Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How light would you allow a third-in-hand opener of a minor to be, as opposed to opening in a major, assuming you are not at unfavorable vulnerability?

—  Hyperactive, Grand Junction, Colo.

ANSWER: Because openings in the minors tend not to be pre-emptive, I prefer to keep my openings either up to strength (maybe a 10-count is acceptable in the right circumstances) or based on good suits. I really don’t see the point of opening a three-card minor with fewer than 12 points. Openings in the majors may, however, be more obstructive.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I doubled an opening bid of one club, holding SPADES J-9-7-4, HEARTS A-Q-7-2, DIAMONDS K-Q-10-3, CLUBS 10 and heard a redouble on my left. My partner now bid one heart and my RHO bid two clubs. Should I have bid two hearts now? I was put off by the redouble, and despite my good shape I felt it was too dangerous to bid again with a minimum. What do you think?

—  Yellow Bird, Eau Claire, Wis.

ANSWER: This is a tough one, but just because my LHO has a decent hand doesn’t mean that he is getting ready to sharpen his axe on a two-heart contract — or that things will go so badly if he does. I agree that bidding two hearts here is aggressive, but much depends on whether your partner will compete properly if you pass. If you trust him, you should be more cautious.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner and I had the following problem. I held SPADES A-J-9-3, HEARTS Q-2, DIAMONDS 3-2, CLUBS A-K-10-4-2 and responded two clubs to my partner’s one-heart bid. After he jumped to three hearts, I bid three spades, then converted three no-trump to four hearts. He passed and we missed a slam. (He had A-K-sixth of hearts and A-K-third of diamonds. How should we have bid the hand?

—  Missed It, Portland, Ore.

ANSWER: First, playing two-over-one, your partner was wrong to bid three hearts; in a game-forcing auction this shows semisolid hearts (solid, or solid missing the ace or king). With his actual hand a two-heart call would be right. The jump also shows a slightly better hand than a minimum (change the diamond king to the heart queen perhaps). Given the actual auction, I would bid three spades with your hand, but then bid five hearts next, inviting slam and focusing on diamonds, the suit that has not been bid or cuebid.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

My LHO opened two diamonds, which my partner doubled. My RHO raised to three diamonds, and I bid three spades holding SPADES K-Q-J-6-4, HEARTS 7-3, DIAMONDS 3, CLUBS 10-9-8-6-4. My partner bid three no-trump now, and I bid four spades. Do you agree? It did not work well because my partner went to six no-trump, believing my bid was a slam try. He said I should not have overruled his three no-trump bid. I felt my bid was justified by my shape and spade strength.

—  Overboard, Hartford, Conn.

ANSWER: Your partner failed to appreciate that the three-spade call was nonforcing, so four spades could not possibly be a slam-try. Your bidding was just fine. (Spades could have played far better than no-trump, facing a doubleton or even three small spades, for example.)

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When should I respond to one club with a major, as opposed to responding one diamond, assuming I have equal or longer diamonds?

—  Searching, Spokane, Wash.

ANSWER: The idea of responding in a major as opposed to diamonds with limited values is that you will never lose your major fits this way; diamonds are less important to find. Remember, a one-diamond response to one club says either “I have no major” or “I’m about to bid a major, with a good hand.” This way opener never needs to show a major at his second turn unless his hand is unbalanced. Thus opener declares one no-trump without disclosing his majors, and when he does bid a major, his partner knows he has real clubs too.


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