Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Holding ♠ A-4, 7-5-2, A-K-9-7-6-5, ♣ Q-4 I overcalled two diamonds over one heart. When my partner bid two spades, I thought I could not pass, and we got too high. Was I wrong?

Faulty Brakes, Eau Claire, Wis.

Whether you play this auction as forcing by agreement – some including me do so – this hand looks like it is worth a raise to three spades. This seems the action that is most likely to get you to a game contract – a rebid of three diamonds might suggest a misfit, whereas your spades are reasonable in support of a suit your partner has introduced voluntarily.

A discussion came up the other day about the two no-trump opening bid. Some felt that even with the required 20 or 21 HCP, they were reluctant to open two no-trump with a void or singleton, or even a weak doubleton. Others felt a hand in the appropriate range should be opened two no-trump irrespective of distribution. What do you recommend?

Walter the Walrus, Walton Beach, Fla.

The opening of two notrump always guarantees a balanced hand (a small doubleton is fine). Strictly speaking, a singleton is not allowed, but there are hands where this is the least lie. The crux is what to do with 5-4-2-2 hand pattern. You have a choice as to what to do – but I tend to open the suit with 20 if I believe my rebid will be economical and descriptive.

Holding ♠ A-4-2, K-10-6-5, J-9-5, ♣ Q-8-3, I heard my partner open one club and I responded one heart. When my partner rebid one spade I guessed to raise to two spades. My partner told me that I should have jumped to three clubs – what do you think?

It Takes a Village, Stanford, Conn.

Raising to two spades might work, but 4-3 fits are often not much fun to play. I think a simple call of one no-trump is just fine. Partner will bid on with extras or shape, otherwise just stay low. An invitational jump to three clubs makes sense only if partner has promised five clubs, and he has not done so in standard bidding.

Can you give me some help on what hands should go through a forcing no-trump? Does this apply only after a major-suit opening or after a diamond opener too?

Base Camp, Charlottesville, Va.

After a major-suit opener, the call of one no-trump acts as a general force for one round by an unpassed hand if playing two over one. You might have a weak major suit raise (less than a constructive raise to two, which suggests 7+ to 10). Or you might have a balanced limit raise, when you will jump in the major at your next turn, or any hand without support, when you will rebid two no-trump with 10-12, and make any appropriate descriptive call with less. That could mean passing, raising or giving preference to partner’s first suit, or bidding your own long suit. See Richard Pavlicek’s excellent website.

At favorable vulnerability in second seat with ♠ 6-4, Q-10-2, A-Q-9-4-3, ♣ K-7-4 I stretched to open one diamond non-vulnerable, and heard my partner respond one heart. How would you compare the options of rebidding one no-trump, repeating the diamonds, or raising hearts?

Bard of Avon, Riverside, Calif.

My general approach is to raise a major with three respectable trumps in an unbalanced hand, or a semi-balanced hand with a small doubleton in a side-suit. So this hand qualifies for a raise. Rebidding diamonds tends to show a six-card suit, especially over a one heart response, while a call of one no-trump has the danger that the whole spade suit may be off the hand. Admittedly, this risk is somewhat reduced when the opponents have not bid.

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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


W. B. Daniel IIIFebruary 14th, 2016 at 12:12 pm

IMO the hand ♠ 6-4, ♥ Q-10-2, ♦ A-Q-9-4-3, ♣ K-7-4 from Riverside, CA illustrates the problem of opening a weak one bid without a decent rebid. “Stretching” to open this hand in second seat only offers the advantages of suggesting that you have 2 QT and a possible opening lead. Opening this hand probably does not cause a major playing problem at the 2 level but imposes considerable risk of a bad negative score if competitive bidding reaches the 3 level or higher.

About the only time I would open a hand this weak is if the suit was spades.

Peter PengFebruary 14th, 2016 at 2:53 pm


I will second that

bobby wolffFebruary 14th, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Hi W.B. and Peter,
And I will third it.
However, it is important to delve deeper, if, in fact, there is more to explore, and I think there is, before firmly reaching a conclusion.
First, W.B., your comment about up through the 2 level, but leveling off with success above it, is, at least to me an apt description and directly on point. Partner would (should) expect an extra high card to accompany this opening bid, which, in the long run, not particularly in any one hand, which may often get us one level too high, either in game, slam or trying for such before subsiding or even in a fiercely competitive auction, particularly at match points, produce a partnership penalty double and just come up one trick short of setting them. BTW, after opening I would raise 1 heart to 2, just because IMO it is clearly, when faced with that choice, the right percentage action, largely because of the negative inference (no 3 card support) which not raising, suggests.
True, a good opening lead is suggested, raising levels of bidding often make it more difficult, especially for conservative vulnerable opponents to come in, therefore allowing hands with at least a semi-fit for your side to virtually "steal" the hand.
Perhaps a compromise method of weak NT 12-14 (or some such) might solve minimum hand opening bids (perhaps only just not vulnerable), with some danger, but not to be overrated since the upside is at least as great as the other way. However a downside of a weak NT, would be not suggesting a diamond lead on the hand in question.
However in spite of the above, I will still gladly third that motion.

ClarksburgFebruary 14th, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Good morning Bobby
This is a just a beginner / intermediate question; I hope some other readers may benefit.
Playing with a new Partner, and holding AJ85 AQ10 A102 KJ7, I opened 1C planning a rebid of 2NT.
When Partner responded 1S, I changed course away from the non-forcing 2NT and bid 4S. I thought this was nicely descriptive of 19/20 strength, showed four-card Spade support, made sure we got to game, and passed Partner the Captain’s hat.
Partner passed it out, and was furious and adamant that I should have rebid 2NT and not bid 4S directly.
Any comment? How should / might the auction have gone to avoid missing a cold slam?

bobby wolffFebruary 14th, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

First, your question should not be labeled a beginner/intermediate question, but rather a critical one which could be construed as multi-faceted.

Second, your prologue (2nd paragraph) said everything possible there is to say about your bid and why while giving a clear example.

Next, while your partner is not wrong to want a discussion, expressing his views, he comes across as very narrow minded to dispute your choice, since it would be close to a poster child for what it takes to rebid 4 spades (possibly a jack or a queen less, but the holding of 4-3-3-3 subtly might subtract from its value restoring it to what the bid should almost exactly show (more or less).

Yes, a rebid of 2NT followed by a return to 4 spades over partner’s raise to 3NT may even be a more perfect way to proceed, but 2NT is not 100% forcing so how could that bid even be considered (in spite of its perfectly balanced nature). Continuing, what if partner held s. KQxx, h. xxx, d. x c. Qxxxx could he be chastised for merely raising 2NT to 3 (just in case partner will rebut with, perhaps only 9 tricks are available in either spades or NT, so he may think it percentage to pass 3NT, eg. s. 9xxx, h. Kxx, d. Jxx, c. AQx.

Your description of his comments to you (while “furious and adamant” only indicate what lawyers often hang in their offices “Strong words usually indicate weak cases) and although he may be, in person, an extremely nice person, his bridge manners and emotions need improving if he, like you, would like to move up the ladder in bridge effectiveness without wasting an enormous amount of time.

Finally and in conclusion, bridge is not and has never been a perfect science, meaning judgment reigns supreme, especially in high-level company. Which leads to practical application of knowing when to search for perfection (very rare) and when to just taking chances based on the overall factors.

Good luck in dealing with this furious and adament ho hum just another question, of what will work the highest percentage of time.

รับทำ seo facebookFebruary 18th, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Hiya very nice site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing ..
I will bookmark your site and take the feeds also?
I am glad to seek out a lot of helpful info right here within the publish, we’d like work
out more techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing.
. . . . .