Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

It is hard to be defensive toward a danger which you have never imagined existed.

John Christopher


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

♣Q

Though the point of today’s deal may not appear to be a complex one, a remarkable number of declarers missed the point of this hand from a club duplicate. After two passes East had opened the bidding with one club. Now South’s hand might qualify for an intermediate jump overcall, or a heavy one-level overcall. I’m not a fan of doubling then bidding hearts, but whatever route you chose, the likely final contract was four hearts.

Those declarers who escaped a club lead had no problems, but the play was more challenging when West started with the queen and another club. East won the second club and led another, which declarer was forced to ruff high.

Although it was a good idea to draw trumps now, it turned out to be dangerous to lead low towards dummy’s heart 10. You can see what would happen – East would win with his ace and lead a fourth round of clubs. This would promote his partner’s nine of trumps into the setting trick.

The more thoughtful declarers took the precaution of crossing to dummy by leading a low diamond to the queen before tackling trumps by leading the three from dummy. Now East’s ace fell on empty air and then there was no further problem in drawing the rest of the trumps. Dummy’s heart 10 was still in place to protect against a fourth round of clubs. This is an unusual safety play, one that, as we can see, could easily have been overlooked in the heat of the moment.


Had your partner doubled an opening bid of one club or one heart, you might have been tempted by what looked like a working second suit in diamonds to jump to two spades. On the actual auction, your diamonds look badly placed and bidding one spade (planning to compete again if necessary) seems the logical way to go.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 4 2
 10 3
 K Q 5 3
♣ J 7 3
South West North East
  1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 8th, 2015

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Groucho Marx


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

♠10

For today’s rather subtle deal put yourself in the East seat. After reading through the full analysis of the deal, you may feel like the problem is one that you might have expected to solve. First of all, though, let’s see what actually happened at the table.

West led the spade 10 against three no-trump. Declarer played low from dummy and East won his king and exited in spades. Declarer won the ace in dummy and advanced the club king. After some thought, East allowed the king to hold, then won the second club and got off play with a heart. Declarer won this in hand and drove out the club queen, and claimed 10 tricks.

After winning the spade king East could and maybe should have defeated the game by shifting to the diamond jack, giving up his ‘natural’ tricks in diamonds in exchange for establishing the third and fourth round of the suit.

Declarer might still be able to overcome this by cashing all his heart and spade winners, then leading ace and another diamond. East would be in, and forced to lead away from the club ace at trick 12. But if declarer follows the more logical approach of taking an early club finesse, then East will set up five winners for the defense before declarer comes to nine tricks.

And finally, declarer might consider rising with the spade ace at trick one to play on clubs and gain a critical tempo. But this could have been fatal on a different day.


The choice seems to be between a top club and a low heart. I can see the arguments for both sides, but with my spades and diamonds apparently lying well for declarer, I will go for the more aggressive choice of a heart rather than a club. I’m hoping to set up hearts before the opponents establish a black suit for a discard.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8 3
 Q 10 6 3
 A 10
♣ 9 8 6 4
South West North East
    Pass 1
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 7th, 2015

I was brought up on fourth highest leads, occasionally leading second highest from three or four small. But my new partner advocates third and fifth leads against suits. What do you advocate in this regard?

Given the Pip, Greenville, S.C.

While I normally play fourth highest leads, I may lead second from four small cards against no-trump, but from three cards I lead low or top. At suit contracts, third and fifth leads may help your partner to distinguish your suit length. But fourth highest leads may be more helpful in allowing your partner to work out the strength of your suit.

In a recent “Bid With The Aces,” North opened one spade then made a “free” rebid of two hearts after his RHO overcalled his partner’s one no-trump response with a call of two diamonds. Doesn’t that show a big hand? If so, his partner, with 10 HCP and five clubs, should maybe bid a game forcing three clubs? With diamonds controlled, North could then can play in three no-trump, or show his major-suit pattern.

Sideshow Bob, Duluth, Minn.

After a one no-trump response opener’s two hearts rebid over two diamonds simply shows 5-4 shape, not extra values. One makes the call with almost any hand of that pattern. Over that, a cuebid of three diamonds would be artificial by South, but three clubs would be just a long suit, to play. South (with a 2-3-3-5 10-count and no diamond stop) isn’t worth any more than an invitation to game by raising to three hearts…if that.

What is the appropriate procedure to be followed if declarer leads out of his hand, when he should be leading from the board?

Picky-picky, Carmel, Calif.

If declarer leads from the wrong hand, either defender can condone the lead by following suit, or discarding as appropriate, or saying that they accept the lead. If attention is drawn to the irregularity, declarer can correct his play, and lead any suit he likes from the correct hand. He does NOT have to play the suit led.

My partner opened one heart and jumped to three hearts over my game-forcing two club response. I held: ♠ A-Q-10-3, —, 2, ♣ A-K-10-9-7-6-5-3. I realized that the void in my partner’s long suit was bad, but we could not agree if I should insist on playing clubs as opposed to hearts. Most pairs went down in impossible heart, club, and notrump slams so we were not alone. My partner had seven non-solid hearts and a club singleton with the spade and diamond kings.

Taking the Mickey, Fayetteville, N.C.

If playing 2/1, your partner’s auction promised a solid suit, or a solid suit missing the ace or king. Incidentally, note that a club slam is not much worse than 50% and in the unlikely event of no diamond lead you would surely make it. I agree responder should downgrade his hand, but slam may easily be cold facing some uninspiring minimums for the auction. So I’d surely make at least one slam try for clubs.

My partner opened one club and I held: ♠ J-7-3, 10-8-6-2, A-10-6, ♣ Q-9-5. Would you advocate responding one diamond, one heart, or one no-trump?

Quantity Surveyor, Great Falls, Mont.

One no-trump is a reasonable option, but tends to deny a four-card major. Do you have a four-card major? It depends on your definition of a suit. I have a preference on minimum hands for bidding the majors as soon as possible — otherwise the suit may get lost altogether. Give me the spade queen instead of the three and yes, you might sell me on a no-trump response.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 6th, 2015

What is a society without a heroic dimension?

Jean Baudrillard


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

Q

Today’s deal comes from the match between Indonesia and Australia in the 1980 Olympiad and Dick Cummings was the hero.

In the closed room Indonesia had stopped in partscore but Dick promoted himself to the heart game. After a top diamond lead Cummings ruffed and made the practical play of the heart ace from hand.

He continued with the heart jack, and East won his heart queen and avoided shortening declarer’s trumps by playing a second diamond. Instead he led a spade to the jack and ace. Cummings therefore shortened his trumps himself by ruffing a diamond, then cashed the king and queen of spades.

Instead of taking the club finesse, Cummings realized that he needed nothing more than that East should have one club. He therefore carefully led a club to the ace and tried the spade 10. If East ruffed this high or low it would be suicidal, so he discarded a club, as did declarer. Cummings now ruffed dummy’s last diamond, and at this point exited from hand with his last club. South’s last two cards were the heart 9-7, securely poised over the king-eight, and that guaranteed him one more trick.

As you can see, if East had held the doubleton club king, taking the club finesse would have allowed the defense to prevail in the six-card ending by winning the king and returning the suit; now the timing is all wrong for the trump coup.

This hand epitomizes the strategy identified by Rixi Markus; “Bid boldly, play safe”.


You are far too good to pass, since you could be cold for game in two or three different strains. While this is a normal response of one spade to an opening one heart bid, I would prefer to bid two clubs in response to an overcall. It may make it harder to get to spades, but I would avoid responding in a four-card suit if I had a sensible alternative.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 6 3
 6
 10 6 2
♣ A Q 7 6 2
South West North East
  1 1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 5th, 2015

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

G. B. Shaw


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

* Two of the five-key cards but no trump queen

9

Today’s deal came up in a Grand National Qualifier, and was submitted anonymously by one of the defenders, who didn’t want to embarrass the unlucky declarer.

In one room North-South had stayed out of slam. They took 11 tricks on an unexciting line by simply cashing off the top spades, a couple of diamonds, all the hearts and then playing a third trump. West got off play with the fourth heart, and the defenders collected a club at the end.

In the other room, North-South reached slam on the auction shown. After a diamond lead the correct approach for declarer is to win the ace and take both top trumps to find the bad news. Now a heart to dummy for a diamond ruff allows declarer to cash two more top hearts, then ruff another diamond.

If West overruffs he will have to lead a club away from the king, so he discards, and he must pitch a club not the 13th heart. Declarer now takes the club finesse and ruffs dummy’s fourth diamond, forcing West to make a second and fatal play.

He has three choices: He can overruff and be endplayed to lead clubs or give a ruff-sluff. He can pitch a heart, and then be endplayed with a trump to lead clubs; or he can pitch clubs and bare his club king, letting declarer cash two club winners. This last option is best, though, as declarer might misread the ending by playing West for an original 3=3=2=5 pattern.


What should you expect your partner to have? Not just clubs! He’d open three clubs or bid two clubs over one spade. All passed hands jumps facing opening bids or overcalls can’t be natural and weak – you’d do something else at either your first or second turn. I’d advocate playing this jump as spade fit (typically four-card support) and a decent club suit; so now a jump to four spades must be right.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 6 3 2
 K 4 2
 8
♣ J 6 3
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1
1 ♠ Dbl. 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi


S North
None ♠ Q J 10 6
 A J 10 7
 7 4
♣ 8 7 4
West East
♠ 9 4 2
 K 5
 Q 9 8 3 2
♣ K Q 10
♠ 7
 9 8 6 3
 K J 10 5
♣ A 9 5 2
South
♠ A K 8 5 3
 Q 4 2
 A 6
♣ J 6 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 3 ♠ Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

♣K

Today’s four spade contract may appear to hinge on the heart finesse. But while the heart finesse is necessary, be warned that it is not sufficient.

At the table the defenders cashed their three top clubs, then shifted to diamonds. Declarer won the diamond ace, led a spade to the queen, then drew trump ending in hand and advanced the heart queen. West covered, and declarer tried to cash out the hearts. When they failed to break, he could not avoid losing trick 13, no matter which hand he finished up in.

Once West turns up with trump length, it is rather more likely that he has short than long hearts, including the king. The right line is to lead a heart to the jack at trick five, then lead out the spade queen. Next, overtake the trump jack with the king. When West turns up with spade length, lead to the heart jack and draw the last trump, then rely on hearts breaking 3-3. As it is, though, the sight of the heart king on the second round of the suit allows you to cross to the spade ace, unblock the heart queen, and go to dummy’s trump 10 to cash the heart ace.

Had West turned up with short trumps, you might well have led out the heart queen on the second round of the suit, subsequently playing East for a doubleton eight or nine of hearts, rather than trying for the 3-3 heart break.


I would raise two diamonds to three, upgrading my trump honors. Just for the record, if my partner had responded two clubs I would pass the response. The reason is that the trump intermediates are pulling their full weight in diamonds, while in clubs your diamond cards may not be so valuable. Passing is certainly not unreasonable, and I would do so if the diamond king was the queen.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7
 9 7 6 3
 K J 10 5
♣ A 9 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.

George Will


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

♠K

When a contract seems to depend on a reasonable break in a long suit, you should always consider what other chances you might have if the key suit doesn’t behave.

In today’s deal South was constrained to open one diamond. Thereafter he tried to apply the brakes, but North had the bit between his teeth, and would not let his partner out below six notrump, against which West led the spade king. The contract was certainly reasonable, but South didn’t give it his best shot.

After winning the spade in hand, South returned the spade jack and threw a diamond from dummy. West led a third spade and this time dummy discarded a heart. Declarer next tried the king and another club, but when West showed out he was in deep trouble, since he had discarded potential winners from dummy. He ended up a trick short.

Try the effect of leading your low club to the ace at trick two. The next club lead exposes the position and now, when South leads the spade jack from hand, he knows to discard a club from dummy. With the heart finesse right, there are all sorts of additional chances for the 12th trick, either from the diamond breaking, as they do here, or from a squeeze on either opponent, since there are threats in all four suits.

Furthermore, if the clubs had proved to be 3-2, declarer could still have set up his 12th trick from the spades, with no need to rely on either red suit.


One must agree how to show a weak hand after opener’s reverse. One style is for simple calls to be non-forcing with fourth suit strong. Alternatively, use a two no-trump call as weak, or even (my favorite) to use the cheaper of fourth suit and two no-trump as a potentially weak hand. In this last style you’d bid a forcing two no-trump here, planning to raise three no-trump to four no-trump, to invite slam.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 10 2
 A Q 10 3
 7 6 4
♣ K 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.

Mark Twain


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

♠K

Today’s deal from a recent Cavendish pairs emphasizes that bridge can sometimes resemble one of those Russian dolls where you keep peeling off the layers to find something interesting and unexpected below.

Let’s look at a simple story first. Against three no-trump as West, Ton Bakkeren took two top spades, then shifted to the club two when his partner pitched a discouraging heart. Declarer took Huub Bertens’ nine with the ace but eventually had to play another spade, and ended up with only seven tricks when the club finesse lost.

This turned out to be a major swing for East-West, the eventual tournament winners, even though many Wests found the right defense of shifting to a club — but that was far from the end of the story.

As East, how should you defend if your partner shifts to a low club, and declarer plays low from dummy, then ducks your club nine? Since partner is marked with the three top spades, you know declarer has the club ace. Might you not be tempted to go passive and exit with a heart? That was the way Steve Landen played as declarer. When the defense duly shifted to hearts, he knocked out the spade queen and claimed nine tricks.

But that is still not the whole story. Say that as West you know declarer has four diamonds and four spades. If you are going to play a club, why not shift to the club jack at trick three? That was the defense Bob Hamman found, and now declarer had no chance.


There is a place for subtlety and delicacy in bridge; this is not it. You have a balanced hand and should treat it as such by jumping to two no-trump now. I’m not saying there aren’t hands where a one spade response might work, but the odds favor describing balanced hands as such as soon as you reasonably can. Your partner can always check back for a spade or heart fit if he wants to.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 8 7 3
 A Q 5
 A Q J 9
♣ A 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 1st, 2015

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

G. B. Shaw


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

♣8

In today’s deal the question marks in the diagrammed hand represent the queen and ace of hearts. It will be your task to identify the correct play in the trump suit when declaring four hearts.

You reach the heart game after East has opened one club, and has competed to three clubs. The defenders lead and continue clubs; you ruff the second one, West showing a doubleton. Now a spade to the king and a trump to East’s three and your….?

Here if East had the doubleton heart ace he should have risen with the ace and played a third club for the trump promotion. Unless you have a good reason to assume to the contrary, you should probably believe that your opponents would be good enough to find this defense. Presumably the best reason for their not following this line of defense was because East did not have the heart ace in the first place. So play a trump to the jack – a play that also caters for most of the 3-1 breaks too.

Of course your approach may vary depending on which of the opponents is threatening the overruff. You can imagine that on a different day it might be the case that if West gets on lead with the heart ace he could lead a suit to allow East to overruff dummy. In that scenario you might well lead a trump to the king, since playing a trump to the jack and ace would still lead to defeat for you.


If the afterlife consists of being faced with problems of this sort, I’m not sure I will enjoy it too much. With no passive lead available you have to guess which four-card suit to lead, and while the club suit is slightly more attractive to me, I will go for the major over the minor.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 8 7 2
 K J 2
 10 3
♣ K 9 4 2
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Do you prefer to play a two-overone style where responder’s rebid of his suit is not forcing, or do you like the current style of playing two-over-one game-forcing? Am I correct in assuming that one has to play forcing no-trump with either style?

Standard Bearer, Peru, Ind.

My go-as-you-please roots inspire me toward a less constricting approach than two-overone game-forcing. But even when I consent to the strait-jacket, I opt to play one no-trump as non-forcing. Opener can pass with a balanced minimum, since responder should never hold anything more than balanced 12 or 13 count when he bids one no-trump. You might miss an occasional marginal game, but you stay sensibly low more often.

I find bidding in balancing seat very hard. I was in fourth chair with: ♠ K-9-8-6-4, Q-4 K-9, ♣ Q-8-7-4 and heard my LHO open one heart. My RHO responded one no-trump and passed the two diamond rebid. Was it right to re-open with this hand, and if so should I double or bid spades?

Tightrope, Jackson, Miss.

Yes I would balance, and would choose to bid two spades, because of the extra length in that suit. At this point though our target is to find our best fit, not our highest scoring contract, the extra spade is a very convincing reason to bid the suit, in addition to the fact that both opponents appear not to have spade length.

As someone who always seems to fall back on leading fourth highest of dummy’s longest and strongest, I would welcome your thoughts on when to go active and when passive against no-trump.

Benedict Arnold, Chicago, Ill.

Leading passively is far harder to do than it might seem, but it works for me at notrump more often than at suits. If both opponents are known to be stretching and appear to be limited, it may seem sensible, or if the cards are known to lie badly. Also on blind auctions broken four-card suits are often less attractive than sequences in three-card suits, or leading from three or four small.

As opener I frequently guess wrong when deciding whether to make a simple call in a new suit, or to jump in a suit or in notrump. For example, with: ♠ 3-2, K-3, A-Q-10-8-4, ♣ A-K-J-7 having opened one diamond and heard partner respond one spade, where do you stand on a rebid of two clubs, three clubs, or two notrump? How would you feel if partner had responded one heart?

Kangaroo Court, Delray Beach, Fla.

This hand is close to a three club call, but you would need another card to be fully happy to force to game without a real fit. I despise a call of two no-trump, though I admit it might work on a good day. It is even clearer to bid two clubs over a one heart response. Never jump shift without knowing where you are going at your next turn over simple preference.

My LHO opened one diamond. My partner overcalled one spade and my RHO raised to two diamonds. Even though we were vulnerable I competed to two hearts with queen-jack fifth of hearts, a doubleton spade, and an outside ace, to push the opponents up a level. My partner insisted this hand was too weak to act here, even though the opponents duly went to three diamonds. Was I out of line?

Grumpy, Philadelphia, Pa.

A two heart call is nonforcing here so the lower end of the range for the bid is quite low — though maybe not this low! You wouldn’t need much more to act, in my opinion. A sixth heart or a side queen would be quite sufficient if you were prepared to play hearts facing a doubleton. For the record, remember that doubling two diamonds suggests hearts and a good hand.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.