The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Fun & Games - By Bobby Wolff Dist. by An­drews McMeel for UFS

Dear Mr. Wolff: I un­der­stood that fol­low­ing an over­call after your part­ner opens, as re­spon­der you can al­ways start with a take­out dou­ble, no mat­ter what was bid on your right. In what cases would dou­ble be for penalty? — Red Flag, Cartersvil­le, Ga. AN­SWER: If you play neg­a­tive doubles in re­sponse to an open­ing bid, it means that all ini­tial doubles of suit over­calls of four spades or lower are em­pha­sized to­ward take­out. Doubles of three spades and higher may tend to­ward op­tional, though. Doubles of no-trump bids and of ar­ti­fi­cial calls that show two-suited hands, how­ever, sug­gest a de­sire to de­fend. (When the op­po­nents find a fit, all doubles by ei­ther player at their sec­ond turn tend to be take­out.)

Dear Mr. Wolff: Should you wait un­til you have all suits prop­erly con­trolled be­fore launch­ing into Black­wood? Or should you cue-bid in­stead?

— Mumbo-Jumbo,

Mun­cie, Ind. AN­SWER: Don’t use Black­wood if you are sure you won’t know what to do over the re­sponse. In other words, if your hand con­sists of the firstround con­trols but not sec­ond- and third-round con­trols, let your part­ner ask; cue-bid in­stead to let him do so. When your side has more than enough high-card points for slam, it is not ter­ri­ble to use Black­wood with one suit that may be un­guarded if no sen­si­ble al­ter­na­tive ex­ists. Dear Mr. Wolff: What scheme of re­sponses do you rec­om­mend to a two-club opener? Do you pre­fer com­plex over sim­ple schemes, and what is your opin­ion of con­trol-show­ing re­sponses?

— Tripe and Onions,

Troy, N.Y. AN­SWER: I rec­om­mend a sim­ple scheme of re­sponses. I’m happy to bid two hearts with pos­i­tive val­ues and a rea­son­able suit, whereas a two-spade call needs two top hon­ors in a suit of five or more cards, or a six-card suit and one top honor. I can see the logic of us­ing all other calls as nat­u­ral, but if you pre­fer some­thing ar­ti­fi­cial, use two no-trump as clubs with lim­ited val­ues. Bids at the three-level would then be nat­u­ral with very good suits (or trans­fers if you want to live a lit­tle).

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