Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 13th, 2012

I know I'm supposed to lead top of a sequence, and as third hand I'm supposed to play the lowest of a touching sequence when trying to win the trick. Is there a rule as to what card I should play from a sequence when declarer leads a suit — or, as declarer, whether I should win the trick with the lower or higher card from a sequence to make my opponents' life harder?

Mercy Me, Pottsville, Pa.

As declarer, win the trick with the higher card from a sequence. (In fact, as declarer, always follow with the higher card from equals, except at trick one in no-trump, when you should win the king from ace-king). This is the most deceptive strategy. As a defender, follow with the lower card from a sequence when in second seat.

Playing pairs, I was in second chair with no one vulnerable, holding ♠ Q-J-7-3-2,  K-4,  9-8-5-2, ♣ K-10 while my partner had ♠ A-10-9-6,  5-3,  A-J-10-7, ♣ A-5-4. I passed at my first turn, of course, and my LHO's three-club opening bid was passed out. The contract went down a trick, but we still scored very poorly. Should either of us have acted over the pre-empt?

Calamity Jake, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Fourth hand has a balanced minimum opening — one that could not comfortably bid over ONE club. Just because your opponents pre-empted is no reason to go mad. Can a passed hand balance with three spades here with your cards? I say maybe; change your cards to include a singleton club and you might have an easier action. I suspect the three-club call was off-center — and you were just fixed.

Are there some general guidelines as to when a redouble should be SOS as opposed to business?

Redouble Trouble, Aurora, Colo.

The simple answer is that anytime the double is penalty, a redouble from either hand should be rescue. The utility factor of redoubling a making contract is that you stand to gain very little, so the redouble should mean something else. In other words, we've made a mistake — not they've made a mistake. In all other cases, a redouble should show extra values if the double was not penalty.

Holding ♠ K-Q-2,  —,  A-K-J-10-9-8-5, ♣ K-Q-2, I bid one diamond, and my partner responded one heart. I guessed to bid three diamonds, knowing it was something of an underbid, but my partner passed, holding two small diamonds with the spade ace and heart ace-queen, and four small clubs. Five diamonds was cold, and six was makable if I finessed for the diamond queen. I thought he should have gambled out three no-trump, but how should the bidding have gone?

The Grinch, Monterey, Calif.

Slam is indeed good but far from laydown. On your actual auction you made a small underbid — but a reasonable one — with three diamonds, while your partner has a crystal-clear call of three no-trump. He won't always make it, but with 10 points and a balanced hand, he has no choice but to try for game.

Recently I was in second seat when my RHO bid two of a suit, which was strong and forcing, I passed, and so did my LHO! At this point, dealer claimed that his call was a demand bid and his partner HAD to respond. One player said that third hand's call was legitimate, and after fourth hand had passed, that closed the bidding. How should this issue have been handled?

Connect the Dots, Bellingham, Wash.

The rules are relatively clear here. A player does not get to alter his bid if he changes his mind or his partner tries to change his mind for him (or her). So when third hand passes two hearts — deliberately or not — that's it. Just because a call is forcing does not mean that a player has to bid — or that a law is broken if he doesn't. His partner's heart may be broken, but that is another matter.

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