Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How is the bidding box’s stop card used? Some people employ it; others don’t. Can it ever convey information other than a jump bid?

—  Hop-Skip-Jump, Fayetteville, N.C.


ANSWER: The stop card should be used every time a jump bid is made. This is not because you expect the opponents to bid, but because this way no inferences can be taken on comparable auctions. The idea is to relieve your LHO of ethical pressure when you make a skip bid. Emphatically, the player using the card should NOT use it only for weak jumps as opposed to strong ones. No information should be conveyed to the partner of the skip-bidder by his use of the card.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I had a flat hand with 14 points, including four hearts and four clubs. I bid one club, and my partner had 10 points, a stopper in every suit except clubs, and four hearts to the king. She responded one no-trump and we missed the heart-fit. When I later asked her why she had not bid her hearts, she said it was a perfect one-no-trump response. Who was right?

—  Losing Heart, Seneca, S.C.


ANSWER: You are right; your partner is wrong. An OPENING bid in a major shows five. A response at the one-level to a minor guarantees only four; you may have more, but not necessarily. When your partner responds in a major, you as opener generally raise only with four, but may in emergencies raise with three. The objective of bidding is to find your eight-card fit. The player with four must help find the 4-4 fit by bidding the suit as soon as is logical — which means at responder’s first turn.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When are count signals used as opposed to attitude signals? Do some foreign players have methods and priorities different from ours?

—  Learning Curve, Dayton, Ohio

  ANSWER: Most people in the United States signal attitude (like/dislike) at their first turn. But when attitude is already defined by what is in dummy or by what declarer is just about to play to the trick, or by the auction, then count or even suit preference may be more important. In many countries players believe that count should take precedence over attitude.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In our local club one member of a pair, after winning a trick on the board and while contemplating his next action, will hear his partner, the dummy, automatically and without fail say, “You’re on the board.” Is this legal? Even if it is legal, is it to be discouraged? And how should the Director deal with this irritating and puzzling situation?

—  Bothered and Bewildered, El Paso, Texas


ANSWER: To prevent partner from leading out of turn, dummy is entitled to remind declarer which hand he is in. So long as there is no unauthorized information flowing (e.g., “the spade queen is on your RIGHT partner!”) I would happily ignore the comments from dummy. Preventing irregularity trumps the other issues, I think. My comments may not have the force of law, but so be it!


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was second to speak with 9, A-J-10-3-2, K-Q-7-4, A K 4. After a two-spade pre-empt on my right, I doubled and corrected a three-club response to three hearts. Should this be forcing? Does it even show extras? And what if we were playing Lebensohl, so that my partner’s three-club call showed values? (He would have bid two no-trump as a negative.)

—  How High Is Up?, Harrisburg, Pa.


ANSWER: In all the scenarios you discuss, the three-heart bid must show extras — though with this hand an immediate three-heart call would not be unreasonable. If the three-club call shows values, then the three-heart bid is forcing; if not, it is highly encouraging.


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