Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

What is the minimum one should hold to make a takeout double with an off-shape hand? I held SPADES K-J-2, HEARTS 10-8-7-5-3-2, DIAMONDS 5, CLUBS K-10-9 and heard my partner double a weak two-spade bid. I jumped to four hearts and passed his correction to five diamonds. He held a 3-0-6-4 pattern with a good suit but not much more than a minimum opening bid. Any comments?

— Hyperextended, Selma, Ala.

ANSWER: Double is not acceptable with only limited extras and a void in the unbid major. I’d expect him to overcall in diamonds, though you might not find it easy to stay low after that start. A double here might be acceptable with, perhaps, 4-6 in the red-suits, but never with heart shortage, unless partner has at least an ace more than a minimum opening bid.

Dear Mr Wolff:

I opened one diamond, and my partner bid Blackwood. When I responded five hearts, she bid six hearts. My RHO now led the space ace out of turn. I know if it is caught right away, my partner puts her hand down and I can ban the lead of a spade. But what if I put my hand down before someone realizes the error? Would it be too late, and would it make a difference if additional spades were played on the trick?

— New Kid on the Block, Canton, Ga.

ANSWER: As soon as your hand goes down, your partner becomes declarer, and play continues as if she really were declarer. It is only if the mistake is caught before dummy comes down that you get choices.

Dear Mr Wolff:

A recent problem in your column featured an auction in which responder to a two-no-trump opener transferred, then jumped to five no-trump. You suggested this jump might ask your partner to pick a slam. But why wouldn’t it be a Grand Slam Force?

— Isn’t It Grand, Boys? Torrance, Calif.

ANSWER: Since the response to Keycard Blackwood discloses trump honors, you normally need the Grand Slam Force nowadays only when you have a void. I use Texas transfers at the four-level, then can follow with either Keycard Blackwood or the grand slam force, Jacoby transfers at the three-level followed by a quantitative jump in no-trump, with the five no-trump call to get my partner to pick a slam.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

I’m quoting from some bidding advice of yours. You said, “Incidentally, with 15-16 points, one can open one no-trump here with a singleton spade honor, thus avoiding the whole rebid problem.” I thought I could always count on my partner having at least two cards in each suit when he bids one no-trump.

— One Is a Lonely Number, Mason City, Iowa

ANSWER: I don’t advocate opening an off-shape no-trump. But there are some awkward shapes with a high singleton spade honor, together with five clubs and a four-card red suit and 15-16 points. Here the inelegance of the alternative of opening one club and deciding what to do over a one-spade response might persuade me to settle for the no-trump opening. A singleton king is almost as useful as a small doubleton, isn’t it?

Dear Mr Wolff:

How do you respond in protective seat to a one-spade overcall by your partner? What strength do you need to cue-bid, what to raise, and when would you pass, giving up on game?

— Balancing Act, Greenville, S.C.

ANSWER: A balancing call of one spade has a lower limit of about a king less than in direct seat. So responder needs a king more than in direct seat for all his actions. With (say) three spades to an honor, I might raise obstructively to two spades with 8-11 points. With less I’d pass, and with more I’d cue-bid to show a limit raise. I’d expect my partner to double and then bid spades with a five-carder and 16 points.


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