Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

A term often seen in your columns is “endplay.” Please explain how that works.

—  Daily Gleaner, Dodge City, Kan.

ANSWER: One little known fact about bridge is that you can NEVER gain from leading a suit yourself, as opposed to having the opponents play it. An endplay results when you deliberately lose a trick to an opponent so that he is forced either to lead a danger suit for you, or to do something equally unpalatable such as give you a ruff-sluff.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

As dealer, holding 10-7-4-2, A-K-Q-J-4, 7-3, 9-8, I opened two diamonds, duly alerted and explained as Flannery. When dummy came down, the director was called and re-summoned at the end of the deal. (We went down 200, but our opponents could have made five clubs.) Was he correct to adjust our score?

—  Stolen Bid, Princeton, N.J.

ANSWER: You can always use your judgment to upgrade or downgrade hands, though once you have a partnership history of such actions, you may need to alert and explain them. That said, to adjust a score, the director needs to find both an infraction and damage. Here there was neither! You elected to upgrade your hand and that kept your opponents out. Too many people nit-pick because they see a variation of this sort. They have to learn this is just random good or bad luck.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently you ran a problem in which your partner overcalled in one suit and then, after you raised that suit, bid a second suit. What does the call in the second suit signify?

—  Side Trip, Saint John, New Brunswick

ANSWER: Since a suit has been agreed upon, the call of a second suit should be a try for game, looking to find a maximum hand opposite, or to locate a good fit in that second suit — an action often referred to as a help-suit try. The ideal holding with which to make such an effort would be three or four cards to one top honor. Fitting holdings opposite would be length with at least two of the top four cards, or shortage and extra trump length.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is there any merit to limiting Stayman to hands of at least game-invitational strength? That way opener can make his normal response with a minimum or medium hand and jump to the three-level with any maximum — or perhaps with a five-card suit.

—  Stayman With a Twist, Greenville, S.C.

ANSWER: There are two disadvantages to your suggestion. The first is that you can’t stop at the two-level when responder is weak with both majors. And if you use Stayman on strong hands with a long minor and a four-card major, opener’s rebid will take you beyond your comfort level. Your approach has merit after a balancing no-trump, though. Advancer won’t have a good hand with a long suit or he would have bid already. And the range of the balancing no-trump is wider.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner, in fourth seat, opened one diamond. I held K-10-8-7-4, K-6-4, 9, Q-J-6-4 and responded one spade. What should I have done over my partner’s rebid of one no-trump? Should I have passed, rebid my spades, or stretched to use the New Minor (suggesting 10-plus points)?

—  Quandary, Indio, Calif.

ANSWER: If you believe that with a moderate balanced hand but three decent spades partner might pass one spade quite often or even raise spades, then you should probably pass one no-trump. Partner won’t have three good spades unless he has a maximum or has decent cards in the other suits. The decision is close between passing and reverting to two spades — the New Minor is too much of a stretch.


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