Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 6th, 2019

How should I value 10s and five-card suits in deciding whether to upgrade my hand into or out of a one no-trump opener, but also in deciding whether to open 11-counts at all?

Princess Pushy, Panama City, Fla.

Never upgrade a 4-3-3-3 hand. Consider adding a point when opening one no-trump (and especially when responding to one no-trump with a five-card suit that includes a top honor and decent intermediates — you will know them when you see them). When considering opening a suit, 5-4 shape is worth an extra point, but not if it means you can’t easily introduce your four-card suit at your next turn.

What would you bid with this hand: ♠ 6-2,  J-9-2,  A-Q-10-4-3, ♣ Q-7-4, when, as a passed hand, you hear one spade to your left, three hearts from partner (intermediate) and three spades to your right? Do you have enough to bid here?

Silent Sam, Honolulu, Hawaii

I would bid — but I would not raise to four hearts. As a passed hand, I can bid four diamonds, a natural call, but one that promises support for hearts. This gets my partner off to my preferred lead against four spades if the opponents decide to bid on over our four-heart contract. The chance that we get doubled here is smaller than that this is the key lead for the defense.

Please compare the merits of leading second-highest from bad suits against leading fourth-highest, or third-and-lowest. Can you combine the two methods?

Bats in the Belfry, Elkhart, Ind.

Third-and-lowest can never sensibly be combined with second-highest leads. If you must lead a card from three or four small to deny an honor in a suit where you’ve shown length, make it the top card. As long as you don’t lead MUD (middle-updown) from three cards against suits, any lead method is fine by me. At no-trump, leading second from four may be sensible, but be aware that partner will not always be able to read it.

I found myself in second seat, holding ♠ K-9-7-2,  A-K-8-3,  9-6-4, ♣ K-10, and I elected to double a one-diamond opening bid. I heard one heart to my left and two clubs from my partner. Was I wrong to try to improve the contract by bidding two no-trump? I did not achieve my target!

Barnacle Bill, Doylestown, Pa.

The main focus of a double of a minor is suitability for the unbid majors, with opening values. If you do not have three or more cards in both majors, you will always deliver real extras. When balanced, pass with a minimum opener and unsuitable shape, if overcalling on a chunky four-card suit at the one-level doesn’t feel right. Here, double was a good gamble, but you lost out. Do not bid on and make it worse.

Where can I learn about advanced card play concepts such as squeezes?

Trumpet Major, Bennington, Vt.

I would strongly advise you to focus on drawing trumps, taking finesses and cashing winners, and to ignore more complex concepts. Even at the top level, most errors fall into one of these categories. “Squeezes Made Simple” by Marc Smith and David Bird might help — or make things much worse.

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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