Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

1 Corinthians


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

*Heart raise

Q

The US trials are currently taking place in Denver, to select the open team to represent the US in the Olympiad in Wroclaw, Poland, later this summer.

All the deals this week come from the trials last May, and today’s deal saw something of a peculiarity. We have all been forced to bid with really bad hands, but when was the last time you saw a three-count take two free calls in a non-forcing auction?

Barry Rigal as North opened one diamond, showing five diamonds or an unbalanced hand. Jeff Aker, South, passed initially, but when he knew he was facing short hearts he decided to compete first in diamonds, then in spades. By his third turn, North knew that even though South had a really weak hand, with no more than four spades, he also surely had four diamonds. Since the auction had implied that South had heart length, he must have a singleton club. So North drove to game.

After a top heart lead Aker won the ace, played the club ace and took a club ruff, then took the losing finesse in diamonds. Back came a third club and Aker ruffed, crossed to the spade ace and ruffed the fourth club with the spade jack. West could overruff for the defenders’ second trick, but now the remaining trumps fell in one round and Aker had 10 tricks. That was worth a game swing, when the other table played partscore after North had opened one club and the double fit did not come to light.


Pessimistic as this might seem, I think you are not supposed to do more than raise to two spades. This is a serious game try; if your RHO had competed you would need to do more, since your call would not guarantee real extra values. As it is, though, if your partner has any sort of extras, he should bid on here. For the record, a cuebid here suggests three trump and 17-19 or so.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 8 5
 A
 A J 8 6
♣ A 8 7 5
South West North East
      1
Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 9th, 2016

In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

Erasmus


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

*Spades

♣K

Every year the US Bridge Federation organizes trials in four categories, Open, Women, Senior and Junior. The Open trials are currently being held to select a team for this September’s Olympiad, an event to which every country can send one team in each category.

Today’s deal cropped up in last year’s trials. It sees a competent declarer having a blind spot. See if you can do better than him!

Would you have balanced over three clubs with three notrump? It depends on how macho you feel, I guess, but it was not unreasonable. When your partner transfers to spades and East doubles you may have second thoughts – but at least you have four trumps. After a top club lead, plan the play.

The hand should be close to an open book. East has a singleton club and all the outstanding high cards, so the key is to avoid letting West in to cash clubs. Win the club lead and play the diamond king to force an entry to dummy for the spade finesse. That way the defenders cannot promote the spade king on the third round of clubs.

East will win the diamond ace and shift to a low heart. You rise with the ace and ruff a diamond to dummy. Then you take the trump finesse and end up with eight spade tricks and two aces.

If you play ace and a second spade, or lead a low trump at trick two, East can force an entry to his partner’s hand, to allow him subsequently to cash out his club winner.


Since nobody bid diamonds I’m guessing my partner has some shape like 2=2=4=5, with dummy pretty close to a 3=3=3=4 pattern. It feels right to lead clubs and force declarer, to obtain trump control. If my hearts were, say, queenjack fourth, I might lead trumps, to stop declarer singling in his low hearts.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 8 6
 A 8 7 5
 9 6
♣ Q 4 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Dbl.
Rdbl. Pass Pass 1
Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 8th, 2016

In today’s Lead with the Aces problem, you held: ♠ Q-8-3-2, 10-8-3, 7-3-2, ♣ A-J-7 and heard one spade to your left, double from partner, one no-trump to your right. While you have no suit to bid, what would a double indicate? A flat hand such as you have but with more points?

Ditch Digger, Fredericksburg, Va.

Double is possible — you might persuade me to do that if I had slightly better spades the same hand plus the jack, but my cards seem to be lying well for declarer so I’d want at least an eight-count here. In fact some play the double as take-out, suggesting two places to play, a sensible enough agreement.

You recently ran a deal from a foreign tournament where a passed hand responder to a one spade opener held ♠ —, Q-9-5-4-3, J-9-3, ♣ A-J-7-6-2. As a passed hand, what about responding two hearts? South has already limited his hand by passing, so that call would not appear to me to be misleading.

Deep Waters, Denver, Colo.

I try to avoid this response as a passed hand unless I hold a very chunky five-carder or a six-card suit in an unpassed hand, in each case in a maximum pass. We normally seem to find hearts even after the no-trump response, unless partner passes one no-trump, when we have at least stopped low.

I’m a new player at duplicate, and confused about what happens when a director is called after a hesitation. Could you explain it to me in words of one syllable?

Green Lantern, Danville, Ill.

What often happens is that after one player bids or passes slowly, their partner is confronted with an ethical problem. The slow action has (or might have) given Unauthorized Information (UI) which their partner is not allowed to act on. If I had to give you one piece of advice it would be: do not worry about taking your time if you need to, and let your partner deal with the problem if he thinks you have passed him UI. It is better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing fast.

What are your views on which minor to opening a hand of this sort: ♠ A-K-4, —, Q-9-8-7-6, ♣ A-K-Q-7-4? What do you open, and why?

Revolutionary, Kingston, Ontario

I was about to state definitively that with 5-5 shape, always open the higher suit. Then I remembered a partner of mine with a similar hand, who opened one club, to facilitate our reaching the only making slam. I’ll revise my statement: normally open the higher suit. But in responding to one heart, say, a call of two clubs might make sense, to ensure reaching the better slam if partner has equal length in the minors.

On a recent reader’s query about how to continue when a call in the fourth suit is doubled, can you confirm what should redouble show? Let’s say your side has bid: one club – one diamond – one spade – two hearts. If the next hand doubles, what is the least you would need to redouble here?

Blue Card, White Plains, N.Y.

I think I’d redouble on any hand with 4-3-1-5 pattern with a heart honor, or even without one, if I had extra values. Pass is certainly consistent with a balanced minimum and three small hearts, or any 4-2-2-5 pattern.


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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 7th, 2016

First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.

Dale Carnegie


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

*Two keycards plus the trump queen

K

The auction in today’s deal saw North taking control when his partner showed extra values and an unbalanced hand. He was looking for the grand slam, but when his partner bid six diamonds in response to his ask of five no-trump, it showed the diamond king while denying the club king. Now North could only count 12 tricks unless his partner had the spade jack, so he settled for the small slam.

West led the heart king to the ace. Before reading on, you might consider what you would do, bearing in mind that if trumps broke 3-2 you would have tricks coming out of your ears.

At the table South took the essential first step of ruffing a heart with the spade four. Then he played off the spade ace and king, getting the bad news. Now dummy’s trump spots came into their own.

South next led a diamond to the ace, took another heart ruff with the spade queen – thereby stripping the East hand of hearts, he knew, because of West’s overcall. Then declarer led a diamond to the queen, and advanced the spade 10 to drive out East’s jack, throwing the club four from hand. He could win the club return in dummy with the ace, draw the last trump with the spade nine, throwing his club queen from hand in the process. His three high diamonds in hand were enough to take the last three tricks. Contract made.

As you will discover, if you do not ruff a heart at trick two, the slam cannot be made.


This hand is far too prime to give up on slam immediately. A sensible approach is to bid three diamonds, planning to raise clubs, even if partner bids three no-trump. It is hard to imagine that five clubs isn’t cold here, so I can afford to take an indirect route, going past three no-trump. At pairs, the problem is harder.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 9 7 5
 A 7 5 3
 A Q 4
♣ A 7
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 6th, 2016

Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

W. S. Gilbert


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

6

I first saw today’s deal a couple of years ago featured in a column on defensive strategy. The author referred to it as having cropped up in a league match – a maneuver which I sometimes rather untrustingly suspect is shorthand for having invented a convincing deal and rubbed it in dirt to create a more plausible patina.

Be that as it may, consider what took place when both tables reached six no-trump, perhaps after South had upgraded his 19-count with little justification into a two no-trump opener.

At one table South won the lead of the heart six, which went to the 10 and his ace, then led a club to dummy’s queen. When it held, he played a second club, and West won and pressed on with hearts, in an attempt to cut declarer’s communications for later pressure. This effort was unsuccessful. Declarer won the heart king and ran all his spade and club winners, reducing dummy to four diamonds while he had his three diamonds and the heart nine in hand. East had to discard his remaining heart honor to preserve his diamond stopper, and declarer cashed his heart nine for the 12th trick.

Nicely played, but in the other room after a similar opening lead West found the killing defensive maneuver when he ducked the second round of clubs. Declarer could not lead a third round of the suit, so he had little option but to fall back on the diamond break for his 12th trick, and when the suit refused to behave, he had to concede down one.


It looks very tempting to drive to three no-trump immediately, which is clearly the value call on the hand. But your partner could have many diamond holdings where it would be better for him to declare the hand. I’d be tempted to cuebid two diamonds initially, and try to maneuver him into declaring the hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6
 K 7 3
 K 6 3 2
♣ Q 9 5
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
?      

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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Man seeks in society comfort, use and protection.

Francis Bacon


S North
None ♠ 8 7 4 3
 A Q 6 2
 K 8 6
♣ 7 2
West East
♠ Q 5 2
 K 10 8 7 3
 5
♣ J 9 8 4
♠ A K J 10 9 6
 J 5
 7 4 3 2
♣ 10
South
♠ —
 9 4
 A Q J 10 9
♣ A K Q 6 5 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 2 ♠
3 3 ♠ Pass Pass
4 Pass 6 Pass
All pass      

♠2

Today’s deal from the Dyspeptics Club saw a more polite post mortem than usual, after South had reached six diamonds following a typically exuberant auction. He ruffed the opening spade lead, drew trump in four rounds, and relied on clubs to break. When they did not do so, he went down like a stone, and apologized to his partner with the line that everything was wrong. However he avoided fanning the flames by asserting that there was nothing he could do; instead he asked an abnormally pensive North what he might have done differently.

Somewhat mollified, North pointed out that South could have guarded against a four-one break in clubs. Best is to cash only one top club at the second trick. Then dummy is entered with a trump to lead the second club towards the South hand.

East cannot defeat the contract by ruffing, for then South will play low. With the clubs now established, declarer can draw trump and eventually take the heart finesse for his contract. East’s best course is to discard, hoping that South’s clubs are headed by A-K-J. Then South would win the club king and could ruff one club in dummy. However, since the suit would not yet be established, the contract would be defeated.

As the cards actually lie, East’s refusal to ruff might cost him an overtrick, but that is clearly an affordable investment. When East discards, South can win with the club king, ruff a low club with dummy’s high trump, and draw trump. The heart finesse would represent 13 tricks if declarer dares to take it.


Go to the back of the class anyone who decided to pass on the assumption that partner was trying to defend two diamonds doubled. He has shown three hearts and real extra values, so the clearest way to get your modest extras in shape and high cards across is to bid three hearts. A three club call would perhaps suggest your clubs and hearts were switched.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5 2
 K 10 8 7 3
 5
♣ J 9 8 4
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?

Cassandra Clare


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

*Short spades, agreeing hearts

♠J

The final contract in today’s deal was six hearts by South – rather ambitious you might say, given the two missing keycards, not to mention the further hurdle of the bad club break.

When South heard his partner show heart fit with short spades, he decided to use Blackwood – far from unreasonably. Now North thought he had to catch up to show his void, though it might have been more discreet simply to answer the question his partner had asked.

East might have made a Lightner double of six hearts for the club lead, but he was not sure where his side’s second trick was going to come from. When he passed, West looked no further than his spade sequence on opening lead. South was unimpressed by the dummy, but that did not stop him giving the contract his best shot. He ruffed the opening lead, ostentatiously dropping his spade ace as he did so, took a heart finesse, then ruffed the spade king and repeated the heart finesse.

After drawing the last trump South was confident that his diamond loser was about to go on the clubs, but the 4-0 club break brought him back to earth.

Still, South did not give up; he cashed his remaining trumps, reducing down to the spade queen and three clubs, plus the diamond jack. West had to keep his diamond ace and three clubs so could similarly keep only one spade. With dummy down to two diamonds and three clubs, South cashed his spade queen and exited in diamonds, and West had to win and concede the rest.


Standard bidding has changed here over the last 20 years. After opener’s reverse, responder must be able both to raise his partner’s suits and also to admit to a minimum response. Methods, detailed at https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Wiki/ Blackout_convention allow you to bid three diamonds and set up a force for at least one round, since you’d limit your hand with two no-trump with a really weak hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6 4 3 2
 K 8 4
 A 7 6 3
♣ J
South West North East
    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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

No furniture so charming as books.

Sydney Smith


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

♠K

Many of Mike Lawrence’s books on play and defense would surely rank amongst the best ever written on bridge. He has recently written “Tips on bidding” and “Tips on competitive bidding’, but today’s deal comes from the third, “Tips on Cardplay.”

The correct defense to four hearts starts with the lead of the spade king, on which East plays the queen. The queen here shows the jack and tells West that he can underlead the ace if he wishes. It is not, repeat, not, a suit preference signal. West does want to put East in, so he leads a spade to East’s jack. If East leads a diamond now, West will score a diamond trick along with the club ace, to set the game.

But how East should know to return a diamond and not a club? Answer: West will tell East which suit to shift to by leading a suit preference card at the second trick. If West wants a club return, he will lead the spade two. If West wants a diamond return, he will continue with the spade nine, as here. So East should finds the killing diamond switch at trick three.

Why is the play to the second trick suit preference, but not at trick one? A tough question, but in essence, on the first play in any suit if continuation makes sense, the basic signal is first attitude, then count if attitude is already defined. However, where your holding is precisely defined and you have a choice of winners or losers to play on subsequent tricks, that is where suit preference kicks in.


It looks obvious to pass with such a weak hand. But it is good bidding tactics to raise partner with a weak hand and support. Your failure to make a cuebid raise suggests strictly limited values – say, less than 9 HCP. The higher you raise, the harder you make it for the opponents to get together in a major.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5
 Q 8 2
 Q 8 6 3
♣ Q 8 6 3
South West North East
Pass 1 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 2nd, 2016

What each man does is based not on certain and direct knowledge but on pictures made by himself or given to him.

Walter Lippmann


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

A

Even the most far-sighted of defenders can’t see one another’s hands, but they can often show precisely what they have, so long as they put together a sensible suite of agreements.

A sound agreement is that if you lead an anti-system high honor – should your normal style be to lead the king from A-K-x, then if you lead the ace and follow with the king — it shows the bare ace-king. Equally, if you lead the ace from ace-king, then switch to another suit, that promises a singleton.

This agreement is critical to defeating three hearts here, which looks a solid enough contract – the only worrying feature being possible ruffs for defense.

This pair of defenders were playing king from ace-king, so when West led the diamond ace East was immediately alerted to the possibility of there being a possible ruff for the defenders in either diamonds or spades.

Declarer’s concerns were soon realized when, at trick two, West switched to the spade three. East won with the ace, and although South tried to muddy the waters by following with the five, concealing the deuce, East was not fooled. West would have cashed both his diamonds if he had a doubleton, so his short suit had to be spades.

He returned his lowest spade, the four, suit preference for clubs. West ruffed, and trusting his partner’s signal, underled his club king. East won with the ace and returned another spade. West’s second ruff saw the contract drift one down.

Of course if West tries to cash a second diamond, declarer waltzes home with 10 tricks.


Since your partner is guaranteed to hold three spades, dummy rates to have three spades, and relatively short hearts. Declarer will have four spades and a weak hand, so you want to avoid taking finesses for declarer. My instinct is to lead trumps and prevent declarer from scoring his spades singly.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6 3
 Q 10 8 3
 Q 8 2
♣ Q J 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. Pass
1 Dbl. Pass 1 ♠
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 1st, 2016

In an intermediate-caliber Club Pairs game my partner dealt himself: ♠ A-2, 5-3, A-K-J-7, ♣ K-Q-10-9-4. What is this hand worth on opening bid, and how do you plan to rebid after a major-suit response?

Chock Full o’Nuts, Macon, Ga.

The combination of a 5-4-2-2 pattern and a small doubleton, coupled with an easy way to show extras, makes this a ‘no-contest’. Open one club and rebid two diamonds over either major-suit response or over a response of one no-trump. You could easily persuade me to open one no-trump, if you switched round the heart five and club king.

When responding to a no-trump with a long major I’ve been accustomed to transferring at the two level, then jumping to game. Is this best, or is a treatment someone recommended to me, of Texas Transfers, a sounder idea?

Dump Truck, Great Falls, Mont.

In a strong no-trump base it might certainly make sense to use direct four-level transfers to the majors with no slam interest, or when about to follow up with an ace-ask, having set the major as trump. Meanwhile, a two-level transfer followed by a raise to game is a mild slam-try with a six-card suit, while a two-level transfer if followed by four no-trump is quantitative not Blackwood. And for the record, a transfer and jump to the four level in a new suit is a self-agreeing splinter. This also applies to a transfer to spades followed by a jump in hearts.

At a recent session of rubber bridge we had quite a few throwins/all pass. During the postmortem it was observed that we rarely see or hear about this by experts (probably because such hands don’t make the highlight reel). My question is, how common is this in an expert game?

No Bid for Bacon, Boca Raton, Fla.

These days in third or fourth seat it sometimes seems that 11-counts are opened as a matter of routine by most (though not by me, but I’m getting old). My view is that I open in third with a decent suit or moderate values. In fourth seat if my partner has passed nonvulnerable and I have 10/11 without spades, I may well pass. But I don’t pass 12-counts that often.

A multiple part question for you. At pairs you hear a minor-suit preempt to your left passed round to you. You hold: ♠ A-8-2, A-5-3-2, Q-5-3, ♣ K-9-4. Would you ever balance over a preempt in clubs or diamonds at the three-level… or over a two diamond preempt? Would the vulnerability affect your choice?

Truly Scrumptious, Winston Salem, N.C.

Since I would act over a one-level minor opening in direct or balancing seat (with a double in direct seat or a balancing notrump in fourth seat) I feel as if I am almost bound to reopen, probably by doubling. If my opponents are non-vulnerable it would seem only right to pass if RHO is trapping or I’m turning a minus into a plus. And yet…I might have to read my RHO’s table-action to give you my answer. Neither doubling nor passing could be crimed.

With both sides vulnerable you hold ♠ K, J-8, K-Q-9-8-3-2, ♣ A-Q-J-2. After one spade to your left, raised to two, you bid three diamonds and hear three spades to your left. Would you bid again? And if you do act, how do you rate double, four clubs, or even three no-trump for the minors?

Pat the Dog, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Pass feels wrong, so I would act; but double guarantees heart length, so that is out. Thus the choice is reduced to four clubs or three no-trump, which in my book would show diamonds with secondary clubs. That looks too good to be true, doesn’t it? But I don’t see the catch — unless you think three no-trump is to play. I do not.


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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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