Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 3rd, 2020


Iain ClimieDecember 17th, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Hi Bobby,

A quick thought on the bidding on today’s main column hand. I used to play (before my 25 year break) that 1N 2D 2H 3C/3D was at least invitational but gave the option of stopping in 3H although 5-2 hands may not play too well. Against that, if responder has (say) 3-5-4-1 shape or similar, with an invitational hand, he has to bid 2N which is a bit distorted. When did the change in treatment occur and how sensible is it?

I accept that this could be one reason you prefer 2-way Stayman, of course!



PeteDecember 17th, 2020 at 8:40 pm

Hi Bobby,
Thank you and Iain for your insight into weak two bids. If I may beg your indulgence, perhaps you could comment on two slams that we missed. Matchpoints again. Unfavorable vulnerability.
I had S-K,J,10,9,8,3 H-Q,8,5,4 D-A C-A,7.
Partner had S-A,Q,5,4,2 H-A,K,J,2 D-8,4 C-K,4
Righty opened 3D. I bid 3S. After lefty passed, partner bid 4S. All pass. Making seven. I think partner should bid 5S, but it’s still not clear to me how we reach the grand slam. Was I too passive? Should I bid 4S originally or double? Should I bid over partners 4S?
Next hand. Also matchpoints. All vul.
I had S-A,7,6,4 H-void D-K,10,7,6,5,3 C-A,K,Q
Partner had S-K,Q,10,5,3 H-10,4,3 D-A,9 C-J,10,6.
After two passes righty opened 1H. I doubled. Lefty bid 3H, and partner bid 3S. I raised to 4S. All pass. I thought partner should have bid 4S. Still it’s not clear how we should bid to a small slam or a makeable grand.

Iain ClimieDecember 17th, 2020 at 10:35 pm

Hi Pete,

If you’ll forgive me chipping in first again (you’ll get better advice from Bobby), on the first hand I agree with 3S but partner should perhaps try 5S (he’d bid 4D with a diamond control and slam interest) and now you can bid 6C, confirming a D control (without one you’d pass 5S). Partner can bid 6H and you could maybe have a bash at 7S now although it is still maybe a punt. With a 17 count and S AQxxx opposite an adverse vulnerability 3S overcall, I think 4S is too cautious.

On the second hand, I again agree that partner should bid 4S (5 good trumps, you must have short hearts, the DA and CJ10 are working, no wasted value in hearts) and maybe you could try 5C now (slamming in spades surely) and, if partner bids 5D then you could bid 5H, 6S, 6H (clearly trying for the grand with no heart losers) or even 5N if you are happy he’s got the DA. 6S is probably par for the course except in a good field but it is a “30 point pack” hand where your complete lack of wasted values and 26 of the 30 points outside hearts mean Christmas is early.

Raising 3S to 4S is also maybe slightly cautious although Axxx in spades is not ideal – AJ9x would certainly justify bidding 4H on the way there and partner should then be hugely encouraged. I’d have bid 3S on his / her hand without the DA so the hand is growing all the time.

Saner answers to follow from Bobby, though!





bobbywolffDecember 18th, 2020 at 12:48 am

Hi Iain,

AFAIK, there was never an official transition from what I would call a treatment (within the transfer) but rather just a personalized agreement between the partners.

No doubt the return to NT with an unbid singleton becomes awkward, thus a candidate for distortion, but unfortunately our challenging game does have imperfections within, difficult to avoid.

While I understand your comment on 2 way Stayman and do appreciate its value, my prime like for it is simply to allow partner the freedom to not worry whether his next bid will be interpreted as forcing or not.

To me, simpler (in many key areas with bidding) is the most important single value and even more important, prevents disasters. Other than that, I like my partnership to feel comfortable first which, over time, will IMO produce better results.

bobbywolffDecember 18th, 2020 at 1:07 am

Hi Pete,

When you bid 3 spades on the first hand (my choice, although double and then bid spades or raise hearts the next action, is possible)
you should not, under almost any circumstances, bid on over a raise.

However on the second hand, when you double and then over righty’s preemptive raise to 3 hearts and partner’s 3 spade intervention, you have a clear heart cue bid, stating a fit for spades and slam interest. Of course, when partner only responded 3 spades (my choice) the first time he would have a clear 5 diamond cue bid suggesting not only a diamond control (almost always the ace, especially when you have the king), and a maximum hand for his previous bidding.

With that information I would then bid 5NT which, when I did not return to only 6 spades, by definition is a grand slam try.

Then partner, holding KQ10xx in spades has a clear, at least to me, 7 spade jump and be 90% sure of being cold.

Remember hands vary back and forth in being good, medium and poor and when partner bids 5 diamonds your hand lights up like it will in about a week, like a Christmas tree an, of course, then justifies your grand slam try, to which your partner will co-operate.

BTW, on the second hand I do not think that either you nor partner have even come close to bidding ’em up, but rather have been very sound.

Happy Holidays, which bidding almost lay down grand slams usually brings.

bobbywolffDecember 18th, 2020 at 1:12 am

Hi Iain,

And also Merry Xmas, plus a Covid19 free most of 2021 to you and yours and happy to find out that yours and my bridge post to Pete, were, to say the least, compatible.

PeteDecember 18th, 2020 at 2:44 am

Thank you both Bobby and Iain for your insight into the game. Happy Holidays to both of you.

Iain ClimieDecember 18th, 2020 at 9:58 am

Hi Bobby, Pete

All the very best for the festive season to you and your families, and also to everyone else who blogs here or reads the column. This has been a shocking year in many respects but there is one lesson to be learned i.e. to keep in touch with those you haven’t seen or talked to for a while. The morale boost could be invaluable at the moment and it is all too easy to let things slip under normal circumstances as the rush of everyday life causes us to forget “auld acquaintances”.