ACES ON BRIDGE
DEAR MR. WOLFF: From the Richardson sectional with neither side vulnerable, I held ♠—-, ♥ K-Q7-6-5-3, ♦ 10, ♣ A-10-9-7-3-2, and overcalled one heart over one club. Now came one spade to my left and a double from my partner (just showing a good hand and suggesting diamonds). What would you do now after my RHO raises spades? — Shrinking Violet,
Waterbury, Conn. DEAR READER: After the double, I think all bids in clubs should be natural. I think even though my LHO has shown clubs, I must do the same. I would jump to three clubs, suggesting clubs and hearts. With sixfive, come alive; with sixsix, I want to end up declaring the hand.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: Holding ♠ 10-9-7-5-3, ♥ K-97-4, ♦ J-5-3-2, ♣ — after you hear partner open two notrump, how would you best describe your hand?
— Thyme Well Spent,
Honolulu DEAR READER: Starting with Stayman and bidding game over a response of three hearts or three spades looks easy enough. Over a call of three diamonds, the best treatment is a common one over a one-no-trump opener. Here you can bid three hearts to show four hearts plus five spades, and game forcing values. This is known as Smolen, and the logic of playing this way is to get the strong hand as declarer if you have a 5-3 fit.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: We had an auction where I had a strong hand with five clubs, three hearts and four spades. I opened one club, heard my partner bid one spade, and a two-diamond overcall. I doubled to show three spades, and my partner passed, without alerting. What are my ethical responsibilities about informing the opponents?
— Stuck in the Mud,
Sacramento DEAR READER: The failure to alert shouldn’t affect you during the bidding; just assume your partner did alert it. But since your opponents may have been misinformed by the failure to alert, they may be due some recompense. Be careful though. If you end up on defense, don’t alert them until the end of the play, rather than the end of the auction.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: Holding ♠ Q-10-8, ♥ K-Q-107-2, ♦ J-4, ♣ Q-8-5, I heard my partner open and rebid diamonds over my oneheart response. Can I now rebid hearts, clearly indicating that I have five of them, not four? After all, partner could have three hearts, and given that we were playing matchpoints, hearts might outscore diamonds — even facing a doubleton.
— Making a Match,
Jackson, Miss. DEAR READER: A call of two hearts might work, I agree. But note that I might raise as opener with three trumps on my second turn, even with a 6-3 pattern, unless my hearts were weak. In that context, repeating the heart suit becomes less attractive. Typically, a call of two hearts here would show six, or five very good cards, and is not really an invitation. It tends to deliver mildly constructive values, though even that would be less clear if your partner had bid a second suit as opposed to rebidding his own suit.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: I play that Gerber four clubs only applies to a jump after a one- or two-no-trump opening or rebid, with the exception being in a Stayman sequence over one notrump where you find a fit. Is this passe?
— Ace of Base, Corpus Christi, Texas DEAR READER: Your explanation of when you play Gerber makes excellent sense. You can vary, to add or subtract from the sequences you suggest, but I say stick with what you have. Never use it unless it is a jump and no-trump has just been bid. A little Gerber goes a remarkably long way.