Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

What would be your hopes for the world of bridge in 2020?

Nostradamus, Sacramento, Calif.

Perhaps I should hope for something attainable and not look for pie in the sky. Maybe we might be successful in persuading a few school districts to teach bridge to the pupils, accepting that it is a fine tool to help children understand mathematics and develop concentration?

Holding ♠ K-8-4,  Q-4,  A-10-6-4-3-2, ♣ J-10, I elected to open one diamond rather than two, because at favorable vulnerability I thought I had too much to pre-empt. We reached a hopeless slam, and my partner commented that he did not feel this hand was worth an opener. What do you say?

Hambone, Naples, Fla.

Wolff’s rule for pre-empting No. 1: Never pass with a bad suit — open one or two. This hand doesn’t qualify as a good suit, so you can choose to go high, go low or pass. To me, the pass stands out; with a bad suit — exactly the wrong top honor with which to pre-empt, since if partner is short, you can give him ruffs — and not enough to open, I pass. With the club queen instead of the jack, I might stretch to open.

What is the best way to deal with interference to Blackwood?

Buckaroo Banzai, Mason City, Iowa

DOPI and ROPI aren’t just two of the lesser-known dwarves in Snow White. If the opponents intervene below five of your trump suit, use double or redouble (D or R) for zero (O), pass (P) for one (I) and the next steps for increasing numbers of aces. After higher intervention, doubling for an even number of aces (zero or two) and passing for one is just one of many options here.

If you have agreed to play two-over-one game-forcing, can you suggest how to bid an 11-count with a doubleton support for partner and a six-card side suit? Should you go high via the two-over-one or low via one no-trump?

Clara Cluck, San Antonio, Texas

Assuming that a jump to three of a minor is not this hand (it would be for some), I suggest you decide if you would have opened the hand in question at the one-level. If you would, then bid two-over-one. If you wouldn’t, then bid one no-trump and follow up by bidding your suit at the three-level or making some other quasi-descriptive call (raising partner or bidding two no-trump might be reasonable approximations).

What are the advantages of leading the king from the ace-king? If your partner is void, he won’t know if you are leading from the ace-king or king-queen and so cannot tell if it is right to ruff or not. Wouldn’t leading the ace inform your partner you have it, while leading the king would reveal that you don’t have it?

Clearwater Chuck, Raleigh, N.C.

The more common problem with the lead of an ambiguous king is how to signal with length including the jack, facing a king lead. Compared to that, leading the unsupported ace and having partner know you need a signal for attitude, not count, is more helpful and comes up more often. Having a void facing the king is rare enough that I’ve seen only two disasters along this line in my life. But one was this year, I admit!

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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