my friend Eddie Kantar has included transfer responses in the second edition of his "Bridge for Dummies" primer, on the grounds that it is close to the norm for all players these days. Perhaps that is a good indication of the direction you should be heading?

I opened one diamond with the following hand: ♠ K-J-9-4,  K-3,  A-Q-5-4, ♣ 10-6-2. My partner responded one heart and I rebid one spade. Now my partner bid two clubs, the fourth suit, and I did not know what to do. Can you help me with my thinking here?

Third Rail, Albany, Ga.

The answer is easy if you buy in to the idea that you would have raised hearts at your previous turn with a minimum unbalanced or semibalanced hand and three trumps. Thus if you bid one spade and then support hearts over the fourth-suit inquiry, you typically have a doubleton honor and have three trumps relatively infrequently. With extras and three hearts in a 4-3-5-1 shape, you jump to three hearts now.

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ClarksburgMarch 31st, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Question unrelated to today’s column.
North, as Dealer, Pairs, non-vul, holds:
South holds:
Is the 7NT (making on 32 HCP) a “good” contract over the long haul?
Or, is 7 Hearts a safer / better bet?

ClarksburgMarch 31st, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Of course, I should have said “making on many but not all layouts of opponents cards”.

bobbywolffMarch 31st, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

You are asking a question which would not occur to most, since they do not have the numeracy to be interested, much less inquire, as to what contract should be preferred at matchpoints.

Although the declarer is a heavy favorite to make 7 NT with either 3-3 spades, a possible club finesse or a more likely squeeze against West, holding the queen of clubs + the length in spades and/or the king of diamonds, increasing the possibility for success (cashing the AK of clubs and the ace of diamonds, a form of Vienna Coup, when East holds the length in spades but also either the queen of clubs or the king of diamonds (necessary to be guessed which).

Even after saying the above, it is a slam dunk for me to prefer 7 hearts, since with 2-2 hearts plus the other combined chances makes a heart grand slam more probable. Bidding and making a grand slam in matchpoints while missing 8 HCPs is rare enough that my estimate of 7 hearts bid and made will result in approximately 80% of the matchpoints, making an attempt at 7NT just too greedy to contemplate.

Obviously the math of the matter is fairly close, but experience dictates that down 1 in 7NT (or, for that matter 7H) would be very close to a zero, and, although perhaps I am technically incorrect in my choice (because the percentages suggest otherwise), it feels right to me.

Your queries are very much on target in making decisions on high-level bridge matters, although, of course, during the actual bidding, there will never be a way that the declarer can foresee the exact hand.

RaghavSeptember 24th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Kick the tires and light the fires, problem oflaicifly solved!