Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Playing Chicago for uncomfortably large stakes, I was delighted to pick up A-J-2, A-K-9-7-6, A-9-7-4, Q. Naturally, my partner, vulnerable against not, opened three clubs. What should I bid now?

—  Playing Safe, Salinas, Calif.

ANSWER: Partner is sure to deliver seven decent clubs at this vulnerability. If so, where do you want to play, facing that hand? It is not clear that you will make a slam on any lead (even assuming clubs split) unless partner produces a useful extra — but why should he? I’d just bid five clubs and apologize for my cowardice if I’m wrong.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

As a beginning player I find it very hard to count all the suits when I’m declaring. What would you advise?

—  Toddling Tyro, Nashville, Tenn.

ANSWER: Don’t even try to count all the suits. When dummy comes down, add up the trumps in your hand and dummy, subtract that number from 13, and keep count ONLY of the opponents’ trumps from then on. If you decide there is another critical suit, try to keep count of that suit in the normal fashion, but go with your instincts for the rest of the hand. You’ll soon get the hang of counting automatically.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding J-7-6-5-3, 8-6, A-Q-4, 10-3-2, I bid one spade after my partner doubled one club. He now raised to two spades, which I took to be a real game-try, and I was not sure if I had enough to do more. If so, what should I bid now?

—  Traffic Director, Madison, Wis.

ANSWER: If you trust your partner, he will have approximately 16-18 with four trumps. Since your hand is now clearly worth a game-try, three diamonds might get the message across. If partner temporizes with three hearts, I will go to game, but pass a three-spade response.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are the main advantages of playing the convention called New Minor Forcing? How does the bid work?

—  Learning Curve, Pueblo, Colo.


ANSWER: When opener bids a minor and rebids one no-trump at his second turn, responder, if using standard methods, has no convenient way to distinguish between weak, invitational and forcing hands. New Minor (responder’s bid of the unbid minor at his second turn in this sequence) guarantees invitational or better values and asks opener to show three-card support for him, or to introduce an unbid four-card major, or to make any other descriptive call. New (nonreverse) suits by responder at the two-level deny invitational values.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding J-2, A-7-6, A-Q-8-3, K-9-4-2, I opened one diamond and, over a one-heart response, bid two clubs. My partner told me afterwards that this sequence guarantees at least nine cards in the minors. Is this so — and if so, why?

—  Minor Violations, Spokane, Wash.


ANSWER: With an essentially balanced hand like yours, you should not worry about stoppers when opening or rebidding one no-trump unless the opponents have put you on notice about a suit. Your hand is almost as balanced as can be, so do not tell partner you have a shapely hand by upping the auction unnecessarily. Mind you, if instead of bidding one no-trump you elected to raise to two hearts, you would get some sympathy from many people, especially me.


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