Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Say that you open one club with ♠ A-8-3,  K-J-7-3,  4-3, ♣ K-J-8-2. Your partner responds one spade. Should you raise spades, bid hearts or rebid at no-trump?

Total Re-call, Phoenix, Ariz.

While it is acceptable to raise partner with three trumps, you should not do so with a completely balanced hand if there is a practical alternative. Here, though, your small doubleton makes your three-card raise eminently sensible. Rebidding one no-trump would be my preference if the diamond four were the queen. Bidding two hearts is out; that would show real extras and a 5-4 pattern.

My left-hand opponent opened a weak three diamonds, and I heard a double from my partner. The next hand bid four diamonds, and I held ♠ A-Q-8-5-3,  K-10-7-2,  7-4-3, ♣ A. My diamond length looked good for slam purposes, but with this hand, should I settle for game, drive to slam or invite — and in all cases, how should I find the best strain?

Orange Julius, Edmonton, Alberta

I can see why a call of four spades would not do this hand justice, but if the club ace were the king, I would grudgingly settle for that. You cannot really offer a choice of majors except by bidding five diamonds, and since this obviously implies willingness to play slam, maybe you have to do that and accept a sign-off.

In defending against no-trump on an auction where you have not bid, what agreements would you recommend for top-honor leads, especially regarding the request for an unblock?

New Kid on the Unblock, Rome, Ga.

At trick one against no-trump, there are two common (and equally sensible) agreements. You can play that the king asks for unblock (or count), while the ace and queen ask for attitude. Or the ace and queen ask partner to unblock an honor (or to give count if you have no honor), with the king asking for attitude. In the first case, you would lead the king from A-K-J-7-5, for example; in the second case, the ace.

Recently, I was playing two hearts and determined after a long disagreement that my right-hand opponent had discarded a diamond when she still had a trump to follow with. Her side did not win any further tricks after that point. It doesn’t feel right that she should escape without penalty, does it?

Sex Cymbal, Durham, N.C.

If the offending side does not win a subsequent trick (including the revoke trick), there is no penalty. The revoke law isn’t really an attempt to restore equity on its own. But if the penalty (be it zero, one or two tricks) does not restore equity, the Tournament Director is empowered to do so. The non-offending side should never get fewer tricks than they did because of the revoke, and the benefit of the doubt will generally go their way.

I had the following hand in fourth seat and heard a one-club call passed around to me. Would you consider it appropriate to let sleeping dogs lie and pass, given my spade shortage, or if not, at what level of diamonds would you bid, holding ♠ 4,  A-J-3,  A-Q-9-7-3-2, ♣ Q-4-3?

Hush Puppy, Fredericksburg, Va.

The spade shortage is disconcerting, but I would not pass. A jump to two diamonds in balancing seat is intermediate, not weak — even if you normally play pre-emptive jump overcalls. With the same hand and a true weak jump (switch the heart ace to the two), I would reluctantly pass, though I would not be happy about it. Partner could still have a balanced 13-count, and our side could make three no-trump, after all.

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


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