Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Since Christmas Day has just come and gone, what would you wish to happen in 2011 to the world of bridge?

—  Late Letter to Santa, Phoenix, Ariz.


ANSWER: Perhaps I should hope for something attainable, and not look for pie in the sky. Maybe we might be successful in persuading a few school districts to teach bridge to their pupils, accepting that it is a fine tool to help children understand mathematics and develop concentration.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-8-4, Q-4, Q-2, A-10-6-4-3-2, I assume you would open one club, as I did. When the next hand doubled and my partner bid one heart, I heard a double on my right, which was explained as penalties, not takeout. Would you run to two clubs, or to t turned into a disaster when my partner passed with 4-4 in the majors and a heart suit headed by the 10. We went down 300.

—  Revolting Developments, Madison, Wis.


ANSWER: I think your pass was quite reasonable; your partner should maybe have inferred that you were not overloaded in hearts if the opponents were to be believed, so perhaps he could have removed the contract to one spade or even one no-trump.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

What is the best way to deal with interference to Blackwood, and how should one show a void when asked for aces?

—  Contingencies, Memphis, Tenn.

  ANSWER: A simple answer to your first question is to use double as no aces, pass as one, and then bid up by steps — whether playing keycard or regular Blackwood. With a useful void, don’t show the void with no aces, but with one or three aces jump in the void if it is below the trump suit, or jump in the trump suit with a higher-ranking void. And bid five no-trump with two aces and a void.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

Holding K-Q-5-4, A-J-3-2, A-10-7-4, Q, I thought it was normal to open one diamond and jump to three spades over the one-spade response. My partner suggested I might have gone all the way to game, and even that I might have bid four clubs. But wouldn’t that sequence show a better hand — or even a first-round club control?

—  What’s It Worth? Casper, Wyo.


ANSWER: You were quite sensible in your hand evaluation. With the club queen a potentially broken reed, your jump to three spades looks right. If partner cannot bid on, you rate to be high enough. Give yourself the diamond queen instead of the club queen and you might well do more. A jump to four clubs if played as a splinter (a common modern treatment) does indeed suggest a singleton, not a void.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you play two-over-one game forcing, how can you differentiate between a hand such as a 10-count with six good clubs (not worth a game-force but worth an invitation) and the same hand with an ace less, in response to a one-spade opening.

—  Sorting It Out, Bremerton, Wash.


ANSWER: Some people play a jump to three clubs immediately as invitational with a good suit, say 10-11 points, the hand that in old-fashioned Standard American would have responded two clubs, then bid three clubs. For other people the jump to three clubs would be an artificial spade raise or even a weak jump. If so, they would have to respond one no-trump, then bid three clubs at their next turn over their partner’s response with both the invitational hand and the weaker variety.


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


Jerrold MillerJanuary 10th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I play 2/1 game force except when suit rebid. This distinguishes between the two hands mentioned in the final question. the only downside to this approach is that with a full opening hand, responder must find a second bid other than his suit at the 3 level.

bobbywolffJanuary 11th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hi Jerrold,

Even though there are other problem areas in 2 over 1, the one you mention is more significant than it appears at first blush.

The reason, of course, is that the main advantage of 2 over 1 (and perhaps the difference maker in deciding whether or not to play it), is that a suit needs to be established as early as possible between the partners in order to make use of every bid now becoming forcing so that various games and/or slams can be explored.

Consequently, when the responder is denied the ability to make a forcing rebid of the same suit we lose that total effect of what the system is supposed to provide.

My conclusion, even though my personality does not cater nor embrace 2 over l, is that a rebid at the 3 level should still be forcing to game resulting in the 2 over 1 players to decide on whether they want to play a 1NT response and then 3 of a minor the long suit, but possibly only a 5, 6, or 7 high card point hand and then an immediate jump an intermediate good suit but only invitational, freeing the normal rebid to be forcing to game.

Thanks for writing, especially since your question should concern many of the vast number of 2 over 1 players here in the USA and throughout the world.

Dave AnselmiJanuary 17th, 2011 at 4:21 am

Hi Mr Wolff,

I read this column in the Dallas paper while on vacation. I’d like to help my friends and children learn bridge. But I learned by reading Goren’s “New Bridge Complete” and most won’t take the time to go through it–they want to learn while playing.

Can you give some advice on how to help people learn? I think schools are unlikely to do much with bridge without parents, teachers, or students that already have an appreciation.