Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

A recent Aces bidding problem saw opener bid and rebid hearts while responder bid one spade, then three clubs. I guess that the three-club bid promises extras, but what if opener supports spades and responder had only four spades? And what would a bid of three diamonds by opener at his third turn mean?

— Tied Up, Bay City, Mich.

ANSWER: The three-club call is almost game-forcing — though responder may be allowed to pass opener’s three-heart bid. Note that with only four spades, responder either has a five-card minor (when he would have bid it initially) or has heart tolerance or length in diamonds, when he can go back to hearts or bid no-trump. A bid of three diamonds over three clubs by opener acts as fourth suit forcing, looking for a partial diamond guard or delayed heart support.

Dear Mr Wolff:

After three passes, my partner also passed, holding SPADES A-10-5-3-2, HEARTS K-9-3-2, DIAMONDS 4, CLUBS A-8-7. With my 11 points and three spades, we could have made a comfortable spade partscore. We got a bottom because everyone else had opened and made a partial in spades. Is it correct to use the rule of 15 in cases like this? And is Drury a valid option after a fourth-position major-suit opening?

— Bump on a Log, Janesville, Wis.

ANSWER: My view on opening here is: think of a number bigger than 100 percent, then double it. There is absolutely no choice: open first, think later. Almost everyone who plays Drury also plays it over fourth-hand opening bids. You don’t use it to regulate psyches, but to avoid the three-level facing an ordinary opening, as here.

Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner opened one heart, and I raised him to two hearts after a two-club overcall. The next hand bid three clubs, and my partner tried for game with a three-diamond bid. I held SPADES Q-6-3-2, HEARTS 9-6-4, DIAMONDS A-J-7-3, CLUBS J-7 and thought my side-suit shape and bad trumps suggested caution. Game our way was on when hearts split. Did I not do enough?

— Fading in the Stretch, Fredericksburg, Va.

ANSWER: Missing a game that needs a trump break is not a major crime. It seems to me you evaluated your hand well. However, give me as little as the trump 10 instead of the four and I might have moved on. It is your weak trumps and the wrong doubleton that turn me off.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

I have been playing bridge for some time using bidding boxes. However, I need more information about the “alert” and “stop” cards. When are they used? Are they legal in duplicate?

— Marking Time, Wichita Falls, Texas

ANSWER: When you make a call that constitutes a jump, put the stop card down with the bid. The idea is that the next player rates to have a problem if the auction is competitive and he has values. Because he is forced to pause, you stop him from conveying unauthorized information over your pre-empt, whether he has a 5-count or a 15-count. Any time your partner makes a conventional call, say “alert” and put the alert card on the table. The opponents can ask if interested. This applies to anything not considered standard — so no for Stayman or negative doubles but yes for your defense to a no-trump opening (Landy, e.g.).

Dear Mr Wolff:

After you passed your partner’s no-trump opening with SPADES 7-6-4-2, HEARTS 9-3, DIAMONDS K-8-7-3, CLUBS K-10-9, your LHO balanced with a two-heart bid. You recommended reopening with a takeout double, rather than selling out to the opponents at the two-level. If we do not have a spade fit, might we not turn a plus score into a minus?

— Negative Thinking, Jackson, Miss.

ANSWER: If the board belongs to us, do we get a good score by letting two hearts make or by collecting one undertrick? I think not. If we can’t make a partscore, we surely were going to make one no-trump, so we are already heading for a bad score because of the opponents’ bidding instead of passing. The only time doubling works badly is if partner turns a plus into a minus by bidding, while defending two hearts was going to be good for us.


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