Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 24th, 2019

My partner opened a strong two clubs, and I gave the neutral response of two diamonds. After a rebid of two no-trump, can I use Stayman and Jacoby Transfers, just as if my partner had opened the bidding with a no-trump call? What is the best use for a bid of three spades here?

Movers and Shakers, Albuquerque, N.M.

You play exactly the same as over a two no-trump opening bid. (The same applies when you overcall a weak two-bid with a natural two no-trump call.) Use the three-spade call in one of two ways: either as Minor Suit Stayman or as a puppet to three no-trump. After that, responder can show one or both minors in various ways. Some possibilities are listed at

When declaring, I can generally keep track of the trumps. But following the spots in more than two suits is a challenge. What would you recommend as a way forward?

Losing the Thread, Detroit, Mich.

I do not recommend trying to count all the suits. Focus on the ones that seem most likely to matter to you after dummy comes down. Try to focus only on trump (just count the missing ones in the opponents’ hands) and one other suit. As you get more skilled at the task, maybe you can expand your repertoire.

Would you consider it appropriate to open with a pre-empt in third seat, holding ♠ 4-3,  K-Q-8-7-3,  A-7-3-2, ♣ 10-3? I assume you might pass at some vulnerabilities, but if you bid, do you prefer one or two hearts?

Risking it All, Panama City, Fla.

You are right that I would probably pass at unfavorable vulnerability, though the heart 10 might tempt me to act. Non-vulnerable, I might mix it up with a call of two hearts, but a simple opening of one heart with both sides vulnerable is perfectly reasonable and mixes aggression with some degree of safety.

Recently, I was declaring three spades, and when I led the trump king, one opponent revoked. I asked her if she had any spades, and she corrected the revoke by playing her trump ace at once. What is the consequence of this? If I make three spades with an overtrick thanks to the revoke, would that be game?

Portia’s Pa, Lake Oswego, Ore.

For a revoke to be established, the offending side must have played to the next trick, unless a claim has been made. So here, the revoke is not established and the player can correct the revoke, with the card played in error a penalty card. In this case, it must be led to the next trick — but penalty cards are not always so simple if someone else wins the key trick! In any event, revoke penalties serve as under- or overtricks and can never turn a part-score contract into a game.

Would you ever compare the safety play in bridge to a gambit in chess or a sacrifice in baseball? Are there other games, such as poker, that serve as more apt comparisons to bridge?

Boy Scout, Pleasanton, Calif.

Most safety plays in bridge definitely advance your side’s cause by guaranteeing your contract, while a sacrifice at baseball is a less-guaranteed return on investment. Maybe a better comparison would be to the suicide squeeze, safety squeeze or sacrifice fly, which all get a run in when executed well. Psyching in bridge is like bluffing in poker, while the cerebral approaches required for chess and bridge are very similar. I wish bridge players realized that they need to read in order to improve, just as chess players do!

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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuMarch 10th, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Hi Bobby,Playing 4 card majors,pairs, all NV,S dealer,I(West) held 8 AQJ9 AQJ9 AK72-South pass West 1H North 3C East pass-South pass West Dbl North pass East held J9762 843 743 84 and duly bids 3S..I bid 3N and the wheel seems to have come off..North held A54 K6 T5 QJT653 and South KQT3 T752 K862 9.After the hand I ventured that East should perhaps bid 3H,please could you advise us what might be best here? A lot of pairs were in 1D,2H and another in 3N-3. 3H would not go too well either. 3N was allowed to make on our table. Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffMarch 10th, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Hi Patrick,

First of all let us start this morning off on the right note, congratulations to you for turning six tricks (at the very most seven), into nine. However I will not do your opponents a disservice by asking how the play went.

Four card majors (still my favorite bidding method), but because of the sheer weight of American habit, my partners of the last 20+ years (not many) have been only schooled with five, suggesting (should say demanding) me gently (actually not very) to acquiesce to their request to which I complied.

However, with your opening bid, believe it or not, a case could be made for 1 heart, 1 diamond, 1 club or even an off shape 2NT.

However, once deciding on 1 heart and hearing the bidding go 3 clubs by LHO, not at all surprising, then passed back to me, instead of double I would select a conservative 3 diamonds only or simply a 3NT bash. Partner would (should) then convert 3 diamonds to 3 hearts, but, of course pass 3NT. If partner chose the 1st, and in spite of my enormous hand I would meekly pass since the hand appears to be a misfit and partner’s 3 hearts has all the earmarks of just about what he had, no cards and basically no real fit either.

However your reopening double persuaded partner to test the other major (cannot blame him since he held 5 and you at least appeared to be interested in that suit).

However, your incredible result soothed the what could have developed into a somewhat violent bidding discussion, simply meaning that “All’s well which ends well”, at least for your side at the table, which turned out to be the “music” which soothed the savage beast.

Iain ClimieMarch 10th, 2019 at 6:33 pm

HI Bobby,

With regards to your comments to Boy Scout, an old regular partner just sent me this:

“The March Edition of A New Bridge Magazine is now available. You can got to the website or directly to the magazines tab
Apologies for late publication, full explanation was given in first email.”

Could be worth a look.



Patrick CheuMarch 10th, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Hi Bobby, It’s good to hear your thoughts on this game,have to say I did not consider 3D due to my auto reflex bid of doubling 3C(hopefully) for penalties..That said I fully concur with your 3D bid.Have learned so much here over the back to the table for more action..Thanks again for your advice which is always much appreciated here. All the Best to Judy and you.

Iain ClimieMarch 10th, 2019 at 7:17 pm

HI Bobby,

With regard to your comment on reading more, apparently there is A New Bridge Magazine (that’s its title) available over here. The website is but there is a magazines tab as well (add / magazines.html).



clarksburgMarch 10th, 2019 at 7:38 pm

Hello Bobby
Matchpoints, Vul against not.
West (Dealer) has this big two-suiter:
AKQJ2 AQJ107 J A7, facing East’s 9853 void Q962 K9542

We bid it to the making 6S slam (Dame fortune was clearly on our side after an auction that is not likely to win any awards!):
2C 2D 2S 6S.

I believe it is your view that opening 2C with a two-suiter can lead to awkward auctions. Would like to hear your views on bidding this one, including what to open, Responder’s actions, and confirming trump-suit quality and other controls.

jim2March 10th, 2019 at 8:30 pm

clarksburg –

I await Our Host’s reply, and wonder what he would have felt 4H by your partner over 2S would have meant.

Iain ClimieMarch 10th, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

It is quite an interesting play problem in 6S as well. What was the lead?



bobbywolffMarch 10th, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, I had heard of this new magazine and wish it and all things promoting our game, great luck in the future. The USA currently and for some time now, has lagged behind with keeping up, via recognizing our game for what it is, a great teaching device aimed at life’s logic, understanding sophisticated legal communications, and above all, the numeracy of numbers in every day life.

Making if so difficult for me to wonder why our countries educational department has not been flooded with requests for getting bridge into our primary school curriculum, like eleven countries in Europe and all of China have succeeded at having done.

And to this day I doubt that the ACBL has even thought seriously about leading the way, before it becomes too late to remedy the apathy which they apparently have and for reasons to which I have no idea.

Anyway, let me now answer Clarksburg which will touch on your latter post.

ClarksburgMarch 10th, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Partner was West and played the hand.
The led was DA.
North’s hand was : 1064 K854 A5 Q1086
So South held: 7 9632 K108743 J3
As I recall, with a trump left in Dummy she simply played N for the HK, and neither opponent had five including the 8 or 9.

bobbywolffMarch 10th, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Hi Clarksburg, Jim2 & Iain,

Yes, the hand you give can be bid more scientifically than your example above. However, since the enemy is listening along with your partner, your sequence has a much better chance to make the contract a virtual laydown since hearts may be led into the strong hand likely allowing a somewhat problematical line of play clear cut.

While I do not recommend no science, all of us need to recognize the limitations of a code language (bidding) especially when space is limited (after a 2 club opening bid) and then attempting to show values, distributions and specific cards are often impossible.

However, when the strong hand opens with 2 clubs (my choice, except wishing now that we were playing a strong club system, in order, of course, to have more room to roam). Partner then would likely respond with the catchall 2 diamonds, showing something but very limited in scope. Then 2 spades by opener, followed by the already mentioned 4 hearts, showing shortness with trump support. From then on in the responder will only speak when spoken to, or IOW answer questions but bow to partner’s final judgment. Of course having the Ace with the strong hands doubleton rather than a singleton ace, with 2 bare losers to worry about in one suit, provides a lot more comfort to the opener to bid slower.

By the same token I am subconsciously attuned to the actual sequence given since (already spoken) preventing the opponents from gathering too much information before the opening lead is a much underrated advantage.

And so it goes, with a lot of words above to say very little except to possibly explain the pluses and minuses of imparting information.

Finally just to emphasize my above propaganda, through the years when someone tells me how lucky or unlucky either he is or possibly a friend or acquaintance, my first thought is that the player he is talking about who he thinks unduly wins more than his share can just change his mind because the right answer is that he (or she) is a much tougher opponent than his so-called equal playing friend.

Iain ClimieMarch 10th, 2019 at 10:41 pm

Hi Bobby, Clarksburg,

Thanks for the extra info. To be fair, declarer can draw 2 rouns of trumps, HA, Hx ruffed, C to A then run the HQ. When that works, with S2-2 or North having 3 trumps, there are no further problems.



bobbywolffMarch 11th, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, and very likely you, as usual, have found the right percentage line to success, which will, little doubt, result in over a 50% chance of success, possibly ranging up to 60%+.

However, while licking one’s wounds when the 40%- indicates a down slam (as Jim2 always records when the heart king never appears until it is finessed into) will that event cause that side to wonder whether Clarksburg’s partner actually made the best percentage effort when he chose a 6 spade blast rather than the gorgeous and scientific 4 heart gambit (which, of course, took with it any chance of a heart lead by that wily opening leader).

We’ll never know and that is probably the way it should be, since this was only one hand, so what really can be learned?

However, when reasonably high level bridge is played over a decent length of time, one becomes either blessed or cursed by his combination of winning and losing efforts.
Perhaps in determining what to bid, only the “Shadow Knows”?

BTW and FWIW I think most top players would choose the scientific approach (4 heart bid) since they may feel better about their unsuccessful result, at least obtained straight up, but my above admonition would truly haunt me (if I was chosen and thus happened to be one of them) for doing so.

antiwarsongs.orgMarch 14th, 2019 at 2:37 pm

Hi there, I want to subscribe for this weblog to obtain newest
updates, thus where can i do it please help.