ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: How would you handle a hand like SPADES J 4, HEARTS K 65 4, DIAMONDS K 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 ind a heart it. 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 it.
Dear Mr. Wolff: My partner and I have been arguing about whether there is any sort of hand that would pass in irst or second chair and then back into the opponent’s auction with a pre-empt. Is such a thing possible?
— Better Late Than Never, Spring ield, Mass.
ANSWER: There must be hands with the shape for a preempt 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 side-suit. When vulnerable, you might 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 preempt but should show it for your partner.
Dear Mr. Wolff: Holding SPADES Q 7 3 2, HEARTS K , DIAMONDS A J 4 3, CLUBS A Q 3, please discuss what you might open and why.
— No Way Jose, Bellingham, Wash.
ANSWER: Not all 18-counts are created equal. This hand, with its doubleton heart honors not pulling their full weight and no intermediates, looks like a strong no-trump to me. You could persuade me that if your no-trump range includes good 14-counts, then you should go high and not low; I’ll take that under advisement. At pairs, though, I’d reluctantly open one diamond so as to go with the ield.