Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 20th, 2020


Iain ClimieMarch 5th, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA, there are a various bids available here to show either the other 2 suits or a natural holding in one of the oppo’s suits – Dbl, 2N, 2S., 2C and even 3C and 3S. Obviously as regular partnership will look at these but what about a scratch or new partnership? My immediate reaction would be that 2S is some sort of strong force (I’m showing my age here, I know, or maybe the 25 years away from the game) although my own spade holding might be a giveaway. If I’ve got (say) SJxxxx opposite the 2S bid then partner hasn’t got the sort of hand shown unless my LHO is messing about with a spade singleton, and who does that nowadays?

Can you give any general guidelines here to avoid disastrous mix-ups?



jim2March 5th, 2020 at 12:56 pm

Yes, sadly, one’s opponents might object to the call “Two Spades – Natural.”

I have faced this same dilemma many times when I wanted to bid, “Double – Penalty.”

Iain ClimieMarch 5th, 2020 at 2:08 pm

Hi Jim2, Bobby,

So what should partner do in this situation when it starts (1C) P (1S) 2S in terms of alerting (or not) if there is no agreement? Do we need a “No Agreement” card to be held up (or an announcement made) instead of an alert or would an extra card in the biding box of Wile-E-Coyote holding up a placard with HELP on it be better? Flippancy aside, this could be a real minefield and source of much aggravation. To what extent is partner allowed to base their judgement of what is opposite on their own holding?



jim2March 5th, 2020 at 3:54 pm

No agreement = no Alert.

No Alert and nothing on Card = Natural.

If it turns out not to be Natural, then it gets messy. The opponents get protected, hilarity and recriminations ensue, and kibitzers buy more popcorn.

bobbywolffMarch 5th, 2020 at 4:20 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

First, thanks for at least attempting to throw light on a practical problem which, believe it or not, is more commonplace than one may suspect.

That is, while sitting 4th seat in the pecking order of the dealer being one’s LHO and having the bidding go, one grape, pass, one apple,
two apples. In any new partnership (to which has not generally applied to me, with a few exceptions, since in the last number of years I’ve played almost exclusively with Judy) that concerning our subject for today, my first request is that when I, as fourth chair, raise my RHO’s one level major suit bid to two of the same suit, it needs to mean that same suit (and not necessarily more that 5 cards, for example AKQ10x is good enough as long as I have an extra high honor or even a 2nd 5 card unbid suit, such as a side minor with K10xxx or such.

Reason being, especially while playing against excellent players, usually well known, since part of their winning technique, especially when holding a weak hand (and almost always NV) take great delight in responding 1 spade to their partners 1 heart while holding heart support and only 4 little or even fewer (less than 4) spades in order to win the bidding war by intimidating 4th chair.

IOW that subject, because of its importance and necessity, should be a beginning to a partnership disclosure of meaning to that bid.

And, if my memory serves, and it usually does, that effort has occurred, mostly in my distant past, at least 5+ times, all of which were necessary in order to save my partnership from a disastrous result, once during a world championship.

You’ve both hit a nerve when discussing it today, and whether it should also be applied to minor suits (instead of playing only to a jump to three rather than two is only a natural bid).

Thanks for bringing up the subject, otherwise all readers would be subject to the intimidation of remaining quiet while being stolen from, although sometimes RHO will have 5 small or such, but even so never was it wrong, at least in my experience to foil their attempt to fool or even when it was only no chicanery, but instead, merely natural.

bobbywolffMarch 5th, 2020 at 5:16 pm

Hi again Iain & Jim2,

Since I failed to include a satisfactory conclusion, merely write on one’s convention card (in the appropriate space or else somewhere) raising the responders suit (always a major suit, or also including a one diamond response, if decided), while sitting 4th chair is NATURAL, not conventional.

Then, of course, relax, until months or years later and with a different partner, it raises its ugly head to the tune of not having discussed it with that OX.