Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Last week I held ♠ 5-4-3,  10-7-6-5-4-3,  J-9-3-2, ♣ —. My partner opened two no-trump, and I transferred to hearts, then guessed to pass the response of three hearts. My partner had four trumps and no wasted values in clubs, so we finished up with an embarrassing 12 tricks. Who was unreasonably pessimistic here?

Missed the Boat, Trenton, N.J.

With a six-card suit, it is by no means clear to bid game, but the void would make me do it. I wonder, though, could your partner have jumped to game over the transfer? Normally one does so with four trumps, unless the hand has exceptionally sterile shape in the side-suits or is low in controls.

In second seat I was dealt ♠ J-10-3,  Q-5,  A-Q-9-5, ♣ A-K-Q-3. Before I could open the bidding I heard my RHO produce a weak two-spade bid. We were at unfavorable vulnerability and I had no idea what to bid. What would your thoughts be?

Eager for Action, Galveston, Texas

You may not overcall in a minor with only four pieces, so what does that leave? Doubling works out fine if partner passes or bids a minor. However, if he bids hearts, you may regret having acted. Since a two-no-trump call shows 15-18 and a spade stopper, you are not lying by that much if you make that call — are you? Given that East is relatively unlikely to have solid spades at this vulnerability, I'd definitely opt for that route.

I enjoy your bridge problems regularly run in the local paper, but I don't get the paper that often. Is there a book out that has a bunch of these little nuggets all bound together? Where might I get it?

Bookworm, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Are you an internet person? Try The column is posted 15 days after publication there. One of these days I will get around to publishing the columns in book form, I suppose.

Last night I opened one no-trump in second seat with ♠ 9-7-3,  A-K-Q-10,  6-5, ♣ A-Q-7-4 and found myself defending four spades doubled, which we could not beat. Was my initial action wrong, with two open suits?

Robbing Peter, Janesville, Wis.

You may not like the results springing from your initial action, but what are the choices here? If you open one club, you'd have no rebid over a one-spade response. You could try an enterprising one-heart opening (promising five) and plan to rebid two clubs, I suppose. But it looks simplest and best to open one no-trump and hope partner doesn't drive to game with two small diamonds. If you could make partner declare no-trump, that might be best; but you play them better than he does!

I faced a conundrum when my partner opened one heart and jumped to three hearts over my two-club response. (I held ♠ Q-5,  J-3,  Q-6-5, ♣ A-K-Q-J-7-4. I guessed to use Blackwood and drove to slam over the response that showed three key cards. Alas, the defenders found the diamond lead away from the king, allowing them to cash the first two tricks. My partner had seven solid hearts and jack-fourth of diamonds along with the spade ace. What should we have done?

Shooting the Moon, Bellingham, Wash.

Don't use Blackwood when you do not know what to do over the response. It is ill-advised to use Blackwood with weak holdings in an unbid suit since, if you are missing a keycard, you will have no idea whether the slam is making, or missing the first two tricks. On the auction you had, you are clearly close to slam in terms of high-card points, but if three hearts sets trump, then maybe a cue-bid of four clubs is right. Partner will presumably bid four spades, and then you will sign off in five hearts.

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