Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I read in my ACBL bulletin that the recent spring nationals were a triumph for the younger players. Did you follow the results? Were there any surprises in the names who made it to the top?

—  Junior Jim, Charlottesville, Va.

ANSWER: The most successful player was Joel Wooldridge, who won two of the pair games and finished second in a third (then later won the U.S. trials to represent us in the Bermuda Bowl). Joel had played for the United States in Junior events for a full decade by the time he reached 26, so it was no surprise to see him at the top. And keep an eye on NAOP pairs winner Shane Blanchard, who is not only very promising but extremely inexperienced by comparison.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are your minimum requirements for an opening bid? What would you open with: SPADES Q-J-9-4, HEARTS A-Q-7, DIAMONDS K-3-2, CLUBS 10-9-2? And would the form of scoring or the vulnerability matter?

—  Open with Care, Palm Springs, Calif.

ANSWER: I’m much more inclined to open a real suit than a three-carder when balanced with a 12-count, though I do open most 12-counts. I’d be more inclined to open that hand when nonvulnerable. The form of scoring does not have a huge impact on my decision.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Often when I make a takeout double, I want to bid again because I have perfect shape though a minimum hand. Say I double one heart and it is raised to two hearts (or even to three hearts). If my partner passes, how much do I need to act again?

—  Caught in the Headlights, Muncie, Ind.

  ANSWER: I would always pass with a 4-4-4-1 pattern in the 11-14 range. I might have missed a penalty double when my partner has a trump stack, but equally there are many bad things that can happen if he does not! With a trump void I might reopen more aggressively, and with 15-plus and perfect shape I will bid again. However, the real problem comes with 17-19 and a 4-4-3-2 pattern. Bidding again may turn a plus score into a minus, while passing might miss a game.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Were there any new admissions to the ACBL Hall of Fame this year?

—  Star-Struck, Grenada, Miss.

ANSWER: No players were voted in. A large crop of women turned 60 this year and they may have kept one another out, since the voting procedure allows the voters to select only three names from the roster, no matter how many names are on that list. I was delighted, though, that Eric Kokish was admitted for his service to the game, and Russ Arnold for his long playing career.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How would you handle SPADES J-9, HEARTS K-J-2, DIAMONDS 10-8-7, CLUBS K-J-9-4-3 when you hear a strong no-trump on your left, three spades from partner and four hearts on your right? Is my hand more about offense than defense? I elected to pass, and found that our side had only one heart trick and that my partner had club length, not diamond length. So a save would have been comparatively cheap.

—  Non-Combatant, Galveston, Texas

ANSWER: You made a sensible call in my opinion. Change your hearts to ace-third and the save looks more attractive — but it could still backfire badly. When the opponents have guessed what to do, as here, sacrificing often gives them a fielder’s choice.


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