Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You once wrote that you are not a huge fan of weak-jump responses. Can you suggest a better use for jump bids in competition?

—  Jamming the Works, Augusta, Ga.


ANSWER: Weak-jump responses to openings in competitive auctions are sensible if made by an unpassed hand. I disapprove of weak-jump responses either to an opening bid in an uncompetitive auction, or to an overcall. Also, a jump by a passed hand makes no sense as weak. Since you did not open the hand, how can you need to show a decent long suit in a weak hand? I like strong-jump responses to opening bids in noncompetitive auctions, and fit-jumps (showing a decent side suit, values, and fit for partner) in the other sequences I mentioned.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

After a pre-empt of three clubs on your left and a double from partner, what should you bid with 10-9, K-J-9-5, Q-J-8-7-4, Q-7 if your RHO passes? And what action should you take if your RHO raises to four clubs ? Would doubling be appropriate?

—  Russian Steppes, Holland, Mich.


ANSWER: I would bid four hearts in both instances. Minor suits are for the birds, and you have real extras in high cards and shape that suggest you should contract for game, taking the pressure off partner. In the second instance, double would be takeout, so you need more than two spades to make that call.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner and I disagree on how to bid a hand that qualifies for a strong one-no-trump opening bid and also contains a five-card major suit. My preference is to open one no-trump, while he feels it is imperative to show the five-card major first. What do you advise, and does any factor such as position or quality of the suit affect the decision?

—  Partners at Odds, Houston, Texas

  ANSWER: Briefly, upgrade any 17-count with a five-card major into an 18-19 count, adding one for the long-suit. With 15 and no small doubleton, open 1 NT unless all your honors are effectively in two suits, when you can if you want consider opening the suit, downgrading the hand to 14 points. With 16 always open one no-trump unless your honor structure suggests you should treat the hand as a two-suiter:


With regard to position (as opposed to suit quality), you might open your long suit at pairs if vulnerable with 15 HCP slightly more often than when nonvulnerable — particularly in third seat.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Does this hand qualify for an opening bid: Q, A-Q-9-7-3-2, 10-3-2, K-7-4? If so, what would you bid?

—  Open for Business, Bellingham, Wash.


ANSWER: Let’s start from a Wolffian precept. No hand with a good six-card major should be passed. Open it one heart or two, since there is no gap between those two. This hand has a good six-card major, so open it two hearts if vulnerable, or perhaps in second seat if nonvulnerable. Otherwise, open it one heart.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When you are playing in a major-suit contract and have eight trumps, is it better to have a 5-3 split or a 4-4 split?

—  Small Bore, Pottsville, Pa.


ANSWER: Errors and omissions excepting (and there are far too many such for me to make the following statement with anything more than 90 percent confidence), a 4-4 trump fit is NORMALLY preferable. You can generate discards and extra ruffing tricks from a 4-4 fit far more easily than from a 5-3 fit. The only exceptions tend to come when you do not need discards — never easy to identify in advance.


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


PaulApril 25th, 2011 at 4:27 am

The Oregonian has been deleting the quotations from the column. What gives?