Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is the two-club response to a one-diamond opening an exception to the possible set of two-over-one responses? I understand that this response may of necessity be somewhat weaker than the other possibilities, and there might be other things to say about this particular sequence. Also, how does opener advance with diamonds (four or five cards) and a major?

—  Bargain Hunter, Orlando, Fla.

ANSWER: Let’s go with two clubs as game-forcing, since one can play a jump to three clubs over one diamond as invitational … unless you want to play that sequence as a diamond raise. After the two-club response I like to play bids in the majors as reversing, with a nonminimum hand. I’d rebid two diamonds with a dead minimum and 5-4 pattern, or just diamonds, and rebid either two no-trump or three clubs with a balanced hand.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

If you pick up as dealer SPADES J-9, HEARTS A-Q-9-7-3-2, DIAMONDS 10-3-2, CLUBS Q-7, I assume you would open two hearts at any vulnerability. I was vulnerable against not, and my partner asked for a feature with a two-no-trump bid. The next hand doubled; what should I have done next?

—  Jumbo Shrimp, Wichita Falls, Texas

ANSWER: The two-heart opening is just fine by me. I believe any bid now should show a feature, with pass suggesting a balanced minimum and a three-heart bid suggesting good trumps. Redouble would show balanced extras — but at this vulnerability I do not think you have anything to spare, so I would pass.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently you wrote that in all sequences after a two-over-one where responder’s simple raise of opener’s second suit would be forcing, a jump in a new suit should conventionally be played as a splinter. How does this work when opener has bid two suits in a sequence such as one heart – two clubs – two diamonds? When responder jumps in a new suit, which suit does this agree?

—  Single Malt, North Bay, Ontario


ANSWER: With a splinter-jump, the last suit is always the one agreed as trumps. In the given sequence, to set hearts as trumps, just raise the suit. In this auction three hearts might be played as stronger than four hearts. Or you can (my preference) play a jump to four hearts as a hand with fitting cards in a minimum hand, with no control of the fourth suit.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I am in the dark as to how to proceed in responding to the fourth suit. I don’t even know what the priorities are in general. Please help.

—  Ready and Waiting, Walnut Creek, Calif.

ANSWER: Over fourth suit forcing, opener can promise three-card support for partner, show extra length in his own suits, or bid no-trump with a stopper in the fourth suit. There is no set rule as to what to do if you have a choice among these options. The default actions are to raise partner with a doubleton honor or to repeat your original suit with a decent five-carder. Giving preference to responder after a fourth-suit bid is rather more likely to be a two-card raise than three if (as in my style) you might have raised partner’s major directly with a semibalanced hand and three trumps.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I had an opening-lead problem, holding SPADES J-9-3, HEARTS 9-6-4-2, DIAMONDS J-8-3-2, CLUBS 9-5. My RHO bid one no-trump, my LHO raised to three no-trump, and my partner doubled. Is this normally played as conventional in any way? And what would you lead?

—  Best Foot Forward, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

ANSWER:The double by a hand not on lead suggests a good suit and an entry, or a solid suit. Here you have no idea which suit your partner has, but acting on the principle that the opponents probably aren’t over-long in the majors, I would cross my fingers and lead my shorter major — a low spade.


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