Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Why is it a good idea to play two-suit transfers into the majors? Would four-suit transfers be better, so that you have a bid to show each of the minors? I rarely have hands with which I want to play a partscore in the minor facing a no-trump opening bid.

—  Luddite, Orlando, Fla.

ANSWER: While there is no single best transfer scheme, using a two-spade response to one no-trump to show clubs, and using three clubs to show diamonds, keeping a two-no-trump call as natural, is both simple and easy to remember. What you do after that may require considerably more discussion, of course. But one employs these methods to improve bidding to slam and game — not to find a way to play the best partscore.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you bid with SPADES K-10-3-2, HEARTS 10-4, DIAMONDS J-9, CLUBS A-Q-7-3-2 if your partner opens one club and the next hand overcalls one spade? Is this hand worth a club raise, or a no-trump bid — or something else?

—  Tea Strainer, Levittown, Pa.

ANSWER: If you gave me just one guess, I’d say it was right to bid one no-trump but to compete in clubs if the opponents bid a red suit. The attraction of bidding one no-trump is that you hope partner will be able to act again if he has either shape or reasonable extras, or both.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Are there some simple rules that will help me master the general principles of how suits break?

—  Numbers Nut, Mitchell, S.D.

  ANSWER: Leaving aside the rule that when you are missing two cards, it is a toss-up whether you play for the drop, the simple rule is this: An even number of cards are most likely NOT breaking evenly (call the even break a one-third chance). An odd number of cards rate to break as evenly as possible — this has a two-thirds likelihood. Everything else follows from there.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I was playing with a very strong partner, who sometimes assumed I knew (or remembered!) more than I did. How would you cope with SPADES J-7-4-2, HEARTS A-2, DIAMONDS K-10-8-6-2, CLUBS A-4 after you opened one diamond, yout LHO overcalled one spade, and partner bid three spades?

—  Mister Memory, Portland, Ore.

ANSWER: A jump cue-bid here should have a very precise meaning. It is a raise in diamonds with a singleton spade — in other words, a splinter raise. Your hand is not suitable for no-trump, but it is very suitable for diamonds. (Imagine partner with the heart and club kings, plus five diamonds to the ace.) Cue-bid four clubs now — don’t even think of bidding three no-trump or closing out the auction at five diamonds.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you respond to a two-heart opening if you held: SPADES Q-J-7, HEARTS A-9-7-3, DIAMONDS K-9-2, CLUBS Q-10-4? How would you rate passing, raising, or inquiring with two no-trump?

—  Moving Up, Madison, Wis.

ANSWER: I have enough values to expect the opponents not to make game anywhere. The choice is to raise to three hearts at once (maybe that will suck my opponents in?) or to pass and bid up to three hearts if necessary. Either approach makes sense. I favor the latter, but it is close.


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