Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My LHO opened one heart, my partner overcalled two clubs, my RHO responded two hearts, and I bid two spades, which was passed out even though game was makable our way. I thought my call by an unpassed hand was forcing even in competition. Was I wrong?

—  Stranded, Augusta, Ga.


ANSWER: I think you are extrapolating from an auction that is played as forcing — though not by everyone — where you bid two spades in response to two clubs without a bid on your right. In your example you need to be able to make a nonforcing call, or you may be shut out. With a good hand and spades, to make a forcing call you could start with a takeout double and then bid spades.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a duplicate pair game I picked up K-Q-9, A-Q-3-2, J-2, Q-7-4 and opened one club. I then discovered I had only 12 cards. When I found my 13th (at the previous table), it was a king! Can I change my call now? If not, what are the consequences?

—  Short-Handed, Boise, Idaho


ANSWER: You may not change your call and should try to avoid giving away to your partner that your hand no longer fits your original action. Otherwise, you get burdened with even more problems. For what it is worth, I’d suggest treating your hand as 18-19 by rebidding two no-trump at your next turn, or jump-raising partner as appropriate.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Frequently I see Odd-Even or Roman Defensive Carding qualified as “first discard only.” Do the ACBL restrictions mean that it can be used only once by a pair for each hand? What is the position about ambiguous carding? Is it permitted?

—  Signal Problems, Palm Springs, Calif.

  ANSWER: You may not currently use Odd-Even signals. Each player (not each pair) may use them for their first discard. After that, most pairs prefer to use count signals rather than further attitude signals. I did not know that ambiguous signals were ever permitted. As far as I know, Encrypted Signals, when a signal can be interpreted only by the defending side and not by declarer, are still outlawed.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When you are facing a strong no-trump with an eight-count, what determines whether your hand is worth an invitation?

—  Bonus Points, White Plains, N.Y.


ANSWER: First, the scoring: at rubber or teams if vulnerable, you may be a little more inclined to stretch. Possession of a decent five-carder, or both majors, or good intermediates, may all sway you to take a more aggressive position — not to mention the caliber of partner and the opponents. At pairs, though, plus scores are always worth protecting.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

At unfavorable vulnerability I held A-Q-9, J-9, Q-J-8-7-2, A-8-4 and opened one diamond. My LHO made a three-club overcall and my partner made a negative double. I passed, since gambling out three no-trump seemed too rich for me. This did not work well. Partner had an opening bid with 6-6 in the majors, and we were cold for a small slam. Who was at fault?

—  Peter Cottontail, Durham, N.C.


ANSWER: The simple answer is that one should never make a negative double if a forcing suit-bid would describe the hand better. Your partner should have bid spades, then hearts if necessary, to get you to choose a contract. When she hears you raise spades, she might as well just bid slam. Your bidding is hard to criticize, though you might have bid three diamonds instead of passing out three clubs doubled.


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