Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Holding ♠ A-7-3, Q-10-9-6-2, 7-5-2, ♣ K-4, I heard my partner open one club and the next hand bid one spade. What approach would you recommend now, and would your action be different as a passed hand?

Fair Competition, Boca Raton, Fla.

As a passed hand you’d bid two hearts, since your initial pass has effectively limited your hand. But as an unpassed hand, you are not worth committing the hand to the two-level; so what else can you do? You must bid, so a negative double looks less misleading than an overcall of one notrump. Switch the red suits and I’d advocate bidding one no-trump, since losing diamonds is far less critical than losing hearts.

If you held ♠ A-Q-10-3-2, 4, Q-J-10-8, ♣ A-J-3, and heard a weak no-trump to your left, and four hearts to your right, would you act? I can see how passing, doubling, or bidding four spades might all work. If you prefer to pass, how much more would you need to act?

Needing More, Staten Island, N.Y.

My vote goes for the bid of four spades. The real reason for acting with such a marginal hand is the practical one that the jump to four hearts is very wide-ranging. Even when my LHO might want to double me for penalties, he will not know if his partner’s action is purely based on shape, or on some high-cards too. They made you guess; return the favor!

Against your opponent’s one notrump opening, do you prefer to be able to bid with a single-suited or two-suited hand? How does your approach vary depending on vulnerability, and would you recommend a different approach in balancing seat to direct seat?

Controlled Aggression, San Antonio, Texas

In direct seat you’d want to bid with shape rather than just high cards, and you need to be able to act with all major-based hands, be they one- or two-suited. In balancing seat, when non-vulnerable, or when a passed hand, you have more flexibility to act, as partner is less likely to hang you. Bidding makes especially good sense when you know that if you don’t, partner is likely to lead your singleton or void.

At a recent STAC Pairs game, I was at favorable vulnerability in second seat. I held ♠ A-8-4, 10-9-8-7-6-4, J, ♣ A-5-3. Would you preempt if your RHO passed, and would you overcall if your RHO opened one spade?

Drawing the Line, Corpus Christi, Texas

I would not preempt in second seat at any vulnerability. My hand is too strong defensively, and too playable in three suits for this to be a good idea. Overcalling two hearts over one spade when non-vulnerable would not disconcert me unduly. Partner is unlikely to be on lead to the final contract, and I am trying to get in my opponents’ way.

I held ♠ K-Q-10-8-7-6, J-6, 7, ♣ 8-5-3-2, and defended three clubs after my partner had overcalled one diamond over one club. Declarer had subsequently shown long clubs and extra values, and I had bid spades. My partner led king then ace of diamonds, dummy putting down a 3-4-3-3 pattern with the spade ace and club queen. If I choose to discard a heart, would you recommend the jack or the six – and why?

Hot Cross Bunny, Bellevue, Wash.

Partner should not have the diamond queen or he would lead it at trick two. I’d discard the heart jack, hoping that partner will work out to give me a heart ruff if he has the ace and that he will play on spades if he does not. I realize my partner might lead away from the heart king, hoping I have an original holding of ace-jack-third; I’ll take the risk.

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Patrick CheuSeptember 25th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Hi Bobby,Playing reverse attitude when leading A or Q against a suit contract,and K for normal count, I shoud have led the King from AKJ,but I led the A,Dummy QT54 and the 6 from pard and say the 7 from declarer..what should one play next? Pard has 96 and declarer 8732.Perhaps we should play that if dummy has Hxxx or Hxx one should always give count.. after Ace lead..and reverse attitude such problem playing normal methods A and 9 from pard n ruff.Your thoughts would be much appreciated~regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Hi Patrick,

All of your posts are purposeful and thoughtful, but this one is no doubt both of those, but also
most difficult for one who is not a combination of a great bridge theorist and a near or actual genius for bridge math.

The mere thought of playing different count signals, depending on the specific card led, then segues into how often the opening leader is dealt at least a holding of AK, let alone the possibility or not of him also holding the Q, sometimes with only the King, but much more complicated when holding all three and not forgetting that partner’s then count signal needs to be critical to the defeat of that hand, making it a very long shot to matter, but I guess lends itself to intelligently winning the defensive hand of the year, because of playing the convention which turned out to be necessary for enough confidence to be enabled to earn it.

However, I will suggest that if David W. is active today with AOB, he is your best bet to research it and give you an accurate answer, although even with David on the case he might consider his life expectancy to be long enough to answer it properly.

Patrick, although you sound and always act in a no nonsense constructive way, but is the comedian in your personality this time, attempting to pull a willing (gullible) leg?

However, on a serous note, there are always problems with any legal signalling system on bridge defense, especially when declarer is able to make a clever falsecard at trick one.

Patrick CheuSeptember 25th, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Hi Bobby,We were playing against a pair that never stops bidding,especially my RHO,who bids spades on the way to 4C,after 1N(me)-p -p-2C,2H-3C-3H-3S,X p p 4C..passed out(I should hav doubled. W QT54 K7 J72 AK98~ N 96 QJ92 K864 643~ E 8732 AT Q93 QJT5~ S AKJ 86543 AT5 72.Of course I should have got the defence right after pard’s six of spades..then it dawn on me what if no 3S bid on my right?So you have the way 4C-1 bottom for us,though -2 not much better as 1N seems to make 120.Best to double on hind sight.

ClarksburgSeptember 25th, 2016 at 5:29 pm

For visitors who may be interested in additional comments / perspective about carding, Mr. Wolff touched on it in blogs of:
2012 May 7 and
2012 Oct 28

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes, with holding the AK98 in their trump and partner showing signs of defensive life with his double of 3 spades, I think it safe to double them just in case down 2 in the offing.

While many cry out something is just to dangerous to bid, the correct battle cry instead might be, “it is just too dangerous not to double”.

Danger is as one sees it, with the result of that hand the determining factor. Luck, in essence has nothing to do with it, with only trying to make the best percentage bid, this time a penalty double, ringing clear.

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Thanks for the prompts. I cannot wait to hear what I have to say, but do worry, that if I have since contradicted myself, no one else will notice.

Patrick CheuSeptember 25th, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Hi Bobby,My hand being AKJ xxxxx ATx xx,I double 3S by RHO,pard raise to 3H(has something) over 3C during the auction, nevertheless double of 4C n proper defence will net 300 tops..many thanks again for sharing your thoughts on the subject matter.According to tricks estimate 3S can go one off..not so clear in practice,no pairs in it.Best regards~Patrick.