Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You suggested that after you open, then hear a low-level overcall on your left, you should balance with a double when short in the opponent’s suit. Is this action automatic? If not, when should I take some other action?

—  Double Bubble, Edmonton, Alberta

ANSWER: Do not reopen with a double if you would have pulled a penalty double by your partner. So if you open one club with six clubs to the K-Q-J and four hearts to the K-Q, you surely do not want to defend against one spade doubled. Hence, if LHO overcalls one spade and the auction comes back to you, bid two clubs. Equally, with any 6-5 shape or defenseless hand, you may be better off bidding your second suit rather than doubling.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you bid in third seat with SPADES J-9-7-4-3, HEARTS K-2, DIAMONDS 10-8, CLUBS A-Q-10-8 after your partner has opened one club and the next hand overcalled three diamonds? Should you pass, double, or bid one of the black suits?

—  Supporting Cast, Nashville, Tenn.

ANSWER: When your partner responds in a major at the one-level to your opening bid and the next hand acts, your raise of partner shows that you hold four trumps, while a double shows three-card support. Thus passing suggests two or fewer trumps in this auction. Some people don’t play support doubles if the opponents bid one no-trump — they use double for a good hand. Equally, some play support redoubles to mean the same as the support double.


Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are the rules in duplicate about playing a hand with only 12 cards? Does it matter if the deck is incomplete, as opposed to a card having gotten lost, or stuck to another? What happened to me was that I found a card on the floor at the end of the deal.

—  Not All There, Doylestown, Pa.

ANSWER:At duplicate the penalties for discovering you have played a hand with 12 cards are severe. The contract and play this far are not altered, but if you failed to follow suit with the missing card, it counts as a revoke, with the appropriate penalties applying. If not, just pick up the missing card and continue as best you can.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

As dealer, I held SPADES J-9-2, HEARTS A-J-2, DIAMONDS 3, CLUBS A-J-10-7-6-4 and opened one club. My partner responded one diamond, I rebid two clubs, and now my partner bid two hearts. I assume this was forcing — but what should I have done next?

—  No Road Map, Durham, N.C.

ANSWER: Your normal choices on auctions of this kind in descending order of attractiveness are to bid no-trump, raise partner, rebid your own suit, or grope for no-trump by using the fourth suit. Since the first three actions do not suit this hand at all, bid two spades, trying to get to no-trump if partner has a little something in spades.


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


RobApril 10th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Sorry to be slow, but could someone elaborate a bit on the response to Supporting Cast, from Nashville? I don’t quite understand what the right thing to do is, since the opening bid was a minor rather than a major. Thanks!

Bruce KarlsonApril 10th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Regarding Dubble Bubble’s hypothetical 6 club/4 heart opener: I would be inclined to show my hearts(at the one level only of course). Is that action ever correct with a 6 cd minor??

bobbywolffApril 11th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Hi Rob,

The answer to letter #2, from Supporting Cast, Nashville, is totally skewed and does not apply in any way to the question asked.

My real answer would be a bid of 3 spades, which, although made on a weak suit, nevertheless, at least in my opinion, is the best bid available and much too dangerous not to bid it.

When faced with difficult choices, just assume that others will also have the same dilemma and going out with guns blazing is often, as is my choice here, the most effective remedy. No guarantees, but the auction is just getting underway, and it is never an advantage to be left at the post in a bridge bidding horserace.

Many apologies to you and others who, no doubt, are non-plussed by our errant answer.

bobbywolffApril 11th, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi Bruce,

Most of the time I agree with rebidding 1 heart (holding 4-6) after opening 1 club and hearing partner respond 1 diamond.

Assume I hold:

s. x

h. KQxx

d. Qx

c. AQxxxx

I heart, at least to me, is usually the bid to make. An exeption might be:

s. x

h. Jxxx

d. Kx

c. AKJ10xx

and even then the bid of 2 clubs will likely get us to the right part score rather than rebidding 1 heart, but for game purposes, even with the above hand it may be necessary to rebid 1 heart instead, otherwise your partner who also may be holding 4 reasonable hearts may bypass bidding them and opt for 3NT which, of course, may still be the right contract, depending on the luck of the layout.

As has been said, bridge is hardly ever an exact science, but rather a judgment sensitive series of educated guesses. Always when you ask, I try to give you an overall picture of what is involved and let your natural talent be developed with that as a guide.

Good luck in your hoped for steadily improving bridge judgment.