Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In second seat I was holding SPADES Q-9-3, HEARTS K-9-4-2, DIAMONDS A-Q-J-3, CLUBS 7-4 and my RHO opened one spade. Do you approve of my doubling here? What would your plan be if your partner bids two clubs? Can you escape from the pit you have dug for yourself?

—  Spelunker, Mitchell, S.D.

ANSWER: Let me take the second question first. If you double and your partner bids clubs, you must pass. Grin and bear it, as they say. Should you double? Well, no one is more aggressive about doubling than I, but I might pass. Throw in the club queen and I’d feel compelled to risk the double. However, I will happily double a minor with a doubleton in the other minor.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

As someone who believes in playing weak jumps in competition, I’m not sure whether to play these methods when facing an overcall, when third hand acts, or whether all bets about weak jumps are off by a passed hand. Where do you stand here?

—  Hopalong Cassidy, White Plains, N.Y.

ANSWER: I strongly believe that weak jumps in new suits (as opposed to weak jump raises) are wrong facing an overcall — you can’t fool opponents who are both bidding. Likewise, jumps by a passed hand can’t sensibly be played as pre-emptive. If you had that hand, you’d have bid already. In both cases I play a jump as promising a fit for partner and showing a suit I want partner to lead — ideally, a five-carder headed by at least two of the top four cards.

  Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner, with SPADES A-7-2, HEARTS A-K-9-5-4, DIAMONDS 3, CLUBS 10-8-7-4, opened one heart in first seat; I’m not sure I agree with that, but never mind. The question is what to rebid after I responded two diamonds, natural and game-forcing. His choice of three clubs got us way too high, but he said that this call did not promise extras in high cards or shape. What do you say?

—  On My Uppers, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

ANSWER: Wild horses would not drag a three-club call from me. I’d rebid two hearts, not promising a sixth heart, although I could understand a two-no-trump call. For me, a three-club bid shows some extras or 5-5. I would open the hand because of the controls and the good suit, though.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I’m a bit confused as to how the forcing no-trump affects the ability to raise partner constructively. Don’t you always raises partner’s major if you have three-card support?

—  Helping Hand, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

ANSWER: One can get to two of a major either directly or through a forcing no-trump response. I’d say the direct raise was constructive, suggesting a good seven to 10 points. Going through one no-trump, then giving preference to spades, shows either a doubleton spade or three trumps with a dead minimum hand.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

One of my opponents held SPADES Q-J-3-2, HEARTS A-10-8-7-4, DIAMONDS Q-3, CLUBS 9-5. When his partner opened one club, he responded one heart, then passed the one-no-trump rebid. They missed their 4-4 spade fit (declarer was 4-3-3-3). Who is to blame?

—  Missing in Action, Wausau, Wis.

ANSWER: Curiously I blame no one. Opener concealed his spades at his second turn, perhaps because a one-spade rebid would have promised real clubs. Responder did not have the values to explore for a fit and was reluctant to repeat such feeble hearts. I might have had the same accident myself!


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


JaneNovember 20th, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

I have a question about a hand from the Swiss event recently at our tournament. I held Txxx, AKxx, AJTxx and as opener chose one diamond. My LHO passed and partner bid two clubs (of course he would bid two clubs, my partners hate me!) my RHO bids two spades. I passed, my LHO passed and my partner now bids three spades. (He still hates me, as our agreement does not promise a spade stop by him). I bid four hearts and he passed. He holds Qx, xxx, KQX, KQJT9. Four hearts does not make, five diamonds does, but two spades doubled does not fare well for the opps. My suggestion to partner would have been to reopen with a double instead of bidding three spades since I can not count on him for a spade stop, which he did have this time. Three NT does not make either. What would you suggest as a better way to manage this auction for both of us?

Thanks in advance, as always.

Bobby WolffNovember 21st, 2011 at 12:49 am

Hi Jane,

Believe it or not, I sympathize with both you and your partner.

Yes, in the modern game a double by your partner (sitting in front of the overcaller) is takeout and requests from you to do something intelligent. While it is possible to pass with your hand, I, like you did to a 3 spade bid by partner, would opt for 4 hearts, but if partner would have doubled I might be wrong to now bid anything other than pass, (although a jump to 4 hearts becomes tempting) since I do have 4 spades to the ten and partner is likely to have a more or less balanced hand with club values.

Since most of our players are not up with the very high-level game, partner’s bid of 3 spades carries a similar message as would double, but the minus is that you cannot pass his cue bid, while you might decide to pass his competitive TO dbl. Chalk it up to a learning experience and discuss it with partner that in a competitive sequence (opponents being in the bidding) and sitting in front of the bidder, doubles become TO.

I agree with others who say that it takes me so long to answer a simple question.