Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Playing Standard American, I held ♠ A-Q-6-4,  Q-10-4-3,  9-7-4, ♣ A-5. Would you open with a bid other than one diamond at any vulnerability or position?

Open Wide, Holland, Mich.

I would never pass this hand, but in third seat I think it is reasonable to open a major rather than diamonds. After all, diamonds is the last lead you want. Whether you open one heart or one spade is somewhat up to you, though. In fourth seat it is a tossup as to what opening you choose, but in first or second seat open one diamond. The hand is too good to pass, despite the pitiful diamond suit.

Please recommend a Web site or primer on the best techniques for opening leads and defensive leads.

Getting a Lead on Leads, San Antonio, Texas

Richard Pavlicek and Eddie Kantar have done great work in this area. Pavlicek’s Bridge Basics offers some excellent basic advice, while Kantar’s website has some very helpful tips.

In second seat I passed, holding ♠ J-9,  K-10-4-3,  Q-8-4, ♣ A-9-8-6. When my partner opened two no-trump, I used Stayman and received a three-spade response. How much is my hand worth now?

Growth Fund, White Plains, NY.

While you might have a club slam here, you seem to have no great fit, and no more than 32 HCP. It may be pessimistic, but I'd put on the brakes in three no-trump rather than invite slam with a quantitative call of four no-trump.

I’m impressed by the occasional advice you give your readers about the conventions we should consider playing. Perhaps you could head in the other direction and suggest a gadget that we should NOT play – either because it is a bad idea or because it is unnecessary.

Junk in the Trunk, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Playing two diamonds as a strong three-suiter misuses an opening bid by concentrating on a hand-type that almost never comes up. A more common conventional usage is the Rosenkranz redouble of an overcall after a negative double, showing a high honor in that suit. I prefer to raise with support rather than allow the opponents an extra round of bidding.

In a recent column you described a player as having good instinct. Are the expert's instincts better than the beginner's? Is this any different from intuition? (Personally, I suspect that the pros' instincts are far more accurate because some functions have become automatic/unconscious and have not reached that point in the amateur.)

Basic Instinct, Brandon, Miss.

I think of instinct not as learned but innate. However, one's instincts can be honed by practice. No matter how good your feel for the game, you can't succeed without experience, and making mistakes helps you learn better. Even so, there are many positions where you have to follow your nose; and some people have sharper noses' than others.

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