ACES ON BRIDGE
DEAR MR. WOLFF:
I saw a letter from an oldschool rubber player asking you what responder’s cuebid means when his partner opened the bidding and the next hand overcalled. Does a cue-bid always show support, even in a minor?
— Fumbling Florence,
Trenton, N.J. DEAR READER: In a minor, the support may be somewhat limited, but since you didn’t bid the other minor or double, you always have at least three trumps. For example, after a one-diamond opener from your partner and a one-heart overcall, what would you bid with 3-4-3-3 pattern and four small hearts?
DEAR MR. WOLFF: After an unsuccessful game, my partner suggested that, in pairs, a player who had balanced the opponents into game should probably double. His logic was that you were already on a terrible board if game was going to make. What is your take on this?
— Chasing the Rainbow,
Doylestown, Pa. DEAR READER: Sometimes your opponents reach a normal game in an odd fashion — and you were going to get an average if you had not doubled. There is, however, a time to double — and that is when you figure your contract was going to make (for 140 or 130, say) and thus you need to double to make sure your plus score exceeds that number.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: One of my opponents held a minimum opener: ♠ J-7-3,
♥ A-Q-9-7-4, ♦♣2, A-Q9-4. He bid one heart and heard his partner respond two diamonds, which they played as forcing to game. What are the merits of a two-heart, two-no-trump or three-club rebid?
— Second Chance,
Sioux Falls, S.D. DEAR READER: There is a huge disagreement on what should be a simple question. For me, three clubs suggests real extra strength or high cards, two no-trump suggests, but does not absolutely guarantee, a stopper in the unbid suits, and a two-heart rebid suggests six or a decent fivecard suit. All three calls are reasonable here, but I’d lean toward the two-heart call since it is the most economical. Give me the kingjack of clubs instead of the queen, and I might bid three clubs.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: The rumors from chess suggest that electronic devices and computers are being used illegally in that sport. Are players currently permitted to bring cellphones and other devices into bridge events?
— Luddite, Bellevue, Wash. DEAR READER: The American Contract Bridge League recently experimented with a ban on cellphones, but relented and now allows you to bring them in if you do not have them turned on. I might ban cellphones altogether if I had my way, but I am not yet master of the universe.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: One of my opponents recently dropped a card out of his hand onto the table, and the tournament director explained that this was only a minor penalty card, not a major penalty card. He was simultaneously playing two cards from the same suit, if that is of any help in explaining the ruling.
— Muddle in the Middle,
Eau Claire, Wis. DEAR READER: A minor penalty card is that one arises when two cards in the same suit are played simultaneously, and the exposed card is a small one. This basically gives rise to no penalty either for the player or his partner, but the offender must play the exposed card before any other small card in that suit. If the offending card is the spade three, you can therefore discard or play a spade honor before the three, but you cannot discard or play the spade two.