Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 30th, 2018

With this hand: ♠ 3,  K-10-5-4-2,  A-J-7-2, ♣ K-Q-3, I opened one heart and heard two spades to my left, followed by a double from my partner; I then bid three diamonds. Now my partner bid three spades. What does that show, and what should I do?

Bumblepuppy, Ketchikan, Alaska

The three-spade call asks you to bid three no-trump, or it may be the first move in a slam try for diamonds. You can’t bid three no-trump, of course, but you can bid four clubs to suggest this shape (or even raise to four spades to emphasize the spade control).

Say you deal yourself ♠ A-7-3,  A-J-9-2,  A-J-7-6-2, ♣ 10. If you open one diamond and hear a response of one spade, what options would you consider sensible?

Brunhilda, Union City, Tenn.

You have a good but not great hand, with the right shape but not quite enough for a reverse to two hearts. Give yourself the diamond queen instead of those red jacks, and the aces might persuade me to do just that. Since you cannot repeat diamonds or bid no-trump, of course, you’re left with a slightly inelegant raise to two spades. The hand is a little strong for that, but you have only three trumps, so it feels about right.

Please explain to me what a safety play in bridge consists of. I seem to see quite a few different plays described by that term.

Taxi Driver, Pittsburgh, Pa.

There are two completely different plays lumped under the heading of “safety play.” The first (the one I normally mean) involves protecting yourself against an unkind distribution by a correct move. For example, with K-Q-9-2 facing A-8-7-4, you might start with the king to pick up a bare jack or 10 in either opponent’s hand. The second usage is like a gambit at chess: sacrificing a trick you may not have had to lose to ensure you don’t lose two tricks. With K-J-8-7-2 facing A-9-4, cashing the king and leading to the nine would be an example.

You recently discussed this hand, where you heard partner double one diamond and a one heart call to your right. With ♠ J-9-6,  —,  Q-9-6-5-2, ♣ A-10-8-5-2, you bid two clubs and heard partner bid two hearts. Why did you next bid two no-trump instead of three clubs?

Gorgonzola, Sioux City, Iowa

I’d expect to be facing a 3-5-2-3 18-count or so. I don’t have any reason to repeat my clubs; partner knows I have them. Three no-trump could easily be making, but if my partner passes two no-trump, would three clubs be better? I doubt it.

I’ve received contradictory advice about how the defenders should signal at trick one when dummy has a singleton, after the lead of a high honor. When, if ever, is suit preference right? Are there other cases where it applies?

Chump Change, Great Falls, Mont.

Briefly, when continuation of the suit led makes no sense, suit preference may apply. When continuation may be right, third hand should be able to signal for a continuation as well as giving suit preference. Also remember that if third hand knows declarer has a singleton or void in the led suit (and opening leader knows he knows), he may also be able to pass on a suit-preference message.

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A V Ramana RaoJanuary 13th, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff
Kindly see my post pertaining to yesterday’s column

A V Ramana RaoJanuary 13th, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Sorry, that should read : Day before yesterday’s column ie 11th Jan

Iain ClimieJanuary 13th, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Hi Bobby,

On Gorgonzola’s post today it is pretty clear that the doubler has hearts given that the opposition haven’t raised them; 2D would be trying to get info out of partner as clearly the doubler hasn’t got diamonds. In general, though, how should partnerships without any prior agreement treat bids of the opposing sides suits when there are different choices?



Bobby WolffJanuary 14th, 2019 at 1:34 am

Hi Iain,

A great question, out of the ordinary, but
very much into the logic of bridge.

Partner has bid hearts in the face of his LHO bidding them behind him, which may be caused by partner fearing that bid to be psychic (not a real suit but rather an
opportunity to keep his opponents out of their best fit).

Your hand tells you differently and by keeping the bidding open may allow your partner to head toward a fit, rather than to fear being done out of a heart contract.

However, there are no safe havens, at least at this point, but perhaps partner will be better placed to make the next decision. However, no guarantees go with it and perhaps the safest course is merely to pass (before the doubling starts).

To answer your question, normally when a player bids one of his opponent’s known suits, it becomes a cue bid, which then means that he fits one of my suits, mostly game forcing and artificial. However this time, the previous bidding should tell the hand with the heart void, that no doubt this bid means a good to great heart holding and thus natural, allowing partner the sometimes privilege of passing.

Nothing earthshaking, but I think entirely logical.

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