Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Playing pairs, and holding ♠ Q-10-7-4-3,  Q-5,  A-5, ♣ K-10-8-3, I heard my LHO open one diamond, raised to two diamonds by my RHO. Should my decision to bid depend on whether the response is inverted (guaranteeing a limit raise or better) or weak? And if I do bid, would it be right to introduce a weak spade suit here, or should I double and correct hearts to spades?

Stepping Lively, San Francisco, Calif.

It must be right to act over a weak bid, since in essence you should imagine that you bid as if in balancing seat. I'd pass over an inverted raise, though, since doubling and bidding again would show real extras (at least an ace more than you have). If you do act, you have to bid two spades and hope it keeps fine for you.

Is it right to play the same methods after a rebid of two no-trump in the sequence two clubs – two diamonds – two no-trump as one does over an opening bid of two no-trump? Are there any other sequences where transfers should apply?

Moving Up, Macon, Ga.

Yes, it is right to play Stayman and transfers in this sequence, just as over a two-no-trump opening bid. One can play them after an overcall of two no-trump (and by agreement, though with a different scheme of responses), after an unopposed auction when opener makes a jump rebid of two no-trump. The real purpose of transfers is to ensure that when one hand is weak and one hand is strong, the strong hand gets to be declarer — and that is especially so with these auctions.

Second to speak, I was dealt ♠ Q-10-3-2,  9-5,  A-Q-5, ♣ K-10-6-3, and passed when my RHO opened one heart. Do you agree with that action? In any event, my LHO responded one no-trump, which was passed back to me. Would a double now show these general values?

Hidden Depths, Chicago, Ill.

A double here is traditionally for penalties with a heart stack over the opening bidder here, not a protective double. It feels better to me to stay silent now than to act — your opponents are well placed to catch you if you have stepped out of line, since they have both limited their hands. I admit I might have doubled at my first turn, but that is a whole different kettle of fish.

At our local club my partner and I use a two-diamond opening bid which we alert properly, and if asked, we describe it as 6-11 HCP with both majors. We have been advised by ACBL directors that 'mid-chart' bids can only be used at Nationals, and in high-level games. Why is this so, when in club games some very irregular, even some made up, bids are permitted as long as they are alerted and explained?

Curious George, Fayetteville, N.C.

Occasionally clubs may give you permission to use such calls so long as proper explanations and defenses are provided. But the club's primary task is to retain members and keep them happy. Allowing complex, and primarily obstructive, opening bids has not proved the way to retain members in the past, in my experience.

Playing duplicate in a decent standard club game, would you advocate an opening in a suit or at no-trump when holding ♠ A-Q-7,  A-Q-J-9-5,  K-6, ♣ A-J-3. Just for the record, my partner had just enough to raise a 2 NT opening to game with a 4-0-4-5 pattern and five points, but he might have passed one heart.

Ray of Sunshine, Montreal

I like the opening of two no-trump. One can play a response of three clubs as Five-Card Stayman (the curiously misnamed Puppet Stayman) or just accept that you miss the occasional 5-3 fit. With 20 HCP it is rare not to open two no-trump. You’d need a small doubleton and a good five-card major to take the low road – and with 21 points I’d always go high, not low.

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