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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Power of Aces.

Many fine contracts, whether they be games or slams, have been missed because players have undervalued the aces they hold. While in themselves, they only contribute one trick, they control a suit for a declarer often enabling losing cards in that suit to be discarded, or maybe ruffed. We only value them as 4 high card points but they can really be worth much more. An ace rarely does not score a trick. A king queen holding (one hcp more) requires you often to lose a trick before you can gain one.

Judge for yourself why in today’s deal, many pairs played in part-score.

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North Deals
N-S Vul
   
A 7
J 9 8 7
8 7 3
A 4 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
   
West North East South
  1  1  1 
?      

 

A chance to make an aggressive or a more conservative bid. What’s your choice?

 

What is this hand worth? A jump to 3Heart-small is usually played as a pre-emptive 4-card raise with the cue-bid, here 2Diamond-small, as a constructive move, though there are other alternative bids, as we will soon see. Firstly, though, the simple approach:

Stephen Blackstock “2Diamond-small: The choices are 2Diamond-small, 2Heart-small, or 3Heart-small. A pre-emptive raise is inappropriate: too strong, too balanced, too many controls. While 2Heart-small is a little timid and 2Diamond-small a little pushy, I prefer 2Diamond-small because I would bid 2Heart-small with an ace and a trump fewer – but I could live with either.

Bruce Anderson “2Diamond-small: shows heart support and game interest. While the bid is a stretch, the hand has two aces and the trump support is good; even opposite Heart-smallA10xxx we are a favourite for only one loser. In my view the quality of the trump support held is an important factor when determining how strongly to bid in support of partner.

Game may well be possible, especially if partner has a club fit. Another reason for pushing is that it is Teams; there could be a useful swing if we bid and make a tight game.”

There was to be no club fit but the game was not even tight. It was an easy make. Using the jump to 3Heart-small as constructive and yet still cue-bidding is:

 Peter Newell “2Diamond-small: I prefer this as at least a sound raise to the 2 level. So not necessarily quite as good as a game try as could bid 3Heart-small. However, if system says it’s a game try, I would bid the same. It’s a bit thin particularly since partner has made a non- vulnerable overcall, but I think with two aces and a balanced hand, I prefer a constructive action rather than a pre-emptive one.”

Michael is surely right with his bid but, of course, wrong with his prediction:

 

Michael Ware “2Diamond-small: unanimous surely? - except for people inventing 3 level raises, maybe.”

 So, let’s bring on those “3 level raises”…well raises above 2Heart-small:

 

Matt Brown “2NT: Here I like to play a jump in their suit (3Diamond-small) as 6-9 with 4-card support and 2NT as 10+ with 4-card support. So, I make a slight upgrade - aces are very good cards, we have a mild spade shortage and none of our honours can be wasted (i.e., we don't have diamond honours which our LHO is sitting over). If I didn't have these bids available, I would just make a simple 2Diamond-small cue raise.”

 

With overcalls sometimes of dubious worth, it is better to use 2NT as showing trump support rather than in a natural sense.

 

Michael Cornell “2NT: (mixed raise 4+Heart-small) round about 8-10 (11) HCP. One of our priorities is to get the number of trumps right- a big difference between 8 and 9+ trumps.

2Diamond-small would be a decent 3 card raise ,2Spade-small a better 3 card raise and 3Diamond-small is a strongly invitational 4+ card raise. Easy peasy.”

 Nigel Kearney’s “mixed raise” is an hcp less and therefore he rejects the bid here:

 

Nigel Kearney “2Diamond-small: Two aces and a very useful fourth trump make this good enough for 2Diamond-small. 2Heart-small or 3Heart-small would be inadequate. A 3Diamond-small mixed raise (a jump cue bid with about 7-9 with four trumps.  It takes its name from the fact it mixes pre-emption with showing some values. That means 3Heart-small would be weaker, e.g., 4-6.) would be ok if playing that but I think this hand is just a little too strong.”

As Michael Cornell alludes, the hand is stronger because of the 4th trump. While the Heart-smallJ may in itself not be quite so significant, two aces and a useful doubleton seem to take it beyond the simple raise to 2Heart-small. However, that bid did have its supporter:

Pam Livingston “2Heart-small: Too much to pre-empt with 3Heart-small.  Not enough for a good raise with 2Diamond-small. If I need to compete to the 3 level, I will and will also accept an invite.”

So, Pam would expect her partner to move over 2Heart-small with the East hand below. They might but there were a number who did not:


North Deals
N-S Vul
8 4
6 3
A K J 5 2
K Q J 7
A 7
J 9 8 7
8 7 3
A 4 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
K J 10 5
A K 10 5 4 2
6
10 5
 
Q 9 6 3 2
Q
Q 10 9 4
9 8 6
West North East South
  1  1  1 
?      

 

One extra heart and a useful singleton but is that enough with side-suit values in the enemy suit on their left? 2Spade-small, a long-suit try would win the day though for most of our Panel, that would not have been necessary.

right decision 2.jpg

Had West only raised to 2Heart-small and East passed that bid, South would have been well advised not to compete to 3Diamond-small as either East or West would surely have not left their partner’s competitive raise to 3Heart-small alone, both having ample reason to raise to game. Yet, those aces…so valuable. Only 20 hcp between the two hands but a most comfortable 11 tricks in the heart game. I trust you made it to that level.

A Queen’s Birthday Puzzle


East Deals
None Vul
J 9 8 7
10 4
K Q J 7 6
A 2
   
N
W   E
S
 
A Q 5 3 2
A 6
4 2
J 10 5 4
West North East South
  Dummy You  
    1  2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      

 

West leads Spade-small4 (Leads 4th highest, MUD) and you win with your ace, with South playing Spade-smallK. You switch to Club-smallJ with South playing Club-small7 and West Club-small9, low encouraging and dummy’s ace taking the trick.

Heart-small10 wins the next trick and then a heart is played to your ace. What now?

Richard Solomon

 

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