Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How much talking is acceptable across the board between partners during the bidding? For example, your partner has opened in a suit, the bidding has come around to you, and you jump-shift. Are you allowed to say “I jump shifted”?

—  Blabbermouth, Detroit, Mich.


ANSWER: No such communication is allowed. Nowadays in tournament bridge (and even in most rubber bridge games), jump bids should be preceded with the works “Skip bid, please wait.” This is not to alert partner to your jump, whether it is a weak or strong call. It is to ensure that the next player gets 10 seconds to bid. This way he does not give unauthorized information to his partner as to whether he has a problem or a straightforward call.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I opened one heart with Q-9-8-4-3, A-K-J-9-7-3, 10, A. My partner responded one spade, I tried a jump to five spades, and my partner bid the grand slam … and the defenders cashed the diamond ace. What should I have done to explore for slam without getting too high?

—  Leap of Faith, Sioux Falls, S.D.


ANSWER: I think maybe the right call is four clubs, a splinter bid showing short clubs and setting spades as trumps, planning to pass four spades. That way you do not get overboard facing a quite normal hand with four spades to one honor and no diamond ace, when even four spades is not entirely comfortable and five spades is no bargain.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In most bridge columns South is the declarer. Is there a reason for this that I don’t understand?

—  Southern Comfort, Wilmington, N.C.

  ANSWER: I could make some frivolous remark about South holding better cards than the other players, but the fact is that when South is declarer, his cards are virtually in the reader’s lap. When I see a deal with North as declarer, I feel I should turn the page upside down. Maybe that’s just me, but I suspect not.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

How should I respond with 3, 9, Q-J-10-8-7-3, J-10-6-4-2, facing my partner’s two-no-trump opening? Do people still play minor-suit Stayman?

—  Stuck in the Minors, Lake Worth, Fla.


ANSWER: I’d ignore the clubs and jump to five diamonds. I don’t see how clubs can play that much better than diamonds, but the reverse is certainly not true. If I offer partner the choice, he’ll get it wrong with 3-3. These days, using a three-spade response as minor-suit Stayman is a minority position. Many play it as a puppet to three no-trump to show a slam-try with one minor or both.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I opened one club, partner responded one heart, and the next hand butted in with one spade. How much do I need to bid one no-trump now? I thought it showed extras as a free bid, but nobody agrees with me.

—  Extra Credit, Union City, Tenn.


ANSWER: My view is that the rebid shows a maximum 12-14 hand with a good spade stop. You could, I suppose, upgrade some dead minimums, but I’m not sure I would do that. It certainly can’t be a balanced 15-17 or 18-19. You’d have opened one no-trump or rebid two no-trump as appropriate. And if you weren’t balanced, you would not bid no-trump now.


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