Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 4th, 2018

I know you aren’t the biggest fan of Key-card Blackwood, but if you ask for key-cards, then for the trump queen, what responses should you use to that second ask?

Private Eye, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Use a signoff in the trump suit as denying the trump queen. Other calls show it, and you cue-bid a side-suit king if you can, or jump in the trump suit (or bid five no-trump if the ask is above five of the trump suit) if you cannot. Additionally, one can agree that when you have the trump queen and two side kings, you cue-bid the king you don’t have.

I opened one diamond with this hand: ♠ A-Q-3,  10-5-3-2,  A-Q-7-4, ♣ Q-3. I raised the one-spade response to two (do you agree?), and then heard my partner bid three clubs. What should I have done next?

Bell, Book and Candle, Sitka, Alaska

Yes, I would raise to two spades, though many would prefer a one-no-trump rebid. At your third turn, you do have a maximum, but it is not clear where you belong. A temporizing call of three hearts may get you to three no-trump if that is appropriate. If your partner bids three spades, you will have to decide whether to advance, and if so, how. I think a delayed three-no-trump call would be reasonable.

I picked up ♠ A-10-2,  K-10-9-5,  J-9-7-4-3, ♣ K and passed in first seat. When my partner opened one club and the next hand overcalled one spade, I could make a negative double. But what is the right way to continue over my partner’s rebid of two hearts?

Mashed Potatoes, Eau Claire, Wis.

This is an auction where your partner will almost always deliver four hearts but be in the 12-14 range. So you are likely to have an eight-card fit with no values to spare for game. Does that mean you should pass — given that you do have an absolute maximum in high cards? I’m not sure. With your partner in third seat, you are on the cusp for a three-heart call. I think I’d pass, but if that singleton king were in a long suit, I’d bid.

I held ♠ 10,  A-K-8-6-5-3,  K-10-9-2, ♣ J-7 and opened one heart. When the next hand over-called one spade and my partner doubled, was I supposed to rebid two diamonds or two hearts? I opted to show my diamonds, and we ended up in a 4-3 diamond fit, which played far less well than our 6-1 heart fit would have.

Strawberry Jammer, Grenada, Miss.

The better the hearts, or the worse the diamonds, the more attractive a two-heart bid becomes. Here, without the diamond spots, I can see the logic in repeating the hearts. But bidding two diamonds describes nine of your 13 cards, whereas repeating hearts shows only six of them. So I’d bid the diamonds, expecting my partner generally to know when to revert to hearts. A 4-4 diamond fit ought to play much better than hearts, on average.

Please explain what Checkback Stayman means after opener has rebid one no-trump. Do I understand correctly that the sequence one diamond – one heart – one no-trump – two clubs is not natural? Isn’t there also a method called Two-way Checkback?

Inquiring Minds, Pottsville, Pa.

When opener rebids one no-trump, his degree of support for his partner and length in an unbid major are often still undefined. So responder has a Stayman-like relay (New Minor) at the two-level. This promises values and is searching for three-card trump support or length in an unbid major. Two-way New-Minor uses two clubs as a puppet to two diamonds, to play there or invite game somewhere, while two diamonds is a game-forcing relay.

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