Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner, holding SPADES Q-9-3, HEARTS 9-5-4, DIAMONDS Q-J-3, CLUBS 10-8-7-4, heard his LHO open a weak two in hearts. I doubled and he responded two no-trump, playing Lebensohl as a puppet to three clubs. I duly completed the transfer to three clubs with my 18-count, including five spades and four diamonds. Although three clubs made, we still scored poorly since we could have made nine or 10 tricks in spades. Should I have bid two spades instead of doubling?

— Puppet Theater, Duluth, Minn.

ANSWER: Your correct approach was to double. But then over your partner’s artificial call of two no-trump, it looks right not to bid three clubs, but to bid three spades, showing real extras and a spade suit of your own. Typically, the sequence shows five spades or a moderate six-carder, since a jump to three spades immediately would be a strong jump overcall.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent column in the Houston Chronicle, you stated that in a bidding sequence where your LHO opens one diamond, your partner overcalls one heart, and you bid one no-trump, that response suggests 8-12 points. That sounds high to me, but is this because it is in response to an overcall, not to an opening bid?

— Straight Arrow, Houston, Texas

ANSWER: Exactly: the upper range for the no-trump response is higher because partner’s range for the overcall is approximately 8-16. When your partner hears you bid one no-trump, he will act again with extra values — either a source of tricks or real extra shape.

Dear Mr Wolff:

At one table in a group playing party bridge, West reached a contract of six no-trump. During the play, the lead was in the dummy, which held the ace, queen, and several other hearts. West reached for, and started to play the heart queen. East instinctively exclaimed “Oh, no, the king is still out!” West put the queen back in dummy, crossed to his hand, then successfully finessed against the heart king to make his contract. What, if any, should the penalty be?

— Talking Dummy, Mason City, Iowa

ANSWER: The punishment should be something with a little boiling oil added to it! Even in a friendly game, after that comment I’d enforce the play of the heart queen — and that means slam is down one — at least. A quiet but firm word with the offender might stop this from happening again.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

A bidding problem you ran featured SPADES J-10-8-4-3, HEARTS Q-5, DIAMONDS 10-8, CLUBS 6-4-3-2. You responded one spade to a double of one diamond and heard your partner now rebid one no-trump, showing 18-20. Can you comment on why it is better to bid two spades now, rather than rebidding two clubs or passing one no-trump?

— Monkey’s Paw, Albuquerque, N.M.

ANSWER: Even if your partner has as little as a doubleton spade honor, spades will surely play better than no-trump. Your hand may well be worth no more than half a trick to your partner in no-trump. You may set up the spades, but surely won’t be able to reach them. By contrast, the weak hand rates to be worth three spade tricks if red-suit cards are ruffed with the small spades.

Dear Mr Wolff:

My club has a lot of players who use Mirror Doubles. What are they? Are they a good idea?

— Looking Glass, Spartanburg, S.C.

ANSWER: Mirror doubles are a way to keep using transfers after intervention over your partner’s no-trump opening. All bids are transfers, and a double says “I would have made the call that my RHO just made.” Thus a double of two hearts shows a hand with spades — one that would have bid two hearts as a transfer, without intervention. You lose the ability to double for takeout, but right-side a small number of partscores. It’s not a good deal, in my opinion.


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