ACES ON BRIDGE
DEAR MR. WOLFF: With ; A-Q-2, k K-7, l J-9-6, ' K-8-5-4-3, I opened one club and heard a weak jump to two diamonds on my left. When my partner made a negative double, I was stuck for a call. My instincts were to bid two no-trump without a stopper, but I chickened out and rebid my clubs, which left us in an inferior partscore. Would you contemplate a bid of two spades on the three-card suit?
— Tied Up in Tinseltown, Los Angeles
DEAR READER: Introducing the three-card spade suit looks like a reasonable shot (after all, you may need to ruff spades in your hand). Your first thought of bidding no-trump here was not a terrible idea, but I’m just too cowardly to want to explain this to my partner if I’m wrong. I hate rebidding clubs with such a poor suit. DEAR MR. WOLFF:
Would you be kind enough to clarify the meaning of the last call on the following unopposed sequence? When I open one spade and rebid two hearts over my partner’s two-club call, he rebids two no-trump. Now on my third turn, if I bid three diamonds, what would you expect that to show?
— The Sign of the Four,
Duluth, Minn. DEAR READER: When partner has already bid notrump and the auction is below three no-trump, the primary meaning for a call in the fourth suit here is to suggest length, not shortage. You suggest a 5-4-3-1 pattern with some interest in playing in a contract other than three no-trump, thus probably extra values. But if your partner had rebid three clubs, three diamonds would be the fourth suit, so initially a probe for no-trump, with maybe a half-stopper.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: I just had a not-so-friendly discussion with the tournament director at my local club. As dummy, I observed my RHO revoke on the second round of clubs. When he followed to the third club, I pointed this out to my partner and was told in no uncertain terms that this was inappropriate. Can you explain the correct etiquette for dummy?
— Punctilious Petra, Saint John’s, Newfoundland DEAR READER: I’ve been caught out here, too. There are two contrasting instructions: Say nothing as dummy until an irregularity has been confirmed or the end of the hand is reached. However, if an irregularity has been established and the director is not called, dummy should rectify that omission at once.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: I held ; 3, k A-J-9-4, l A-K-10-8-2, ' Q-9-4. When I opened one diamond, I heard my partner respond two clubs, game-forcing. Do you agree with my choice of two hearts? Next, I heard my partner jump to three notrump. Can you tell me what my partner showed and what I should do next?
— Bonus Baby, Monterey, Calif. DEAR READER: Yes, your two-heart call (suggesting this red-suit pattern) looks right to me. Some might play your partner’s jump to game as Fast Arrival. Not me. I believe it shows extras, with two no-trump suggesting less or more than a strong no-trump. That makes the decision to move on now with a natural slam try of four clubs a straightforward one. You can always stop in four no-trump.
DEAR MR. WOLFF: Our two-club opening is forcing to game or four of a minor, except when opener’s rebid is a passable call of two no-trump. Recently, as responder, I held something like ; 2, k 9-6-4, l J-5-3, ' K-J-10-7-4-3. Rightly or wrongly, I judged it not quite enough for a constructive three-club response, so I bid two diamonds. Playing the cheaper minor as a “second negative,” is there any way I can unambiguously show the six-card club suit on my next turn? — Minor Minus, Nassau, Bahamas DEAR READER: If you don’t play two diamonds as a positive and a direct two hearts as a second negative, then another possibility is to co-opt a direct two-notrump bid to show this hand. In other words, it describes semi-positive values with long clubs, since that hand is so awkward to describe in any other way. I agree that a direct three-club call should be a better hand and suit than this.