Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I picked up: ♠ Q-10-8-3, J-4-3-2, A-7-5, ♣ K-J and heard my partner open one diamond and the next hand overcall one spade. Would you advocate doubling or bidding no-trump, and if the latter, what level would you bid to?

Mumbles, Wilmington, N.C.

This hand is too strong for a one no-trump overcall, since your spade intermediates make your holding in that suit worth far more than two points. Take away the spade 10 and that would not be so. I would plan to double and follow up with the cheapest call in no-trump to invite game while suggesting four hearts. Then partner can decide where to go.

As North in second seat, holding: ♠ K-8, 9, 10-8-7-5-3, ♣ A-K-8-3-2 I would not consider opening. But in Andrew Robson’s “The Times Bridge Calendar” he discusses that this would qualify using the “Rule of 20” though he rejects opening because of the weak suit. Do you agree and would you feel differently if the minors were switched?

Peter Pumpkin Eater, Charleston, S.C.

I would not consider opening one diamond, though switch the minors so that I was bidding the suit I really want led, and I’d certainly be strongly tempted to open. And if the spade king were in my diamond suit I would yield to temptation – if non vulnerable.

If you open a strong no-trump and hear partner bid Stayman, doubled by the next hand, what should you do next? And does the same thing apply over a two notrump opening or one no-trump overcall?

Turning the Tables, San Francisco, Calif.

If the opponents double Stayman redouble is a good (but not the best) hand for clubs. Any four-card suit to two top honors would suffice. Opener’s direct responses are normal, but should show a club stopper. Pass without a stopper or a great club suit. Then if partner redoubles, you can pass with a great club holding and make what would have been your normal response, but without a club stopper.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to retain concentration towards the end of a session? I’m allergic to caffeine and I always seem to flag as the afternoon goes on.

Lost Horizon, Mason City, Iowa

You ruled out my number one choice. But maybe a high energy snack might work as a quick fix. Perhaps, though, it is more a question of not doing the wrong things. Over-eating and drinking won’t help for sure. When you feel a bad moment coming on, try and clear your mind. Perhaps get up from the table and wash your face.

These days my bridge is limited to online bridge with different pick-up partners. My bidding may be old-fashioned, so could you clarify for me a point where your partner opens a major and the next hand overcalls. I had thought that a cue bid shows a strong hand but does not necessarily guarantee support. My partner said a fit was guaranteed.

Steamroller, Tucson, Ariz.

Let’s differentiate a direct from a delayed cuebid. The first auction shows fit but is not a game force, whereas a negative double or suit bid followed by a cue bid is a stopper ask, which may or may not have support. The rationale for this is that a jump raise is more about shape, less about high-cards; so you need a call for the limit raise.

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