Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Does bidding in the balancing seat show less than in direct seat? I've seen reference to this — but can you still have full values when you balance over an opening bid?

Rate Adjuster, Houston, Texas

In general, most actions in the balancing seat have a lower minimum threshold, say about a king less, than the same action in direct seat. So with a maximum overcall you have the option of starting with a double and then bidding your suit, as opposed to introducing the suit at once. And a balancing no-trump call shows 11-15 points, not a strong no-trump.

When opener, facing a passed hand, doubles the opponents at his second turn, is that for takeout? I opened one heart with ♠ 10-2,  A-K-J-10-3,  A-Q, ♣ K-10-3-2. If my opponents bid and raise spades, what should I do next?

Lola Granola, Chester, Ill.

With the above hand I might bid three clubs rather than double — my diamonds look too feeble. But any time you have a 5-4-3-1 pattern, a double is surely best. Let partner pick his long suit — in which case three-card support should be enough for him.

I was confused with a recent aside you produced in an answer in Bid With the Aces. After hearing a one-heart response to one diamond, you said, "to rebid the diamonds here virtually guarantees a six-card suit." Are you ever allowed to rebid a five-card suit?

Limbo Dancer, Fredericksburg, Va.

When you open a minor and hear partner respond one heart, it is almost never necessary to repeat a five-card suit. Occasionally, after a response of one spade to a minor, you may be forced to repeat a good five-card suit when holding four hearts and no stopper in the other minor. By contrast, after partner responds at the two-level, repeating a decent five-carder is often the least lie.

I'm very confused about when a redouble should be to play, when it is SOS, and when it is just a good hand. Can you give me some general rules here?

Walter Wall, Tucson, Ariz.

Generalizing is hard, but a simple rule is that if you have been doubled for penalty and are in the pass-out seat, redouble is for rescue. If you are facing an overcall or opening and the double is NOT penalty, any redouble shows a good hand or extras. Where no fit has been found by your side, such doubles generally look like defensively oriented hands.

An unopposed sequence went 1  – 2 ♣ – 2 ♠. Some say that opener's second bid of two spades is really a sort of reverse (guaranteeing some extras). Is there such a thing? Is there any difference in the value of the two-spade call depending on whether you are playing Standard American or two-over-one game forcing?

Upsy Daisy, Charleston, S.C.

The answer here does indeed depend on whether the two-club call guarantees a rebid. If two clubs is a game force, then the two-spade bid just describes opener's hand pattern and does not guarantee extra values. If the two-club bid is not a game-force, then the reverse to two spades shows enough extras to force to game — say at least a good 14 count with fit.

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