Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Was I just unlucky here, or could I have done better? My RHO opened one heart and I had 13 points and 3-4-3-3 shape. He had bid my four-card suit, so I passed. My LHO bid, and my partner passed. They ended up in a part-score and made it. As it turned out, my partner had eight or nine points, and at the other tables our direction was bidding and making a part-score.

—  Outmaneuvered, Charleston, S.C.


ANSWER: You were blameless. I’m not sure if your LHO responded at every other table (I’d guess not) or if your partner might have stretched to balance, but you were surely not at fault. Bidding with the shape you describe is not a great idea. However, doubling a minor suit with this pattern is acceptable if you have some extras in high cards, though not enough to overcall one no-trump.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was second to speak with A-9, Q-10-9-3-2, A-J, K-Q-7-4. After my RHO opened one club, I was not sure whether to venture one no-trump, one heart, double or even pass. What would you advise?

—  Multiple Choice, Raleigh, N.C.


ANSWER: Passing cannot be right, as you surmised. I’m also not keen on doubling, since I’d have to overstate my values at my next turn whatever partner did. That said, I may find it hard to catch up if I bid just one heart, but somehow my shape argues for that call rather than one-no-trump, which is right on values but wrong on shape.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I recently learned a new response to a strong two-club opening, where two diamonds suggests some values with no clear call. A bid of two hearts is fewer than three HCP, while two spades shows spades, and two no-trump shows hearts. We describe these bids in the response-rebids area of the convention card, but does this method of responding have to be announced, alerted or neither?

—  Fancy Pants, Portland, Ore.

  ANSWER: This would simply require an alert. The announcement procedure is limited to the very specific positions highlighted in blue on the convention card (such as the no-trump range, transfers, etc.). Every other conventional action requires a simple alert, and the opponents can then ask if they want.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Are there any rules about the right way to deal the cards? I frequently see players dealing into piles of five, or dealing back and forth rather than in cyclical order.

—  Neatness Counts, Sioux Falls, S.D.


ANSWER: The laws mandate proper shuffling, then dealing into four piles. But frankly, I’ve never been convinced of the need for following the precise requirements of the laws here. Although I do what I’m supposed to, I doubt whether people who follow their own procedures are doing so to gain advantage. Live and let live, I say.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

At favorable vulnerability, I got scolded by my partner for making a one-diamond overcall over a third-seat one-club opening bid. Holding 10-4, 9-8-3-2, A-K-Q-2, 10-7-4, I thought it was a cheap way to let partner know what to lead.

—  Shout-Out, Carmel, Calif.


ANSWER: If it is any consolation, I agree with a nonvulnerable overcall here, although I would rather have an additional value somewhere (wouldn’t we always?). Another queen would make your call unexceptionable. Regardless of the result, your reasoning was intelligent.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact