Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 7th, 2018

In a teams game, I picked up ♠ 7,  Q-10-8-6-4,  A-J-10-2, ♣ K-J-10 and passed in second chair. Do you agree? When I heard a spade to my left and a one-no-trump call to my right, should I have acted? If so, with what call?

Wimpy Kid, Riverside, Calif.

Because you can bid your two suits in comfortable order and you have decent controls and useful builders in your intermediates, this hand represents a minimum but respectable opening of one heart. If you do pass, you should double one no-trump for take-out and let your partner play in clubs if he selects that suit.

I am trying to work out how to combine a quantitative bid of four no-trump with Blackwood, while also using four no-trump as regressive. I know you cannot combine all possibilities in a short answer, but what are the basic principles from which we should build?

Low-Key Loki, Cartersville, Ga.

A simple rule is that if your last call in any auction was three no-trump and your partner bids a minor, four no-trump is regressive. If the previous call was in no-trump, then four no-trump is quantitative. Four no-trump may also be quantitative if you have an artificial way to agree the major (after Stayman finds one, for example, or after partner completes a transfer), but instead you jump to four no-trump. In most other sequences, use four no-trump as Blackwood — unless you agree that it isn’t.

I picked up ♠ K-9-4,  A-Q-9,  K-10-8-7-4, ♣ K-3, and when I heard my right-hand opponent open one club, I elected to double rather than bid one diamond or one no-trump. My thinking was that I wanted to get the majors into play, but three no-trump was actually a reasonable spot. Any comments?

Chop Suey, Winston-Salem, N.C.

These days, not only does an opening bid of one club not promise clubs, but the partner of the opening bidder will furthermore not be sure if opener has a balanced hand or a real club suit. Bidding one no-trump over one club is not without risk, but it does describe your assets well. Remember: You probably will find a 5-3 major fit if you have one this way, but do you really want to find a 4-3 major? I’m not sure you do.

In one of your columns, you mentioned Ogust responses to a weak two. Please expand on the details of this scheme and the reasoning behind it.

Mock Turtle, Henderson, Nev.

The Ogust scheme of responses to a two no-trump inquiry after a weak two opening accepts that weak two-bids may be based on only a moderate suit. The responses to the inquiry let opener bid three clubs or three diamonds with a bad hand (the latter showing a good suit), and three hearts or three spades with a good hand, promising a minimum and maximum suit, respectively. Using this scheme allows you to be slightly more flexible in pre-empting.

In fourth chair facing a passed partner, I elected not to overcall one heart over one diamond because of the poor quality of my long suit, with ♠ Q-2,  J-7-5-3-2,  A-K-J, ♣ Q-7-3. Would you have acted here? If so, how much worse a hand would you need before you passed instead of overcalling?

Care Bear, Huntington, W. Va.

An overcall should promise either a reasonable hand or a suit you cannot afford to keep silent about. In this case, you have a full opener and no reason to assume bidding will work to your disadvantage. Turn the diamond king into a small diamond and I would pass, reluctantly.

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Iain ClimieOctober 21st, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Hi Bobby,

An alternative to Ogust is to ask for 3H/S if minimum, game if maximum, 3N with AKQxxx and a feature if intermediate e.g. 7-8 with DQ10x(x) bids 3D, a bit like a trial bid. It seems to have gone out of fashion, but do you think it is better or worse than Ogust? I suppose much depends on the level of discipline partnerships display in terms of suit quality, at least in the first 2 positions e.g. If opening Q8xxxx 10xx Kx xx gets tempting, then I suspect Ogust will be better.

Having said that, I opened a maximum weak 2 the other week (with HKQ109xx and a side Ace). partner raised pre-emptively to 3H, we walked into a double and the defence found the trump promotion to get 500 at Love All and pairs. 3N+1 making at other tables (while there were some part scores) didn’t help us a jot.



Bob LiptonOctober 21st, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Sometimes you just don’t know, Iain. Last time I played duplicate, first hand out the the box my partner open 3H all white and I pass with AKQx KTx Qxx xxx. Partner had the 2=7=2=2 hand I feared with HAQJxxxx…. and the CA!


Iain ClimieOctober 21st, 2018 at 6:16 pm

Hi Bob,

If it is any consolation at all, I’d have opened 4H and I’d expect most players to do the same. No point in yelling though; they’ll only mess up the next hand (and possibly more than one) too! As I’d cheerfully open AJ to 7 and nothing 3H in first, I think he/she is about between 4 to 6 points heavy for the bid.


bobbywolffOctober 22nd, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Hi Iain & Bob,

While you two are talking bridge as it often is played in everywhere, World. And not ignoring also the countries where it is well developed. having daily how to bridge columns in many newspapers with their individual players having access to modern learning and bridge clubs to play in for tournaments.

Many, I suspect the majority, like to have extras for partner for likely two reasons:

1. They want to see partner happy when more tricks are then scored than suspected.

2. More likely, at least on that hand , to wind up with a We score rather than a They.

Remember, bridge in its incubator stage was first judged by who won the rubber (sometimes money along with) and that did not change till tournament bridge arrived where comparison of results had little to do with holding good cards or bad, but rather, just filthy skill, to which most players opted for that coming naturally rather than learned. Result: “sadly lacking”!

Soon (and hopefully bridge as we know it will survive), it certainly will where it is now gratefully taught in the schools, which IMO will make it a fixture for many years to come, separating it from countries who do not, where if it continues will still render its players not even close to being able to compete at the same level with those which do.

Back to business: Iain, your version of Ogust seems at least just as good as the official version, with your tweaking of the specific responses, at least to my view, if anything, just as sensible and perhaps better.

As always, the elephant in the room will continue to be for both partner’s to commit it to effective memory, with other attributes significantly down the list in importance.

Finally, and you do not need to be reminded, that your unlucky result mentioned should be chalked up, if nothing else, to TOCM TM, perhaps plagiarizing Jim2’s chronic malady, to which we all have occasional bouts.

And to Bob, all I think you can do is caution your partner to what you think is necessary to create a winning partnership:

1. Discipline in being consistent to treat preemptive bidding as a method to do those ugly opponents out of something, rather than as a vehicle to reach the right contract. When one preempts on a good hand and thus trying to combine good hands with poor ones, his partner will never know which it is, making the partnership a difficult to impossible one to become more and more effective.

Disclaimer: If partner now gets angry with such a notion, I’ve told you wrong, but for your sake, go after a partner who understands how to get there from here.

His notion of being a good partner just will not work and you are doing him a favor by educating him ASAP. However if he is younger and more important, stronger than you, temper your criticism, since there are very few things more important than playing good bridge, but good health remains one of them.