Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

My most memorable bridge experience happened when I opened one no-trump with 18 points and my partner had the remaining 22 points. In addition to all of the face cards, we had two of the 10s, so seven no-trump was laydown.

— Charles in Charge, Mitchell, S.D.

ANSWER: It may not seem that unusual, but in the course of more than 50 years in bridge I’ve had this happen to me only once or twice. I do recall playing seven no-trump at rubber bridge, missing two jacks, and being unable to make it — but that goes at the opposite end of the pleasure spectrum.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Recently you ran a deal in which responder to a one-spade opening held SPADES A-J-3, HEARTS 7-5-4, DIAMONDS A-9-6-2, CLUBS 7-5-2. After his simple raise to two spades, opener jumped to four clubs. Is this a help-suit, a slam-try, or a cue-bid, and how do we know?

— Jump-Shooter, Trenton, N.J.

ANSWER: In the last 40 years the typical meaning of a jump here has changed. While a simple call of three clubs would be a try for game, four clubs is no longer a void or a singleton ace, as it used to be. Instead it is most commonly played as short clubs and a slam-try, helping responder judge if his cards are well-placed, as indeed they would be on this auction.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I don’t know how good you are at predicting the stars of the future, but who are the young players (if any!) who have made an impression on you?

— Farm Team, Dallas, Texas

ANSWER: My predictive skills in sporting events are (in)famous, but I did accurately predict in my most recent book, “The Lone Wolff,” that Brian Platnick and John Diamond of the United States would become world champions. They achieved that in the Rosenblum Cup in 2010. Thomas Bessis of France is clearly the most promising junior around right now.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

Why do certain actions in the so-called balancing or protective seat require lower high-card ranges than in direct seat?

— Oliver Cromwell, Troy, N.Y.

ANSWER: To keep the auction from dying uncomfortably low, you need to take some action in balancing chair, but also when your RHO passes, your partner becomes marked with some values. So with a balanced 12-count, you would not overcall one no-trump over your RHO’s suit in direct seat, even if you had the suit well stopped. But if LHO opens and RHO passes, now your partner rates to have enough high cards to make the action safer.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In second seat, at favorable vulnerability, after your RHO has opened one heart, you hold SPADES 5-2, HEARTS —, DIAMONDS K-7-4, CLUBS K-Q-J-7-5-4-3-2 . We scored very poorly because my partner overcalled four clubs. I had a massive hand with the bare club ace and with kings and queens in all the other suits, so I passed and we missed a game.

— Walk-Away Renee, Ames, Iowa

ANSWER: Given your partner’s hand, perhaps a five-club call is better, if only because you know you want to save over four hearts, so why not do so now? Your pass of four clubs sounds sensible — with too few aces and a dangerous heart holding. Would your partner have bid any differently with one heart and two diamonds? Of course not!


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