Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What is the right way to signal when your partner leads a king (presumably from ace-king) and dummy has the guarded queen in that suit?

—  Counterbalance, Newport News, Va.

ANSWER: At a suit contract, if you hold a doubleton, you echo (high-low). If you have more, give count, with a high card suggesting an even number, and a low card suggesting an odd number. At no-trump I’d simply give count.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you do with SPADES A-Q-7-3-2, HEARTS K-10-3-2, DIAMONDS 10-4 CLUBS J-9, when your partner opens one diamond and rebids one no-trump over your one-spade response? Would you try for game, or settle for a partscore?

—  Max Headroom, San Antonio, Texas

ANSWER: Your hand does not look strong enough to try for game. (You have at best an eight-card fit in either major, and no more than 24 HCP.) I’d bid two hearts now, intending it as less than invitational values. With a better hand I’d start with two clubs, the New Minor, as a forcing relay.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How should opener rebid when he opens a suit, his LHO overcalls, after which partner makes a negative double. Are jumps forcing — and if not, what about a double jump?

—  Dick Diver, West Palm Beach, Fla.

  ANSWER: Let’s look at a minor-suit opening, a one heart overcall, and a negative double. Now your one-spade call suggests four and a dead minimum, or three spades in a balanced or semi-balanced hand without a heart stop. A jump to two spades suggests four spades and 14-15 points — potentially unbalanced. A jump to three spades is an unbalanced hand with 16 or 17 points and four spades, strongly invitational but not forcing.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In fourth seat how should I have developed the following hand: SPADES J-9-3-2, HEARTS A-K-4, DIAMONDS K-9, CLUBS Q-10-4-2 when my LHO opened two spades and my partner doubled? This was a team event with both sides vulnerable.

—  Leading Edge, Edmonton, Alberta

ANSWER: The choice is to bid three no-trump or pass for penalties. A club partscore has no attractions. I’m guessing we rate to set two spades doubled for 500. If declarer can take six spade tricks because dummy has a high spade honor and partner a singleton, maybe there won’t be any other high cards in dummy. Since game rates to be hard to make, I’d gamble a pass unless my LHO is known to be very sound.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Is there any real advantage to playing the version of keycard Blackwood currently recommended by Eddie Kantar, where a five-club response shows one or four keycards (counting the trump king as a keycard) and five diamonds shows none or three?

—  New Business, Durango, Colo.

ANSWER: The most important thing is to play a system both players know well. Accidentally forgetting part of your system will more than outweigh the minute gains of playing the very best possible methods. I’d say stick with what you know — and if that is old-fashioned, I’ve been called worse than that.


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