ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: Recently, I opened one diamond with SPADES Q-6, HEARTS J-3, DIAMONDS A-J-7-4-2, CLUBS A-K-J-9, and I heard my left-hand opponent overcall one spade. When my partner doubled, I was not sure at what level to bid clubs, or whether to gamble on one notrump. My partner told me later that a jump to three clubs would not be forcing here. Is that true? I thought opener’s jumps in new suits were forcing.
— Shaking Stephen,
Elkhart, Ind. ANSWER: You must differentiate between an uncontested sequence — where your jump rebid of three clubs would be forcing — and a jump in response to a negative double. Think of the latter sequence as jump raising a suit partner has implied. Having not opened one no-trump (well done!), a jump to three clubs shows this hand nicely.
Dear Mr. Wolff: What is the main difference between the meanings of your calls in direct and balancing seat? Is it always about highcard ranges, or are there positions in which bids have different meanings?
Lorain, Ohio ANSWER: When you are in the balancing or protecting seat, you tend to reopen when possible, so your actions may be made with about a king less than they guarantee in direct seat. In that seat, jumps over one-level bids, however, are 13-16, not weak, with good suits. And a jump to two notrump would be strong, not unusual, with a range of 18-20 or so.
Dear Mr. Wolff: What are the merits and drawbacks of third-and-fifth leads, and why should I consider playing them? — Pippy Longstocking, San Juan, Puerto Rico ANSWER: Third-and-fifth leads may help you work out how long partner’s suit is. Fourth-highest and second from bad suits may help you differentiate when the lead is from an honor or from weakness. The two-card disparity of a low card being from three or five cards (as opposed to the one-card disparity of fourth from four or five cards) is what may help you out here. But if you lead count cards, your partner will often have no idea how good your suit is.