Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

With: ♠ A-Q-2,  K-7,  J-9-6, ♣ K-8-5-4-3 I opened one club, and heard a weak jump to two diamonds on my left. When my partner made a negative double, I was stuck for a call. My instincts were to bid two no-trump without a stopper, but I chickened out and rebid my clubs, which left us in an inferior part-score. Would you contemplate a bid of two spades on the three-card suit?

Tied up in Tinseltown, Los Angeles, Calif.

Introducing the three-card spade suit looks a reasonable shot (after all, you may need to ruff diamonds in your hand). Your first thought of bidding no-trump here was not a terrible idea, but I’m just too cowardly to want to explain this to partner if I’m wrong! I hate rebidding clubs with such a poor suit.

Would you be kind enough to clarify the meaning of the last call on the following unopposed sequence: when I open one spade and rebid two hearts over my partner’s two club call, he rebids two no-trump. Now at my third turn if I bid three diamonds, what would you expect that to show?

The Sign of the Four, Duluth, Minn.

When partner has already bid no-trump and the auction is below three no-trump, the primary meaning for a call in the fourth suit here is to suggest length not shortage. You suggest a 5-4-3-1 pattern with some interest in playing in a contract other than three no-trump, thus probably extra values. But if your partner had rebid three clubs, three diamonds would be the fourth suit, so initially a probe for no-trump, with maybe a half-stopper.

I just had a friendly (well not so friendly) discussion with the Tournament Director at my local club. As dummy I observed my RHO revoke on the second round of clubs. When he followed to the third club I pointed this out to my partner, and was told in no uncertain terms that this was inappropriate. Can you explain the correct etiquette for dummy?

Punctilious Petra, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

I’ve been caught out here too. There are two contrasting instructions: say nothing as dummy until an irregularity has been confirmed or the end of the hand is reached. BUT if an irregularity has been established and the director is not called, dummy should rectify that omission at once.

I held: ♠ 3,  A-J-9-4,  A-K-10-8-2, ♣ Q-9-4. When I opened one diamond, I heard my partner respond two clubs, game-forcing. Do you agree with my choice of two hearts? Next I heard my partner jump to three no-trump. Can you tell me what my partner showed, and what I should do next?

Bonus Baby, Monterey, Calif.

Yes, your two heart call (suggesting this red-suit pattern) looks right to me. Some might play your partner’s jump to game as Fast Arrival. Not me: I believe it shows extras, with two no-trump suggesting less or more than a strong no-trump. That makes the decision to move on now with a natural slam try of four clubs a straightforward one. You can always stop in four no-trump.

Our two-club opening is forcing to game or four of a minor, except when opener’s rebid is a passable call of two no-trump. Recently as responder I held something like: ♠ 2,  9-6-4,  J-5-3, ♣ K-J-10-7-4-3. Rightly or wrongly, I judged it not quite enough for a constructive three-club response, so bid two diamonds. Playing cheaper minor as a “second negative” is there any way I can unambiguously show the six-card club suit at my next turn?

Minor Minus, Nassau, Bahamas

If you don’t play two diamonds as a positive and a direct two hearts as a second negative, then another possibility is to co-opt a direct two no-trump bid to show this hand. In other words, it describes semi-positive values with long clubs, since that hand is so awkward to describe in any other way. I agree a direct three club call should be a better hand and suit than this.

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact