Judy Kay-Wolff

TESTING — 1, 2, 3

Let me preface my presentation by stating that this is NOT a trick question.  After I receive your responses, I will fill you in on the details and then ask for your personal assessment.

Dealer:  South
Vulnerability:  Both 

In fourth seat, East opens 1D holding:  106   J5   KJ954   AKQ2

The auction proceeds 1S overcall by South followed by two passes.  Your call?   Just do what you would normally do.  I know most people hate riddles, so please bear with me. 


Danny KleinmanSeptember 14th, 2013 at 3:42 pm


Very distant second choice: 2C.

Jane ASeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I would bid two clubs.

SamSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I can’t think of any rebid but 2C. Something strange is going on as there are 26 points left and nobody has spoken up.

RKSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I’d bid 2C (first choice). Possible pass — but not my style

CarolSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Can’t wait to see what actually happened that caused you to put such a simple hand on for speculation. 2C — what else?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

2C seems to be the order of the day so far — and a suggestion of a possible pass. Any other possibilities?

Jerry GoldbergSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I would bid 2c. There is a school of thought that one should re-open with a
double on any hand that would sit for a penalty pass. I don’t think that treatment
is popular now.

Larry LowellSeptember 14th, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Pass, where are the hearts and the rest of the hcp?

I expect my partners to make a noise and not trap pass with GI or better values.

Gary MugfordSeptember 14th, 2013 at 5:19 pm


A hand that is a flip of the coin between two actions, Pass and 2C … in a quiz setting, means some OTHER action is the ‘right’ action at the table. South can bid a spade, but could neither bid 1S or 2S at the first opportunity to do so. Thus, I can only imagine double or 1NT are the REAL contenders in this auction. Again, partner didn’t do either of the two things South didn’t do as dealer. So, the winning action is 1NT. Raised to three and partners A9xx of diamonds, as well as the QJxx of spades and Kxx of hearts proves to be enough to make the contract. South has AKxxx Axx xx 7xxx. QED

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Hi Gary:

If West held QJXX KXX A9XX XX .. why not take action originally? Couldn’t West have bid 1NT or 3D after the 1S overcall?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 14th, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Jerry and Lowell:

I agree that in the olden days, people reopened with a double, but in this case — partner figures to have points. Thus, if is was hearts, a negative double have been made, especially after passing originally.

And, it is a good question, where are the hearts? Doesn’t figure to be with partner or you would have heard a noise before now.

Everyone has their thinking caps on.

PaulSeptember 14th, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I would say 2 clubs. If partner has a more diamonds than clubs he/she can bid 2 diamonds

doug bennionSeptember 15th, 2013 at 1:01 am

Partner has a mitt full of spades and noticeably hesitated before passing, so opener naturally reopens with a double.

RickSeptember 15th, 2013 at 7:15 am

Let me take a wild stab: your opponents doubled with the East hand and NS went for a big score. That was after West hesitated for some time before passing the 1S overcall.

And for 10 bonus points, I will presume the TD let the score stand.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for correctness, am I an 8 or a 9?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 15th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Hi y’all:

We are approaching zero hour and if any others want to stick in your two cents (which I welcome gratefully) — do it now — as I will provide more information this afternoon.

I do appreciate those of you who ventured an opinion. Later!

Jane ASeptember 15th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Judy did not mention any hesitation, so I will assume there was none. Hope springs eternal. I bid two clubs.

Greg NowakSeptember 15th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

If West has a bit is East barred from doubling? I vote no. Each East player is allowed to use their own style.

Rick LSeptember 15th, 2013 at 7:06 pm

2C-whats the problem?

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 15th, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Time to get to the heart of this balancing problem and present all the relevant information.

The South player (vulnerable), having passed originally, made an aggressive overcall of 1S as a lead directive — holding only AKJX chancing that a one bid doubled would not be converted to penalty. Here is what ensued: Partner of the diamond opener (West) held: 87432 AKQ Q5 J93. Many (though not all) may have opened 1S (acknowledging the danger) — but this West player choose to Pass in second seat (certainly reasonable action).

Having done so, a balancing double by the opener actually evoked a penalty pass by West (though not the choice of most better players). Now we get to the real issue! What would have caused the opener to take the position of reopening with a double rather than make a fairly normal call of 2C (or even a pass)??? Ah, there’s the rub! Partner stands to have points, but takes no action. Beats me! Incidentally, there was no huddle by the West player after the spade overcall. Another factor: EW are a seasoned partnership who often play together. Was this xray vision — or what?

However, the Bridge Gods protected the good guys as 1SX went down 2 (for -500) for which they received 10 out of 12 matchpoints. Several EWs were in 3NT (making — for +600) as it was unrealistic in a timely fashion to entangle four spade tricks and the DA. The partner of the overcaller held: Q9 107643 A1063 74. NS started with five tricks and ended with the same. I suspect most West hands opened 1S (!), partner bid 2D, opener rebid 2NT and East raised to game. With North on lead (without partner’s overcall) — a spade would not be led or switched to.

Declarer would win whatever was led and knock out the DA. The only lead that beats 3NT is to shift to the SQ immediately but hardly enticing in the face of an opening call of 1S. Rather impossible — don’t you think? Anything else allows declarer to scurry home with nine tricks (3H, 2D, 4C).

On the other hand, if for some strange reason, East becomes declarer, South would be on lead with AKJ5 982 87 10865 (pretty mangy overcall, I agree — but not without purpose — and South’s daring paid off). If the SK is led, defenders no longer can collect four spades as the suit blocks and South has no entry. I suppose double dummy, South could lead a small spade (from AKJX) — but seems too much to expect though it would enable them to collect 5 tricks against 3NT.

Another scenario (though it mattered not): With the West hand, holding the heart AKQ and the diamond Qx, isn’t it weird to lead the DQ rather than lay down one of your heart honors to see dummy. Maybe I’m losing it — or maybe not!!

C’est la vie!

I’d love to hear your thinking now that you see the entire picture. This was not a trick hand .. just another day at the office.

Danny KleinmanSeptember 15th, 2013 at 7:40 pm

My original answer was strongly in favor of a Pass. A distant second was 2C.

Anything else could be based only on unauthorized information and would call for an adjusted score as well as a procedural penalty. If a player did anything else, I would want to know who he is in order to refuse any offer to play with him as partner or teammate … no matter how much money he might offer to hire me.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 15th, 2013 at 7:46 pm


Very strong words and I respect you for being so forthright. Since I met you several years ago, you have always been the beacon of justice — and you walk where others fear to tread (as is the practice of TLW).

Thanks for your prompt response and not mincing words. I am curious to see the reaction of others now that the entire episode has been laid out.

Gary MugfordSeptember 16th, 2013 at 12:20 am


I had a spade amongst the diamonds. Partner was looking for a re-opening double to convert.

Hunh? No!?!

Maybe that’s why I lost so many post-mortems.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 16th, 2013 at 1:06 am

Hi Gary:

This whole episode gave me the creeps! Your sense of humor helps!

Jane ASeptember 16th, 2013 at 1:59 am

Once south makes the spade overcall, it looks like three NT, or any game, might not be there. Since it is clearly the east west hand, I imagine they hoped for a top by passing the reopening double and they were right about the game not being there in this case. The top did not materialize either, but they were not going to score well on the hand anyway. And if south does not make the aggressive bid of one spade, then three NT is a likely final resting place and without a spade lead, it will make unless north has amazing ESP. My partners know better. They feel lucky when I can remember what they bid! I see nothing really wrong with what east/west chose to do if they prefer to make a reopening double instead of bidding two clubs. It would not be my choice, but as long as no hesitation occurred and no UI was given, so be it. Ask 100 bridge players how they would bid a hand, and how many answers will you get? I leave that answer up to the experts.

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 16th, 2013 at 4:12 am

Hi Jane:

In answer to your reference to asking 100 bridge players how they would bid the hand, you can see from the random sampling above that almost all bid 2C and some would even pass 1S.

Your balancing double implies that you can tolerate hearts. If partner bid 2H, what would you do? You would have to play a 4/2 fit or miss a 4/4 club fit with 4/3/2/4. Whenever I step out of line, I always seem to get punished. Thus, I usually choose the straight and narrow and doubling with that distribution (and a mini opening opposite a passed hand) could open a hornet’s nest. How lucky partner could pass 1SX and come out plus 500 — but when the final gong sounded, it was not as good as they imagined.

Jim WSeptember 16th, 2013 at 7:05 am

dbl. Partner could not bid NT or make a neg dbl. So he is either very weak or has spades. If he is weak, why are opp not bidding?

Jane ASeptember 16th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Seems logical, Jim W. East should not expect west to have hearts since there was not a neg double to begin with. North/south got on the swing first this time. You pays your money, you takes your chances. My choice of bidding two clubs would have net me the same poor results.

Fun game, this bridge.

Greg NowakSeptember 16th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

1. The 1S bid is so powerful that it not only destroys the opponent’s mainstream position in the field, but it bars them too.
2. The ACBL has rules that state what East must have for any of his actions.
3. East may not use any deductions unless they can prove that they weren’t influenced by an unauthorized source.
4. Not fair.

Bobby WolffSeptember 16th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Hi Greg,

Yes, from strictly a bridge standpoint that 1S overcall became very powerful, and in this case, luckily achieved a great score (90%) whatever choice the opponent’s took, whether it be 1S doubled or worse to bid to 3NT and go set, unless somehow East, not West, would become the NT declarer.

Such is the unpredictable game of bridge and especially the matchpoint variety.

However, since West, after originally passing, then over the 1 spade overcall after his partner had opened 1 diamond passed in perfect tempo which then went back to his partner.

BIT’s are bad for bridge and need to be policed or else poisoned gas may continue to be used if no severe enough punishment is issued, however there are worse crimes in bridge than BIT’s, crimes in which both partners never have to stoop to BIT and then a pass. Needless to say that those types of abominations, if allowed to continue, will destroy not only the game, but any reason for ever playing it. Nothing more needs to be said, at least I think not.

Greg NowakSeptember 16th, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Thanks Bobby,

You’ve opened my eyes to something I guess I wasn’t thinking about. I’ll worry about my unsettled issues in a different venue.