Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I am novice who has been reading your columns in the Albuquerque Journal. It seems that the players in your articles use a lot of cue-bids. Can you recommend a Web site that explains cue-bids?

— Cueless, Albuquerque, N.M.

ANSWER: Cue-bids fall into two categories: some show controls in the suit bid and help your partner decide when to play slam. More frequently these days (when raises and jump raises of partner are weak in competition) a cue-bid shows a high-card raise for partner without guaranteeing any control in the suit bid, be it a high-card or shortage. Try for a detailed explanation.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held A, Q-9-7, K-J-7-4-2, A-K-10-4 and opened one diamond. My plan was to jump to three clubs over a response of one heart. Over a one-spade response, should I jump in clubs or in no-trump?

— Jumping Jack, Saint John, New Brunswick

ANSWER: Neither action would be correct. A simple call of two clubs is enough when your partner’s response makes your hand worse. Just consider a hand opposite with eight points and no fit. Do you really want to play game? If not, don’t drive your partner to the stratosphere — he may be far weaker than that!

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner opened one heart, and I doubled a two-club overcall. We disagreed over the meaning of the negative double. I contend it shows ONLY spades. One may or not have a tolerance for diamonds. I also contend that my bid reflects fewer than the 10 points needed to bid two spades here. Was I right?

— Out of Range, Newport News, Va.

ANSWER: There is NO high-card upper limit for a negative double. Partner assumes you are minimum, but further action from you shows extra shape or points as appropriate. Double of one major normally delivers length in the other major; the double implying that you will be able to cope with a bid in the inconvenient suit. As to a high-card restriction, IF you have five spades, you would have less than 10-11 points on the auction you suggest. But with only four spades you could have 20 HCP.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in second seat with (A)-10-6, A-Q-9-4, A-J-7, A-10-4 and heard one diamond on my right. I bid one no-trump and then discovered that the spade ace was stuck behind the 10! What should I have done when my partner transferred into spades?

— Fool for Love, Laredo, Texas

ANSWER: The first thing to do is not to panic or let the other players know what has happened. I would jump to three spades rather than go to game. Your partner will play you for four trumps and a maximum. That is as close as you can get after this start.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When you write your column, do you use any tools of analysis other than an editor? What are the best computer tools to analyze a deal?

— Work in Progress, Casper, Wyo.

ANSWER: These days the ACBL and most clubs that give out hand records add an analysis showing how many tricks can be made against best play and defense. The problem (if there is one) with this analysis is that it assumes you can drop any missing honors and never misguess for a queen. Having said that, Deep Finesse is hard to beat for simplicity and accuracy.

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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact