Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was playing two hearts and one opponent revoked on the first round of trumps. When she discovered the revoke, she played her trump ace at her first opportunity. How many tricks should the revoke penalty be? If I had made 10 tricks, would that have given us game?

—  No-Joke Revoke, Orlando, Fla.

ANSWER: The revoke penalty laws now say that if you win the trick on which you revoked and subsequently your side wins another trick, it is a two-trick penalty; if not, it is one trick, if your side wins a subsequent trick. If the penalty does not restore equity, the Tournament Director (or the other players in a social game) will try to do so. At rubber, if you did not bid game, you can never get the game bonus. If you play two hearts, you will get that score below the line, with overtricks above the line, as increased by the revoke.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When your partner doubles an opening bid of three diamonds and you hold A-8-4-3, A-Q-9-7-3, 3, J-10-3, should you do more than bid four hearts? I could envisage this hand getting our side to slam, but I did not know how to find out.

—  Reach for the Stars, Duluth, Minn.

ANSWER: I understand why you felt inclined to bid more than four hearts. Maybe if you cue-bid four diamonds, intending to pass a response in either major, you will get to the right trump fit most of the time. And if your partner has real extras, he may do more than settle for a four-level action, so you get the best of all worlds.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is my opening bid of four clubs asking for aces? If not, what does it show?

—  In the Clover, Monterey, Calif.

  ANSWER: No, an opening four-club bid shows more clubs than a three-club opening bid but fewer than a five-club call. In fact, most experts will use a four-club bid as Gerber (ace-asking) only when the other hand has opened or rebid no-trump at his previous turn.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

You open one diamond, your LHO bids two clubs, and partner bids two hearts. What should you do with Q-9-6-4, A, A-Q-8-6-4, 10-9-8? Was two hearts forcing — and if so, what is the least lie now, since two spades would be a reverse?

—  Confused, Boise, Idaho

ANSWER: Bidding spades at the two-level is not strength-showing. If partner had bid one heart and you had bid one spade, that would just show four spades and not promise extras. You did not boost the level of the auction here; your LHO and partner did that. Two spades is natural — it may contain extras but does not promise them.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When reading your discussion of a safety play, I was reminded of sacrifice plays in baseball. The intentional walk, sacrifice bunt, and sacrifice fly all came to mind. Are these appropriate parallels?

—  Club Manager, Austin, Texas

ANSWER: The difference, if there is one, comes from the fact that most safety plays at bridge definitely advance your side’s cause. The sacrifice bunt may not do so — but I agree that the suicide squeeze, safety squeeze and sacrifice fly all get a run in when well executed and now the comparison is indeed apt. From a defensive perspective, the situations with bringing the infield in or leaving it out for double plays are also tactically and strategically challenging and perhaps comparable.


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


Michael BeyroutiJanuary 3rd, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Dear Mr Wolff,

I wrote a comment on the hand of December 16, which appeared on December 30th on this blog. Please take a look.

Chris HasneyJanuary 3rd, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“At rubber, if you did not bid game, you can never get the game bonus. If you play two hearts, you will get that score below the line, with overtricks above the line, as increased by the revoke.”

Wow, I didn’t know that. What about in Chicago or Cavendish style 4-deal bridge played with duplicate scoring?

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Hi Michael,

Your correct analysis of the December 16th hand has now been responded to by me.

Thanks for your time and effort

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hi Chris,

Yes, at rubber bridge a player has to bid game (or be doubled into it) in order to get the higher valued score below the line.

In Chicago and I guess the new name, Cavendish, style 4 deal bridge game, every deal is basically separate and deals with 4 different vulnerabilities and dealers. It originally became the social game of choice, especially in bridge clubs, since every rubber was now limited to exactly four hands and allowed 5 or 6 players to play at one table, (cutting in and out) knowing that any one rubber would not last indefinitely.

We are all imprisoned by our pasts and my original bridge experiences were all involved with the original rubber bridge format, before I took up duplicate (tournament) bridge in the very late 1940’s).

If internet bridge would have come along then, (and we all became computer savvy) my guess is that the cutting back of the game would never have occurred, as it sadly did in the sixties and seventies.

Ever onward, ever upward, but somehow every old timer is left with at least some nostalgia for what he may consider as the “good old days”.

Thanks for writing and probably striking a nerve among the relatively newer players who were never really exposed to rubber bridge.