Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently I doubled the same contract that my partner had just doubled. What is the appropriate penalty?

—  Oops-a-Daisy, Elmira, N.Y.

ANSWER: This is bad news for your side, I am afraid. When an illegal second double is made, the call is canceled and you get the right to make any call you like. But there may be lead penalties imposed on your partner, AND if the auction continues, your partner is barred for the duration.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I am not a great fan of pre-empting with unsuitable shape. But if you held Q-J-10-4-2, 7-3-2, 4, J-7-6-4, would you ever open two spades in third seat nonvulnerable? My partner thought this was very undisciplined, but I felt my intermediates justified the risk.

—  Wild Thing, Union City, Tenn.

ANSWER: The problem with such actions is not the result you get this time, but what will happen the next time your partner hears you open in third seat and can’t decide whether to trust you. I don’t think your choice is such a bad one; but you need to discuss with your partner whether your style in third seat is wild and undisciplined (in which case you should let the opponents know) or if this is the exception.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In third seat I had Q-7-3, A-2, A-10-3, 7-6-4-3-2 and my partner opened one club. The next hand bid one diamond, and I was not sure whether to bid no-trump or to raise clubs, and if the latter, to what level. What do you recommend?

—  Sanity Check, Spartanburg, S.C.

ANSWER: This is a good hand facing an unbalanced hand, but an unremarkable one if partner has 12-14 balanced (his most likely hand-type at this point in the auction). I agree that playing a partscore in no-trump might well be the best spot, but I’m going to opt for the cue-bid raise to two diamonds, expecting to be able to play two no-trump if partner shows no signs of life.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are the merits of leading unsupported aces? What about in bid and supported suits?

—  Aces and Spaces, Mitchell, S.D.

ANSWER: Leading an ace when the opponents pre-empt or when the contract is at the five-level or higher sometimes makes sense. Equally, in bid and supported suits I’m not opposed to the lead of my partner’s suit, but it is less attractive when I’ve bid the suit first. Of course, if the opponents have rejected no-trump because of a concern about one suit, be it bid or unbid by us, it makes the lead a logical one.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Are you currently involved in bridge politics at a national or world level? And if not, why not?

—  Policy Wonk, Wichita Falls, Texas

ANSWER: I’ve served my term in bridge politics in the United States; it is time for younger (if not wiser) heads to prevail. At the world level I’m still interested in the appeals process, but my hearing is not what it was. I hope to attend the tournament in Sao Paulo, but I suspect my days of chairing appeals are over. I do enjoy commentating on appeals for the ACBL, and will never stop trying to have justice done.


If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, e-mail him at Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009.