Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

At pairs with nobody vulnerable your LHO opens three diamonds, partner doubles, and RHO bids six diamonds. You hold K-10-8-5-4, Q-8-7-6-2, —, A-10-4. Would you bid, pass, or double, and what should be your partnership agreements about forcing passes?

—  Stymied, Texarkana, Texas


ANSWER: It is fair to assume that if the opponents are not vulnerable, their jumps to game or slam here set up a forcing pass. That said, what is right now? I’ve no idea! You could persuade me to pass or to bid. (If I did act, I think my spade 10 suggests bidding that suit. We might be able to avoid a loser against a bad break in spades, but not in hearts.)


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When playing pairs, my partners and I have significant disagreements about how to bid in third seat with moderate values and a decent four-card major. Say I have four clubs and four hearts (or spades), each suit headed by one top honor. Should I open the major or the minor? And why?

—  Chain Reaction, Fayetteville, N.C.


ANSWER: It is impossible to generalize, but I would open the minor on almost any hand where I planned not to pass any response by my partner in a new suit. Having said that, with a really bad minor or good major, I might open the major. If I’m making a tactical opening bid with 9-12 high-card points, I’d open the suit I wanted led.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in three no-trump on a low heart lead to my RHO’s king. Dummy had 8-5 while I had A-J-6 in hand. To make game, I had to bring in the diamonds for only one loser. (Dummy had K-J-10-7-2, while I had nine-fourth.) Should I lead to the king, hoping to find the queen on my right doubleton or singleton? Or should I play to the jack, hoping to drive out the ace and find hearts were split 4-4? Does the size of the spot-card and thus the likelihood of my LHO having five-plus hearts make a difference? What if the game were IMPs?

—  Riddler, Worcester, Mass.

  ANSWER: Off the cuff, against the lead of what looked to be a five- or six-card suit, the first play looks like a huge favorite. Guessing diamonds by putting in the jack, losing to the ace won’t help! It is even clearer at IMPs. However, against the lead of the heart two, I’d lead a diamond to the jack — the best play in diamonds, in abstract.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is there a specific way show a void suit during the auction? I’m worried that a splinter bid in clubs might be misunderstood, particularly if it may be confused with the Gerber convention.

—  Plenty of Nothing, Honolulu, Hawaii


ANSWER: First, I’d encourage you NOT to use Gerber except after no-trump openings or rebids.Blackwood does the job just as well. Meanwhile, do not abandon splinters or cue-bids.


A simple rule about splinter bids is that in any sequence, if a bid in a new suit would be natural and game-forcing, a higher bid in that suit is not natural but shortage. Just remember that principle and see where it gets you.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-9-8-2, K-10-4-2, 10-3, 4-3-2, I responded two diamonds to my partner’s two-club opening. He rebid three clubs, and I was not sure what to do next. How do you feel about temporizing with three diamonds, hoping partner will bid a major, or raising clubs, as opposed to committing the hand to three no-trump right away?

—  Stuck, Trenton, N.J.


ANSWER: I do not like the three-no-trump bid. After all, the diamond suit could be wide open. I’d prefer a four-card major to have more internal solidity than either of your suits here. So the choice is between the temporizing three-diamond call (consistent with a second negative) and the raise of clubs. I like the slam potential of this hand, and since clubs rates to be your best slam, a four-club call is best.


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