Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held A-K-Q-J-2, A-Q-6, A-K-Q-J, A and opened two clubs. When my partner showed a bust, I bid four no-trump, so I could bid five no-trump to see if she had the missing king. She didn’t, so I bid six spades. LHO led the heart jack, and the rest was duck soup. I don’t think I’ll ever see a hand like that again!

—  Card Rack, Seven Lakes South, N.C.

ANSWER: That might indeed be the strongest hand in high cards that I’ve seen for many years. One does see two-suiters with no likely losers. Your hand might have lost two tricks on a bad day, but 30HCP is 30 points! Another approach would be to open two clubs and simply bid two spades over the negative response. It is a forcing call, of course. Then you can bid diamonds. You can always use Blackwood later, and diamonds might be the best slam.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was not familiar with a gadget used in a recent bridge column. Is there a name for the convention in which the response to partner’s opening one no-trump is a jump to three hearts to show short hearts with both minors? Are there high-card point requirements for this convention? And do you need two five-card (or longer) minors? And can partner have two hearts and still be considered “short”?

—  Marginal Decision, Phoenix, Ariz.

ANSWER: I do not think the convention has a name. It is part of a scheme whereby all direct three-level actions show the minors. Three clubs shows a 5-5 invitation, three diamonds is 5-5 game-forcing, while the majors show nine-plus points with 4-5 or 5-4 in the minors, precisely one card in the bid major, and three in the unbid major. This way you reach three no-trump only when opener has stops in responder’s short suit.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding A-K, J-10-9-8-6-4-3-2, 4, 10-2, I opened three hearts. My LHO doubled for takeout, and my RHO bid three no-trump. At favorable vulnerability in a pairs game, I decided to sacrifice. That resulted in a bottom and a scowl from my partner, who thought I should have let the opponents have the contract. I know I was undisciplined, but I thought I might get out for less than their game.

—  Shelling Out, Fredericksburg, Va.

ANSWER: You might have opened four hearts — most would play it as pre-emptive and not strong. Once you did not, the problem with your approach was two-fold. First, you gave the opponents fielder’s choice — to bid on or to double you. Second, if partner has one heart and the opponent’s hearts are 2-2, they won’t always make their game, since partner might stop one or more of their minor suits. So, regretfully, I agree with your partner.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

Will you ever join us in the 21st century and put your column on line?

—  Lollard, Sioux Falls, S.D.

ANSWER: This March, thanks to the ingenuity of my publisher, Ray Lee of Master Point Press, the column made its appearance on line, 14 days after print publication. You can find it, and many other bridge-related articles, at

Dear Mr. Wolff:

RHO bids a pre-emptive three clubs and you hold K-10-2, K-J-10-8-6, K-Q-4, 3-2. Would you pass, double, or bid three hearts?

—  On the Spot, Madison, Wis.

ANSWER: That’s a tough one. I would double rather than bid three hearts, and pay off to missing a 5-3 heart fit. I cannot pass with relatively short clubs and an opening hand, though I admit it might be right.


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