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Bobby Wolff United Feature Syndicate

Dear Mr. Wolff: The experts in my club often use the term “mixed raise.” Can you tell me what it means and when it applies? – Recipe Required, Madison, Wis.

Answer: Facing an opening or overcall, a mixed raise shows the shape for a pre-emptive raise, but more in high cards, though not enough for a limit raise.

It typically shows 6 to 9 points, with four-card support. After partner’s overcall, a jump in the suit opened might show this.

After your partner opens a major and the next hand doubles, a jump in the other major could also be used for this. Beware. Both bids require partnership discussion.

Dear Mr. Wolff: With ♠ Q-10-2, ♥ A-J 9-2, ♦ A-9-7-4, ♣ 10-3, would you open in third seat?

If so, would you recommend opening one diamond or one heart? – Getting On, Charlottesville, Va.

Answer: I would not pass in third seat, and with a hand in this range I prefer to open one heart, the better suit, intending to pass partner’s response.

If you are playing with someone who insists on majors showing five even in third or fourth seat, then open one diamond, but the lead-directing value of bidding one heart is clear.

Dear Mr. Wolff: With ♠ A-J-3, ♥ Q-7-2, ♦ K-J-3, ♣ Q-9-7-6, I opened one club and heard the next player bid three hearts. My partner doubled, negative, and I had no idea what to do. I tried three no-trump, and my partner thought I had a good hand. … I’ll draw a veil over the proceedings, but what should I have done? – Ruing the Day, Holland, Mich.

Answer: You did not have an easy call. I would not bid three spades: I’d need four cards in the suit to do that. So the choice is to bid three no-trump, as you did, which does indeed show a balanced minimum hand rather than extras. Or you could pass, which will work fine if partner is also balanced. The chance of the contract making is less than one in five – and then you can apologize to partner for misguessing what to do.

Dear Mr. Wolff: When you respond with a forcing no-trump to one of a major, holding points for a limit raise but only three-card support, how do you show that hand after partner makes a game-forcing jump in a new suit? The sequence I’m envisioning is, for example, one spade – one no-trump – three clubs. – Second Coursing, Mason City, Iowa

Answer: This is a matter for partnership agreement, but my view is that a jump to four spades is weak here, and three spades is consistent with a limit raise as well as some weaker hands. Partner makes a slam-try with extras and signs off with a minimum, and you take it from there.

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