Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 18th, 2020


A V Ramana RaoJune 1st, 2020 at 11:39 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
EW defended well but my query is : Is south justified in opening 1 NT with a five card major and with points on the lower end of range for NT opening ? If only had North produced a couple of points more it would have been comfortable for NS but I feel that NT decision should be taken by North. Grateful if you can reflect

Bobby WolffJune 1st, 2020 at 4:57 pm


Many players think that the bridge terms for scientists and naturalists are primarily determined by how many conventional gambits are incorporated in the partnership bidding system, rather than the choices of bids made at the table.

My definition would be different and instead accent the liberties of sometimes hiding distributions (often biddable major suits) in lieu of attempting to make it more difficult for the defense in the play (particularly the choice of opening lead).

If so, this kind of choice (opening 1NT instead of the eminently available 1 spade) makes, according to those who feel the same way as I,
this pair naturalists.

Obviously, if my definition is correct, there is likely no right or wrong, only a choice which needs to be proven and if attempted, would take close to forever with still remaining doubts.

Almost certainly, it is close as to what to do, but another particular may lie in playing it down the middle against mediocre pairs (opening 1 spade) but while playing against good ones, then, in the effort of not allowing them as much free information (because they will use it well) then slightly distort with a 1NT opening.

If you consider my answer more than you asked for, I apologize, but since it is so very close, it often, at least in my experience, the more effective way to go.

A good question by you and hopefully, something to think of by me, and added, “You makes your choices, you live with your decisions”.

MirceaJune 1st, 2020 at 7:04 pm


In your experience, how many teams at the top of the bridge ladder will play this contract on the auction shown and how many in (the makeable) 4C (bid, as suggested, via a transfer to clubs and then showing the short spades)

Iain ClimieJune 1st, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Hi Bobby, Mircea,

To what extent does NS being NV make a difference to the answer, assuming teams of course. At pairs I’d probably just punt 3N if South bid 1N but marginal 3N NV is -170 if 8 tricks are the limit but 250 in if you roll it home – 5 IMPs to 6 not a huge difference. There again 3N is the contract most likely to be let through I believe.

Any thoughts, and would the strength of the opponents be relevant? Good Q from Mircea although stopping precisely in 4C may not appeal to many players I know – they’d bash game.



Bobby WolffJune 1st, 2020 at 9:49 pm

Hi Mircea & Iain,

My answer, in respect to your direct question, is simply, perhaps 5% for South to open a 121/2-15 hcp NT (instead of the much more likely 1 spade (5 card major) and for North then to raise to 3NT. Next, for your other guess is perhaps 1%- to be playing a system which included club transfers over weak NT and then finish in a club part score, after again choosing to open 1NT. My experience is (although perhaps sensible) to be playing club transfers would be a solid base for simple fast 3NT bidders (North), without allowing those clever opponents a shot at directing a lead and with the hope of 9+ tricks being immediately scored up or, at least having a finesse work to get home.

Iain, I agree to what you say about 3NT and, if South opened 1 spade (the majority choice) North could easily respond 2 clubs, a GF but close enough, enabling South to rebid 2NT to which a simple raise to 3NT would normally occur. 0 or one run, 1 or 2 hits, no errors and no or possibly one runner left on base.

The strength of the opponents would not normally have any effect on my choices while NS.

Yes, somehow if clubs were bid I believe game would be reached and if 5C, down 1 in 99% of the cases, since hearts would probably be led from either side.