Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Recently you ran a problem where in fourth chair you heard one club on your left, one diamond from partner, and you held ♠ Q-10-6-4,  K-Q-8-5,  Q-2, ♣ Q-10-4. The choice you gave was between a call of one- or two-no-trump. I wondered whether your intermediates would make the hand worth a two-no-trump call, since if partner’s overcall was little more than six good diamonds and the club king, there might be a play for the no-trump game.

Cashing In, Torrance, Calif.

Yes, jumping in no-trump is reasonable on values – but I’d like just a little more. Bear in mind that if partner bids on over my no-trump call, I can act again. My concern here is the absence of quick tricks. If we have only one club stopper, my major-suit cards do not translate into quick tricks.

In a recent column in the paper, a Stayman sequence after a two-no-trump opening bid saw opener deny a major. Then a call of three spades by responder was footnoted, saying it showed five hearts and four spades plus a good hand. Can you explain further?

Mystery Bid, Edmonton, Alberta

This is a specific agreement called Smolen that operates like a transfer. In the same way that hands with both majors may want to transfer declarership to the strong hand, you can do the same over a two-no-trump opening after Stayman. Visit here.

I have always played that after an uncontested auction by us started: one heart – one spade – two clubs, a jump to three spades by responder was invitational, not forcing, but my partner on OK Bridge said it was 100 percent forcing. I think he is wrong — but maybe things have changed.

The Force Be With You, Albuquerque, N.M.

You are absolutely right and he is wrong. On the auction you quote, responder sets up a game-forcing sequence by bidding the fourth suit, two diamonds. In this auction jumps by responder to three hearts or three spades or a raise to three clubs would invite game.

What I should have expected from my partner on the following auction? I held ♠ Q-9,  J-4-3,  Q-10-8-5-4, ♣ K-10-2 and when my partner doubled one club and the next player bid one spade, I tried two diamonds. Now my partner bid two spades. What should that be, other than confusing?

Fog of War, Mitchell, S.D.

A good default agreement to have is that when a player doubles or opens two clubs and hears a suit on his left, his first bid in that suit is natural, not artificial (unless it is clear that with length he would pass – for instance, because his partner had doubled). So here I’d play two spades as spades, and raise to three spades.

I grew up believing that I could answer an opening bid of one of a suit with as few as six points, if I replied at the one-level. But does the same apply to making a negative double, or acting at the two-level? A friend says I need more points to respond in a new suit, even at the one level. Where do you stand?

Bottom Line, Ketchikan, Alaska

This is a complex question, but I'd say a free bid (acting in competition when you could have passed) starts at a six-count at the one-level, and this also applies to raises of partner. Negative doubles at the one-level also start at six points. At the two-level nine-plus is required. The higher the level you commit to, the more points you need.

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