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Dear Mr. Wolff: I held •8, •K-J-9-7-5-4-3, •A-K, •K-8-3 and opened one heart. My partner responded one spade. Is there any merit to my rebidding no-trump as opposed to rebidding hearts – and at what level should I make this call? – Cautious Claude, Duluth, Minn.

Answer: Bidding no-trump is absolutely unacceptable, since it shows a balanced hand. You should try to avoid that action with even a six-card suit, no less with seven. If bidding hearts, I’d opt for three hearts, not two. I’d prefer to have the heart 10 rather than the nine, but life is not perfect, is it?

Dear Mr. Wolff: Is there a difference between an action in balancing and in protective seat? What exactly do these two terms mean? – Sally Fourth, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Answer: When the auction comes back to you after two passes such that if you pass, the auction will be over, you will be in the balancing seat. This is also referred to as being in protective seat (particularly in England), but the terms are synonymous. By the way, the biggest misunderstanding about balancing is how many points you need to balance with one no-trump over an opening bid. The answer is 11-14, not 15-17.

Dear Mr. Wolff: My question relates to what one should hold to bid a new suit in response to an overcall. Does this show a dislike for the overcaller’s suit? Does it indicate a strong suit? And should it be forcing, or weak? – Switcheroo, Palm Springs, Calif.

Answer: Although a lot depends on one’s precise partnership agreement, I suggest the following will work well enough. New suits by an unpassed hand in response to a one-level overcall should be encouraging but not forcing. Equally, new suits after a two-level overcall or a jump overcall should be forcing for one round, though not necessarily to game.

Dear Mr. Wolff: Holding •A-K-Q-10-8, •4-3, •7-5-4-3, •Q-3, I heard my partner open one heart and I responded one spade. After my partner rebid two diamonds, what was best for me now? I tried three diamonds and played there, but missed our best game of four spades. – Minority Report, Richmond Va.

Answer: I hope I am not just being a results merchant when I suggest that this might have been an appropriate hand on which to break the rules and to jump to three spades, invitational, even though this ordinarily shows six spades, not five. The most likely game is four spades here; but you are surely not good enough to force to game with three clubs, the fourth suit.

Dear Mr. Wolff: I know that many players are advocating weak jump responses to opening bids. Do you have any comments? – Feebly Minded, Durham, N.C.

Answer: Fifty words are not enough for me to express my loathing for weak jumps in uncompetitive auctions. These jumps should be strong and slam-oriented. Yes, in competition, jumps may sensibly be played as weak. But incidentally, as a passed hand it is more useful to play all jumps (in competition or not) as promising a fit for partner.

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