Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday July 24th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

You’ve mentioned McCabe in a recent answer as a gadget available after the opponents intervene over your partner’s weak-two bid. Can you run through this in greater detail please?

— Detail-Oriented, Honolulu, Hawaii

ANSWER: McCabe only applies after a weak-two is doubled by the next hand. Responder can pass, bid a new suit at the two-level, or raise naturally. Redouble shows a good hand, a new suit at the three-level shows tolerance for partner and is lead-directing, jumps are fit-showing with a real side-suit. To sign off in a minor, bid two no-trump to puppet three clubs from your partner. This method lets you help partner in the auction and on lead.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Is there a penalty when a player who is not the dealer reaches into the bidding box for a call, but is corrected before the bid hits the table? Her partner did not see the precise bid, but knew she was going to open.

— Jumping the Gun, Macon, Ga.

ANSWER: I take a very relaxed view here. Yes, there is some unauthorized information to the bidder’s partner, but not enough to influence the likely course of events. As an opponent I’d tell the partner to ignore what she’d seen, and just make her normal call.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I have a problem in carding as a defender on the second round of a suit partner has led. Should I signal attitude, count, or suit preference?

— Semaphore, White Plains, N.Y.

ANSWER: You never ever give attitude on the second round of a suit. Sometimes — perhaps half the time, or even more — your signal on the second round will show count, but only when that might be relevant to your partner. In the other cases in the early play there may be some suit preference signaling — a high card for the higher of the other side-suits and a low card for the lower suit.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent problem, you held SPADES K-8-4, HEARTS Q-5-4-2, DIAMONDS A-3-2, CLUBS 10-7-6. What are the merits of raising a one-heart opening to two, as opposed to making a limit raise to three hearts?

— Level-Headed, Kenosha, Wis.

ANSWER: Before we start, let’s agree that this hand is on the cusp of those two actions. It is indeed for that reason that Bergen raises (which differentiate between pre-emptive, mixed and limit raises) have become popular. But in the absence of such methods, I have three key-cards for partner, so will stretch to a limit bid of three hearts. Switch the location of my queen and king, and two hearts is enough, since the queen might be nearly worthless.

Dear Mr Wolff:

What qualifications should a suit satisfy for a pre-empt on opening bid as opposed to the qualifications for a pre-emptive overcall?

— Feeling Jumpy, Huntington, W.Va.

ANSWER: My position may not be entirely logical, but I tend to open pre-empts only with decent suits or with extra playing strength when vulnerable or in second seat. At favorable vulnerability I’m less disciplined than when both sides are nonvulnerable. When vulnerable, my jump overcalls might be closer to intermediate strength, but nonvulnerable I might yield to temptation and act to get in the opponents’ way with a less appetizing holding.


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