ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: When opener supports responder’s major suit, I know that you believe the raise can be based on either three or four trumps. Can responder ask his partner to describe his hand more precisely?
— Define and Dandy, Waterbury, Conn.
ANSWER: A convention called “Spiral Scan,” by some, is used after opener raises responder’s major-suit response. A call of two no-trump over the raise lets opener use a four-step response; minimum with three and four trumps, respectively, maximum with three and four trumps, respectively. Responder’s two-spade call over two hearts tends to show four, to help reach a 4 4 it if opener has raised hearts with four spades and three hearts.
Dear Mr. Wolff: If you were dealt SPADES A 9 7 4 2, HEARTS J 5 2, DIAMONDS A K 7, CLUBS Q 2, and heard your partner open one no-trump, would you merely drive to game, or would you invite slam? (As the cards lie, my partner had king-queen-third of spades and a 16-count, but he had all the missing controls except the club ace, and we had 12 top tricks.)
— Underdone, Memphis, Tenn.
ANSWER: I would transfer to spades and then bid three no-trump, not considering slam unless my partner broke the transfer at his irst turn. But if, over my jump to three no-trump, my partner made a call other than four spades, it should show a maximum with three trumps. Then I’d probably up and bid slam.
Dear Mr. Wolff: Please explain how leading thirdandifth or third-and-low works — as opposed to fourth highest. What are the main differences, and which would you recommend I play?
— Spot Belly, Staten Island, N.Y.
ANSWER: Leading fourthhighest, but also lowest from three, may make those two holdings hard to differentiate. By contrast, leading a high spot card from two or four cards, but lowest from three or ive, means that any ambiguity should be between holdings that are two cards apart. An experienced partnership might consider moving on from fourth highest.