Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

In second seat, I held ♠ K-9-7-2,  Q-9-3,  A-Q-10-5, ♣ J-4, and my right-hand opponent opened one heart in second seat. Would you double, and what your plan would be if your partner bid two clubs? Should you try and improve the situation for yourself or leave well enough alone?

Rainy Day, Jackson, Miss.

I’m not totally opposed to doubling on flawed shapes with a minimum hand, but facing a passed partner with a highly unsuitable heart holding, I’d pass initially. Make my heart queen the king, and I might double. I’d happily double a minor with an uninspiring holding in the other minor, though. Partners tend to bid a major in response if they can.

I have heard some of the players at my club speaking about game-try doubles. What are they? When do they apply?

Back to School, Fredericksburg, Texas

Game-try (also called maximal) doubles traditionally apply at the three-level when you have a major-suit fit and the opponents’ competition has taken all the space and prevented you from making a game-try. Since competing to three of your own suit would be to play, double replaces a game-try. So, after one heart – two diamonds – two hearts – three diamonds, double is a balanced game try.

Say you hold ♠ A-7-6-4-3,  8,  3, ♣ K-J-8-7-6-2. You choose to pass as dealer and partner opens a strong no-trump. You transfer to spades (would you?) and partner jumps to three spades, a superaccept showing a good hand with four spades. Would you try for slam?

Fits Like a Glove, Harrisburg, Pa.

I like the transfer to spades (transferring to clubs then bidding spades should show shortness), and I’d now think about slam. If partner has a control-rich hand with a club filler, we might make lots of tricks. I’d cue-bid four clubs, then try four hearts over a four-diamond call. If partner signs off at any point, I will let it go. If not, we’re off to the races! Partner knows I am limited in high cards by my initial pass.

Do you always raise partner’s one of a major opening to two with three-card support? I play a forcing no-trump response and was wondering if I could put a raise through that. If so, which hands are suitable?

Forcing My Hand, Dayton Ohio

With two ways to support, I prefer the direct raise to show a fair hand, something in the region of 7-10 points. Responding one no-trump, then giving preference to partner’s major, is consistent with either a doubleton or a bad hand (perhaps 4-7 points) with three-card support.

Say you open one club and your left-hand opponent overcalls one spade. What does partner’s negative double promise in terms of the unbid suits? Would a two-diamond rebid by you show extras?

Be Prepared, Memphis, Tenn.

Your partner’s double simply promises four or more hearts — and occasionally may not deliver even that! The notion that a negative double shows both other suits would restrict your use of that call too much. However, in response to a negative double, I’d jump to three diamonds with a true reverse. So two diamonds just shows extra shape and both minors.

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Patrick CheuDecember 15th, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Hi Bobby, Playing teams,we bid to 6H on this hand: north AQ 983 Q2 AKT872 south KT AKQJ76 J764 9-Acol N 1C S 1H, 2C 4H,4N 5S(2 controls+QH),6H-1.Could you please advise us how we might bid this hand…West leads AD and East’s KD sets the contract.Should North bid 4S? Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffDecember 15th, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Hi Patrick,

Methinks a whole new aspect should embrace the bidding on this hand.

While it may seem odd I think North should open 1NT to show a somewhat balanced hand (no short suit) and the approximate values for a strong NT (15-17)+. Depending whether transfers are played (I do not prefer them, and play 2 way Stayman instead), but most experienced partnerships do play them.

If so, then 2 diamonds, transfer, 2 hearts by North followed by 4 hearts from South, which by definition should be a mild slam try, leaving a mere 4 heart contract to an immediate 4 diamond bid, again transferring to hearts, but serving as a signoff.

North should then decline the slam invitation since not holding a great heart holding, plus a minimum 1NT (though a good playing one, with
plenty of tricks (provided clubs behave), but still a minimum in value.

It is difficult to impossible to attempt to bid balanced hands to slam except by 1. establishing a suit, and then 2, bid controls (cue bidding) promising 1st or 2nd round control in the cue bid suits.

Here, we decline from the beginning, although and, of course, the hands could fit perfectly for slam, but percentage wise they do not figure to.

I hope you can digest what I am saying. Bridge is far from a perfect puzzle, but with experience, players can adopt to the problem areas (slam bidding is certainly one of them) and even become world beaters.

Good luck. On your hand, no one did anything, outrageous, but it will be wise to discuss the above and if necessary, ask more questions.

Iain ClimieDecember 16th, 2019 at 10:18 am

Hi Patrick, Bobby,

Playing Acol as per Eric Crowhurst’s “Precision Bidding in Acol” how about 1C – 2H – 3C (emphasizing the suit although intending to go back to H) 4H suggesting a solid suit but not that much (Typically a K or scattered values) outside the very good suit – or maybe KQJ10xxx with say and Ace and a King outside. Now partner can realise there will be too many holes to be covered.



Patrick CheuDecember 17th, 2019 at 7:38 am

Hi Bobby and Iain,Your comments are much appreciated and I am sure would generate a lot more discussion here.Many thanks~Patrick.