Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 7th, 2019

What can you do at the duplicate club when you fear you may not have time to finish a round, but your opponents insist on discussing who should have done what on an earlier deal? Do you have a patented method to limit conversations?

Tony the Tortoise, Olympia, Wash.

You cannot stop a postmortem when a partnership is trying to apportion blame. I try humor or downright sarcasm. “I’m sorry to have held you up — we can catch up if we start the new deal at once.” If my partner is talking to just one of the opponents, I sometimes ask the innocent opponent please to stop talking. If the discussion has been about clothes (as it so often is), I compliment my male opponent on his shoes.

In fourth seat, would you open at rubber bridge, Chicago scoring, at favorable vulnerability with: ♠ A-Q-3-2,  Q-5-3,  10-5, ♣ K-9-4-2. If so, with what call?

Tubby the Tuba, Horn Lake, Miss.

For the benefit of my readers who are unfamiliar with Chicago scoring, you play four deals with the same partner; one hand at each of the four vulnerabilities. To take advantage of the opponents’ vulnerability, you should make sure to bid here. I suggest you open one spade to keep the opponents out.

Recently I held ♠ A-8,  K-J-7-6,  K-Q-J-6-4-3, ♣ 8. I opened one diamond and heard my left-hand opponent bid one spade. My partner doubled, and the next hand bid four spades. What would you advocate, and why?

Humble Pie, San Antonio, Texas

Double would be extras and not specifically takeout. Your partner would remove only with real extra shape, but here it is you with the shape. Accordingly, I would bid four no-trump, intending it to be diamonds and a second suit. If your partner bids five clubs, you can correct to five diamonds to show the red suits and a hand like this one.

Yesterday afternoon, after passing in first chair with: ♠ Q-J,  Q-9-6-5-4,  J-9-3, ♣ A-10-3, I heard my partner open two no-trump. Is this hand worth a slam try, or would you simply sign off in game (and where)?

Lumpfish, Huntington, W. Va.

All your soft values suggest that you might not want to find hearts even if you have a 5-3 fit. I wouldn’t want to try for slam unless I found four hearts opposite, so I would use Stayman rather than transferring. My plan is to opt for three no-trump unless partner shows hearts. If he does, I will bid three spades, an artificial call to set hearts as trump and show at least a little slam interest.

When would you suggest leading an unsupported ace against a suit if you have bid or overcalled in that suit and your partner has raised?

Sceptic Tank, Huntsville, Ala.

Against part-scores, the need to cash out is far smaller than against a game — the likelihood is that your opponents have limited values. When your partner shows four or more trumps, the likelihood of it being wrong to cash out the ace drops dramatically. Facing a simple raise, leading an unsupported ace — especially when your right-hand opponent is strong — is normally a council of desperation.

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