Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

One hope is too like despair
For prudence to smother,
And pity from thee more dear
Than that from another.

Percy Shelley


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

♠8

On today's deal from the European Open Series, played in Dublin last year, England's David Bakhshi opened one no-trump and played in two hearts after a transfer response from his partner, Tom Townsend.

Austria’s Gunther Purkarthofer led the spade eight,, and Bakhshi won dummy’s ace, then led to the king, and continued with the queen, ruffed and overruffed. Bakhshi exited dummy with a diamond, winning the ace when Jan Fucik put in the king. A fourth spade was ruffed, West pitching a diamond, and declarer continued with a second diamond. West overtook his partner’s jack to play another diamond, ruffed by declarer’s eight. Now Bakhshi played the heart king to West’s ace, and Purkarthofer switched to the club three. The winning play is to duck, but quite reasonably Bakhshi went up with dummy’s king, losing to the ace, and East, Jan Fucik, returned the jack.

At this point, to defeat the contract, West had to overtake and allow East to win the third club, then lead his low heart to South’s bare queen. When West failed to do so, he had to win the third club himself — and now he had no choice but to lead a diamond at trick 12. When dummy ruffed with the nine, East had lost his trump trick whether he overruffed or not. Granted, the defense could have done better, but Bakhshi had pulled off that rarity, a smother play, to make his contract.


What is this double? It may be a matter for each individual partnership, but I believe after the response of one no-trump to a major, opener's double of intervention should be takeout, responder's double should be cards. If you agree, then you should jump to four hearts, even if the double does not promise extras. Even a 12-count with a singleton diamond may leave your side with good play for game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 5
 10 9 7 6 2
 5 4 3
♣ K 8 5
South West North East
1♠ Pass
1 NT 2 Dbl. 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 24th, 2013

One should never make one's debut with a scandal. One should reserve that to give an interest to one's old age.

Oscar Wilde


North North
Neither ♠ K 9 5
 Q 8 4
 K J 8 7 2
♣ 7 4
West East
♠ Q 8 6 4
 A J 7 3
 6 5
♣ 9 6 5
♠ 10 7 3
 K 10 6 2
 A 3
♣ K Q J 2
South
♠ A J 2
 9 5
 Q 10 9 4
♣ A 10 8 3
South West North East
Pass 1♣
1 Dbl. 3 All pass

♣5

With the European open tournament taking place right now in Ostend, Belgium, this week's deals all come from the most recent European Championships, which were held in Dublin, Ireland, and resulted in a win for Monaco. (Yes, you read that right.)

Today’s deal came from the very first match of the event. While the other members of the Norwegian Seniors Team had played for Norway before, this was the first international appearance for Johnny Holmbakken. He rapidly placed himself in the hot seat against Italy, and on the very first board of the match too. I would not recommend his decision to overcall here, but that’s what he did, ending up in three diamonds.

Holmbakken won East’s club jack with the ace and ran the diamond nine to East’s ace. East cashed a club and exited with a diamond to the jack. A heart to the nine and jack was followed by the heart ace and another heart, which declarer ruffed. A club was ruffed in dummy, and a diamond put declarer in hand with the queen. Holmbakken was sure that West held the spade queen and played accordingly, putting the jack on the table! South covered, and dummy’s king won. Now came the trumps.

The last diamond squeezed East in the black suits, and declarer made the contract via two spade tricks when East kept his club. A menace transfer and squeeze – what a nice debut!


The suit partner is most likely to hold is spades, but of course he had the opportunity to overcall and did not. With a safe club sequence to lead from, it is pretty much a toss-up as to which lead you make. My vote, narrowly, is for a top club, but I can see both sides of the argument. Give me a better small spade spot, and I would be convinced it was right to lead this suit.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 2
 Q 8 4 3
 K 8 5
♣ J 10 3
South West North East
Pass
Pass 1 Pass 1 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

How do you know what to signal when partner leads against no-trump and dummy wins the queen or king from a doubleton holding? If you cannot beat dummy, should you signal count or attitude?

Semaphore Sam, Edmonton, Alberta

If dummy wins the king you should signal attitude — your partner will need to know if you have a minor honor. If dummy wins the queen, the position is far more complex. Sometimes partner needs count (when declarer has a doubleton honor); sometimes he needs to know attitude (Do you possess the jack?) You need to guess well — and to try to make your play in tempo!

What is the best way to use double negatives after a two-club opening? I know that some people use the first step; others use the lower minor or two no-trump.

Ain't Got No Clue, Grand Junction, Colo.

After a negative or waiting two-diamond call (methods I prefer to an immediate two-heart double negative), it makes most sense for responder to use three clubs as the second negative when opener rebids a major. This typically shows 0-4 points. Similarly, three diamonds by responder is a second negative over three clubs. This way, no-trump tends to be declared the right way up.

At pairs, vulnerable, what is the best first call with ♠ K-4,  Q-10-8-7-6-4,  5, ♣ Q-7-3-2 after my partner opened one diamond in second seat and the next hand overcalled one spade? Should I double, bid hearts, or pass and come in later?

Overbidders Anonymous, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Passing is rather feeble here – you do have some nice shape after all, if you can find a fit. If you want to act, doubling gets both unbid suits into play. You plan to correct partner’s next bid of two diamonds or one no-trump to two hearts to show this sort of hand. A direct bid of two hearts would be an overbid (though you might do this as a passed hand) and it might also lose the clubs altogether — particularly if the opponents raise or repeat spades.

One of the problems I have at pairs is when to compete again with extra high-cards, but uninspiring trumps. Recently with both sides vulnerable I sat in third seat with: ♠ J-7-4,  Q-9-5,  K-9-6-5-4, ♣ A-2. My partner opened one spade, and after a two-club overcall, I raised to two spades. Now my LHO bid three clubs, and I felt obliged to double when this came back to me. We could have set it a trick, but declarer made it for a cold top.

Last Mistake, Roanoke, Va.

When your partner did not compete to three spades himself, he was quite likely to have only five spades. Doubling to show extra defense is an excellent gamble at pairs – partner can always retreat if totally unsuitable. I am sure letting through three clubs would still have scored badly, so I think you made the right pairs play, assuming you were going to defend correctly!

Am I right in saying that when the opponents bid and raise a suit, sandwiched around my partner's double, my double in fourth chair would now be responsive, for takeout. If so, do responsive doubles apply after the opponents pre-empt and raise that suit?

Warts and All, Philadelphia, Pa.

You are right in that responsive doubles do apply after an opening bid at any level is doubled and then raised. Your double should be takeout at low levels but optional at the four-level or higher. One other thought: When they bid and raise hearts after partner has doubled, you normally bid spades if you can. So here a double might deny biddable spades.


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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity and intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.

Aldous Huxley


North North
Neither ♠ 10 3
 6 4
 A Q 10 8 7 5
♣ 5 3 2
West East
♠ A 9 8 6 5 2
 J 10 7
 3
♣ Q 7 6
♠ J 7
 A K 8 5 3
 K 6 4
♣ J 10 4
South
♠ K Q 4
 Q 9 2
 J 9 2
♣ A K 9 8
South West North East
3 Pass
3 NT All pass    

♠6

Certain players seem to cause curious happenings at the bridge table. The incomparable Zia is the first name that springs to mind. The late John Collings is another. And a third is Michael Courtney of Australia. This hand won the 2010 International Bridge Press Association's Rose Cliff Declarer Play of the Year Award, and the winning journalist was the prolific author Ron Klinger.

The deal arose at rubber bridge and Michael Courtney came up with an ingenious deception that claimed East as its victim. When North opened three diamonds, Courtney bid three no-trump and West led the spade six to the 10, jack and king. Now Courtney took the losing diamond finesse, leaving East on lead. Keen to show where his values lay, East cashed the heart king. West, keener for East to revert to spades, followed with the heart jack, denying the queen. Courtney knew that the initial spade lead was from at most a six-card suit since he could see the four and three. Thus East held at least one more spade and the contract was hopeless. Accordingly, when East followed up with the heart ace, Courtney contributed the queen! Naturally, West continued his unblocking in hearts, playing the 10, since East clearly had the rest of the hearts.

Now, having read West for an initial holding of J-10-9-7 of hearts with South holding the doubleton heart queen, East continued with a third heart – and Courtney produced the master nine and took his nine winners.


This is an auction where partner could have easily raised hearts or cue-bid in support of hearts by bidding two diamonds. Given that he did not overcall in spades at his first turn, this double has to be penalties, not takeout. Is that possible? It is surely unlikely, but possible, if your RHO has a 4-4-5-0 pattern. And why shouldn't he?

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7
 A K 8 5 3
 K 6 4
♣ J 10 4
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1
1 2♣ Dbl. 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 21st, 2013

Shadow by shadow, stripped for fight,
The lean black cruisers search the sea.
Night-long their level shafts of light
Revolve, and find no enemy.

Alfred Noyes


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

K

Against four spades West begins with the diamond king, then shifts to the heart five. Is there any chance of making 10 tricks?

The first question that you should ask is “Why didn’t West shift to a trump at trick two?” and the obvious answer is that he doesn’t have one. You have to suppose the full deal is similar to the diagramed one.

You should win the heart ace and lead the diamond 10. If East plays low, throw your remaining heart in an attempt to cut the defenders’ communications. West will win the trick and, with no trump to lead, can do no better than play the heart queen. After ruffing this, you will play off the club ace and crossruff the hand. The best that East can do is to overruff the fourth round of clubs at trick 10 and return a trump, which you will win for your eighth trick. You will then make the last two tricks on a high crossruff to give you your contract.

If at trick three East covers the diamond 10 with the queen, you will ruff this, then cash the club ace and ruff a club, so that you can lead the diamond nine from the board. When East follows with the eight, you will discard your heart nine. The play then develops along the same lines as described above, and you will make the same 10 tricks.


Just because East promises four spades doesn't mean you should be afraid of introducing a suit of this quality. Your plan will be to bid your clubs over a call of one no-trump (whoever bids it!) or to raise hearts at your next turn. This may be a slight overbid, but if they have a fit, your side does too.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 9 8 7
 9 3
 6
♣ A 10 9 7 3
South West North East
1 1 Dbl.
?      

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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 20th, 2013

It shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.

Sarah Dessen


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

♠Q

Against three no-trump West leads the spade queen, and, as expected, East has to discard; he chooses a heart. Is there any way to make nine tricks against the best defense?

You need East to have begun with three clubs headed by the king and jack. At trick two, you should cash the club ace. East’s best defense is to unblock the king. You then cross to dummy with a diamond to the ace to lead a club. If East plays the jack, you will play low from hand. After winning the red-suit return in hand, you will cash the club queen and claim nine tricks: a spade, two hearts, three diamonds and three clubs.

You should note that it would not have been a good idea to cross to dummy at trick two to lead a club. East would play the jack, forcing you to play the queen. Now, when you played the club ace, he would drop the king, and you could not set up your third club trick without letting West on lead.

Incidentally, on the club-10 lead, you would have set about clearing the club suit at once. Then you would have cashed three diamonds and two hearts, hoping to exhaust West of red-suit cards. Finally, you would have ducked a spade to West, forcing him to give you a ninth trick in spades.

Finally, did you spot the winning defense? West begins with the spade ace and queen, allowing East to unblock the club king and jack!


My instinct is to pass, though I admit that since a call by partner of three clubs at his second turn would have been game-forcing, partner could easily have up to a 16-count. There is something to be said for giving false preference to two diamonds, but surely a 4-4 club fit will play much better than a 5-3 diamond fit, since you may be able to discard losers from either major on diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 6 4
 A 6 2
 A 8 4
♣ 8 6 4 3
South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2♣ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Thomas Paine


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

♣A

In today's six-spade contract, there are two potential problems that declarer might be faced with. The first is a bad trump break; the second is a bad diamond break. With considerable shortage of entries to dummy, against which of these problems should you protect — or can you guard against both of them?

When West began with two top clubs South ruffed with the nine and saw the only dangers for the contract were the 4-0 break in either trumps or diamonds. She could not play either suit without loss if West had four cards there. Entries were such that she could only manage to pick up diamonds by drawing trumps first. However, that risked failing when East had four trumps.

Finally she came to the right conclusion when she decided to focus her attention on trumps and led the spade eight to the queen. When West showed out, she led a trump from dummy to the 10 and ace. She returned to dummy with a heart ruff, finessed against East’s spade jack, then drew East’s last trump with her king. When all followed to the diamond ace, she had 12 tricks.

Note that had spades broken 2-2, her careful play at tricks two and three would have left her two entries to dummy to take two diamond finesses. Had she ruffed the club low, there would have been only one trump entry to dummy, and thus no way to protect against 4-0 diamonds after leading a spade to the queen at trick three.


A raise to four clubs is simple and straightforward, and you have no reason to assume either that three no-trump will score better than a minor-suit contract, or indeed that three no-trump will be cold facing extreme shortage in one major or the other. A jump to five clubs would be premature without five trumps.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10 4 3
 Q 10 8 4
 J
♣ K 7 5 3
South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 3♣ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Master of human destinies am I!
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait.

John Ingalls


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

♠K

These days Ely Culbertson is regarded with a somewhat jaundiced eye. Players remember the tales of his histrionics, but forget that he was both a trailblazer in the theory of the game and a fine card-player at a time when there were no textbooks to teach you technique. He was credited with defending today's deal.

The bidding may look strange to a modern eye, but the call of four no-trump showed rather than asked, while the response of five no-trump promised two aces.

The partnership had nonetheless reached a slam that appeared to hinge on the heart finesse, and the auction had made this somewhat unlikely to succeed. Against six diamonds, Ely (West) led the spade king. Declarer took this with dummy’s ace, then ran six rounds of trump, throwing a heart from the table. Next came the three top clubs. Culbertson is credited with discarding the heart eight, spade 10, his four clubs, then finally the spade queen and jack. Meanwhile East discarded his club first, then two hearts and next the spade six.

Accordingly, when declarer led the spade eight from his hand at trick 11, Culbertson was able to follow low. East could win the spade nine and exit with a heart through declarer, insuring that Culbertson scored his heart king at the end.

If Culbertson had not unblocked all of his spades when discarding, he would have been thrown in to win the second spade and thus have been forced to lead from his heart king into declarer’s heart tenace.


This is the sort of sequence where it is important to bid four spades with confidence, leaving it to the opponents to work out if you are bidding to make or are sacrificing. Yes, there are lies of the cards where you can beat four hearts if you get a diamond ruff. But against that, you rate to escape for no worse than two down in four spades. So unless the vulnerability is against you, take the save.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 10 5
 K 8 7
 2
♣ J 10 9 5
South West North East
1
1♠ 2 3♠ 4
?      

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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 17th, 2013

Every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a risk. To survive is to know you're taking that risk and to not get out of bed clutching illusions of safety.

Maria V. Snyder


South North
Neither ♠ A Q 6 5 2
 K J 10 6
 K
♣ J 5 3
West East
♠ 9
 5 4
 Q 10 9 7 5
♣ Q 9 7 6 2
♠ K J 10 8 7 4
 8 3 2
 6 3
♣ 10 8
South
♠ 3
 A Q 9 7
 A J 8 4 2
♣ A K 4
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠ Pass
2 Pass 4 NT Pass
5♣ Pass 5* Pass
6♣ Pass 6 Pass
6 All pass    

*Trump-queen ask

♠9

A word about today's auction: After a reverse, a raise by responder of either of opener's suits is best played as forcing. However, at his second turn North simply asked for keycards with hearts as trump, and then for the trump queen. South's answer showed the heart queen and the club king. North might now have bid the grand slam, but the partnership settled in six hearts. West led the spade nine taken by dummy's ace as East followed with an encouraging signal. Thirteen tricks might be available on a crossruff, but that is irrelevant. Assuming that neither defender has a singleton in a minor suit, what is the safest line to make 12 tricks?

After winning the first trick with dummy’s spade ace, lead a club to your ace, followed by a diamond to the king and a second club from dummy. Once the club king holds, throw the club jack on the diamond ace.

Now comes the fun part. You have five tricks already, and you make sure of the next six tricks by conducting a high crossruff. At trick 12 you will ruff the minor-suit card left in your hand with dummy’s heart six. Either that will win the trick or East will be able to overruff it with the heart eight. In that case, your heart seven will be high and will take the last trick. You will make a spade, seven trump tricks and four tricks in the minors.


The double calls for dummy's first-bid suit. Geniuses might lead a low diamond, hoping partner will work out that he can win the lead and put you back in, but that is for geniuses only! The rest of the world leads the jack and apologizes later if it does not work out perfectly.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 6 4
 J 6 5 2
 J 4
♣ 8 4 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2♣ Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Recently I sat in third chair with ♠ J-9-3,  J-8-7,  K-J-9-4, ♣ A-5-4 and heard two spades from partner and three clubs on my right. I raised to three spades, the call I would have made without the opponents having intervened, and my partner said he would have passed with my hand and let well enough alone. Both three-level-contracts would have gone down a trick.

Sadder but Wiser, Charleston, S.C.

Your decision to compete was right on all fronts. The main reason for bidding is to take space from the opponents. Why shouldn't they find their heart fit if you leave them space?

My partner asked me if I played "Unusual versus Unusual" and I had no idea what he meant. Could you help me out please?

Unusual Suspect, Nashville, Tenn.

When the opponents overcall with a two-suiter like Michaels, Ghestem, or the unusual no-trump, this gives responder at least one clear cue-bid. If RHO has shown a specific two-suiter, a cue-bid of the lower suit can be used to show the fourth suit with a decent hand, while the cue-bid of the higher suit shows a limit raise in partner's suit. Consequently, raising partner or bidding the fourth suit is purely competitive. If there is only one known suit, or one cue-bid below three of partner's suit, use that cue-bid as the limit-raise.

I'm out of touch with the way players in your column seem to bid all the time. Why are jump raises of partner weak, not strong, and how do you ever get to show a good hand?

Nostalgic, Orlando, Fla.

The modern approach is that, particularly in competitive auctions, jump raises tend toward distributional rather than high-card values — though many take a good thing too far. Undeniably, though, you need to be able to show a good hand. The key is to start with a cue-bid, which promises limit values or better and support.

Last night my partner passed in second chair over one heart. Subsequently, though, he balanced with a double at his second turn after a raise to two hearts. I held an uninspiring collection: ♠ J-3-2,  10-4,  A-Q-5-4-3, ♣ 10-7-2. I gambled by biddingtwo spades, trying to keep the auction low, and played in a 3-3 fit with a nine-card diamond fit available. Was I wrong to expect at least four spades from my partner?

Sadly Lacking, Corpus Christi, Texas

This is an auction where partner might even balance into a four-card spade suit if he had one, so finding him with only three spades is not entirely surprising. When I am asked to bid a suit and hold a five-carder, I bid it and let the chips fall where they may — whether it is a minor or a major.

I got some grief from my partner when I held this hand: ♠ J-4,  7-4,  K-J-9-5-4, ♣ Q-J-7-2. My partner opened one spade, and my RHO bid one no-trump. I chose to try two diamonds – was this unreasonable?

Indecently Exposed, Chicago, Ill.

Acting in this position typically shows a six-card suit (though a decent five-carder will suffice in a pinch) and a hand in the range of six to nine points, since with more you would probably double the opponents in one no-trump. On this occasion two diamonds was somewhat aggressive, but far from absurd. With the diamond 10 instead of the four, I admit I would surely have done the same.


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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.