Dear Mr. Wolff: How would you handle a hand like SPADES J-4, HEARTSK- 6-5-4, DIAMONDSK-Q-4-2, CLUBS 8-7-2, facing a strong no-trump? Would vulnerability or the form of scoring affect your decision?
— Gun for Hire,
Orlando, Fla. ANSWER: It seems clearly right to start with a Stayman two-club call, with the intention of merely inviting game even if you find a heart fit. The honors in the long suits somewhat compensate for your lack of intermediates. With some heart intermediates, you might persuade me to do more. If vulnerable at teams, I might bid to four hearts if we found a fit. Dear Mr. Wolff: If the opponents intervene over our no-trump, what would you recommendI play to describe myhand? Is Stolen Bid an approved gadget?
— Barabbas, Madison, Wis. ANSWER: Both opener and his partner must be able to bid all the suits efficiently. (The transfer element is less vital.) Each player should be able to double with shortage since that is the hand you are most likely to want to compete on. Responder can play transfers and Stayman over an artificial double or a call of two clubs— with double acting as Stayman. After higher intervention, new suits should be natural at the two-level and forcing at the three-level. The meaning of a two-no-trump call as Lebensohl is discussed at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Lebensohl. Dear Mr. Wolff: My partner and I have been arguing about whether there is any sort of hand that would pass in first or second chair and then back into the opponent’s auctionwith a pre-empt. Is such a thing possible?
— Better Late Than Never,
Springfield, Mass. ANSWER: There must be hands with the shape for a pre-empt but not the right honor location, where you might pass initially but decide to pre-empt later. Similarly, you may have a hand with too much defense or with a sidesuit. When vulnerable, youmight also not have a good enough suit to act on initially. Whenever your partner bids, though, jumps by a passed hand in a new suit will not be a single-suited pre-empt but should show fit for your partner.