Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 18th, 2016

I was faced with an opening lead problem here. My LHO opened one diamond and my RHO jumped to two no-trump, passed out. I had to select a lead, holding ♠ Q-J-4-2, 8-7-4-2 J-7 ♣ A-Q-4. What would your thoughts be on a choice of opening lead?

Start Right, Seneca, S.C.

My cards don’t appear to lie particularly well or badly for declarer, so I’m not looking for an especially active or passive lead. My choice would be a low spade (NOT the queen, without a significant spot card such as the nine or maybe eight) or else a heart. Depending on partnership style, I lead the eight or seven. Again, NOT a small heart here.

Two questions: can you comment on when a defender should follow with the top of a sequence and when with the bottom card of a sequence? And is there a generally understood position about discarding honors such as kings or queens in mid-hand?

Painting a Picture, San Francisco, Calif.

The discard of a jack or higher is typically the top card of a sequence and denies a higher card in the suit. So if I had to discard from A-J-10-9 I’d pitch the 10 or nine, not the jack. As second or third hand you follow with the lowest card of your sequence, but on lead you lead the highest card.

An expert bridge-playing friend of mine is in the hospital. Could you recommend a book by a funny writer about bridge that might cheer him up?

Word Wise, Ketchikan, Alaska

George S. Kauffman’s story ‘The Great Kibitzers’ Strike’ is one of the funniest bridge stories, and explains the role of the kibitzer very well. Eddie Kantar is always entertaining, and you can check out other possibilities here.

Holding ♠ 9-6-4-2, A-J, K-3, ♣ Q-10-7-4-2 I heard my partner open one heart, and I chose to conceal my spades and respond one no-trump. Over his two diamond rebid I gave preference to two hearts. This was a playable spot but two or perhaps even three no-trump might have been makeable. Was my first action misguided?

Lost Horizon, Lorain, Ohio

I’m not sure you did anything so terrible here. Bypassing a weak major is a trifle unilateral, but acceptable, and sometimes helps partner to evaluate his hand when he is short in that suit.

Do you use the Michaels cuebid only with 5-5 or greater shape? Or can some hands with a weak five-card major and a strong four-carder qualify?

Joe Blow, Albany, Ga.

When you hold 5-4 in a major/minor two-suiter do not use Michaels. Equally, with 5-4 pattern and both majors you would tend to bid spades if that suit were longer, since your rebid at hearts is so much easier than if the suits are the other way round. By contrast, you can come in over a no-trump by using Landy or the like with 5-4 pattern, and similarly after the opponents open, then respond one no-trump.

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


Peter PengOctober 2nd, 2016 at 1:27 pm

hi Word Wise

you can give or loan him a good notepad or notebook, arrange for the hospital to give web access and show him how to play or kibitz games on-line.

Peter PengOctober 2nd, 2016 at 1:27 pm

the problem is you will not get the notepad or notebook back!

Bobby WolffOctober 2nd, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Hi Peter,

Yes, once hooked, always. if you excuse the expression, vulnerable.

Iain ClimieOctober 2nd, 2016 at 4:28 pm

For Word Wise,

I presume he does have access to this column, and others like bridge winners. For what it is worth, I’d be happy to forward a set of slightly madcap “Hand of the Week” articles I wrote for Hiutchin Club website in the UK a few years back and which have a tongue-in-cheek / idiot humour element.

Please yell if you’d like them E-Mailed – it is no effort although I’m not claiming they’re all pitched at a great level.