Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 9th, 2019

I assume you would open one club, planning to rebid one no-trump over any one-level response, with ♠ K-J-9,  10-2,  Q-8-4, ♣ A-Q-10-7-4. That was what I did. I heard one heart on my left and a negative double from partner. Now I had to guess what to do.

Seconds Out, Riverside, Calif.

I agree with opening one club, though I’d be planning to raise spades, not rebid at no-trump. After the negative double, the choice is simple. Do you bid spades or clubs, since one no-trump is completely inappropriate with this holding? It is a little-known secret that a one-spade call is consistent with a three-card suit. With four and any form of extras, I’d expect a jump to two spades — equivalent to raising partner’s known spade suit. So one spade is my choice.

Recently, you offered up as opener this hand: ♠ Q-J-6-2,  5-2,  A-Q-10-8-7-4, ♣ 6. You indicated that these spades were too good for a diamond pre-empt; but if you won’t pre-empt, what will you do?

Edison Lighthouse, Miami, Fla.

I would pass and assume someone would open, then I would hope to find spades if necessary or settle in diamonds. I would not open one diamond, however; this hand just isn’t worth that action. Make the spade queen the 10 (or any smaller card), and I’d be much more tempted to preempt.

At a recent nationals, I played in a regional pairs game and held ♠ K-3,  A,  K-J-2, ♣ K-Q-9-7-4-3-2. I opened one club and heard two diamonds on the left, two spades from my partner. What would you do next, assuming a rebid of three clubs is not forcing?

Explorer’s Club, Newark, N.J.

This hand has huge potential if we have a fit. You cannot afford to jump to four clubs by passing three no-trump, but bidding no-trump yourself may be premature. All that seems to leave is a waffling cue-bid, but a delayed three no-trump call over a heart bid from your partner might be the best you can do.

At a club duplicate, I was faced with a reopening problem. I held a great deal of extra shape but not much in the way of high cards. I had ♠ K-Q-10-3-2,  J-2,  Q, ♣ K-Q-9-7-4, and my right-hand opponent passed. I opened one spade, and my left-hand opponent bid two diamonds, passed back to me. What should I bid now?

Protective Order, Mason City, Iowa.

With shortage in left-hand opponent’s suit, it is normal is to reopen with a double — unless you’d remove your partner’s penalty double. Here, with no aces, I might not settle for a double. But if I do double and correct two hearts to a black suit, that shows real extras, not this hand. Should I pass, hoping it is the opponents’ hand, or double and cross my fingers, or even bid three clubs? Each call is reasonable, but I might need to use my table presence to try to work out which is best.

Some of the bridge books I have read, and even some of the players in my rubber game, set 13 HCP as the minimum for an opening. Twelve HCP are acceptable only with significant extra shape. Do you believe all 12-point hands qualify for an opening bid?

Dangerous Dan, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

A 12-count with a five-card suit or two four-card suits will normally qualify as an opening. It is logical for the minimum rebid in no-trump to show 12-14 (a 2-point range would be unnecessarily constraining) in the context of your one no-trump opening promising 15-17. If you still play a 16-18 no-trump, you might play your rebid to be 13-15. But since bidding is fun, I suggest you live a little.

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