Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 5th, 2017

I had been thinking of going to the spring nationals next week, since they are on my doorstep. Will there be events suitable for non-experts?

Playing Up, Kansas City, Mo.

The Nationals run from 8-19th March, and on every day at 10 a.m. they have separate games for newcomers and intermediate players, with separate sections in regional games for rather more advanced non-experts. There are also days with free lessons. The ACBL will provide you with more details, on 901-332-5586. And the ACBL bulletin has all the details.

When I first learned to play, 40 years ago, I was taught that a double over a pre-emptive opening or overcall was for penalty. Has that changed, and, if so, why?

Forcing the Issue, Orlando, Fla.

The double of a preempt is nowadays universally played as take-out, both over and under the trumps. This is not because you won’t want to double for penalty occasionally, but because you are more likely to be short not long in their suit. Reserve the double for a common, not uncommon, occasion. After they open, negative doubles are now more common than penalty doubles, for the same reason. Rest assured, a thoughtful partner will try to re-open with a take-out double when short in their suit.

What are the factors to consider in making a light response to partner’s opening bid, when you are simply trying to improve the contract? How do position and vulnerability factor into the equation?

Staying Alive, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

If your partner opens a minor in first or second seat, you will often strive to improve the contract when short in that suit and holding 3-5 points, whatever the colors. That happens less often facing a major-suit opening, I find. Note that when facing a third or fourth in hand opening bid, you do not need to worry about silencing the opponents. They would generally have bid by now if it was their hand.

Holding ♠ A-Q-J-9-8-2,  —,  Q-2, ♣ Q-10-9-5-3, you open the bidding with one spade, of course. When your partner responds with the Jacoby two no-trump showing a game-forcing hand with spade support, what should you show first, your second suit or your shortness?

Show and Tell, Elkhart, Ind.

A jump to four clubs would show a second suit but it ought to be one headed by two top honors. So I suggest you show your shortage initially, with a call of three hearts, and now if you rebid hearts that would show either a singleton ace, or a void.

Not vulnerable against vulnerable, would you risk intervening at the two-level with a pre-emptive overcall on a hand such as: ♠ Q-4,  K-J-7-6-5-2,  Q-8-5, ♣ 10-4 when your RHO opens one club? What are the factors that influence your decision here?

Raise the Roof, Great Falls, Mont.

It is always more fun to bid than to pass. Your suit is good enough to bid on when nonvulnerable; and you might well find that if you end up on defense you will score your queens, because declarer figures you are short in the side suits! With the heart 10 instead of the two, I’d expect almost every expert would act, and most would bid with your actual hand, albeit with a few misgivings.

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.
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