Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Holding ♠ A-9-3,  A-Q-4-2,  4, ♣ A-Q-7-3-2, I opened one club and raised the response of one heart to three. When my partner bid three spades, I cooperated with four clubs, and my partner now went back to four hearts. Should I have bid on — and if so, with what?

On My Uppers, Tucson, Ariz.

Your partner’s initial cue-bid promised at least slam interest (or else he would simply have signed off in game), but he rates to have no diamond control. Since you have diamonds controlled, I would trot out Blackwood, or Key-Card Blackwood if that is in your armory. Because your partner made a slam try, apparently without any aces, he is guaranteed to hold strong trumps.

At the start of play, what characteristics of either declarer’s or dummy’s hand might call your attention to the possibility of a squeeze?

Bridge Nut, Arlington, Texas

Typically, the possibilities for a squeeze exist when declarer arrives at a point where he has top winners, but slow rather than fast losers, and is one trick short of having the rest of the tricks. If you are simply missing an ace, you normally have to lose it. When you have all but one of the tricks in top winners, or can arrange to reach such a position, the possibility of legitimate (or illegitimate) pressure should be uppermost in your mind.

In New Minor (or checkback Stayman after opener’s rebid of one no-trump), can or should opener jump after his partner uses the relay? For example, with ♠ Q-10-2,  K-5,  A-8-7-3-2, ♣ K-10-4, if you rebid one no-trump after your partner’s one-spade response, might you jump to three spades over a two-club relay using two spades for a minimum hand with three spades?

Fine Weather Friend, Boise, Idaho

Absolutely yes. I often think that opener should take more advantage of the three-level responses, in some cases to show both minors when appropriate, but also to bid out hand pattern when he has had to rebid one no-trump with a singleton in partner’s suit.

I read your column online, and I am interested in how the expert players differ from us mortals. Do any of the top bridge players possess photographic memories?

Snapping Turtle, Cape Town, South Africa

I don’t know of any, but among past players, Oswald Jacoby had an eidetic memory, able to recall everything he saw, including bridge hands. Al Roth and Australian Tim Seres had similarly great recall, but there is also much to be said for the ability to forget every deal instantaneously once it is over. That way you focus on the new one with full concentration.

Holding ♠ K-2,  Q-7-2,  A-Q-9-8-4, ♣ Q-5-2, I opened one diamond, and my partner responded one heart. The next player bid two clubs, and I passed because although I might raise with three, I did not like my club or heart holding. My partner sold out (he had 4-4-3-2 pattern and eight points), and the opponents made two clubs when we could have made at least eight tricks in diamonds. Who, if anyone, was to blame?

Undercooked, Grand Junction, Colo.

If not playing support doubles — which I am lukewarm about — where your double would show three-card trump support, your action was surely correct. While you are allowed to raise with three trumps, I would need the heart jack to make that call. Conversely, your partner had just enough to bid over two clubs — the choice being between a take-out double or a raise to two diamonds. Neither is perfect, though, I admit.

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


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