Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

In a strong no-trump base, when you hold a balanced 10-11 count in response to partner’s opening bid, do you tend to invite game or go low? Specifically, with ♠ K-2,  A-10-8-2,  J-9-3, ♣ Q-7-4-3, what do you do when your partner opens one club and the next hand overcalls one heart? I chose a slightly pessimistic bid of one no-trump, and that ended the auction. But when my partner tabled a 14-count with five clubs, we wrapped up 10 tricks.

Cereal Killer, Augusta, Ga.

I would go low, just as you did. This hand looks like we should be in part-score territory unless partner produces extra shape or high cards. Give me the diamond queen instead of the jack, and I would invite game with a jump to two no-trump, which is invitational, but not forcing.

I enjoy playing Precision, and I was wondering if you would recommend that over the Blue Club base you and Bob Hamman used to play? I’d be interested in learning more about your approach to bidding in terms of the ratio of simple to complex.

Man-o’-War, Bremerton, Wash.

I’m happy to rely on judgment as much as system. So our Blue Club base was largely cobbled together from methods we had in common. Both of us prefer four-card majors to five, and we are prepared to play two-over-one as not game-forcing. These days, those are both minority positions, and they are not methods I’d espouse in this column.

At unfavorable vulnerability, I held ♠ K-10,  A-K-10-7-4-2,  Q-J-7-4, ♣ K. I opened one heart in fourth seat, my LHO overcalled one spade and my partner raised to two hearts. Would you have passed, driven to game or invited with three hearts now? I chose to bid three hearts, and my partner passed with the spade ace and four hearts to the queen-jack. Should my partner have raised me to four hearts, or should I have jumped directly to game?

Star Chamber, Tupelo, Miss.

I would prefer to drive to game here, since the sixth heart means that if you can’t make four hearts, they might make quite a bit. I play three hearts not as a game try here, but as a barrage. So if I wanted to make a game try, I would probably bid three diamonds.

Is there such a thing as the defenders, not declarer, claiming honors in a trump suit? Of course, I am speaking of rubber bridge.

Sheikh of Araby, Grand Forks, N.D.

If I understand you correctly, your question is whether the defenders can claim honors when declarer is playing a trump suit. The answer is yes — rare but painful when it happens! I’ve only seen it once (and I was the victim as dummy).

My partner opened a strong no-trump, which we play as 15-plus to a bad 18. I held a six-card club suit to the jack and scattered values, with a king, queen and jack in the other suits. When I transferred to clubs with a call of two spades, my partner showed a fit with a call of three clubs. Would you consider bidding on in either pairs or teams?

Bob the Builder, Trenton, N.J.

I probably wouldn’t bid game non-vulnerable in teams or in pairs. Change the hand to king-jack sixth of clubs with a king on the side, and now you have an easy continuation to three no-trump.

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