Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 1st, 2020


ClarksburgNovember 15th, 2020 at 10:29 am

Good morning Bobby
From a Club game, pair of hands that seem awkward to bid
Matchpoints, favourable VUL
North (dealer) QJ8764 K6 A J742
East 93 Q842 Q5432 Q6
South A A753 K1097 AK103
West K1052 J109 J86 985
In our game three Norths passed initially, four opened 1S and two bid 2S
The game contracts reached were 3NTS four times, 4SN three times, 5CS once (bidding mix-up on seeking slam).
Would appreciate your comments on how the auction should / might go.

Bobby WolffNovember 15th, 2020 at 9:36 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Good hand to ask questions about, and especially so, since I have a somewhat vested interest in discussing a specific pertaining to it.

No question that North while dealer, has a 1 spade opening bid, if not by holding only eleven hcps but being 6-4 and also 6 cards in the boss suit: I’ll now give my whole extended auction, complete with asterisk.

North South
1S 2D
2S 3C
4C 4H
4NT+ 5S
6C Pass

+DI-Declarative Interrogative-Any natural non-trump suit bid to which is not a direct NT raise but rather over a 4 level cue bid is a natural slam try, always showing interest in the already agreed trump suit, but not wanting to go past the 5 level in case of a possible misfit.

Possibly my favorite convention of all time while playing 26 straight years with Bob Hamman.

It takes full advantage of having a vehicle enabling controls and fit, plus our own evaluation of what about that hand we liked or, of course, didn’t.

To my knowledge a bridge researcher would have a difficult time finding a hand through those entire years (1972-1998) wherein that convention failed us.

Keep in mind that it is not DI, but rather ace asking if it is not over a cue bid or any other natural bid (very rare) at the four level.

3NT-4NT is merely a NT raise and/or any jump bid to 4NT is always ace asking. Before arriving at the four level the partnership will have found a disclosed suit fit, apparent to both players before DI will apply.

Your hand is a good example of DI in action.
5 spades by South was by then a cue bid since I would have shown spade interest in one of my first two bids but here it was a grand slam try in clubs without going past our suit level at the six level. Perhaps, by my holding only AK10x, I was being too aggressive, but after all if partner then bid it and we failed we both (and all other players) will know whose fault it is.

Note-I responded 2 diamonds instead of 2 clubs to enable myself to then bid clubs next, without confusion as to length of suits, keeping in mind that if hearts were our fit, partner will enable them.

ClarksburgNovember 15th, 2020 at 11:06 pm

Thanks very much Bobby. Glad the hand contained substance of particular interest to you! Enjoyed the historical notes.
Liked your advice to bid D before C to avoid any confusion about suit lengths. I missed that in our auction, but probably not a factor, because we ran aground on a bidding wreck anyway!
My Partner did open 1S, and our clumsy 2/1 auction, as I aimed for a slam, went:
1S 2C 2S 3D 3NT 5C* Pass (* Gerber; 4C over 3NT reserved as natural).
Should Partner have raised Clubs rather than the 3NT call?
Thanks again.

Bobby WolffNovember 16th, 2020 at 5:27 am

Hi again Clarksburg,

While holding a 6-2-1-4 distribution along with at least close to opening bid values, it is often quite dangerous not to support partner when he hits your four.

There are always exceptions to most every concept while discussing bridge bidding, but the above comment should be taken quite seriously, meaning even if our partnership arrived at undoubtedly the correct contract by not following the rule, I would still feel our partnership had a long way to go and needed to concentrate strongly on discipline.