Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 25th, 2012

My parents taught me bridge many years ago using the Goren Point Count system, where extra points are given for voids, doubletons, and singletons. I continue to play rubber bridge socially with friends and at some point I was told that one can't count both the high-card value and the shortage value if the honor in unprotected. Is this true?

The Long and the Short of It, San Ramon, Calif.

I suggest you don’t add points for shortness in suits where there are honors. While I do advocate adding points for shortness when you have found a fit, I think one should be very careful about it — and only do it when in doubt. Treat a singleton king as worth LESS than face value.

Just recently I picked up a remarkably good hand: ♠ A-Q-J-7-3-2,  9,  K-Q-J, ♣ K-Q-4. My left-hand opponent opened four hearts nonvulnerable. My partner doubled — card-showing. Can you suggest what the various possibilities might be now? Would four no-trump be Blackwood here? If not, what would it be? I actually jumped to six spades and lost just the heart ace.

Shooting Star, Little Rock, Ark.

Your bidding was just perfect. If feeling ambitious, I would have looked for a grand slam one of two ways: cue-bid, then bid six spades, or bid four no-trump — implicitly minors — then follow up with a bid of six spades). Over a double of four of a major, a bid of four no-trump is a two-suiter, implicitly the minors, not Blackwood.

We play both Jacoby and Texas transfers. How should we continue when the transfer bid is doubled?

Doubled and Vulnerable, Janesville, Wis.

Over a Jacoby transfer (which is not game-forcing), use the pass as showing only a doubleton trump in support for partner. That lets him redouble to get back into the transfer sequences, or bid a new suit to suggest a two-suiter with invitational values and the desire to compete further. Over the Texas transfer, in itself game-forcing, complete the transfer if you want to be declarer on the lead of the doubled suit, or pass it around to partner with a vulnerable holding.

Recently, you advised against using MUD from three cards when on lead. Please explain what your reasoning is. I do sometimes use MUD when I do not have a sequence, and a trump lead might give declarer a free finesse.

Ask Alice, Raleigh, N. C.

Leading from three small is not an offense; my point was more about the card you should select. The problem with leading the middle card is that it often causes partner a problem in reading your length and strength. He may find out by the second round of the suit — but often by then it may be too late. I tend to lead low unless I've shown three-plus cards in that suit, when I can lead high and hopefully eliminate the ambiguity.

I had sympathy with one of my opponents, who did very much the wrong thing holding ♠ K-7,  Q-4-2,  A-Q-10-5-3, ♣ J-10-4. He overcalled two diamonds over one heart with nobody vulnerable, and when this was doubled on his left, he passed of course. I sat it out with five decent diamonds and 11 points. Down a remarkable 800! Was this bid so bad?

Trapped, Bristol, Va.

For years I've been preaching against overcalling at the two-level with suits like this, especially with weak length in the opponents' suit. It won't always backfire, but it makes the overcaller's partner's life impossible if a player will bid both with this hand and the same hand where the heart two is the diamond king. Don't overcall at the two-level unless you have a six-carder, or a good hand with a very good five-carder. The same hand with the diamond king instead of the three is just fine.

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact