Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Can you comment on whether it is right to upgrade one or two-suited hands into a two club opener? Specifically, I had ♠ Q-4,  A-K-J-4,  A-J, ♣ K-Q-J-5-4 and when I opened one club I played there for +110 with four hearts making facing a hand with the two red queens. At least I did better than the players who went down in two no-trump!

Starting small,
    Bellingham, Wash.

The only time it is right to open two clubs with a two-suiter is when you are so strong (typically with a long major) that you just can’t take the risk that your one-level opening bid will be passed out — if you have 23 HCP for example. You are close here, but I’d argue that the auction will time out much more economically if you bid clubs then reverse or jump shift into hearts. And yes, opening two no-trump would certainly not be absurd.

How should you deal with intervention over your Blackwood enquiry? Does it matter what level the opponents come in at?

Aces and Spaces,
    Greenville, S.C.

The simplest method in common usage is that if the intervention is five of your trump suit or higher, you double with an even number of aces (or keycards) pass with an odd number. If the intervention is lower than that, double with zero, pass shows one, the next bid showing two (without the trump queen if playing keycard responses). These methods are abbreviated to DEPO and DOPI.

As a relative novice to teams event, can you explain why there are all these complicated scoring tables in use, such as IMPs and victory points? Could you explain precisely how they work and why they are used?

Lost in Translation, Akron, Ohio

IMPs (international match points) convert total points into a sliding scale in which, essentially, the small swings in total points are worth more, relatively speaking. Three swings of 90 points are each worth 3 IMPs, one swing of 270 is worth 7 IMPs. Victory points in short matches are another conversion scale, used typically in Swiss Teams events.

Not vulnerable, are there ever any circumstances where you would open the bidding at the two level, not the three level with a seven-card suit? Recently at pairs with no one vulnerable I held: ♠ —,  Q-9-7-6-5-3-2,  8-5, ♣ A-10-8-3. Could you discuss what options are sensible here?

Quality Surveyor,
    Wichita Falls, Texas

This may come down to a question of partnership style and aggression rather than what is right or wrong. I’m not a fan of opening at the two-level with a seven-carder, because your partner tends to misevaluate his side’s fit and your losing trick count. That said, you could argue this suit is really only a six-carder. Still, I would open three hearts if nonvulnerable. Vulnerable I’d hate to pass this hand; I could be tempted to open two hearts not three, especially in second seat.

What do you recommend for doubles by responder and opener, in a sequence where the opponents intervene after your side has used Stayman? Should it matter whether it is opener or responder who doubles the intervention?

Seize the Day, Bristol, Va.

I can see arguments for complexity, but the overwhelming case for simplicity outweighs them. How about this simple agreement: any double by opener is penalty, whereas double by responder at the two-level is penalty, but at the three-level is take-out. Incidentally, Smolen is still on by responder. Another good blanket rule is that double by both hands is only take out as defined above, or if the partnership has done nothing but pass before doubling for the first time.

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