Dear Mr. Wolff: When I open one of a major, should partner’s jump to four of the other major be a splinter or to play? Is there a general rule in these positions? — Jumpy, Las Vegas, N.V.
Answer: I think many people play a jump to four spades over a one-heart bid as natural. (The double jump-shift of three spades over one heart is more likely to be a splinter.) My guess is that using the jump to four hearts over one spade as a splinter (because you could bid two hearts, then four hearts to play) is a common treatment, but not yet the majority’s style. In other words, with an unfamiliar partnership I would assume these jump shifts to be natural.
Dear Mr. Wolff: Can you explain the Gerber convention – and would you recommend its use? — Crazy Like a Fox, Jackson, Miss.
Answer: Here are my rules for Gerber, cast in stone. No four-club bid is Gerber unless the previous call was a natural bid of one or two no-trump by opener. If clubs have been bid naturally, four clubs is never Gerber. When four clubs asks for aces, the responses are on the sliding scale like Blackwood (0/4, 1,2,3), with a subsequent bid of five clubs asking for kings.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I held five spades and four clubs and two red-suit doubletons, my sole honor being the diamond 10. My partner overcalled one heart over one club, then backed in again with two diamonds over a balancing call of one spade. This was doubled, and I passed, since my diamonds were better than my hearts. Alas, my partner had only four diamonds and went down 800. Should I have corrected to two hearts? —Chastened Away, Kenosha, Wis.
Answer: Since partner is favorite to hold more hearts than diamonds, yes, I would have gone back to two hearts here. That could be wrong, I’ll admit, but I think that that action is the percentage one. Partners normally bid their longer suits first, as do we all.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I had a problem with the following beautiful hand after partner opened one diamond. I responded one spade and heard partner bid two hearts, to my surprise, when I was looking at •A J-9-6-4, •J-10-8-7-2, •K-2, •A. How should I have advanced the auction? — Rocket Scientist, Wichita Falls, Texas
Answer: The first thing to do is to set hearts as trumps and show a good hand. A simple raise to three hearts would be forcing, but I’d jump to four clubs, showing short clubs and heart support with slam interest. My plan would be to ask for aces next. (This hand would be perfect for Roman Key-Card Blackwood since the king and queen of trumps will surely be critical.)
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