Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

At a duplicate last week, I experienced one of the oddest deals I have ever seen. Each hand had a suit of at least seven cards, facing a void in that suit. I think the odds against it must be pretty huge.

—  Wacky Splits, Tupelo, Miss.

ANSWER: You are right; this particular mesh of a long suit facing a void is unusual. But if you play enough hands, you never know what you will see! (Recently my LHO opened two hearts and bought a 12-count with no hearts. On the next deal my RHO made a four-heart call over one spade and bought a 12-count with no hearts. She should have been expecting it. To complete the symmetry both contracts went one down when they should have made!)

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held K-J-2, Q-9, J-9-3-2, A-10-3-2 and passed initially. When my partner opened one club, how would you rate the choice of an inverted raise as opposed to a jump to two no-trump? And if you do bid two clubs to show a limit raise or better, would you raise partner’s two-no-trump continuation to game?

—  Passing Fancy, Staten Island, N.Y.

ANSWER: Yes, if I made the inverted raise, I would expect partner to pass some of the time that game was going to be hopeless, so the two-no-trump call sounds constructive, and I would bid game. I actually prefer the direct jump to two no-trump, but if I had major-suit holdings that suggest it might be better for me to declare the hand, I’d like the inverted raise to be less balanced than this.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Under what the circumstances should I lead an unsupported ace against a slam in a suit contract, or indeed at no-trump?

—  Wild Thing, Houston, Texas

  ANSWER: If I knew the answer to that question, I’d be a far richer man than I am. There is no good answer — but ace leads are rare against no-trump slams. At a suit slam it depends somewhat on the caliber of your opponents, the holdings in the other suits, and the likelihood of dummy having discards for declarer’s losers. Also, the stronger the declarer’s hand, the more likely the ace lead will cost.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently I held Q-9-2, A-2, K-Q-7-4 J-6-3-2. My RHO opened one heart. I did not double, because I only had three spades, but when my LHO bid a forcing no-trump and my RHO bid two hearts, I decided to balance with a double. An 800 penalty later I was told forcefully by my partner that it was cheaper to act on the first round. What do you think?

—  The Late Bird, Bremerton, Wash.


ANSWER: Two things apply here. Yes, bidding on the first round is better (a double suggests short hearts, not a guarantee of length in the other major). And if you pass initially, you cannot back into a live auction — technically, you were not balancing, because your LHO might still have been about to invite game.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding A-Q-7-4, 3, 7-2, K-Q-10-7-4-3, I responded one spade to my partner’s one-diamond opening bid. Over her two–diamond rebid, I tried three clubs, and passed her bid of three no-trump. She thinks I should have bid two clubs and then three clubs, never showing my spades. Do you think I should have reversed by bidding two clubs and then three spades?)

—  First Responder, Kenosha, Wis.


ANSWER: If you think this hand is worth a force to game (and we both do, don’t we?), it is a pretty good principle ALWAYS to respond in your longest suit — especially where, as here, you have a two-card disparity. Bid clubs, then spades, the latter delivering a four-card suit most, if not all, of the time. The spade call does not say anything about extras, beyond your initial statement of game-forcing values.


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