Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Recently at duplicate (unfortunately not at rubber) I held SPADES A-K-Q-J-4, HEARTS —, DIAMONDS A-K-Q-J-7-2, CLUBS A-3. Would you have opened one diamond or two clubs, and what would you rebid if you went for the artificial call? Would you introduce the major first or bid diamonds?

—  Heavy-Handed, Manhattan, N.Y.

ANSWER: You pays your money and you takes your choice! If they pass over two clubs, you may still find it hard to describe your hand. If they compete, you may well not get your hand across easily. If your clubs were the doubleton king or queen instead, opening one diamond might be right. As it is, though, I’d vote strongly for two clubs, planning to bid diamonds before spades. I don’t want partner responding with flat three-counts in case I have a hand like this.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

How hard is the Seniors’ game compared to the open? I notice you have been playing in the Seniors’ events recently and I wonder if there is a measurable difference.

—  Young at Heart, West Palm Beach, Fla.

ANSWER: I have qualified for the senior world championships on a couple of occasions recently, including the current year. In doing so, we had to beat plenty of former world champions within the U.S.A. to make the team. Equally, in the world events most players had previously represented their country at the open level, so I feel quite comfortable in saying that there is no appreciable decline in standards in these events.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

When you have a hand such as: SPADES J-7-4, HEARTS K-6, DIAMONDS Q-10-9-7-3-2, CLUBS A-9 and hear a suit bid opened to your right, how do you feel about making a jump overcall as opposed to a two-level overcall? Would the vulnerability matter?

—  Raising Arizona, Phoenix, Ariz.

  ANSWER: Yes. When I am vulnerable, my jump overcalls are closer to intermediate than weak (which means on the sample hand I’d need the diamond king instead of the two). Nonvulnerable I’d also rate the hand as holding too much defense for a pre-emptive jump, so I would settle for a simple overcall at any vulnerability.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My LHO opened one club and my partner doubled. My RHO bid two clubs. I passed as did my LHO. My partner doubled again. The question is, was this second double a takeout double? The ‘A’ players in our duplicate bridge club say yes — what say you?

—  Advise and Consent, Vancouver, British Columbia

ANSWER: The ‘A’ players have it right and the reason is that once you start by showing one sort of hand you really can’t change at will. Such second-round actions are simply “more of the same.” All low-level doubles facing a partner who can’t act rate to be takeout. The point is that if you have a balanced 15-17, you’d have bid no-trump already; with 18-20 you know you are facing weakness, so your choice is to bid two no-trump or to pass and try to beat them. Hence, double is takeout plus extras.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

My partner, who held SPADES Q-9-3-2, HEARTS 9-4, DIAMONDS Q-J-3, CLUBS A-Q-7-4, heard me overcall three spades over a three heart pre-empt. How would you judge his hand – what else can he do but bid four spades?

—  Worried Walter, Riverside, Calif.

ANSWER: You ask a very sensible question and one to which the answer would appear to be what you suggest — namely, all he can do is bid four spades because any other action would take you past your safety-level. But in the expert community many would say that a four-heart bid here is NOT a cue-bid, but simply a slam-try in support of spades. Don’t try this at home without agreement.


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