ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: When you hear your righthand opponent open one diamond, what should be your policy about overcalling on a 5 5 hand with one good suit and one bad? I had SPADES J 98 4 3, HEARTSA 2, DIAMONDS10, CLUBS A Q 6 5 4. The clubs are the suit you want partner to lead, but if you bid them irst, you may lose the spades altogether.
— Quality Street, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
ANSWER: These days, it is almost mandatory to play some form of two-suited overcalls, focusing on the majors, while the unusual notrump allows you to bid club or heart twosuiters. But if you have the wrong two-suiter for aMichaels Cue-bid or Unusual No-trump, just bid the major and let the chips fall where they may. There may be time for clubs later. Dear Mr. Wolff: Our excellent bridge club has superb players and pairs who frequently score high, plus a middle group and a bottom third, all in the open game. More often than Iwould expect, dark horse pairs in the bottom third come in top or close to it. Since bridge is signi icantly a game of skill, how is it that the less-skilled do well more often than expected?
— I am Curious Green, Dallas, Texas
ANSWER: I’m not sure how to answer, but you could reasonably think of the results of an event as a normal curve. Luck is never eliminated entirely from bridge (we need our opponents not to be perfect), so my experience at the local club has been that anything can happen. At higher levels, there are far fewer presents for everyone, so your mistakes tend to be really expensive.