Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.

Jean Jacques Rousseau


West North
Both ♠ A K Q
 Q J 9 4
 K 10 9 7 2
♣ K
West East
♠ 10 4 3
 8 5
 A 8 5 4 3
♣ 10 7 4
♠ 9 8 6 5
 A 10 2
 Q 6
♣ A Q 6 5
South
♠ J 7 2
 K 7 6 3
 J
♣ J 9 8 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 3 All pass

♣4

Today's deal comes from a Swiss Team event earlier this year. For the winning team, the North-South pair bid to four hearts, and West led the spade three to dummy's queen. In desperation, declarer played a low diamond toward his jack, and that went to West's ace when East did not put up his queen. After a club to the king and ace, East returned a spade. When the diamond king dropped East's queen, South turned to trumps and made his contract, losing only one heart, one diamond and one club.

In the other room, on the given auction, North underbid slightly with his three-heart call, ending the auction. Jeff Aker as West inferred that his partner had to have values, but had not overcalled at the one-level (which he might have done with spade values) so he made the first good move for the defenders when he led a low club.

Victor King (East) won with his ace and thoughtfully led back a low club. Declarer naturally put in the nine, and ruffed West’s 10. Then he played dummy’s heart queen, and when it held, he led a low diamond from the dummy. King put up his queen, knowing declarer couldn’t have the ace, then cashed the heart ace and played another heart to dummy’s jack.

When declarer ran dummy’s diamond king, discarding a club from his hand, West won with his ace and led a club to his partner’s queen for down one. Plus 620 and plus 100 gave the winners a huge swing on the board.


I'm torn in two directions here. The simple action is to bid two hearts; the more complex plan is to bid two clubs, planning to compete to two hearts when the opponents rebid diamonds. In abstract I prefer the second plan though partner might imagine I had only three hearts for this route, I suppose. Still, I prefer the route that gets both suits in efficiently.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 2
 K 7 6 3
 J
♣ J 9 8 3 2
South West North East
1
Pass 1 NT Dbl. Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 8th, 2014

As often as a study is cultivated by narrow minds, they will draw from it narrow conclusions.

John Stuart Mill


East North
East-West ♠ A 10 6
 9 7 4
 8 7 6
♣ K J 5 4
West East
♠ J 8 7 3
 J 6
 A J 9 5
♣ 10 8 7
♠ 2
 K Q 10 8 5 2
 K 10 4 2
♣ 6 3
South
♠ K Q 9 5 4
 A 3
 Q 3
♣ A Q 9 2
South West North East
2
2♠ Pass 3♠ Pass
4♠ All pass    

J

A few years ago Andrew Robson published a thoughtful bridge tip to the effect that if a player who has pre-empted leads his own suit against a trump contract, you should consider playing him to have a singleton trump.

Joey Silver produced an interesting line of play following through on that line of thought. In four spades he saw East overtake the lead of the heart jack with the queen. Now it seems natural to cash the spade queen, then play a second spade toward dummy, and hope to guess well. The odds seem very close between the drop and the finesse. At the other table declarer played to dummy’s ace and went one down.

Silver did better when he ducked the first trick, leaving East on play. He knew this particular East would not have seven hearts, and hoped that East would reveal a little more about his side-suit shape.

Had East shifted to a club, for example, it would have been a fair bet that he had a singleton, and thus not a singleton trump. East might also have been tempted to shift to a diamond if he had a doubleton, allowing Silver to build up a count on the hand. When East actually continued with a second heart, Silver correctly inferred that East had at least three diamonds and at least two clubs. The spade finesse had become the indicated play, so Silver duly played the spade king and a spade to dummy’s 10, scoring up his game.


It may be easier to rule out what you shouldn't lead here. I can't imagine leading a red suit. (A trump is highly dangerous, while a diamond could backfire equally easily.) With a choice of black suits, I'd settle for a club simply because partner didn't overcall — which he might have done, had a spade lead been best.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 4
 J 8 6
 K 5 4
♣ 10 6 4 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Can you comment on the use of screens in major events? Doesn't it make it hard to work out what cards are played — and doesn't it detract from the idea that bridge is a social game?

Hidden Depths, Mason City, Iowa

Screens are put in place to prevent accidental (or deliberate) conveying of information from one partner to another. As we saw in a recent world championship, determined cheaters may still break the rules. But it makes the game more relaxed when you cannot see your partner, or vice versa. I like screens for the top-level competitions, if not elsewhere.

What about the role of computers in bridge? Have they become more relevant recently, and would you recommend I get one to help me practice?

Square Eyes, Hartford, Conn.

These days one aspect of bridge on computers has become indispensable. BBO is the site that lets you play, practice and watch Vugraph — for free. Thanks to Fred Gitelman, everyone can watch, learn and play the game. Handheld computer games work pretty well, but I'm not sure they measure up to competing against real people. And I've been enjoying vubridge recently, where some challenging deals are posted.

Could you clarify for me what is best practice as to when to overcall and when to bid a moderate five-card suit on a limited hand? I held: ♠ K-10-4-3-2,  9-6-5,  A-Q-5-3, ♣ 3, and was not sure what to do over an opening call of one club on my right. Would it matter if the opening bid was one heart instead of one club?

White Collar, Doylestown, Pa.

Typically, with minimum values and a five-card major, I would take the opportunity to overcall at the one-level, not to double, whatever the opening bid. Just for the record: With five diamonds and 4-3 in the other unbid suits, I would normally double. However, suit quality does play a part in the calculation, and since overcalls are typically lead-directing, I try not to overcall in an honorless suit.

In Bid With the Aces, you recently stated that as responder after the unopposed sequence: one spade – one no-trump – three diamonds, you should cue-bid four hearts. That bid of course bypasses a four club cue-bid, which I thought would therefore imply that responder lacked both the ace and king of clubs. If responder cue-bids four clubs, then over four diamonds, he could next cue-bid four hearts. What am I missing?

Fruit Loops, Galveston, Texas

I'm not sure whether four clubs might not be natural in this sequence, since the one-no-trump response could conceal a club suit. Yes, partner has shown long diamonds, but mightn't you have equally long, or longer, clubs? By contrast, the four-heart call is unequivocally agreeing diamonds, and I don't think it denies a club control. I do see your point, though.

What is the experts' current treatment of the double of a splinter-bid? Should it be lead-directing, looking for a sacrifice — or something else altogether? And does the vulnerability matter in this situation?

Strawberry Fields, Kenosha, Wis.

The normal position is to play the double as lead-directing, prepared to sacrifice if the vulnerability looks favorable. However, some people play a convention invented by George Rosenkranz, whereby the double calls for a lead of a suit below the one you double. Of course, without a specific agreement, that treatment would be highly unusual.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within.

Phyllis Bottome


East North
East-West ♠ A 10 8 6 4
 9 4
 J 8 6 3
♣ 5 3
West East
♠ Q 3
 —
 Q 9 7 5 4
♣ Q J 9 6 4 2
♠ J 5 2
 Q J 10 7 3 2
 10 2
♣ A 10
South
♠ K 9 7
 A K 8 6 5
 A K
♣ K 8 7
South West North East
Pass
2 NT Pass 3* Pass
3♠ Pass 3 NT Pass
4♠ All pass    

*Spades

♣Q

Accurate declarer play and sharp defense brought a well-deserved vulnerable game swing for one team here.

In one room, against four spades, on the auction shown, West led the club queen, overtaken by the ace, and East returned the heart queen, covered and ruffed. West’s club jack went to declarer’s king, who now played a trump to dummy’s ace and a spade to his king. Then he cashed the heart ace, ruffed a heart, returned to hand with a diamond, ruffed a heart, led another diamond to the king, and ruffed his last heart with dummy’s last trump. Now a diamond from dummy finished East, the defense coming to just one more trick.

In the other room East opened a weak two hearts and South jumped to the final contract of three no-trump. West led the club queen, taken by East’s ace.The club 10 was returned, ducked by South and overtaken by West who cleared the suit.

Declarer was home if he could make four spade tricks. At trick four he advanced the spade seven, intending to duck this to East, the safe hand. But West astutely rose with the queen, which forced declarer to win in dummy, thereby blocking the run of the spade suit. Although declarer could now finesse East for the jack, that would still only give him eight tricks. So South’s only realistic chance was to hope West had begun with the doubleton Q-J of spades, so South played a spade to his king. It wasn’t his lucky day — two down.


Your three-heart response to the two-no-trump opening is a Jacoby transfer, showing five or more spades. You have enough points to force to game (you may not make it, but that is not the point) and best now is to offer a choice of games with a call of three no-trump. Let partner pick which game to play; he knows your basic hand-type.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 8 6 4
 9 4
 J 8 6 3
♣ 5 3
South West North East
Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 3♠ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 5th, 2014

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
No — here’s to the pilot that weathered the storm.

George Canning


South North
East-West ♠ J 9 7 5
 A Q 2
 5 2
♣ A K 4 2
West East
♠ 10 8 6 3
 —
 Q J 10 6 4 3
♣ 9 7 5
♠ —
 J 10 9 6 4 3
 K 9
♣ Q J 10 8 6
South
♠ A K Q 4 2
 K 8 7 5
 A 8 7
♣ 3
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2 NT Pass
3♣ Pass 3♠ Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
6♠ All pass    

Q

They say it is always darkest before the dawn, but the reverse may hold true. Occasionally one finds that just when things look rosiest is when the world is about to fall apart. In today's deal South, declarer in six spades, counted 12 top winners in the form of six trump tricks and six tricks in aces and kings. He assumed that he could pitch his heart on the clubs, then ruff a diamond in dummy after drawing trump.

However, this was on the assumption that trumps were going to break either 2-2 or 3-1. When he laid down the spade ace and found that was not the case, a reappraisal was called for. It might have looked safe to ruff a club in hand, then cross to dummy with a heart to ruff another club, but South could see that one bad break in spades might engender a further bad break in the other major. In the unlikely event that hearts broke 6-0, West could ruff in on the first round of hearts, then cash a diamond winner.

Leaving nothing to chance, South played the club ace, ruffed a club high at trick three, then led a low spade to the seven in dummy. He next ruffed a second club high and led his remaining small trump to dummy’s nine. He could draw the last trump, discarding a diamond from hand, and ended up with 12 tricks the hard way.


If you play as I do, that one diamond denies a major in a hand with less than game-invitational values, then you do not have to worry about introducing a moderate four-card major here, so should bid one no-trump. This action is driven by your good heart stoppers and weak spades. Switch the major honors around so that you have ace-queen fourth of spades, and I would bid one spade.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 5
 A Q 2
 5 2
♣ A K 4 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Between good sense and good taste there is the same difference as between cause and effect.

Jean de la Bruyere


West North
North-South ♠ 5 2
 Q 3
 A J 9 8 6 4
♣ Q 8 7
West East
♠ 8 3
 J 9 8 5
 Q 10 7 3
♣ 10 3 2
♠ K J 9 4
 A 10 2
 K 5
♣ J 6 5 4
South
♠ A Q 10 7 6
 K 7 6 4
 2
♣ A K 9
South West North East
Pass 2 Pass
2♠ Pass 3♣ Pass
3 NT All pass    

5

Agnes Wesseling of the Netherlands is a familiar face at European tournaments. In today's deal she was playing with her regular Dutch partner, Betty Speelman, in a women's knockout event.

She had reached three no-trump after North’s pre-emptive opening bid, when that player suggested club values and a nonminimum hand at her second turn.

West led the heart five to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. East returned the heart 10, which was ducked, and another heart won by declarer’s king.

Declarer now crossed to dummy’s club queen and played a spade to her 10. She next led a diamond to dummy’s ace. What was East to do? If she didn’t unblock her diamond king, South would have an easy route to success. She would simply take another spade finesse, then cash the spade ace, and concede a spade, establishing four spade tricks, one heart, one diamond and three clubs.

Accordingly, East unblocked the diamond king. Now if declarer had pursued the above line, she would have lost one spade, three hearts and a diamond, since East would have re-opened a line of communication to her partner’s hand, allowing West to cash the long heart.

However, declarer switched tack. She took a spade finesse as before and cashed the ace, but when the suit did not break, she played off her top clubs and exited with a heart. West could win this and cash the diamond queen, but had to concede a diamond to dummy’s jack at trick 13.


This hand is worth one try for game despite partner's announced lack of interest so far. By bidding three clubs, you describe your shape and values to let partner have the last word on level and strain.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 10 7 6
 K 7 6 4
 2
♣ A K 9
South West North East
1♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2♠ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Youth is wasted on the young.

George Bernard Shaw


North North
North-South ♠ Q 10
 A K Q 5
 9 3
♣ Q J 10 9 4
West East
♠ J 7 6 5 2
 6 3 2
 K 8 7
♣ 6 5
♠ K 4 3
 J 10 9 8
 6 5 4
♣ A K 7
South
♠ A 9 8
 7 4
 A Q J 10 2
♣ 8 3 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

♠5

It is encouraging to see that many young people are once again turning to bridge, as it is proven that the logical thought processes involved in playing the game carry over to other subjects.

I came across this problem, set by Tommy Gullberg while trawling through some of the bulletins produced at the Nordic Junior Bridge Camp. Why not cover the East-West hands and test your declarer play in three no-trump?

West leads the spade five; the queen is played from dummy (in the hope of retaining an entry to hand) but East covers with the king. How do you play safely to make the game, regardless of the lie of the cards in the East and West hands?

Win East’s king with your ace and play the diamond two to dummy’s nine. The nine holds — the defenders have no intention of voluntarily allowing you access to your hand. Next, lead dummy’s diamond three to your ace. Now play the diamond queen, on which dummy’s spade 10 must be discarded. And if the king has not put in an appearance, carry on with diamonds.

The defenders are now stymied, since they cannot set up their spades without allowing you access to the South hand. So, when in with the diamond king, the defenders change direction and attack in hearts. But in return you also change tack and set about knocking out the club ace and king. This way you will have garnered nine tricks via one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs.


When you have game-going values, introduce your longest suit first rather than bidding the major. It is only with hands of less than invitational strength (so-called one-bid hands) that you tend to bid the major before the minor. Here, bid two clubs, then get hearts into the picture at the next turn, to describe your hand precisely.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10
 A K Q 5
 9 3
♣ Q J 10 9 4
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

I don't care how much a man talks, if he only says it in a few words.

Josh Billings


East North
Both ♠ 10 9 7 5 3
 J 9 4
 4 2
♣ K 5 3
West East
♠ A Q J 4
 8 6
 A 10 8 6
♣ A Q 10
♠ K 8
 Q 3
 9 5 3
♣ J 9 8 6 4 2
South
♠ 6 2
 A K 10 7 5 2
 K Q J 7
♣ 7
South West North East
Pass
1 Dbl. 2 3♣
4 Dbl. All pass  

8

Suit preference is a powerful tool in the right hands — but every partnership needs to be aware of when that signal conveys attitude and count, and when it is something else.

Today’s deal came in the qualifying rounds of the New York Grand National teams heat. When dummy came down in four hearts, West relaxed, assuming that a dummy this weak could never offer South a chance to make his game.

(Incidentally, there is quite a good case for subverting a response of two clubs after a takeout double as a constructive raise to two hearts; so the sequence at the table would show 4-6 points.)

South won the trump lead in hand and led a club up. West won his ace and got out with a second club. Declarer could pitch his spade loser on the club king, then surrender a diamond for an easy 10 tricks.

By contrast, in the other room, when declarer led a club toward dummy and West won his ace, East dropped the jack under it. That might look dangerous, but East knew that while his side’s spade tricks might get away, declarer would never be able to discard a diamond loser. So long as the defenders cashed their spades now, his side would collect any diamond tricks that they were due. And so it proved.


With a hand that is not worth accepting the invitation to game, it might look normal to pass the two-no-trump call. But here my best guess would be to bid three clubs, suggesting long clubs and a weak hand. Facing a balanced hand, the six-card club suit might be worth considerably more as a trump suit than in no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8
 Q 3
 9 5 3
♣ J 9 8 6 4 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2 NT Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 1st, 2014

In this country (England) it is thought well to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.

Voltaire


West North
Neither ♠ K Q
 Q 4
 K J 4 2
♣ Q 8 6 5 3
West East
♠ 6 4
 A K 9 8 6
 A 10 8 6
♣ 10 9
♠ J 7 2
 J 7 3
 9 7 5 3
♣ J 4 2
South
♠ A 10 9 8 5 3
 10 5 2
 Q
♣ A K 7
South West North East
1 Pass Pass
1♠ Pass 2 Pass
4♠ All pass    

K

In today's deal after West opens one heart, South protects with one spade, then jumps to four spades when North cue-bids two hearts to show a good hand. As East, do you want to encourage or discourage on the lead of the heart king?

The point of today’s deal is that defensive signaling is not just about likes and dislikes. Everything has to be viewed in the context of the whole hand.

East must encourage on the opening lead for two reasons. The first is that he fears that a shift to either minor-suit might blow a trick. The second reason is that East can see the possibility that a third round of hearts might promote a trump trick for his side.

Meanwhile, afterthe two top hearts are cashed, the most difficult part of the defense comes at trick three — though I suspect Mrs. Guggenheim might get it right without realizing the subtlety of the position. The point is that West must now cash the diamond ace before the rats get at it. East discourages, of course, and now a third round of hearts will force dummy to ruff and allow East’s spade jack to become the setting trick.

The point is that if West does not take the diamond ace before playing the third heart, declarer ruffs with the spade queen, then cashes the spade king. Now he crosses to hand in clubs and takes the spade ace. He can subsequently run the clubs and dispose of his diamond loser on the fourth club.


You passed over two diamonds since double would have been for takeout. Now you have to set two diamonds by the maximum. With what look to be natural trump tricks, there is no need to go active with the lead of the spade ace. I would lead a fourth-highest heart, assuming that if a trump shift proves necessary, it can be done later.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ A 4
 J 7 4 2
 Q 9 6 4
♣ J 4 3
South West North East
1 NT 2
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Recently my partner sprang a new bid on me and caught me flat-footed. With no one vulnerable at teams I held ♠ J-4,  Q-6-5-2,  Q-7-5 3, ♣ K-J-2, and passed over my RHO's one club. My LHO bid one spade. Now after a two club call to my right, the auction was passed around to my partner, who came back to life with two spades. Is this call natural or a cue-bid, and what range this show?

Table Presents, Vancouver, Wash.

Two spades is a natural call (partner would double one spade or two clubs for takeout with the red suits). I expect him to hold around an opening bid with five spades, and I think you are not quite worth a move forward. So you should pass, but if you did bid (make the diamond queen the ace), a natural and invitational two no-trump would fit the bill.

I dealt and passed vulnerable with ♠ K-10-6-4-3,  K-J-9-2,  —, ♣ K-10-3-2, and heard my partner open two no-trump. When I bid Stayman (do you agree?), he responded three spades, and I'm not sure what to do next. We stumbled into the making spade slam, but can you suggest how this auction should have gone?

Sticky Fingers, Albuquerque, N.M.

After the three-spade response, four of a minor and four no-trump are natural calls. Four hearts should be subverted to a slam-try in spades — nothing to do with hearts. Now a subsequent four-no-trump call is Blackwood. Immediate new-suit jumps are shortage agreeing partner's major. None of these approaches really fit your hand — but might a jump to six hearts over three spades, show a void looking for seven spades? Warning — don't try this at home!

What is the right rebid after opening one diamond and hearing partner respond one spade when holding: ♠ J,  K-Q-9-5,  K-Q-7-5, ♣ Q-J-8-3?

Lagging Behind, Pierre, S.D.

If you raise one spade to two frequently with three trumps and a semibalanced hand, then bidding one no-trump with a singleton may be acceptable, my choice. If your one-no-trump rebid normally promises a balanced hand, you have to bid two clubs now — not two hearts, which shows an ace more than you hold. The two-club response should still let you find hearts if partner is strong — a fourth suit bid from him will let you raise hearts.

My question relates to the right way to respond to a forcing jump-shift with three trumps and a balanced hand. I had ♠ 10-4-3,  A-4,  K-Q-6-5, ♣ K-J-6-3. I opened one diamond, and my partner responded two spades. I bid two no-trump before raising spades, but my partner did not believe I had three trumps to do that. What do you think?

Fatal Delay, Perryville, Mo.

You are right and your partner wrong here. With a balanced minimum and guards in all suits, you want to make the natural and limiting rebid, rather than raise spades and find partner hoping that you have extras.

My partner, in first seat, opened one diamond and I held ♠ Q-7-4-2,  A-J-2,  A-10-9, ♣ A-J-2. With a stopper in every suit, I jumped to three no-trump to show my values. There was no catastrophe in that we made 11 tricks. But I was soundly criticized for not bidding my four-card major. Do you agree?

Paint your Wagon, Youngstown, Ohio

Your choice was reasonable; but you could have missed slam facing a minimum unbalanced hand with spades and diamonds (and on a bad day, three no-trump would also fail!). The same applies if you find yourself facing a singleton spade and long diamonds. Basically, you took a risk with very little upside, since by pre-empting your side unnecessarily, you make the exchange of information somewhat harder.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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