Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Please help me to understand a little bit more about inverted minor raises. To start with, are you in favor of them, and should they apply either in competition, or by a passed hand? If you do play them, should the jump raise be weak, or simply less than an invitation – and how many trump should it promise?

Helping Hans, Walnut Creek, Calif.

I like inverted raises; they help constructive bidding by letting good hands start low. They apply by a passed hand; but they are not used in competition. I play a jump raise is weak when non-vulnerable, but invitational to three no-trump facing an 18-19 count if we are vulnerable. A jump raise of a minor will always deliver five, an inverted raise of diamonds may deliver only four diamonds.

Do you always lead from length on a blind auction (such as one notrump – three no-trump) or do you prefer to lead from a sequence in a shorter holding? And what about leading from a major as opposed to a minor?

Opening Fire, Pueblo, Colo.

With values, I tend to lead from a long suit, of five or more cards, be it a major or a minor, unless the action clearly makes that a bad idea. But if I have a broken four-carder and a sensible three-card holding, I may go passive against a blind auction. Additionally, I am not a fan of leading from ace-fourth into a strong hand; but leading from other honor holdings do not bother me as much.

As dealer I passed, holding ♠ 5, K-10-7-6-2, A-Q-10-8, ♣ 10-6-4, and heard my partner open one diamond and the next hand overcall one spade. Would you double, or bid hearts, or raise diamonds? I chose to bid two hearts. Now I heard two spades to my left and two no-trump from my partner. When the next hand bid three spades, what would you do now?

Friar John, Carmel, Calif.

For what it is worth, my bid over one spade would be three hearts, since I play fit-jumps by a passed hand. I cannot simply hold hearts or I’d have preempted at my first turn, or would bid two hearts or double now. Over three spades I’d bid four diamonds. I can’t keep quiet about that support any longer.

I encountered an unusual problem when my partner opened one heart in third seat and the next hand overcalled one no-trump. I held ♠ 2, Q-J-9-6-2, K-Q-6-3, ♣ J-7-4. I jumped trustingly to four hearts, doubled and down one when partner had only a four-card suit and 11 points. But doubling one no-trump would not have worked either. What should I have done?

Too Trusting, Union City, Tenn.

Two hearts would be a gross underbid and three hearts would be preemptive here, so I suggest you add a small systemic wrinkle to your partnership agreements. Use a call of two no-trump in this sequence to be a limit raise in hearts instead of natural or takeout for the minors. This way, you let partner get involved intelligently.

I held ♠ A-J-8-6-4-2, 6-2, A-9-8, ♣ Q-4, and heard my partner open one club and rebid two clubs after my one spade response. I jumped to three spades, raised to four, and could not bring it home facing the singleton spade king. My partner suggested that I should bid only two spades. I felt that my hand justified an invitational jump bid. What would you have bid?

Steamroller, Columbia, S.C.

With the spade 10 in addition to your other assets, three spades would be unimpeachable. As it is, you have a marginal opener – so your choice would be the mainstream action, along with comments from an expert panel that this is ‘the least lie’. For the record, if an initial jump to two spades was non-forcing and weak, then without the spade jack you might content yourself with a simple rebid of two spades.

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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


AviOctober 18th, 2015 at 9:17 am

Hi Bobby

I have two questions following a teams session yesterday.

1. In second seat, unfav. vul. you pick up -,9x, AKT9xxxxx, Ax
RHO preempts with 2H.
1.a. what do you bid?
Assuming you took the timid road of 3d, LHO continues with 4H, and partner bids 4NT.
after hearing 3 aces, he then bids 6s.
Partner has AKQTxxx, x, QJ, KJx
1.b. Is his action justified? (I think so, with a single spade with me he would have a chance, but he wants an expert opinion 🙂 )

2. In 4th seat, all vul. you have J, KQ, AQJT9, AT9xx
RHO again opens with a preempt of 2H.
2.a. What do you bid?
Assuming a 3d bid, partner bids 3S, promising at least 5 with diamond tolerance, or 6+.
2.b. what do you bid over 3S?


Patrick CheuOctober 18th, 2015 at 10:33 am

Hi Bobby, Bidding went N 1C(better minor) E pass S 1H W 1S-N X(showing 3H or extras)E 2S S 3D W 3S-N X pass out.NS have 4H on….n Axx 9xx Jxxx AKx e 10xxx AQ 9xx Q10xx s xx KJxxx KQ10xx 9 w KQJx 10xx A Jxxxx.How would you have bid it? regards~Patrick.

ClarksburgOctober 18th, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Matchpoints, Vul against not.
Partner (South, Dealer) passes, and RHO opens 1 Spade.
You hold: S KQJ7 H K D A1054 C A1075
I elected to bid 1NT as best description for Partner, telling only one fib, about my Heart holding.
A player far more accomplished than I, made a TO Double, fibbing about holdings of both Majors, and not limiting his hand.
Our Table opponents stole it, playing 3H by West. The other NS Pair found the 5C making.

South (Partner) S82 HJ10 DK63 CQJ9863
West S A9653 H Q9853 DQJ C K
North (me) SKQJ7 HK DA1054 CA1075
East S 104 H A7642 D9872 C42

Would like your comments on how the auction should go.

bobby wolffOctober 18th, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Hi Avi,

You have interesting questions, the right answers, whatever they are, will certainly tend
to stimulate discussion (and sometimes snarls).

1A. 3 Diamonds, just to hear the lay of the land, surely more bidding from others at the table, but for you to gather information. Sadly, as does sometimes happen, this time, 5 diamonds would work much better. However, partner might have saved the day by bidding only 5 spades instead of 4NT (which most top players would not necessarily ask for ace, but rather suggest strength with diamonds and other contracts still in the mix allowing you to now jump to 6 diamonds to which he is well prepared for, since he needs to suspect unusual distribution. When he does you will certainly return to 6 diamonds saving the day by your combined efforts, even tough we both started on the wrong path by bidding only 3 diamonds instead of 5.

2B-Again only 3 diamonds, not 4NT or any minor suit overbid. Biding my time and again awaiting the future bidding, but this time it may go all pass, but if so, I, before the dummy comes down, feel OK, but, of course do not want short diamonds and long clubs, always a possibility. When faced with a choice, usually choose what is front of your face, rather than something exotic. BTW, if partner responds 3 spades over my overcall, I will shoot out 3NT, not 4 clubs and hold my breath in an attempt to run for daylight (an expression in bridge meaning not bypassing a possible to likely game when sometimes partner shows up with Jxx in hearts or a great club fit, not to mention the king of diamonds in either his or RHO’s hand (with, of course, a key entry).

When I wrote the above I had not read your next question, so there you have it. Winning bridge at all levels is often determined by good judgment, and part of that always is including partner in as many decisions as possible (assuming partner is at your level and takes the game seriously).

Good luck!

bobby wolffOctober 18th, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Hi Patrick,

As long as we just concentrate on what the opening bidder should do over 3 spades and nothing else, he has only one much underused but very descriptive bid available which he failed to find.

That magic bid is simply pass, reminding us all that sometimes bridge, like in life, one should remain silent and thought a fool, than speak up (bid) and remove all doubt. I do not like “support doubles”, never have, never will, although at times that convention can be helpful. In this case partner may have only just competed to 3 hearts, limiting his hand, knowing partner had 3 for him, instead of trying to show where his values were, which, often is of dubious value.

Finally when you ask me how I would have bid it, if I would have chosen double, my choice would have been under an assumed name.

bobby wolffOctober 18th, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I would rate Pass=100, 1NT=85, Dbl=10, because of the danger of partner, not LHO bidding hearts.

Your bid, not mine, rings the bell since after overcalling 1NT I can not imagine partner not competing in clubs, allowing you to quickly jump to game. Even double wins since obviously partner will then enable us to reach the great club game (assuming our LHO didn’t have either a singleton spade, nor the king of clubs, both odds being in our favor).

To repeat, I like to bid ASAP but this hand with hearts not being a likely profitable final resting spot, and 3NT not terribly likely because of our lack of a long suit my great defensive hand suggests that mode, but again bridge is the master and determines the results.

All interesting hands presented today by all.

Patrick CheuOctober 18th, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Hi Bobby,If North passes,should South have bid again over 3S? Both nv.A few pairs have reached 4H and 4D…

bobby wolffOctober 18th, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Hi Patrick,

While, once South has made a game invitation, citing diamonds as his side suit, technically he should leave it up to partner (North) to decide, and since by passing he is declining the invitation suggesting that South then pass and defend 3 spades.

However, bridge discipline sometimes allows exceptions, and one may arise here if either NS are not vulnerable or when playing against staunch conservatives who do not usually double opponents on just how the bidding went. Down 1 doubled NV is only 100 against 140 so that bidding 4 hearts, getting doubled down 1, would be the par result.

BTW, sometimes we not only get par we even improve to birdie or even eagle by what the not so experienced opponents allow to happen.

Sorry for the possibly confusing answer, but to not do so would prevent important strategy to be discussed.

Patrick CheuOctober 18th, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Hi Bobby,Thanks again for all your kind help. Best regards~Patrick.