Matchpoints. None vulnerable.
♠A K 10 9 8 ♥ — ♦6 ♣A K Q 10 9 8 7
What’s your call?
This was the best problem of the month as shown by the diversity of answers. Six experts took the direct action and blasted to 6♣.
“We doubt that anyone has the methods to bid the grand slam with confidence, so why not bid 6♣ — what you think you can make,” said Kay and Randy Joyce.
“6♣ — no control-bidding sequence will make this a scientific decision,” said Karen Walker. “If you start with 3♥, it may be impossible to convince partner you don’t have diamond support.”
August Boehm agreed with 6♣. “Bidding 3♥ is unlikely to ferret out enough black-suit information, and it risks partner’s later conversion to diamonds. When science seems unavailing, bid what you think you can make.”
“How wrong can 6♣ be?” asked Mel Colchamiro. “I doubt we can knowingly bid seven of either black suit when it is right.”
“There’s no way to explore, so I’m bidding 6♣, what I think I can make,” agreed Steve Robinson.
“We are being practical and bidding 6♣,” said Linda and Robb Gordon. “Yes, we would love it if partner understood that 5♥ was exclusion Blackwood, and we were on the same page with responses. What would likely happen in the real world, is that partner would play us for a heart void, a diamond fit and a grand slam try.”
Two experts were willing to bid 5♥.
“Bidding 5♥ is not the way to score high in a bidding contest,” said Larry Cohen, “but it’s my best guess as to how to reach 7♣. This asks for key cards outside of hearts (with diamonds as trump). Opposite two, I will bid 7♣ (partner had better pass!). If he has only one, we might be off the ♦A.”
“This is a fantasy hand,” said Mike Lawrence, “so I can give you a fantasy answer: Bid 5♥, exclusion Blackwood. If partner shows the ♦A with a 5NT bid, I’ll risk 7♣.
Six panelists bid 4♣.
Kerri Sanborn: “Luckily 4♣ is forcing. There’s no way to find out everything, but let’s get started.”
Allan Falk: “A 3♥ cuebid suggests diamond support, so that is out of the question. I don’t want partner correcting my eventual 6♣ or 7♣ to diamonds. If partner rebids 4♦, I’ll try 4♥ next, hoping to hear 4♠. I’m certainly not settling for less than 6♣.”
Barry Rigal: “4♣ is natural and forcing. Partner will likely bid 4♦ and I’ll try 4♠ or 5♠. Looking into my crystal ball, I see trouble ahead.”
Brad Theurer: “After 4♣, I plan on jumping to 5♠ next round to show a big black two-suiter with longer clubs. East didn’t raise hearts, so partner might have some length there, probably four, so may not have much of a fit for my suits. Still, I don’t need much for slam.”
Kitty and Steve Cooper: “The problem with starting with 4♣ is that we may never get to bid spades. Doesn’t 5♠ over partner’s 4♦ sound like a delayed splinter?”
Jill Meyers: “I’ll start with 4♣, which is forcing.”
Four experts made a 3♥ cuebid. They felt they might find out about spades, and can still get to 6♣.
“I’ll start with 3♥ and go from there,” said Jeff Meckstroth.
“I bid 3♥ in case partner has spades,” said Betty Ann Kennedy. “If I hear 4♦, I’ll settle for 6♣. The third-round spade control and a possible missing ♦A, have me concerned.”
“Let’s start with a 3♥ cuebid, even though this usually shows diamond support,” said Don Stack. “We may get lucky and hear partner bid spades. If he doesn’t, then our next bid will be 6♣.”
“What bad can come from bidding 3♥?” asked Peggy and John Sutherlin. “The trouble with bidding 4♣ is that a 4♠ follow-up would be non-forcing.”
Freak hands often frustrate a panel consensus. The path you take might depend on your personality. Are you a scientific bidder (3♥ or 4♣), a practical bidder (6♣) or a conservative bidder (Bridge Buff chooses 5♣)?
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