Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

The universe is built on a plan the profound symmetry of which is somehow present in the inner structure of our intellect.

Paul Valery


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

♠J

Can you see the curious symmetry in the play and defense of today’s deal?

It would have been a mistake for South to open one club instead of one no-trump here. You can occasionally open a suit if you downgrade your 15 HCP, or upgrade your 17 HCP into a balanced 18-19. But these are very much the exceptions rather than the rule.

West leads a top spade against three no-trump, and when declarer puts up the king, East wins and returns a low spade. It is not clear who has the long spades, so South ducks the spade and wins the third, pitching a diamond from dummy. Now come four rounds of hearts, East discarding two diamonds.

The crux of the deal comes when South innocently leads the club nine from dummy. If East plays low, declarer runs the nine to West’s jack. The defenders have a spade to cash, but with the club king onside, South has the rest. Notice that if East covers the club nine with the king, West will be left with two club stoppers not one.

The parallel comes in South’s correctly putting up one of the black kings at trick one, and East doing the same at trick eight. The bottom line is that when you have a doubleton honor it is generally correct to cover a significant card led by dummy, should there be no realistic chance that you can score a trick with that card if you retain it. The trick, of course, is to determine what card is significant.



Even though your spade king may not be pulling its full weight, you can hardly do less than bid four hearts, if you trust your partner’s overcalls. The argument that you may be pushing the opponents into game won’t wash. If they were going to bid game under their own steam they will do so, and who is to say that they will make it just because they bid it?

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 4
 Q 10 4 3
 A 10 6 4 3
♣ 9 7
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ 2 2 ♠
?      

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 6th, 2017

But I was one and twenty, No use to talk to me.

A. E. Housman


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

*invitational

K

Loose lips sink ships, they say. When one of the eventual defenders contributes a bid during the auction, declarer will occasionally be gifted valuable information, which he must take care to use intelligently.

While that may be obvious, it can occasionally be equally important to remember when the defenders have had the opportunity to bid but declined to do so.

Suppose West did not open the bidding and has already shown up with 10 points. He is unlikely to hold a missing queen, and so you can confidently finesse his partner for that card. Today’s deal is a fine example of this theme, where the best play is indicated by a bid that a defender did not make.

When West leads the heart king against your spade game and switches to the club six, how will you play the contract?

You can confidently assume West holds the heart ace-king. Since he is a passed hand, he cannot also hold both the diamond ace and spade queen. So after winning the club switch with the ace, you should cash the spade ace and then finesse the spade jack. If the finesse loses to the spade queen with West, you can be sure that the diamond ace will be onside and you will still make the contract. The finesse gains when the cards lie as in the diagram, because you avoid losing a trump trick. Today, if you play for the drop in trumps, you will go down.



You have no attractive or even passive lead available, so you have to listen to the auction and trust your opponents. Declarer appeared to need help from dummy in clubs and dummy did not provide it. That suggests to me that a club lead is more likely to strike gold in partner’s hand than a heart.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 4
 Q 7 6 3
 K 8 3
♣ K 5 4 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣
Pass 3 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 5th, 2017

I picked up: ♠ Q-10-8-3, J-4-3-2, A-7-5, ♣ K-J and heard my partner open one diamond and the next hand overcall one spade. Would you advocate doubling or bidding no-trump, and if the latter, what level would you bid to?

Mumbles, Wilmington, N.C.

This hand is too strong for a one no-trump overcall, since your spade intermediates make your holding in that suit worth far more than two points. Take away the spade 10 and that would not be so. I would plan to double and follow up with the cheapest call in no-trump to invite game while suggesting four hearts. Then partner can decide where to go.

As North in second seat, holding: ♠ K-8, 9, 10-8-7-5-3, ♣ A-K-8-3-2 I would not consider opening. But in Andrew Robson’s “The Times Bridge Calendar” he discusses that this would qualify using the “Rule of 20” though he rejects opening because of the weak suit. Do you agree and would you feel differently if the minors were switched?

Peter Pumpkin Eater, Charleston, S.C.

I would not consider opening one diamond, though switch the minors so that I was bidding the suit I really want led, and I’d certainly be strongly tempted to open. And if the spade king were in my diamond suit I would yield to temptation – if non vulnerable.

If you open a strong no-trump and hear partner bid Stayman, doubled by the next hand, what should you do next? And does the same thing apply over a two notrump opening or one no-trump overcall?

Turning the Tables, San Francisco, Calif.

If the opponents double Stayman redouble is a good (but not the best) hand for clubs. Any four-card suit to two top honors would suffice. Opener’s direct responses are normal, but should show a club stopper. Pass without a stopper or a great club suit. Then if partner redoubles, you can pass with a great club holding and make what would have been your normal response, but without a club stopper.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to retain concentration towards the end of a session? I’m allergic to caffeine and I always seem to flag as the afternoon goes on.

Lost Horizon, Mason City, Iowa

You ruled out my number one choice. But maybe a high energy snack might work as a quick fix. Perhaps, though, it is more a question of not doing the wrong things. Over-eating and drinking won’t help for sure. When you feel a bad moment coming on, try and clear your mind. Perhaps get up from the table and wash your face.

These days my bridge is limited to online bridge with different pick-up partners. My bidding may be old-fashioned, so could you clarify for me a point where your partner opens a major and the next hand overcalls. I had thought that a cue bid shows a strong hand but does not necessarily guarantee support. My partner said a fit was guaranteed.

Steamroller, Tucson, Ariz.

Let’s differentiate a direct from a delayed cuebid. The first auction shows fit but is not a game force, whereas a negative double or suit bid followed by a cue bid is a stopper ask, which may or may not have support. The rationale for this is that a jump raise is more about shape, less about high-cards; so you need a call for the limit raise.


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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 4th, 2017

The strongest of all warriors are these two – Time and Patience.

Leo Tolstoy


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

*spades and clubs

6

This deal came up last year and saw two Australasian pairs challenging one another in a very delicate game. See if you can do better than the declarer at the table.

Four hearts in abstract is not terrible here for North-South, but it is hardly easy to get to. However, a misunderstanding about the meaning of North’s first double led South to a game where a bad break in one red suit or the other was virtually guaranteed.

West, led a diamond and East won his ace to return the suit. Declarer did well to win, lead a heart to the ace and finesse in hearts, but had made the fatal mistake of blocking the diamond suit by playing the king from hand at trick two and by not cashing the diamond queen before taking the heart finesse.

So he played a spade and the defenders returned the suit. Now declarer eventually ran into an overruff in clubs.

Had South unblocked in diamonds he could have discarded dummy’s losing club on the fourth diamond. He would have taken three diamond tricks and have drawn two rounds of trump (he would not even have needed the finesse) with the lead in his hand.

Declarer now ruffs a club, and leads a spade to the queen and ace. Whether West plays a spade or a club back, declarer ends up scoring all his three remaining trumps separately, plus the spade king.

The key is to get the club ruffs in before East can discard his clubs on the spades.



At this moment you cannot be sure whose hand it is. Regardless, though, you should jump to four diamonds, since with pure values, that is to say so much of your hand in the minors and so little wasted in the majors, you want to bid more not less. Switch your clubs and spades and you might make the same call but with far less conviction.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 5
 J 10 6 2
 A 8 5 2
♣ Q 5 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 3rd, 2017

All human errors are impatience, a premature breaking off of methodical procedure, an apparent fencing in of what is apparently at issue.

Franz Kafka


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

♠9

In today’s deal from a team game one declarer followed a traditional route to success, and played by rote, while the other took time to foresee developments and found the route to success.

At both tables North-South bid aggressively to the heart game and both Wests led the spade nine to the king. One declarer played a diamond at once, to set up his discard. West rose with the ace, and played a second spade, and now declarer could no longer succeed. He rose with the ace to play a trump, but West won his ace and thoughtfully underled his club ace, to allow East to cash his spade winner. Had declarer tried to take his discard early, East would have been able to ruff away the diamond winner.

In the other room South intelligently cut the defenders’ communications, by leading a club to trick two. West won the club queen and played a second spade. South rose with dummy’s spade ace, and ruffed a club. Then he led a diamond towards dummy’s honors, and West correctly ducked, realizing declarer would have played diamonds earlier had he started with a singleton diamond. South won the diamond king and ruffed a club, then led a low heart towards the 10.

West had to win the heart ace and exit with a heart. But South won this on the table with the 10, ruffed the last club, and led a diamond towards the queen. West could take his ace but had only diamonds left, so declarer had the rest.



You don’t have to agree with me, but I think when asked for a heart stopper you must show one here by bidding no-trump now. That is the easy part; the real issue is that after this fourth-suit enquiry, which sets up a game force, you should jump to three no-trump with a strong no-trump equivalent, which is what you have.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 3
 A 6
 A J 8 3 2
♣ A Q 9 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

This quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies And Lads and Girls Was laughter and ability and Sighing And Frocks and Curls.

Emily Dickinson


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

♠7

Today’s deal was originally played in the International Championships in Budapest in 1937 and featured the player who would be my (and most knowledgeable people’s) first choice for the best woman player ever, Helen Sobel at her best, as declarer.

South reached three no-trump after a forcing two no-trump response on the lead of the spade seven. You might care to match wits with Sobel by covering up the East and West cards, and seeing if you would have duplicated her line.

Sobel made two winning plays on the first trick; calling for dummy’s spade 10 from dummy and then ducking East’s queen. Had she not put up the 10, East would have followed with the eight. Now whether declarer won or ducked this trick, the defenders would have been ahead in the race to establish five tricks. And had she taken the first spade, the defenders would have had communications in place to set up spades.

At trick two, after taking the continuation of the spade king with her ace, she played the club queen, hoping the club honors were split. East took this with the king and played the spade nine, taken by Sobel’s jack while she discarded a heart from dummy, as West also pitched a heart.

Then came the club 10. West won and exited with a club, taken by the jack. The diamond ace came next, followed by a diamond to the queen, and the fall of the diamond 10 meant the 4-1 split could be overcome.


Don’t insist on playing no-trump here. Start by using the fourth suit, then raise diamonds once you have set up a game force. You can always get to three no-trump later, but if you do not support diamonds at some point, you will never get to diamonds when it is right.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 5 2
 K 9 2
 Q 7 5 2
♣ Q 10
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Any government is free to the people under it where the laws rule and the people are a party to the laws.

William Penn


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

2

With 17 points and a chunky five-carder South has too much to open one no-trump. A competitive auction sees him show his extras and reach three no-trump, on a low heart lead to the king. East shifts to the club 10, covered by the jack and queen. West reverts to hearts, and the defenders clear the suit.

South now needs to run the diamonds to make his game. If he has to give up a diamond, he will go down like a stone. The problem is whether to lead out the diamond ace and king in the hope of dropping the queen, or to take a finesse through East.

The general rule here is “Eight ever, nine never” meaning: play for the drop missing four cards. However West is known to have at least a five-card club suit. Moreover, West is also heavy favorite to have started with four hearts. This leaves room for only four cards in spades and diamonds combined. Rules have their place, but they are no substitute for rational thought.

South can afford to take one high diamond but then must run the three top spades, to find out the rest of West’s shape. When West follows to three rounds of spades and one diamond, it is clear that the rest of his cards are clubs and hearts. Declarer therefore finesses through East for the diamond queen.

If West had followed to only two rounds of spades, it would have been a guess as to whether he had a second diamond or a sixth club.



Playing two over one, how do you show your extras? The answer is that a jump to three no-trump would be a strong no-trump equivalent; but you are too slammish for that. Bid two no-trump and when partner raises to three no-trump bid four no-trump, a quantitative sequence to show precisely this sort of values.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 9
 Q 8
 A K 10 9 4
♣ K J 6
South West North East
  Pass 1 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

We are, perhaps, unique among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal.

Lewis Thomas


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

♣2

The three little pigs have taken to playing duplicate pairs and this board tested their skills in a tricky game contract.

At the table when the first little pig (who built his house out of straw) ended up in four spades, he received the lead of the club two. He won in dummy and took the trump finesse and was equally hurt and surprised when West led the heart queen — a thoughtful card — to his partner’s ace and received the club ruff. The second heart winner led to declarer’s defeat.

The second little pig, who built his house out of wood, saw the danger of the club ruff. He won the club in hand and took the diamond finesse, and when it held, he came to hand with the spade ace and took another diamond finesse. That let him cash the diamond ace to pitch a heart; but when he played a second spade, West could win and lead to his partner’s heart ace, to get the club ruff. That held South to 10 tricks.

The third little pig, who used bricks for his home, realized that the risk of the club ruff could be neutralized. He won the club in hand and finessed in diamonds, then came to the spade ace and finessed in diamonds again. One heart went on the diamond ace, and the second heart could be pitched on dummy’s losing diamond. West had a surprise trick, but no longer had an entry to his partner for the club ruff, so declarer had 11 tricks.



You may not have a great hand, but you do not have a compete bust. It feels to me that you can afford to bid two clubs, trying to improve the final contract, since clubs could easily be a more rewarding strain than spades. With the same hand, but with the club king instead of the three, you would have enough to jump to three clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7
 A 9 4 2
 6 5 3
♣ 10 9 5 4 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 30th, 2017

(Science’s) methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman’s cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage yields its club.

T. H. Huxley


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

♠Q

This deal sees South hear his partner make a limit raise in hearts. While he has a promising hand, the likelihood of slam being better than a finesse is very small. Rather than give information away by cuebidding, it is sensible for him simply to raise to game and give West a blind lead.

West nonetheless finds the best lead, of the spade queen, and South sees that he must develop dummy’s clubs without allowing East to get in. The danger is that East would lead a diamond through South, and set up too many winners for the defense.

The clubs allow for the straightforward finesse or ruffing finesse, but there is a danger in winning the first spade and drawing trump, then taking the ruffing finesse in clubs, discarding a spade in the process. The defenders’ communications remain in place, so West could win the club king and lead a spade to his partner, for the killing diamond shift.

The secret is to hold off on the first spade, take the second, draw trump, and lead to the club ace. Now the club queen is led through East for a ruffing finesse. When East puts up the club king, South can ruff and use a trump entry to dummy to take his discards. But if East had played low, South would have discarded his last spade. Even if West had the club king and took this trick, he would be unable to get East in with a spade, thanks to the duck at trick one.



With an auction of this sort, there are no inferences about whether it is better to lead majors or minors. Dummy doesn’t rate to have four cards in either red suit; declarer could just as easily be weak with hearts as weak with diamonds. It all comes down to the spot cards: the diamonds are far more likely to develop tricks for your side than are the hearts. So I would lead a low diamond.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 4
 K 6 5 3
 Q 10 4 2
♣ 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 NT 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 29th, 2017

I recently encountered a deal where my partner opened a weak-two bid and I needed to find a specific control in a side suit to make slam viable. Do you have any opinion about the use of asking bids facing a weak-two?

Looking for Mr. Goodslam, Wilmington. N.C.

As responder to a weak-two bid, I think new suits should be natural and forcing. You can either use jumps in a major either as invitational, or as a solid suit and forcing if you prefer. I do not play asking bids except to four-level openers but a form of modified Keycard Blackwood is appropriate if partner preempts. (Or maybe it is closer to Gerber – see http://fourseasonsbridge.com/harold/ TOPICS/aa_poor_man.pdf)

At a recent regional my hand was ♠ A-7-5-2, K-6-5-3, Q-6, ♣ J-8-2. My partner opened a strong no-trump and when I bid Stayman the next hand overcalled two diamonds. This was passed back around to me. I felt I had game-going values, but hated to commit to no-trump with only a partial stop. Eventually I compromised with a buck-passing call of two no-trump, and we played there, off six diamond winners. Can you comment on what my choices were?

Pistol Pete, Little Rock, Ark.

After intervention at the two-level, opener bids a major if he can do so at the two-level or at the three-level with five or a maximum. He passes with an ordinary hand, and doubles for penalty. Over opener’s pass, responder can do as you did – specifically, double is geared toward penalty, a cuebid suggests short diamonds, two-level calls are natural and invitational with four. Your hand really doesn’t fall well into any of these categories!

I am never sure what calls after passing might be natural and which are artificial. I held ♠ K-J-4, K-J-4, A-5-4, ♣ 9-7-5-2, and heard one club on my right. I passed, and now I heard one heart to my left, one spade from partner. After a pass on my right with what call, should I advance?

Catch-up Cecily, Pottsville, Pa.

You have a nice fit, but no club stop for no-trump. A simple raise to two spades would not suffice despite your square shape, so a cuebid of two hearts feels about right on balance. When the opponents bid two suits you bid where you live, rather than asking about hearts.

At pairs, with both sides vulnerable I held ♠ K, J-3, K-Q-9-6-3-2, ♣ A-Q-J-2, I heard my LHO open one spade, using a strong club system. When this was raised to two spades I came in with three diamonds. Now came three spades to my left, passed back to me. Would you pass, double, or bid four clubs?

Protective Instincts, Texarkana, Texas

I think I would bid, but doubling and hearing partner bid hearts would not thrill me. The choice is four clubs, which is reasonable, or maybe a bid of three no-trump would be both minors with much better clubs. For sure, passing might easily be right, though.

Can you tell me about a convention my partner has been trying to persuade me to take up, namely the Jacoby Two-No-trump response to a major? I like to play this as natural and forcing with no five-card suit and all side-suits guarded; am I out of date?

Diehard, New Orleans, La.

While Transfers, Stayman, and Negative Doubles are surely essential, few other conventions meet that description. The Jacoby raise is certainly useful, but not essential; and the alternative meaning you espouse is certainly a sensible one. I’d encourage you only to add the convention to your armory if you feel it necessary. As an aside, I used to play two no-trump as natural and forcing, with the jump to three clubs as the forcing raise, but I’m not advocating you do that.


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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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