Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 10th, 2019

I have been taught that jumps in response to partner’s one-level opening should be weaker than a pre-empt. I know you think there is a better use for jump bids — what is your system?

Bidding on Nothing, Richmond, Va.

Weak jump responses in competitive auctions are reasonable if made by an unpassed hand. But I believe that a jump in response to an opening bid in an uncompetitive auction is best played as strong with a good suit and at least some slam interest. A jump by a passed hand or in response to an overcall shows a decent side suit and a fit for partner. More on this soon.

In third seat, after you hear partner open one club and your righthand opponent bid one spade, what would you bid with ♠ J-7,  A-Q-5-4-2,  10-3, ♣ K-10-7-6? It seems to me the options are to raise clubs, bid hearts or make a negative double — but if you double, how do you cope with a pre-emptive raise to three spades on your left?

Ant Hill, Edmonton, Alberta

Raising clubs seems wrong — you might easily miss hearts. Because of the club fit, I’d bid two hearts, planning to raise clubs later. Indeed, a fit jump to three hearts by a passed hand would be ideal, though not everybody plays them. Switch the minor suits, and double might be wiser since you have no guaranteed fit. With that hand, you can (if you want) double three spades for take-out at your next turn.

I generally manage to count trumps when I am about to draw a few rounds, but if playing a cross-ruff or needing to delay drawing trumps, I find it hard to keep track. Any advice?

Paul Poncho, Durango, Colo.

Before playing to the first trick, add up your trumps and dummy’s, and subtract that number from 13. Focus on that number from now on. So, with seven combined trumps, you keep count of the missing six. When an opponent ruffs in, the number goes to five; if you draw two rounds of trumps and one opponents shows out on the second round, then there are still two trumps outstanding.

In which seats does this hand qualify for an opening bid: ♠ A-Q-10-7-6-4,  Q,  K-9-2, ♣ 10-8-5? What call would you make?

Sensible Steve, Twin Falls, Idaho

Never, ever pass a hand with a good six-card major. Always open either one or two, since there is no gap between the ranges. This hand has a good six-card major, so I’d open it two spades in second seat vulnerable, one spade in most other positions. The idea of pre-empting with this sort of shape in third seat might make sense (especially with a long red suit as opposed to long spades).

If you decided to attack at no-trump from a three-card suit such as K-10-5, are there any scenarios in which you would lead high to try to unblock the suit? If so would the king or 10 be a better shot?

Traffic Jan, Riverside, Calif.

Before answering, I would need to know my overall strength and that of my partner, and also what kind of stopper declarer had promised. I’d tend to lead low unless I could see that my partner had so few entries that I would need to protect them. Leading the honor can cost a trick in a variety of ways, and the 10 is hard for partner to read!

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ClarksburgNovember 24th, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Good morning Bobby
This question is about the column hand of Tuesday Nov 19.
North (dealer) AK102 6432 3 AKJ2
South 54 AKO5 AJ64 1076
Column auction: 1C 1H 3D where the 3D agreed Hearts and showed some extra with Diamond shortness.
Is that 3D absolutely forcing? (The North hand seems at or very close to GF strength opposite a minimum 1H response; would a 4D rebid convey that?)
Also: in Intermediate level Club play, the 3D rebid would probably be a GF natural JS with Clubs longer than Diamonds. I assume the logic behind the column meaning is to save bidding space planning to reveal more strength later. Correct??

bobbywolffNovember 24th, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

First, in order to remove any ambiguity toward the date you mentioned,, Tuesday, Nov 19th actually appeared in the newspapers on Tuesday November 5th, so that readers who live where the newspaper carries my column should not be confused.

Next, to the important stuff:

No, the 3 diamond singleton showing bid, showing 4 card heart support is not GF and should be returned to 3 hearts if bid. The hand to pass it with would probably look something like: s. Jxx, h. Q10xx, d. KJx, c. 10xx where four hearts would be a very low percentage contract and even nine tricks in hearts would be far from cold.

That bid is often called a “mini-splinter” and often played among the elite players who obviously choose to play it, believing it is the
best use for that unusual bid (to which I agree) since a 2 diamond reverse is, of course, forcing and can be sometimes artificially used such as when it goes: 1 club, P, 1 heart, P, 2 diamonds could be bid with s. x, h. AQx, d. AKx, c. AJ10xxx or somesuch, trying to elicit crucial information from partners next bid. The 2D bidder, although not theoretically GF shows a fit somewhere, not necessarily 4 card, but still having great hope for game, and even a prelude to a fitting slam. However, if partner then bid 2NT (90% denying holding 5 hearts which is often the hoped for response with the exception being: s. KJ10, h. xxxxx, d. Qxx. c.xx
he then should probably pass, partner’s return to only 3 clubs or 3 hearts.

Yes, of course, a 4 diamond rebid definitely is equivalent to a natural 4 heart rebid which, in turn would deny a side singleton, but instead hopefully strong enough (while holding a combined 8+ trumps) to make 10 tricks with high cards instead of distributional advantages, at least with the strong hand.

Also, yes in bygone days, before artificial jumps started showing singletons, while a reverse showed a strong hand, it was never game forcing, while a jump reverse showed the suit bid but and was also a GF: s. Ax, h. x, d. AKJx, c. AK10xxx.

I hope you agree with me that and no doubt, bridge bidding has been improved with the addition of jumps showing both fits and specific shortness (including voids). The other hand shown above would then rebid only 2 diamonds, but then depending on what partner rebid then show game strength by jumping to what likely might be the best game, but just something else which, if 3 of a suit was then rebid, it could be passed.

Finally, since these great improved bidding methods are well worth it, in truth, they have likely not appeared yet (if ever) in some of the old folks homes who started playing bridge many years ago, but still play that style among each other. Sad, but I guess better that than bridge still not being played among them at all.
However, for current serious newbies to the game, they need to listen to the right players about both who from and what to learn, but also, to their great benefit, WHY?

As usual, good luck in addressing these types of thoughts to your audience and thanks for being so responsible.