ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: What would be your hopes for the world of bridge in 2020?
— Nostradamus, Sacramento, Calif.
ANSWER: Perhaps I should hope for something attainable and not look for pie in the sky. Maybe we might be successful in persuading a few school districts to teach bridge to the pupils, accepting that it is a fine tool to help children understand mathematics and develop concentration?
Dear Mr. Wolff: Holding SPADES K-8-4, HEARTS Q-4, DIAMONDS A-10-64-3-2, CLUBS J-10, I elected to open one diamond rather than two, because at favorable vulnerability I thought I had too much to preempt. We reached a hopeless slam, and my partner commented that he did not feel this hand was worth an opener. What do you say? — Hambone, Naples, Fla.
ANSWER: Wolff’s rule for preempting No. 1: Never pass with a bad suit — open one or two. This hand doesn’t qualify as a good suit, so you can choose to go high, go low or pass. To me, the pass stands out; with a bad suit — exactly the wrong top honor with which to preempt, since if partner is short, you can give him ruffs — and not enough to open, I pass. With the club queen instead of the jack, I might stretch to open.
Dear Mr. Wolff: What are the advantages of leading the king from the ace-king? If your partner is void, he won’t know if you are leading from the ace-king or king-queen and so cannot tell if it is right to ruff or not. Wouldn’t leading the ace inform your partner you have it, while leading the king would reveal that you don’t have it?
— Clearwater Chuck, Raleigh, N.C.
ANSWER: The more common problem with the lead of an ambiguous king is how to signal with length including the jack, facing a king lead. Compared to that, leading the unsupported ace and having partner know you need a signal for attitude, not count, is more helpful and comes up more often. Having a void facing the king is rare enough that I’ve seen only two disasters along this line in my life. But one was this year, I admit!