Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Which countries do you expect to see competing for the world championship in open and women’s events in the next few years, other than USA?

Prognosticator, Muncie, Ind.

Based on their performances at junior level, you should expect to see Sweden competing at the top level in both events. China ought to break through, given their strength in numbers, and similarly the three countries that encourage bridge as a sport: Netherlands, Israel and Poland.

In fourth chair, a weak two-diamond bid on my left came around to me with: ♠ 5,  A-J-9-7-2,  K-6-2, ♣ Q-10-4-2. I was worried by my spade shortage that I might reopen the opponents into a better spot. Would you be influenced in your decision to bid by the fact that your right-hand opponent (whom you can trust not to be coffee-housing you) seemed to have a problem?

Beyond Belief, Lakeland, Fla.

Without any table action, a call of two hearts looks right to me. Once the opponents have not found spades already, the risk that they will do so later is somewhat reduced. But you are certainly entitled to take any table action by your opponents (though not your partner) into consideration. With a really close decision, that might tip you into inaction.

Please comment on how to treat 17-counts when you have either a five-card suit or a 5-4 distribution. Under what circumstances would you simplify the auction by opening one no-trump, and when would you bid out your shape — albeit at the cost of a slight overbid?

Pork Pie, North Bay, Ontario

Any 17-count with shape is worth a reverse or upgrading to 18-19, so open your long suit and plan to bid (or reverse into) your four-card suit. On single-suited hands, go high unless you have a 5-3-3-2 pattern with a weak suit. With even a weak five-card major, you may still prefer to be aggressive if you have a small doubleton. Sometimes the hand may play better at no-trump with that suit protected.

We had an accident at our club recently, and I’m not sure the director handled it right. If a pair cannot play a board because of an accident in the movement where East-West came to the wrong table and it wasn’t spotted till too late, how should the unplayed board(s) be scored?

Board Stiff, Trenton, N.J.

If you cannot play a deal because of a problem to which you contributed (by playing the deal at the wrong table), you get an average or average-minus. Your real opponents — who also cannot play the board but did nothing wrong — get an average-plus. The result on the board between the two pairs who did play the deal will normally stand, if feasible. The director may allow a pair who started but did not finish a board to replay the deal at the right time and place, if they can fairly do so.

We had an awkward deal recently where, as a passed hand, my partner held ♠ 10-9-8-2,  A-J-3,  5-4, ♣ K-6-5-2 and heard me open one spade. Would you consider using Drury to show a maximum pass, or would you simply raise to two spades? The hand opposite was a powerful 5-5 in spades and diamonds with a club void, and six spades was excellent. After the simple raise, it wasn’t easy to reach slam.

Bart of Avon, Stratford, Conn.

Responder’s assets are just enough for a Drury call in my mind. The trump spots, doubleton and combined heart honors make it on the cusp for that call, but the fourth trump is really useful. A simple route for opener at his second turn would be to use jumps as splinters.. An alternative is to combine long and short trial bids. Some options are discussed at

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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

1 Comment

MckinleyFebruary 14th, 2019 at 8:28 pm

And worshiped himself. He probably threw a few Hail Marys in his time .