Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Where do you stand on using Blackwood when you have two losers in a side suit? Do you wait till you know that all suits are stopped before launching into Blackwood?

—  Risk Manager, Ketchikan, Alaska


ANSWER: Occasionally, you might use Blackwood when your side has more than enough HCP for slam, but one suit may be unguarded. If you can’t be scientific, realize that your opponents don’t always find the right lead. And they will frequently assume that there is no ace or king to cash — at least the first few times.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-9, A-K-7-2, A-K-Q-9-6-3, 2, I assume you would open two clubs and rebid three diamonds over two diamonds, but what if partner now bids three spades? When faced with this problem, my partner tried five diamonds, down in the 6-0 fit, but with a 4-4 heart fit available.

—  Not a Girl’s Best Friend, Huntington, W.Va.


ANSWER: I would bid four hearts over three spades to let partner decide where he wants to play. He knows better than I do what his hand looks like! Note that some fancy bidders use a direct jump by opener to three hearts or three spades over the two-diamond response to show a 4-6 pattern with longer diamonds. That would make finding the heart fit rather easy today.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I dealt and passed, holding Q-J-10-3, A-Q-3-2, 9-7-5-4-2, —, and my partner opened one club. What response should I make to ensure we do not miss our best fit? And what rebid strategy do you recommend?

—  Triple Jeopardy, Bellingham, Wash.

  ANSWER: There is no good answer here to make sure you find your fit if partner might conceal a major over a one-diamond response, and rebid one no-trump with a balanced hand and only three clubs. However, since I want to find a major-suit fit if we have game on, a one-heart response maximizes our chances of doing that. If partner rebids one no-trump, I will give up, passing reluctantly.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Please explain the Lebensohl convention. In which sequences is it commonly played?

—  Continuing Ed, Wilmington, N.C.


ANSWER: When your partner opens one no-trump and the next hand intervenes, it is very helpful to use two-level calls as weak, three-level bids as strong and the bid of two no-trump as a puppet to three clubs, based on a weak hand with its own suit. Responder passes the forced three-club call when weak with clubs, or bids his own suit. This principle can also be extended to responses to the double of a weak two-bid. The difference is that direct actions are now invitational, not forcing.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

You are in fourth seat, holding K-J-4, 9-6-5-2, Q-10-3, A-3-2. Partner opens one heart and the next hand overcalls two spades, weak. Would you consider bidding no-trump instead of raising hearts? If you do support partner, to what level would you bid?

—  Action Figure, Detroit, Mich.


ANSWER: This is very awkward. I can see a case for a natural and invitational two-no-trump call, or for a simple or jump raise in hearts. Since three hearts might be bid with a king less, this is the least attractive option. Even a negative double might work out well by giving partner a chance to show extras. Put me down for a bid of four hearts (but hide my answer from my regular partner, Dan Morse).


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