Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 11th, 2013

My partner and I had a disagreement about whether a double was for takeout or penalties. Holding ♠ A-4-3-2,  Q-4,  Q-5-4, ♣ 9-7-6-4, I heard my LHO open one diamond. My partner doubled, and when my RHO bid one heart, I doubled, believing it to be negative. Was that wrong?

Accentuate the Negative, Trenton, N.J.

In this sequence a double of one heart is penalties, not takeout. With an unbid major, as here, you simply bid that suit yourself. However, by contrast, if the opponents had bid and raised the same suit, the double would have been takeout.

In today’s Texarkana Gazette, a player in fourth seat held ♠ Q-7-6-3,  K-7-2,  K-5, ♣ Q-10-9-4. He heard one diamond on his left, one heart from his partner, and a negative double to his right. You mentioned the options of a cue-bid or raising to two-hearts with a weak 10-pt hand. But might you pass, forcing the opponent to bid, thus helping you judge how far to go on the next round?

Walter the Walrus, Texarkana, Texas

In general, support with support, and only pass and back in with one of two hand-types: those too weak to raise immediately and those with adequate HCP but weak or short trump. With values and support, don’t delay in showing partner, since that helps him judge much better what to do. Walking the dog with huge support might work occasionally – but not here. A redouble would show a good hand, though probably less in hearts than here.

Is it ever possible to pass a demand bid of two clubs? I held four small clubs, and three cards in the other suits, with just one queen. The problem in our group is that some are opening two clubs with just 19 points.

Chickening Out, Raleigh, N.C.

Alas, you can't break discipline and make a gambling bid to play a 3-0 fit, then use the excuse: "You didn't have your bid last time." Trust partner till you know something is wrong — and you don't yet know it on this hand. Remember the two club opening could be a game-force or so in any suit, or balanced, and only rarely shows clubs. Respond two diamonds with little or nothing, after which any suit-call from partner is still forcing for one round. In fact, it is hard to stay out of game, even with a Yarborough!

My hand was ♠ —,  Q-10-7-3,  K-10-5-4, ♣ A-Q-7-6-5. I opened one club and raised my partner's one-heart response to three because of my ruffing values. We got to a slam, which could have been made, but wasn't. Afterwards, my partner felt that a simple raise would have been enough from me because of my lack of high cards.

Sporting Life, Jackson, Miss.

Whenever you have an unopposed sequence like this, with a hand having few high cards, you can be quite confident that your partner has a good hand. After all, the opponents haven't bid spades, so they must be weak. If so, you may get into trouble by overstating your values with a jump raise. You will never miss game by starting low — in fact, once you do, you will get a chance to cooperate later with a clearer conscience.

What is the modern approach to jumps by responder in support of opener at his second turn – are they played as forcing or invitational?

Old School Tie, Joplin. Mo.

The simple answer is that almost everything that sounds nonforcing is! After an unopposed bidding sequence (one club – one heart – one spade) all jumps by responder, whether to three clubs, three hearts, or three spades, would be invitational, not forcing. Use the fourth suit (or New Minor) to set up a game force.

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