ACES ON BRIDGE

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PROFILES - BOBBY WOLFF If you would like to con­tact Bobby Wolff, email him at

DEAR MR. WOLFF:

In a re­cent pairs game, my part­ner held a very pow­er­ful hand, but with lim­ited high cards: K-Q-J-10-8,

A-K-Q-10-7-3, 9-7, —-. She opened two clubs, and I drove to slam when we found a heart fit. Slam duly came home, but I wasn’t com­fort­able with that choice of ac­tions. Do you agree with her choice?

— Dick Dead­eye, Win­ston-Salem, N.C. DEAR READER: I un­equiv­o­cally agree with you that this hand doesn’t qual­ify for a two-club opener. I would open one heart and re­verse into spades, then re­bid spades to show a 6-5 pat­tern. There is ex­actly zero chance of a one-heart opener be­ing passed out if you open it, and what is more, it doesn’t lie about your as­sets, quick tricks and in­deed ev­ery­thing else.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: Hold­ing ♠♥7, A-Q-J-7-2,

K-9-8-3-2, ♣J 4, would you be happy open­ing one heart in first chair rather than passing? If you do bid, you hear a weak jump over­call of two spades on your left, passed back to you. What now?

— Bal­anc­ing Act,

St. Louis DEAR READER: I would of course open one heart, and, though I ad­mit that a mis­judg­ment here might be very ex­pen­sive, I think I’d have to put my neck on the block and bid again. A call of three diamonds seems to be too com­mit­tal, so I might dou­ble for take­out. Un­less my RHO’s tempo has be­trayed that he holds a strong hand, part­ner fig­ures to have values, and thus is most likely to hold a spade stack. The rea­son he passed was that a dou­ble of two spades would have been neg­a­tive.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: I was re­cently watch­ing an ex­pert game on­line. De­clarer opened one spade with a de­cent hand and a club void, and the re­spond­ing hand had an opener with four spades and a club suit. How good would re­spon­der’s club suit have to be be­fore he could in­tro­duce his clubs in ad­vance of rais­ing spades, as op­posed to mak­ing a Ja­coby two-no-trump re­sponse? — Wicker Man, Mil­ford, Pa. DEAR READER: Two no-trump is the log­i­cal re­sponse here with spade sup­port, and you would only bid clubs first if you had a source of tricks that you need to make part­ner aware of. With a club suit such as A-K-4-3-2, I would bid two clubs first, since I can make slam fac­ing a very min­i­mum bal­anced hand that fits clubs and lets part­ner dis­card his slow red-suit losers.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: I’ve heard the term “re­stricted choice” used for de­clarer when his trump suit is missing the queen and jack. If one op­po­nent plays one of the honor cards the first time trumps are led, how should de­clarer plan the sub­se­quent play in the suit? Do you play for the drop or fi­nesse?

— Ra­zor’s Edge, Cedar Rapids, Iowa DEAR READER: Imag­ine, for ex­am­ple, that you hold five cards to the ace in hand, and four to the king-10 in dummy. When the ace drops an honor to your right, you can fi­nesse on the next round, or you can play for the drop. While a dou­ble­ton Q-J is (in ab­stract) more likely than a sin­gle­ton queen, a de­fender hold­ing Q-J has a choice of cards on his first turn, but no choice if he be­gan with the bare queen. In sum­mary: A de­fender is al­most twice as likely to have be­gun with a sin­gle­ton honor than with Q-J. The sim­pler hy­poth­e­sis is nearly al­ways right.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: I would like to learn to play con­tract bridge but know noth­ing about it, though I have played some card games. Can you sug­gest a way to get started?

— New­bie, Lex­ing­ton, Ky. DEAR READER: A sim­ple way is try contacting the Amer­i­can Con­tract Bridge League at (901) 3325586 and ask if there are any be­gin­ner classes in your neigh­bor­hood. For clubs in Ken­tucky, you can also try: lex­ing­ton­bridge­club.com.

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