Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

As dealer, I held A-2, K, K-J-9-7-4, A-Q-10-7-4 and opened one diamond. The next hand overcalled one heart, my partner doubled, and the next player jumped to three hearts, pre-emptive. I was not sure what a double would show and whether I had enough to bid four clubs, since my plan had been simply to rebid two clubs if my RHO had passed

— Roadblock, Ketchikan, Alaska

ANSWER: Had your RHO passed, the right call would have been three clubs. This is strong but NOT a game-force, since you are jumping in a suit suggested (if not shown) by partner. That said, in competition you can bid one level higher than you planned, so bid four clubs. A double of three hearts might be a balanced or semi-balanced 18-19.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What sort of hand would pass in first or second chair and then back into the opponents’ auction with a pre-empt?

— Back-and-Fill, Walnut Creek, Calif.

ANSWER: The obvious answer is that you have a hand with the shape for a pre-empt but not the right honor location. However, it all depends on your position and vulnerability. You might be either too good or too bad to pre-empt, or have too much shape in the side-suits. If vulnerable, I play my opening pre-empts as good suits. I am unlikely to be two-suited or have a major on the side. But I might pass and then bid with a hand unsuitable for the initial action.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you held A-J-4-3, Q-7-3-2, K-Q, 10-6-3, what would you open in third seat — and why?

— Careful Preparation, Atlanta, Ga.

ANSWER: Bottom of my list would be to open one club. Why bid your worst suit and get partner off to the wrong lead? I also would not open one diamond (though I might prefer it to one club!), but would bid either one heart or one spade. In third seat it is a mistake to stick rigidly to playing five-card majors if the alternatives are so unpalatable. With the majors reversed, one heart is a heavy favorite

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a recent column, you talked about opener raising partner’s major-suit response with only three trumps. Is this allowed? And when do you do it?

— The Raiser’s Edge, Durango, Colo.

ANSWER: Opener will raise partner’s response of one of a major whenever he has four trumps, or a minimum unbalanced hand with three trumps, and sometimes with a semi-balanced hand with three trumps and an unguarded suit. After opening one diamond and hearing a one-spade response, with a 3-2-5-3 pattern and two small hearts I would raise spades. With a doubleton heart queen and three small spades, I might rebid one no-trump (but in my opinion a raise is not wrong).

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding A-3-2, K-9-6-4-2, Q-4, A-Q-2, you would probably open one no-trump. But what would you do if your RHO opened one club? What if they opened one spade?

— Pressing Suit, Saint John’s, Newfoundland.

ANSWER: I would open one no-trump without a second thought — that five-card suit does not look like five, does it? If my RHO opened one club, I’d also bid one no-trump. That my RHO is likely to be balanced means I am exactly where I was on opening bid. Over a one-spade opening, I might bid two hearts because of the strength of my hand, but would not want to have to defend the call. I’d rather bid one no-trump than double or pass.

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, feel free to leave comments at this blog. This column is reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc. Copyright 2009.