Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In my rubber bridge game, a declarer, after playing out of his hand, will often play quickly from the board before his LHO has a chance to play. Am I wrong to be annoyed? Is there a penalty for this behavior?

—  Sleight of Hand, Miami, Fla.

ANSWER: If you play as declarer from both hands before one defender has the chance to play, the other defender can play first IF he wants to. There are no other penalties. I’m sure they are just playing fast, not trying to upset you. Trust me, that is way better than playing too slow!

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held A-J-7-4-2, J-6-4, J-3, K-J-2 and passed initially, but felt obliged to jump to two spades when my partner opened one diamond in third chair. My partner told me that this sequence showed a weak hand and a long suit. Is he right?

—  Jumpy, Riverside, Calif.

ANSWER: You are both wrong in my book. Weak jump responses by a passed hand are unnecessary. After all, bidding and rebidding your suit will show a weak hand and a long suit. In addition, if you are not good enough to open, you are not good enough to force partner to bid again. I like to play the call as fit-showing: a maximum pass with a five-carder and four-card support for partner (move the king and two of clubs into my diamonds, for example).

Dear Mr. Wolff:

One hand opens one of a minor and then jumps to two no-trump. Responder now bids the New Minor — and I’m never certain what he is conveying. Is this a way of inviting a slam, looking for a fit, or trying to stop low?

—  Apple Turnover, Grenada, Miss.

ANSWER: These days the call is usually played as game-forcing, looking for a fit in responder’s original suit. The Wolff signoff is a specialized modification of that meaning (allowing responder to rebid his own suit, nonforcing, next).


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held 7-6-5, 4, A-Q-9-4, K-J-7-6-2. When my partner opened one club, the next hand doubled. Was my jump to three clubs an understatement? We played there with game depending on the diamond finesse, and naturally it succeeded.

—  Holding Back, Muncie, Ind.

ANSWER: The late Alan Truscott suggested a neat way to get across your invitational values after a double. (Robert Jordan is also credited with this idea.) The jump to three clubs here should be pre-emptive — the same hand but an ace less. With a real limit raise as here, bid two no-trump. The point is that with a balanced invitational hand, you start by redoubling, so the jump to two no-trump should not be natural.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Could you explain how transfers work in response to one no-trump? And how do you get to play in a minor if two clubs is Stayman and two diamonds a transfer?

—  Learning the Ropes, Bellaire, Texas

ANSWER: Over a no-trump opening or overcall, responder’s red-suit bid commands partner to bid the next suit up and shows five-plus cards in the suit transferred into. This transfers declarership to the strong hand. Now responder passes if weak and invites with a raise or with a call of two no-trump. Other bids are game-forcing; a jump to three no-trump shows a balanced hand, offering partner a choice of games. An initial two-spade call shows six-plus clubs; three clubs shows six-plus diamonds. Two no-trump remains invitational.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently you ran a column where a player holding SPADES K-Q-4, HEARTS K-6-4, DIAMONDS K-9-7-3, CLUBS Q-9-2 responded three no-trump to a one-diamond opening. What range did that show? And when partner bids four no-trump next, is that Blackwood or something else?

—  Hopalong Harry, Bella Vista, Ariz.

ANSWER: The three-no-trump call was intended as 13-15 and it needed a footnote. Sorry! The four-no-trump call invited slam. At matchpoints that is often similar but not identical to focusing on no-trump, but often responder can suggest a different strain. Here my fourth trump might persuade me to go on — it is close. A call of five diamonds — natural and minimum, but with four diamonds — might have been wisest. Let partner bid on now if he wants to.


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