Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

I held five clubs to the ace-king-jack and four hearts to the queen-jack, with two small doubletons, and heard my partner open one diamond. I elected to respond two clubs and when my partner raised to three clubs I tried three hearts — and played there! Did I do something wrong? And should I have responded one heart or two clubs initially?

Polar Vortex, Harrisburg, Pa.

You did nothing wrong here. New suits by responder are absolutely forcing and here three hearts showed hearts (typically four) and a game-forcing hand looking for no-trump, hearts, or a reversion to clubs. Incidentally, unless playing two over one, passing three clubs on your hand would also have been possible. If unwilling to risk forcing to game here, an initial response of one heart would also be possible, but I prefer your route with such concentrated values.

Just recently I read a deal where a player as a passed hand responded two clubs to one heart with a singleton club and nine points. Do people use this call as a cue-bid after passing?

Gold Rush, Little Rock, Ark.

The response of two clubs is part of a popular convention called Drury. As a passed hand in response to a major-suit opening in third or fourth seat, you play one no-trump as natural, a simple raise as five to nine HCP, and give up the call of two clubs as natural. Instead it shows a maximum pass with three or four trump in support.

Somebody told me that there was a top bridge player who had won a Nobel Prize. Is this true?

Mary Poppins, Albany, Ga.

Until recently the closest I knew that bridge players had got to a Nobel prize winner were Jan Martel and the late Henry Bethe, children of Milton Friedman and Hans Bethe respectively. However, Icelander Magnus Olafsson was part of the Nobel peace-prize winning U.N. team a decade ago. He now lives in New York and has taken up the game seriously again.

My partner opened one spade and I held ♠ K-10-2,  Q-2,  K-6, ♣ A-Q-J-7-3-2. Playing two over one I responded two clubs and rebid two spades over his call of two diamonds. Now he jumped to four clubs, and I was unable to guess what he might have for this action. Is there a logical way to deduce what he was showing?

Guessing Game, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Your partner cannot have four clubs or he would raise at once, and he cannot have three clubs or he would support at the three-level instead of jumping now. So, unlikely as it might be, perhaps he has a club void, setting spades as trump. I think I have just enough to bid four diamonds as a cuebid with the idea of letting partner make all the running from here on in.

With: ♠ K-J-10-7-3,  Q-2,  A-10-6-4, ♣ Q-2 I assume you would open one spade and rebid two spades over a response of two hearts. What should you do over a three club continuation — would you raise hearts or bid no-trump?

Selfish Giant, Bremerton, Wash.

I would suggest a different answer to the ones you propose. Here three no-trump seems wrong with such good hearts, but raising hearts might persuade partner I have three. I prefer to bid three diamonds, the fourth suit, suggesting doubt as to where we belong. I’ll raise my partner’s hearts if he rebids them, bid three no-trump over a three spade call, and pass a three no-trump bid.

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