Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Please recommend a good text for a beginner in duplicate bridge. I’m finding the competitive elements of bidding especially challenging.

—  First Rung, Collierville, Tenn.


ANSWER: Edgar Kaplan wrote a fine book about learning duplicate: “Winning Contract Bridge Complete.” Dorothy Hayden’s “Bid Better Play Better” is also excellent. And anything by Reese, Lawrence, Kelsey and Kantar (the latter is good fun to read, too) will surely help.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in fourth chair with A-3-2, K-10-3, A-Q-8-4, J-9-4. My LHO had opened one club, which could have been a doubleton, and this was passed around to me. I could see that defending one club might be our best spot, but I thought it was too cowardly to pass. When I doubled, the opponents ran to spades and made eight tricks. Was I wrong to bid?

—  Overbalanced, Eau Claire, Wis.


ANSWER: At pairs, most people would not pass out one club without length. Even if you can beat the contract a trick, you might still have a higher-scoring partscore. My impulse would be to reopen with a call of one no-trump, not a double, since I play that bid to be a balanced hand in the 11-15 range. The absence of a club stop would not worry me unduly.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

You’ve discussed your favorite conventions from time to time. Is there one you would be happy to see eliminated?

—  Cleaning House, Palm Springs, Calif.

  ANSWER: How interesting! Some people use a jump-overcall of pre-empts to show a two-suiter, which is sensible enough. Others use the bid of four of a minor over a pre-empt to show a two-suited hand with the unbid major and that minor, which they call Nonleaping Michaels. To my mind that is a pretty silly idea. Equally, in card-play, MUD from three small is not my favorite, and quite unplayable when combined with third-and-fifth leads.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a recent column you referred to a “loose club.” I have searched the Internet and asked my bridge-playing friends, but have been unable to learn what this is. If you would let me know, I will pass it on to the others in my bridge club.

—  On the Loose, Gloucester, Va.


ANSWER: I was somewhat loose about my usage of a loose club. Let me tighten it up. Any one-club opening bid that might be based on a doubleton club in a balanced hand qualifies for me as a loose club. Some would even open one club with 4-4-4-1 pattern. One could also use the term “short club” for such bids. Let me emphasize that Standard American requires at least THREE clubs for a one-club opening.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner opened one spade, allowing me an easy response of one no-trump with K, J-7-3, A-Q-7-6-5, 10-9-8-2, which we play as forcing. I could see no obvious call over his bid of two clubs, which might have been based on a three-card suit. Is there a right bid here? I can see passing, raising clubs, bidding diamonds or even no-trump as possibilities.

—  Pick-One, Madison, Wis.


ANSWER: A pass is a little pessimistic. Just because the club bid might be short does not mean that it is. I’d make a gentle try for game, the choice being to raise to three clubs or two no-trump. One could come down on either side of the fence, but I vote for a bid of three clubs.


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