Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 24th, 2017

In a recent lead problem where you had a six-count, you advised attacking from queen-third in an unbid major against a no-trump contract. Would it be better to lead low or high? I worry about blocking the suit and misleading my partner that I have a four-card suit. As an aside, what about leading from a doubleton queen – would you suggest low or high?

Bow at a Venture, Manhattan, N.Y.

I’d always lead low from three to an honor; it might conceivably block the suit, but here your partner has plenty of high-cards, so this will be only a minor problem. By contrast, leading an unsupported honor might cost a trick in so many different ways — especially in an unbid suit. From a doubleton honor I lead the honor in partner’s bid suit, and try not to lead it at all if it is not.

I do not understand the implied contradiction between your statement in a recent answer that, if missing four cards, a 3-1 break is more likely than a 2-2 break, since you also say: play for the drop when missing four cards to the queen. How can you reconcile the two ideas?

Number Cruncher, Ketchikan, Alaska

In general terms a 3-1 break is more likely than a 2-2 break. But when deciding whether to finesse on the second round with a nine-card holding, you normally reach a position where one defender has followed twice, so you must halve that original 3-1 percentage. I should emphasize how close the original percentages are, though. Any known shortness or length in your opponents’ hands may tip you to the finesse.

Holding ♠ K-9,  Q-4-3,  A-J-4-2, ♣ Q-7-4-3 I heard my partner open one club and I responded one diamond. What would you do when your partner raises to three diamonds? Should you settle for three no-trump, show a major in the hope of reaching three no-trump when it is right, or look for slam?

Flat Earther, San Francisco, Calif.

Your soft values suggest bidding three no-trump, as if partner is short in one major, so that your values there are wasted, you may not make any game. If I did explore, I guess I would bid three spades. I really think it is just a guess, and the three no-trump call is the best of a bad job.

In third seat opening light in a major suit seems protected by the fact that your partner has Drury available. But should a third-seat opening in a minor be very close to opening bid strength? And where there is a choice, would opening a reasonable four-card major be a better choice?

Pushing the Boat Out, Doylestown, Pa.

With hands in the 10-12 range, open a good suit if you have one, planning to pass as soon as is sensible. With a full if minimum opener in the range 12-14, I tend to make my normal opening bid, planning to keep the auction open. A lead directer with a four-card major is relatively unusual though not absurd, of course. Pass balanced 10-counts unless you know what you want partner to lead.

With strong balanced hands is it logical to extend the three-point range approach, so that after opening two clubs a rebid of two no-trump shows 22-24 and a rebid of three no-trump shows 25-27? Also, what should a three no-trump opener show? A balanced powerhouse, or gambling with a long minor?

Tiers, Before Bedtime, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

Use three-point ranges for a one no-trump opening and rebid. You can invite facing those sequences, but you have to put up or shut up facing a two no-trump opening or rebid. Perhaps use an upper limit of 17 with no five-card suit for a one no-trump opener, and a good 11 to a bad 14 for the one no-trump rebid if you want to be daring. Use two point ranges for the higher actions. If you play the Kokish two heart rebid (see you can have your cake and eat it too.

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