Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I’m an aspiring tournament player who has been using transfer bids in response to one- and two-no-trump openings for some time. Are there any other sequences for which you would use transfer bids?

—  Number Cruncher, Cartersville, Ga.


ANSWER: The sequences you mention are the most useful and occur most frequently. Many people these days are also using transfer bids in response to overcalls. (These are called Rubens Advances if you want to pursue the subject further.) But transfers can be used in conjunction with Lebensohl and also after a rebid of one no-trump or a jump rebid of two no-trump. Brian Senior wrote a book called “The Transfer Principle,” which you might find helpful.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

When my partner led out of turn, the Tournament Director was called. I know the declarer has options. However, the director told the declarer that he could demand that I lead anything he wanted me to. Was this correct?

—  Harsh Sentence, Miami, Fla.


ANSWER: No, your director was incorrect. Declarer can accept the lead, forbid the lead, make the card a penalty card, demand that the suit be led (with the card picked up) or even put declarer’s hand down as dummy. But declarer may not name the suit to be led.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was in fourth chair and my LHO opened one heart, passed around to me. I had SPADES K-J-9, HEARTS A-Q, DIAMONDS 10-3-2, CLUBS A-Q-7-4-2 and knew I was too strong for a balancing call of one no-trump. As against that, I thought my heart honors were badly placed, and I did not fancy playing in two no-trump if my partner responded two diamonds. Ultimately, I bid two clubs and played there. Which evil would you have considered the least severe?

—  Conan the Cogitator, Muncie, Ind.


ANSWER: Being an optimist, I would have upgraded my hand and doubled. (After all, why should partner choose diamonds to respond in?) Note that in three no-trump a heart lead comes into the tenace, so my holding is not really so unattractive.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

A lot of players in my club are using a short club, playing that a one-diamond opening bid guarantees a five-carder. Would you recommend treating the opponent’s opening bid as natural or as artificial? If the latter, what specifically do you suggest doing?

—  Taste Test, Macon, Ga.


ANSWER: Let’s distinguish between players who open one club on a doubleton only when they hold 4-4 in the majors, and those who open one club on all balanced hands outside the no-trump range (even on hands with five-card majors in balanced hands). In the former case I’d treat the club as natural. In the second case I’d want to be able to bid two clubs as natural, and so perhaps I’d make my two-diamond overcall the Michaels cue-bid. This is standard practice in France, by the way.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

I noticed that Zia Mahmood just won the Bermuda Bowl last year. Who do you think is the strongest player still playing in major events never to have won a major world-title?

—  Coulda Been a Contenda, Twin Falls, Idaho


ANSWER: The first name that comes to my mind is my old friend Patrick Huang. For North America I’d pick Sami Kehela and Eric Murray of Canada, but both are largely retired. Three other countries come to mind: first England, where Tony Forrester and Andrew Robson have had a long run at the top; then Sweden, where Fallenius-Fredin are two of a sizable top echelon. And finally Poland, spearheaded by Balicki-Zmudzinski, who have missed out narrowly on many occasions.


If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, e-mail him at Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011.


Heming JiangJanuary 30th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

The hand of yesterday (Jan 29th, 2011) was not as hard as your described. Because of the need the establish heart suit, dummy has to win the club lead and start drawing trumps right away with dummy lead a small heart , and hand wins it by an honor, low to the dummy reveals the uneven distribution, finesse just once to clear all East’s trump. lead a small heart to dummy, no matter what West does, 12 tricks is there. the key if you have to keep club king as an entry to hand so you can lead heart one more time from hand.

bobbywolffJanuary 30th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Hi Heming,

Please try and explain what you are trying to say, since it is very confusing and not factual concerning the hand from 1/29.

Perhaps there is a confusion with the current Aces column, shown in many newspapers around the world of January 29, since the internet version operates with a 2 week delay.

I’m sorry for whatever I may be responsible for and would like to answer whatever questions you may have.

bobbywolffJanuary 30th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

To: Bridge Heart

The rules about balancing with 1NT, while in the pass-out position, over an opponents opening one bid are not consistent, since, at least in my judgment and with your hand I would violate the normal system and bid 1NT.

Anyway anyone looks at it, and in some other bridge areas as well, good judgment trumps sterile rules with the necessity, from time to time. to innovate. Your question directly concerns itself with one of those times.

jim2January 31st, 2011 at 2:05 am

Actually, I believe I have a similar comment/question on the hand mentioned by Heming Jiang, but intended to wait out the two weeks.

If I am correct, it’s the hand where declarer gets an opening club lead with Axx on the board and K10 in hand. The column won in hand, preserving the club 10 as a later threat card (West had led from QJ9xx). However, in so doing, it prematurely used up a closed hand entry that would have greatly simplified declarer’s play by affording a later entry for a second heart lead toward the board.

Anyway, see you here in 13 days!

bobbywolffJanuary 31st, 2011 at 2:52 am

Thanks Jim2 for the enlightenment. Since our group (the readers of the column here and 2 weeks ahead in local newspapers) has always been subjected to this boondoggle perhaps we have been fortunate in the few times it has created confusing questions.

At least, when it appears here in 13 days we will (or at least should) be prepared to deal with it.