Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If a defender shows his card, can he change his mind and take it back if it has not been put on the table? I say yes; my partner says no.

—  Rueful Robert, Kansas City, Mo.

ANSWER: I hate to say it, but your partner is right. There are different rules for declarer and the defenders. For declarer, a card has to be played (or the equivalent of played) — and not dropped. For the defenders, a card is played if his partner could have seen it because it reached a position where it was in view.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I read that one of your teammates for many years, Dick Freeman, died recently. How did you rate him as a player and a teammate?

—  Historian, Nashville, Tenn.

ANSWER: Dick was absolutely brilliant — he had something like a photographic memory and a genius for numbers. As a player he and Nick Nickell became one of the soundest pairs in the world. They realized that if they brought back solid, normal results, the team would be in a great position to win. And they generally achieved precisely that.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

At unfavorable vulnerability I was second to speak with A-J-3, K-Q-4, Q-7-3-2, Q-3-2 and heard three clubs on my right. Was I wrong to double? I could not stand to be stolen from here. Suffice it to say, bidding did NOT work out well.

—  Burglar-Proof, Trenton, N.J.

  ANSWER: I have a little, but only a little, sympathy for you. When in doubt, act with shortness in their suit, but pass with length. Here you had the values to consider bidding but very much the wrong club-holding. Paradoxically, with two small clubs and a small spade instead of the club queen, you are closer to doubling and should certainly balance if three clubs came around to you in protective seat.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

What percentage of deals you use are from actual play and what from your own (or others’) fertile imagination?

—  Inquiring Mind, Fredericksburg, Va.


ANSWER: So long as you do not tell anyone else, I will say that all deals where a player or location is specified are absolutely real. I try to leave the spot-cards unchanged, except to eliminate unnecessary complications. About half the rest are real deals, sometimes modified, sometimes with the protagonists anonymous; the rest are creations or variations on a genuine theme.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I opened one spade with A-Q-9-4-2, A-3-2, Q-10-3-2, Q. When my partner bid a game-forcing two clubs, I tried two diamonds. Now my partner bid three clubs, and since we were in a game-force, I bid three no-trump. My partner said that this action was premature. Was he right?

—  Fast Arrival, Janesville, Wis.


ANSWER: I would have bid three hearts, probing for three no-trump, but not prepared to end the auction by bidding it myself. If, for example, partner has seven good clubs and short hearts, we could be very close to making slam. Conversely, three no-trump might struggle if a club had to be lost.


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