Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

What is the right way to respond to a pre-emptive opening of two diamonds with a good hand and a major — for example, ♠ A-10-4,  K-Q-J-7-4,  J-9, ♣ K-J-2? Should I relay with two no-trump, or should I bid two hearts? And is the latter call forcing, invitational or weak?

Pick and Roll, Troy, N.Y.

Here, a two-heart call is natural and forcing, but not to game, and is the right way to advance. That is all your hand is worth; if you are facing a hand such as six diamonds to the ace-king, you will be struggling to make three no-trump. And you could be facing less.

Is there any correlation between skill at bridge and talent in any other game, pastime or profession? I believe that bridge and chess do go together — but not in an especially strong way.

Missing Link, Union City, Tenn.

I think most excellent bridge players are good gamblers, who can quickly calculate odds in their heads. For many years there was a very strong link between Options Trading and bridge in New York City. I think good bridge players tend to be good at most mental games. There are also many excellent bridge-players who are talented pianists (but far fewer play any other instrument well).

In responding to an opening bid,: exactly where should I draw the line on weak hands without a fit? For example, if I held ♠ Q-9-8-3-2,  4,  Q-9-7-3, ♣ 6-4-2 should I respond one spade to an opening bid of one heart? What about in response to one club? My instincts tell me that the answer might vary depending on vulnerability and scoring. Is that right?

Jumping In, Atlanta, Ga.

If vulnerable I would not respond in either case, thinking that the chances of our losing 200 in a poor cause was not worth the chance of improving the contract. I would be inclined to bid facing a first-in-hand opening if nonvulnerable, for tactical reasons. The opponents are far less likely to make game if partner has opened in second, third or fourth seat, though. So passing makes sense then. Just for the record; give me the spade jack instead of the two and I will bid one spade in all cases.

How should I ask for kings after using Blackwood? I have two friends, each of whom swears that his approach is best, but they disagree on the responses!

Royal Pain, Bristol, Va.

I believe it is better to use the five-no-trump call to ask for specific kings, not the number of kings. Responder should bid kings up the line, but should always bear in mind that (since five no-trump guarantees partnership possession of all the key cards and the trump queen) he can jump to a grand slam whenever he has a source of tricks or extras.

Recently I was defending a hand where declarer led out of turn from dummy. I wanted to make him lead that suit from hand, which I was sure was the rule, but the director overruled me. Please clarify the law.

Get the Lead Out, Naples, Fla.

Your interpretation was correct till a law change a few years ago. Now you can accept the lead from the wrong hand (if you are quick about it), or declarer can lead any suit he likes from the correct hand.

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