Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Will the major World Championships ever come back to the United States? It seems a while since we had one in North America.

—  America First, Detroit, Mich.

ANSWER: Do not forget that Montreal hosted a major event in 2002. And in October 2010, Philadelphia will play host to the World Championships. More details soon, but the ACBL website at will tell you all you need to know.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner told me that it was normal practice to double a loose club with a hand like A-Q-3, A-10-8-3, 7-3, A-10-3-2. He indicated that the likelihood of partner responding in a major suit was high enough that one should risk the occasional embarrassment from a diamond contract to ensure that you got into the auction.

—  Purist, Union City, Tenn.

ANSWER: I agree with your partner. The Italians always doubled first and asked questions later, not requiring perfect shape, especially doubles of loose opening bids. I’m not averse to overcalling in four-card suits with enough high cards if the suit itself is good. Here that would be impractical — the double would be my best guess at a way to avoid being shut out.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner, who held 9-8-7-5, A-Q-10-8-7, K-Q, Q-7, opened one heart. I held 12 points with three hearts and four very small clubs. What is the right way to show my hand and how should our bidding go?

—  Stumped, North Little Rock, Ark.

ANSWER: In mainstream Standard American an initial response of two no-trump shows either a balanced game-force, or a good hand with trump support (at least four). You could bid two no-trump here if you play the former way. If not, you can either respond two clubs (planning to jump to four hearts to show a minimum) or you can underbid slightly by responding one no-trump, following up with a call of three hearts or four hearts. The former is invitational; the latter suggests 12-14 and three trumps.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was taught that to respond to my partner, I need at least six points at the one-level and 10-plus at the two-level. My response of one heart to my partner’s opening promises only four cards, but my subsequent rebid of two hearts would guarantee six hearts. My partner says if he has 6-9 points, he must rebid his suit, however weak, to show five. Who is right?

—  Over the Rainbow, Laredo, Texas

ANSWER: You are right and your partner is wrong. The point is that at his second turn opener will always raise partner with four, but will also often raise with three and an unbalanced or semibalanced hand. Therefore, if he does not receive a raise, responder will go out of his way NEVER to repeat a five-card suit unless it is so good it looks like six. As responder, support partner or bid no-trump, or pass his minimum action if you have five in your original suit and 6-9 points.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You open one club with A-J-8-3, K-7-3, Q-J-3, K-10-3. Your partner responds one heart. Should you introduce the spades, raise hearts, or bid no-trump?

—  Patterned Out, Mitchell, S.D.

ANSWER: While it is acceptable to raise partner with three trumps, one should not do so with completely balanced hands of this sort. So the choice is to bid one no-trump (which would be my preference because this hand has a proper stopper in each minor) or to bid one spade. I’d prefer to have at least four clubs for the latter action — and even then, I might rebid one no-trump if my diamond stopper was solid.


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