Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

When the opponents open a weak two-bid in a major and partner overcalls two no-trump, what responses do you recommend? Are regular systems on, so three clubs would be Stayman? What would it mean to transfer to their major, or to cuebid their major?

— Fired Up, Little Rock, Ark.

ANSWER: Simplest is to play “system on”: three clubs remains Stayman, and transferring to their suit shows both minors. An alternative is to play Stayman, and transferring to their suit is weak or strong in the other major, while bidding the other major directly is natural and invitational.

Dear Mr Wolff:

A couple of weeks ago I was defending against a four-spade contract. The dummy put down the cards with hearts in the position where trumps should have been. The lead was the diamond ace, a suit where dummy was void. The declarer asked dummy to ruff, and dummy ruffed it with a heart. What should be the ruling here?

— Mixed-Up Kid, Hamilton, Ontario

ANSWER: Dummy can’t disobey declarer’s instructions, so a spade must be substituted for the heart play. If this was not spotted till the next trick, it gets complicated — but if both opponents agree with my explanation, I think you should unravel the play to get equity restored.

Dear Mr Wolff:

You are dealer and vulnerable, holding SPADES A-9-8-7-2, HEARTS 10, DIAMONDS 10-2, CLUBS K-Q-8-6-4. Would you pass or open? If the latter, which suit would you bid? How would your answer change if not vulnerable in the third seat after two passes? And what if you were in fourth seat after three passes?

— Around the World, Hartford, Conn.

ANSWER: I’d pass in first or second seat (not because opening will fail to work out, but more to preserve partnership harmony). It’s not really an opening bid — though switch the spades and clubs and I might open. (If playing a strong club, I’d be inclined to open, though.) In third or fourth seat I’d open one spade at any vulnerability. I can see why one club might work (asking for a club lead), but in practice one spade is so much more pre-emptive.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

I was declarer in three no-trump. When I led a club, my RHO showed out, then subsequently followed with the club queen. A trick or two later we established this, and I asked her to restore the reneged card where it belonged. When the director came to the table, the offender explained what had happened and the director said “No penalty.” My RHO knew that by changing her earlier card, she would avoid the renege penalty. Was that ethical?

— Demanding Justice, Jackson, Tenn.

ANSWER: You learned – expensively — that the first thing you should always do as declarer, defender (or dummy!) is that when an infraction has been established, is to call the director. This does not come across as rude; it is his job, not yours, to enforce the rules. As to your opponent: I would not behave like that myself. I want to be able to face myself in the morning.

Dear Mr Wolff:

When my LHO opens one club, my partner overcalls one heart, and the next hand responds one spade, how should my two potential cue-bids by me (two clubs and two spades) be differentiated?

— Suzie Cue, Levittown, Pa.

ANSWER: With a choice of cue-bids, the higher one tends to be a better hand. Here, the lower cue-bid might just be a sound raise to the two-level (say9-11), while a two-spade call shows a sound raise to three hearts. For the record: many people give up a natural two-no-trump bid in competition to distinguish between three- and four-card support.


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