Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

When is it right to signal count on the first round of a suit that partner leads? What about on subsequent rounds, after you have played third hand high on your first turn, thus partner does not know about your length?

Number Cruncher, Selma, Ala.

At trick one, signal count when you can’t beat a jack or lower card played from dummy, or when your partner knows that you like the lead because his card will hold the trick, marking you with the missing high cards. Subsequently, if giving count, look at your remaining cards (not your original holding) and play high-low from even, low from odd. Sometimes, though, suit-preference may be more important in these positions; that is a thorny question.

If you held ♠ A-9-4,  Q-J-3-2,  K-J-3-2, ♣ 5-3, what would you lead against the unopposed sequence of one no-trump to your right, passed out, or one no-trump – three no-trump?

Opening Night, Fayetteville, N.C.

A top heart might work if both the ace and king are to your right and declarer or dummy has the 10. But a low heart will generally work better in almost every other case, so I would go with the heart two.

Please give your readers some idea of how you would mentally prepare for a tournament. Likewise, how did you physically prepare?

Red Setter, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Mentally: Other than staying fit and rested, try not to eat too much before the game or between sessions. Try to get rest before the second session. Don’t go through the hands till after the game. Drink minimally, even after the game. Physically: I was never one for exercising too much. Read the system notes!

I assume you would double a one diamond opening to your right in pretty much every position and vulnerability with ♠ A-3-2,  K-J-5-3,  9-4, ♣ K-J-8-2. If you do so, your partner cue-bids two diamonds and the next hand doubles. Do you have any partnership agreements about how to proceed in terms of showing majors, or whether bids are a maximum or minimum?

House Martin, Black Oak, Ark.

I’d bid a cheap major if I could, unless I thought there was a real positional gain to be had from making partner declarer. There could be here! So, to me, pass suggests a hand where I want partner to be declarer or I do not have a major. I realize that if they re-raise diamonds, I might regret my choice.

At a recent event, I was declarer, and we were down to the last three cards when my RHO put his cards away, which I assumed meant I had the rest. So I did the same. But my LHO argued the claim, and the tournament director told me that both opponents have to concede the tricks. Isn’t there an ethical issue if an opponent with no chance for tricks could inform his partner he had nothing, to help him defend?

Stickleback, Fredericksburg, Va.

You are right about most aspects of this. The concession is not binding on a defender’s partner, but it does give unauthorized information. Indeed, one defender might indeed learn the position of a card from his partner’s concession. In case of doubt, any trick in dispute goes to the non-offender here.

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