Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

I have a problem with the concept of a reverse in competition. I held ♠ Q-10-9-2,  A-3,  A-5, ♣ Q-J-6-4-2. I opened one club, intending to rebid one spade over my partner’s response in a red suit. Alas, over my partner’s response of one heart, my RHO overcalled two diamonds. What was I supposed to do now?

Stuck in Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

Since you cannot rebid two spades without significant extras, while a call of three clubs would show at least a six-carder, and you cannot raise hearts, the best action is to pass. You hope that your partner can act – perhaps with a takeout double so that you can get to bid your spades. If he passes, you didn’t really miss anything.

Somebody sprang the term "minisplinter" on me recently. It sounded interesting –but would you please explain it? Is it worth the effort of learning a new convention?

Too Cool for School, Detroit, Michigan

Two conventions go by this name; I'll give you the one I think comes up more often and is more useful. Responder's first call of one over the limit-raise of a major (three spades or three no-trump over one heart and spade respectively) shows 9-12 with an unspecified singleton and four-card support for partner. Opener can ask for the shortness or can sign off. Thus other double jumps are splinters with 13-15 HCP, three no-trump over one heart showing a good hand with spade shortage. This gives up very little and is useful in defining values and shortness.

When my LHO heard me open one spade, he jumped to four clubs at favorable vulnerability, holding ♠ 4,  Q-3,  10-5-4, ♣ K-Q-J-7-6-3-2. His partner saved over four spades and went for 500, but that was still a good score for them. When I asked if that did not promise eight clubs he said that he thought he had an eight-card suit –but I don't believe him! Was his call right?

Number-Cruncher, Hamilton, Ontario

When it comes to pre-empting, like so much in life, inflation has struck hard. Since at this vulnerability some would make a weak jump with only a moderate six-carder, you can understand why he went the extra mile. And since it worked, one can hardly criticize his choice too harshly!

Can you provide some simple guidelines for when one should open strong two- or three-suiters with two clubs, as opposed to bidding the long suit first at the one-level? I've always been taught to open low — but I seem to be in the minority these days.

Aim-Low Club, Laredo, Texas

I tend to open three-suiters at the one-level with 21 or fewer points, though with a singleton honor in a major and 4-4-4-1 shape, one can sometimes cheat and open two no-trump. On two-suited hands with a longer minor than major, one tends to save space by opening the long suit, so unless you have game in your own hand. I'd eschew the two-club call.

Either times have changed (quite likely!) or I seem to have forgotten a few things, such as what should happen in the following bidding sequence. I passed my partner's one-club opening and my LHO balanced with one diamond. Now my partner bid one no-trump, showing more than a strong no-trump, right? But do transfers apply here if I choose to act?

Risk Averse, Fayetteville, N.C.

I think once a suit has been bid by the hand that rebids at no-trump, transfers would only apply by special agreement. It is too likely you might want to play two clubs here, for example. However, just for the record: In an unopposed auction, responder can use transfers after a two-no-trump response — though that would require an unusual agreement.

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Bill CubleyDecember 1st, 2013 at 4:06 pm

The min-splinter convention is called Love. Not after Clyde Love but as in Love is a Minisplintered Thing.

bobby wolffDecember 2nd, 2013 at 5:45 am

Hi Bill,

I still remember the gorgeous Jennifer Jones playing an Eurasian in the movie, (probably from the early 1950s) where that minisplintered song is from.

Oh if she would have only been a singleton at that time, many male players would have tried to either lead or trump her.