Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What are my ethical obligations if my RHO plays a card and I realize that I have not played immediately, even though I have no problem? Should I say something, or would that make matters worse?

—  Time Sensitive, Eau Claire, Wis.

ANSWER: In the first instance, the correct solution is to try to play every card in consistent tempo, and that means not playing too fast, even if you have a singleton or no problem. If you realize you have broken tempo with a singleton, you probably do best to apologize and say “I’m sorry, I didn’t see your card” or words to that effect.


By the way, pausing as third hand at trick one is always acceptable.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How should I have responded to my partner’s two-club opening when I held SPADES J-9, HEARTS -3-2, DIAMONDS K-10-3, CLUBS Q-J-10-4-3-2? I did not think this hand was strong enough for a three-club bid, so I responded two diamonds. When my partner now rebid two spades, I could not bid three clubs, since we play this to be a second negative, with two no-trump showing scattered values. Any thoughts?

—  Caught in the Middle, Dallas, Texas

ANSWER: I agree with bidding two diamonds (unless you held a decent minor suit — this one does not quite qualify. One possible way to show moderate hands with clubs is to subvert the immediate two-no-trump response to two clubs to make it show a club suit and these values. With a balanced positive, start by bidding two diamonds to conserve space.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

How does one ask for kings after using Gerber? Is there more than one sensible option?

—  Royal Hunt, Raleigh, N.C.

ANSWER: Before answering the question, I should say that I tend to use Gerber as a jump, and only after no-trump openings or rebids. In that context, after the ace response, I prefer to use five clubs as key-card. Sliding Gerber (where the next step asks for kings) works perfectly well, but requires partnership agreement.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

What would you bid after your RHO opened one heart and you held SPADES J-9-7-5-2, HEARTS 3, DIAMONDS K-10-3-2, CLUBS A-Q-4? I assume you would act rather than pass, but with such weak spades and a hand worth only one bid, would you double instead of making a one-spade overcall?

—  Direct Hit, Honolulu, Hawaii

ANSWER: I feel strongly that when you have spades, you should bid them rather than risk losing the 5-3 fit. However, as you surmised, with weak spades and a minimum hand for an overcall there is a second side to this case. The combination of circumstances makes double reasonable, but I’m still marginally in the camp of “spades first, questions afterwards.”

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How old does one have to be to play in Senior Events in the United States? Is the age requirement the same the world over?

—  Up There, Hartford, Conn.

ANSWER: Somewhat paradoxically, the ACBL retained a lower age limit of 55 while the World Bridge Federation upped the requirement to 60. The ACBL will sooner or later conform to the WBF rule, but for now, it is 55.


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