Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 11th, 2019

If you open one spade and the opponents intervene with two diamonds, what action would you take, holding ♠ K-Q-8-7-2,  K-Q,  Q-3, ♣ A-Q-J-4, when the auction comes back around to you? I assume the hand is too good for a pass, but what action covers the most bases?

Great Auk, Galveston, Texas

You should not pass, though defending two diamonds may be the only way to go plus — or yield the smallest negative. If you do bid, a call of three clubs is on the table — the problem being that it is such a committal action. Doubling for take-out and converting a response of two hearts to three clubs suggests this hand type, but that route also lets partner bid two spades over the double, or even pass.

Say you have ♠ K-8-2,  K-Q-7-6-5-4  Q-3, ♣ J-4. Do you pass, open at the one-level or open at the two-level, and what factors determine which way you should go?

Green Grouper, Eau Claire, Wis.

Non-vulnerable, this is just too strong to pass in any seat. Opening two hearts in third seat might see your side undercompete if the hand belonged to you. Vulnerable, I hate the weak spots and the side defense, so I’d open one heart, even if it might be a fraction too weak. Everything else, especially passing, seems worse.

I am interested in trying to acquire more master points. How do Swiss Teams work, and would they be a sensible way to go about achieving my goal?

Chasing the Dream, Ketchikan, Alaska

The urge to acquire points often exists in inverse proportion to the number you already have. But Swiss Teams are typically played over a single day, with multiple teams playing short matches. Your pairing is based on your day’s results, with matches scored not on a win-loss basis, but on a sliding scale where you can earn from 0-20 victory points. These points are accumulated over the whole event.

Holding ♠ Q-3-2,  Q-9-7-4-2,  10-8, ♣ A-Q-J, I assume you would not open the bidding. If you passed and heard a one-diamond opening bid on your left, passed back to you, would you balance over it, and with what call?

Backup Planner, Pierre, S.D.

Vulnerability or position might influence you; I’d open in third seat but not in first or second. If I passed, I’d certainly balance over one diamond at any vulnerability. I’d plan to bid one heart and consider balancing a second time with a double of two diamonds, if necessary, to get both black suits into play. That fifth heart is too important to conceal, and if I double, we may lose it altogether.

My partner has asked me to play Lebensohl, but I’m not sure I understand the implications. Can you explain the call and discuss in which sequences it is commonly played?

Cold Comfort, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

After the opponents butt in over your partner’s one-no-trump opening or overcall, two-level calls by you are non-forcing. Three-level bids are strong, and two no-trumps puppets to three clubs — typically a weak hand with its own suit, but it may include some balanced or invitational hands. See These methods can be played after the double of a weak two-bid, but here, two-level bids can be a bust, while actions at the three-level are invitational, not forcing.

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