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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Bobby Wolff United Features Syndicate

Dear Mr. Wolff: With nobody vulnerable I dealt myself •A-K-8-5, •A-Q-8-6-4, •K-4, •J-5 and opened one heart, raised by my partner to four hearts. I used Blackwood and signed off in five hearts facing one key-card, down a trick. My partner told me I was too aggressive, but I say he was wrong to jump to four hearts with five hearts to the king, five diamonds to the jack, and the bare club king. What do you say? — Steaming, Riverside, Calif.

Answer: Sorry, Steaming; you were wrong and your partner was right. The jump to four hearts is pre-emptive, suggesting trumps and not much else. Incidentally, I suggest you might consider using a jump to three no-trump over one of a major as a good pre-empt to four – say the hand your partner held with an additional ace or king. That way you know the direct jump to game is a bad hand.

Dear Mr. Wolff: I have noticed you have recently been playing with some success in both the open and the seniors game. Which do you prefer – and why? — Old Reliable, Hamilton, Ontario

Answer: There is no substitute for competing at the top level in the open game. Winning the bronze medal in the recent World Championships in Monaco was, I suppose, a form of self-validation; but winning at any form of the game still keeps my adrenalin going!

Dear Mr. Wolff: Can you ask a player if he has cards in a particular suit left in his hand? For example, if I lead a club and someone does not play a club, can I ask that player if he has a club in his hand? — Questing Beast, Dallas, Texas

Answer: You can always ask your opponents that question, and in the United States you can also ask your partner without penalty. Strangely, though, that question is forbidden outside the United States. If your partner has revoked and you ask the question, it establishes the revoke.

Dear Mr. Wolff: If you were dealt •A-5, •J-6-2, •K-9-7-5-4, •A-10-5, would you balance with an overcall of two diamonds after the bidding went one heart - pass - pass? Would vulnerability or the form of scoring matter? — Lord Protector, Lakeland, Fla.

Answer: Yes, I would balance here, and an overcall of two diamonds makes sense, though quite a good case could be made for a bid of one no-trump, showing a balanced 11-15 points. Despite your lack of a real heart stop, you really do have a balanced hand after all.

Dear Mr. Wolff: How does the bonus on the last deal of a Chicago work? What if you made a partscore on the third deal that is not converted to game? — Bonus Player, Mitchell, S.D.

Answer: The only time you get a 100-point bonus is for bidding and making a partscore on the fourth deal. The bonus does not apply to an earlier partscore. Note: this makes quite a difference as to whether to push for a game on the last hand of a Chicago.