ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: I read a recent letter in your column talking about strong raises available to opener when he has four-card support for responder’s major. Other than the jump raises, what actions might you consider? — Waiting for Godot, Dodge City, Kan.
ANSWER: A jump to the three-level suggests the equivalent of an unbalanced 15 17 high-card points; a jump to four suggests a balanced 18 19. With an unbalanced strong hand, a double jump in a new suit shows shortage in that suit and four-card support for partner. Occasionally but rarely, you can jump-shift, then jump in support of partner to show a really powerful three-suiter. Dear Mr. Wolff: How often is it a critical mistake to cash an ace against a slam, as opposed to that being the necessary defense? And when, if ever, do you consider leading an unsupported ace in a suit that hasn’t been bid and supported, or bid by your partner? — Best Foot Forward, Midland, Mich.
ANSWER: I tend not to lead an ace against any contract unless the auction sounds so strong that I imagine my tricks may go away. The stronger my opponent’s sequence, the more likely it is that I will lead an ace. Trying to give partner a ruff in your long bid suit by leading the ace and another is often also a plausible defense. Dear Mr. Wolff: As responder to an opening bid of one diamond, is my call of four clubs asking for aces? If not, what does it show? — Gerber Baby, Dallas, Texas
ANSWER: Four clubs should rarely be played as ace-asking, other than in response to a one- or two-no-trump opening or rebid. But specifically in response to a pre-empt, you can play four clubs as some form of ace ask. And after Stayman inds amajor-suit, you can optionally use four clubs as ace-asking. In almost every other instance, the jump shows shortness and agrees partner’s suit, as in your example.