Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How can I warn my partner discreetly to hold her cards back, or ask my opponents not to look?

—  Show and Tell, Willoughby, Ohio


ANSWER: There are two practices you can follow. The first is to ask one opponent to hold HIS cards back and then extend the warning to your partner. The second is to say to your partner that you can see her cards. (If you can see them, the opponents must be even better placed.)


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-9, A-Q-J, A-10-4-3-2, J-6-4, I assume you would open one no-trump if given the chance. But what would you do if your RHO opened in a black suit? Would you still overcall one no-trump, or would you consider doubling one spade? Would you bid one diamond over one club?

—  Second-Hand Rose, Dodge City, Kansas


ANSWER: Two tough questions. I prefer the no-trump call over one club, since even if the opponents have clubs, they have not yet led the suit, and LHO may well opt for another suit at his first turn. Over one spade it is very close. I’d double if my partner was a passed hand, but otherwise I can live with the no-trump bid.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-6-4-3-2, Q-4-2, Q-10-8, A-7, would you ever open the bidding? If you passed and your LHO opened with a strong no-trump, would you balance over it when it was passed back to you?

—  Second Chance, Corpus Christi, Texas

  ANSWER: This is a slightly unfair question because you did not specify vulnerability or position. It is a clear-cut opening bid in third seat, and perhaps in first seat nonvulnerable (particularly if the response of one no-trump was not forcing). If I passed, I’d only balance over one no-trump if nobody was vulnerable. At rubber, balancing makes sense on the first, second or third deal, if nobody had a partscore.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

What should you do when you discover, in the middle of the hand, that you have revoked? Must you tell your opponents? Are you permitted to revoke again without penalty?

—  Five-Suiter, Mitchell, S.D.


ANSWER: You must not deliberately revoke again, so you must follow suit at the appropriate moment and take your penalty. Curiously, you are NOT obliged to say anything. I suppose if your opponents do not notice, they don’t deserve to get their free trick!


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was astonished to read, in a recent column, the advice to responder to “start with a takeout double” in a sequence where partner has already bid. I thought a double was for takeout, and thus forcing, only when partner had not bid; in all other cases it would be for penalties.

—  Doubly Confused, Tigard, Ore.


ANSWER: Let us not focus on your side having bid to determine the meaning of a double. The negative double in response to an opening bid means that all initial doubles of overcalls of four spades or lower are geared toward takeout. Additionally, when the opponents find a fit, all doubles by either player at their second turn tend to be takeout. Only at later levels do doubles become more penalty-oriented, and even then, they are often optional.


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