Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In your column two weeks ago you printed a letter from a couple who wanted to learn to play bridge and had no resources where they lived. A good place to learn is at, where they have great teachers and mentors. I hope you will pass this on. Also, since there is no sanctioned club where I live either, I play online at BBO and really enjoy the site and the people there.

—  Hot Tip, Elephant Butte, New Mexico

ANSWER: Thanks for the excellent suggestion; I’m delighted to share your enthusiasm with my readers. Any way that we can encourage people to play makes me happy.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

In fourth chair I held SPADES J-7-4, HEARTS K-Q-9-8-6, DIAMONDS J-2, CLUBS A-9-3. With three passes to me, can you tell me what my thoughts should be on opening the bidding?

—  Silent Partner, Worcester, Mass.

ANSWER: One approach is to add your spades to your high cards and only act with 15 or more. It is a good idea, but ignores important information, such as the form of scoring and the vulnerability. If your side is vulnerable and opponents not, your RHO would have opened with any excuse. I’d open the bidding if my opponents were not vulnerable and pass if they were vulnerable — when it may be that my LHO has a better hand than I do.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Playing at a local club, I was dealer. After the opponents had bid and raised diamonds, I doubled. My LHO passed and my partner doubled again! The director was called and after the situation was explained, he ruled that my partner would have to pass because she could not make her bid sufficient. Later, I was told that because this situation was not covered in the rule book, the director had to use his judgment as to the best solution. Therefore the ruling could not be protested. Was he right?

—  Railroaded, Houston, Texas

  ANSWER: Per law 36: the second double is canceled, another call may be substituted, and the partner of the offender must pass throughout thereafter, and there may be lead penalties. The law does look perfectly clear — and easy to spot!

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner held SPADES Q-9-3, HEARTS 9-5-4, DIAMONDS Q-J-3, CLUBS 10-8-7-4. The auction started with a four-heart bid on her right and a double from me (primarily for takeout). She passed, saying she was too weak to bid. Was this decision correct? The opponents had nine heart tricks and an ace to cash, while five clubs our way was close to making.

—  Hello Out There, Laredo, Texas

ANSWER: Imagine that your hand had been a strong no-trump with the doubleton heart king and three clubs to the queen. Would you have been so enthusiastic to hear your partner bid? I think not. Bidding is not an exact science, and I would only remove the double of a four-level call to a four-card major, or if I had shape or serious expectations of making my contract.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently you advised that a hand with eight high-card points should pass after hearing his partner bid first one club, then two diamonds, after you had made a negative double of a one-heart overcall. You said because he bid both minors cheaply, this does not show extras. In the ACBL magazine, in a series on reverse bidding, iit says this bid shows at least 17 points. Who is right?

—  All Shook Up, Nashville, Tenn.

ANSWER: Let’s distinguish between two critical auctions here. A reverse occurs when you bid clubs, then diamonds, after partner has bid a suit. The reverse forces preference at the three-level. But if they overcall and you double, partner’s bid of two diamonds is simply bidding one of your suits at the lowest level. Because the raise comes at a minimum level, it denies extras.


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