Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

What is the best way to learn bridge? Did you start by playing pairs or team games, or did you learn rubber bridge first? And what would you recommend for me?

Absolute Beginner, Pleasanton, Calif.

When I learned, rubber bridge was far more common than it is now. So I think your chances for learning quickly would be improved by playing in a duplicate club. You can take classes as well as playing in events. Team strategy is easier to learn than pairs, I would say.

I had the following problem in a local duplicate and had no idea what to do next. My partner opened one spade, and I responded one no-trump holding ♠3, ♥7-3-2, ♦K-Q-10-3-2, ♣K-10-4-3-2. Now my partner bid two hearts, and I could think of nothing intelligent to say. What would you have done?

If the Hands Don’t Fit…, Durham, N.C.

There is no good answer here; passing may be disastrous facing a good hand with only four hearts, while bidding two no-trump might get your side overboard. Correcting to two spades also looks very dangerous. So pass and apologize effusively as you put dummy down.

Can you explain to me what happens when a player makes a slow bid and his partner might have taken an inference from the tempo of that call? Recently I removed a slow double of my partner (I thought I had a reason!), and the Director awarded an adjusted score but I did not understand why.

Swift Justice, Great Falls. Mont.

Very briefly: if your partner broke tempo and you subsequently took an action that might have been suggested by that tempo, and that was not the next-best thing to automatic, the Director may adjust the score. If he does so, he will have to work out what would have happened in the revised contract. In such cases the offending side normally gets the worst of it.

How would you respond to a three-heart pre-empt at unfavorable vulnerability, holding ♠K-10-3-2, ♥J-9, ♦A-J, ♣ A-Q-7-3-2? I passed, but caught my partner with seven solid hearts, which surprised me, since I was not expecting that much.

Undercooked, Greenville, S.C.

Pre-empts vary enormously according to position and vulnerability. Your partner appears to have a normal if maximum holding for a second seat pre-empt at unfavorable vulnerability, so you might conceivably have done more. In first chair I might open his hand at the one-level. Even a four-heart opening is conceivable, particularly if the side-suit pattern is not too balanced.

I assume you would open one diamond with this hand: ♠A-7-3-2, ♥K-J-4-2, ♦J-10-4, ♣Q-10. But if you do so and hear a two-club overcall, your partner will bid three clubs to show a limit raise or better in diamonds. What would you do now?

Risk Averse, Union City, Tenn.

I hate to bid three diamonds now — that could easily be a 4-3 fit. I’ll gamble out three no-trump serenely – I can survive if my partner has any of the missing top club honors. Presumably my LHO will never guess what is going on in the suit (unless I’ve bluffed him out before). Take away my club 10 or beef up my diamonds and I might go the other way. It is a close call, but bidding a major instead would be worse — it would guarantee real diamonds.

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


David WarheitNovember 6th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

If the Hands Don’t Fit’s hand has 14 cards in it.

ClarksburgNovember 6th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

One question started off with:

“…I assume you would open one diamond with this hand: SPADES A-7-3-2, HEARTS K-J-4-2, DIAMONDS J-10-4, CLUBS Q-10….”.

Is that hand really worth opening? If so, why?

Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2011 at 12:54 am

Hi David,

You are, of course right about 14 cards. It would be hard for me to imagine that it left my control with 14 cards, but I certainly cannot prove that and can only apologize for it.

Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2011 at 12:56 am

Hi Clarksburg,

The real me would pass that nothing special 11 pointer and if I did open it, I would bid 1 heart, but please do not tell anyone that.