Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

If you have honors, when are you required to claim them to receive them as part of your score? Some maintain you can wait till the entire hand is played and then announce it — if, indeed, everyone else hasn’t already discovered the fact.

— Prevailing Wisdom, Kingston, Ontario

ANSWER: You can announce honors or claim them up to the end of the rubber or the Chicago, when the score is agreed. This is in law 78 of the rubber bridge laws. (The contract laws are somewhat different — which may explain why you didn’t find it.)

Dear Mr Wolff:

Having been dealt the following hand, I did not know how to open as dealer. I held eight solid spades missing the king, A-Q-2 of hearts and the doubleton ace of clubs. I opened one spade, and when my partner responded two diamonds, I jumped to three spades. When raised to four, I bid six spades. The grand slam was on the heart finesse ( it was offside), but we could easily have been in a hopeless contract or even missed a grand slam. Any advice?

— A Bridge Too Far, Nashville, Tenn.

ANSWER: I suppose you might open two clubs and bid spades repeatedly. Since you cannot handle the auction after a one-level response, you might as well start with two clubs and get the power of the hand across.

Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner and I have fully embraced the Law of Total Tricks as described by Larry Cohen. The Law (bidding to the level of the total number of trumps held by the partnership) seems to work very well at the three- and four-level, but not quite so well at the five-level. Am I imagining it, or does it not work so well past the four-level?

— Range-Finder, Salinas, Calif.

ANSWER: Yes, you are absolutely right. It works best for deals where there are eight, nine or 10 trumps. It also works best when the high cards are close to evenly split. And please don’t use the Law as a substitute for judgment; you need to look at the location of your minor honors (queens and jacks), not merely plug a number into a formula.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

Holding SPADES —, HEARTS A-K-Q-5-4, DIAMONDS Q-3-2, CLUBS A-K-9-7-6 you would probably open one heart and be raised to two hearts. What do you think is the best way now to get to six, facing a hand with a 3-3-6-1 pattern with the spade king, heart jack, and diamond king-jack?

— Scientific Advances, Cartersville, Ga.

ANSWER: There is no choice for the opening bid: you must open one heart, not two clubs. Now your two main choices are to bid either three clubs or three diamonds as a help-suit try. (Splintering to three spades with a void is generally not a good idea.) If your partner bids three diamonds over three clubs, or raises three diamonds to four, you might well reach slam scientifically. I know that six diamonds is safer than six hearts because of the possible diamond ruff, but I don’t think that I could find that.

Dear Mr Wolff:

When should one lead fourth-highest, as opposed to leading from an honor sequence headed by two touching honors, with the third card somewhat lower? For example, what do you lead from Q-J-8-6 against a suit contract or no-trump?

— Attack Plans, Hartford, Conn.

ANSWER: Against suits it may not always work to lead a top card from sequences such as your example, but nonetheless I’d always lead a top card. (Who wins the third or fourth round of a side-suit at a trump contract matters less than at no-trump.) At no-trump I’d lead a low card from your example unless opener has shown a strong no-trump or better — and is thus likely to have the ace and king in this suit.


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