Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday June 26th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

You usually comment on the bidding but chose not to in a recent column. In that deal opener bid one no-trump with a 16-count in fourth seat. (I thought a fourth-seat no-trump opener showed a balancing 10 to12-plus, making the jump to three no-trump with 11 HCPs potentially disastrous.

— Henry the Fourth, Willoughby, Ohio

ANSWER: Contrast a balancing no-trump overcall of the opponents’ opening bid, which has a wide range, of 11-15 or so, and a one-no-trump opening bid in fourth seat, which remains 15-17. Your opening-bid structure is unchanged in fourth chair if there are three passes. But if an opponent opens in front of you, you want to bid when you hold a balanced minimum hand in protective seat, knowing partner has some values. It makes sense to balance with one no-trump, as opposed to doubling then bidding no-trump with the equivalent of a strong no-trump.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In a club duplicate at favorable vulnerability, I held SPADES A-10-6-3, HEARTS 4, DIAMONDS 9-3-2, CLUBS Q-J-8-7-6. In an uncontested auction my partner opened one heart, I responded one spade, my partner rebid two clubs, and now I had to decide how to proceed. Would you pass or raise? (And if you raise, would you pass your partner’s bid of three no-trump)?

— Dream Spinner, Holland, Mich.

ANSWER: This is easy for me — I can’t imagine doing anything but bidding three clubs, invitational. The real issue is whether to pass if partner bids three no-trump. I think not. I’d bid four clubs and apologize to partner if I’m wrong. The hand has too few potential tricks outside the trump suit, and the hearts won’t set up at no-trump.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent column North opened one spade and South responded one no-trump with SPADES 3, HEARTS Q-8-4, DIAMONDS K-Q-2, CLUBS A-10-9-8-7-3. Do some partnerships play a different system, or has the range for responding one no-trump to an opening bid changed from the standard 6-9 points?

— Old-Timer, Eau Claire, Wis.

ANSWER: Although Standard American has advanced somewhat with the use of the forcing no-trump in response to a major, I think a footnote might have been in order. When playing two-over-one game-forcing, partner will often use the forcing no-trump in response to a major, meaning opener cannot pass and may have to introduce a three-card minor at his second turn. Responder can then rebid two no-trump with a hand of this sort. That invites game and suggests 10-11 with no fit for partner.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner, holding SPADES A-7-6-5, HEARTS —, DIAMONDS Q-10-8-3-2, CLUBS K-J-8-6, heard one no-trump from me and two hearts to his right. He started with a cue-bid of three hearts, and I rebid three no-trump. Should he pass now? What if the opponents double? My partner actually chose to run to four diamonds. Should that be forcing?

— On the Run, Bristol, Va.

ANSWER: If you use Lebensohl (whereby direct three-level actions are forcing and two no-trump is artificial, asking partner to bid three clubs so that you can get out at the three-level), then a direct cue-bid denies a heart stop and acts as Stayman. Yes, it is game-forcing, but responder might occasionally take a view and pass if opener bails out at four of a minor. On your quoted auction I might well run from three no-trump if it were doubled — and then I think one could play in a partscore.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Members of my bridge group have varying opinions about the nature of a takeout double. For instance, when is a first double not for takeout? And does a takeout double require an answer if there is an intervening bid? Are there any other instances when a takeout double is used other than over an opening bid?

— Double Trouble, Elmira, N.Y.

ANSWER: All low-level doubles by a player at his first turn to speak (except after a no-trump opening or an overcall) tend to be takeout. Equally, whenever you bid or overcall, and your partner passes at his first turn, your second action of doubling also rates to be takeout. And when the opponents have agreed a suit, directly or inferentially, most doubles at a low level also tend to be takeout, not penalty. In summary, low-level doubles tend to be takeout till agreed to the contrary. You do not have to bid if the next hand acts in front of you.


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