Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 1st, 2020


Bruce karlsonAugust 15th, 2020 at 11:55 am

Do all or at least most experts play 1C, 1D, 1H as forcing? It strikes me that I might like to pass with 6 pt. rag and 3H. Further, one of a major is almost never passed out, so declarer should get another bite. The better players at my club claim it is a force. What say you?

A V Ramana RaoAugust 15th, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps South should have doubled East’s diamond bid than bidding NT. Though south can make 3 NT as described , this requires West to hold maximum doubleton club and even then perhaps, most of the declarer’s may not be able to bring the contract home. But if West bids after south’s double of one diamond, this hand could be ideal to collect penalties rather than reaching ambitious game. I seek your opinion

bobbywolffAugust 15th, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Hi Bruce,

Although this very ugly pandemic has highly interrupted (with apparently still not an end in sight) you are mentioning new treatments of very old standard bidding practices which tend to befuddle my bridge composure to the point of wondering what is going on.

Yes, it could be decent strategy (but way short of overwhelming) to bid over partner’s 1 heart opening, particularly when having a semi-fit or better (3+ hearts) but short of the expected 0 to 6 hcps, and especially when NV against V.

No problem from that, hoping that even a small minus score from us will still produce over 1/2 of the matchpoints available since they will (might) be disadvantaged and not come into the bidding, allowing us, in at least a minor way, to steal the hand for a better matchpoint score than would be, a making part score their way (I guess primarily in spades, but could be other as well).

But, as far as FORCING with few hearts & high cards, especially when having to have that treatment on one’s scorecard, as well as having to orally alert every opponent puts major doubt as to whether I want to dare go that far.

You may have just meant, somewhat casually, what do I think of such a treatment? Well, sure through the many years of my very active bridge career I have taken it on myself to do things like that, but never discussed with partner and only at that time to think it prudent
(specifically whom I was playing against and, of course, the overall favorable vulnerability).

I do approve of when it is done it MUST be orally alerted with no shenanigans of sometimes not doing it and other times, depending on extraneous reasons, and for no particular one, sometimes yes (unless it was so alerted that way).

IOW, yes it is decent strategy, but only against very aggressive opponents, but no, nothing which gives advantage, but only because of extraneous reasons pertaining to intimidating some while playing straight against experienced opponents, which, at least to me, would violate many different competitions and all for unethical underlying reasons, although sorting this out is indeed difficult.

Sorry for my rambling answer, but I needed to think about it. Good luck in what you decide to do, but if nothing at all, it, IMO, would not necessarily, and important seriously, make any difference.

bobbywolffAugust 15th, 2020 at 4:13 pm


We may have to live with a few different views to which your questions fringed.

I concur with South’s 1NT rebid, rather than doubling, mainly because of his only doubleton heart. Partner, by percentage, is now more likely to bid (and even rebid a 4 card major, if and when the bidding continues competitively.

IOW, a double in South’s possession the second round, would guarantee at least 3 cards in both unbid majors, when East responds 1 diamond to his partner’s TO dbl then allowing his partner, North to make his best bid effort perhaps even a rebid of 2 hearts, since his partner may even have 4 hearts, but only a minimum in high cards for his bidding continuation and not enough to immediately bid during the 3rd round of bidding competition.

Next, as far as South having a good defensive hand, he surely does, but not necessarily at a low level, and a good enough offensive hand, if he can also show his lack of really good major suit length, but convey his overall strength so that partner will be better informed.

Finally, you are totally correct that 3NT was not a particularly good contract, which required excellent play and some decent luck, but that kind of analysis is always difficult, sometimes even after all 52 cards are exposed.

Perhaps the major suit length has never been a requirement to you back when you were getting more into bridge. However, at least to me, that was almost a demand when TO doubles, if and when, were in the offing.

However, different views should never be off the table when bridge is discussed.