Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 5th, 2018

I’m a long-time party bridge player (Chicago scoring), and I’m beginning to play duplicate, but I’m struggling. I know there are some differences in the two philosophies, for example, in sacrificing at duplicate. Can you recommend a book to help me to get into playing duplicate?

Heartless Hal, Dallas, Texas

I like “The Complete Book of Duplicate Bridge” by Kay, Silodor and Karpin, and “Duplicate Bridge: How to Play, How to Win” by Edgar Kaplan. Both books cover the basics well. Anything by Mike Lawrence or Reese, Kelsey and Kantar is worth reading. For modern bidding techniques, Larry Cohen has written a lot about the Law of Total Tricks.

If declarer has revoked in a doubled vulnerable contract and is set one trick, which becomes two after the penalty, how much will that cost him? Are both undertricks calculated based on the double? In addition, if the doubled contract had been made, how would the revoke trick penalty be handled?

Score Keeper, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Revokes are tricky things (generally a one-trick penalty, but occasionally two), but you did not ask me that question, so I won’t answer it! First of all, calculate the result of the contract in terms of making or going down, after the revoke penalty. Then look at the score. The answer here is down one, plus a revoke penalty to make it down two; that is 500, and the number goes above the line — hopefully on your side.

In a duplicate pairs event, as dealer I held ♠ A-J,  K-9-8-6-2,  A-Q-4-3, ♣ A-J and opened one heart. My LHO overcalled one spade, and my partner doubled. When I jumped to three diamonds, thinking it was forcing, we played there and missed a game. Should I have bid no-trump on the second round? Was my sequence invitational?

Missing Parson, Waterbury, Conn.

A jump in a new suit to three diamonds in a noncompetitive auction would clearly be natural and forcing. But once your partner suggests the minors, the jump is invitational (your actual hand if the spade ace were the two), since you are essentially raising him, not bidding a new suit. Cue-bid two spades, then bid three diamonds to set up the force. When you can get directly to a spot or go through a cue-bid, fourth suit or the new minor, the latter tends to be forcing, the former invitational.

Holding ♠ J,  Q-7-4-2,  A-9-7-3-2, ♣ A-Q-4, I opened one diamond and rebid one no-trump, over my partner’s one-spade response. It seemed wrong to me to repeat my diamonds, but my partner said that a response of one no-trump guaranteed a balanced hand and denied a singleton spade. What are your views here?

One for the Road, Mason City, Iowa

Your choice was a practical one: Two hearts would be a reverse because it would force preference at the three-level and promise extras. Since repeating diamonds would overstate your suit, your only choice is to bid one no-trump unless you feel like fabricating a club suit. When strong, partner should have the New Minor Relay available to find out whether you like spades before committing the hand to play in that suit.

I recently opened one heart, and when my partner responded two clubs, I opted not to make a splinter-raise of my partner’s suit with a minimum hand and a singleton ace in a side-suit. As I understand it, one should not normally make such a call when the suit is a singleton top honor. Is that approach correct?

Leapy Lee, Portland, Maine

I’m not averse to splintering with such holdings, but only if the hand contains full value for my action. A simple rule is to down-value the hand by two points, and if the hand is still worth a splinter, make it. This applies especially in auctions that are not game-forcing, when responder has bid at the one-level.

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Patrick CheuAugust 19th, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Hi Bobby,What would you bid holding AT974 KQJT8 AJ6 void and RHO opened 2D which was explained as 19/20 or 8 playing tricks any suit? RHO held KQ A KQT93 AJ642 LHO 86532 73 72 Q953 your pard J 96542 854 KT87 pairs All NV. Is it a clear double or 2S or pass..?Most got to 4H but would think they did not have a 2D opening..and what if 2N opening? Regards~Patrick.

jim2August 19th, 2018 at 5:27 pm

I am not Our Host.

With that disclaimer noted, I would probably bid 3D rather than double, giving up on diamonds for the surety of telling pard my shape.

bobbywolffAugust 19th, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Hi Patrick,

I only work (and play) here, but appreciate any help I can get.

Since the artificial 2 diamonds being very strong, but any distribution, unless a specific partnership convention is pre-determined I would only overcall 2 spades, since if it goes pass, pass, RHO will now bid his suit (close to 100% either a very strong one or two suiter.

Then over his rebid, even 2NT if possible in their framework, I would continue with 3 hearts.

IOW, framing my choice around what I am reasonably sure what would happen. Of course if partner raises my spades, it would almost always be based on long trumps since between my RHO and me we have almost all the high cards.

In that way, RHO may mistakenly double me when we reach 4 of a major since he started out expecting to either buy the hand or secondarily to penalize an overbidding opponent (in this case, me). However I may surprise him.

BTW, while playing against an experienced opponent, no such double at the end will probably take place, since his good “feel” will warn him off.

Such are the trials and tribulations of playing against good players, however, by gaining that experience, is to help everyone involved.

bobbywolffAugust 19th, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since 2 diamonds is artificial, I think 3 diamonds is only a diamond overcall, unless stipulated otherwise, and if not (unfamiliar 2 diamond meaning) I would think it somewhat unusual to play if for the majors. However, even if so, I would try and walk this hand since RHO will certainly keep the bidding going.

If I am wrong, (more likely than some expect) than be prepared to switch titles with me, but your companion TOCM TM is definitely not invited.

Patrick CheuAugust 19th, 2018 at 8:03 pm

Hi Jim2,There is great merit in your 3D bid,just wish pard and I had agreed that it shows 55 majors and not..thanks for your suggestion.

Patrick CheuAugust 19th, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Hi Bobby,Your thoughts are much appreciated here and we try to learn from it.I bid 2S at the table and it went pass pass pass! Thanks again for all that you do here.

jim2August 19th, 2018 at 10:45 pm

Well, if I were unsure of 3D’s meaning, I would double rather than make a one-suit bid. If pard bids clubs, I bid hearts. If pard bids a major, raise or pass. If pard bids diamonds, sweat like mad but probably pass.

bobbywolffAugust 20th, 2018 at 12:22 am

Hi Jim2,

No doubt, whatever one does with the 5-5-3-0 immediate overcaller hand becomes tricky. For example compare the QJxx of spades and out holding from partner with the KJ10x of clubs and out. The difference between those two holdings could amount to as much as 3 or 4 tricks in favor of the hand with fewer hcps.

Therefore, with great expectations I tend to take an optimistic view, mainly since partner will have no way to compare his almost Yarborough with your hand, since there is not enough bidding room to find the valuable information needed, so, as the British may say, just punt (by, if necessary, the big hand getting both of his suits in). At least to me, a valuable caveat is “No good suit should be left unbid, unless you have already found a satisfactory fit”.

Finally you have two, not one, valuable positives going for you:

1. Partner may have what you need, since it isn’t much.

2. Sometimes the opponents come to your aid and either bid or rather perhaps double you, when they should be doing the other.

However, and the following warning should be on all bridge player’s medicine bought at the corner drug store:

Take one dose every couple of hours, unless you have been dealt TOCM TM, and if so, merely, just to save time, seek out your cemetery plot.

jim2August 20th, 2018 at 2:29 am

TOCM ™ has taught me to bid when I can:

1) Limit bids
2) Two suit bids
3) Flexible bids
4) Few cue bids, and only obvious ones

Here, I would prefer the 2-suit bid, but only if the cue bid is an agreed upon one Absent that, I want a flexible one. I KNOW that if I make a spade overcall, pard will be 1-4-4-4 (if not the one provided by Patrick Cheu) and I will play it there. Heck, pard might be 0-3-6-4 with 4 HCPs.

So, no, I am not overcalling in spades hoping to get a chance to bid hearts. It may be the correct bid and you are the World Champion expert, but I’s not gonna’ do it!

bobbywolffAugust 20th, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Hi Jim2,

Mainly because I’ve learned to be a highly magnanimous person, tolerant of all bridge views, mine and all other lesser effective ones, the good news is that I respect your views enough to ask you to be my next regular partner in an extremely lucrative bridge deal.

You’ve won me over with your expertise, work ethic, overall intelligence and most of all, determination to fight your constant despicable enemy, TOCM TM.

I’ll contact you soon with how much money you need to put up so that you and I can buy that famous bridge in San Francisco everyone loves, since, I’ve heard it is now going for a bargain price.

Your great fiend, sorry for the miss spelling, friend,


PS: Yes a two suit bid might be best, but with
Patrick’s problem, no one was available, including double. Perhaps 2 sparts might work if the opponents didn’t speak English.

MichelleAugust 23rd, 2018 at 6:54 pm

I concurrently coveted food items and worried that. I ended
up being busied with thought and feelings of food items 24/7.