Aces on Bridge

DEAR MR. WOLFF: Vulnerable against not, I held ; 6-5-4, k A-J-10-8-7-5-4, l 3, ' J-2. My left-hand opponent opened one diamond, my partner overcalled one spade and the next hand cue-bid two spades, showing a good raise. What would you do now?

-- Shapely,

Worcester, Mass.

DEAR READER: I want to bid with so much distribution, and while I would normally raise partner's major right away with three-card support, I cannot leave my hearts unbid. I want a heart lead in case the opponents buy the contract, and the hand will play better in hearts than spades if partner has a fit for me. Three hearts it is; my second choice would be four hearts.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: Say you open one of a minor, holding six cards in the suit. When partner responds in a major, is the priority to raise partner's major with three-card support and a minimum?

-- In Context,

Kansas City, Mo.

DEAR READER: I would tend to raise partner's major if the minor is not strong, as that is the bid most likely to get him excited. However, if my minor is very strong and my support for partner mediocre, I would definitely consider rebidding my own suit.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: With what kind of hand should I consider passing partner's one-level takeout double?

-- Good Trumps,

Grand Forks, N.D.

DEAR READER: You cannot pass the takeout double just because you do not have a suit to bid. You must have some expectation of beating the contract when you pass and should therefore have a strong five-card or longer holding in opener's suit (with strong intermediates so you can draw declarer's trumps). When in doubt, don't pass here.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: In a recent "Aces on Bridge" column, you gave an auction that used a jump to the five-level in the opponent's bid suit as Exclusion Blackwood. In my established partnerships, we use such jumps as asking bids, looking for first- or second-round control in the opponent's suit. Which do you think is the more useful?

-- In the Cockpit,

Little Rock, Ark.

DEAR READER: When the opponents bid a suit, I use jumps to five of our major as asking for control in that suit if we haven't cue-bid there. Similarly, in a three-suit auction (all our way), a jump to five of our suit would be about the fourth suit. When we are not in such a situation, the jump is about trumps. Most typically we have bad trumps, but sometimes only solid trumps. For example, one diamond - one spade - two hearts - three spades - four clubs - five spades would suggest solid trumps and nothing else.

DEAR MR. WOLFF: When someone makes a bad claim, say by miscounting trumps, what should a defender do?

-- Law Enforcement,

Wausau, Wis.

DEAR READER: As with any irregularity, it is best to call the director. Do not attempt to rectify the situation yourself. However, if declarer stated a line but has just miscounted the number of tricks they will make, then the claim is permissible. If they claim without stating a line, the director will probably rule against them. Declarer rarely gets the benefit of the doubt here.

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