Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 7th, 2015

I was brought up on fourth highest leads, occasionally leading second highest from three or four small. But my new partner advocates third and fifth leads against suits. What do you advocate in this regard?

Given the Pip, Greenville, S.C.

While I normally play fourth highest leads, I may lead second from four small cards against no-trump, but from three cards I lead low or top. At suit contracts, third and fifth leads may help your partner to distinguish your suit length. But fourth highest leads may be more helpful in allowing your partner to work out the strength of your suit.

In a recent “Bid With The Aces,” North opened one spade then made a “free” rebid of two hearts after his RHO overcalled his partner’s one no-trump response with a call of two diamonds. Doesn’t that show a big hand? If so, his partner, with 10 HCP and five clubs, should maybe bid a game forcing three clubs? With diamonds controlled, North could then can play in three no-trump, or show his major-suit pattern.

Sideshow Bob, Duluth, Minn.

After a one no-trump response opener’s two hearts rebid over two diamonds simply shows 5-4 shape, not extra values. One makes the call with almost any hand of that pattern. Over that, a cuebid of three diamonds would be artificial by South, but three clubs would be just a long suit, to play. South (with a 2-3-3-5 10-count and no diamond stop) isn’t worth any more than an invitation to game by raising to three hearts…if that.

What is the appropriate procedure to be followed if declarer leads out of his hand, when he should be leading from the board?

Picky-picky, Carmel, Calif.

If declarer leads from the wrong hand, either defender can condone the lead by following suit, or discarding as appropriate, or saying that they accept the lead. If attention is drawn to the irregularity, declarer can correct his play, and lead any suit he likes from the correct hand. He does NOT have to play the suit led.

My partner opened one heart and jumped to three hearts over my game-forcing two club response. I held: ♠ A-Q-10-3, —, 2, ♣ A-K-10-9-7-6-5-3. I realized that the void in my partner’s long suit was bad, but we could not agree if I should insist on playing clubs as opposed to hearts. Most pairs went down in impossible heart, club, and notrump slams so we were not alone. My partner had seven non-solid hearts and a club singleton with the spade and diamond kings.

Taking the Mickey, Fayetteville, N.C.

If playing 2/1, your partner’s auction promised a solid suit, or a solid suit missing the ace or king. Incidentally, note that a club slam is not much worse than 50% and in the unlikely event of no diamond lead you would surely make it. I agree responder should downgrade his hand, but slam may easily be cold facing some uninspiring minimums for the auction. So I’d surely make at least one slam try for clubs.

My partner opened one club and I held: ♠ J-7-3, 10-8-6-2, A-10-6, ♣ Q-9-5. Would you advocate responding one diamond, one heart, or one no-trump?

Quantity Surveyor, Great Falls, Mont.

One no-trump is a reasonable option, but tends to deny a four-card major. Do you have a four-card major? It depends on your definition of a suit. I have a preference on minimum hands for bidding the majors as soon as possible — otherwise the suit may get lost altogether. Give me the spade queen instead of the three and yes, you might sell me on a no-trump response.

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AviJune 21st, 2015 at 10:58 am

Bobby hi.
in response to Picky-picky I am not sure I understand the answer.
1. If declarer leads from the wrong hand (be it dummy or his own hand) – can either defender accept the lead, or only the relevant RHO?
2. If the RHO verbally states that he accepts the lead, but has not played a card yet, as he is thinking what he would like to play, does that force declarer to play the card, or is this case the same as calling declarer to the irregularity and allows him to change the play?

bobby wolffJune 21st, 2015 at 11:53 am

Hi Avi,

Either opponent can accept the lead by simply saying so, after the stoppage of play to consider the possible offense.

If then done, declarer either picks up his card prematurely played, with no further penalty to either side, and then leads from what started out to be from the wrong hand or is required to lead the card called.

When this rule was originally discussed (a long time ago) I thought it prudent to add, no ethical strictures should exist to the non-offending side from the choice made by the defense (accepting the lead from the wrong hand) to further deal with the possibility that UI could have been passed from one defender to the other by his desire to have the declarer lead from the wrong hand.

The above is only a precaution to guard against bridge lawyers who, might argue that this rule could result in a conflict of laws about proper bridge ethics. The result would be that the offending side has lost its right (by his offense) to insist on the defenders not taking advantage of the reasons why one defender or the other preferred declarer to lead from the wrong hand. Often moot, but sometimes not.

ClarksburgJune 21st, 2015 at 4:08 pm

This question is about preferred methods for interfering / competing against Opponent’s 1NT opening, when you have single-suited or two-suited hands.
I certainly don’t expect you to write a book today, covering every aspect of this!! So to narrow the scope of the question, let’s say it’s Matchpoints scoring, and you are:
1)In direct seat, non-Vul and VUL
2) In passout seat, Partner and RHO having passed, any VUL

Methods: DONT? Meckwell? something else?
Tactics? i.e. strength, shape, and suit quality for getting in there?
Suggestions on any aspect would be most appreciated.

bobby wolffJune 21st, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

1. A good question which, at least to me, is important to discuss with partner, adopt something simple (easy to remember) which is relatively easy to do, not destructive (aimed at the opponents being intimidated) but quite functional.
2. 2C=minors, 2D=majors, 2H and 2S= natural and 2NT=a major and a minor, good hand with at least 5-5. Double by a previously passed hand and in the pass out position (not in the immediate position behind the NT bid=clubs with 2NT now becoming minors (at least 10 cards), 2D=still majors and 2H & S=still natural.
3. Above applies with any vulnerability and any seat except the one exception with a previously passed hand, and keeping in mind that since a WTB was not made after passing chances are that 2 of a major is more likely only a 5 card suit.
4. Against better than average players, be very loose and do come in since the combination of playing against a decent declarer together with a blind opening lead passes big time advantage to those opponents.
5. Sure the vulnerability is always important, but sometimes it only becomes fighting to keep from getting 20% or less on the board which speaks to competing fiercely.

Most all conventions are approximately the same and to bid a minor at the 3 level will be the only way to accomplish that.

When faced with a choice (4-4-4-1 or 4-4-1-4) opt for an aggressive bid rather than pass. When holding 5-4 in the majors, try and always have 5 hearts rather than spades since partner will (should) always choose hearts with 3-3 or (bite your tongue 2-2). With 5-4 in spades and hearts I would normally prefer just 2 spades and hope.

Some partnerships discuss bells and whistles such as different meanings when upon entering the bidding an opponent immediately doubles and what then pass and redouble might mean.

This situation and some similar difficult competitive battles often are swayed by good judgment so a partnership would be wise to discuss their tactics beforehand.

An immediate double by your side should always suggest penalty (not demand it) but if very weak it usually is better for the responder to that double to bid a 5 card suit telling partner you are weak, but do have some length in that suit.

Other topics need to be discussed like after getting doubled what redouble means and by which defender (always for run out).

All the immediate above is meant to be able to get out with the least damage when a fit is not established.

Good luck.

clarksburgJune 21st, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Many thanks.
Most helpful.