Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My LHO opens with a pre-empt and I judge from my partner’s tempo that he has been thinking of acting. When the auction comes back to me and I have either a clear action or a marginal one, what are my obligations?

—  Clean Hans, Monterey, Calif.

ANSWER: If you believe your partner’s demeanor or tempo points you in a specific direction, you are not supposed to take that action UNLESS you believe there are no logical alternatives. Hence, in your example, bid if you have a clear action, and pass with any action you deem marginal.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you held J-2, 9-7-6, Q-8-4, A-Q-10-7-3, I’m sure you would not overcall two clubs over one heart. Say you pass and hear one no-trump on your left, and partner bids two clubs! What would you do now over a two-heart bid on your right?

—  Ritchie Rich, Midland, Mich.

ANSWER: Since a call of three clubs would be cowardly and a pre-emptive jump to four clubs is right on shape but understates your values, I would make the ubiquitous cue-bid, trying to show a good hand, presumably one based on club support. Five clubs now seems too rich — you are too balanced in the side suits.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What is a responsive double? How does it work? If my LHO opens one suit (doubled by my partner), what should my double of RHO’s new suit show?

—  Acting Up, Laredo, Texas

ANSWER: The responsive double, suggesting a balanced takeout, only applies to the double of an AGREED suit. A double of a bid and raised heart suit, for example, tends to deny spades — you would bid them if you had them. In your example your double is penalties, not takeout.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding Q-9-7-3, A-4, Q-9-7-4, Q-9-3, I passed initially and responded one spade to my partner’s one-heart bid. When he raised to two spades, was I supposed to make a game-try? I passed and he had four spades, five hearts and 14 points. We made 10 tricks in two spades with great ease.

—  Stick-in-the-Mud, Staten Island, N.Y.


ANSWER: This is an awkward sequence because partner will quite often raise (even facing a passed hand) with three trumps in an unbalanced or semibalanced hand. I agree with your valuation, specifically because you have bad trumps and at least one of your minor-suit queens will not be working efficiently. Might your partner have stretched a little and bid three spades? We’ll never know!


Dear Mr. Wolff:

What is the right way to bid hands in the strong no-trump range, which have three four-card suits and a singleton in a major? Is it ever acceptable to open one no-trump with such hands? If not, what are the options?

—  Baby Ruth, Kenosha, Wis.


ANSWER: Hands with short hearts are easy: open your better minor and bid spades over partner’s response in hearts. With 15 high-card points and a singleton spade, I tend to down-value the hand to 12-14, then rebid one no-trump. With 17 I up-value to a reverse if the points are in two suits, or to a two-no-trump rebid if the hand justifies it. With 16 and a singleton spade honor, one no-trump is acceptable; else bid diamonds, then clubs, if your hearts are weak.


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