Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What advice do you have on third-in-hand openings? Does your strategy vary depending on the form of scoring?

—  Holly Golightly, Atlanta, Ga.

ANSWER: I may open light at any form of scoring, but I much prefer a decent suit or a decent hand, no matter what the vulnerability. Give me four spades to the K-Q-10 and I might, if feeling frisky, open the hand with nothing else but a four-leaf clover. Conversely, not only is opening a balanced 11-count with four clubs to the jack less pre-emptive, but it often gets partner off to the wrong lead.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Do you agree with my partner’s biding? Holding SPADES Q-J-9, HEARTS A-Q-7-3-2, DIAMONDS K-10-3-2, CLUBS Q, he opened one heart and rebid two diamonds over my two-club response. I bid three clubs, natural and nonforcing, and he tried three no-trump – – down four when clubs were 4-1! I had seven clubs to the ace-jack and the spade ace.

—  Over the Top, Bellevue, Wash.

ANSWER: First of all, I agree with your actions — just. You obviously had nothing to spare for your bidding. But your partner had a minimum, an ill-fitting, hand with no source of tricks, and he could foresee the club blockage, even if you had six or seven decent clubs. Clearly, he should have passed three clubs.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What simple system can you recommend if the opponents double my partner’s Stayman inquiry over either a one- or two-no-trump opening bid?

—  Simple Simon, White Plains, N.Y.

ANSWER: Simple, and also maybe best, is to play redouble as a suggestion to play there, pass to deny a club stop, and all other responses normal but showing a club stop. Responder redoubles to use Stayman again, while all other continuations are as they would have been over a (hypothetical) two-diamond response, with two diamonds by responder being natural and nonforcing.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

Should I raise spades at once facing a one-spade opening and holding SPADES J-9-6-4, HEARTS Q-3-2, DIAMONDS A-K-Q-3-2, CLUBS 9? If so, do I make a limit raise, a game-bid, a splinter bid or a Jacoby two-no-trump response?

—  Explorer, Kenosha, Wis.

ANSWER: First things first: you are always going to game here even if you don’t always make it, and a jump to four spades is out, since that shows a weak hand. I normally don’t use Jacoby with a source of tricks, and the same logic applies to a splinter bid. But here I’d like partner to take charge so I think the splinter is fine. With the same hand but slightly better spades (maybe Q-J-6-4), I would bid two diamonds, then make the club splinter.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Say you hold a 5-4-2-2 pattern with a five-card minor with 17-19 HCP. If you open your long suit and your partner responds at the one-level, would you bid your second suit at a minimum level, or jump in it? And if you had the choice with five clubs and four diamonds, would you reverse to two diamonds or rebid two no-trump?

—  Showing the Range, Seneca, S.C.

ANSWER: With the choice of bidding my major at the one-level, or at the two-level to show 17-18 points, I’d almost always opt for the one-level rebid. My hand has not really been improved by my partner’s bidding my doubleton. With more, the game-forcing jump makes sense. I tend to rebid two no-trump (so long as I have the fourth suit stopped) on the second hand you describe, but with 5-4-3-1 pattern I’d reverse. This hand-pattern is essentially unbalanced.


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