Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 14th, 2014

My partner opened the bidding in second seat with one club, and my RHO overcalled two hearts. I responded three diamonds, assuming it to be forcing, but my partner passed with a minimum and a misfit. My partner says my three diamonds bid is just competitive and if I wanted to force I should double. I contend that as an unpassed responder, my new suit response is forcing. I can see the logic in each argument. What do you say?

Miked Up, Harrisburg, Pa.

I'm delighted to say you are right and he is wrong. After an overcall, new suits by an unpassed responder are all natural and forcing – for one round, though not to game. However, new suits at the three-level are game-forcing. Yes, you can double with moderate hands hoping to get a second shot but you must bid your good hands out at once to avoid being preempted out of your suit.

I moved East from San Francisco, and almost everyone of the players here is a Life Master of one kind or another. They defend with something called "odd or even" though they have never learned to count! Do you recommend I should take this up, or try to persuade them to take up something else instead?

Nonplussed Newbie, Spartanburg, S.C.

Odd/Even discards are somewhat sophisticated but not a bad idea. (This Bridge Hands link might help.) Their benefit is that you do not have to discard from the suit you like to get the message across. Give them a try – but encourage your partner to count too…

As a refugee from a style 50 years ago, where jumps were strong, I realize I have a lot to learn. When it is correct to play jump raises as preemptive, and when to play a more traditional style of limit or forcing raise?

Dinosaur Dan, Wausau, Wis.

In uncontested auctions you need both a limit raise and a forcing raise. (In the majors that would be shown by a jump raise and Jacoby two no-trump, while in the minors the inverted raise is the way to show at least a limit raise). In contested auctions the focus changes, to require you to be able to raise partner as fast and safely as possible; jump-raises are made with distributional hands. A cue-bid (or a jump to two no-trump after an opening bid gets doubled) shows a limit raise or better.

I recently misread an auction where my partner balanced over one heart with a call of one spade; then when opener competed to two diamonds, my partner balanced again, this time with a double. Should this be penalty, cards, or take-out?

Desperately Seeking Sanity, Dover, Del.

After overcalling or balancing, most doubles facing a silent partner are for take-out. Here I expect your partner might be something like 4-5 or 3-5 in the unbid suits, with at least opening values, unwilling to sell out when the opponents appear to have found a fit.

I passed in first chair with: ♠ A-J-8-7-2,  10-2,  K-9-3-2, ♣ Q-4 and responded one spade to my partner's one heart opening bid. What was my best course of action over his two-club rebid?

More or Less, Panama City, Fla.

As a passed hand you could bid two diamonds, the fourth suit, or make a natural bid of two no-trump, both of which are only a trifle optimistic; give me the diamond 10 in addition and I'd follow the latter route. As an alternative, giving preference to two hearts is better than rebidding the spades. Your hand offers a ruffing value, and you know you have at least a partial fit in hearts.

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ClarksburgDecember 28th, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Supplementary question to Nonplussed Newbie’s about Odd / Even Discards:
It is my understanding that dual-message discarding may be used only once. i.e. from the ACBL General Convention Chart:
“…Dual-message carding strategies are not approved except on each defender’s first discard. Except for the first discard only right-side-up or upside-down card ordering strategies are approved…”
Is there any more we should know about this topic?

bobby wolffDecember 28th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

You are correct in your interpretation of the ACBL law on odd/even discarding.

It is not because of the inherent advantages/disadvantages of playing a complete odd and even set of signals of encouraging and discouraging, while at the same time, while discouraging, to signal suit preference with high or low even cards.

It is not allowed because the tempo requirement of not giving unauthorized information (UI) is paramount, which, in turn, comes into play since it becomes almost practically impossible to either hide ambivalence or rather being too positive in the tempo basically given that proposed signalling system.

Since it was my lobby which prevailed in according that stricture, I, of course, think it very necessary that the current law is the right one, since without it, ethical chaos will occur.