Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You posed a problem where you held ace-doubleton of spades, five small hearts, king-fourth of diamonds and a doubleton club. Your unopposed auction had gone one diamond – one heart – one spade – two diamonds – two spades, and you advocated a jump to five diamonds with your “miserable seven-count.” Is this the principle of Fast Arrival? And might your partner have only five spades and five diamonds to bid like this?

—  High-Wire Artist, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


ANSWER: This is, of course, a spectacular seven count — blame my ironic sense of humor. If you open a minor and then repeat a major (with the POSSIBLE exception of clubs and spades, where opinions differ and suit quality issues may be paramount), then you are implying a 6-5 pattern. The sequence does not constitute Fast Arrival — that applies only to jumps to game in game-forcing auctions.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I have told my bridge friends that when you make a jump shift, you are allowed to alert your partner by saying “Skip Bid” before you bid. Is that right?

—  Wake-Up Call, Twin Falls, Idaho


ANSWER: The objective of the skip bid (which you should use before any jump bid, even in a slam-going and uncontested auction) is NOT to alert partner. It is to let the opponents pause over your bid without conveying information to their partner. When you pre-empt, you may give LHO a problem. The 10-second pause is designed to make that player’s life easier by imposing a mandatory pause — thus his partner is not passed unauthorized information by a slow pass. In theory…


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Why do some players use a waiting two-diamond response to a strong two-club opener, when there are other response systems that give information about the responder’s hand?

—  Jumping In, Canton, Ga.

  ANSWER: The idea is that in order not to pre-empt opener, you only respond in a suit (and risk pushing partner up a level) if you have a good suit. Hence, the two-diamond response may conceal a good hand and a moderate suit. Note that an initial response of two hearts will never pre-empt partner. Therefore one should almost always respond two hearts with five decent hearts and a positive, and you don’t have to wait for a great suit. The higher the response, the better the suit needed by responder.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently I received a lot of flak for forcing to game by responding two hearts to a one-spade opening with J-9, A-Q-7-3-2, K-10-8-3-2, 4. What would you recommend with this hand?

—  In the Soup, Troy, N.Y.


ANSWER: This is a very tough problem. I’d prefer to respond with a forcing no-trump, planning to bid hearts at my next turn over a two-club response, or to raise spades if partner shows six. Forcing to game seems a little too rich for my blood, but if partner has hearts, I would certainly be happy to play in four hearts.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

As responder you were dealt J-7-4, 7-2, A-Q-J-10-3-2, 8-4. Partner opened one club, and over your response of one diamond he rebid one heart. When you repeated your diamonds, your partner bid two spades. What sort of hand would that show, and what would you do next?

—  Misfit, Seneca, S.C.


ANSWER: I’d expect my partner to raise diamonds with extras whenever he could, so here he rates to have something like 2-4-2-5 shape. I hold some extras and am not unsuitable for no-trump. Even if partner has no spade honor, we might make game if the missing spades split or if there is a blockage in the suit. So I would gamble out three no-trumps, hoping that he has the diamond king, or that the finesse works.


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