ACES ON BRIDGE
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?
— Lost in the Shuffle, Worcester, Mass.
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, there is no penalty.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I’m trying to learn the basics of declarer play. Should declarer count winners or losers when planning the play?
— Victor the Viper, Augusta, Ga.
ANSWER: You ask a tough question, akin to asking the length of a piece of string. Do you count losers or winners? I just don’t know how to answer, because sometimes it is one, and sometimes the other. Often it is losers, not winners, that are critical at suits, especially when we have tricks to spare. I think I look for winners irst, and if I meet the target, then I make sure to control losers. Each hand brings its own rules.
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?
— Silver Bells, Dayton, Ohio
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.