Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Our opponents came to the wrong table, played a board against us, and got a top! Did we have to keep our bottom, or were we supposed to get an average-plus because of their error?

—  Wrong Place at the Wrong Time, Bay City, Mich.

ANSWER: My experience is that when a board is completed at the wrong table, the pairs who will not be able to play the board properly (the East-West pair who should have played it and the North-South pair who may be unable to find appropriate opponents later on) get an average-plus. The pairs who played the board keep their result, though the director may fine the pair who made the mistake if he wishes.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I picked up Q-7-4, A-Q-7, A-5-3-2, Q-10-3 and opened one club. My LHO overcalled one spade, my partner responded two hearts, and my RHO bid two spades. Do I now describe my hand by passing, by bidding two no-trump, or by raising hearts? If I raise, to what level?

—  Storm Clouds, Dover, Del.

ANSWER: Two no-trump suggests a nonminimum hand and a good spade stop — far better than this one — perhaps with a source of tricks in clubs as well. Passing suggests a minimum balanced hand (12-13 points) without much heart support. With such good hearts, it feels right to raise hearts at once since you know you will be facing at least five hearts. With the spade queen likely to be irrelevant, a raise to three hearts looks to be enough.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Does the double of a transfer bid by the opponents after they have opened one no-trump promise a good suit, a good hand, or both?

—  Promises Promises, Honolulu, Hawaii

  ANSWER: I do not like to give wishy-washy answers but it does depend a little on what range the no-trump is and whether you are a passed hand. I’d say a double by an unpassed hand after the opponents have opened anything but a strong no-trump shows a good hand and a decent suit at least. Any other double is lead-directing, showing a good suit, but not guaranteeing a good hand.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in fourth seat with A-9-2, 10-7-4-2, Q-8-3, K-J-10. The auction started one club, one diamond, one heart to me. What do I call, and why?

—  Forced Entry, Newark, N.J.

ANSWER: A double by you would be competitive, not for penalties, nor, by the way would it be that modern invention, the support double to show three-card support. That applies only to opener, facing a response. You should double, which suggests decent values, say upwards of nine points, and four or five spades. If you had five spades it would be a poor suit, as otherwise you would have bid them. The double almost always delivers diamond tolerance or support.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is there a simple way to explain the principle of restricted choice to someone who does not believe in it? I’ve tried and failed!

—  Doesn’t Get It, Great Falls, Mont.

ANSWER: Imagine you are missing the queen, jack, three and two of trumps. You lead to the ace in dummy and your LHO produces an honor. Should you finesse on the way back or play for the drop? Answer: a singleton honor is almost twice as likely as the queen-jack doubleton, even though (say) the queen singleton is less likely than this doubleton. The point is that with queen-jack doubleton, the player has a choice of cards to play; with a singleton honor, he has no choice.


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