Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 7th, 2021


ClarksburgFebruary 21st, 2021 at 6:05 pm

Hello Bobby
A very basic question.
Matchpoints. Favourable VUL. Partner open 1S (five+ length)
1S (2H) 2S
What agreement would you recommend for the minimum strength required, if any, for the raise to 2S?

bobbywolffFebruary 21st, 2021 at 9:04 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

IMO there is no real answer to that, since that decision must be made by a partnership when it is formed, not for the first time, at the table.

And worse, it may and should vary, according to who your opponents may be, especially so if they are known to be conservative, all the way to vicious headhunters (bridge that is).

To illustrate that last remark, both (1) Kxx, xx, Q10xxx, xxx and/or (2) xxxx, xxx, xxxxx, x qualify to bid 2 spades if playing against average players who would also rank as only moderately aggressive.

Also keep in mind that even though the second example above probably has (on average) slightly more trick taking ability than does #1,
another, perhaps more vital a consideration is that, on overall results, what about if partner winds up on lead (not likely but could easily happen) then any lead but a spade from partner, could be disastrous on example #1.

No doubt, decisions like yours, swing tons of IMPs and matchpoints with still no answer since in spite of long ago working with early computers my team involved itself with many simulations, and in many cases, like Shakespeare (I think) once replied, “Signifying nothing”.

In spite of the above, I would tend to decide by usually always being aggressive and bid rather than not. The one case to not, is when your partner is prone to be a penalty doubler, in spite of playing against a partnership thought to be conservative.

Through the years my partnerships were always very conservative doublers, only risking doing so, especially at matchpoints, when the vulnerability strongly suggested it.

Of course, it also helps to be backed with some intimidation value to somewhat ward off the competitive opponents.

Sorry for my lack of significant direction, but to do so would show a lack of conscientious advice.

Summing up, high-level bridge is full of situations wherein the right answer has to do with partner, opponents, specific type game, psychology, and any other ethical tells available.

Sorry for possibly leaving you in worse shape than before your valid question.

Thanks for writing.

ClarksburgFebruary 21st, 2021 at 9:53 pm

You did in fact answer the real implicit point of my question.
I am currently in two new Partnerships, and finding our way to agreements.
In our Club Games I would always raise with either of those two hands; without discussion / agreement my Partners would expect some “points”.