Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 20th, 2012

What should be the range for overcalling one no-trump in direct seat, and what in balancing seat?

Susie Q, Dover, Del.

The overcall in direct seat won't include all 15-counts, and may include some 18-counts. It should always deliver a stopper in the opponent's suit. You might make an exception with a completely balanced hand over an opening bid of one club,- since that call doesn't really promise club length. In balancing seat the modern expert community tends to play a range of 11-16 over a major, and 10-14 over a minor. You cannot afford to let the auction die with anything approaching an opening bid.

Playing pairs, at favorable vulnerability, you are in second seat with ♠ K-10-6-4-2,  —,  A-6-3-2, ♣ 10-9-7-6. Over one diamond would you act? And if you pass and hear one heart on your left and two hearts on your right, would you change your mind and act now?

The Penguin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I would overcall one spade. The upside of bidding with a heart void is that you make the opponents introduce the suit a level higher. Your LHO, with five hearts and scattered values, may not be able to bid hearts, or may double, or may bid when he shouldn't. I would bid two spades at my second turn, though that normally shows an opening bid with diamond length and maybe only four spades.

What is the correct procedure to follow when contesting a claim by either declarer or the defenders?

Secretary Bird, Cartersville, Ga.

Play should cease after a claim. The most important step is to call the tournament director, politely, before anything further happens. The director should ask the claimer to state a line of play, and then you can point out why you think this claim is ineffective. Normally a claimer will not be forced to make an irrational play, but may be forced to follow an inferior line if he has not made a complete statement.

My partner and I recently played in a club game. I was in third chair with: ♠ K-10-4,  9-5-4-2,  K-6-4, ♣ A-8-2 and heard my partner open one diamond. After an overcall of one spade, I made a negative double. Were my hearts too weak for this action? Should I have bid one no-trump instead?

The Sign of the Four, Montreal

There is no suit restriction on the negative double. You'll almost always want to find a 4-4 heart fit if you have one since your spade stop is not very strong . Once in a while you will bypass a weak four-card major, but not here.

I just finished reading "The Lone Wolff." I enjoyed it immensely and thought it was excellent. Do you have any plans to write another book?

Constant Reader, Holland, Mich.

I may never write another book, but I'm happy with the reception this one got. I think I've brought the world up to date with my original thoughts, and whenever new ideas occur to me, I put them on my blog. You can follow this (and the contributions of my wife, Judy) at

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