Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

Recently you ran a problem where responder to a one-diamond opening bid held a 3-4-3-3 pattern with four small hearts, three spades to the jack, and nine points. You advocated without comment a response of one heart, but would you consider bidding one no-trump instead?

— In Plain Sight, Fredericksburg, Va.

ANSWER: I might consider a one-no-trump bid here, and I’d be even more likely to make that call as a passed hand (where partner might pass my major-suit response) or in replying to one club, where partner is more often balanced than he’d be with a one-diamond opening. For the example hand, my lack of a proper stopper in spades made the difference. The hand in question held three clubs to the king-queen. If the club queen were in spades, I would have bid one no-trump.

Dear Mr Wolff:

At pairs our opponents bid up to six clubs. I had two aces including the trump ace, and seriously thought about doubling, but changed my mind. My partner’s opening lead was the ace of spades — it turned out that he too held two aces! Our opponents eventually went down three, vulnerable, so we scored a top, but were we both wrong not to double, or were our concerns about someone holding a void a valid one? And have you come across such an unusual situation?

— Aceless Wonder, Wilmington, N.C.

ANSWER: In a world championship 40 years ago an unfamiliar partnership had a mix-up about whether an auction was forcing or invitational. One player next bid Blackwood and got a five-club response, then bid the grand slam … off all four aces! It sounds as if you were both right not to double, especially the hand not on lead, since that double might call for a conventional lead such as dummy’s first-bid suit, and now one of your aces might go away.

Dear Mr Wolff:

You recently shocked me by suggesting that a bid of four spades in response to an opening of either one or two no-trump might be for the minors. What would you do with a spade suit, then?

— Major Problem, Corpus Christi, Texas

ANSWER: My regular agreements — as I suspect is true even with some rubber bridge players — are to use transfers into spades, including Texas transfers at the four-level — these sequences showing either a slam-going hand or a sign-off. If so, a transfer at the three-level and a raise to game is a mild slam-try. In this context an immediate jump to four no-trump is quantitative, suggesting a 4-3-3-3 pattern, and a jump to four spades is free. We can use that for the slam-try with both minors, since if we had a major, we would start with Stayman.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner and I had an unopposed auction that went one heart – one spade – three diamonds – four diamonds – five hearts. I intended the last call to mean “pick a slam,” but it was not taken that way. My partner had the doubleton ace of hearts and four diamonds to the king-queen. I had seven good hearts, five diamonds to the ace, and a singleton spade ace.

— Goliath, Canton, Ga.

ANSWER: I’d guess a five-heart bid would show a hand with club losers but no heart losers — maybe seven solid hearts and four good diamonds, with two losing clubs? But with your partner’s hand I’d know that was not the case, of course; I’d bid the grand slam with his hand — if partner can invite a small slam and I have three known working cards, this must be enough.

Dear Mr Wolff:

My bridge group has divergent opinions. My partner opened the bidding one club, and my RHO overcalled one heart. I was sitting with 19 points, four clubs, and the ace-queen doubleton of hearts. What is my bid now?

— Ready for Action, Doylestown, Pa.

ANSWER: Start with a cuebid of two hearts, which just announces you have a good hand. Your group may play that as showing game-forcing values, or even guaranteeing a heart control, but even then you would still be well-placed, since you have both. At your next turn, a new suit will be natural and game-forcing. I’d recommend taking it slowly; you can always use Blackwood later!


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

1 Comment

NickMay 30th, 2011 at 2:43 am

Hi Bobby,

In the Bridge column, I was expected to see older columns starting from January 1, 2007 to present. See to get archives for the oldest day presented. What would you do if I contacted you? A few full-length samples show in that site. So would you PLEASE get the archives starting from January 1, 2007 to present? This would impress me. And you don’t know what deals were presented in your column. Do NOT put this in any Sunday columns.