Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Assume you are in third seat and hold ♠ 8-6,  K-J-4,  K-Q-10-7-3, ♣ Q-10-4. You hear one diamond from your partner and one heart on the right. Would you jump to three no-trump now, or would you look for a suit contract first?

Lento Assai, Durango, Colo.

Jumping to game in no-trump without worrying about spades seems highly premature. Since most people play a jump raise to three diamonds in competition as based on shape, start with a cue-bid of two hearts to show a good diamond raise and take it from there. You can always bid no-trump later.

What is the difference between a renege and a revoke, and what are the penalties for the two offenses?

Splitting Hairs, Springfield, Mass.

A renege and revoke are exactly the same thing, and the only difference is that the latter term is the only one used in the UK, whereas in the U.S. the former may be slightly more popular. Just for the record. The penalty for a renege is now one trick in pretty much every circumstance — UNLESS you personally win the revoke trick with a revoke card, which in turn implies you need to have trumped the trick in error. Of course, if one trick does not restore equity, there may be a further adjustment.

My partner did not agree with my choice here. I was in fourth chair and heard a pass on my left, one club from my partner, and one heart to my right. I had ♠ J-8-7,  4,  K-9-7-5-4, ♣ A-J-5-4 and simply raised to two clubs. When two hearts on my left was passed around to me, I thought I was too shapely to pass, so I bid three clubs, ending in a 4-3 fit when diamonds was far safer. What should I have done?

Minor Errors, Fayetteville, N.C.

Your two-club call was very reasonable. (You might have stretched to bid two diamonds instead, but there is a lot to be said for supporting with support.) When the auction comes back to you in two hearts, I wonder whether a call of two no-trump here — unusual, suggesting four clubs and longer diamonds, would be appropriate? If you had wanted to bid no-trump naturally, you would have done so on the first round of the auction.

My RHO was declarer at our local club. Halfway through the play of the hand she led a card and told the dummy to play anything. When I contested this, a director said this was permissible. She then said I could play any card from the dummy that I wished. Can this possibly be correct?

Carte Blanche, Columbia, S.C.

If declarer says "play anything," then as a defender you can ask for a specific card to be played from the dummy. But declarer is within her rights to do that to speed up play (generally if not always to imply to the defenders that nothing THEY do matters either). You are not being damaged here, since if the choice of play matters, YOU get to make the choice, not dummy.

I was in second chair and doubled an opening call of one club, holding ♠ A-10-8-4,  K-J-2,  K-Q-3, ♣ J-8-4. This was redoubled and came back to me. Since my partner had not acted when he could have done, I thought he wanted to play there – suffice it to say that three redoubled overtricks later I was sadder if not wiser. Who goofed? (My partner had four small spades and an otherwise balanced hand.)

Flat Top, Galveston, Texas

There is no villain here, merely a lack of partnership agreement. A simple rule is to play that all passes of redoubles are to play, but one should make an exception when the opponents are at the one-level, and especially in today's quoted auction, where the pass is neutral, waiting for partner to name a suit.

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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


ClarksburgMarch 17th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Regarding the answer to Carte Blanche’s question:
This is perhaps really far-fetched and way out there, but….
One could choose the card to be played from Dummy so as to give some kind of signal to Partner, with a carding understanding. Presumably that would be illegal. Correct?

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

As was intended to be implied in the answer, when a declarer tells his dummy to play anything, always means to me that the result is cut and dried and whatever is left in dummy matters not. It is allowed, although some may think sort of rude or frivolous, to speed up the process.

Probably much ado about nothing, but rest assured that if declarer is wrong and dummy still played a role, even very minor, any doubt would be ruled against the declarer who so directed dummy.

As to worrying about the dummy now choosing some card to play which may be coded (or whatever) to help declarer make a later decision I do not see how that could happen. I say that because in effect declarer is basically claiming, but possibly hoping that the defense will throw away a winning card. Often that statement by declarer is quickly followed by, I’ll concede the last trick or something similar.

Yes, anything resembling what you are alluding to is strictly forbidden and, if caught and proven, would be grounds for suspension of such a player.

In all my years of playing and appeals administration I have never heard that statement by declarer ever questioned.