Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 16th, 2021


Iain ClimieMarch 30th, 2021 at 10:55 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA, would you regard AJx x KQ10xx A9xx as worth 2C then 2S or would you hold out for (say) the DJ, CQ or SQ instead of the SJ as well? Is the answer different at teams and pairs as well?



bobbywolffMarch 30th, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Hi Iain,

Kudos to you for bringing up (at least IMO) an important theoretical question which emphasizes (again IMO) an important concept not often discussed.

Simply put, deciding on a series of bids (at least two in a row) which together could better describe one’s increased value, but needing partner to keep the bidding live in order to complete the description instead of passing and denying that intended complete description.

My best partners (through the years and especially Bob Hamman) and I strongly agreed that the winning philosophy is to raise immediately (when holding only three of a major) if at all possible when faced with a valid choice, so as to ASAP firmly include partner with that almost always, welcome news, which if one is heavily into logical bridge bidding, is likely at the top of the list for sudden underrated trump support and its value from the get go.

Therefore, if, for example partner held: s. Q10xxxx, h. xxx, d. J, c. KJx but first rebid 2 clubs with the intent to later support spades with today’s hand of s. AJx, h. x, d. KQ10xx, c. A9xx that contract would (should) be passed out at 2 clubs instead of the percentage contract of 4 spades possibly reached if the opener would have immediately supported spades.

Sure, the cards were carefully selected to prove my point, but nevertheless these hands (or close) do arise with the better alternative of being able to pass 2 clubs, holding no fear that a spade game is even barely possible within the 26 cards that our partnership possesses.

IOW it becomes a major positive, when faced with a choice, to always show support, if possible, almost always three cards (and with a major suit), rather than basically waste an opportunity to do so, not allowing partner to pass partner (when partner does not have primary support) but a relatively great hand for that trump fit).

To that I would like to add the addendum that I do not like the popular (support double) since by using that method and then losing a part score battle to the opponents is a big help to the declarer in his play of the hand as well as considerable help for the opponent’s bidding if and when the level gets higher and faced with three of the opponents suit in a situation where that opposing pair (after the support double) has veered away from that suit, always allowing the bidding judgment as well as the extra advantage of playing advantage to greatly improve for those hated adversaries to quickly and from the
early bidding stages be gifted by, of all givers, those competitive opponents.

Hopefully you will get my drift and at least think about a concept which arises more than one may think, but to remind, the negative inference, when partner does not immediately support the major suit, is quite an advantage and one stowing away in one’s quiver, almost never to not improvise.

Finally, I firmly believe the concept discussed above applies at all forms of bridge, but, and of course, more valuable at IMPs or rubber bridge since missing good game contracts concern themselves with large amounts, rather than mere trick scores.

A V Ramana RaoMarch 30th, 2021 at 4:36 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps north could have doubled three hearts instead of competitive bidding. He knows that south opened in first seat and seeing fourteen points in his hand. Considering the vulnerability, perhaps double was a better option. Your view please

bobbywolffMarch 30th, 2021 at 5:33 pm


While I do not pretend to keep up with the so-called modern bidding structure, I suspect that my comment of overrated may be the right value to attribute.

Your suggestion of double by North instead of 4 diamonds is a good case in point. Sure, if understood that double does not mean what it used to, of business for penalty, (although within the province of the previous bidding) still, at least to me, is a somewhat classic example of, “partner, you make the forward going your mistake, not mine”.

Yes, to every question there should be a reasonable answer, but when full blown good bridge is being contemplated, the winner is almost always the pair who exercises the better judgement and one based on all factors, not individual extremes, nor based on superstitious backings, but a pair who selects down the middle decisions and above all, while together on mutual beliefs as to what is desperately mindful for them to succeed.

Finally, I do not see the advantage others seek, when bids are made which have way too much leeway and, IMHO only complicate, not make easy, future decisions.

Strong letter to follow, but in truth
I think NS’s above bidding was reasonable, although South’s final pass might be judged badly as passing a GF before game was reached.

However, if ever done, this may be the hand for it.

Thanks for your question, but if penalties had anything to do with double, then count my vote against it.

To me, to double for penalties is almost never done (and without a trump stack, almost, probably should not be used) before the penalty seeking pair has at least ventured some kind of game bid.

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 31st, 2021 at 9:39 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Many thanks for elucidating. Three hearts doubled of course makes on the distribution but it may appeal to north to double. However belatedly I have another query. How far west is justified in overcalling on this hand considering the vulnerability? In case east turns up without any support, there could be a carnage even in one heart and perhaps NS would score more than they would in a diamond game or perhaps even a slam. Grateful if you can opine