Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Both vulnerable, you are in fourth seat holding ♠ J-8-5-2, Q-J-4, A-Q-J-7-6, ♣ 5. Your RHO opens one heart. There appeared to be two plausible options: first, a take-out double, seeking a spade fit, planning a rebid of two diamonds over a two club response by your partner — i.e. equal-level conversion. The second choice would be a two-diamond overcall. Where do you stand on this?

Craft Fair, Palm Springs, Calif.

You did not consider an initial pass, which I might well vote for. Certainly a two diamond overcall is preferable to a double – equal-length conversion is all well and good, though I don’t subscribe. But even if I did, I’d need (for example) the heart ace instead of the queen for that.

Playing in a sectional team event, I picked up ♠ K-Q-J-9, 9-4, K-Q-7-5-4, ♣ 10-8 and in second seat at favorable vulnerability I elected to open one diamond. Subsequent developments were not to my liking, and my partner indicated my decision was a poor one. What do you think?

Larry the Lamb, Johnstown, Pa.

I would pass most 11-counts with this pattern especially a collection with no aces, but I can see why you would open a hand with good suits and an easy rebid over the likely simple response of one heart. I’d also yield to temptation, I admit it. That said, if you switch the majors, so that your rebid is more awkward over a one spade response, I might pass.

If you were going to travel abroad to play bridge, where would you recommend going?

Travelin’ Man, Raleigh, N.C.

The tournaments in France in the summer (especially Cannes and Biarritz) allow you both to play and enjoy life. The Spring Fours in Stratfordon-Avon in May is also a fun and challenging event. But my favorite recent event was the Gold Coast in Brisbane, Australia — a week of fun, bridge, sun and sand.

My partner opened one club and rebid one spade over my one heart call. With ♠ Q-J-8-2, A-10-3-2, 5-3, ♣ Q-8-4 would you raise to two spades or three spades? I thought my club fit would be useful enough to take the aggressive position.

Upping the Ante, Elkhart, Ind.

This hand is only worth a simple raise. Partner will be pleased you were restrained if he has the most likely hand-type, a balanced 12-14. But if he has more he rates to take another call anyway, so you will be unlikely to miss a good game. Incidentally, I could understand raising an opening one spade bid to three – partner’s fifth spade makes a big difference.

Playing 2/1, how should responder continue after he responds one no-trump to a major, and his partner raises to two no-trumps? Do Wolff Signoffs apply? What about transfers — or is it best to play natural?

Mercy Me, Bellingham, Wash.

It is reasonable to play three hearts over partner’s original spade opening as forcing, but three of a minor can be passed. Maybe best, if hard to remember, is to play transfers. Transferring into partner’s suit is consistent with a weak raise, but opener can do more than complete the transfer with the right hand. If responder shows an ‘impossible’ suit (spades after having responded one no-trump to one heart) that shows both minors.

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ClarksburgOctober 16th, 2016 at 2:48 pm

I have just now posted a follow-up question to the discussion on Blog of Friday Oct 14.

Bill CubleyOctober 16th, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Re: letter 2 and the aceless 11 count. I ask partner to have AK paired with another ace to open balanced 11 counts. It is very likely you will have another chance.

However, there is an unbalanced lucky slam bidder who this year opened 1 Club first seat holding
S QJ8XX H 9 D — C KQ98XXX and scored 6SX for +1660 off 3 aces. 😉

bobbywolffOctober 16th, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Hi Bill,

With letter #2, I would open one diamond, mainly because of the togetherness of honors (queens with their marriage) instead of otherwise. Just imagine: s. Kxxx. h. Qx, d.Kxxxx, c. QJ and one could justifiably “feel” the difference.

True, bad things can happen when one dpes open #2’s dilemma, but a KQ is much better defensively and we do have 2 of them, plus the sometimes helpful 9 of spades.

However, the crux of the matter is only a guess and to my way of thinking experience is more important than sheer numbers, and also, at least to me, Ely Culbertson was more on track than Charles Goren, but as often is the case, Goren’s timing (and industry) came along at a better moment in time, in order to grasp control of the bridge market.

However, it is always and more necessary for an individual to gather his own “bridge” mind and, with enough inherent talent present, can then judge for himself, rather than accept another opinion.

Your second hand only represented what you called it….”lucky”. However IMO there is no right and wrong with opening that hand 1 club or just deciding to pass originally and then bid later. In either case 6 spades doubled may then result, but that can only be described as,
“that’s bridge, mister”!

The only downright horrible crime is to pass originally and then not bid later even if the opponent’s arrive at 4 hearts before you get a second chance. That is also “just bridge, mister”.

Iain ClimieOctober 16th, 2016 at 4:57 pm

HI Bill,

Can you give us the other 3 hands on the 6S X, please. Shades of the famous Duke of Cumberland whist hand, used in Ian Fleming’s Moonraker.



Bill CubleyOctober 17th, 2016 at 7:52 pm


Dealer, moi with apologies to Eddie Kantar





Ace of clubs led all followed with low spots. Seeing dummy’s many hearts he switched to a diamond. RHO signals with the jack of clubs, trump coup ruffs partner’s ace and returns a club is a spectacular winning defense. But he thought he had 1-2 diamond tricks.

I won 16 IMPS and a NA Swiss match aggressively bidding 6 Hearts. Why so many? Well how often do you compare +1660 to -170?

I have been fortunate with my slam bidding.