Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill


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

Q

West led the heart queen against four spades, and East was on the ball when he overtook this and returned a trump. With sure heart winners in hand, and the knowledge that South had at least four hearts, this was the indicated line of defense. When declarer continued in his search for heart ruffs by winning the trump and playing on hearts, East won the trick and led another trump. Declarer won in hand, ruffed a heart, took a heart discard on the diamond ace, and finessed in clubs. Unlucky! The finesse failed and there was still a heart to lose.

As the cards lie, South had missed his chance to make the hand at trick five. Had he taken the club ace and followed up by leading another club, it would have given South his 10th trick in due course. But this line would have failed if East had been able to win with the club king and lead a third round of trump.

The solution that involves less risk is to try the club finesse earlier, at trick three. If it wins, there is no problem for declarer in giving up a heart and ruffing a heart for his 10th trick; if the club finesse loses, West has no more trumps to play as the cards lie (and if the spades are 2-2 the contract is still secure).

As the cards lie today when West takes his club king and returns a diamond, the clubs can be unblocked, a heart eventually ruffed, and the club jack enjoyed for the game-going trick.


Many points are lost by passed hands overbidding – be it as responder or overcaller – in an attempt to make up for lost time. Here, with no heart fit, respond one no-trump, perhaps preparing to invite at your next turn. Don’t hang partner by jumping in no-trump. He opened in third seat, so let him pass with a minimum balanced opener and you won’t miss anything – except the chance to go for a penalty.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 9
 8 5
 A 8 6 4 3
♣ Q J 7
South West North East
Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 17th, 2015

The half is greater than the whole.

Hesiod


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

*Short diamonds, agreeing hearts

♠7

When at first sight a contract appears to depend on a finesse – an even money chance – it is worth investigating for ways to improve those odds.

After North’s splinter raise to four diamonds (showing gamegoing values) South asked for aces then looked for a grand slam, by trying to find the club king opposite. He shut up shop in six hearts when North could not cooperate, and West led a spade against the small slam. Declarer rose with the ace, then immediately ruffed a spade. There was a two-fold purpose to this exercise. The first was to begin eliminating the spade suit. The second was to test whether a defender held king, queen and just one other spade, so that a club could be discarded on the spade jack.

No spade honor put in an appearance at trick two, so South continued with a trump to dummy for another spade ruff. Declarer cashed the diamond ace, ruffed the diamond three, then trumped dummy’s last spade.

Having eliminated all the irrelevant cards, declarer now played the diamond queen in the hopes that West held the king. He did, and instinctively played that card. Instead of ruffing the diamond, South discarded a club from dummy and faced his hand.

West was now endplayed into either returning a club into South’s tenace, or giving a ruff and discard, whereupon North’s last losing club could depart. Of course, had East turned up with the diamond king, there would still have been the club finesse to fall back on.


Auctions of this sort often suggest declarer has a source of tricks and relatively short hearts. Though East may jump to three no-trump with heart fit, that seems unlikely given your hand. The most active lead is a diamond, while the club sequence is less likely to cost a trick. But my choice is a low heart, which might work well here if partner has the heart length and declarer the shortage.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 2
 J 10 6 3
 Q 9 7 5
♣ J 10 2
South West North East
  2 Pass 3 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 16th, 2015

As dummy, when if ever am I allowed to speak, either to correct my partner from revoking, or to draw attention to the opponents’ revoke? And what about stopping partner from leading from the wrong hand?

Silent Partner, Winston-Salem, N.C.

You are not allowed to draw your partner’s attention to the opponent’s revoke during the hand, but after the play is complete you may call the director and make your case. During the hand you are allowed to stop partner from revoking or from leading from the wrong hand. And when an infraction is agreed to have taken place, you should call the director – even if no one else at the table is willing or able to do so.

Holding: ♠ Q-J-7-6-4, Q-10, Q-3-2, ♣ K-4-3 would you overcall one spade over one club? Would the vulnerability or form of scoring matter? And would you feel differently if your partner was a passed hand – or indeed, if the opening bid were one heart or one diamond?

Squeaky Clean, Las Vegas, Nevada

My spade spots are not that impressive but the two honors in the suit encourage me to act over one club at any form of scoring or vulnerability, to take up the opponents’ bidding space. Note that this applies to a one-level action only. By contrast I would try never to overcall on a suit this weak at the two-level. And the less space such an overcall consumes, the less attractive it becomes.

As dealer, holding: ♠ A, A-Q-4, Q-9-6-2 ♣ Q-9-7-4-2 what is your opening bid, and how do you plan to continue after a response by your partner in a major?

Cunning Plan, Vancouver, Wash.

I would much prefer to open one club and either raise hearts or bid one no-trump over a one spade response. The rebid at no-trump doesn’t often deliver a singleton as opposed to a small doubleton — but at least my singleton is the ace if partner insists on spades. You may very rarely open hands of this pattern with a four-card diamond suit; but not this one.

I know this question may not be answerable in five lines, but can you please explain the rationale of the negative double. I used to know it but have forgotten. I would appreciate your answer.

Chop-Chop, Honolulu, Hawaii

After opener bids and the next hand overcalls, responder’s double of anything but a natural no-trump call is take-out, suggesting the unbid major(s). The logic is that you are more likely to be short, not long, in the suit the opponents act in. If you do have length in their suit, you tend to pass and await partner’s reopening take-out double. A negative double of one heart suggests exactly four spades – you bid the suit with five. A one-level double shows 6+ HCP, a two-level double shows approximately 8+, a three-level double 10+.

What is the logic behind playing a weak no trump as opposed to a strong no-trump? And how can you tell if a bidder is opening with a weak or a strong no trump?

Torquemada, Anchorage, Alaska

The range of your opening no-trump is more a matter of personal philosophy than anything else. The strong notrump is safer, the weak no-trump more obstructive. In duplicate play in the US normal procedure is to announce the range of your partner’s no-trump call to your opponents each time one is opened.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 15th, 2015

The gods love the obscure and hate the obvious.

The Upanishads


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

*Clubs and another suit

♣K

In today’s deal from a team game, one table played in three no-trump after West had shown clubs and a second suit, while the other table reached four spades on an unopposed auction

The South in three no-trump received a top club lead. As he did not want a heart shift, he took the lead and crossed to dummy with a diamond to the ace, East playing the jack, then ran the spade 10, which West ducked. A low spade came next and when East showed out, declarer took the ace and led out the spade jack, prepared to overtake if West ducked. West won and shifted to a heart, but South now claimed his nine top tricks.

In the room where South reached four spades, he too received a top club lead. Declarer won the club lead and started trump in the same way. West won the third trump and, mindful of East’s signal, shifted to a heart. Declarer ducked, and when the defense went back to clubs, he ruffed the third one and drew the last trump, squeezing East in the red suits.

Although at double dummy four spades can never be broken (so long as declarer leads trump from hand at trick two), there was a defense to the line chosen at the table which was so unlikely that I can’t blame West for missing it. He must duck the third spade! Now when he wins a spade or club trick he must play another diamond. This breaks up the timing for the squeeze.


Your partner has elected to follow a cuebidding route rather than using Blackwood. Follow his lead, and because you have a king you can show, bid five diamonds next. With five good trump, you are far too good to sign off, since you have already defined your range quite precisely at your first turn.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 9 8 5
 9 4 3
 A K 2
♣ 8 7
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 14th, 2015

Nothing is more imminent than the impossible… what we must always foresee is the unforeseen.

Victor Hugo


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

Q

One simple law for declarer is that you should win a trick if you fear a shift. Still, there is always an exception. Walid El Ahmady and Tarek Sadek of Egypt are both highly resourceful declarers, and on this deal from the Cavendish pairs Sadek was able to bring home an impossible game by breaking the rules.

Three no-trump appears to be hopeless here for North-South except on a spade lead. Sadek received the lead of the heart queen.

If declarer wins the first heart for fear of a club shift, then runs six diamonds, East keeps his top clubs and two spades, and has an exit-card in the form of a low heart.

Better is to duck the first heart, win the next, and run diamonds. But in the five-card ending the defense can still just prevail so long as West keeps four clubs, and East discards all his hearts to keep two spades and three clubs.

Sadek went one step better; he ducked both the heart queen and the jack! Now he won the third heart, pitching a spade from dummy, and ran the diamonds. On the last diamond East was down to two spades and three clubs, and had no escape. If he kept two spades and the top clubs he would be thrown in with a club. If he bared his spade king, declarer would have the ninth trick in that suit, and if he discarded a top club, ace and another spade would endplay him to concede the ninth trick in clubs. Very nicely (and bravely) done.


The right response to a major-suit opener with 10 points and three trump is sometimes unclear. I prefer a simple constructive raise here rather than the limit raise. This hand has three positives, the aces, five-card suit and decent spots. But the doubleton queen is a negative; I’d settle for the simple raise to two hearts. Give me queen-third of spades and a doubleton club and I go the other way.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7
 A 10 5
 A 9 6 4 3
♣ 10 7 2
South West North East
    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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Oh! Let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

Hilaire Belloc


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

♣K

This deal involves a nice point of technique. When it came up in a French pairs event, the best play was not always found. The reporter of the deal was one of the unlucky Easts, as the declarer at his table knew what he was doing. Still, at least he had the consolation of a good story!

Our reporter’s partner led the club king, and after winning with the ace perforce, declarer drew trump. You can see what happens (as it did at several tables) if declarer goes all out for the overtrick and hopes that the spade jack will fall in three rounds. It does not fall, and South ends up by losing two diamond tricks when that suit also fails to behave.

Instead, judging that he was in a good contract, and one that would not be reached by the majority of the field, South looked for the safest line for 12 tricks and decided not to worry unduly about the overtrick.

At trick five South advanced the spade nine and covered with dummy’s 10. If East had taken this, declarer could have claimed 12 tricks immediately. However, after some reflection East avoided that trap and ducked. It did not help: next came a diamond finesse, losing to the queen.

The club return was ruffed and the spade queen overtaken in dummy to allow a diamond to be discarded on the third top spade. When the spade jack did not fall, the lead was on the table for a second, and successful, diamond finesse.


There is a temptation to insist on playing spades here, but you should appreciate that the advantages of playing in one no-trump are that you are a level lower and partner’s tenaces are protected on opening lead. Unless the opponents have a five-card suit ready to run, seven tricks in no-trump look easier than eight in spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 10 8 7
 6 4
 7 6 3
♣ 10 5 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing, through the overtaking and possessing of a wish discovers the folly of the chase.

William Congreve


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

♣10

In today’s auction South’s three no-trump rebid showed a balanced hand and 25-27 points. North’s four clubs was Stayman (similar to three clubs over a two no-trump rebid) and his subsequent raise of four hearts to five invited a slam, suggesting nothing to cuebid, thus good trumps. South should perhaps have passed, with his minimum 25-count, since slam could hardly be better than the spade finesse. But how would you play six hearts when West leads the club 10 to East’s ace and a club is returned?

Declarer saw that he would need the spade finesse to be right. Not only that, if East held four spades to the king, declarer would need to take the spade finesse three times. He cashed the king of trump and continued with the jack of trump. When West followed suit it was safe to overtake with dummy’s ace.

Do you see the point of this play? Declarer was trying to set up the maximum number of entries to dummy in the trump suit. East showed out on the second round of trump and declarer took his first spade finesse, pleased to see West follow with a low card. The four of trumps to dummy’s nine provided a second entry to dummy, and a second spade finesse followed. A trump to dummy’s queen returned the lead to dummy, and now declarer finessed for a third time in spades.

This same overtaking play would have been possible had dummy held the heart eight instead of the nine, so long as East has a singleton heart nine or 10.


I come down firmly in favor of one spade rather than one diamond here —partly because of the suit quality issue. But one can also lose spades after an auction that begins with North bidding clubs and hearts. After that start would a one spade call show spades – and would it promise a better hand than this? Better to bid the suit at once, planning to give preference to clubs over a one no-trump rebid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 7 5
 2
 8 6 5 3
♣ A J 7 3
South West North East
    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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Showing up every day isn’t enough. There are a lot of guys who show up every day who shouldn’t have showed up at all.

James Caan


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

*Three controls, counting two for an ace, one for a king

♠10

Often the application of good declarer technique produces no positive result, because the lie of the cards means that there is no advantage to be gained from superior play. However, that was not the case with today’s deal. Take your place in the South seat and plan the play in your grand slam.

Superficially, it looks as if the contract depends on either the diamond finesse or a 3-3 heart split. If declarer simply plays out his top two hearts from hand then crosses to the heart ace, he can pitch his losing heart on the spade king and take the diamond finesse. That line combines your chances; but can you do better?

Better technique would be to cash all the black-suit winners followed by the heart king and queen before crossing to dummy with the heart ace at trick 10. As before, if the 13th heart is good, then the diamond queen is discarded on the spade ace, otherwise the heart can be discarded and the diamond finesse taken.

However, consider what happens when it is East who holds the long hearts. In the two-card end position, declarer leads a diamond from the dummy, holding the ace and queen in his hand. When East plays low, declarer knows that his last card is a heart; therefore West must hold the diamond king. There is no point in finessing, so declarer rises with the ace — and down comes the king.

Thus the show-up squeeze also lets you make the slam whenever West started with the bare diamond king and short hearts.


Without the overcall of one no-trump you would surely have jumped instinctively to four spades as a sort of two-way shot. Here there is a warning that spades are not breaking; but I would still bid four spades now, albeit a little less happily, and let the opponents sort out what to do next.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 5 3
 A 4 2
 8 7 6 5 4 2
♣ —
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ 1 NT
?      

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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 10th, 2015

Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.

Cardinal Newman


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

*6-9 HCP

♠3

When South upgrade his hand out of his strong no-trump range of 14 to 17, North treated his hand as worth a club raise. This combination of actions led to NorthSouth stretching to a thin, though not hopeless game.

When West led a low spade to the first trick, declarer could see that he was very short of entries to dummy to play hearts. So he carefully put in dummy’s spade nine to the first trick. East won his ace as South unblocked the 10, and had one chance to defeat the game — though it would have required great defensive cooperation. He must shift to a diamond to let West win and go back to spades. Instead, though, he made the more normal play of continuing the attack on spades. West ducked the second spade, so declarer won dummy’s queen and led a low heart to the jack and West’s queen (ducking does not help today). That player cashed his spades as South pitched diamonds from both hands. When West exited with a diamond, declarer won in hand and cashed off the four club winners to discard his last diamond.

Now declarer could run the heart nine from dummy and repeat the finesse when East ducked, to score three hearts, four clubs, and one trick in each of the other suits.

Curiously, if declarer does not have the heart seven (switch the heart five and seven, for example) he cannot play the heart suit for three tricks on best defense, because of the entry problems to dummy.


West’s double was for take-out, so your opponents rate to be in a 4-4 fit, and I’d expect declarer to want to take diamond ruffs in dummy. A trump lead might cut down on that option for declarer and rates to be relatively passive. A diamond lead would be the second choice of course, but might easily help set up a discard for declarer or solve a guess.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8 2
 10 6 3
 Q 6 4 3
♣ K 10 9
South West North East
    1 1 NT
2 Dbl. Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Holding: ♠ 9-2, 10-9-6-5-2, J-2, ♣ K-7-4-3 how would you respond to a two no-trump opening bid? Would you pass, or settle for partscore in hearts, or drive to game – and if so which?

Level Best, Cartersville, Ga.

I think it would be trying to land on the head of a pin to pass two no-trump or to transfer to hearts and stop in three. I think one should transfer to hearts and bid three no-trump. Partner can pick which game he wants to play in. Although you have a little extra shape, you cannot insist on playing hearts unless partner produces a fit. Let him make the call.

I was faced with an auction recently where my partner heard me double one heart. The next hand redoubled, and my partner jumped to three clubs, telling me later that he meant this as weak rather than based on high cards. Is this a normal approach – since the call would surely have been invitational without the redouble?

Upping the Ante, Westhampton, N.Y.

You can certainly argue that if the first three hands all show approximately opening values, the fourth hand cannot be strong. So while a jump by fourth hand would indeed be invitational over everything but third hand’s redouble, it is reasonable to play than in this one sequence the jump should be based more on shape than high cards. I might have a five- or six-card suit and 5-8 points, perhaps.

I read your column online and have a question. I held ♠ A-3, A-Q-9-7-4-2, K-J-3, ♣ A-7. My partner dealt and opened one club and rebid two clubs over my one heart response. What is the right way to create a forcing auction now? At the table I bid two spades, my partner raised, and a convoluted auction ended in four no-trump, making seven.

Strong-arm Tactics, Frankfurt, Germany

A plausible auction would see you bid two diamonds over two clubs, and when your partner jumps to three no-trump you might close your eyes and bid six no-trump. A new suit by you is forcing for one round at your second turn, and two diamonds saves space while encouraging partner to support you economically. Incidentally, I can’t imagine on what hand your partner would raise spades at his third turn if he couldn’t bid them at his second turn!

Holding: ♠ Q-7-2, Q-4, A-J-9-3-2, ♣ K-4-3 I opened one diamond and heard my partner respond one spade. The next hand bid two hearts; is it right for me to pass or bid two spades now?

Raiser’s Edge, Waterbury, Conn.

With a minimum hand and only three trumps, particularly where your heart holding sounds to have gotten worse from the auction, pass is the discreet action, though bidding two spades is not terrible. But surely if you can make anything, your partner will have enough to bid again. Incidentally, support doubles (which show a three-card raise here) are becoming more and more popular. If you play this style, then you would have no good reason not to double.

I’m interested in your views as to when shape trumps high cards. Holding: ♠ J-6 Q-2, A-K-10-8-7-4, ♣ 1-0-9-3 do you consider this a one diamond opening? If you don’t open one diamond would you pass rather than showing a weak hand with a two diamond preempt?

Princess Pushy, Twin Falls, Idaho

Wolff’s first laws of preempting: Never pass a hand with a good suit. Open one, two, or three, but don’t pass. Here I’d open two diamonds anywhere except in first seat non-vulnerable — where I might consider opening one diamond. Make the club 10 the jack and I open one diamond, in all seats, except in second seat vulnerable.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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