Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

This request may be hard to fulfill, but I would love to see a brief summary of the differences between overcalling in direct and balancing seats.

Fourth Bridge, Dover, Del.

In balancing seat, while you can act lighter than in direct seat, you would tend to pass with weak one- or two-suiters. The range for a one no-trump overcall is 11-14, while doubling then bidding no-trump shows 15-18. So with 19-20, you jump to two no-trump; this is natural, not unusual. Similarly, jump overcalls are intermediate (good suits with 13-16 HCP or so).

Playing with a relatively sound pre-empter, I held ♠ A-10-3-2,  K-J-7-4,  A-K, ♣ J-10-4 and heard my partner open three diamonds in first seat with no one vulnerable. Would you pass or try for game — and which game would you choose? Trying Times, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Three no-trump seems like a bad idea — even after a major-suit lead, there may be no fast entry to your partner’s hand. Non-vulnerable, I’d pass; vulnerable, I might jump to five diamonds. (For the record, unless playing Flannery, partner should deliver a seven-card suit. If he had opened three clubs and your minors were reversed, you’d be more likely to pass, since he could easily have only six cards.)

While playing Chicago Bridge recently, the declarer played an ace out of her hand. Dummy advised that she was on the board. She put the ace back in her hand and in that way made the contract. Dummy said she had not taken her fingers off the ace and therefore should be able to put back in her hand. Is this true?

Coulter 45, Boston, Mass.

I’m afraid dummy sold you a bill of goods. When the ace makes its way to the table, the card is played. If the lead is out of the wrong hand, you can accept the lead or ask declarer to put it back in her hand and lead whatever she likes from dummy. It’s your choice, not dummy’s.

What would you do in my position here? I was dealt ♠ —,  Q-2,  K-10-7-2, ♣ K-Q-9-7-6-4-2. I heard my LHO open one spade and my partner bid two hearts. Now came four spades to my right. How would the vulnerability affect your choice here? I can’t imagine double is for take-out — is it?

Ready Ayman Fire, Kansas City, Mo.

I would always bid five clubs, regardless of the vulnerabilities. All other actions, both passive and misdirected, simply look wrong. It doesn’t mean that any of the other calls might not work. But bidding where you live, at the appropriate (and necessary) level, is the sensible approach.

I was playing in a Swiss teams event last Sunday, and one of my teammates jocularly referred to something called Lurk Theory. I was too embarrassed to say I had no idea what she was talking about, so I’m hoping you will explain.

Duke of Plaza Toro, Huntington, W. Va.

Your pseudonym is very apt. The Duke led his regiment from behind, and at Swiss teams, losing an early match can sometimes lead to getting an easier draw as you advance through the field. This approach has sometimes been called Lurk Theory.

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