Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I dealt and opened one diamond. My LHO overcalled two clubs, and my partner doubled. I took her double to be takeout for the unbid suits, but she meant it as showing diamond support and at least two club stoppers. Needless to say, we got completely mixed up. What is your take on the double?

—  Hoofbeats of Zebras, Torrance, Calif.

ANSWER: Partners can agree on the best use for a bid and have a different agreement from the rest of the world. Here, your agreement was the normal one — takeout for the majors. All cheap doubles of this sort are takeout, not because they will always be best, but because you probably want to describe a hand that is short in the suit the opponents are long in. With the hand your partner describes, a no-trump bid or a diamond raise sounds appropriate.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In third seat you hold A-10-3-2, K-Q-7-4, Q-3, K-J-4. Would you consider opening one club to ensure you find a major-suit fit if partner has a minimum hand? If not, say you open one no-trump and partner bids Stayman, to which I assume you respond two hearts. What should you do when partner next bids two no-trump?

—  Lost in Space, Casper, Wyo.

ANSWER: The French often open this sort of hand one club, but I prefer the simple route and open one no-trump. My preferred continuations over one no-trump are that a Stayman inquiry guarantees one major. Since my partner has spades and an invitation, and I have a minimum, I would sign off in three spades.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

A recent column contains a question about handling late plays when one pair wants to play a board and the other doesn’t. The approach we use in our club is to score the board as unplayed. This effectively awards each pair their overall percentage score on the board they didn’t play, which we think is fairer than rewarding a pair having a below-average game with an average score for not playing a board.

—  Fair and Square, Greenville, S.C.

  ANSWER: Thank you — that is very helpful, and sounds like an inherently fairer approach.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I held J-9-3-2, A-K-Q-2, —, A-J-10-7-4. I opened one club and bid one heart over my partner’s one-diamond response. Now my partner bid one no-trump. Should I look for a spade fit, or settle for what I think to be a reasonable contract and not risk getting too high?

—  Potted Plant, Midland, Mich.


ANSWER: This is a very hard hand to evaluate, but I suspect passing and trying to go plus at a low-level is the sensible view. Partner might have bid one spade (most play this sequence does not guarantee more than invitational values) if he had a hand that could get your side to game.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I led from a holding of J-10-6-2 in an unbid suit against a suit contract. Dummy came down with the guarded king, and my partner had A-Q-fourth in the suit. After winning the queen, partner continued with the ace, thereby establishing the king in dummy. My partner argued that I should have led the jack when holding the J-10. Is it always correct to lead an honor from these sorts of holdings?

—  The Leading Edge, Little Rock, Ark.


ANSWER: Just between us two, your partner made a rookie error — and you accepted part of the blame. Yes, J-10-6-2 is not the same as J-10-8-2 or J-10-9-2. Either low or high might be right. No generalizations are sensible here except that you do your best by drawing inferences about declarer’s and dummy’s lengths from the bidding, and leading accordingly.


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