Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

At a recent event my partner and I played against an inexperienced partnership where dummy revoked. Four cards from the end of the hand, it was discovered that dummy’s diamond ace was hidden under the club 10. My thought was that the whole deal should have been tossed — even though we did get a top score for it. What should have been done?

—  Sympathetic, Kenosha, Wis.

ANSWER: Dummy can’t revoke, so there are no revoke penalties. If the failure to put dummy down properly hurts the defenders, the director can restore equity. However, if it hurts declarer, it is dummy’s carelessness that caused the problem and declarer’s failure to count the board. The result should stand, I believe.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Would you run through the basics of key-card Blackwood one more time, please?

—  Lost the Key, Sarasota, Fla.

ANSWER: There is always a trump suit, and always five key cards: the trump king and the four aces. Step responses show 0 or 3 key cards, 1 or 4 key cards, two without the trump queen, and two with the trump queen. After the two cheaper responses, the next step that is not the trump suit asks for the trump queen (revert to the trump suit without it and cue-bid your cheapest king if you have it, jumping in the trump suit without any side king). A bid of five no-trump announces possession of all key cards and asks for kings. Responses are either specific or by number, depending on your agreement.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I am often involved in an auction where I open a suit, hear a one-level response, and bid my second suit cheaply at the two-level (as in the auction one heart – one spade – two diamonds). If partner now raises the second suit, is that a real invitation or just a courtesy bid, expecting me to pass unless I hold significant extras?

—  Ascending Third, San Diego, Calif.

  ANSWER: Alas, there is no simple answer. Partner could be 4-5 with a seven-count or 4-4 with an 11- or 12-count. You should pass without either real extras or extra shape. Don’t head to three no-trump just because you have a stop in the fourth suit.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

If I hold —, A-K-9-7-3, A-Q-9-7-5-3, 10-3, do I open the major and then bid diamonds twice, or do I open the longer diamond suit and then bid hearts twice? What are the criteria for choosing one plan as opposed to the other?

—  Tough Choice, Huntington, W.Va.


ANSWER: My standard advice is that with a strong hand and 5-6 pattern, you have no problem in starting with the six-card suit, then bidding the five or jumping in it.


With a weak opener and the 5-6 in touching suits, open the five and bid the six-carder twice UNLESS the six-carder is good and the five bad. With a minimum opener and 5-6 pattern in a nontouching two-suiter, start with the six and hope to get the five-carder in cheaply.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

With A-3, Q-7-3, K-Q-3, A-10-7-5-3, I assume that you would open one no-trump, but that you would double one spade rather than making a one-no-trump overcall. Say you double one spade and hear three hearts from your partner. Would you pass, bid three no-trump, or raise to four hearts?

—  Lurcher, Vancouver, Wash.


ANSWER: I like the double, but think the best call at your second turn is three spades. This is initially just trying to get to three no-trump. I would not pass three hearts — my values are very crisp, and despite my having only three hearts, the major-suit game might play better than no-trump because of a potential spade ruff in my hand.


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