Dear Mr. Wolff: Recently, while declaring four hearts, I reached trick 13 and discovered my left-hand opponent, who was on lead, had no cards left. The missing diamond jack from his hand had been played simultaneously with another card (a club), but no one had noticed. What is supposed to happen now?
Answer: Call the director irst. I’d expect the diamond jack to be restored to your opponent’s hand and led to the last trick. If the player has revoked in the meantime, the penalty is whatever the revoke laws demand, but if he has managed to follow suit throughout thus far, he can count his lucky stars — there is no penalty.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I know fourth-suit forcing sets up a game-forcing auction. But how does opener deal with a fourth-suit forcing call, holding SPA DE SA Q J 4, HEART SJ 1042, DIAMONDS 5, CLUBS K Q 108? If you open one club and partner responds one diamond, do you bid your better major? If you bid hearts and your partner bids one spade, do you raise or bid no-trump?
Answer: There are different approaches to fourth-suit at the one-level, but whether this truly sets up a game force or not, it is simplest to play continuations by opener as entirely natural. Here, a call of two spades suggests this pattern and
12 14 points, while a jump to three spades is the same shape but 15 17. Raising the fourth suit shows four (assuming you haven’t bypassed the suit, in which case it suggests honor-third).
Dear Mr. Wolff: What is your opinion on opening a pre-empt on one fewer card than might be expected in third seat, nonvulnerable, or indeed at any other position or vulnerability? If you are not entirely opposed, what are the conditions you would require for such an action?
Answer: I’m opposed to random frivolity, though with a good suit and low defense — say, king-queen- ifth — I can understand feeling the need to act facing a passed partner. I don’t mind bidding one of a major with a ive-card suit and limited values in third seat. But an outright psych tends to destroy partnership trust for the next time you pre-empt, so I like to keep my hand roughly in line with what my partner might hope for.