Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 29th, 2022


Iain ClimieJune 12th, 2022 at 11:04 am

Hi Bobby,

With regard to Little Space’s question on 2N opening bids, it is all too easy to get over-excited by all those points. Playing 3N with 21 points opposite 4 is often much harder than with 13 opposite 12 while there is an extra advantage in opening 1 of a suit if RHO is overly keen on balancing. It rolls round to him, he / she wades in and then the opponents refuse to believe you’ve got that much (partner perhaps contributing 3-4 points) and wield the big stick with disastrous results for themselves.

Many years ago, though, I recall a tongue in cheek suggestion that after 2N then 2 passes, the opponents will often be in a mess so doubling (at pairs only) could give more good scores (the room is in 2N going one or two off and you’ve just got somewhere between 100 and 500 ATV) than bad ones. I never had the nerve to try it to be fair.



jim2June 12th, 2022 at 1:08 pm

In the “Double Fit” auction, why not bid 5H over 5D after the forcing Pass?

That would seem to tell partner:

1) I have some extra values,
2) The majors are solid, and
3) Pard should choose a bid consistent with partner’s minor suit holdings.

bobbywolffJune 12th, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, your subject, though to my knowledge, rarely discussed in print or, for that matter, by partnerships, is indeed, often abused.

Perhaps mostly by hand hogs (even among the best players) and ones who enjoy, even if only temporarily, keeping their best suits unknown to the opening leader.

Methinks this practice has definite leanings, often taking advantage of offbeat distributions by the immediately above rascals, as against strict application by straight laced players to which you seem to subscribe (at least with this subject).

Narrowing it down in stricter fashion is likely pointless, but possibly best, to break it down by where you stand in the IMP match or where you are likely then placed with matchpoints.

With money (or rubber) bridge, who your specific opponents (and partner) happens to be, is possibly also a factor.

IOW I have no definite opinion and am more likely to start with 2NT if I am playing with a conservative partner who need his 6+ points to keep the auction open.

I thus think that practice is hard to define as plus or minus, so others, not I, may have an opinion worth listening to.

bobbywolffJune 12th, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

No doubt the answer should be then bidding, not doubling when 5 diamonds is passed around to you (or even if you were the immediate bidder when the opponents kept bidding.

Furthermore you are 100% correct (at least IMO) to chirp 5 hearts, but only do so, with the idea of partner then judging what to do, if and when the opponents now continue on to 6 diamonds.

That happening may be far fetched at this particular moment, but, at the table (and against very good players) it, at least IMO, is more likely to happen than expected.

IOW, if RHO now bids 6 diamonds, it is much easier to now make a forcing pass, once you have bid 5 hearts, than if you had instead bid 5 spades.

Just another example of at least attempting to play “partnership” bridge rather than single handed, but thank you for continuing the subject.

Of course there is also a counter argument against bidding 5 hearts than 5 spades, instead of thinking all good to inform partner, since by doing so you are also informing your excellent opposition what they are more likely to do, once also they have heard the news.

“Ain’t we got fun?” might be the question, with these types of debates huge and important subjects for beforehand private discussion.

clarksburgJune 12th, 2022 at 4:09 pm

Hello Bobby
Yet another hand of possible interest to your Sunday Intermediate readers.
Matchpoints, Both VUL, Opponents silent.
Partner opens a 15-17 1NT
You hold:
J10652 KQJ54 Q8 10
Clearly worth forcing to a Major-suit game?
If so, playing standard methods is 1NT>2H>2S>4H… the way to show it?
For this, or another holding judged INV only, how to show that?
How would you bid this playing two-way Stayman?

bobbywolffJune 12th, 2022 at 6:27 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Playing transfers the way you suggested and playing 2-way Stayman, 2D and then either an immediate major suit game or instead 3S and then 4H over partner’s

Although I am not suggesting anything different bidding wise, I am just saying the declarer should hope for an immediate or ASAP, an agreement on suit, since more involved bidding will only lead to the opponent’s advantage on defense.

Usually, perhaps 80% of the time, it will not make a difference, but the other 20% may allow for a better educated opening lead (for them) or even a different and more accurate later defense.

While I am not suggesting anything to counter the immediate above, I believe that the fewer bids which are made is a distinct advantage (especially when playing against serious and decent opponents) for those listening adversaries, therein approving (in the absence of not a sensible reason to do otherwise) for you, as their opponents, and, to merely jump to game (or even slam) rather than paint pictures along the way.

EBSLC applies-(extra bids sometimes lose contracts, especially when not necessary.

The above may suggest to you not to ask questions, but if so, please forgive me and keep them coming.

bobbywolffJune 12th, 2022 at 9:01 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Sorry for not answering your question about when to only invite, but not to force to game.

With 2 way Stayman, to which I think is clearly more effective than transfers, just bid 2 clubs first and only then let your partner guide you from there.

Answer his questions by preferences and don’t leave him hanging, but keep in mind he does not have a GF, so that you may be free to use your judgment.

For example: 1NT P 2C P 2D, P 2S should always then be passed with an instead jump to 3S merely invitational.

Even 1NT p 2C P 2S, P 3H would only be invitational to game, meaning either 4 hearts or pass available for the 1NTer to be consistent. Of course there could be exceptions such as 1NT having a good 6 card minor and only holding 2 hearts then gambling 3NT, but both partners would then be in a pretty good position to recognize those unusual and unexpected replies.

Also, many relative newbies do not recognize the disadvantages of transfers as opposed to just bidding 2 of your major suit to play.

Sure, the contract is not declared from the optimum side, but what is good is that your side has not given those mean opponents the privilege of two rounds of bidding in order to show minimum and maximum competition, plus, and, of course, the luxury of doubling for both leads and a fairly safe way to enter the bidding without putting your side in severe jeopardy.

The necessary way to properly consider conventions is to always think
first about its advantages, but then before OKing it for play, never overlook its disadvantages (besides forgetting)
which for some is sometimes overwhelming dangerous.!

Iain ClimieJune 12th, 2022 at 9:18 pm

Hi Clarksburg and Bobby,

This could be the time where (like earlier discussions on 2N opening bids being distorted) opener has a 15 count with Six and Xxx plus 5-4 in the minors. English writer Eric Crowhurst (author of Precision Bidding in Ago I and a lovely guy whom I was lucky enough to play against in the 80s) jokingly suggested getting a new partner if it happened too often. Styles change though.



Iain ClimieJune 13th, 2022 at 7:44 am

Sorry, should read SKx and Hxx!

bobbywolffJune 13th, 2022 at 1:20 pm

Hi Iain,

Always a mystery to me was that, among the better players in bridge, who, at least appeared, to live solid conservative lives, seemed to take more drastic, anti-percentage bids and plays while competing in bridge.

Early on, I thought the best way to describe it was “balancing” which by coincidence turned out to also being
an often used bridge term, usually referring to keeping the bidding live,
instead of conceding the auction to aggressive opponents by passing it out and allowing them free reign.