Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

When evaluating whether your hand is worth an opening bid, is it appropriate to count each lengthcard over four in any suit as worth a point? Or should one count shortness – or indeed do both?

Chinese Whispers, Harrisburg, Pa.

When opening the bidding I sometimes use this scale. In my opinion it is particularly valuable with a good six-card suit and marginal values, in that it helps me decide whether to open a weak two or at the one-level. Add your length points to actual points, counting a side four-carder as worth a point, and do not open at the one-level with fewer than 13 (plus one and a half tricks on defense in aces and kings).

I held: ♠ J-7-6-4, 10, A-K-8-6-5-3, ♣ K-2 and opened one diamond. When my partner responded one heart, was I supposed to introduce my spades, bid no-trump, or repeat my diamonds to show my limited values? As it turned out, we did have a spade fit, and my diamond rebid meant we lost the suit altogether.

Bad News Bear, Sioux Falls, S.D.

You would never rebid one no-trump with such an unbalanced hand. Your choice is which suit to bid; a player with 6-4 in the minors and a minimum hand might conceal a poor club suit, but should not risk losing a major suit. So the one spade rebid looks the normal call here, despite the weak spots.

When faced with a guess for the trump queen, how valid an argument is it to play the hand on opening lead for the critical card, as opposed to his partner, for the simple reason that sometimes one leads a trump without the queen?

Lady-killer, Baltimore, Md.

This is a reasonable argument of last resort. However, since you would never receive a trump lead from a man with a solid sequence of honors in a sidesuit, it will not always apply. But if a defender makes a risky lead in a side-suit for no apparent reason, you might infer he possesses a delicate trump holding. Equally a trump lead often implies equally unattractive side-suit holdings, of course.

I held: ♠ A-7-3, 9-6-4-3-2, 8, ♣ Q-6-4-2, and had to lead against four spades. This was after my LHO had opened one diamond and rebid clubs, while my RHO had responded in spades then jumped to four spades. Would you lead a diamond and look for ruffs, while running the risk of giving up a tempo, or setting up dummy’s suit? Or would you lead the fourth suit?

Lorelei Lee, Huntington, W. Va.

I’d say the lead of your singleton is a slight favorite because you have the trump ace to prevent declarer drawing trump. Equally, your absence of side high cards makes it MORE likely you can put partner in. The better your hand, the less attractive the lead of a singleton becomes.

I had a dispute with my partner about how to handle a quasi-balanced hand. He had ♠ Q-4, K-J-3, K-Q-J-10-9-2, ♣ A-6. He opened one no-trump and played there, making three when I put down a dummy with nothing but the spade ace and club king. Was I being too harsh when I criticized his choice?

Deputy Dawg, Willoughby, Ohio

I won’t say I’ve never opened one no-trump with a hand like this (especially in third seat) but my instincts are to open one diamond and rebid three diamonds. The hand has such playing strength it is not so much missing three no-trump but missing a slam facing an unpassed partner that would concern me.

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

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