Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Can the dummy revoke, with the consequence of the opponents subsequently receiving one or two tricks? I would have thought that since everyone can see the dummy, there can be no revoke penalty. If declarer attempts not to follow suit in dummy, what can dummy do about that?

Right or Wrong, Bellevue, Wash.

There is no formal penalty for a revoke by dummy, but the director can restore equity by reversing the effect of the revoke. This is one area where dummy may speak, as well as being allowed to prevent declarer from leading out of the wrong hand. Additionally, at the end of the hand, he may draw attention to other irregularities.

You recently ran a deal in “Bid with The Aces” where you raised an opening bid of one heart to two, holding ♠ J-4,  Q-7-4,  A-9-4-3, ♣ Q-10-6-4. After your raise to two hearts, what would it mean if you doubled East’s balancing two-spade bid instead of passing? Would it suggest to your partner that you have some values in the minors and perhaps not the right point count or shape to bid three hearts, but you don’t want to give up the fight?

King of the Hill, Laredo, Texas

I think not. I’d expect, once we die in two hearts, that a double should be penalty-oriented. That doesn’t necessarily mean a vast trump stack — maybe Q-10-x-x and a trick-and-a-half on the side would suffice.

I have a question about Standard American opening style. I say that we should not open a four-card major (unless absolutely no other bid makes sense, typically in third seat). If you rebid a major, it should guarantee six cards or a very strong five. My friends say that you can open a four-card major, and a rebid shows five. Who is right?

Seconds Out, Lorain, Ohio

This is a question of system, not right or wrong. Opening a four-card major is not standard in ACBL. Opening a major normally shows five, and rebidding it generally shows six. Even if playing four-card majors, you try hard to avoid repeating a five-carder over a one-level response. In sharp distinction though, after a two-level response, rebidding a strong five-card major is perfectly fine if your hand is unsuitable for a bid of two no-trump.

After my partner opened one no-trump, the next hand overcalled two spades. Holding ♠ J,  10-8-7-5-3,  K-10-4, ♣ A-J-4-2, I didn’t feel that I had enough to force to game in hearts. So I went through Lebensohl (by bidding two no-trump to puppet three clubs) and then bid hearts. But we missed a game when my partner had a maximum hand. What do you think of our bidding?

Walk-away Renee, Newark, N.J.

When the opponents prevent you from inviting game, you sometimes have to decide with invitational values to go high or low. With 9 HCP, I’d drive to game (expecting not to be alone in this decision). I’d bid three hearts; the choice of starting with a take-out double isn’t terrible, but here you might miss the 5-3 heart fit.

Yesterday we had a sequence in which my partner opened one diamond and the next hand overcalled one no-trump. I had a flat hand with two hearts and 11 points, so I doubled, and now my LHO escaped by transferring to two hearts. If I pass that call, is my partner forced to bid again?

Armed Forces, Pittsburgh, Pa.

A simple agreement is to play that the double of one no-trump sets up a forcing pass through two of your suit, but not higher. So in the sequence shown here, a pass would not be forcing. If your partner had opened one spade, your pass would be forcing.

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


Bruce karlsonJune 24th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Re: Right or Wrong. I thought the rules now prohibited dummy from preventing the lead from the wrong hand.
The opps may then determine if they want to accept it. A truly sharp dummy (not me LOL) could remove that option by pointing out the error or not if he felt either would benefit partner.

ClarksburgJune 24th, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Good morning Bobby
Supplementary question re your response to King of the Hill:
When you say that, in that auction context, the Double should be “penalty-oriented” does that mean it is still “optional” for Partner (who may not like the prospect of defending 2MX) ?

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Hi Bruce,

Sadly, however without excuses, I have not kept up with rule changes, often minute, but sometimes, significant. However, probably as you might guess, I do have my own opinions and plenty of experience (possibly bad, but hopefully adequate).

Common bridge sense SHOULD always rule. Of course that would mean that if the TD (and/or, later committee) decided that the dummy was overreaching (often intentional but sometimes innocent) by being self-serving, then, yes that should (may) cause the ruling to favor the defense (as far as penalties or not). However and by far, the always major factor is to restore equity (by making every effort to allow declarer’s intent, often subjective reasoning, to determine). In case of a perceived tie (or close) the verdict should go against the player (usually the declarer, but sometimes the dummy or the defense) who is deemed to have caused the confusion or possibly substitute the word instigated).

However, in the usual cases (to which I have both experienced and ruled) Solomonic type reasoning should be encouraged, eg. in the cases of no evil intention and understandable different views, compromise in favor of the game itself should always prevail.

At least to me, the above should always be the clarion call to any TD as he learns while up close to what should be expected of him.

However, I cannot guarantee that TD decision, no matter how practical and good for the game, will be ratified by higher ups who may be very intelligent and generally well-educated, but still not even begin to understand what our great game is about.

Thanks for asking and feel totally free, if the occasion occurs, to not take the blame for the above, but rather pass it off to a possible has been, I, who have a history of not religiously following the rule book (which to me is materially and too often flawed).

Finally, in defense of the authors, bridge, as a complicated game, is very difficult (impossible) to blend rules around actuality (realism) with a touch of subjective intent, often critically involved.

ClarksburgJune 24th, 2018 at 2:11 pm

@Bruce and Bobby
I have pasted in below, an excerpt from explanatory material from ACBL. It seems clear that Dummy may still speak to attempt to prevent irregularities, provided that right has not been forfeited.

Law 9A: Drawing Attention to an Irregularity. This law has been reworded in an attempt at greater clarity. In general, any player, including dummy, may attempt to prevent a player from committing an infraction or irregularity. Once an irregularity has occurred, though, only players other than dummy have a general right to draw attention to it during play. However, it is an important principle in bridge law that a specific law takes precedence over a more general law. So, while in general dummy may attempt to prevent an irregularity before it occurs, there are specific situations where dummy may not do so. For example, Law 61B bars dummy from asking a defender if he revoked during play. As well, if dummy has forfeited those rights by looking at cards in the hand of declarer or a defender, then Law 43 prohibits dummy from warning declarer about leading from the wrong hand or asking declarer about a possible revoke during play. As it applies to players other than dummy, the right to draw attention to an irregularity after it has occurred may be restricted by a more specific law than this one. A good example of that is Law 65B, which prevents dummy or defenders from pointing out that a trick is pointed incorrectly once the lead has been made to the following trick.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

No doubt the original responder’s double is penalty oriented, but that doesn’t mean he has them close to set in his own hand (such as 5 very good spades). His bid is only a message to the table that he thinks his partnership should take the lion’s share of the tricks, of course, more with his side’s suit as trump, but still not wishing to sell out to aggressive opponents who are possibly tryiing to push his partnership around.

For example: If the opener held: s. x, h. KQJxx, d. KQxxx, c. Qx he should take partner’s penalty double out to 3 hearts since that opening bid is basically offensive and not defensive, However if holding: s. x, h. Axxxx, d. Kxx, c. AJxx he should “bite the bullet” and pass since his defensive values have picked up (over the other example) therefore worth defending since partner will also have a good defensive hand, even for his relatively weak 8-10 hcp[s.

IOW, don’t ever expect partner to have 5 good spades and a slam dunk to defeat an 8 trick contract by your opponents. Those hands are rare and furthermore if only spades were stacked there is live possibility that clever opponents will seek out and find a good red suit fit at the three level making (and likely doubled by your hand as only a run out by them).

Another theory to remember is that, especially when playing against decent experienced opponents, they too, understand the game, and are listening therefore before acting, the double of 2 spades by partner does possess a good defensive spade holding, but also, and on percentage happening is still balanced (almost always with only three hearts) but suggesting what I have said above…..”it is our hand and if you can somewhat cooperate we will take at least 6 tricks defensively”, but the opener still is a player in this bidding and has the right to overrule his partner, but should do so with mature judgment, not out of fright.

BTW, by defending these hands, it is a great opportunity to get better at the game itself, since when doubling a final contract there are almost always many matchpoints at stake in how well the hand is defended.

Hopefully the above somewhat helps clarify what is usually involved when the bidding gets very competitive.

And as for danger, it is just as dangerous to not double them as it is to opt to do it, since if they wind up going set undoubled, the amount may not equal what your side could make while playing with hearts as trump, so yes, there is no way to avoid the pressure this game often creates since then bidding 3 hearts and going down 1 being a bad result, is allowing those worthy opponents to win the hand.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Hi again Clarksburg and everyone interested,

Let me pose a simple bidding situation and for those of you who have either the time or interest to react let our group hear from you.

Suppose you are dealt at matchpoints:
s. KQJ10x
h. xxxx
d. xx
c. xx

or: 2.
s. KQJ10x.
h. xxx
d. xxx
c. xx

and hear the bidding in each case go:
1 heart by partner, P, 2 hearts by you, P, P, 2 spades by RHO, what would you do with the following factors: random vulnerabilities, also at IMPs or rubber bridge and most important why? Also, if feeling up to it, what are your thoughts and therefore reasons for your actions, keeping in mind the various aspects of what is going on around the table?

No one is required or even encouraged to join in our exercise, only those who, at this moment in time, have inquiring bridge minds and, of course, nothing better to do.

Thanks to all, including those, who do not go any further.

Michael BeyroutiJune 24th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Personally, I would (penalty) double 2 Spades with either hand. I am aware of The Law of Total Tricks school which suggests bidding 3 Hearts with Hand 1, simply because we have nine trumps (hearts), but today I am convinced they won’t make it.
Having nine trumps is not a guaranty that we can make 3 Hearts. LTT says pushing on to 3H and going down one is better than letting make 2 Spades. Except that here I am given a trump stack, no way are they gonna make it .
Now for the misgivings/afterthought: If I double they will run to three of a minor and I won’t be able to double them anymore. So perhaps I should pass quietly and take whatever plus score is coming our way.
So, what’s my final decision?
Pass if they are vulnerable.
Double if they’re not.
Should they run after the double, I bid three hearts with hand 1, whether partner doubled them or not.
I pass with hand 2, whether partner doubled or not. This last case means I helped them escape to a better spot and partner couldn’t double…

Michael BeyroutiJune 24th, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Dear Mr Wolff,
do you agree with my assessment? I’d appreciate your comments.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Hi Michael,

First, while reading your post I could palpably feel you thinking as you wrote (a subtle but real sign that you genuinely love our game).

Another real positive was at least IMO, as you thought, your judgment kept getting better, translated boastfully, more like mine.

Extraneous facts, but nevertheless worth discussing: 1. East did not overcall 1 spade, nor did West offer a bid (either a TO dbl, no doubt by his spade shortage since it is very unlikely that the opener had a spade void and didn’t bid on, considering that neither opponent bid the first round. (even with a minimum opener but a void or singleton spade, wouldn’t partner tend to at least preempt to 3 hearts (which most players, and to my knowledge, all top level ones, play as preemptive and not invitational).

IOW your LHO is going to have a ggod hand, but short in spades, but likely at least 3 hearts, (no minor suit TO, often 2NT), (but possibly only 2) making whatever minor suit my partner is short in or no more than 3 will be a terrific fit for their side, IMO allowing them, on average at least 10 tricks and likely ll with (are your ready for this?, a distinct possibility for 12 by possibly having, between them no major suit losers., depending, of course, on the specific layout.

With this in mind I will echo your passing, but with either hand, especially with only 3 hearts, but keeping them away from possibly finding their great fit. IOW, unless it is passed to partner and he does bid 3 hearts, well OK, RHO will pass as will I and LHO will likely sense a misfit and allow us to get a great score regardless how many tricks partner takes.

Thanks much for writing in and subjecting yourself to being analyzed. However everyone now watching and listening can post further, agreeing or not, but allowing all sides to be heard with the intent of benefiting all involved.

Finally, the hand I selected was of course, with the purpose it posed, however, more hands than most realize and during the bidding process, can be somewhat forecast by good players who either bid or pass and when they do, plus, of course, both the vulnerability and the type of game we are playing, IMPs or matchpoints is a significant factor in itself.

Beautiful pictures often occur, which only leads to our own duty of making the right bids for partner and/or hoping for wrong bids from our worthy opponents as well as everything legally possible to gain advantage, our side.

Again, thanks for listening, assuming some still are.

ClarksburgJune 24th, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Didn’t get all the way through it, before the “answers” appeared, but had the following thoughts (from just an intermediate Club-level player).
Initially puzzled about what East held (no overcall and weak top of suit) but realized the 2S was simple expedient balancing to knock us out of known 8-card Heart fit.
Initial simple instinct was to not double 2S, as that could help them get to a better place; and/or could be unnecessary and risky at IMPs.
Defensive prospects of Hand 1 reduced because my fourth heart is a liability.

Michael BeyroutiJune 24th, 2018 at 7:05 pm

Well, OK then, I never double for penalty? When do I double? The answer to King of the Hill was that double is for penalty, but I see now that I should never double… What a conundrum!

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 7:25 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Yes, that intermediate club-level player has already begun to learn inferences and other
worthwhile bridge logic, which seldom ever appears, but if so, only after significant time elapses and even then usually with the help of a veteran of some high-level bridge jousts.

As bridge, of course, is being taught as an elective in public schools to much of the world, I, for one, now doubt seriously it will completely die out anytime soon, except here in this country, where it got off almost 100 years ago to such an auspicious start. However, apparently our national organization doesn’t want to go to the effort it would have to, for us to get updated and are only apparently interested in helping beginners win master points, but not get a foothold in the necessary thinking which makes it such an educational numerate and competitive exercise.

Whether that ship has sailed remains to be seen, but unless what it takes to build it, is soon begun, it is very difficult to be optimistic.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Hi Michael,

Not really true. The high level individual partnerships do discuss what double would mean to them and my guess their conclusion would be anywhere between a balanced maximum with at least one trump trick to a more specific better trump holding both in length and strength.

The realistic problem involved pertains to the dangers involved which in turn, relates to when partner will dare to take it out and therefore what he needs to leave it in.

Of course, the nature of one’s opponents also is a consideration, if a very aggressive pair, then in order to win, their opposition needs to double more often at the risk of some bad boards, but, against timid but still excellent then, that has to be calibrated into the judgment of their opponents, which, in turn also applies to all four players and both partnerships.

The above is mostly the reason I often give for determining the best players in the world. Not technical excellence to which most all of those competitors are closely allied, but to the ones who divan out what to do in the bidding and also where the key cards are when they go face to face at the table.

Similar to the very large “poker” element in big time bridge.

Joe1June 24th, 2018 at 9:27 pm

Rubber bridge. Hand A 3 H. Probably we have 9 H total and I cover their spades- 5 losers outside of hearts. Partner covers 2 of them, at least (I hope). Plus sensing minor weakness it preempts. He/she probably won’t go to 4, but might if not V. Hand B weaker D (3), weaker H; time to quietly pass.

bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 11:56 pm

Hi Joe1,

Excellent offensive analysis, often overkill since only Dame Fortune is in charge of dealing the specific cards and all of us know she is fickle.

However while discussing your offensive potential it reminds me of a prizefighter explaining to his trainer how he is going to jab his opponent here and punch his opponent there, but apparently not concerned with what his wily opponent in the meantime is going to do.

Our medium plus to high-level game needs to put as many pieces of evidence as possible (dogs who bark and dogs who don’t) together and then independently compromise on settling for the maximum plus or minimum minus, which logically figures to occur.

On the hand in question, it appears that EW was likely dealt a possible substantial plus, but the bidding after the 2 spade balance has become very favorable for the original openers side. However a double of 2 spades in search of a windfall is too likely to awaken a sleeping giant whose then result may become a bell ringer.

At least that is my guess, but since we are dealing with fiction no one is right, no one is wrong, its all guesswork, allowing every one of us to have his own opinion.

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet” Damon Runyon, American sport writer.

Thanks to all, especially Michael, Clarksburg, and Joe1 who opined and not to forget Bruce, who kicked off.

Waterless car washJune 29th, 2018 at 12:45 am

There are policies that offer an alternative vehicle of same engine and size.
If you don’t know anyone you are able to ride with, try to find
car sharing websites that permit you to search for people within your area.
It’s fitted while using the Movement Management System Star
utilities, working out courses Information System, and also the Instantly Identify System to get the capacity to supply a full research in to the working condition.