Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 20th, 2018

As a club director, I am occasionally faced with the problem of how to make rulings that involve pairs who may never return to the club if I rule against them! Is it acceptable to give average to one or both sides in such cases? What about late-play penalties?

Tic-Tac-Toe, Panama City, Fla.

You have to make a living, I admit, but you must weigh that need against the integrity of the event and the objective of being fair to everyone. If that means administering the occasional average minus, so be it. There is no room for negotiation in the laws on revokes, penalty cards or insufficient bids. Where you can be tactful is with unauthorized information, where you can discuss the players’ obligations after the event.

I’ve been told that when my partner opens one club and North overcalls one diamond, the bid of a major shows four; but when partner bids one club and the next hand overcalls one heart, bidding one spade shows five or more. What is the thinking behind these bidding rules?

Champion the Wonder Horse, Salinas, Calif.

The logic is based on the number of unbid majors. In the first instance, you can bid either hearts or spades with one suit but not the other, and double with either. If bidding a major showed five, you would have no way to introduce a four-card major. When one major has been bid, the double takes care of some hands with the unbid major; bidding the suit takes care of the rest. Thus, over one heart, since you double with four spades, one spade shows five.

I held ♠ Q-7-2,  A-K-3,  Q-8-7-5-4, ♣ 10-3, and my partner opened three spades. The next hand passed without a flicker, and I had to decide whether to raise at once or pass and reconsider if they bid four hearts. We were non-vulnerable, and my partner is relatively disciplined, by the way.

Tightly Wound, Montreal

You might easily go down three in four spades or find that game had decent play. So it is a toss-up, but since you want the opponents to have the last guess, not you, I would raise to game and give them the hardest decision I can.

I’ve been out of bridge for a while and need clarification on the niceties of what to do when making a jump-bid. I thought it was right to say something or use a card when jumping. And I thought it was right to pause after a skip bid whether or not you intend to bid. I’ve been told the rules have changed; is that right?

Sitting Duck, Dayton, Ohio

You are still right in some regards, even though the rules have changed for reasons that remain unclear to me. The original idea was to draw your LHO’s attention to the jump to prevent him acting prematurely, and to force him to pause whether he had an easy action or not. Now, even though the ‘stop’ card has been dispensed with, the next player should still pause for 10 seconds whether you intend to bid or not.

I held this hand: ♠ K-5,  7-2,  K-Q-10-8-7-4-2, ♣ 9-7. My partner opened one spade, and I felt I did not have enough to force to game or to invite game with three diamonds. So I responded one no-trump, and since my partner had a small doubleton diamond and no spade ace, we ended up going down. But three diamonds would have been easy. What went wrong?

Fox and Grapes, Seneca, S.C.

If your partnership style is to use three-level jumps as invitational, you must bid one here. It may not be perfect, but it is hardly an overbid at all. If that tool is not in your kit, you may have to bid one no-trump and play there. Not such a great recommendation for the methods!

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


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