Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Several of your recent columns showed unorthodox responses to Blackwood four no-trump, For example, there was a five-spade response from a hand that held only two aces. On January 13th a five-club response was explained as showing two aces and the trump king. I am confused!

—  Easy Aces, Troy, N.Y.

ANSWER: These days many advanced players use Roman Key-Card Blackwood, where the trump king counts as a fifth ace, Steps are 0 or 3, 1 or 4, 2 without the trump queen, two with the trump queen. You can ask your partner for the trump queen after the first two responses, which have neither promised nor denied that card. These methods generally improve slam bidding — if you can remember the responses and count key-cards. Not all of us can do so.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held K-7-5-2, 7, A-K-Q-J-2, 10-8-5. After one heart is bid on my right, what should I do? If I double and partner bids two clubs (my partners always seem to bid my short suits) and I then bid two diamonds, am I not showing a stronger hand — about 18 points?

—  Imperfect World, Janesville, Wis.

ANSWER: A lot depends on style. In my book you would indeed be showing real extras (which you do not have). If you bid again. I would therefore pass two clubs — partner has, after all, bid the suit. It may not be our best fit, but it should be playable. Some people play Equal Level Conversion, meaning a two-diamond call here would not show extras, but would be precisely this sort of hand.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held —, A-K-Q-6-4, K-9-6-3, A-K-7-2, and heard my partner open three diamonds. Is there any way my partner and I could have reached a grand slam? When I used Blackwood and found one ace, I was not prepared to bid seven – but, naturally, partner had the diamond ace and seven was laydown.

—  Lying Low, Bellingham, Wash.

ANSWER: In response to an opening bid at any level, a jump to five no-trump is a Grand Slam Force. It asks partner to look solely at trump honors. With two he goes to the grand slam. Opinions differ as to how to handle other cases, but a simple way is to say that you don’t go past six of the trump suit with one, but the more you bid the more you have. So if diamonds are trumps as here, six clubs would say no honors or the queen, six diamonds would promise the ace or king. If hearts were trumps, the scale would be 0,1,ace or king plus extra length.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

What is required of a player who discovers he has revoked? Must he say something? And if he revokes again (accidentally or deliberately), what is the penalty?

—  Two-Time Loser, Honolulu, Hawaii

ANSWER: The laws forbid a player to deliberately conceal a first revoke by revoking again. If you discover you have a card left, you must follow suit the next time. But you are also not required to say anything if you find you have revoked. The second accidental revoke does NOT carry a new revoke penalty. The first revoke is the only one that counts for the purposes of creating a penalty.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you play two-over-one, should a jump to game show a minimum hand, or something extra?

—  Leap Frog, Macon, Ga.

ANSWER: Jumps in no-trump in game-forcing auctions should always be extras (about a strong no-trump). Simple no-trump bids show less — or more if bidder intends to push on over partner’s sign-off perhaps. Jumps in suit contracts require partnership agreement. It is simplest — but not best — to play these jumps as sign-off. However, some play them as always showing good trumps and denying any control in an unbid suit, which is theoretically sounder, but harder to play.


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