Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Holding ♠ Q-J-10-8-4,  Q-2,  8-5, ♣ A-Q-3-2, you respond one spade to your partner’s opening of one heart, and hear LHO bid two diamonds, passed back to you. Should you repeat spades, raise hearts or bid clubs … and what level should you drive this hand to?

Mach One, Kingston, Ontario

It doesn’t feel right to bid clubs; I think that shows longer clubs than spades. So the choice is to bid two hearts (I’d do that with one fewer spade honor) or repeat the spades – I’d do that if the heart queen were the three. But my personal choice is to double, primarily as take-out. Let partner tell you what he has.

Should you play jumps by opener in response to a negative double as forcing or invitational? For example, when you open one diamond and your partner doubles an overcall of one heart, does a jump to two spades or three clubs set up a force?

Blue Steel, San Francisco, Calif.

Since the double shows the unbid major and suggests either the fourth suit or a way to handle the auction, your jump in a new suit is invitational, not forcing, suggesting 14-17 or so. With more, you cue-bid, then describe your hand.

Recently, I had a tough bidding problem. My partner opened one club, non-vulnerable, and my right-hand opponent jumped to three spades, vulnerable. I held ♠ 10-2,  A-3,  A-K-10, ♣ K-9-7-5-4-2, and could think of at least three possible actions. What would you have bid?

Millstones, East Brunswick, N.J.

Raising clubs seems right. (Yes, bidding three no-trump or doubling might work, but they are not my style.) I might bid four spades as a slam try in clubs, but that normally delivers a spade control. A jump to five clubs could be weak or strong so is not ideal, but since a leap to slam seems wild and gambling, I’d have to go with five clubs, even though I can’t say I like it.

You recently described an opening lead as “third-and-fifth.” On the deal in question, West led his fifth club, but why the fifth-highest, not third? How does the lead style work?

Jack Sprat, Dover, Del.

Third-and-fifth leads means top of doubleton, low from three or five cards, third-highest from four or six cards. Thus, from five cards, lead low, not third. The point is that when you see the lead of a two or three, it is generally from an odd number, and the auction will generally tell you which. This particular inference is not as frequently available with fourth-highest leads.

You recently posted a bidding question: Your hand was ♠ 2,  Q-9-6-5-4,  A-K-Q-10, ♣ A-7-2, and you heard a one-spade opener to your right. You recommended a double, planning to bid hearts next. That was my top choice, too, but wouldn’t a cuebid of two spades be an alternative, or would you need a stronger hand for that?

Passing Muster, Augusta, Ga.

Modern science tends to have moved on from using the cue-bid as a general force (for which players these days tend to double, then bid). Now, the preference is to use the cue-bid as 5-5 in the unbid majors or unbid major plus a minor, known as the Michaels Cue-bid. But if I were playing it as an unspecified strong two- or three-suiter, I’d like to have an extra ace.

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