Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Can you comment on the merits of support doubles – to show three-card support for partner? It seems to me that in competitive auction the double lets partner judge more precisely what level to compete to than would be the case without competition, when a raise could be based on only three trump.

Upping the Stakes, Salinas, Calif.

Support doubles eliminate judgment – but to me, some hands with three trump are not worth a raise, while some unbalanced hands with three trump look more like they have four trump in them. And these doubles also provide a blue-print for the opponents. A compromise position would be to follow the French style of using the double to show three trumps, plus extras of one sort or another.

My partnership had a defensive problem where partner led from A-K-J-7-4 in a suit he had bid and I had not raised. I held 9-6-3-2 and did not know whether to risk an echo, or if that would mislead my partner. Would the signal vary depending on whether dummy had a doubleton or queen-third?

Signal Failure, Selma, Ala.

Here’s my view – it may not be standard but it is coherent and consistent. When you don’t want partner to shift, play the six or three at your first turn, followed by a higher card after partner continues the suit. If dummy has queen-third you should have the firm partnership agreement to play third highest from four. Thus partner has a good chance to work out when you have two, not four. Equally, if he sees you play the very smallest card, he knows you have three not four.

Do you have any recommendations for CDs on bridge that might help me master the tricks of the trade?

Rom-Com Fan, Boca Raton, Fla.

The BridgeTrix series that I wrote are pretty good! And my erstwhile partner Bob Hamman has produced Bridge at the Top, which I enjoyed a lot. Larry Cohen’s CD’s on learning bridge are also excellent.

I found a recent letter about playing bridge for the first time in 40 years very interesting for two reasons. I have also found the game to be far more dependent on system not judgment. Can players survive in the modern game without detailed partnership agreements of the sort you sometimes show in your columns?

Conventional Weapons, Rockford, Ill.

I sometimes wonder if I should simplify the complex auctions expert have – but for the most part since the focus is on the play, I leave the auctions in place. A small percentage of deals are won and lost in the bidding, but on most deals the critical issue is the play. Knowing simple methods is far more important than playing complex methods you aren’t confident of.

When your partner overcalls, and the next hand makes a negative double, how should you play a redouble? Is this best used as highcards, a top honor in partner’s suit, or some other combination of suits or values?

Blue Blood, Midland, Mich.

Georg Rosenkranz (who was born 100 years ago this month!) proposed the redouble should show a top honor in partner’s suit. Not a bad idea, but I prefer to use the call as announcing ownership of the deal – so, typically, better than a 10-count, probably not with much in the way of fit for partner.

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