Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner opened one heart and I responded with a forcing no-trump. (I had 11 points with the J-10 of hearts.) When she bid two hearts, I raised to three, feeling sure she had a six-carder. However, she had bid two hearts simply to tell me she had a minimum hand, and she scolded me for bidding anything over her two-heart bid. Who is right here?

—  Apple of Discord, Vancouver, British Columbia

ANSWER: Over the forcing no-trump response, opener bids two no-trump, jumps, or reverses to two spades with a good hand. With a minimum or moderate hand, opener bids a second, cheap, suit if she has one (a three-card minor if no four-card suit is available) or rebids a six-card suit. This does not show a bad hand per se, but the inability to make a strong call. Thus your partner’s two-heart bid showed six; in fact, your choice was between a call of three hearts and four hearts.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a recent duplicate game I was dealt —, 9-6, K-Q-J-10-8, A-Q-J-10-6-3. I opened one club and heard one heart on my left, one spade from partner, four hearts on my right. I bid five clubs but passed my partner’s five-spade bid. He had eight spades to the ace-king and a singleton heart with the doubleton diamond ace and two small clubs. Five spades went down when spades proved to be 4-1, while six clubs would have made because the club king was doubleton onside. Who was to blame?

—  Missed It, Palm Springs, Calif.

ANSWER: Neither of you was at fault. When you bid clubs to the five-level, maybe your partner should have considered supporting — or at least not committing the hand to spades. I like your pass of five spades; partner was unlucky to go down. Equally, you would have been lucky to make your slam. (On two rounds of hearts you need a singleton or doubleton club king onside.)

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a recent lead problem where you had a six-count, you advised leading an unbid major against a no-trump contract and suggested leading from queen-third. Would it be better to lead low or high? I worry about blocking the suit and also misleading my partner into thinking I have a four-card major. What about leading from a doubleton spade queen? Would you suggest low or high?

—  Floundering, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

ANSWER: I would always lead low from three to an honor. While it might block the suit, partner in the quoted example rates to have plenty of high cards, so it will not matter. But giving up a trick in the suit will matter a lot, and leading an unsupported honor might cost a trick — especially when partner has not bid the suit. From a doubleton honor lead the honor if it is in partner’s bid suit; otherwise, do not lead it.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Eddie Kantar’s book “Take Your Tricks,” from which you have recently quoted, says, “When you have nine cards between your two hands, a 3-1 break is more likely than a 2-2 break.” But it also says that we should play for the drop when missing four cards to the queen. How can you reconcile these statements?

—  Conflicted, Arlington, Texas

ANSWER: A 3-1 break (on one side or the other) is in abstract more likely than 2-2. But when you are deciding whether to finesse on the second round, only one defender can have three (one has followed twice), so halve that original 3-1 probability. Do note, however, that the odds are very close.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held J-4-3-2, K-6, K-Q-4, A-6-3-2. My partner opened one club and I responded one spade. What would you do when partner raises to two spades? I guessed to bid four spades because of an expected club fit, and found partner with only three trumps. This was NOT a success.

—  Making Assumptions, Little Rock, Ark.

ANSWER: Your call was not unreasonable for value, but I would have jumped to three no-trump instead. Partner knows your spade length. so let him correct to four spades with four trumps, or pass with three. Your weak spades should sound an alarm bell.


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

1 Comment

David WarheitOctober 2nd, 2009 at 6:38 am

On Missed It’s hand, even 6 clubs will probably go down on a diamond lead. It will succeed if S wins the lead and plays hearts, but he will almost surely play Ace-King of spades to get rid of his hearts. West will ruff and now there is no entry to dummy to take the club finesse.