Dear Mr. Wolff: What are your preferences for discarding? Do you advocate standard, upside-down, odd-even, Lavinthal or another form? – Sidearm Pitcher, Muncie, Ind.
Answer: I’m too old to switch from standard discards, and I see little theoretical advantage in one method over another. As to practical advantage – when people don’t ask what you play – unusual methods may have an edge, but that is another matter altogether!
Dear Mr. Wolff: I dealt an open 3 ♥, not vulnerable with ♠ —, ♥ Q-J-9-7-6-5-2, ♦ 8-5, ♣ A-10-8-3. My left-hand opponent (vulnerable) overcalled three spades, and my partner doubled. What should I have done? – Sorry Excuse, Great Falls
Answer: Your hand-type was narrowly defined, so partner’s double should be out-and-out penalties. You have an ace and nothing to be ashamed of, so pass happily. You may not beat it, but that will not be your fault.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I know that you like only to lead top or bottom from three small at a suit contract. But if you choose to lead second from a bad suit at no-trump, what do you lead from a suit headed by touching cards, such as 9-8-4-3? I can see cases for both the eight and the nine here. – Muddied Waters, Durham, N.C.
Answer: This is indeed a tough question. My policy (and I’m not really sure my partners know it) is to lead second from nontouching cards in a four-card suit – so the six from 8-6-4-2 – but always to lead top of a sequence. This occasionally may result in ambiguity, but I’m not sure that any method is completely safe here.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I held ♠ Q-7-3, ♥ J-9-5-2, ♦ K-Q, ♣ K-10-3-2. My partner opened one diamond, and the next hand doubled. I redoubled, my LHO bid one heart, and my partner rebid two diamonds. I thought this must show extra shape, if not high cards, so I tried for game, but two diamonds was our last chance for a plus score. Was I wrong to bid on? – Optimist, Memphis, Tenn.
Answer: You probably were being a little pushy here. Your partner’s action should always deliver a minimum hand with extra shape, or low defense, or probably both. With more, he would pass over one heart – forcing. Your absence of aces should be enough to warn you off further action.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I play bridge with a very good friend, a Life Master, who says she always promises five spades for a one-spade response when her partner opens one heart. I think she’s wrong, but I want to know what you think. – Lion’s Roar, Houston
Answer: In Standard American, unless you play Flannery (an opening bid of two diamonds promising four spades and five hearts in a minimum hand), the response of one spade does not promise five. But you do not have to bid spades if you have four baby cards. Bridge is an art, not a science – at least according to me!
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