Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 13th, 2020


Iain ClimieSeptember 27th, 2020 at 7:14 pm

HI Bobby,

An unrelated question if you’re OK with it. 2N 3H (transfer) 3S 4N is open to mis-interpretation- either as quantitative (how else would you get the hand across) or RKCB with spades inferentially agreed (when responder could have found an alternative route to BW by cue-bidding). I had an agreement with my old regular partner but a friend fell into a mix-up here recently and I received an email describing her woes.

In a scratch or not overly serious partnership, what should be the default meaning? I’d veer towards quantitative but any thoughts here?



Patrick CheuSeptember 27th, 2020 at 8:27 pm

Hi Iain,Just out of interest, do you play 2N-3D-3H-4H and 2N-3H-3S-4S as mild slam interest? Then 2N-4D/4H as transfer to Hearts n Spades but game only..Also if 2N-4C/D slam try in that minor will rule out latter. Would think like you that after transfer..a cue bid at the 4 level might be the case..therefor 4N a la Quantitative..Let’s wait for Bobby..Regards Patrick.

Iain ClimieSeptember 27th, 2020 at 8:52 pm

Hi Patrick, I probably should do (or have done) but I haven’t played (apart from the odd but of BBO 4 hands online since February and my regular partner where I live sadly passed away un July (not COVID). I played regularly with Chris Stevens (who we both know) down at Weymouth although changing jobs has put paid to that but, as a casual but reasonably successful partnership, we had a slightly lackadaisical attitude to documenting too many agreements with the occasional predictable debacle.

What you suggest makes sense, though apart from the clash of 4D being a natural slam try vs Texas. There again, with some partners I’d insist on being able to Hog the hand by having 2N – 4H/S as natural and “go away”. Deplorable but we’ve all been there….


Bobby WolffSeptember 27th, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Hi Iain & Patrick,

Questions and answers to practical bridge questions come and go, come in dressed up packages and, no doubt are worth the right answers.

However, perhaps I can show a different form of light to the prevailing darkness.

It is usually a difficult decision to, after hearing different solutions to prevailing questions, not to mention suggesting various conventions, when played along with, may be even more helpful is finding the truth (close to perfect which almost never occurs).

However, by solving one bidding problem, that partnership may be creating even more trouble than it is worth, in even wasting time discussing it.

What I am alluding to, in case you are unaware, is that IMO the problem lies, not in your final solution or agreement, but rather in not following KISS.

No, we are not having a romantic interlude since KISS merely means ( in case you haven’t heard), “Keep it Simple Stupid”.

And please do not think for a millisecond that a preliminary agreement will solve the problem, especially while playing our favorite game, since much more is lost, rather than gained, by selecting what is even agreed by both, the perfect solution AKA, FOOLS PARADISE!

There are just too many close situations which really do arise and despite discussion, let alone aging minds, even great players, among the best in the world, will tend to get confused, much more damaging than simply playing a “mamma, papa” all encompassing fail safe way of handling your above questions and/or any more you can dream up.

For example, the bridge player’s likely overwhelming favorite, key card Blackwood, IMO has resulted in worse results, of course, counting forgets, than what was suggested by Easley Blackwood when about 85+ years ago he came out with his blockbuster, which has stood the test of time, possibly because of its simplicity, but since its popularity stayed constant, most players, particularly tournament ones, have not had too much trouble.

So my suggestion is that after a strong NT opening a transfer (another easy to remember convention) and then a jump to 4NT should be ace asking (for simplicity sake) although I am not saying that it is better to choose it that way, but I am saying that quantitative 4NT doesn’t jive with simple, so that partnership should watch out, until 100 times out of 100 they get a new convention right, do not accept to try it out unless you do not mind losing!!!!

Strong Post To Follow!

Bobby WolffSeptember 28th, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Hi again Patrick & Iain,

While I have no intention to monopolize this convention conversation, I took off in a different direction, popular or not, to indirectly throw water on what seems to be a hot discussion of whether to make a specific bid, quantitative or ace asking, so I will try to comply.

The technical answer, at least to me, is that first being transferred to hearts and then jumping to 4NT would technically have to be ace asking, since it would be a distortion for that partnership would bypass a possible best contract, 4 hearts, by bidding past it and forcing partner to the next level if he indeed had a bare minimum, but indeed included 3+ hearts and not 4-3-3-3.

IOW, it defeats all bridge convention discussion to have such an inconsistent interpretation, and by such, at least to my experience, a top partnership would, post haste, rule out the possibility of 4NT being quantitative.

Now, at this point, I am hoping my main point is becoming more clear, that in order for a hopeful
bridge partnership to fluourish, it must comply with high-level postulates about general bridge
bidding philosophy .

But what will happen when one knows the above postulate, but, alas, the other does not?

Is it really worth the risk? I think not, but if either of you think these connumdrums do not arise, there is not a cow in Texas, and if either of you have lived there, or even visited a few days or longer, nothing could be further from the truth.

Iain ClimieSeptember 28th, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

I see the logic but there is still a problem. How do you bid a hand which has got 5H or 5S and the values for a quantitative raise to 4N? Presumably via Stayman so (if using the old fashioned, not 5 card major version) 2N 3C 3D 3H 3N 4N or similar. Of course that does mean that 2N 3C 3D 3H 4H becomes a problem with such a hand! I suppose you could just argue that 11 counts with 5M and partner opening 2N are rare….



Bobby WolffSeptember 28th, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Hi Iain,

While holding perhaps: s. AJxxx, h, AJxxx, d. Qxx c. void, and playing just a standard system and having partner open 2NT (19+-21) simply try: 3H, then over 3 Spades bid 5 hearts, allowing partner to pass, bid 5 spades which you should pass, or instead bid 6 heats, 6 spades or cue bid 6 of a minor to which if diamonds I would then deciide between 6 hearts or 7 clubs (with a conservative partner) and then include partner with helping make the mistake between a small and/or grand slam.

Sometimes bridge becomes a time to either live or die as well as bid either a small or grand slam.

Methinks that bridge is, perhaps at least 90% of the time, far from a perfect game, especially when it comes to bidding rather than playing.

The only sound advice I can offer is to, if possible, include partner with the decision making (assuming he is as good, or almost, as you).

Bobby WolffSeptember 28th, 2020 at 6:44 pm

Hi again Iain,

The inference that we should glean is that partner is much preferring hearts to spades, expecting a 2 spades and 4 or maybe even 5 hearts since he only chose 3 spades over our 3 heart transfer instead of leaping to 4 spades. Makes a possible grand slam more probable and expecting then Kx to likely be his spade holding.