Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 28th, 2019

Recently, I opened one diamond with ♠ Q-6,  J-3,  A-J-7-4-2, ♣ A-K-J-9, and I heard my lefthand opponent overcall one spade. When my partner doubled, I was not sure at what level to bid clubs, or whether to gamble on one no-trump. My partner told me later that a jump to three clubs would not be forcing here. Is that true? I thought opener’s jumps in new suits were forcing.

Shaking Stephen, Elkhart, Ind.

You must differentiate between an uncontested sequence — where your jump rebid of three clubs would be forcing — and a jump in response to a negative double. Think of the latter sequence as jump raising a suit partner has implied. Having not opened one no-trump (well done!), a jump to three clubs shows this hand nicely.

If you open one club and hear a one-spade call to your left and two hearts from your partner, what should you do next with ♠ A-Q-3-2,  Q-5-3,  K-10, ♣ J-9-4-2?

Second Chance, Winston-Salem, N.C.

You can raise to three hearts, natural and non-forcing, or you can rebid two no-trump to protect all your tenaces while also limiting your hand. I think the latter is better; you can always support your partner later on.

What is the main difference between the meanings of your calls in direct and balancing seat? Is it always about high-card ranges, or are there positions in which bids have different meanings?

Protectionist, Lorain, Ohio

When you are in the balancing or protecting seat, you tend to reopen when possible, so your actions may be made with about a king less than they guarantee in direct seat. In that seat, jumps over one-level bids, however, are 13-16, not weak, with good suits. And a jump to two no-trump would be strong, not unusual, with a range of 18-20 or so.

What are the merits and drawbacks of third-and-fifth leads, and why should I consider playing them?

Pippy Longstocking, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Third-and-fifth leads may help you work out how long partner’s suit is. Fourth-highest and second from bad suits may help you differentiate when the lead is from an honor or from weakness. The two-card disparity of a low card being from three or five cards (as opposed to the one-card disparity of fourth from four or five cards) is what may help you out here. But if you lead count cards, your partner will often have no idea how good your suit is.

I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to compete facing a negative double with extra shape but no extra high cards. I held ♠ Q-J-9-4-2,  A-Q-3-2,  5-3, ♣ K-10 and opened one spade. When the next hand overcalled two diamonds, my partner doubled. The next hand raised to three diamonds. Should I bid three hearts now, or wait for my partner to double and then show my suit?

Raising the Roof, Seneca, S.C.

You would have bid two hearts gladly in a non-competitive auction, which means you are allowed to compete to three hearts here. With, for example, 16 points or more and 5-4, you would bid four hearts here, so the problem is what to do with slight extras. There is no good answer other than to guess well.

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ClarksburgAugust 11th, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Good morning Bobby
Matchpoints, Neither VUL, Club game, Intermediate calibre.

Your RHO is Declarer at 6S after the following somewhat strange auction:
1S 2H 2S 3S 4S 4NT 5S 6S (the fast-arrival 4S call seemingly denying slam interest and any control, but then showing two key cards and the trump Queen).
You are on lead holding: 64 J10975 KJ6 1093.
Your thoughts on opening lead selection and rationale?

ClarksburgAugust 11th, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Oops! Their 2/1 auction was:
1S 2H 3C 3S 4S 4NT 5S 6S

Iain ClimieAugust 11th, 2019 at 3:16 pm

HI Clarksburg,

For what my thoughts are worth, not a trump (passive) or a heart as that might allow discards. A club could find partner with a cashing AK (although opener then has misused blackwood). I’m being drawn towards a diamond despite the inevitable risks. Declares won’t get too many discards on hearts with my holding but one or two might be enough e.g. HQ alone opposite AKxxx.

I’ll await the details of the hand with interest.



bobbywolffAugust 11th, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I would definitely lead a low diamond playing for partner to possess the heart ace and the diamond queen with the opponents cards similar to: Declarer: s. AQxxxx, h. x, d. xx, c. AKxx and the dummy, similar to either: s. KJxx, h. KQxxx. d. Ax, c. xx or s. Kxxx, h. KQxxx, d. Axx, c. x. with the dummy expecting a better hand for partner’s 3 club bid.

Dummy, of course, could have AQxxx of hearts and because of the diamond lead take a heart finesse for the contract rather than ruffing out partner’s doubleton king.

Good problem, but I’m guessing a diamond lead, but pretty sure if that won’t beat it, the opponents are likely to have screwed up their bidding or declarer (or dummy) was blessed by holding the diamond queen.

Iain ClimieAugust 11th, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Hi again,

Sorry, I misread the bidding and missed the 3C bid, when I’d have definitely led a D but with similar trepidation. It ought to be right but ….


bobbywolffAugust 11th, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Hi again Clarksburg,

When I suggested that if declarer has AQxxx of hearts, he might finesse the hearts to hopefully dispose of his losing diamond, then I meant that declarer was likely (or surely) also off a club trick, demanding that he, ASAP rid himself of the setting trick, a diamond loser.

Sorry for the gaffe of not saying so, since few declarers would risk a certain slam which makes for an overtrick and if they did, I would then be certain next time we played those opponents for both partner and I, to hold our cards up (and out of their sight).

bobbywolffAugust 11th, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Hi Iain,

One fact has now become certain.

If a diamond lead gave our opponents the contract, instead of setting it, we both then learned never to choose each other as a partner as the only thing worse than giving a non-making slam away while on lead, is to choose a partner who would have done the exact same thing.

Misery does love company, but in bridge it becomes a losing philosophy.

ClarksburgAugust 11th, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Many thanks to both. First for responding; and second for the case for a Diamond lead;they were off the AK of Diamonds!!
Many Pairs bid the slam. At our Table at least, there was no control-showing and Responder made the 4NT key-card ask with not just one but TWO losing Doubletons!! No East, including my Partner, found the Diamond lead, so 6S made everywhere. As I said, this was an Intermediate-level Club game!!
Here’s the full deal:
64 J10975 KJ6 1093
A753 AKQ86 Q7 Q7
92 42 A9853 K862
KQJ108 3 1042 AJ54

Iain ClimieAugust 12th, 2019 at 9:18 am

Hi Clarksburg,

I can only extend my sympathies here. After all the club finesse is needed as well, even if the defence don’t cash out. Ouch!