Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Is there a right way or a wrong way to tackle a suit such as A-J-4-2 in dummy facing K-10-3 in hand for four tricks? What if you know your RHO has at most two cards in the suit?

Find the Lady, Staten Island, N.Y.

With no special information, and assuming no communication problems, lead out the ace or king, then lead a low card towards the other honor, and finesse. You might think that if you need four tricks in the suit and your RHO is short that you should lead low to the jack, or run the 10 from hand, playing the hand with length for the queen; not so. Your only legitimate chance of four tricks is to find your RHO with the bare queen or doubleton queen, so lead low to the 10 in your hand.

My RHO was second to speak with: ♠ J-3,  A-5-4-3-2,  Q-5-3, ♣ K-10-4. He passed, and heard his partner overcall one heart over one club. He simply raised to two hearts, and it made on the button. I thought the hand was worth more than that, but he said he discounted the club king. What do you think?

Undervalued, Sunbury, Pa.

Your opponent was both pessimistic and more than a little fortunate. These days after a third in hand opening bid the location of the club king is entirely undefined, and with five-card support many would cuebid two clubs to show a strong raise — and would then certainly consider going to the three-level voluntarily.

After opener rebids one no-trump, what is your opinion about responder having a conventional continuation, such as using the New Minor as a forcing bid? In other words after an unopposed sequence one diamond – one spade – one no-trump, do you advocate using two clubs as a forcing bid, unrelated to clubs?

Inspector Gadget, Augusta, Maine

This is a relatively advanced idea, however, once you adopt it, this is one of the conventions that you will find it hard to do without. It may not be absolutely essential, but you will find it simplifies your constructive bidding to put all forcing hands through the New Minor, and to invite with a jump.

I picked up the following minimum opening bid: ♠ Q-2,  J-8-6,  K-Q-9-7-4-3, ♣ A-3. I opened one diamond and rebid two diamonds over my partner's one spade response. He now bid two hearts; I was not sure if that was forcing and if so what I should bid. Any thoughts?

In a Fog, Columbia, S.C.

New suits by responder at his second turn are almost always forcing (by contrast, a limit bid in his suit, your suit, or in no-trump can be passed). Your partner's call shows at least invitational values, looking for support for his suits or to reach no-trump facing a stopper in the fourth suit. Since you denied primary spade support at your second turn, your honor-doubleton is sufficient to give partner preference now. No-trumps can follow at your next turn — if there is one.

As dealer at favorable vulnerability I passed, and my partner opened one club in third seat, which was doubled on my right. I held ♠ 10-5-3-2,  Q-6-4-3,  K-10, ♣ J-5-3. I bid one heart, then passed my partner's one spade call, to his evident displeasure, though he made only nine tricks when holding an 18-count and four-four in the black-suits, with three-card heart support. Should either of us have done more, notwithstanding our good result?

Grounds for Appeal, Durham, N.C.

There speaks a true perfectionist. With 18 HCP, you have the choice of one spade, two spades, or two no-trump, depending on the quality of the spades, the controls, and the guard in the fourth suit. I would not jump rebid two spades without three hearts and good controls here. Regardless, with your actual hand, a pass stands out over one spade.

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