ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: I was recently confronted with an auction where I had to check the backs of the cards. I heard one spade to my left, a oneno-trump call from my partner and a double to my right. I held SPADES A-Q-3, HEARTS 10-5-32, DIAMONDS A-Q-7-4, CLUBS Q-3. What could be going on, and how does the bidding add up? — Prince of Denmark,
Bay City, Mich.
ANSWER: Redouble, assuming that to be strong, and you will discover whether it’s your partner or your left-hand opponent who’s having a little fun. I’d guess that if your side is nonvulnerable, your partner may be experimenting, but if the opponents are nonvulnerable, the opening bidder may crack and remove himself.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I passed in first seat at matchpoint pairs, holding SPADES J-74-3, HEARTS A-J-5-4, DIAMONDS Q-8-3, CLUBS K-4 and heard my LHO open one no-trump, which was passed around to me. We play Cappelletti, where a double by a passed hand would be a maximum pass. Would you do that, or balance with two diamonds to show the majors, or just let them play one notrump? — On the Brink,
ANSWER: You left out the critical piece of information, namely the vulnerability. Think of vulnerability as a traffic signal. With neither side vulnerable, the light is green; with both sides vulnerable, it is red; and with equal vulnerability, the light is yellow. I would act at green, pass at red, and bid at yellow with 4-4 only if this hand had the king in spades rather than clubs. With 5-4 shape, I’d probably act at any vulnerability.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I enjoy your column and wondered where you get the quotes that precede the hand? Do you research them yourself or have a secret source?
— Whirly Bird, Charleston, S.C. ANSWER: For the quotes, Bartlett’s, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and wikiquote.org are fertile sources. My editor warns me when my choice is inappropriate or misattributed. When I can find something that makes me think, or smile, I’m happy.