Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 15th, 2016

I know it may be hard to generalize, but could you comment on when if at all it is appropriate to cuebid shortage in partner’s suit?

Mini Cowper, Pittsburgh, Pa.

One tends not to cuebid shortage in partner’s suit at the first turn, but after that, there are no such limitations. An exception even to this rule, is when you can jump to show unequivocal shortage — rather than fit — for partner. Imagine a sequence starting: one club – one heart two hearts. Now in my book, and I hope also in yours, a jump to four clubs would unequivocally show shortness in clubs and a heart slam try.

After the opponents open one notrump, be it weak or strong, and your partner passes, what should double by fourth hand mean when responder to the no-trump uses Stayman or a transfer?

Catcher in the Rye, Bay City, Mich.

When opponents play a strong no-trump (let’s say 14 up) you are more likely to want to plan the defense than drive to game, so it makes the most sense for your first double to be lead-directing. The double of the response to a weaker no-trump opener can be played as high cards by an unpassed hand, starting at about the top of their range. To double for takeout, pass initially, then double when they complete the transfer.

I recently tried an SOS redouble at the four-level, more in hope than expectation, I admit. Some of our stronger local club players insist that a redouble above the three-level is never SOS. So could you clarify for me when these doubles apply, and to what level they may be appropriate?

Runner Bean, Evanston, Ill.

I think on any sequence where both players can see that playing and making a doubled contract would be a great score, the redouble should be rescue. So whenever you could pass out a double, a redouble should be rescue. That will be very rare at the four-level, but maybe not impossible. Never say never…

I was recently confronted with an awkward problem, doubtless exacerbated by the fact that we play new suits non-forcing after the opponents come in. I held: ♠ 3-2, A-K-Q-10-3, A-9-4-2, ♣ 4-2 and heard one diamond from my partner, two clubs to my right. I had to double, and over a three spade response I bid four hearts. But now my partner rebid four spades, and when I bid five diamonds he passed with a 5-1-6-1 shape, missing our cold slam.

Tricky Dicky, Charleston, S.C.

You identified your main problem already. Do I need to say what a bad idea it is to cater to bidding your bad hands at the expense of your good hands? But if your partner had good spades and good diamonds why didn’t he bid four spades at his second turn? Then you might jump to six diamonds. Even at his final turn he might work out to do more if he has six decent diamonds, and it sounds like he does.

Could you give me a general rule, about the second call made by an overcaller assuming his partner passes at his first turn to respond? When, if ever, can an overcaller bid no-trump naturally, or double for penalty?

Mason Dixon, Texarkana, Texas

Overcaller cannot make a penalty doubles of a suit agreed by the opponents. And when you overcall and face a passing partner, all reopening doubles are take-out of suits bid by either LHO or RHO. Overcaller can bid one no-trump naturally, rare as this is, at his second turn. But almost other no-trump calls facing a silent partner tend to be unusual, two-suited take-out.

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