Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 25th, 2018

You recently ran a bidding problem where responder had replied one spade to one diamond with ace-fourth of spades, and had heard his partner raise him. You suggested offering a choice of games in case partner had only three spades; but with just three spades here, wouldn’t opener rebid at no-trump, expecting the fit to come to light after a New Minor Forcing-type sequence?

Ray of Sunshine, Pueblo, Colo.

My style isn’t necessarily U.S. mainstream standard when it comes to opener raising with three trumps. For example, a 3-2-5-3 or 3-3-5-2 pattern with a small doubleton looks like a raise of one spade to two spades to me whenever your trumps are better than Q-10-x. Three moderate trumps plus a ruffing value equals a raise.

Holding ♠ J-2,  A-7-6,  A-Q-8-3, ♣ K-9-4-2, would you open one diamond or one club? After a onespade overcall and a negative double from your partner, what would you do? My partner told me that opening one diamond and rebidding two clubs guarantees at least nine cards in the minors. Is this true — and if so, why?

Pokemon, Richmond, Va.

I like to open good suits if I can, so I would open one diamond. Then I would rebid two clubs just as you did. If there had been no opposition bidding and my partner had responded in a major, I would bid one no-trump without much of a qualm.

It seems that modern experts have changed the requirements for opening no-trump bids, especially the two no-trump opening bid showing 20-22. How do you personally deal with all the balanced ranges with a strong hand? My reasoning is that with most of the high cards in one hand, the hand won’t play as well as when the high cards are split between the two hands. So I’d prefer to downgrade my 20-HCP hands.

Frere Jacques, Newark, Calif.

Working backward, I don’t want to drive to game with fewer than 25 points. That means with 20-24 (in other words, a 5-point range), we go through a direct or indirect two no-trump call. Working back one more step, I think that means 22 goes up or down as you see fit. So the ranges are really 20 to a weak 22, a strong 22 to 24, and a strong 24 to 26 for opening two no-trump, opening two clubs and then rebidding no-trump, and jumping in no-trump, respectively.

Holding ♠ A-J-7-3-2,  9,  Q-J-7-4, ♣ Q-10-4, would you overcall two spades over one no-trump in balancing seat? Would the vulnerability matter, and would you be affected by whether you were a passed hand?

Baby Back Ribs, Kingston, Ontario

There is much to be said for being able to show a two-suited hand here. Either way, though, you must come in to show spades. Yes, it might end in disaster, but that should not stop you from competing over one no-trump at the slightest opportunity, especially when you know partner is sure to find the wrong lead if you don’t help him.

What advice would you give me as a newbie to duplicate bridge in terms of counting the hand? Should I try on every hand, or just when I think it important?

Learning Curve, Huntsville, Ala.

As declarer, always count trumps. (Add up yours and dummy’s to tell you how many the opponents have, then just focus on that number.) As defender, work out from the auction how many points you expect declarer to have (or if you can’t do that, try to make the calculation for your partner’s hand). For side suits, start small; focus on the one suit you regard as critical and work your way up from there.

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


ClarksburgApril 8th, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I am about to launch a monthly “card-play-Duplicate Pairs” at a local Club.
The Contracts will all be pre-set, so the competition will be based entirely upon Declarer play, and Opening leads / Co-operative Defense.
The theme and intent is to provide opportunity to self-learn and improve on card play.
One practical issue to be worked out is:
Is it essential to provide “an auction” or at least a note on what would have been revealed in the auction??…or…
Would it be OK (or perhaps even a good thing) to just let the Players “observe / count /infer / feel” their way through it?
Any and all comments and suggestions most welcome.

Bobby WolffApril 8th, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

During my recent and not so recent dreams, I have often thought about myself being Dean or at least in control, of a 4 year bridge school, with the intention of encouraging students (sort of picked according to their aptitudes toward numbers and, of course, the necessity of, at least the enthusiasm, for wanting to be an excellent bridge competitor).

In their curriculum would be projects similar to what you suggest, with the particulars on hold until enough experience is gleaned to maximize the learning.

Without continuing to talk about the supernatural, I’ll attempt to capsulize my thoughts:

1. Contracts being pre-set, 100% in favor.

2. Competition should be based, not much on results, but rather technique, accenting intelligent planning, thought process, and more important than will probably be realized, catering to the specific opponents, either declarer’s side and.or the defense, Obviously too much grading could be sensitive, but rules should be established making opinions general, lingering on positives rather than weaknesses.

3. Yes, self-learning is expected with play, defense including opening lead, theory of the complete bidding (including sometimes passes, and even tempo breaks, (not intended to teach the rigid ethical responsibility, but rather the influence on judgment), plus and minus of being aggressive or conservative, and overall bidding style. The last sentence will likely branch off into both the plus and minus of conventions, value and danger of bashing (e.g l jump to the final contract) with special emphasis when applicable, of partner’s tendencies as well as knowledge of the specific opponent’s bridge habits.

Absolutely essential to provide an exact auction, possibly even with tempo breaks as well as specific conventions and, either used or not used but on the card (will allow some promising players an opportunity to better read what those breaks may mean, and, of course, I am always talking about the opponents, as well as always, the vulnerability of both sides.

All of those feels you mention will definitely be part of the process, but probably not discussed, just noted for future private conversations.

No more, no less, at least for right now, but this potential project of yours (like the Jekyll-Hyde experiment) may be the beginning of a no less than brilliant method of eventually raising our game to standards never achieved, but it all remains to be seen.

However do not under estimate what a wonderful idea you have, and success or not you will then have the benefit of the reactions from a bunch of people where likely it would be difficult to provide a better cross section of personalities.

Another name for who you now represent? How about?: Ron Bridgeseed!

Finally, do not worry if you vary from the above, but I hope you keep me apprised, and only then, will I think about what, IMO, should happen next.

Iain ClimieApril 8th, 2018 at 10:17 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I’d specify bidding and agreements (e.g. jump overcall strrngth, NT strength, dbl of cue bids or not) to aid botb sides card placing. Negative inferences abound in the game e.g. RHO passed as dealer initially and has turned up with a 10 count so hasn,t got a missing Q / K. Great idea though as I think too much emphasis on conventions and not enough on play.

Good luck!


ClarksburgApril 9th, 2018 at 12:39 am

Thanks Bobby and Iain,
Clearly I have to provide the “auctions”, but also have to avoid making too much work for myself !!
As a start (first game Apr 20), perhaps I’ll provide a standard “Card” based upon what most of my Players do, and also a page covering “style” and key agreements.
Then I’ll just compose an auction for each Board.

Bobby WolffApril 9th, 2018 at 10:37 am

Hi Clarksburg,

One word of caution, however using more than that to attempt to be logical.

Everyone knows, especially your group of “lucky to have you”, and ready to go forward, wonderful bridge enthusiasts.

Call what you are doing what it is, an experiment in fast tracking moving up the bridge ranks by gaining experience in what determines winning.

At worst, the attempt will fall short of expectations, but more likely there will come about realizations most players have never experienced or for that matter, and at least up to now, have not given much thought.

Iain, in his brief but poignant opinion, changed the subject from conventions employed, but rather exercising bridge detective work via both positive and negative inferences from the bidding or lack of, choice of opening lead, tempo variances, combined with which opponent, sometimes known conservatives, but often others who always seem to enter the bidding if at all possible. (I’ve taken the liberty to somewhat expand Iain’s rhetoric).

Also the keys to success are usually guessing where the cards are and the overall distributions, by both declarer and the two defenders.

Strangely, while there would figure to be, many early wrong assumptions by those unfamiliar with this incredibly important feature, the mere fact of attempting to, will forever be an integral part of all in your group who direct their mindset to the visualization of the 52 card division with everyone getting a head start by looking directly at his own and, of course, the blessing of being able to see, after the choice of opening lead, the dummy. With it comes the creation of automatic memory (it may take a time or two for that magic to occur), especially with hands where one’s own judgment enabled better play.

Ask questions, seek internal discussion and together the whole group, save a few who were just not meant, nor born, to play bridge.
However, for all others, they will progress by bounds and leaps.

Furthermore, for those special questions, which believe me, will stick out like a sore thumb, will be (excuse me) dealt with, by the cast of characters on AOB, if and when they are asked to comment.

Sure, from that, there may still be some confusion due to conflicting opinions, but by your group being strong, it is more than just a starting point to thinking about bridge in a winning way, with, of course, some progressing faster than others. But, in life, what else is new, and at least IMO, it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship (where did I hear those words).

BTW, and directly to you, do not seek perfection nor go to extremes to offer the absolute best result possible, only the best possible result without breaking your neck.

And remember some of the possible answers to the key components are just a comment away right here in River City.

For example, it should not take more than a half an hour at most, to come up with a standard convention card since it matters little what your starting point should be since only the ACBL yellow card should rule.

You are the key factor and patterning your duties after a baseball manager, you will have plenty of relief pitchers to choose from, if and when any unknowns occur (and it is 100 to 0 they will). Lets crawl before we walk and needless to say, GOOD LUCK!

numeros mais sorteados Da LotofacilApril 13th, 2018 at 12:05 am

Uau, impressionante seu layout! Há quanto tempo você faz
conteúdo? O aspecto geral do seu web site é excelente, assim
como os conteúdos que aborda!