Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When your RHO opens one club, should you overcall in spades or in hearts, holding J-9-8-4-3, A-Q-7-3-2, 10, Q-4? The heart suit is what you want partner to lead, but if you bid that first, you may lose the spades altogether.

—  Tough Choice, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

ANSWER: These days it is almost mandatory to play some form of two-suited overcalls, focusing on the majors. The most common method is to cue-bid a minor-suit opening to show 5-5 in the majors. This is called a Michaels Cuebid and works well in conjunction with the Unusual No-Trump to show the two lowest unbid suits.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When the auction gets into slam territory, how do you let your partner know you want to stop at four no-trump, not get a Blackwood response?

—  Emergency Brake, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

ANSWER: Four no-trump should normally be taken as Blackwood unless the last call was in no-trump, or no fit has been found plus the previous call was a cue-bid or fourth suit forcing. Then four no-trump will be quantitative and invitational. However, when one player bids three no-trump and at his next turn bids four no-trump, that is generally a sign-off, not Blackwood.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Your LHO bids three clubs, passed around to you. With A-K-3-2, A-8-2, K-Q-4-2, Q-4, you double and partner responds three hearts. Should you raise to game, or pass?

—  Stretch, Spartanburg, S.C.

  ANSWER: You have extras, though the club queen is of dubious value. Imagine partner with five hearts to the king-queen plus the club king. You still have not made game — and partner might have bid four hearts with that hand. So I suppose you would have to pass now.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

The old-fashioned bridge books, and even some of my current teachers, set 13 HCPs as a minimum for an opening. An HCP of 12 is acceptable only if the hand includes a good six-card suit. What is your rationale for recently describing a 12-point hand as sufficient for an opening bid?

—  Audit Needed, Bay City, Mich.


ANSWER: Inflation strikes us everywhere! These days any 12-count with a five-card suit or two four-card suits will normally qualify as an opening. The reason is that you want your minimum rebid in no-trump to show 12-14 (a two-point range is unnecessarily narrow) and the no-trump opening to be 15-17. If you still play 16-18 no-trumps, you might stick to the idea that the rebid is 13-15. But you would be swimming against the tide.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

At a club duplicate at favorable vulnerability, you hold —, A-Q-10-7-3-2, J-2, A-Q-9-7-4. Your RHO passes, you open one heart, and LHO bids two diamonds, passed back to you. What do you bid?

—  The Spin Room, Sunbury, Pa.


ANSWER: I would bid three clubs, not confident that I am right, but hoping that we have a fit somewhere. But where are the spades? Partner rates to have five or more of them, and thus probably a weak hand or he might have doubled, but he might also easily have four clubs. If that is so, we can make a club contract, while they cannot make much.


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