ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: My partner unleashed a sequence on me for which I was not prepared. He opened one club, and I responded one spade. The next hand bid two diamonds, and partner jumped to four clubs, holding six clubs and four spades. Is this a convention — and is it in standard use? — Point Counterpoint,
Little Rock, Ark. ANSWER: It is not unusual to agree that in a noncompetitive sequence, a double jump to four clubs shows at least six decent clubs and four spades, with the values to drive to game. This helps partner see a source of tricks for his side in a spade slam. But in competition, should four clubs be natural or fit? I guess fit is logical enough, but it is an unusual enough auction that I wouldn’t want to spring it on my partner unawares.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I have always been taught not to open all 12-counts reflexively, but to bid only with a hand good in shape or controls. Am I out of line with modern thinking? And how should I act with a shapely 11-count?
— Egg-shells, Charlottesville, Va. ANSWER: With a suit I do not particularly want partner to lead, I might pass. By contrast, on 11-counts with shape, especially those where a rebid is easy, I like to get the hand off my chest at my first turn. Hands with awkward shape, where the four-card suit ranks above the five-carder, might sensibly pass at the first turn rather than having to distort at the second turn.
Dear Mr. Wolff: What is the right way to ask for aces and then for kings using Gerber after my partner opens in a suit? — Florence of Arabia,
Columbus, Ohio ANSWER: Gerber applies only after an opening or rebid of one or two notrump. The four-club call gets a response of four diamonds for zero or four aces, four hearts for one ace, and so on. Then five clubs (or step one if you play Sliding Gerber) over the response asks for kings with the same scheme of responses. By agreement, one can use Gerber after a one-no-trump opener if Stayman finds a fit. But the best way to play Gerber is by your left- and right-hand opponents, rather than by you.