Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If declarer plays two cards at once, is one of them a penalty card? Are there any other lead penalties that might apply?

—  Sentencing Phase, Ames, Iowa

ANSWER: Declarer is not subject to penalty-card rules — those apply only to defenders. The logic is that the defenders can pass unauthorized information to each other; however, declarer can pass information only to dummy, and he does not count. If the two cards are truly simultaneous, declarer picks up his mistake without penalty.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner opened one spade and the next hand doubled. I held Q-2, J-9-4, K-5-3, Q-10-8-3-2, and it looked normal to me to bid one no-trump. Now came two hearts on my left, two spades from partner, and three hearts on my right. What should I do now?

—  Pushed Around, Danville, Ill.

ANSWER: This is a tough one. You have average values, nothing wasted in hearts, and slightly better trumps than partner might expect. I’d bid three spades, conscious that I might be turning a small plus score into a small minus, but unwilling to sell out when both part-scores might be making.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What exactly is an Appeals Committee? How does it work and who sets it up?

—  Judge Judy, Monterey, Calif.

ANSWER: When a tournament director makes a ruling, the Laws of Bridge generally allow a player to appeal that ruling. In local clubs, or in regional tournaments, a committee (ideally three or five people) would be made up of the better available players with a firm grasp of the laws and procedures. In Nationals and World events the committees are planned in advance, with teams of available arbitrators standing by.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

Last to speak, I had 10, J-6-3-2, A-Q-10-9, K-8-7-2. My partner opened one spade, and when I responded one no-trump, he jumped to three hearts, natural and game-forcing. I was sure I was too good just to bid four hearts, but what might my options be?

—  Higher Learning, Detroit, Mich.

ANSWER: There is no expert agreement here as to what a bid of four diamonds (or five diamonds) might show. My best guess is that suits by you below three no-trump should be natural; bids of new suits are cue-bids; jumps are shortage, agreeing the last-bid suit. So four diamonds is a cue-bid agreeing hearts, and would be your best shot.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

All my friends play inverted minors, but they are not sure if those bids are forcing, forcing for one round, or forcing to game. What is your opinion?

—  Mad Scientist, Miami, Fla.

ANSWER: Inverted minors apply only in noncompetitive auctions. They are forcing for one round at least unless made by a passed hand, when they are invitational. My own view is that if either opener or responder limits his hand with a rebid of two no-trump or three of the agreed minor at his next turn to speak, that can be passed. Otherwise, the partnership is in a game-force.


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