ACES ON BRIDGE
DEAR MR. WOLFF: You recently commented about the conditions to open one no-trump. This hand below came up in a local game this week. Playing five-card majors and strong no-trump, would you open one no-trump with ♠ A-J,
♥ A-Q-10-9, ♦ A-4, ♣ 9-6-54-3? Would opening a suit and rebidding one no-trump be a significant underbid? — Playing House,
Torrance, Calif. DEAR READER: This hand looks like a balanced hand, not an unbalanced one, because the minor is so weak I don’t want to emphasize it. It is not strong enough to open one club and respond two hearts over one spade, so I would have to rebid one no-trump. I’d opt for the suit opening bid with ace-fifth of clubs and the doubleton spade jack, but as it is, I’ll open one no-trump.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: Not vulnerable, my partner opened one diamond in first seat, followed by two passes and a one-heart bid by my left-hand opponent. My partner passed, as did my right-hand opponent. I then bid two clubs. What should my partner expect of me?
— Trying It On,
Louisville, Ky. DEAR READER: Good question. I’d say I would expect 4 or 5 points and long clubs, no diamond fit, unsuitable for bidding a major or one no-trump the first time out. Since most of us would bid one no-trump on any six-count or respond in a major if we had one, a single-suiter seems most likely.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: I held ♠ J-10-2, ♥ 10, ♦ Q-10-98-3, ♣ Q-10-9-8. My partner opened two clubs, followed by a rebid of two no-trump over my two-diamond call. I chose to bid Stayman and raised his three spades to four. It turned out he had ace-jack-third of hearts, and because the club king was finessable, we could have made 12 tricks in either contract. How would you have bid my hand?
— Howdy Doody, Northridge, Calif. DEAR READER: If partner had a very strong hand and we only had regular Stayman available, I’d just blast three no-trump. Let me add a suggestion: Even if you play regular Stayman, you can use a response of three no-trump to Stayman as five spades — what do you have to lose, since it has no other meaning in the standard scheme of responses?
DEAR MR. WOLFF: We had a pregame seminar at our club last week, and this deal came up. With ♠ A-10-8, ♥ A-Q-J-9-2, ♦ Q-5,
♣ K-Q-10, what would be your plan facing a one-club opener? (Partner’s opener is a dead minimum, but his hand includes five decent clubs plus the heart king and diamond ace; so 12 tricks are easy in three strains — though not 13.)
— Flummoxed, Cartersville, Ga. DEAR READER: This is a hard hand, but it exemplifies why we play strong jumps shifts. After one club - two hearts - two no-trump - three no-trump, responder has shown an 18-count with five hearts. If opener can find one further call (maybe four clubs or four hearts), you should achieve your target.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: My partner introduced me to an odd-sounding concept, and I need help. Please discuss what “unusual against unusual” means and how it applies.
— Old Sparky, New Canaan, Conn. DEAR READER: When the opponents show a specific two-suiter (by bidding two no-trump over partner’s one heart, say), use the three-club and three-diamond cue-bids to show two hand types. One is a limit raise in hearts, and one is a spade hand — typically one plays this as better than a direct three-spade call, which would show a non-forcing hand. You can link clubs and hearts together, and diamonds to spades. Alternatively, you can make the higher cue-bid — if it is below three of partner’s suit as the limit raise. Whatever you do, make sure you agree on it.