Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 26th, 2012

How do you feel about overcalling on a four-card suit? For example, if you held ♠ 3-2,  A-Q-10-7,  A-Q-7-2, ♣ J-10-4, would you consider overcalling one heart over an opening bid of one club or one diamond? If yes, would you feel the same way if the hand was somewhat weaker — say the diamond suit with the nine instead of the queen?

Short-Change Artist, Newark, N.J.

Overcalling on a good four-card suit with opening values makes sense only if you have a little extra shape on the side. In other words, don't do it with a 4-3-3-3 pattern. Your example looks like a reasonable one-heart overcall rather than one diamond.

What is the best use for Stayman in response to your partner's opening bid of one no-trump, followed by converting the response of a red suit to two spades? Should it be weak, strong or invitational?

A Bid for All Seasons, Springfield, Mass.

I think it is unrewarding to use the sequence as weak with both majors and longer spades. (Transfer to spades with that hand.) And with game-forcing hands you can start with a transfer rather than Stayman. However, a difficult hand to describe is one that is unbalanced and invitational with five spades (either a 5-4-3-1 or 5-5 pattern). So that is what I use the sequence for.

When you double an opening bid and the next hand redoubles, is your partner's pass for penalty? I would have thought so if the suit opened was a potentially short minor, but if that is not the case, how does the doubler rescue himself when he has one good suit and one weak one? For example, after one diamond is doubled and redoubled, what should the doubler do at his next turn with: ♠ A-Q-3-2,  10-7-4-3,  Q-9, ♣ A-K-10?

Panic-Stricken, San Francisco, Calif.

I believe the pass is best played as "nothing to say," not for penalties. As the doubler, your responsibility is to show quantity, not quality. Here bid one heart and rely on your partner to remove if he cannot stand the contract. Just for the record, your partner should always bid the cheapest rescue suit himself if he has four cards in it — in this case by bidding one heart over the redouble, which is not lead-directing.

In our private game we had the two hands below and had to try to reach the best spot. What would you have recommended? The dealer had ♠ A-K-J-10,  A-Q-7-5-4,  A-K-Q-J, ♣ –; the responder held ♠ 9-8-3-2,  J,  9-2, ♣ A-Q-J-8-5-3.

Best Fit Forward, Miami, Fla.

I think I'd respond three clubs to the two club opening bid. Now the strong hand bids hearts, the weak hand spades, and the strong hand jumps to five no-trump. This last call is the grand slam force: "Tell me how many trump honors you have!" After the response to show zero, the partnership comes to a stop in six spades.

I have been following the junior tournaments from around the world on BBO and I haven't seen the U.S. players do well recently. Are there any encouraging signs for the future?

Looking Forward, Twin Falls, Idaho

There are always good individuals; we sometimes have to rely on organizers to put them together and train them — no easy task. I note, though, that in countries where bridge is part of the curriculum or has Olympic training schemes in place — especially Israel and Poland — results have been stellar in the last decade. Perhaps we need to work harder to match this!

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

1 Comment

bobby wolffSeptember 9th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for my mindspring mailbox overflowing. However, it has now been repaired and normal service has been restored.

Bobby Wolff