Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

If the opponents bid two suits, or imply two suits via a cue-bid or the equivalent, what does bidding the opponents’ suits mean?

— Echo Canyon, Elmira, N.Y.

ANSWER: This is a big topic. Let’s start with Unusual Over Unusual. If the opponents make a Michaels cue-bid or use the unusual no-trump, we have two suits we can cue-bid. Best (by no means entirely standard) is to use the highest available cue-bid below three of our suit as a limit raise. The other cue-bid shows the fourth (unbid) suit in a good hand, while bidding the fourth suit directly is natural and nonforcing. I’ll come back to this topic.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I held SPADES K-6-5, HEARTS A-Q-9-5-2, DIAMONDS Q-8, CLUBS A-6-3. Meanwhile my LHO opened a weak two diamonds, and my partner overcalled two no-trump to show a strong no-trump. I now wanted to get to slam but was not sure how. I actually chose Stayman, then bid six no-trump when no heart fit came to light. But six hearts was far and away our best spot.

— At Loose Ends, Kansas City, Mo.

ANSWER: Assuming you play the same methods responding to an overcall of two no-trump as you would for the opening bid, I think the best approach is to transfer to hearts, then jump to five no-trump to offer a choice of slams. I could easily imagine that our best slam was any of the four strains other than diamonds. Your partner can raise hearts, bid his own five-carder, or settle for six no-trump.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Do you approve of third hand taking time before playing to the first trick no matter what his holding? What if third hand wants to think about the hand but has a singleton in the suit led?

— Marking Time, Seattle, Wash.

ANSWER: This is a knotty problem. I like to plan my defense and will therefore pause at trick one, especially if declarer plays fast from the board. With a singleton I may comment that I’m thinking about the whole hand, or instead play in tempo but then pause at the end of trick one.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

In first seat I passed with SPADES Q-5-4, HEARTS A-J-7-3-2, DIAMONDS A-10-7, CLUBS 9-4 and heard my partner open one spade in third chair. We do play Drury in response, but would you take that action here? Would it be enough if your partner signs off in two spades over your two-club bid?

— Uphill Stall, Pittsburgh, Pa.

ANSWER: To recap: When you pass and partner opens a major, a two-club response shows a maximum pass and a fit. Opener (if you are using Reverse Drury, as most do these days) signs off in two of the major, or bids two diamonds artificially to show game interest, with all higher direct actions being slam tries. Using Drury with your hand is fine. You plan to pass the two-spade response; or you can jump to three hearts, which, by a passed hand, should be a spade fit and a good heart suit.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I did not know how to handle the following “powerhouse”: SPADES 4, HEARTS 10-2, DIAMONDS K-10-7-6, CLUBS Q-10-9-4-3-2. With both sides vulnerable I heard one spade on my right, two spades on my left, and double from my partner. After the opponents raised to three spades, I passed and my partner balanced with a second double. What does that mean? What should I have done?

— Stymied, Duluth, Minn.

ANSWER: The second double is extras, and still takesout. I’m torn between jumping to five clubs and bidding four no-trump (not Blackwood, but asking partner to pick a minor). The hand rates to play better partner’s way up, and in a 4-4 fit, rather than a 5-3 club fit. In context you have a GREAT hand.


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