Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - by Phillip Alder

G.K. Ch­ester­ton, an English poet who died in 1936, said, “Nowa­days a ci­ti­zen can hardly dis­tin­guish be­tween a tax and a fine, ex­cept that the fine is gen­er­ally much lighter.”

How is “lighter” rel­e­vant to bridge?

Fine play at the money-bridge ta­ble will leave the op­po­nents with lighter wal­lets. Also, the best play­ers are open­ing and re­spond­ing lighter and lighter these days.

Look at the North-South hands -- which is the stronger? Do you agree with the auc­tion, or would you pre­fer a dif­fer­ent se­quence?

Less ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, who like guide­lines, may ap­ply the rule of 20. You add your high-card points to the num­ber of cards in your two long­est suits. If the to­tal equals at least 20, you are sup­posed to open at the one-level.

In this deal, South’s hand qual­i­fies, but North’s does not. How­ever, that South hand is not an open­ing bid, be­cause it has a po­ten­tially use­less two-honor dou­ble­ton in spades and a load of quacks (queens and jacks). A min­i­mum open­ing should con­tain at least one ace or two kings. The North hand, in con­trast, fails the rule but is def­i­nitely an open­ing bid. It has two aces, one king and great in­ter­me­di­ates.

The given auc­tion reaches a hope­less spot. Even if North had 10-third of hearts, the con­tract might fail. I be­lieve that the auc­tion should pro­ceed: pass - one di­a­mond - two no-trump - pass.

Note that even two no-trump goes down if West shifts to a spade be­fore de­clarer has driven out the di­a­mond ace. The de­fend­ers can take one spade, four hearts and one di­a­mond.

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