Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 12th, 2017

I am a fan of strong jump shifts in response to an opening bid, but I can see that there are situations where preemption outweighs the need for constructive slam exploration. I think I want to find out as soon as possible if my partner has a big hand. Are you and I both old fashioned?

Dated Dave, Twin Falls, Idaho

Yes to the last question; that does not make us wrong, though. While preemptive openers and overcalls are designed to obstruct, weak jumps in response to partner’s opening bids only make sense to me in competitive auctions. Otherwise they should be strong. Incidentally, by a passed hand or in response to an overcall, I prefer to use a jumps to show a decent source of tricks, promising a fit for partner.

In your private life do you continue to use standard discards and are there many other top players who use them?

The Abbot, Vancouver, British Columbia

Regular signals may not be technically best but my priority is that my partners know and understand the methods in play – whatever it is. A discard system that lets me pitch from a suit other than the one I have interest in may be technically superior. But it is better to know one’s methods well than to play something complex and mess it up.

What are the rules about dealer requesting a new deck of cards in a social game? I play party bridge with a two-table group whereby we play six hands each round. When one of my colleagues asked to use the same deck for two hands in a row, or to change out one of the decks, another player objected.

Law and Order, Palm Springs, Calif.

The Laws proscribe that if you have two decks they should be alternated; anyone can call for a shuffle or cut. One side has one color, one side the other, and that should continue through your set of six hands. While a player may not have the right to call for a new deck, if there are spares available I cannot imagine anyone objecting – no matter how good the cards they had been receiving with the old deck…

Are there any print magazines that focus on bridge for players at intermediate or at expert levels?

Hard Copy, Staten Island, N.Y.

The unparalleled English-language magazine is The Bridge World, at, which is run by Jeff Rubens. I also read the magazine of the International Bridge Press Association – which is open to any writer and which keeps me up to date with tournaments around the world. These are both aimed at duplicate players.

Vulnerable, I held ♠ Q-4-3-2, Q-5-4, Q-5-4-3, ♣ K-J, and when my partner overcalled one spade over one club, I thought I had to go to three spades. Since I was prepared to compete to the three level, I made that call at my first turn. This did not work out well – we were down two for minus 200, the kiss of death at pairs. Was I too optimistic?

Rose Colored Glasses, Nashville, Tenn.

Leaving aside the issue that I would play the jump as primarily distributional not high cards, I would suggest that not all 10-counts are created equal. Normally one would make a cue-bid raise of partner’s suit with four trump; not here, where your lack of controls and absence of intermediates make this a simple raise to the two-level. Yes, you might compete to three spades I suppose, but that is a different story.

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