Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Does the way to deal with rebidding a balanced 18-19 count after opening at the one-level differ, depending on whether your partner responds at the one- or two-level?

Falling Flat, Wilmington, N.C.

The answer depends a little on whether you play two-over-one game-forcing. If so, a sequence such as one heart – two clubs – two no-trump suggests 1214, but can also be made with a balanced 18 points or more, and even with club support, planning to bid on over partner’s raise to three no-trump. If your partner responds at the one-level, be it with a suit or a call of one no-trump, you typically rebid two no-trump.

Holding ♠ A-3,  K-9-8,  J-9-2, ♣ Q-10-8-6-4, I passed over a onediamond opener to my right. Now I heard one no-trump to my left and a double from my partner. Since I know my Left Hand Opponent had clubs, should I bid that suit now?

Butter Ball, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Your partner won’t just have the majors — he has a Michaels two-diamond call available to show 5-5 in the majors (or even 5-4 in a pinch). So he ought to have at least three clubs. Rightly or wrongly, I’d jump to three clubs, hoping partner can bid a major or try for three no-trump if he has real extras.

Assuming your agreement is that opening two of a major in fourth seat is an intermediate hand, what should constitute an intermediate hand?

Hospital Pass, Calgary, Alberta

The first requirement is a good suit, intermediate perhaps meaning 10-13 points or so if the opening is in a red suit, a fraction less in spades. With a poor suit, you would open at the one-level or pass, depending on your controls and where you were within that range.

In your commentary on a recent lead problem, you advocated leading an unbid suit of Q-10-2 against no-trump. You did not say, however, which card you would lead. My thought on the matter would be to lead the queen to try to unblock the suit for later play. It might also trap the king in my left-hand opponent’s hand. If I led the two, wouldn’t it suggest to my partner that I held four?

Honest Abe, Atlantic City, N.J.

I’m not a big fan of leading the honor from a three-card suit, even when partner has bid them, either against no-trump or against suits. In this precise position, you may build declarer a second stop if he started with A-J-x or K-J-x. What your partner would believe you would normally do is to lead low from honor-third. And even if he might expect you to have four cards in this suit, it is unlikely that much harm will come to you – assuming that you have hit on the right suit to lead.

I picked up ♠ Q-10-2,  A-8-7-2,  9-6-3, ♣ A-J-5 and heard my partner open one diamond and the next hand overcall one no-trump. I doubled for penalty, and my right-hand opponent ran to two clubs. Was I justified in doubling, or is it better to pass and let partner act with extra shape himself?

Lowering the Boom, Pueblo, Colo.

There is no simple answer here; my instincts are that double shows four trumps or a maximum defensive hand with three. Admittedly, this way you let them off the hook sometimes, but I think it is better to use double as “the goods,” not as a speculative attempt to take a penalty. This hand just about qualifies, and as long as you make the call in tempo, partner can remove with a really unsuitable hand.

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JohnOctober 28th, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Dear Mr Wolff

What is your view on bidding an intermediate Weak 2 bid in fourth seat in the following forcing club system?

1 Club is any 16+ HCP hand. We open all balanced hands 1 NT with 12-15 HCP including those with a 5 card major if the hand is 5 3 3 2 and we play 5 card major open bids 11- 15 HCP. We tend to pass a square 11 unless we have a 4 card major and a square 12 HCP in fourth seat.

Hope you’re well.

Thanks, John

bobbywolffOctober 28th, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Hi John,

My immediate and encouraging thought is why not. While opening with a weak 2 bid, always in the majors, but, left up to the system of others whether or not they think it wise to include diamonds as well within their weak 2 bid structure.

However, it should be discussed (and of course alerted, if necessary) that the main purpose is to buy the hand short of game, but, at the same time, attempt to preempt
those wily opponents out of some bidding room in order to compete.

With s. KQJxxx, h. Axx, d. xx, c.xx then 2 spades (in any seat including the 4th) but with the same hand and the queen of hearts instead of a small one, then 1 spade only since that extra queen, especially matched up with the ace, is often a full trick, making bidding game still in the cards.

A relatively small difference, but I think the percentage action, but others may differ.

Of course, if partner opened with 2 of a major in the 4th seat and I held four small in his major with a singleton in the other major and
d. AJxxxx, c. Ax it would not take me long before just jumping to game. Of course it may go down but experience tells me to just blast and take one’s chances: my guess (65% of the time, a make).

BTW. I think your system, although just the skeleton of it that you presented, is a winning one. Good luck!

SlarOctober 29th, 2018 at 4:17 am

Mr. Wolff,
I don’t dispute anything in this week’s letter, but I did want to bring up something that gets missed far too often by non-experts. My understanding is that when playing “normal” inverted minors, opener must jump to 3NT after an inverted single raise with the 18-19 hand. Since a slam often hangs in the balance, getting this wrong can be painful (and has been for me more than once).

bobbywolffOctober 29th, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Hi Slar,

While certainly not disagreeing with your suggestion, my only addition is to remind aspiring partnerships to discuss your subject directly and then decide on how to immediately handle those 18-19 point hands once an inverted minor has been bid.

From that thought, intellectual approach, can and often will allow both partners to share the problem, discuss, and if necessary, exchange ideas, until all possible bidding sequences are well enough covered to then allow a decision on how to handle the problem you mention.

IOW, by merely addressing the problem together, both partners may contribute to the solution, allowing mutual agreement, and just as important a solid basis for not forgetting, BTW, and if not addressed, perhaps the most common cause for a bidding disaster.

Thanks to you and your comment, perhaps at least some of the readers will benefit from your subject. Result will be a general plus for your bridge reputation, except, of course, if you happen to play against a partnership which you inspired.

Such is the minus, but what the heck?