Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 1st, 2016

At unfavorable vulnerability, my partner opened one no-trump, and my LHO balanced with two clubs for the majors. When my RHO bid two hearts, my partner protected with a double. I had a doubleton heart, and thought it was unlikely my partner wanted me to bid a minor at the three-level. So I passed, assuming his double to be penalty, but my partner had a minimum hand with two hearts. What did I miss?

Scrambled Signals, Elmira, N.Y.

A simple rule is that when one of you opens one notrump, double of a natural (or potentially natural) call is always takeout if and only if: the partnership has done nothing but pass after opening one no-trump. Having said that, double of a purely artificial call should simply show that suit.

I held ♠ A-Q-7-6-4, Q-4, 9-5, ♣ K-J-7-2, and overcalled one spade when my RHO opened one heart. Now came two hearts on my left and my partner doubled. What does that show and what should I have done now?

Fish Finger, Berkeley, Calif.

After the opponents bid and raise a suit, no low-level doubles are for penalty. They suggest cards and the unbid suits. Here I’d expect partner to have the minors, or else invitational values with some spade support, and at least one of the minors. In either case, it looks right to bid three clubs and await developments – if any.

Say the opponents are declaring the hand at no-trump and you are leading from a four-card suit headed by a two-card sequence such as K-Q, Q-J, J-10 or 10-9. When would you lead high, and when would you lead low?

Spotty Muldoon, Vero Beach, Fla.

Treat a sequence of this sort as if it were three touching cards if you have the card one away from the sequence such as Q-J-9 or J-10-8, and lead the top card; otherwise lead fourth highest. If you know dummy rates to be short in this suit, or if declarer appears to have a long suit coming down in dummy or in his own hand, then leading an honor from Q-J or K-Q becomes more attractive.

I think I have understood you to say that a jump raise of a major in competition would show more shape and less high-cards than a limit raise. Is that now standard? And is there an upper limit on the cue-bid raise — or does it show less than an opener?

Sixteen Candles, Tacoma, Wash.

The cuebid in competition takes the place of the limit raise when the opponents are not bidding. But the cuebid is unlimited – it is consistent with a slam try. As to whether this treatment is standard or not, my guess is that in duplicate it is close to the norm these days. In rubber bridge, you may have to know your customer.

One of the problems I have with addressing the problems you set in every column is that I never know what form of scoring is in use. Is there room to put that in – or to state the vulnerability?

Clearing House, Chicago, Ill.

I try to avoid being specific here, unless the answer would vary based on one of those factors. Both in the main column and the problem it is probably safe to assume teams (or rubber) is the appropriate form of scoring, not pairs. As to vulnerability: I always state that in the main deal, and you should assume it isn’t relevant in the problem. If it is, I’ll mention it in the answer.

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John StoreyJanuary 16th, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Hi Bobby – just to let you know, your column for today did not appear on your web site.

bobby wolffJanuary 16th, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Hi John,

Yes. I know and have written (some time ago) my guy who handles it, but have not heard back. Perhaps the holiday has something to do with it, but whatever, that is not a great excuse.

Sorry, and thanks for writing.