Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of playing Drury? I’m not convinced one can afford to lose a natural response in the club suit.

—  Iconoclast, Atlanta, Ga.


ANSWER: Just to recap: A response of two clubs by a passed hand to an opening of a major suit suggests support and a maximum pass. I love Drury for various reasons, not just that it lets third hand open light for the lead, without partner hanging him. If you play a sensible series of continuations, you can improve your game and slam bidding. Opener should rebid his own suit with no game interest, bid two diamonds with any game-try, and bid higher to try for slam. More later!


Dear Mr. Wolff:

In a recent column the dealer opened one club, and his LHO made a weak jump in diamonds. Partner bid two spades, and RHO bid three diamonds. What are the principles, if any, that can be applied to determine when a bid should be considered forcing or nonforcing now? You say that dealer’s raise to three spades should be nonforcing and that seems straightforward. But wasn’t his two-spade bid game-forcing?.Or is it nonforcing in competition?

—  The Force Be With You, Little Rock, Ark.


ANSWER: Playing two spades here as nonforcing forces you to start strong hands with a double, or a jump: I can’t and won’t accept that. I think it is right for two spades to be forcing, but not to game, so that a call of three spades by opener or responder at their next turn would not be forcing. An immediate new suit by responder at the three-level would set up a game-force.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you hold A-Q-J-9-8, 10-4-3-2, J-2, K-9 ,would youu open the bidding? What are the pros and cons of opening 11-counts?

—  Sad Sack, Dover, Del.

  ANSWER: This hand has many pluses. You are opening the suit you want led, you have a guaranteed easy rebid, you have decent controls and a little extra shape. Switch the spades and clubs and I would not open because of the possible rebid problem. Equally, move the spade ace into one of the doubleton suits and the lead-directing factor is diminished. An 11-count with 5-4 shape is far closer to an opening bid than completely abalanced hand with the same point-count.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Are you allowed to ask your partner if he has no more cards in a suit when he discards? I thought the rules had changed to prevent that.

—  Interrogation Unit, Salinas, Calif.


ANSWER: No, the rules have gone in a circle, and we are back where we started. The reason the question was outlawed was that it sometimes gave away that declarer had unexpected length or the asker had unexpected shortness. This reasoning was eventually determined to be somewhat paranoid, and prevention of an accidental revoke was considered more important. So you can ask without penalty.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Please discuss in more detail a hand you quoted in a problem. With: K-Q-9-7, 2, A-K-10-9-7-2, 4-2, you hear partner open one club, and your RHO makes a one-heart oercall. Would you double, bid two diamonds, or bid one spade? Aren’t you too strong to double? And isn’t a cuebid a way to set up a game-force?

—  Warthog, Kingston, Ontario


ANSWER: There is no upper limit to a negative double, but one should select another alternative if an equal one exists. Here, two diamonds, then a spade bid, tells the story in the right order (diamonds with spades being a secondary suit). You can show you have extras later. Remember a call of one spade here shows five spades, while a cuebid of two hearts guarantees a club fit.


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