Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Does a successful doubled contract produce a game even if game has not been bid, or do the extra scores go above the line? Both interpretations make sense to me, but which is correct?

Bonus Baby, Tucson, Ariz.

When you make a doubled part-score, the score for the contract goes below the line. Thus, three diamonds doubled scores as twice 60 or 120. Since that number exceeds 100, it qualifies for the game bonus. The insult, game bonus, and overtricks go above the line — as usual. Two clubs doubled scores as 80 — thus no game bonus; two diamonds redoubled is 160 and thus generates the game bonus.

I heard my partner open with an artificial two-club bid with ♠ A Q-9-4-2,  —-,  A-Q-10, ♣ A-J-10-9-5. I responded two diamonds, then raised a two-spade call to game with ♠ K-J-8-6-3,  J-9-4,  8-3-2, ♣ 8-4, and we played there. How might we have bid our cards to slam — or should we have been content with game?

Orpheus, Hartford, Conn.

A two-club opening on an unbalanced hand is game-forcing unless responder bids two diamonds, then issues a double negative at his second turn. Your partner should have opened one spade; after you jumped to four spades, he could have shot to slam — which is an excellent spot. Of course, had you raised two spades to three (showing a better hand than a jump to game), you still might have recovered.

Holding ♠ Q-10-5-4,  A,  A-10-8-2, ♣ A-Q-J-4, it felt right to open one diamond and jump to three spades over the one-spade response. My partner felt I could have driven to game or even bid four hearts as a splinter raise. Where do you stand on this issue?

Billy Goat, Augusta, Ga.

Your values are on the cusp between a drive to game and an invitation — the singleton ace doesn’t really pull its full weight. I wouldn’t jump to four hearts with a 4-1-4-4 shape unless I had full value in high cards. This hand is not worth that action, so your choice was a little pessimistic but entirely reasonable.

How important do you think it is to learn the precise percentages at bridge? How much of correct declarer play and defense is about table feel and table presence?

10 Gallon Matt, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

You do not have to learn all the percentages; a few simple ones are enough. (Kelsey and Glauert’s book on practical odds should suffice.) Table presence outranks percentages all the time! But you must learn to hone your card-reading skills, to try to learn when you can trust your instincts and when you cannot.

Holding ♠ A-J-9,  K-Q-J-9-3-2,  10-2, ♣ A-J, my partner opened three diamonds in first chair. Would your decision to bid on or pass be influenced by vulnerability more than by your choice of partner? Would it matter if the pre-empt was in second seat?

Steven’s Son, Detroit, Mich.

I know that four hearts might make when facing heart length, but if I bid three hearts, will partner be able to bid three no-trump if he has no fit in hearts? Probably not. It is much more likely that I can make three no-trump my way up, so I might gamble it out. Facing a pre-empt in first seat at favorable vulnerability, I would pass.

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