Wednesday, August 18, 2004 1:13 AM

Control Asking Bids




            An established partnership has a huge advantage if they have asking bids in their arsenal. Control Asking Bids have been around for decades. No , they are not the Barton type of “control asking” bids  which is just a different form of Blackwood. These bids ask partner if they control an unbid or bid suit .  Spades are the agreed trump suit and the opponents have bid diamonds . A jump to 5 asks how you control diamonds. A pass says I do not . 6says  I have a 2nd round control , 5NT says I have the king of diamonds & 6 says I have 1st round control. This understanding also occurs if all three suits have been bid or Q bid. 5 of the agreed trump suit or a jump to 5 of the agreed trump suit asks to describe the controls in the unbid suit with the same responses as above.


The 2nd most common control asking bid is after partner pre-empts 4 of a major.  Say partner opens 4 and you bid 5♣ . Obviously you are not rescuing a pre-empt . You are making a control asking bid in clubs. 5 by partner says I can not control clubs , 6 2nd round control of clubs  , 5NT the club king and 6♣ 1st round control. In a Q bidding auction , if you jump to 5 of the trump suit , it is an asking bid in the unbid suit with similar responses. A 4bid after 4opener is not a rescue but an asking bid in the spade suit.


            The 5NT bid is a control asking bid in the trump suit which is the grand slam force in normal auctions.  After a 4 of a major opening  ,  the bid is modified to show the solidarity of the trump suit. 6 of the  trump suit  is the death response , a bid of 7 means my suit is solid opposite a void , a 6 bid says my suit is solid opposite xxx or the queen. A 6♣ bid is very interesting and says I have a solid suit opposite 2 small & possibly after a stiff. Partner now bids 6 with a stiff , 7 of the trump suit with two small and 6 of the trump suit with a void. With the “normal” Grand Slam force , we modify it a bit by having the trump suit as the death response. Ace or King as the first step & the queen as the 2nd step. Of course the jump to a grand slam shows two out of three top honours..


            If partner pre-empts a weak two or three bid , 4♣ is usually reserved for a control asking bid (4 over clubs ) with responses involving controls . Since you are a disciplined pre-empter,  you will not have an outside ace after pre-empting at the 3 level but you could have an outside Ace  after a weak 2. Since 10 HCP’s is the maximum for a weak two , we will only have to consider up to two controls  To keep the treatments consistent for both pre-empts , the responses after 4♣ involve the trump queen & consider the Ace or King as a control    4=0/0 or 0/1;4=1/0;4=1/1;4NT=2/0;5=2/1 . The 4 asking bid if clubs agreed as the trump suit  is similar.


            Another control asking bid  ( using Kantars lingo ) is the specific suit asking bid. Tom & I use this bid only in two circumstances . After a 2♣ opener , a jump rebid of a suit establishes the suit and partner is required to show a control. A suit bid after that asks for partners holding in that specific suit. A return to the trump suit is always the death response and  you just go up in steps. Aces are taken out of the equation so steps are defined around the King and Queen  1st step response shows the queen , 2nd  Kxx ,  3rd  Kx  and raise of the specific suit shows both king & queen  .


Kantar has specific suit asking bids with KCB which is the 2nd circumstance that Tom and I use these bids.   He has some rules 1) always thru 4NT first 2) A suit bid that is not the Queen ask is the SSA 3) You forego specific kings if you go this route 4) the death response to the SSA is returning to the trump suit . The steps are same as above &  if the King has been denied ( via queen ask ), the responses  defined around the queen and the jack can be thrown in , 1st  step shows the queen and raising the suit shows  the QJ of the suit


Bridge should not be a burden of memory work . However , the above  is an exception that all established partnerships should have memorized. The stakes are high in these auctions so the strain on your memory cells is worth it. A Hollywood starlet can memorize an entire script so you should be able to memorize the contents of one e-mail !!