ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: If the opposition overcalls our side’s no-trump opening bid, what combination of takeout and penalty doubles would you advocate?
— Wellington Boot,
Orlando, Fla. ANSWER: First of all, simplest is best. How about this agreement: If double is the first action from either side after the no-trump call, then the double is takeout. As soon as your side makes a positive call, most doubles are penalty. If you transfer and then double any opposition intervention, that shows values rather than being a trump stack; most other doubles show trump length.
Dear Mr. Wolff: We were playing against strong opponents. My LHO opened four hearts, doubled by my partner to show cards. I had 12 points and six spades to the A-Q-J with a singleton heart. What would you suggest, knowing your partner is conservative by temperament?
— John Stuart Mill, North Bay, Ontario ANSWER: If you don’t simply jump to slam, a five-spade call here could just be a better hand than one that would bid four spades. Some might believe that bidding four no-trump (which is typically two-suited for the minors), followed by correcting partner’s response to five spades, shows a heart control. If so, the jump to five spades might be a slam try, typically with no heart control.
Dear Mr. Wolff: My question is about which card to lead on the second round of a suit. In this instance, my partner led a low card against three no-trump and found a singleton in dummy, while I had Q-10-5-4. Declarer captured my queen with his ace and lost a finesse to me. Should I now lead back the four or the 10? — Rube Goldberg,
Holland, Mich. ANSWER: Either play may be right, though some critical factors are which spot partner led (does he have four or five cards?) and whether you need to cash out to set the game. The 10 is probably only essential if you need to cash three tricks in the suit on the go. Regardless, there is no definitively right answer, but the four is the right count card if that is what is important to partner.