Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 10th, 2019

If you open one club and your partner raises to two clubs in competition, how much shape do you need to re-raise to three clubs? If you have four or five clubs in a relatively balanced hand, what should be the deciding factor?

Mork from Ork, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

When your partner raises clubs, you hope he will have five but expect him to have additional shape or values if he has only four; you also expect more values than from a pre-emptive raise. Accordingly, possession of four clubs, together with any additional side-suit shape, should suffice. With five trumps, I would always bid on to the three-level.

I was last to speak and had ♠ J-6-3,  10-2,  A-Q-10-9, ♣ K-J-7-2. I heard one spade from my partner, and when I responded one no-trump, planning to rebid two no-trump, he jumped to three diamonds. I assume this is game-forcing, so a raise to four diamonds could not be passed; but what might my other options be?

Catch a Falling Star, Albany, Ga,

A bid of four diamonds isn’t necessarily stronger than a jump to five, but the latter suggests good trumps and nothing else. You could argue that a cue-bid of four clubs will probably lead your partner to use Blackwood and so should be safe, but maybe a call of four no-trump here should be diamond fit and nothing to cue-bid. Don’t try that without discussion!

I help instruct beginning bridge players and hear some unusual questions. One idea proposed last week was dismissed as ludicrous. But on second thought, I’m not sure of the correct answer. Can a player open the bidding at any of the four positions with a double? While sounding crazy, it could add another descriptive bid to one’s arsenal.

Odds Bodkins, Danville, Ill.

The rules do not permit this action, but I like it as a non-bridge variant. An opening double shows a balanced 11-14, so partner can pass with a weak hand. Meanwhile doubling partner’s suit would show scattered values and no long suit. Some day in a special holiday event, perhaps? (The reason you can’t double as the initial action is that, per Law 19, a double must be of a preceding bid by an opponent.)

After our side missed a game, following the opponents’ takeout double of my partner’s one-heart opener, it was recommended to me that a bid called BROMAD might have saved the day. This sounds like an indigestion tablet or remedy against flu. What is it really?

Spoonful of Sugar, Baltimore, Md.

Bergen Raises Over the Double of a Major allow you to differentiate weak and strong raises after the double of a major. Jump raises remain pre-emptive, but with 8-10 and three trumps, you begin by bidding two clubs — an artificial call to show precisely this hand. More and more people play either transfers or something artificial here (and also when an overcall of a major is doubled). See interference-after-our-1-of-a-major.

My right-hand opponent dealt and opened one heart, and I held ♠ Q-4,  K-6,  K-10-7-6-5, ♣ A-J-8-3. What is correct in theory and in practice? Would your call be affected by the vulnerability?

All Shook Up, Staten Island, N.Y.

You have a feeble suit without intermediates and not enough values to insist on coming in right now. I’d need an extra diamond honor for a two-level overcall. Move the queen from spades into diamonds, and an overcall is acceptable; but under no circumstances should you double or bid two no-trump at your first turn to speak.

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Jeff SMarch 24th, 2019 at 6:59 pm

In response to the question about opening with a double, what if the other three players pass? What have you doubled? Or would the opening double then be forced to make a bid when it was passed around.

bobbywolffMarch 24th, 2019 at 8:02 pm

Hi Jeff S,

That question and answer is all a big spoof.

The rules DO NOT allow a double unless the opponents have bid something affirmative and a then opponent is next to speak, and/or others in line have then passed.

Unless that ultra major change is made (and the odds against it are overwhelming) no bridge player should ever have to worry about dealing with it.

Finally, when the strong pass was created making bids by them showing weakness, their opponents then needed to consider how double of that former strong bid which now became weak, should then react for the opponents of the strong pass.

However that problem is not now on the table and IMO bridge is lucky to not have to consider dealing with it, not that dealing with it is difficult, but only rather, that the discussion can get confusing.

jim2March 24th, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Jeff S –

Keep in mind that Our Host once tried to bid 8.

ClarksburgMarch 24th, 2019 at 9:54 pm

Actually saw Dealer make an opening Double in a low-key Club game some years ago!
Forget how the Director ruled. Presumably since it is an illegal call, a call by LHO could not be “accepting” it, and there is no other call available to the Offender with the same meaning…so offender could bid what ever they liked and Partner would be barred. Is that correct?
Also, a friend was Directing in a Club game wherein both sides revoked twice…. in the same auction…exponentially increasing the ruling challenge!!

Bob LiptonMarch 24th, 2019 at 10:34 pm

Illegal to bid 8 at least since 1932. The Portland Club (one of the two clubs responsible for international rules) outlawed it at least as early as early as 1914, and the New York Whist Club by 1920. However, if I recall correctly, the club which shared rules-making with the Portland was in Philadelphia.

I recall a story…. was it in THE BRIDGE JOURNAL?…. in which one side bid 8 as a sacrifice, not vulnerable, with 150 honors. The other side correctly sacrificed, likewise white with 150 honors.

bobbywolffMarch 24th, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Hi Jim2,

I did once bid 8 clubs over what I thought was a laydown 7 spades bid by my opponents.

Although I was about to tell my inexperienced opponents I was just kidding since my bid was illegal (believe that if you want), but before I did, my LHO volunteered 8 spades. Then I compounded the confusion by doubling out of turn (before my partner dared to bid 9 clubs) and low and behold the table ruling by a home director was that my double was cancelled and so I had to accept only +50.

Later LHO was heard to say, “I had heard that my RHO was a really good player so I decided to take the sacrifice”.

Just another advantage to which I am sure I am entitled. I am also very modest!

bobbywolffMarch 24th, 2019 at 11:11 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

No doubt your club director made a very good ruling. However if the second seat player would have preempted the director call and redoubled perhaps the right ruling would have allowed only those two players (dealer and his LHO) to bid it out with their two partners both barred.

My advice to both of them would be for percentage thinking that when the bidding (if it did) reached 4 spades the other one should double on general principles. but possibly before hand if one of them hesitated a long time before bidding on.

I also wonder if those two bidders could take advantage of their own hesitations or should that be considered unethical?

Those exponential revoke penalties might allow at least one of their partners to enter the Guiness book of bridge penalties as one of the highest bridge scores ever awarded,
which although somewhat dubious in esteem, is one way of becoming famous.

bobbywolffMarch 24th, 2019 at 11:22 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, The Portland Club in London and the New York Whist Club or more likely the one in Philadelphia where so many bridge champions have been born did make the rules back when Whist turned into Auction and then to Contract in 1927.

Since you mentioned the year of change making bidding eight illegal being 1932, my birth year, I strongly suspect that I had a hand (or some other appendage) in making that change and whether it was Portland or Philadelphia I know, because my parents told me so, that P was a key word in my early existence.

jim2March 24th, 2019 at 11:46 pm

In the interests of fuller disclosure, the bridge game to which I and Our Host referred was a brief arranged publicity match with some, er, “unusual” rules.

On one side were champion bridge players (including Our Host). On the other side were champion professional athletes.

To “even the odds,” both members of a sports partnership were allowed to look at each other’s hands before bidding. Then, again, before the opening lead.

Acting as referee was another champion bridge player and director.

bobbywolffMarch 26th, 2019 at 5:32 pm

And when it comes down to time, place and event and, of course, the exact truth to be known, let’s all turn to Jim2 to report. In this case to be reported Jim2 just casually said “It figures”.

Mrs. Gugenheim, of SJ Simon fame (famous British bridge author) was playing against Harrison Gray, also a very well known and respected British bridge champion when he reached 7NT and Mrs. Gugenheim was on lead with an ace.

She did lead the ace, but when asked why she didn’t double, her reply became, “You do not know Mr Gray like I do, If I doubled he would certainly redouble”.

Then Jim2’s reply. Any doubts?