Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 9th, 2018

In third seat I held ♠ 9-7-4,  J-6-2,  Q-8-3-2, ♣ A-J-9. I heard one club from my partner and a double on my right. Would you respond one diamond, one no-trump or something else (like passing and backing in or even raising clubs)?

Lincoln Green, Willoughby, Ohio

My choice is to bid one no-trump, suggesting a balanced 7-10 — you should pass here with less than a good 7 high-card points. The logic is that there is little reason to bid with sub-minimum misfits. I prefer the one-no-trump response to a one-diamond call because it makes it harder for the opponents to come in, and you also let partner know your values and possible club fit if he wants to compete further.

Please explain to me what should happen if my RHO makes an insufficient bid and I then make a call without seeing that it was insufficient. Does the auction get rewound to the point where the insufficient call was made, and what happens next?

Misty Chances, Fayetteville, Ark.

At this point, you have no rights. Once the insufficient bid is condoned by a bid, double or pass, the auction continues as if the insufficient bid were legal. There are no penalties to the opponents.

I held ♠ A-8-7-3,  J-4,  Q-J-7-3-2, ♣ 10-3 and responded one spade to one club. My partner then showed reversing values with a call of two diamonds. What would you do now?

Mad Monk, Taos, N.M.

A raise to three diamonds should be forcing (as should a call of three clubs, incidentally). However, if you play that way, your partnership should have the agreement that either two no-trump or two hearts in this sequence (using the cheaper of fourth suit and two no-trump as a negative) lets you out short of game. This is an application of the Lebensohl convention.

You recently showed a hand where the opening bid of one diamond was made with ♠ K-J,  K-9-2,  A-10-7-4-3, ♣ 8-7-3. What are the merits and drawbacks of that action? Would you do that yourself?

Beverly’s Sister, Fayetteville, N.C.

In general, 5-3-3-2 11-counts are not upgraded to an opening bid unless you have extra shape or great intermediates. You might open, for example, a 4-2-5-2 11-count, but you would open our example hand for tactical reasons only, not because it is “worth” an opening bid when playing standard methods. Again, though, a six-card suit is worth at least an extra point.

How high should you go in support of spades with ♠ A-7-6-3,  K-Q-4-3-2,  J-4-3, ♣ 8 when you respond one heart to one club and hear your partner rebid one spade? I can imagine raising to two, three or even four spades.

On my Uppers, Vancouver, Wash.

You could not criticize a call of three spades, which is really the value bid. However, depending on the form of scoring, one could make a case for a bid of four spades, since your partner’s club holding will be critical if he has a minimum hand. He might make game if he has no club wastage, or be down in top tricks in three spades.

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


Peter Ho PengSeptember 24th, 2018 at 1:17 am

Dear Bobby

I have been getting good results opening 1NT instead of 1C or 1D when the “book” says open the minor.

I think that this has too do with the following advantages.

1. Partner has a weak hand, 5 card majors, and can transfer me safely, and stop.

2. This prevents opps to overcall the major at the 1 level. This would be allowed if I opened the minor.

3. This is passed out, when opps have more points, but no safe overcall.

4. This protects my Kx from a lead through my hand to start.

Thanks for your comments.

Bobby WolffSeptember 24th, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Hi Peter,

As long as partner will not either over nor undervalue your opening bid, I agree with not only your conclusion, but also your listed reasons for doing so.

The principle your mention can be summed up with the higher one bids, the more preemptive it is to your competitive opponents, which in turn, helps to keep them from finding a trump fit, better opening leads, and allows your side to sometimes steal contracts from them.

While also important at IMPs, it is even more valuable at matchpoints since so many of the hands are competitive for part scores. With games (or, of course, slams), it is slightly less valuable since, with one side dominating in strength, it usually will only be an advantage when a worthy opponent is not able to suggest to his partner the right opening lead.

You, by correctly using your own mind, have uncovered what takes some players years to get right:

Bridge is a bidder’s game, so choose NT whenever your hand can to be thought to be descriptive enough to open with it as long as too much distortion is not present (and even sometimes when it is, but that is another story for another time).

Good luck and forever onward, forever upward!

Buy gold coinsSeptember 27th, 2018 at 8:56 pm

Still, it has a great distance up, in comparison with its biggest high of $2300 in 1980.
You can easily verify its reliability if you take part in forum discussions
and asking your internet-savvy friends. Though gold sits dormant
as currency, it plays a vital role in the economic progress.