Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 8th, 2019

I play at Bridge Base Online and really enjoy it, but I wonder if there are any other websites you might recommend.

Take it Up, Mitchell, S.D.

BBO is the premier site for following live bridge from around the world, but Funbridge and BBO now have merged interests. Each has an array of different bridge-related games. It is worth checking them both out.

Last month, you discussed weak jumps in competition. Should I play these methods when facing an overcall? And are all weak jumps off by a passed hand?

Stuck in the Middle, Elmira, N.Y.

I don’t like weak jump shifts in new suits (as opposed to weak jump raises) facing an overcall. When both opponents have acted, each knows about their side’s high cards. Similarly, do not play pre-emptive jumps in a new suit by a passed hand in response to an opening bid. With that hand, you’d have bid already, or you wouldn’t be jumping now. Jumps should show a fit for partner while promising a sidesuit you’d be happy for partner to lead.

My partner held ♠ A-K-9-8-4,  A-7-2,  3, ♣ 10-4-3-2 and chose to open one spade in first seat. When I responded two diamonds, natural and game-forcing, his choice of three clubs got us way too high. He said that his second call did not promise extras in high cards or shape. Do you agree with either of his bids?

Cloud Surfing, Kansas City, Mo.

The opening bid is fine, because of the controls and the good suit. The three-club call seems wrong to me, though. I’d rebid two spades, not promising a sixth spade in my book, because of the spot-cards and top honors, although I could understand a two-no-trump call. For me, three clubs would show some extras or 5-5 shape.

My partner held ♠ 9-7-2,  Q-4-3,  J-10-8-2, ♣ Q-10-4, and when the auction started with a four-spade bid on her left and a double from me (primarily for take-out), she passed, later saying she was too weak to bid. Was this decision correct? The opponents had nine spade tricks and an ace to cash, while five diamonds our way was close to making.

Play or Defend, Levittown, Pa.

Let us say that your hand as the doubler had been a sound opener but had included the doubleton spade king and three diamonds to the queen. Would you have been so enthusiastic to hear your partner bid? I think not. After the opponents pre-empt, you often have to make your best guess. Here, I tend to remove my partner’s double of a four-spade call only with real distribution in a one- or two-suiter.

What would you bid with this hand: ♠ K-8-2,  K-10-4-3,  J-9-8-6, ♣ A-J, after you open one diamond and partner responds one spade?

Risky Raise, Casper, Wyo.

I feel torn between raising spades and bidding no-trump. I would definitely bid two spades if the club jack were the spade jack, or if I had ace-queen-fourth in one rounded suit and a doubleton in the other. I know that a call of one no-trump will be found at other tables; that might influence my choice.

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Iain ClimieDecember 22nd, 2019 at 9:35 pm

HI Bobby,

On Play or Defend’s problem, one view is that 4 tricks are a lot easier than 11. There again I remember an awful lot of minus 590s and 790s over the years. Where would you regard the decision between X for values, with the option of TO against bidding 4N for take out with a 2 or 3 suited? I also recall Australian Ron Klinger’s advice to take out takeout doubles.



Bobby WolffDecember 23rd, 2019 at 2:32 am

Hi Iain,

No doubt, the question asked, the answer received, plus, of course, your discourse, is as representative (and accurate) as this provocative question can be thought through.

Several difficult decisions (this being one of them) just do not have an answer which will work a large percentage of times (75%+).
Reason being is lack of bidding space, plus the practical application that either bidding or deciding to pass, are both fraught with danger.

We all know the types of bad things happening when an opponent decides to make a high preempt (especially 4 spades) since the choices of either pass, or if deciding to venture into the bidding with either a bid or double, becomes frightening, even to seasoned veterans.

You said it well when you mentioned 4NT to get multi suited hands into action (BTW 4NT over a 4 heart bid by a pesky opponent should be for the minor suits, while double would also indicate support or better for spades).

However, possibly the only worthwhile answer is to be the one who bids 4 spades, not an opponent. However, that as well sometimes runs a risk of getting too high or low, as well as taking pot luck that your partner will then show good judgment, if he indeed, has a hand which could matter.

Sorry for the lack of a magic potion to keep from being poisoned from the absence of useful bidding space, but what’s a bridge player to do, whether excellent or only a bare beginner.