Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I know that in sandwich seat, after both opponents have bid, you prefer to play a strong no-trump overcall by an unpassed hand, but a passed hand uses the call to show a two-suiter. Given that, how weak or strong should the two-suiter be?

—  Sandwich Shop, Laredo, Texas

ANSWER: As a passed hand you will generally come in with 5-5 and a top honor in each of your suits. At unfavorable vulnerability you’d need some protection in the form of decent intermediates. While bidding with five to the Q-10 and five to the K-J looks fine to me, beware of tipping off the opponents to possible bad breaks just for the sheer pleasure of hearing the sound of your own voice.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Do you encourage your readers to play third-and-fifth leads against suits? If so, what would you lead from interior sequences such as K-J-10 or Q-10-9?

—  Running Bear, Bay City, Mich.

ANSWER: I believe you get more out of third-and-fifth leads by treating your whole holding as a single unit and leading third from the top, so you should lead the 10 from the first holding and the nine from the second. And as a further thought, even if you do not do this at the first trick, you may find it helpful to make these plays in midhand. The disadvantage of these leads at trick one before dummy comes down is that you may be helping declarer.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you bid with SPADES J-9-8-4, HEARTS A-3-2, DIAMONDS K-10-3-2, CLUBS A-4 when your LHO opens one diamond and your partner overcalls one heart? Would you bid no-trump, or raise hearts — and would you let your partner out below game?

—  Third-Hand Dilemma, Walnut Creek, Calif.


ANSWER: I would raise hearts rather than bid no-trump, but I would start with a cue-bid of two diamonds to show a limit raise or better, prepared to give up in two hearts facing a minimum hand. This is not worth driving to game with or even to the three-level facing, for example, a five-card suit in a 10-count.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In asking for aces, is it permitted to declare “I am asking”? We have been told that is no longer allowed.

—  20 Questions, Janesville, Wis.

ANSWER: You alert ( by rapping the table or using the alert card) your partner’s bids, not your own, if conventional. The alert lets the opponents ask if they are interested. The only bids of your partner that you should announce are your no-trump range and the fact that a call is a transfer, or that a no-trump response is forcing or semiforcing. But no other explanations should be made unless the opponents request it. For two reasons don’t alert your own ace-asking call. First, your partner does it, not you; second, you don’t alert any calls higher than three no-trump, whatever they mean!

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My RHO opened two spades. I held SPADES J-9-6, HEARTS Q-7, DIAMONDS K-J-2, CLUBS A-Q-10-4-2 and passed. When my partner balanced with a double, how should I have advanced — and do you agree with my initial pass?

—  Stop and Go, Union City, Tenn.

ANSWER: Yes, passing is correct (with a sixth club you might act but not otherwise). I would cuebid three spades at my second turn and pass a three-no-trump bid, but bid five clubs over a red-suit action by my partner. It is not perfect — but nothing is!


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