Dear Mr. Wolff:

I wonder whether I can get any sympathy for a flight of fancy from last week. In third seat with something like six hearts to the 10 and four diamonds to the ace-king, I opened one diamond. Developments after this did not go according to plan – I will draw a veil over the 800 penalty.

– Blast From the Past, Elmira, N.Y.

ANSWER: Being in third seat is a license to operate with some partners, but you need to know your customer. Anything that goes wrong will be your fault and yours alone.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I occasionally send out bridge problems. Here is one I distributed today as an “It’s Your Call” problem. In a live game at the club, you hold SPADES Q-8-6-5-2, HEARTS K-J-9-7-2, DIAMONDS ---, CLUBS J-10-2 at favorable vulnerability. Partner deals and opens one club. You respond one spade, and partner raises to two. It is your call.

– There Is No Try, Portland, Ore.

ANSWER: I tend not to make game tries on these hands, despite the lovely shape. Make the club jack into a king, and I would maybe bid three hearts. Even the spade jack in addition might be enough to make a try. Even switch the spades and hearts, and I might be tempted!

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I learned that one should not count length points when bidding no-trump. Is that still the rule?

– Milton’s Work, Bellingham, Wash.

ANSWER: Great question! The answer is yes and no. When evaluating hands for opening one no-trump, down-value 4-3-3-3 shapes as opposed to 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2. Up-value intermediates and honors in long suits. More to the point, when responding to one no-trump, add points for a five-card suit if you have two of the top five cards in the suit.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

I need someone to explain Drury to me, please.

– Passed Out, Tucson, Ariz.

ANSWER: When you open one heart or one spade in third or fourth seat and the next hand stays silent, your passed-hand partner can bid two clubs to show a maximum pass with at least three-card support. This way, if you have opened light (as many players do in third position – and even in fourth seat occasionally), your side can play at the two-level facing an invitational-strength hand. A direct raise of your major is limited to about 8 points, while a jump raise is usually defined as shape, not high cards.

Dear Mr. Wolff:

You pick up SPADES 6, HEARTS A-K-J-7-3, DIAMONDS 7, CLUBS A-9-7-5-4-3, non-vulnerable against vulnerable opponents. Your right-hand opponent opens one spade, and you bid two spades, Michaels, showing hearts and a minor. Your left-hand opponent bids two no-trump to show a good spade raise. Partner passes, and your right-hand opponent bids four spades. What say you now?

– Action Man, Danville, Ill.

ANSWER: I would like to act, but I cannot commit to the five-level when my defensive prospects are fair. The solution is to double, which is “action,” showing extras with more offense. Partner should typically bid on with a fit for one of my suits (he would have to hold both minors to ensure a fit in one of those suits, and would then bid four no-trump), or pass with no fit.

(If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at bobbywolff@mindspring.com.)

(EDITORS: For editorial questions, contact ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION Editorial -uueditorial@amuniversal.com, Attn. Ryan Rice.)

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