Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 14th, 2013

How should I continue after I open with a pre-empt and partner bids a new suit? Specifically, with ♠ 9-5,  4,  K-5-4, ♣ A-Q-9-7-4-3-2, how should I bid after I open three clubs and hear a three-heart bid from partner?

Bad Fit, Memphis, Tenn.

Best is to bid three no-trump, showing a diamond guard but not promising a spade guard. You are highly unlikely to have both a spade and diamond guard. If you had a spade stopper, you could bid three spades now – hence this sequence suggests your actual hand type.

As an expert player you must often have to decide whether your opponent has made a good or bad play. How do you make that decision?

Sizing Them Up, Texarkana, Texas

When tested, I assume that if I would not have found the play, I’d pay off to it more happily. After 50 years of serious play, though, there are not many things that I haven’t seen before – and I can usually form an accurate picture quite fast of my opponents’ level of play.

What is the right valuation of this hand: ♠ 9-5,  K-Q-10-7-4-3,  Q-5, ♣ A-Q-2? You hear three clubs on your left and three spades from partner. Should you settle for game (and if so which one) or aim for more?

High Hopes, Selma, Ala.

Maybe a quiet three no-trump is called for. That would be my choice, but I frankly have no idea what is best. A simple raise to four spades might expose us to a bad trump break and lets the opponents lead clubs through my tenace, but it avoids the problem in diamonds. Even a simple bid of four hearts could easily win out.

I know that you have posted this information in the past, but could you send me details of where the bridge deals that you have written up each day appear on the net?

Cloud Nine, Huntington, W. Va.

You can access my column free – albeit a few days late – together with a bunch of other bridge-related material on

I was more than a little a little confused as to how to rebid with a strong hand when I found a fit. Holding SPADES A-J-9, HEARTS A-4-3, DIAMONDS 8, CLUBS A-K-J-9-7-2, I opened one club. My partner responded one heart and I thought I had too much for three clubs. Would it have been terrible to jump to two spades? And if my partner had responded one spade, would a reverse to two hearts have made sense?

Where to Go Next, Pittsburgh, Pa.

It looks clear to reverse to two hearts over a one-spade response. The point is that your partner will raise hearts only if he has five spades. However, after a one-heart response, it may be too dangerous to jump to two spades – partner might raise spades with 4-4 in the majors. Perhaps a three-club rebid is safest here, though admittedly an underbid.

I don't play bridge, but I do read your column, especially your quotes. I was wondering if you could devote just a single column to a basic explanation of the game? For instance, I don't understand the suit rankings, or why partners in the game (North and South) would bid against each other. I know there are many, many books on bridge, and I think I may read one soon, but I just thought I'd ask. I can't be the only nonbridge player who sees your column.

Scoutdog, North Little Rock, Ark.

I will try to address your inquiry later next year. Meanwhile, if you want a very basic primer, try "Bridge for Dummies" or the ACBL learning tools (ACBL — Learn to Play Bridge Software).

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

1 Comment

Ken BernikerMay 6th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff: In the middle of a close match at teams, I picked up S-AKQJxxx, H-x, D-x, C-AJT9 in first seat, nobody vul. Would you open 1S (risking being passed out), 4S (risking missing a slam), or 2C (risking getting too high)? I chose 2C, my partner gave a positive response of 2H, and we ended in a hopeless slam. 4S was the best contract.

Wrong choice,
El Cerrito, CA