Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a club duplicate, with both sides nonvulnerable, you hold A-K-9, K-2, A-K-10-3-2, J-7-4. You open one diamond in second seat, and LHO bids three clubs, passed back to you. What is your call?

—  Dream Spinner, Raleigh, N.C.


ANSWER: While passing might work, I’d be inclined to speak. A call of three diamonds seems too unilateral, so why not gamble with a bid of three no-trump, or double and hope something good happens? I’d try the latter, but without even the slightest confidence in my decision.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Given that our opponents in my local club intervene aggressively over our strong no-trump, should we not play penalty doubles and teach them a sharp lesson?

—  Hard Knocks, Muncie, Ind.


ANSWER: The idea is not to maximize your result from the double; it is to maximize the use of the call when you would otherwise not have a bid. Best is to use double for takeout at your first turn to act, and to agree that opener should also double for takeout both under and over the trumps whenever he has a small doubleton in their suit. This way, responder won’t miss too many penalty doubles, since opener will pick up the slack.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Playing in a knockout match, I was pleased to pick up A-Q-7-3-2, 10-3-2, Q-4, A-J-7. I was faced with a three-heart pre-empt on my left and a four-diamond call from my partner. What is forcing here — and what would a four-heart bid mean?

—  Help Wanted, Honolulu, Hawaii

  ANSWER: Four spades and five clubs both sound natural and nonforcing to me. So four hearts should be an all-purpose good hand with diamond support — perfect! I’d make that call, and accept a sign-off in five diamonds.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner wants me to hold a minimum of 12 HCP to overcall when we are vulnerable. I agree with that when overcalling at the two-level, but not at the one-level, as it seems to me that too many opportunities would be lost. Do you agree?

—  Lone Star, Dallas, Texas


ANSWER: I side emphatically with YOU (and not just because it was you who wrote to me!). Overcalls are about offensive strength; hence, at the two-level we require tricks and suit length.


Conversely, at the one-level there is virtually no nine-count with a good five-carder that I wouldn’t overcall with … I think. The more space a one-level overcall consumes, the more latitude you have to intervene.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I assume you would respond one spade to a one-diamond opening with A-J-6-3-2, 7-3, J-9-3-2, K-Q. What would a jump by your partner to four spades mean now, and what should you do next?

—  Freedom Fighter, Salinas, Calif.


ANSWER: In Standard American a jump to four spades suggests a relatively balanced hand in the 18-19 range. With a side-suit singleton, partner can make a splinter raise to four hearts or four clubs. Given that, your hand has real slam potential, but using Blackwood with two small hearts feels wrong. I suggest cue-bidding five clubs and reverting to five spades over a red-suit response. Partner will have to do the running from here on.


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