Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 12th, 2019

When your partner opens a weak two-bid in diamonds and the next hand doubles, what would you recommend doing when you hold ♠ A-K-J-3-2,  4,  Q-3-2, ♣ 10-8-3-2? Would you bid spades or raise diamonds — and to what level?

Burglar Bill, Nashville, Tenn.

Raising to three diamonds is reasonable, but I could understand a call of four diamonds. However, if you play that jumps in new suits promise a fit, then a call of three spades would get your values across nicely. I like that approach.

My partner opened a strong one no-trump; I held four hearts and quantitative strength to invite a small slam. When the bidding continues with my using Stayman and my partner bidding two spades, how should I advance?

Amaretto Stiletto, Springfield, Mass.

My answer may surprise you; what I recommend as best practice you may feel is impractical because it is hard to remember. If responder uses Stayman and hears a major, then responder’s next bid of four no-trump is quantitative rather than ace-asking for the major. To set the major, bid the other major at the three-level. Incidentally, this applies in parallel fashion when the opening call is two no-trump.

Do you know of any novels in which bridge is a central theme or a major plot point, as opposed to a side issue?

Constant Reader, Pueblo, Colo.

“The Bridge Ladies” by Betsy Lerner is a marvelous read about the author’s relationship with her mother and her bridge-playing friends. “The Card Turner” by Louis Sachar is also a fun story about bridge. I can recommend both of those as excellent reads. Incidentally, “A Hand of Bridge” is a nine-minute opera by Samuel Barber.

When is it proper to declare honors — before, during or after play? What happens if you forget to declarer them at the right moment?

Desperately Seeking Sequences, North Bay, Ontario

Honors can be declared after dummy comes down, but it may not be tactically correct to do so since it gives unnecessary information to the opponents. I suggest waiting until you’ve played all the critical cards out or you are known to have the missing cards, but you can always claim honors at the end of the deal. You technically have until the end of the rubber to claim honors, but you may find it hard to persuade your opponents if you wait too long.

In fourth seat at duplicate pairs, vulnerable against not, I was looking at ♠ A-K,  5,  A-K-J-7-3, ♣ A-K-10-3-2. Much to my frustration, I heard a weak two hearts to my left, raised to three hearts. Can you suggest a sensible plan here?

Nerdville, Torrance, Calif.

After the three-heart call came around to me, I might bid four no-trump to get my partner to pick a minor at the five-level. I don’t think there is any reason to expect a fit — partner seems to have some spade length and a few hearts too, so it wouldn’t amaze me to find no game making our way. Then again, partner could bid slam with the right hand!

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Patrick CheuMay 26th, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Hi Bobby, Bidding problem from pairs..north J2 KT964 A7 KQ84 east AQ943 Q872 K9 AT south K76 AJ J862 7532 west T85 53 QT543 J96.Dealer E EW vul. Bidding went E 1S S p W p N Dbl-E 2H S 3D passed out..-2.Some Norths were in 2H+1 and 3H. 3H should not make.Do you agreed with Dbl by North and should South Dbl to show 8-11? Best contract 3C,but how to get there..perhaps 2N(shows minors?) after 2H by East?Could you please advise-Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffMay 26th, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Hi Patrick,

BTW, much thanks for your appreciation which, in turn, means a lot to me. Since you always acknowledge other people’s effort it says more about you than it does about them.

Now to business: While North’s reopening double, instead of (what I think) a slightly superior reopening of 2 hearts, is OK, yes South should probably make a card showing double (as you suggest 8-11 or fairly close).

However, in the not so long ago (perhaps 20 years) time period the 2H double used to be for penalties, but that meaning has been phased out, because frequency of occurrence has voted in favor of take out. When, and if playing modern style, West would then prefer 2 spades,, over which North should bid 3 clubs, which should only be taken by South as competitive making South’s pass a slam dunk even if he had an extra point or two.

IOW, unless some bid occurs which shows otherwise, all four players at the table should just consider these auctions are competitive for part scores, not games, but finding the right strain being always the critical answer and at as low a level as possible.

With the stated vulnerability and at pairs EW was in dangerous position with the thought of competing to the three level since, if doubled would go down the “death number” of likely 200 for down 1 or more.

IOW this hand is just tending to business with good judgment (and modern handling) the winning action.

Finally, partnerships need to be careful about the use of 2NT since it is not always a slam dunk that bid always means choose a minor, but sometimes needs to be taken as natural.

For a discussion of when to do what, please consult the stars. (meaning heavens).

Patrick CheuMay 26th, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Hi Bobby,It’s always good to hear from it on Bridge or other aspects of Life..we feel better in ourselves and much more ready for life’s many challenges. Best Regards~Patrick.