Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Please explain the philosophy behind cue-bidding aces before second-round controls, as opposed to making the most economical cue-bid. Doesn’t this run the risk of reaching slam with two aces missing?

Roman Candle, Tupelo, Miss.

You can combine cue-bidding with Blackwood to minimize the risk you mention. Cue-bidding is best used when you need to know if partner can co-operate. Often there will be a danger suit where you need help from partner before heading for the stratosphere. These days, the practice of cue-bidding indiscriminately up the line has become the norm.

Recently, at pairs, I held ♠ 10-4,  K-10-2,  A-7-6-2, ♣ A-Q-5-4. I opened one diamond, and after a one-heart response, I could not decide whether to raise hearts, introduce clubs or rebid one no-trump. The heart raise did not work out well when trumps were 5-1! Bring on the Moyse, Saint John’s, Newfound


Two points: First, I prefer to open one club, not one diamond, since I’ve seen my partner on lead before and I prefer to have him lead good suits instead of bad ones. Second, raising hearts is fine by me. This way, we make sure to reach our 5-3 fits on part-score hands, and partner can ask if I have three or four trumps when we belong in game.

Is there any point in discussing good or bad results at the table, or is it better to wait until after the game? If you advise against going over unfavorable results immediately, is there anything that is worth discussing?

Well-Tempered Clarence, Wilmington , N.C.

There is little reason to discuss your side’s declarer play. A bidding accident will merit discussion only if you need to ensure it will not happen again in the current set. Defensive cardplay (where the blame is often hardest to assign) may be the toughest to ignore. But very little is gained by debate at the table — unless you have downtime in a set for some reason.

I picked up ♠ K-3,  K-Q-5-4,  A-9, ♣ A-J-6-5-4 and was torn between opening one no-trump and bidding one club, with the intention of reversing into hearts. What should be the deciding factor here?

Locum Tenens, Pueblo, Colo.

I’m somewhat out of step with the “open one no-trump on everything that moves and some things that don’t” faction. To my mind, if a hand can be easily and accurately described by bidding suits, as here, then just do it. With a 16-count, you might feel differently; make the club jack the club three, for example, and this is a clear one-no-trump opener.

I’m curious as to whether the national team for the USA usually has a sponsor. What is your opinion on the subject? Would excluding professionals by having pairs trials make a noticeable difference in our chances of success in world events?

Rumblefish, Manchester, N.H.

While sponsorship allows good players to concentrate on bridge and thus to get better, I’d still like to see a system that allows the three best pairs to make up our team. That said, two or three sponsors are more than good enough to play for USA with no weakening of the team. Marty Fleisher and Nick Nickell, who are captaining the U.S. teams in China this week, are really fine players.

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