Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Holding ♠ 6-5-3,  J-8-6-4-3,  A-J-4, ♣ J-3-2, I bid one heart after my partner doubled one club. He then raised to two hearts; was I correct to interpret this as a real game-try? I was not sure if I had enough to do more — but if so, what call would describe my hand?

Traffic Director, Wichita Falls, Texas

If you trust your partner, he will have approximately 16-18 with four trumps; with less he would pass, knowing no game rated to be good. This hand is clearly worth at least a game-try. You might even jump directly to four hearts, but you can temporize with a game-try of three diamonds, going on to game opposite anything but a three-heart sign off.

In a recent column, a defender led a spade from five to the king. Dummy had J-10-7, and the play went to the jack, eight and queen. You commented that third hand’s play of the eight implied an original holding of one or two cards. Why is that?

Helping Hand, Madison, Wis.

The reason that East can’t have three small cards is that in this scenario he would follow with his smallest card at his first turn. Normally, when you can’t beat dummy’s jack or lower, you signal count to partner (high for even, low for odd). So with the doubleton eight, you would play that card under the jack — after all, partner won’t think you like the suit, will he? You would play an honor if you had one.

I’m wondering whether top players redouble at all. I’ve been watching championships on Bridge Base and, apart from a few juniors, I haven’t seen a single redouble for blood.

Matador, Hyde Park, NY

You are right that these days one rarely redoubles except against those who are known to be fast on the trigger. Most doubles tend to be on trump strength, not general power, and indeed, I think more points are lost through failure to double than failure to redouble.

Someone mentioned a bid called “Unusual Against Unusual.” How does that work? Does it have something to do with the Unusual No-trump?

Black Bart, Dodge City, Kan.

You have it exactly right. If the opponents overcall to show a two-suiter with only one suit specified — say, hearts and a minor — cue-bidding their suit shows a limit raise or better for partner. But if they specify their two suits, you have two cue-bids available. The higher cue-bid, as long as it is below partner’s suit at the three-level, can be played as a limit raise for partner, while the lower cue-bid shows the fourth, unbid suit in a good hand. This means that if you bid the fourth suit, it is natural and non-forcing, a good weak two in strength terms.

Holding ♠ A-K-J-2,  2,  K-5-3, ♣ J-9-7-3-2, would you respond to one heart with two clubs or one spade, and what would be your reasoning?

Hi-Lo Country, Macon, Ga.

Most strong hands with five of a minor and four spades start with the minor, planning to bid spades later and introduce suits in the order of length. By contrast, most hands not strong enough to force to game will respond one spade, to ensure getting the major in. But you could go either way on hands like this one. Especially with such good spades, where a 4-3 fit might be right, bidding one spade looks best. You are planning a non-forcing two no-trump rebid next, unless you find a fit or extra values opposite.

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David WarheitMay 6th, 2018 at 9:12 am

I think Traffic Director needs to call another director. 14 cards!

bobbywolffMay 6th, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Hi David,

I agree in NT to the gaffe, but exonerate Traffic Director, since it is our job to keep this from happening. IOW, mea culpa!

Who knows what 14th card it was which demanded recognition, although doubtful, perhaps a significant 5th heart or one of the diamond honors or instead and more likely a lowly spade or club which, at the very least, shows one less loser.

In any event the AOB needs to tighten our ship, although it is barely possible that the gaffe occurred with the typesetter, which is beyond our control, but even that excuse, should be proofed before insertion.

Finally, that hand would look a little more formidable without a third losing club or even spade, making our aggressive answer more justified.

David, thanks for catching it, so that our concerned readers can reevaluate our answer, which possibly helps formulate at least some of our readers bidding judgment.

BTW and FWIW I do not know if our client newspapers also had the 14 cards shown or if instead, (and I hope) that is was restricted only to our AOB site readers. In this case, less is obviously, better.