Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My RHO opened one club and raised his partner’s one-heart response to two hearts. Now if I double, or bid an unusual two no-trump, am I showing a good hand or merely the unbid suits?

—  Unbalanced, Jackson, Miss.

ANSWER: My view is that IF your LHO is unlimited, then an action in a live auction as opposed to a balancing bid shows a good hand short in LHO’s suit, and probably long in RHO’s suit. After all, why would you pass, then bid in a live sequence, unless you had a good hand? And if you do have a good hand, it must have length in RHO’s suit or you would have acted at once.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In second seat I held —, A-J-4-3-2, J-10, A-K-Q-10-4-2. After my RHO opened two clubs, what do you recommend I do now? I chose to bid up to five clubs on my own, but sold out to five spades. We could have made 11 tricks in clubs and 11 or 13 in hearts, depending on whether the opponents cashed their diamond tricks!

—  Psyched Out, Holland, Mich.

ANSWER: When you see a two-club opening in front of you, you KNOW deep down that the call is based on long spades and not necessarily on high cards. Bid your clubs, then your hearts, and dare them to double you! I’d compete freely to the five-level — but let partner do more if he wants.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What method do you recommend I use in response to a balancing no-trump call from my partner? We play a range of about 10-15 points for that call, so simply asking for high-card strength does not get the job done. Is it sound to use such a wide range for this call, by the way?

—  Range-Finder, Miami, Fla.

  ANSWER: Yes, a wide-range balancing no-trump is fine. A method of responses I learned 25 years ago suggests that a two-club response to a balancing no-trump gets the balancer to bid two diamonds with any hand in the 10-11 range. Any other call at the two-level shows 12-13 and is natural. With 14-plus, he makes a natural call at the three-level.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner opened one club and my RHO passed. With 18 points and six diamonds, I bid one diamond, thinking that a new suit by responder was forcing unless there was interference from my LHO. My partner passed and we were stuck there, making 11 tricks. Should I have jump-shifted to let her know my count? I was trying to see if we had a slam.

—  Left in the Lurch, Ketchikan, Alaska


ANSWER: As you said, a new suit by an unpassed responder in just about any auction is FORCING — not necessarily strong, but forcing nonetheless. Indeed, even if your RHO had bid, a new suit by you would be forcing (except if the intervention was a bid of one no-trump). The only rare exception to the concept of a new suit being forcing would be a natural call by opener or responder after their partner’s bid or rebid of one no-trump.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was dealt A K-J-3-2, Q-4-3, 5-3, J-10-4. My partner opened one club, to which I responded one spade. Over his reverse of two diamonds, I repeated my spades, which we play as forcing for one round, and now my partner bid three spades. Is my hand too good for a bid of four spades? If so, what are my options?

—  Upward Bound, Torrance, Calif.


ANSWER: A simple raise to four spades looks like a slight underbid, but your options are limited since you do not really want to go past four spades under your own steam. Maybe a bid of four clubs just shows support here rather than a control. If so, that would really be the only mainstream choice.


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