Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Why does the IMP table exist in team games? Would it not be simpler just to use total points?

Midshipman Easy, Monterey, Calif.

The answer is that it would be simpler but not necessarily fairer. The point is that one giant swing (a grand slam for example on finding a queen) is nearly equivalent to four game swings at the same vulnerability in total points. The idea of the IMP table is to equalize out the big swings with the medium and smaller swings. It is relatively easy to get the hang of – trust me!

I held ♠ Q-9-8-4, A-3, K-10-6-3, ♣ Q-8-6 and elected to open one diamond in third seat. When my partner responded one heart, I did not think I could pass, so bid one spade. The next thing I knew I was in four spades, doubled and down 500. My partner said he thought I must have a good opener or I would have passed at my second turn. Do you agree?

Two in the Glue, Wilmington, N.C.

I do not agree. Your second call shows shape, not necessarily high cards. You can bypass a weak spade suit with 4-4 pattern if you want, but I agree with your actions here. Your partner was simply guilty of wishful thinking.

At teams my partner opened one diamond, and my RHO overcalled one spade. I held ace-queen fourth of spades, a doubleton heart, queen-third of diamonds and king-queen fourth of clubs. What do I bid – do I blast three no-trump directly, or start by bidding two clubs? If the latter, any thoughts as to what to do over a two diamond rebid from my partner?

Modern Millie, East Stroudsburg, Pa.

I think your two club call is best, since a jump to three no-trump may lead to playing game off the whole heart suit. This problem is not resolved at your second turn, so I might cuebid two spades now, planning to raise diamonds or bid no-trump as appropriate. The two spade call initially asks, not tells.

I was in third seat holding ♠ A-K-8-6, J-9-4, Q-10-7, ♣ K-9-2 and heard my partner open two hearts in first seat vulnerable. How close is this to inviting to game? I passed and found my partner with six solid hearts, so three no-trump had decent play, while four hearts was poor.

Stick-in-the-Mud, Augusta, Ga.

Your caution was reasonable, since your balanced hand-pattern made the prospects for game relatively limited. Make the club two the diamond two, and I do try for game, since the prospect of a club ruff in your hand or the possibility of establishing a diamond has improved your hand significantly.

Say you hold ♠ Q-4-2, A-2, A-J-9-3, ♣ Q-4-3-2. I assume you would open one diamond? If so, you hear partner bid one spade; what should you do next? Is two clubs acceptable? And what if your Left Hand Opponent had overcalled one heart and partner had bid one spade – only guaranteeing four spades?

Raised to the Ground, Bristol, Va.

In both cases a call of one no-trump defines the basic nature of the hand – a minimum balanced opening bid, without four spades. I would raise the response of one spade if it were known to be five, (as it would do if your negative double showed four spades) but I would, if possible, avoid rebidding bid two clubs, which almost guarantees nine cards in the minors.

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ClarksburgDecember 13th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

About Two in the Glue’s hand:
Is that hand a clear-cut third-seat opening in a Minor suit?
If the DK were the DQ, or if the HA were the HK, is it still clear to open it?

slarDecember 13th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

#3 is an interesting problem if new suits are non-forcing/constructive. Let’s say opener has JT7/J94/AK86/A92 (I tweaked hand #4 to get this position). Wouldn’t opener pass with this hand? That would be sad when 5D looks like a good contract (if you could ever get there).

If new suits are forcing, does it go 1D(1S)2C;3C-3D;flip a coin?

bobby wolffDecember 13th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Your today question really has no lasting answer.

Talking around the point, it speaks to an advantage to open a weak NT (12-14) NV. However, even this hand barely qualifies, if even that, but it does eliminate the one level for the opponents, an advantage which will gain in the long run, but certainly not guaranteed to, on any one hand.

Also with the hand in question, and not playing WNT, I would choose between two alternatives, pass and 1 spade. At least, while playing Drury (2 clubs by the responder shows trump support and whether partner has a full opening bid or not) we can stop at the 2 level and does help with preempting the opponents.

Many 5 card major players open 4 card majors in the third position so others can benefit in theory from their experiences.

Against timid folk, bite the bullet and open, but against aggressive folk only open if you prefer that suit to be led, otherwise pass.

bobby wolffDecember 13th, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Hi Slar,

The type hands you mention do not stand up to GF when minor suits are the only suit fits available. After all, 29 points are normally required for reasonable expectations of making 11 trick contracts, so sometimes battlefield decisions are made in the bridge trenches, sometimes allowing GF auctions to settle below game. With your hand, and if partner would hold Qx in spades but only a more or less minimum opening he might chirp 3 spades, usually showing 1/2 of a stopper in the danger suit, allowing you with your J10x to chance 3NT as the last making game spot available.

Innovation is a necessary quality in a hoped for winning partnership. (not that 9 tricks will be available after your side has stopped a spade run) but when two balanced hands face each other 11 tricks will just be too much to expect from a normal 26-27 hcp combination.