Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

Is it ever right to bid a new suit with only thre cards th as responder or at your second turn as opener? When might that be right?

— Thinking Small, Wichita Falls, Texas

ANSWER: As responder you rarely bid a three-card suit at your first turn (occasionally a two-club response on 4-3-3-3 shape may seem best). Opener at his second turn with a powerhouse may feel obliged to jump in a three-card suit just to set up a force, but my advice would be when in doubt, don’t! Of course, when exploring for no-trump at later points in the auction, such calls are not uncommon.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I held SPADES K-Q-5-4, HEARTS A-J-10-7-6, DIAMONDS Q-8-5, CLUBS and doubled a three-club pre-empt. My partner responded three diamonds and we played there, scrambling nine tricks facing a hand with four diamonds and three cards in every other suit. Alas, at the other table, where our teammates didn’t open three clubs, the opponents bid and made four hearts. What should I have done differently?

— All Shook Up, Bellevue, Wash.

ANSWER: Maybe find different teammates? Seriously, though, you took the normal action with your cards, since doubling gets you to the right major whenever your partner has four or more cards in that suit, and also gets you to diamonds whenever that is right. You were unlucky to run into the one downside of doubling as opposed to overcalling.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Over the last few months you have been discussing support doubles. As I understand it, these apply only to opener, when responder has shown a four-card or longer major suit at the one-level. Are they compulsory?

— Needing Support, Trenton, N.J.

ANSWER: Support doubles apply even if partner has guaranteed a five-carder (by bidding one spade over intervention of one heart). Third hand openers do not have to make the double if subminimum. More controversially, I would pass rather than double with a good holding in the opponents’ suit and three small trumps if I held a balanced minimum opening. Also note that they only apply to intervention below two of partner’s suit. Higher doubles just show good hands.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

As responder to a one-diamond opening with:SPADES J-10-5, HEARTS Q-10-7-4-2, DIAMONDS A-J-9, CLUBS J-2 you would bid one heart I assume, but would you bid when your partner now says one spade? I tried a raise to two spades, but my partner claimed that one no-trump described the hand much better.

— Quarterback, Raleigh, N.C.

ANSWER: I don’t agree with either of you. Without a decent club stop, I think you have an easy preference to two diamonds. Obviously, you have close to a maximum in high cards, but that is not yet an indictable offense.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I have just started to learn the Michaels cuebid and want to know what values are typical for the action and whether continuations over the cuebid are natural or artificial.

— Major Major, Cartersville, Ga.

ANSWER: The simplest scheme over the cuebid when the opponents open a minor (and thus you have specifically shown both majors) is to play two no-trump in response as natural, with jumps invitational. You can, instead, use jumps as pre-emptive, and utilize the two-no-trump response as a relay to start all good hands. The latter scheme also works well when the opponents open a major. Thus your cuebid has shown the other major and an unspecified minor.


If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, e-mail him at Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011.