Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Do you approve of Rosenkranz doubles, whereby the partner of an overcaller can raise the suit without a top honor, but double or redouble to show a raise with a top honor? Is another approach better?

—  Acting Up, Portland, Ore.

ANSWER: Rosenkranz doubles and redoubles are not my cup of tea. (I like to keep the bid for other purposes — namely, to show good defensively oriented hands.) These doubles are traditionally used only by fourth hand facing an overcall, and I can see the logic in using them by a passed hand — but I would not advocate them in any other sequences.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding J-2, A-K-9-7-6, 9-7-4, A-Q-10, I opened one heart and heard one spade on my left. When this came back to me, I doubled for takeout. My partner passed and my RHO now rescued himself. Since I have a decent hand, should I have doubled a rescue in either minor, or is it better to pass and await developments?

—  Ax-Wielder, Detroit, Mich.

ANSWER: Despite holding only three clubs, you have just enough in defensive tricks to double a run-out to that suit. But I would never double a diamond call with such weak trumps. Wait for partner to act if he can.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You recently wrote that it is not a reverse if you open one club, then rebid two diamonds after an overcall of one heart and a negative double from partner. If your partner had responded one heart and you had then bid two diamonds, would this have been a reverse? Or do you just play reverses when the second suit is a major?

—  Strong Poison, Worcester, Mass.

ANSWER: You got the distinction absolutely right at your first try. Without the double, the two-diamond bid would have been a reverse. Key here is that when partner asks you to bid a suit and you do so as here without a jump, it just suggests a nonmaximum hand, together with that suit. In an uncontested auction, bidding a lower-ranking suit, then a higher-ranking suit at a higher level, would constitute a reverse and thus show real extras.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in fourth seat with 4-3, K-8-2, K-Q-10-7-4, 6-3-2. LHO had opened with a weak two hearts, doubled by my partner. We play no conventional responses here, so I just bid three diamonds and played there, missing game in no-trump or diamonds. What could I have done?

—  Undercooked, Tupelo, Miss.

ANSWER: If two no-trump was natural, I might have gambled it out, although I realize that this could look very silly. But the simplest way around the problem is to use two no-trump as a transfer to three clubs (to show a weak hand in clubs or diamonds), while a direct call of three diamonds shows an invitational hand. This is an extension of a popular convention called Lebensohl.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My RHO opened one diamond, and I held A-K-10-2, Q-J, K-Q, Q-J-6-3-2. All of my choices at this point seemed bad. What call do you think is appropriate?

—  Salvage Job, East Brunswick, N.J.

ANSWER: I would overcall one no-trump. The hand is a little strong but the red-suit honors are emphatically not pulling their weight. Two clubs and one spade are both wrong (though neither is impossible) because of suit length and quality issues. Even a double is not out — although if partner bids hearts, I would have to bid clubs, not no-trump. (The latter would show 18-20 balanced, but a better diamond stop than this.)

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Has the recent decline in the economy affected the major tournaments around the world? Are all the championships still scheduled to take place?

—  Budget Conscious, Bristol, Conn.

ANSWER: There is considerable belt-tightening in the major events, but so far none of them been canceled. However, a few have been rearranged. For example the 2010 event in Saint Petersburg, Russia, may be moved to the United States if adequate funding can be guaranteed.


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