Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

With both sides vulnerable, my partner opened three clubs. Holding A-K-J-9-8-3, 9, A-Q-3, K-J-4, I jumped to four no-trump. Unfortunately, my partner made a key-card response of five diamonds, which we play to show no aces, using Eddie Kantar’s most recent version of Key-Card Blackwood. We had to play six clubs, down a trick. Other than blaming Kantar, what should I have done?

—  Over the Top, Grand Junction, Colo.

ANSWER: Two things: You could have tried to play five spades after the inconvenient response. And you could have used a gadget that many experts play these days. Over a two- or three-level pre-empt, a bid of four clubs (or four diamonds if your trump suit is clubs) is ace-asking. Responses are zero, one, one with the trump queen, two, two with the trump queen.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held Q-10-8-6-3, 5-3-2, A-J-3, J-4. Do you agree that the hand is not worth an overcall of one spade over one heart? I passed, and the auction came around to my partner, who doubled. RHO bid two hearts and now I bid two spades, over which my partner bid three clubs. Is this forcing — and what should I bid now, if anything?

—  Totally Tangled, Lorain, Ohio

ANSWER: I like your initial pass. After you make a free bid in response to a double, a new suit by opener shows a good hand, but is not absolutely forcing. Here you have a minimum, no stopper in the opponent’s suit, and a little club support. Your fifth spade is important though, and may lead you to a 5-3 fit. I’d risk a cue-bid of three hearts. I will pass a response of three no-trump or four clubs and raise three spades to four.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

I opened one heart and jumped to three hearts over partner’s one-spade response. He now bid four clubs. Is this natural, or is it a cue-bid? Does it promise a good hand?

—  Lost in Space, Atlanta, Ga.

ANSWER: Some auctions are not susceptible of a clear answer. Here, four clubs is normally treated as natural, but is consistent with a cue-bid for hearts. It is up to partner to clarify which he has. If the call is natural, it must promise at least game-going values. Your task is to raise partner’s first suit, or retreat to your own suit if playable opposite shortness.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was recently dealt this powerhouse: 10-8-7-4-3, 9-4, Q-5-3-2, J-7. My partner opened one heart and I passed, but when my LHO balanced with one spade, my partner jumped to three diamonds. Is this forcing? Whether it is or not, what should I bid?

—  Bad to the Bone, Edmonton, Alberta

ANSWER: This is a great hand — in context. Your have four decent trumps and maybe a useful shortage or two for partner, who has guaranteed real game-interest facing a hand that could not respond on the first round. I’d jump to five diamonds and expect to make slam if partner bids on.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I hear players discussing Kokish responses to a two-club opening. Would you explain these to me?

—  Strong Poison, Duluth, Minn.

ANSWER: After a response of two diamonds to two clubs, Eric Kokish suggests that opener’s call of two no-trump is nonforcing, with 22-24 or so, while a jump to three no-trump is to play with a long suit. But a two-heart call should be artificial, requesting a response of two spades. Over that, two no-trump is 25-26, three no-trump is 27-28, and all other suit calls are natural, but showing a primary suit of hearts.


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