2017

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.

♠ K 7 5 A K J 8 2 A ♣ K 10 8 3
West North East South
1♠ Dbl
1NT (1) Pass 3♠ ?

(1) “Good” raise to 2♠

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Oct. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), Pass was named top bid.

Do you agree with South’s double of 1♠? This problem reflects a difference of style among experts. Some felt this hand is too strong to overcall. If you overcall 2, partner may have an awkward responding hand and pass.

Others were willing to overcall with very good hands to avoid problems such as this one. The double leads to the second problem. When you double, expecting to bid a suit next, bad things may happen. Also, when you have two suits, the best way to show them is to begin bidding them.

Jill Meyers agreed with the double. “The hand is too good to overcall,” she said.

“If I overcall 2,” said Steve Robinson, “I would have bad follow-up choices.”

“We thought we could double and convert to 2,” said Kerri Sanborn, “but the auction has taken an odd twist.”

“I absolutely agree with double,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “The way the bidding has proceeded, it would have been better to have overcalled, but that is playing results.”

“The double is okay (borderline),” said Larry Cohen. “If I knew the auction would continue this way, I would have started with 2.”

“Just a little too much to overcall,” agreed Peggy and John Sutherlin.

Others are just as adamant that an original 2 is better than double.

“A 2 overcall,” said Karen Walker, “should promise a good to great hand, and this is in that range.”

“Would prefer 2 by several country miles,” said August Boehm.

“We don’t like the original double at all,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “This is a ‘bad’ 18-count because the A is singleton.”

The panel is also divided on the second part of the problem. There are cautious bidders and risk takers.

“4,” said Robinson. “Should catch spade shortness and some hearts.”

“Can’t bear to pass,” admitted the Sutherlins, who bid 4. “All bids are a gamble. Sometimes you roll the dice and see what happens.”

Barry Rigal agreed with 4. “Could be suicidal, but I’ve been down before,” he said.

“Maybe they won’t know I’m bluffing,” said Paul Soloway, “and take the push to 4♠.”

Boehm and Mike Lawrence also bid 4 and mentioned they hoped the opponents bid on to 4♠.

“Could be trouble,” said Grant Baze, “but bidding 4 will win more matches than it will lose.”

The conservatives passed.

“I’m hoping for a plus,” said Betty Ann Kennedy. “If I double and partner bids 4, I’ll have to correct to 4. My suit is neither long enough nor strong enough.”

“Pass,” agreed Cohen. “If I double again, partner will surely bid diamonds, and if he has no heart fit, we could be dead. Dangerous to bid, but also dangerous to pass. I’m praying partner doesn’t have anything.”

“Pass,” echoed Randi Montin. “I am just guessing now,” she admitted. “If partner has four or five hearts or long clubs, I should be bidding. But he could just as easily have no points or long diamonds.”

“Pass. No choice at this point,” explained Richard Freeman.

Kitty and Steve Cooper preferred double and elevated the score for that call: “Bidding 4 seems too kamikaze to us with a less-than-great five-card suit opposite a probable yarborough.”

“Double,” said Walker. “It sounds like partner has a singleton spade and, therefore, some heart support, but it’s not guaranteed. Double gives us an extra option, as we can play in clubs if partner surprises me with 4♣. If he bids the expected 4, I’ll bid 4 and pray.”

The lesson is that on some hands, even experts don’t agree.

Awards

Call Score
Pass 50
4 45
Dbl 40

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. Both vulnerable.

♠ 10 9 7 6 5 3 5 3 2 5 ♣ K 5 3
West North East South
1NT (1) Pass Pass ?

(1) 1NT= 15-17
For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Oct. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 2♠ was named top bid.

Unless the opponents have missed the boat, partner is marked with a balanced opening hand or even a strong notrump. Therefore, we’d like to play 2♠. But will partner pass and let us play there?

“2&spades,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “Partner is marked with values. Hopefully he won’t go crazy. I never get a good result by passing as he will probably lead a diamond.”

August Boehm agreed. “I’d rather declare 2♠ with finesses working than defend 1NT with a diamond lead.”

“2♠,” agreed Allan Falk. “At matchpoints, North will cut me a lot of slack and be happy I took him off an ugly opening lead problem (against 1NT). Now I can pass the opening lead problem to LHO. Let’s see if West can solve this dilemma.”

Larry Cohen bid 2♠. “This is a very important area of competitive bidding, and I feel strongly about this action. All the cards will be onside, and I expect to do well. Partner would have acted directly with his own one- or two-suiter, so he should be relatively balanced, thus producing at least spade tolerance. Partner knows not to bury me — I am bidding his cards on this auction. Who wants to pass and watch partner lead a diamond? Although there will be passers, I am sure that passing is a long-run losing action.”

“Partner has a strong balanced hand,” said Steve Robinson who bid 2♠. “With a strong unbalanced hand, he would have bid. Hope partner doesn’t hang me.”

Yes, that’s the problem. The strength of your hand has a wide range. Partner will often give you credit for more than 3 high-card points and make a game try. Will that get us too high?

“Pass,” said Kerri Sanborn. “I would probably bid if not vulnerable. It’s too likely that partner has a good hand and wants to bid something, and we could easily go for minus 200.”

Barry Rigal agreed with pass. “All the experts bid (2♠), and their partner passes with a balanced 17 HCP?” he asked.

Randi Montin echoed this thought. “Partner has a good hand, but if I bid, we will surely get too high,” she explained.

Something else to consider: What if you balance and the opponents compete? Do you really want a spade lead?

“Pass,” said Jill Meyers. “Partner will play me for more. Also, my suit isn’t good enough. I might bid if my ♣K were the ♠K instead.”

“Partner has values, but will he ever play me for this little for a vulnerable balance?” asked Karen Walker. “If he has enough for us to make 2♠, he’ll probably think it’s enough to make a lot more. I feel minus 200 coming.”

Grant Baze sums up the case for passing.

“We don’t have a zero yet,” he said. “At some point, respect for vulnerability has to outweigh matchpoint madness. For me, this is that point.”

Yes, you don’t have a zero yet, but half the panel felt that you are headed for a bad result in 1NT and are willing to try to improve that by bidding 2♠. Is the risk worth it?

Awards

Call Score
2♠ 100
Pass 90

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable.

♠ Q 10 7 J 9 7 4 10 4 2 ♣ A K 9
West North East South
1 Pass
1NT Dbl 2 ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Oct. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), Double was named top bid.

Your side has the majority of the high-card points, but you have no suit to bid. Eight of the experts made a penalty double.

“Double and lead a trump,” said Barry Rigal. “Not perfect; maybe 2NT is better, but I’m going for the big kill.”

“Double, only because I don’t know what else to do,” said Richard Freeman. “2NT is a second choice, but if we can’t beat two of a red suit, we probably can’t make that.”

Jill Meyers agreed with double. “I have values with no direction. Partner should have at least three diamonds.”

“Double and lead a trump,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Our trouble may not be over if West bids 2and it comes back to us.”

“Double,” echoed Larry Cohen. “I suspect left-hand opponent is bidding 2next, but meanwhile, I have lots of defense. If everyone passes and I lead a trump, I can’t see them making lots of tricks.”

“I’m going to double to show values and see what happens,” said Allan Falk. “If it goes all pass, they will be in a 4–3 fit.”

Betty Ann Kennedy and Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed with double and gave similar reasons.

The problem with double is that almost all your values are in partner’s suits, prompting several panelists to pass.

“I’d like to bid, but I don’t have a suit,” said Steve Robinson.

“RHO appears to be 3=5=4=1,” said Grant Baze, “and that means the hand plays well for them and badly for us.”

“The auction is not over,” said Karen Walker, “so it’s possible I’ll have a chance to do something more intelligent later.”

Mike Lawrence agreed. “West will bid 2&heartss;,” he says. “I can then decide if I want to bid 2♠ or double. This could easily be a deal where we have more high-card points, but should not declare.”

“We downgraded pass in the scoring since the majority of the panel did something,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper.

Five other panelists didn’t want to double or pass.

“2♠,” said Randi Montin. “The suit appears to be evenly divided. Double should show better diamond and heart values. My values are in partner’s suits.”

August Boehm agreed with 2♠. “Not too worried that the opponents will compete further. If they were vulnerable, I would double.”

Jeff Meckstroth and Kerri Sanborn both bid 2. This has the advantage that if partner has five of either spades or clubs, he will bid that suit and you’ll play in the better fit.

“Need to compete somewhere,” said Meckstroth, “and 2 is a cheap cuebid to hear from partner.”

“It seems silly to bid a three-card suit when I don’t have to,” added Sanborn.

If partner has a 4=2=3=4 distribution, you don’t have an eight-card fit. 2♠ may be a difficult contract to declare on a 4–3 fit. If the defense leads hearts, partner will have to ruff in the long hand. Also, the diamond honors are likely behind partner.

Double is penalty, but you may be unable to set 2or 2. When you have no clear action, pass is a good idea. Most panelists didn’t agree, however, and took an aggressive action instead.

Awards

2♠20

Call Score
Dbl 100
Pass 50
2 20
2NT 10

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable.

♠ A 4 3 A Q J 2 ♣ A 8 6 4 3 2
West North East South
1♣ 1 2 (1)
2 Dbl Pass ?

(1) Limit raise or better for clubs

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 3 was named top bid.

Your hand is strong. Partner could have a routine 13 high-card points such as:
♠8 4 3 A K J 10 8 6 3 ♣K Q 9.

Even without a heart lead, your side would have six clubs, three diamonds, two hearts and one spade for 12 tricks. Should we take charge or try to get partner to cooperate?

The most popular bid was a 3control bid.

“3,” said Mike Lawrence. “I hope to hear 3*H* from partner allowing me to bid 3♠ When I pull 3NT to 4♣, he will know most of my hand and of my strong slam interest.”

“Too good and shapely to consider defending,” said Barry Rigal. “The general rule is that when opponents bid two suits, you show where you live rather than asking. I’ll (grudgingly) give up over 3NT.”

Kerri Sanborn also bid 3. “Bid the suit you have when the opponents have bid two suits. I’m almost sure to get a 3NT bid from partner, and then I will make my slam move by bidding 4♣. I will respect a 4NT signoff from partner and bid slam facing any interest.”

“Tempting to pass,” said Larry Cohen, “but it is too likely that we have an easy slam. Even opposite only a three-card club suit, slam could be excellent.”

“2♠,” said Jill Meyers. “This leaves most options for partner to make her most natural bid.”

Grant Baze agreed with 2♠. “This will force partner to bid 3♣ if he hates his hand and has no diamond stopper. Then I will be able to bid 3 and respect a 3NT signoff. He might have 4=4=2=3 with bad clubs and no heart ace.”

Allan Falk didn’t like bidding 3 or 3 and also opted for 2♠. “Over 3*D*, partner will often bid 3NT. When that happens, I’ve lost a whole level of bidding room, and I know nothing more about his hand. With:
♠K J 5 K Q 10 6 8 6 3 ♣Q J 7,
3NT is enough. But with:
♠K J 5 A J 9 6 6 3 ♣K 9 7 5,
we are probably cold for a grand slam (with a diamond finesse likely on).”

Kay and Randy Joyce liked a jump to 4. “Cuebids are okay, but we think a splinter gets the message across that slam is a possibility,” they said.

Others headed directly to slam. In constructive bidding, you usually want to bid in such a manner that allows partner to cooperate. With your hand, however, partner could have a hand with which he declines to make any forward-going move, yet slam is easy.

“4NT,” said Paul Soloway. “No use wasting time on my way to 6♣ or 7♣.”

Betty Ann Kennedy bid 4♣ as Roman Key card ask in clubs (which is not part of the IYC bidding system). “Why complicate the auction?” she asked.

Karen Walker bid 4NT. “Make the opponents pay for telling you where the red kings are,” she said. “If partner shows two key cards and the ♣Q, I’ll bid 7♣, playing the odds that both finesses are onside if we need them. Any other bid is likely to set up a tortured cuebid auction that will make finding out trump honors difficult.”

Because your hand is so powerful, you can make a control bid in three suits. You can also take the direct route and launch into 4NT. Any of these could lead to the best contract and the panel was divided about the best approach.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
3 80
4NT 80
4 70
2♠ 60
4♣ 30
Pass 10

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February 28

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. No one vulnerable

♠ 9 2 K 7 6 5 A K 42 ♣ K 9 3
West North East South
3 Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 3NT was named top bid.

When a player preempts, it is like shooting dice — you’re not sure what number you are going to roll. The opponents have a spade fit and should be able to make game. In fact, with certain constructions, they might make a slam. What can we do to make it hard for them?

“3NT,” said Larry Cohen. “If I bid 4, they will surely settle into four of a major. If I bid 5, I’m afraid that it will be in the minus 500 neighborhood. So, I’ll try thievery — there is a chance that 3NT will freeze out both opponents, and I will gladly pay 50 a trick.”

Paul Soloway agreed. “Looks like they can make anything they bid, and 5might go for too much. 3NT at least shows strength, so might steal the deal.”

Barry Rigal agreed. “Not sure who can make what, but I’ll seize the notrump and hope not to have to worry about it anymore.”

“3NT could make or could be a good save,” said Steve Robinson.

“3NT has two ways to win,” said Karen Walker. “It could make with the right dummy and a lucky opening lead, or (more likely) it will end the auction, and I’ll be minus a small number instead of minus 420.”

August Boehm called 3NT “a bit of preemption and a bid of deception.”

Other experts took the straightforward approach and raised to 4.

Richard Freeman was one. “A 5 bid might go for too many. Sometimes opponents guess wrong here,” he said.

Peggy and John Sutherlin agreed. “4is enough for now. It gives us a reasonable chance to buy the hand and make a partial.”

“We have very little defense against 4,” said Allan Falk, “but 5is likely to be too expensive. I’ll hope neither opponent is willing to force his partner to bid at the 10-trick level.”

The third group raised diamonds directly to game.

“5,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “I don’t know who can make what, so I’ll make them guess.”

“Let them guess at the five level,” agreed Kerri Sanborn, “rather than at the three or four level.”

Jill Meyers, Mike Lawrence and Betty Ann Kennedy had similar reasons and said that they hope to get to play it without being doubled.

The panel agreed that it is the opponents’ deal, but disagreed on what tactical bid you should make to steal it from them.

Awards

Call Score
3NT 100
5 80
4 70

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠ A K 7 2 K J 6 5 2 ♣ 9 4 3
West North East South
1♠ Pass 1NT (1)
Pass 2 Pass ?

(1) One-round force

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 3 was named top bid.

A common bridge maxim is don’t raise partner’s second suit with three-card support . There is also an adage that says that rules are made to be broken. The majority chose to break the rule this time.

“3,” said Larry Cohen. “Horrible options, but this three-card raise feels like it keeps the most doors opened. All other lies feel worse.”

“Least of evils,” agreed Richard Freeman.

“Another tough problem without a good answer,” echoed Jeff Meckstroth.

Kerri Sanborn agreed with 3. “I have to make a forward-going bid, and I choose to raise hearts as the best possibility,” she said.

“My hand is too good to bid 3,” said Jill Meyers, “so I will propose playing the 4–3 fit. Partner could have five hearts.”

“We normally have four hearts to raise,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin, “but there is a good chance we can make a vulnerable game. A 3 bid probably ends the auction.”

Mike Lawrence made the point that he would have bid 3 invitational over the 1&spades opening. That is not part of IYC standard, however, and people who play 3 as a strong jump shift or as a Bergen raise would face this problem. When partner suggests giving a specific bid a certain meaning, a good question to ask is: “What do we give up if we play that?”

August Boehm bid 2NT but called it a “systemic mess.” He added, “Our methods should include a jump to 3 with this type of hand. Now, we’re stuck.”

Paul Soloway also bid 2NT and said, “I need to make a bid to show some values, and 3 just does not cut it.”

Over 2NT, partner may be strong enough to bid out his pattern. With five hearts, he can bid 3. With three of either minor, he can bid that. Grant Baze and Barry Rigal agreed with this reasoning.

Rigal said 2NT “is horribly flawed, but correct on values, and may let us get to a sensible contract yet.”

Baze said, “If partner is going to accept, 2NT gives him a chance to bid out his pattern rather than bidding what he will think is a routine 4 (if I raise to 3).”

Kay and Randy Joyce, this month’s scorers, sum up the issues. “Too good for 3. You are short one heart for 3. In 2NT, you are off the entire club suit. Tough problem.”

Awards

Call Score
3 100
2NT 90
3 40
4 40

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable

♠ A K Q J 9 7 6 A 5 ♣ A Q 9 3
West North East South
4 ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 6♠ was named top bid.

In bidding, bridge experts often fall into two groups. One group is scientists who try to involve partner in the decision, and this is often the better approach. With the hand shown, you might belong in 4♠, 5♠, 6♠ or even 7♠. Other experts are pragmatists. They realize that when their hand is too hard to describe, they should make a practical bid — with this hand, they simply bid slam.

Larry Cohen was a pragmatist. “Any attempt at science is useless,” he said, “and 6♠ is a practical bid. Hope partner has the right hand.”

Steve Robinson agreed. “Gambling that partner has one of the two minor-suit kings.”

Paul Soloway also bid 6♠, calling it a “reasonable gamble. What does 5♠ mean?” he asked. “Any other bid is crazy.”

“There is no scientific way to find out if partner has the cards you need, so I’ll make the guess that offers the biggest reward,” said Karen Walker, who bid 6♠. “There may be a good case for playing 5♠ as a general slam invite, but I think partner will take it as asking for a heart control.”

One group of scientists bid 5♠. They want to try to involve partner in the decision.

“5♠,” said Richard Freeman. “Should be asking partner for help in the other suits, not for heart control.”

Randi Montin agreed. “A slam try, not asking for a heart control. We could make anything from 4♠ to 7♠, and I need a little help from partner.”

“5♠ is not asking for a heart control,” said Allan Falk. “It says I have almost 11 tricks in my hand.”

“No good answer,” said Meckstroth, who agreed with 5♠. “I’ll try and bring partner into the game.”

Other scientists bid 5. They were willing to force to 6♠ (over partner’s expected 6♣ or 6 bid) and wanted to keep the road open to a possible grand slam.

“5,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We can convert partner’s 6♣ or 6 to 6♠. He will know we are inviting 7♠. An immediate 6♠ will almost certainly end the auction.”

“5,” echoed August Boehm. “I will follow this with 6♠, keeping channels open for a grand, even though 6♠ may be too high.”

Betty Ann Kennedy agreed. “After partner’s expected response of six of a minor, I’ll bid 6♠. If partner miraculously has both minor-suit kings, then he can bid 7♠.”

“4NT followed by 5♠ shows 11 tricks,” said Grant Baze. “If (over 4NT) partner jumps to 6♣ or 6, I will jump right back.”

Baze was another scientist. 4NT normally shows two suits. Spades rank higher than whatever partner bids, however, so you can correct his response to 5♠. This approach has two advantages when compared to 5. You can stop in 5♠ if partner is broke. Further, partner may be able to make a bid that shows some values, such as 5 or a jump to the six level.

Two experts and Bridge Buff bid only 4♠.

“That’s why people preempt,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “Always guess for a plus at matchpoints.”

“I would like to know against whom I am playing,” said Kerri Sanborn, “and how aggressive they are.”

Kay and Randy Joyce, this month’s scorers, sum up the problem: “6♠ is a practical choice. What does 5♠ ask or mean? Bidding 4♠ is too timid.”

Awards

Call Score
6♠ 100
5 80
5♠ 70
4♠ 40
4NT 20

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ K 8 K 9 3 K J 8 7 5 4 ♣ Q 10
West North East South
1♠ Dbl Redbl
2♥ Pass Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 3 was named top bid.

You have 12 high-card points and a six-card suit, yet half the panel did not force to game.

“2NT,” said Allan Falk. “I need to limit my hand. These days, 12 HCP opposite an opening bid does not guarantee game.”

Grant Baze also bid 2NT and said, “With no aces, 3NT is too much. 3 is essentially the same bid as 3NT, because it commits us to game.”

“2NT may not be perfect,” said Barry Rigal, “but it seems the best way to get my general values across. Since I do not know if I want to play game, I suppose I won’t be upset if partner passes.”

Although she bid 2NT, Kerri Sanborn said she would accept 2♠ or 3. Jeff Meckstroth similarly agrees that 2*S* or double could be right.

If you decide not to force to game, bidding 2♠ can be safer than 2NT.

“2♠,” said Steve Robinson. “Any other bid is game forcing, and I don’t want to force to game.”

Mike Lawrence agreed with 2♠. “Invitational and passable,” he said.

Karen Walker bid 3NT. “A 3 bid here seems like a stall. If you bid it and partner bids 3 or 3♠, you’re going to bid 3NT anyway.”

Kay and Randy Joyce, this month’s scorers, agreed with Walker. “Since nine tricks are usually easiest to take, we will try for the cheap game of 3NT.”

The majority of the expert panel make note of the six-card diamond suit and bid it.

“We’re sort of endplayed,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro, who bid 3. “2NT could work out — it’s a guess.”

“3,” agreed Larry Cohen. “It could be right to double, but that feels super-macho with only king and two low hearts. I’ll try to win the event on some other deal.”

“3– on my way to 3NT if partner bids it or cuebids 3*H*,” said Betty Ann Kennedy.

“I do have a six-card suit and an opening bid,” explained Paul Soloway.

Sometimes there is no right or wrong bid. If partner has a minimum, ill-fitting hand, 2♠ or 2NT may be high enough. Partner could have:
♠A Q J 5 4 8 2 9 3 2 ♣A J 8
and a part-score in spades or diamonds is the best contract.

Partner passed the 2 bid and would do so with a good hand. If we can make 6, someone has to bid the suit. Partner could have:
♠A Q J 5 4 8 2 A Q 3 ♣A 9 8
and 6is a great contract. After a 2♠ or 2NT rebid by you, getting to slam would be complicated.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
2NT 80
3NT 40
2♠ 30
Dbl 10

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.

♠ A K 10 9 7 4 Q 9 2 8 6 ♣ 5 2
West North East South
2♠
Pass 3 Pass 3♠
Pass 4 Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Aug. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), Pass was named top bid.

Partner has shown a big two-suited hand. What is our hand worth opposite his? Half the panel felt the ♠A K may not be valuable and pass. Others felt that with such good heart support, they should bid one more time to try and reach slam.

“Pass,” said Richard Freeman. “Partner should be 6–5 or 7–5 in the red suits. We may be missing a slam, but the five level may not be safe.”

“Partner may have a spade void,” said Karen Walker, who also passes. “I don’t want to hang him for getting us to the right strain. The Q is a good card for him, but not enough to convince me that slam is a good bet.”

“Pass,” said Larry Cohen. “I should have bid 3 last time for many reasons. Now I won’t go crazy since, if he is short in spades, I don’t have much. Let’s reward partner if he has judged well to bid this way with:
♠ — A K J 4 3 K Q J 10 4 2 ♣Q 4.”

The Bridge Baron passed. Readers may have noticed it scored 450 this month, the highest on It’s Your Call for a computer software program.

Other experts felt they owed partner one more bid.

“In context, we have a great hand,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “If partner can control clubs, slam should be on. 3♠ the last time? A bit timid, no?”

Steve Robinson also would have bid 3 on the previous round. He pointed out that you have a maximum weak two-bid and a value in hearts.

“5 ,” said August Boehm. “My raise pinpoints the issue of club control.”

“If partner is 6–5 with a club control,” said Jill Meyers, “we could easily have a slam.”

Barry Rigal bid 5. “I do not think my spade cards are pulling their full weight, and I do not want to get tapped out at once in hearts. Pass is such a huge position that I do not want to risk it.”

Most of the panelists agreed that North had at least 11 red cards, usually 6–5 or 7–5. The big problem is the club control. Half the panelists were not willing to bid again while almost that many felt they should.

Although, in general, the most frequent bids receive the highest scores, the guest scorers are given some discretionary powers. For this month’s problems, It’s Your Call is doing something different that readers may find interesting. Allan Falk summarized each problem and explained how he determined the scoring awards. Note that he saw the panel’s votes, but not their comments, before making his.

Falk: A fourth straight problem with no majority vote for anything. A strong plurality thinks they’ve found a game that makes, so they run up the white flag.

Almost as many panelists are thinking, “North has 11–13 red cards and is forcing to game even if I might have 1–2 or 2–1 in the red suits with low cards and no ♠A. I have the best heart support possible, honor third, and an ace. North would be less aggressive with two low clubs and more aggressive with two black singletons; I’ve got to suggest a pretty good hand so I’ll raise hearts.” If North hoped for 10 tricks in hearts or 11 in diamonds opposite an average weak 2♠ bid, this is a pretty good dummy.”

The 5 bidder not only doesn’t like his hand, he thinks it right to give a false preference, perhaps thinking (perhaps correctly) that North thought 4 must be forcing — they fear North might bid this way with
♠x A J 10 x A K Q x x x x ♣x, but it takes a dummy this good for 5 to be a decent contract, so that must be unlikely.

Finally, the 6bidder likes his cards, but heads for what is hopefully the safety of the 6–2 or 7–2 fit — that’s better than 5, but won’t be so good opposite, say, ♠x A K J 10 x A K x x x x ♣x.

Awards

Call Score
Pass 100
5 80
6 60
5 40
6 0

[divider]

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable.

♠ 5 10 9 8 6 5 4 Q 3 ♣ J 8 3 2
West North East South
2 4♠ ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Aug. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 5was named top bid, though just as many on the panel voted for Pass.

You have a massive heart fit and almost no defensive assets. It’s not often you see choices for pass, 5, 6 and 7! On hands like this one, there is often no clear-cut answer, so you make your choice and hope for the best.

Why bid 5?

“We know the opponents can make slam,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “5 takes away 4NT or the 5 cuebid, but doesn’t drive the opponents to slam.”

“It’s likely they have a slam,” said Larry Cohen, “but jumping to 6 might push them into it, whereas 5 gives them a chance to stop in five. As to any tactical or psychic actions, that’s not my style.”

Why bid 6?

“I think they can make a slam,” said Randi Montin, “and I think they will bid a slam no matter what I do — so I will make them guess as to the final contract without any room to cuebid.”

Why bid 7?

“I think we will go for less than 1430 in 7,” said Jill Meyers. “It will be harder for them to bid 7♠ (if it makes).”

“Why waste time?” asked Paul Soloway. “So they can get a forcing pass in? This is where you are going anyway as certainly they can make six.”

Why pass?

“I don’t want to push them to slam,” explained Jeff Meckstroth.

“Pass,” agreed Barry Rigal. “If I pass, the next player may pass. If I bid anything (except a striped-tail ape double), he will join in with 5♠ and push his partner into slam. Any votes for the double?”

A striped-tailed ape double is an inhibitory double of an opposing game contract made by a player who feels his opponents can make a slam. The doubled contract with overtricks scores less than the score of bidding and making the slam. For example, the score for 4♠ doubled making six when vulnerable is 1190, but the score for bidding the slam is 1430. If the opponents redouble, however, the doubler has to run “like a striped-tail ape” to the escape suit — hearts in this case.

In fact, two panelists thought of the double and had the courage of their convictions.

“I want to do something to stop the opponents from bidding slam,” said Steve Robinson, “and I don’t think any heart bids will do it. If they redouble, I run like a striped-tailed ape.”

Karen Walker agreed. “You get a chance to make a classic striped-tailed ape double about once every decade or two, so I’m taking it.”

Who knows which bid would work the best? This is more a question of tactics than what is the technically correct bid.

Although, in general, the most frequent bids receive the highest scores, the guest scorers are given some discretionary powers. For this month’s problems, It’s Your Call is doing something different that readers may find interesting. Allan Falk summarized each problem and explained how he determined the scoring awards. Note that he saw the panel’s votes, but not their comments, before making his.

Falk: Another scorer could well assign completely different awards and be equally right or wrong, so don’t take a low score to heart. [Editor’s note: We’re not responsible for bad puns.] Thirteen of 18 panelists voted to do something, so I broke the tie in favor of 5. After that, it was all a guess.

The passers were thinking that North might hold a five-card suit, and/or ♦J x x and ♣Q x, in which case perhaps East‑West can’t make more than 10 or 11 tricks (and sometimes North has a minor-suit king). That seems wrong to me when you consider that East bid 4♠, not 2♠, so East has at least six spades, and probably an average of seven. We have 11 or 12 hearts, so East has singleton or void, as does West, who will probably hold, again on average, three spades, leaving West with nine minor-suit cards divided 5–4, 6–3, or 7–2. East, who tends to hold five minor-suit cards, will discard any losers in one minor on West’s longer minor, so they rate to make 6♠ even if we have a minor suit trick.

The 5 bidders wanted to take away West’s Blackwood 4NT without pushing the opponents too hard. Also, we can easily have six or seven losers in a heart contract, so 7 may be down 1400 or 1700, not a particularly good save except against a grand slam that won’t likely be bid at most tables. Also, either bid gives West a chance to pass and pull a double, showing extra values (to avoid adverse committee rulings, almost all experts play this way, even though in theory it is probably better to do it the other way).

The doublers were making a striped-tail ape double — if no one redoubles, they’ll pay minus 990 or minus 1190 (they hope for the latter), terrible against plus 650 and great against 1430, 1460 or 2210. If LHO redoubles, no doubt they plan to try 5, but this is not likely to fool anyone — our opponents are supposed to be competent, not tyros.
Awards

Call Score
5 100
Pass 50
6 40
7 30
Dbl 20
4NT 10

[divider]
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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ J 2 9 8 6 4 5 4 3 ♣ K Q 9 5
West North East South
1 Dbl 1♠ ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Aug. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 2 was named top bid.

Your partner makes a takeout double so you bid your major suit — or do you? Almost half the panel bid 2♣ .

“2♣ ,” said Jill Meyers. “I don’t know that we are buying the hand, and I want a club lead.”

“Bidding 2♣ may help us on defense,” agreed Mike Lawrence.

August Boehm also bid 2♣ . “Preparing for a 2 bid from an opponent. Then 2 is an easy continuation.”

“2♣ . If left-hand opponent bids 2♦, I can continue stretching these values with a 2 bid,” agreed Karen Walker.

“If they play in diamonds or notrump,” said Richard Freeman, “I want a club lead. If they play in spades, we likely cannot outbid them, so nothing is gained by bidding hearts.”

Others bid 2. They didn’t really want a heart lead, but it’s hard not to bid your major when partner has made a takeout double.

“2,” said Randi Montin. “I hope partner has four of them. I don’t want the heart lead, but want to compete, and I would rather do it now than have to decide whether to bid at the three level.”

Larry Cohen also bid 2. “Not thrilled, but this is a reasonable chance to get in with my 6 high-card points and four-card major,” he said.

“Not vulnerable at matchpoints, I compete if possible,” said Grant Baze who bid 2. “Sure, I would like a club lead, but 2♣ is too exotic, because I cannot be sure this is their hand.”

The third group passed.

“Not enough to bid now,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “If West bids 2♦, which is passed back to me, I can do something.”

“I can always bid later if it comes back to me at a low level,” agreed Steve Robinson.

None of the panelists chose to double. In this auction, double is not responsive, it is penalty since the opponents have not bid and raised a suit.

“Double is not takeout,” said Barry Rigal, “It is penalty, and anyone who tells you to the contrary should have his license revoked.”

Although, in general, the most frequent bids receive the highest scores, the guest scorers are given some discretionary powers. For this month’s problems, It’s Your Call is doing something different that readers may find interesting. Allan Falk summarized each problem and explained how he determined the scoring awards. Note that he saw the panel’s votes, but not their comments, before making his.

Falk: A slight plurality bids the lead-directing 2♣ rather than the aggressive matchpoint 2— in part, I suspect, because the 2♣ bidders see this as a “two‑step” and their reasoning may be as follows: given that we have only three diamonds and partner made a takeout double of diamonds, either West or East is going to bid 2♦, hopefully no more, giving us a chance to next bid 2.

The 2 bidders are thinking that sometimes their partners are 4=4=2=3 and 2♣ will be passed out in a terrible contract; their partnerships bid so much they don’t worry about ever leaving partner on lead, I suppose.

Whether you bid clubs or hearts, it is surely correct to bid something, so pass is greatly demoted. Double would be penalty — it’s how you prevent East from psyching your side out of a spade contract (2♠ by South here would thus show more spades, as double would tend to show four decent spades), so it is not a reasonable alternative.

Awards

Call Score
2 100
2♣ 80
Pass 20

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This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ J 2 9 8 6 4 5 4 3 ♣ K Q 9 5
West North East South
1 Dbl 1♠ ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Aug. 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), 2 was named top bid.

Your partner makes a takeout double so you bid your major suit — or do you? Almost half the panel bid 2♣ .

“2♣ ,” said Jill Meyers. “I don’t know that we are buying the hand, and I want a club lead.”

“Bidding 2♣ may help us on defense,” agreed Mike Lawrence.

August Boehm also bid 2♣ . “Preparing for a 2 bid from an opponent. Then 2 is an easy continuation.”

“2♣ . If left-hand opponent bids 2♦, I can continue stretching these values with a 2 bid,” agreed Karen Walker.

“If they play in diamonds or notrump,” said Richard Freeman, “I want a club lead. If they play in spades, we likely cannot outbid them, so nothing is gained by bidding hearts.”

Others bid 2. They didn’t really want a heart lead, but it’s hard not to bid your major when partner has made a takeout double.

“2,” said Randi Montin. “I hope partner has four of them. I don’t want the heart lead, but want to compete, and I would rather do it now than have to decide whether to bid at the three level.”

Larry Cohen also bid 2. “Not thrilled, but this is a reasonable chance to get in with my 6 high-card points and four-card major,” he said.

“Not vulnerable at matchpoints, I compete if possible,” said Grant Baze who bid 2. “Sure, I would like a club lead, but 2♣ is too exotic, because I cannot be sure this is their hand.”

The third group passed.

“Not enough to bid now,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “If West bids 2♦, which is passed back to me, I can do something.”

“I can always bid later if it comes back to me at a low level,” agreed Steve Robinson.

None of the panelists chose to double. In this auction, double is not responsive, it is penalty since the opponents have not bid and raised a suit.

“Double is not takeout,” said Barry Rigal, “It is penalty, and anyone who tells you to the contrary should have his license revoked.”

Although, in general, the most frequent bids receive the highest scores, the guest scorers are given some discretionary powers. For this month’s problems, It’s Your Call is doing something different that readers may find interesting. Allan Falk summarized each problem and explained how he determined the scoring awards. Note that he saw the panel’s votes, but not their comments, before making his.

Falk: A slight plurality bids the lead-directing 2♣ rather than the aggressive matchpoint 2— in part, I suspect, because the 2♣ bidders see this as a “two‑step” and their reasoning may be as follows: given that we have only three diamonds and partner made a takeout double of diamonds, either West or East is going to bid 2♦, hopefully no more, giving us a chance to next bid 2.

The 2 bidders are thinking that sometimes their partners are 4=4=2=3 and 2♣ will be passed out in a terrible contract; their partnerships bid so much they don’t worry about ever leaving partner on lead, I suppose.

Whether you bid clubs or hearts, it is surely correct to bid something, so pass is greatly demoted. Double would be penalty — it’s how you prevent East from psyching your side out of a spade contract (2♠ by South here would thus show more spades, as double would tend to show four decent spades), so it is not a reasonable alternative.

Awards

Call Score
2 100
2♣ 80
Pass 20

[divider]

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ K 6 5 2 J A 10 7 3 ♣ Q 10 4 2
West North East South
1♥ 2♣ ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from July 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), Double was named top bid.

The panel was divided between making the negative double and passing and hoping that partner will reopen with a double so you can pass for penalty. The negative double works well if we can make a game. The pass works well if partner can reopen, if we can set it 300 and if we cannot make a game.

“Double,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “It’s too early to look for penalizing the opponents in clubs. We may still get a chance to double 3♣ .”

Randi Montin agreed that you may not set 2♣ enough. “I could try for a penalty double,” she said, “but we have to defeat the contract two tricks. I will look for a spade or diamond fit or for partner to have long hearts.”

“The double,” said Larry Cohen, “shows values and four cards in the other major — that’s what I have.”

“Double,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “Seems automatic to me.”

Others made the negative double, but don’t agree that it is clear-cut.

“Double,” said Jill Meyers. “Close between double and pass, waiting for partner to reopen.”

“It is tempting to go for a penalty here,” said Kerri Sanborn who doubled. “Partner might not be able to reopen. If I were sure I could defend doubled, my instinct is that I would do well a large percentage of the time.”

“Double,” agreed Mike Lawrence. “I much prefer to show my hand than to play for penalty. But passing, looking for a penalty, could work.”

Other panelists elected to pass, hoping to defend.

“Pass,” said August Boehm. “I’m delighted to defend 2♣ , preferably doubled.”

“Looks like the perfect hand for a penalty,” said Karen Walker.

“Going for blood,” said Barry Rigal. “If partner passes it out, our plus 150 won’t be so terrible if we can’t make game.”

“The poor spade spots lure me into going for plus 300 (by passing),” said Allan Falk. “If we can only go plus 100, I’ll be a goat, since we can surely make a bigger plus in some partscore. But perhaps we can still win if games our way go down. It would be nice to know who my RHO is. Against players more prone to bid on air balls, which these days is most of the field, I think the trap pass is the best plan.”

“If partner wants to reopen with a double,” said Grant Baze, “then I want to sit. As Barry Crane said, ‘Always go for the top.’”

Baze’s remark sums up the issue. How much of a chance do you want to take?

A negative double is the mainstream bid. If you can make 3NT or 4♠ , that action is the one that will help get you there.

Passing and trying to collect a penalty may lead to a poor result. Partner may not reopen the bidding. Partner may reopen with a double, but you might not be able to set 2♣ enough. But if you collect 300 and can’t make a game, you will get a terrific matchpoint score.

Awards

Call Score
Dbl 100
Pass 80
2NT 10

[divider]
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2016

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ A K 10 6 3 2 Q 2 Q J 2 ♣ 10 2
West North East South
Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 Pass 2♠
Pass Pass 3 ?

It’s Your Call deal (from August 2005), Double was named top bid.

Some panelists were surprised by the sequence. They wanted to know whether North was permitted to pass 2♠ after starting with 2. First, panelists were using the SAYC, in which 2♠ is not forcing. The problem was first presented to a panel using the Polish club system, and 1♠ is a limited bid. That said, East appeared to be stepping out against a possible misfit. So what should South do about it?

Make him pay, said August Boehm: “In passing 2♠, partner rates to have a spade misfit and feels safe that there is no game.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro also doubled, speculating that “partner must have a heart-club ‘thing’ with no spades who first decided to force but then bailed out. Partner might have ♠5 AJ7654 8 ♣KQ543.”

Freeman also doubled: ““It’s an easy pass at IMPs, but I don’t want them to steal the hand at matchpoints.” Fred Gitelman went for the penalty as a way of helping North: “Even the best partners will frequently guess wrong if I pass, so I think it is appropriate to express my opinion that we rate to beat 3I can’t afford the luxury of passing at matchpoints.”

Mike Lawrence also doubled: “it is matchpoints, isn’t it?” Randi Montin also went for the penalty: “It could be right to bid 3, but three of my 12 high-card points are in diamonds in the form of a slow defensive trick.”

Six panelists preferred a pass to the penalty double.

Grant Baze was one: “Double is much too speculative. Furthermore, partner may respect the double when he should be bidding.” John Carrruthers was also a passer, although he acknowledges that 3or pass might work out equally well. His main point was that “I have neither more offense nor more defense than promised.”

Larry Cohen preferred pass because “I don’t want to deter partner from bidding 3in case he has six hearts and one diamond. I’m in a strange position, since most of the field play 2/1 game force and couldn’t have at this auction.”

Allan Falk would have liked to double, “but I really have only two defensive tricks even assuming partner is short in spades. East hasn’t promised spades either. Double would show a weak 6-4 with spades and diamonds, which I don’t have, and suggest heart shortness, which I don’t have.”

Steve Robinson passed, noting that “partner has made a strange call, passing 2♠. I have told my story, so let partner continue if he wants.” Paul Soloway also went quietly: “Looks like a chance for a small plus.”

What about the doubleton Q? Four panelists believed it is significant as they go with 3. Betty Ann Kennedy: “My honor doubleton should be helpful. Double is a close second.” Said Shawn Quinn: “I am not sure why partner made a 2/1 and passed my rebid, but raising hearts at this point feels right.”

Peggy and John Sutherlin chose 3♠: “Partner would not have passed 2♠ without some support, and it’s better to play in a 6-2 fit than a possible 5-2 heart fit.”

Awards

Call Score
Dbl 100
Pass 70
3 50
3 ♠ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. Both vulnerable

♠ A Q 6 5 2 J 6 ♣ Q J 10 9 7 4
West North East South
3 ?

4♣ was named top bid.

The pesky opponent preempted, and you hold this hand. Do you bid and overstate your values? Do you pass and risk missing a game or even a slam?

John Carruthers bid but asked, “Is there a right answer on these cards?”

Sanborn got to the crux of the problem. “It’s equally scary to bid or not to bid.”

“Pass, I don’t have enough to bid directly since my partner would play me for more,” said Jill Meyers. “If the opponents bid 4,”, I will bid 4♠,” she added.

Barry Rigal agreed, saying, “Pass, but I may back in over a 4,” raise. I feel it is wrong to act with weakness, despite the short hearts.”

Most of the panelists were in the group that bid. “Over their preempts, it is imperative that the hand with shortness acts,” said Larry Cohen.

“We’ve overbid before,” added Janet and Mel Colchamiro.

Allan Falk likewise stated, “If I don’t bid and it goes all pass, I won’t be happy. Might as well go for the gusto.”

The bidders were divided into three camps. Bidding 3♠ got to the major-suit game, if there was one, but with less safety and possibly missing a club contract.

Cohen bid 3♠ and explained, “Although the clubs are better and longer, the spades can be introduced a level lower. Majors are always more desirable than minors.”

Randi Montin agreed, saying, “I will venture a 3♠ bid, although I have a weak hand. Partner needs very little to make a game as long as the cards are in my suits. I do not want to pass with 5–6 distribution.”

Carruthers also bid 3♠, but admitted that “Either pass or 4♣ could work out as well.”

The second group of bidders tried 4♣. This had the advantage of naming your longest suit first while keeping open the possibility of getting spades into the picture on the next round.

“4♣ may be the best way to get to 4♠ without seriously overstating our values,” said Grant Baze. “Sometimes, too, the hand belongs in clubs,” he added.

Shawn Quinn pointed out the danger of bidding a direct 4,” Michaels cuebid. “I bid 4♠ and plan to back in with 4♠ over 4,” I don’t want to cuebid 4,” with such a weak hand. Partner may get too excited.”

Betty Ann Kennedy agreed saying, “I bid 4♣ but over their 4,”, I’ll try 4♠.”

Mike Lawrence averred, “All bids are flawed. Since it is matchpoints, I will guess to bid 4♣, hoping that we have a home and committing us to being able to find it.”

The 4♣ bidders planned to bid again, but will they get a second chance? “We will be shocked if this ends the auction,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin.

With 6–5 shape, if you plan to bid twice anyway, why not show your two suits immediately?

That was the thinking of the third group who bid 4,”.

Jeff Meckstroth bid 4,”, stating, “Aggressive but shows both suits immediately.”

Paul Soloway likewise said, “A little light but with good shape.”

Fred Gitelman added, “An overbid for sure, but I want to get my hand off my chest.”

The fine shape made up for the lack of high-card points. “With 6–5, come alive,” said Steve Robinson.

“I’m coming alive,” said August Boehm, “but to stay alive, I’d better find a fit.”

The lesson was to stretch to bid with good distribution. The reward was worth the risk.

Awards

Call Score
4 ♣ 100
4 90
3 ♠ 50
Pass 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. No one vulnerable

♠ A J 8 2 Q 8 7 5 4 3 7 ♣ 6 4
West North East South
1 Pass ?

4was named top bid.

How do you get to game but not overstate your hand? Simple, the panel said, just bid it, and 4was the majority choice.

“Dangerously heavy, but nothing else appeals,” said August Boehm.

4is a classic bid with five or six trumps and a singleton and the choice for Betty Ann Kennedy and Jeff Meckstroth. “Since we don’t know whose hand it is, 4has preemptive value.”

“This hand is really too good for this, but the preemptive value outweighs the possibility of missing a slam,” said Richard Freeman.

Shawn Quinn also bid 4, saying, “I would like to splinter, but am afraid that I would be allowing the opponents to get into the auction.”

The 4splinter bidders did so with some misgivings. “I bid 4 and God help me!” exclaimed John Carruthers.

“The powerful shape adds a lot to the value of this hand,” Mike Lawrence pointed out.

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed, saying “We’d like to bid 3NT as a good raise to 4. Since that’s not part of Standard American Yellow Card system, we make the 4 splinter bid. We’ll settle for the least lie.”

“I don’t like making light splinters, but no other bid shows this hand,” added Steve Robinson.

Kerri Sanborn pointed out that, “I don’t play that a splinter promises the moon. The sixth heart could be worth an ace.”

Two panelists bid 2NT as a forcing raise. Both felt this bid would keep the opponents out of the auction and keep slam in the picture if partner had a big hand. They didn’t address the problem of partner expecting more values and getting too high.

The lesson was that if you have to lie, tell the least lie.

Awards

Call Score
4 100
4 90
2NT 60
3 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. Both vulnerable

♠ 6 5 A 10 2 Q J 8 ♣A K J 5 4
West North East South
1 Pass 3 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass ?

3NT was named top bid.

Partner balanced, knowing you were marked with values. You have more that he might expect, however, and have to decide how aggressive to be. Here the panel was clearly in two groups, the bidders and the passers.

“Pass. Easy decision at matchpoints,” said Grant Baze and August Boehm similarly.

Fred Gitelman added that “Partner’s failure to act over 1 means that game is unlikely our way. Plus 200 rates to be close to a top for us. I can’t resist but will be quick to apologize if I am wrong.”

Paul Soloway and Peggy and John Sutherlin also shot for the magic 200 number.

The scorer demoted the pass since the bidders outnumber the passers.

If you don’t pass, what exactly do you bid? 3NT, 4♣ and 5♣ all received support.

“You have a play for game facing a lot of eight-point hands that North may have,” pointed out Mike Lawrence.

John Carruthers agreed, saying, “Partner doesn’t need much for me to make 3NT, just the right little something.”

Were we hanging partner for balancing by bidding 3NT? Larry Cohen remarked, “3NT. Sorry, partner, but I’m going to have to bury you for balancing.”

Richard Freeman and Betty Ann Kennedy bid 5♣, pointing out that partner must have a distributional hand too weak for an original double, and so the chances were better in clubs than taking nine tricks in notrump.

Kerri Sanborn made a practical 4♣ bid. “I kiss partner for balancing and bid to go plus, or he may never balance again,” she said.

Steve Robinson also bid 4♣ and gave partner this hand:
♠K Q 4 3 Q 8 4 3 5 ♣Q 10 7 6
and asked, “How many tricks will 3NT make?”

The lesson was that if you’re not sure what to bid, make the call that has the highest payoff.

Awards

Call Score
3NT 100
Pass 70
4♣ 70
5♣ 60
4 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ Q J 5 Q 8 7 4 J 9 2 ♣ A 6 3
West North East South
1 ♣ Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass Pass
Dbl Pass 2♠ ?

Double was named top bid.

It’s Your Call welcomed a new member to the panel, The Bridge Baron computer program. The Baron was set up to bid Standard American Yellow Card, the same system the regular panelists used.

How aggressive are you at matchpoints? It looked like you should make 2, so do you double to protect your partscore?

Betty Ann Kennedy nailed the problem on the head, saying, “Double. We own more than half the deck so the hand belongs to us. We certainly won’t get any matchpoints allowing them to play 2♠ (undoubled).”

Kerri Sanborn also doubled. “I have never gotten rich letting the opponents play two of a major,” she explained.

“Double. Have to protect the plus score,” said Steve Robinson.

“Double. At IMPs I would just pass and expect a plus score more often than not,” said Fred Gitelman. “At matchpoints I cannot afford that luxury.”

Jill Meyers stated, “Double. Maximum values and hungry at matchpoints.”

But how sure were we to set them? Other panelists decided to pass.

Paul Soloway opted for the pass. “Maybe this is too conservative,” he said, “but 3is not a possibility and double is too rich for me.”

“Pass. Yes, I expect we have the balance of the high cards, but they have the boss suit,” pointed out John Carruthers.

Perhaps the best analysis for pass was presented by Allan Falk. “I have two defensive tricks. If North has three (which is more than promised), that’s minus 470. Too much risk, too little reward.”

What about competing to 3as The Baron did?

Larry Cohen, who doubled, referred to the law of total tricks. “Going to 3with this shape and only eight trumps is not a LAWful action,” he said.

There were two lessons. The experts were saying that since you had (at most) only an eight-card heart fit, you should not compete to 3without good reason. Further, they were willing to risk a zero by doubling 2♠ to improve their matchpoint score.

Awards

Call Score
Dbl 100
Pass 80
3 40
2NT 20

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. N-S vulnerable

♠ 6 5 A 9 Q 7 6 5 ♣ Q 9 7 6 5
West North East South
1 ♠ 2 Pass
3 3 Pass ?

3♠ was named top bid.

Partner had to act under pressure at her second turn. What was your hand worth and how much leeway did you afford her?

Randi Montin bid 4♠. “Partner must be at least 5–5 or 6–5 with a good hand at unfavorable vulnerability.” She went on to point out that partner must have five hearts or he would have most likely started with a takeout double. “Partner could easily have
♠A K Q J 4 K Q J 4 3 4 ♣8 4
and we have 10 tricks.”

“4♠,” said Larry Cohen. “Partner rates to have a good 6–5 at these colors, and my A is a huge card. Vulnerable at IMPs, I have to bid game. It would be nice if four of a minor is a choice of games and maybe it should be.”

Cohen hit on an important point. If you want to play game, why not bid 4and let partner choose?

Barry Rigal did exactly that. “4. Pick a game. This is not a slam try but rather catering to 5–6 patterns,” he pointed out. “My guess is that spades will play better than hearts, but I can ask partner and respect his decision.”

Steve Robinson echoed 4saying, “Let partner choose which game.”

John Carruthers agreed. “4is pick a game. With
♠A K Q 3 2 K Q J 10 8 4 ♣10 4
4would be decent. On the other hand, with
♠A K Q J 10 4 K 8 7 4 3 4 ♣8
4♠ would be preferred.”

The majority of the panel, including The Bridge Baron computer program, bid 3♠.

Paul Soloway said, “3♠. I have a pretty good hand and hope partner has another call. It’s close to 4♠.”

“Partner is surely 5–5 or better, but I can’t guarantee that he can make either major,” added Kerri Sanborn. “If this is all he needs, perhaps he will bid again himself.”

“Not enough to bid game with a partner who may have been pushing,” agreed Mike Lawrence.

Similarly, Fred Gitelman said, “Partner is under pressure. I do not want to hang him. He is allowed to play me for one useful high card to have bid again.”

“If the majors break evenly, we could easily have game,” said Grant Baze, “but I will take the slight underbid in the expectation that they do not.”

When partner acts under pressure, allow her some leeway.

Awards

Call Score
3♠ 100
4♠ 70
4 70
4 40
3NT 10
Pass 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable

♠ 10 3 2 6 5 A K Q 10 3 ♣ 9 4 3
West North East South
Pass
Pass 4♠ 5♣ ?

5 was named top bid.

Have you heard players say “The five level belongs to the opponents?” You’ve probably also heard them say “When in doubt, bid one more.” Aren’t these two maxims often in conflict, and which one do you follow in this case?

There were two camps – those who bid on and those who don’t. Let’s first hear from the ones who do not.

“Pass,” said Grant Baze. “Partner bid 4♠ so that I would not get involved unless I had some compelling reason to do so. I have no such reason.”

Mike Lawrence agreed, saying, “Considering that North bid 4♠ in third seat, there is less than normal reason to bid. For all you know, you have three fast diamond winners.”

“Double,” said Barry Rigal. “Yes, if partner has diamonds, I will regret this, but I’ve dropped double game swings before.”

The Bridge Baron also doubled.

Others experts chose to bid on. This can win in either of two ways. You may make 5♠ or even 6♠ or you may not be setting 5♣.

“Five spades,” said Shawn Quinn. “I have no idea whose hand this is, but my cards should produce some tricks for partner.”

“It’s a third-seat 4♠ bid,” said John Carruthers, “so passing could be right. I bid on, though, because of my spade holding.”

If you choose to bid on, is 5♠ the best action?

“Five diamonds, is there a second choice?” asked Kerri Sanborn. “This acts as a fit-showing bid and should give partner an idea of what to do if there is more bidding.”

Peggy and John Sutherlin agreed saying, “5 helps partner evaluate our fit if the opponents go on.”

Should you presume partner is weak because she opened with a preempt in third seat? “5,” said Steve Robinson. “Partner’s third-seat 4♠ bid is unlimited. If he has spades and diamonds, we could have a slam.”

Randi Montin also thought partner might have a good hand. “We could make 6♠ if partner has
♠A K Q 7 6 5 4 A 2 J 8 4 ♣7
or something similar.”

Allan Falk agreed. “With three spades, doubling in front of North would be insulting, and pass is not forcing. I have a great dummy for spades and questionable defense, so I’ll clue North in. Because I was a passed hand, partner may have underbid, for example:
♠A K 9 8 7 6 5 4 K 4 9 7 5 ♣ — .”

Richard Freeman bid 5 saying, “Clue partner in.”

“5,” agreed Kennedy. “This one is easy.”

Among the 5 bidders, some panelists didn’t think that bid was clear. “A total guess,” said Larry Cohen. “It all depends on partner’s diamond length. If he is short, I have gone wrong. If he has a few diamonds, this is probably right. I am actually showing my diamonds (partner will know I have a spade fit since I am a passed hand) in case there is further bidding. Also partner can lead a diamond if they end up in hearts by West.”

“5,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “If partner has only one diamond, we may have goofed, but partner appears to be short in clubs and we have no surprise there.”

The lesson is what Freeman and Falk say. Clue partner in.

Awards

Call Score
5 100
5♠ 80
Pass 50
Dbl 50
6♠ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠ K Q 9 7 Q 10 A K Q 6 4 ♣ 4 3
West North East South
1
1♠ Dbl (1) Pass ?

(1) Negative

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from November 2005), 2NT was named top bid.

Many of the panelists complained that they would have opened 1NT to begin with. Now they were faced with an underbid or an overbid situation.

Grant Baze bid 1NT and said, “This does not lose us the board yet, while 2NT or 2might lose it immediately.”

“1NT,” said Allan Falk. “Yes, this is an underbid, but 2NT is way too much, and pass, although tempting, is too big a position. North might have diamonds and we might not beat 1♠ or might get only plus 100 when we can make contracts of our own.”

Other panelists didn’t agree. They took their chances with a pass.

“Pass. Hope to go plus 300 or 500 with a diamond lead,” said Betty Ann Kennedy.

Shawn Quinn also passed and said, “This is why I would have opened 1NT originally. Passing seems right, but if partner has a diamond fit, this can be a disaster. Other bids can be a disaster, too. I think I will achieve a plus score by passing so will stick with that choice.”

Larry Cohen passed, calling it “very swingy.” He said, “David, my partner, tried this a few years ago in a similar situation and it worked, so I’m convinced. Any number of notrump lies about strength.”

Fred Gitelman agreed. “Pass seems to work. When it stops working, I will stop doing it. The fact that partner rates to lead a diamond and that none of the alternative calls is close to perfect, makes it all the more appealing to play for a penalty.”

The majority of the panel stretch to bid 2NT.

Jeff Meckstroth was one who did so, saying, “We should have opened 1NT to begin with. Now we’ve created a mess.”

Barry Rigal also bid 2NT. “The overbid seems less distorting than an underbid of 1NT. Passing for penalty seems to be top or bottom territory. Even if we set 1♠ one trick, plus 100 won’t be that exciting.”

John Carruthers was another who bid 2NT. He described pass as “adventurous” and “too risky” since partner could have a diamond fit.

2NT was also the choice of Jill Meyers, who reasoned that “it is a little bit of an overbid, but anything else would be an underbid.”

Mike Lawrence described the problem as “tough.” He said, “That 1♠ bid messed up your plan. Now you have to choose between a very conservative 1NT and 2NT, a bit of an overbid. I vote for the overbid.”

Mel Colchamiro wanted to open 1NT to begin with while Janet was content with the 1opener. Faced with this problem, however, they voted for 2NT saying, “We both go for the slight overbid of 2NT. The ♠9 is huge and diamonds might run.”

Kerri Sanborn bid 2NT as well. “Tough problem,” she said. “I understand not opening 1NT, but now I can’t describe my hand. Passing has some appeal, but I don’t rate to beat this enough if we have a game, and passing could be a disaster if partner has a diamond fit.”

Even though many panelists described 2NT as an overbid, your hand was very close. Yes, you had 17 points, but the very good five-card suit and extra texture in the majors made the hand worth a little more.

Opening 1NT was not without risk. Partner could have a random 8 points and not bid when game is a good proposition. Here is a hand, as an example, which partner would pass, and game would likely be made with the expected heart or spade lead
♠J 8 3 K 3 2 9 5 3 ♣K J 9 7.

Awards

Call Score
2NT 100
Pass 50
1NT 50
3 40
2 0

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. E-W vulnerable

♠ 10 9 8 7 6 2 9 5 2 9 6 2 ♣ 7
West North East South
1♣ Dbl 1 ?

Pass was named top bid.

Partner asked us to bid and we have a long suit we’d like to mention. Why not bid it? There were some good reasons.

“Pass,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “It’s necessary to limit your hand.”

“I don’t want a spade lead,” said Allan Falk, “and I have no values. If I bid now, partner will bid too much. If East had redoubled, this would be a 2♠ bid.”

Some panelists suspected that partner had a big hand and would have gotten carried away if we had bid the first time.

Shawn Quinn agreed, saying, “I suspect partner has a big hand since East didn’t redouble. I don’t want to excite him by bidding freely here.”

“Pass. Partner is still there,” said John Carruthers. “Any bid I make will overly excite him if we can make anything.”

August Boehm hit on an important point. “Pass. I’ll get another turn,” he said. “Then, a spade balance will be comfortable and non-progressive. If partner doubles again, I’ll have a descriptive jump in light of my original pass.”

Fred Gitelman agreed. “I am all for bidding aggressively in this position, but partner has the right to play me for a little something when I bid 1♠. 2♠ is invitational and I don’t have the playing strength to bid any higher.”

He further felt the bidding was far from over and added, “If partner takes another call and I bid my spades, he will have a good idea of what my hand is all about.”

“I expect to bid spades at my next opportunity,” agreed Steve Robinson, “so I pass now to show weakness and bid later to show long spades. This hand is not good enough to bid a preemptive 3♠.”

The Bridge Baron was with the majority and passes.

Other panelists wanted to bid the first time and most chose 3♠.

“Pass feels wimpy,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Let’s bid 3♠ to take up some room and try to make it tough for the opponents.”

Jill Meyers bid 3♠, calling it preemptive and a “get-it-off-your-chest bid.”

Larry Cohen also bid 3♠. “I believe this should just show long spades and shape, not promising HCP (a good thing, since I don’t have any).”

It’s Your Call normally gives the tops score to the call that receives the most votes. Scorer Lynn Deas was not happy about that, however, saying “I can’t believe pass is the top choice.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro had mixed feelings. 3♠ was Mel’s vote. Said Janet, “I could just pass and stay out of trouble, but at this vulnerability, how can I not bid 3♠? If this gets me into trouble, I’ll blame it on Mel.”

The Colchamiros were a reflection of the panel. They wanted to bid and make life hard for the opponents, but they recognized the dangers of doing so.

Awards

Call Score
Pass 100
3♠ 90
1♠ 60
2♠ 0
2 0

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Board-A-Match Teams. E-W vulnerable

♠J A 6 K J 10 9 ♣ A J 10 8 6 3
West North East South
1 2♣
Dbl (1) 2NT 3♠ 4♣
4♠ Pass Pass ?

(1) Negative

Double was named top bid.

What’s going on? The opponents were doing a lot of bidding without many points. They can’t push you around, can they?

The votes were divided, but the plurality chose double. The panelists who voted for it felt they had more defense than the auction suggested.

Barry Rigal doubled, commenting, “Either partner is having a little joke with his 2NT bid or we could have enough to set their game. There seem to be a lot of points in this deck.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro were also puzzled by the auction. “What’s partner up to?” they asked. “Our hand is much stronger defensively than the previous auction might suggest, so we need to tell her that now.”

Grant Baze doubled and explained, “Partner must have some defense for his 2NT bid and I have plenty.”

Peggy and John Sutherlin also doubled. “We have more points than the opponents; they have more distribution. We need to protect our (score for our) club partial.”

“Partner knows I have long clubs and can pull,” said Shawn Quinn, who also voted for double. “Even if they are on a nine-card fit, they don’t have many tricks. We should be collecting a number.”

Fred Gitelman echoed the double. “This just means I have good defense given the auction. Partner knows I can’t have much in spades. I will leave it up to him to make the right decision.”

Does the fact that it is board-a-match scoring matter?

Randi Montin doubled and discussed this issue. “Very hard hand. The opponents do not have a lot of points, so I expect left-hand opponent to be 5–5 at least. If my teammates let them play 4♣ and it makes, I have to double 4♠ and hope for plus 200. I don’t usually like to double contracts at BAM, but (do here since) I am not so sure this is a normal action taken by LHO.”

Others weren’t so sure that they could set 4♠ or that their side couldn’t make a game.

“4NT,” said Larry Cohen. “Sounds like left-hand opponent has lots of spades and shape. Partner didn’t double, so I’ll bid on as a two-way shot. Bidding notrump brings diamonds into the picture as partner could have five of them.”

Paul Soloway agreed with Cohen. “With partner not doubling 4♠, I would rather take offensive action showing 6–4 in the minors.”

Betty Ann Kennedy also bid 4NT and said, “Double could be right, but the opponents probably have a 5–4 spade fit and both sides might make game.”

The panelists who passed felt they had already told their story.

“Pass. I think I shot my wad when I bid 4♣,” said Jill Meyers.

Mike Lawrence agreed. “I surely have what I am supposed to have. Their side has nine and might even have 10 spades.”

August Boehm also passed. “Partner had a crack at doubling 4♠ or bidding 5♣. We’re not in a forcing situation, since both 2NT and 4♣ could be passed.”

There was no real consensus. Double was the choice of 40%, bidding on (4NT or 5♣) was the choice of 40% and passing was the choice of 20% of our panel. Scorer Kitty Cooper demoted the score for pass slightly since the vote was 16 to 4 to take some action.

Awards

Call Score
Dbl 100
4NT 80
Pass 40
5♣ 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable

♠J 8 8 K Q 7 6 5 ♣ J 8 6 5 4
West North East South
2 2♠ 3 ?

Pass was named top bid.

You were short in the opponents’ heart suit and would like to bid. Did you have the strength to do so? The majority of the panel said no.

“Pass,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “To double responsively, we’d want another king.”

“I have the perfect hand for the responsive double (showing the unbid suits) except for the missing king,” echoed Grant Baze. “Pass is not only the right call for this hand, it is the right call for the partnership.”

“Too weak for a responsive double at the three level and not enough spades for a 3♠ bid,” agreed Randi Montin. “Partner has another turn to bid.”

Shawn Quinn also passed and said, “It feels a little conservative, but I don’t have any other clear action as I’m light for a responsive double and too short in spades to bid 3♠.”

“If double were pure takeout, I would make that call. At this level, however, this would be more along the lines of ‘card showing,’ ” explained Fred Gitelman. “As such, I fear that partner will often make a reasonable but unsuccessful penalty pass if I opt for double.”

The scorer, Kitty Cooper, agreed. “I demoted double in the scoring because it’s too dangerous. Partner will often leave it in when we can’t beat it,” she pointed out.

Others were more aggressive and took action.

“Double,” said Richard Freeman. “I will be happy with whatever partner bids.”

Jill Meyers also doubled but pointed out that, “This may backfire, but I can stand to play in spades and I do have 5–5 distribution. Double leaves the most options.”

Was double a clear action? Several panelists made the bid but had their doubts.

August Boehm was one of them. “Double, just barely,” he said. The hand with shortness in the opponents’ suit is responsible for competing. This is my prepared excuse if we go minus,” he joked.

Kerri Sanborn agreed. “Surely a minimum for this action.”

Two panelists bid 3♠.

“Okay, they got me,” said Barry Rigal. “I know partner will not reopen with heart length.”

John Carruthers also bid 3♠ and said, “I can’t help myself.”

Playing 3&spades in a 5–2 fit or four of a minor in a 5–3 fit may not be fun. If you double and partner passes, that would likely be a disaster. Therefore, the majority passed. Even though bridge is a game for aggressive bidders, at some point you have to draw the line.

Awards

Call Score
Pass 100
Dbl 70
3♠ 40
4♣ 10
4 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable

♠J 9 7 6 3 6 A J 10 8 3 ♣ K 5
West North East South
1 ?

2 was named top bid, but just as many on the panel opted for 1♠.

Some panelists bid Michaels, getting both suits in the picture. Others wanted to bid but felt the hand was not strong enough for a Michaels cuebid, especially vulnerable. Therefore, they overcalled 1♠. The third group felt both actions were flawed and so passed.

“Pass, reluctantly” said John Carruthers. “I’d bid at other vulnerabilities, but the spade suit texture scares me off. If the ♣K were the ♠K, I might be more tempted.”

The panelists who passed knew they would most likely get another chance to act.

“Pass for now,” said Shawn Quinn. “I don’t like 1♠ or 2with this suit. With better spades spots, I would consider 2.”

Randi Montin summed up the reasons for pass. “Too weak a suit to overcall and not enough strength to make a two-suited bid when vulnerable at IMPs.”

Other experts bid 2 Michaels cuebid but wished they had a slightly better hand.

“2

“Aggressive and not ideal,” explained Betty Ann Kennedy. “I would rather act now than guess at a higher level later on.”

Steve Robinson gave a good reason for bidding 2. “Experience says that this is a bidder’s game and bidding wins more often than passing.”

The 1♠ bidders recognized that 2 was an overbid. Yet they want to get in the bidding. 1♠ addressed both issues.

Grant Baze bid 1♠, calling 2 “suicidal” and pass “craven.”

Craven? That’s a fancy word for big chicken.

Fred Gitelman was not craven. “This has the wrong combination of playing strength and defense for a vulnerable Michaels call in my view, but pass is not for me,” he says. “1♠ is a reasonable compromise.”

Allan Falk also bid 1♠ and said, “I hate to bid such a rotten suit, but passing won’t help. This is not my idea of a Michaels cuebid, although surely some folks will opt for that. The cuebid gives away more information than I care to provide when we are likely to defend.”

Jill Meyers also mentioned that same point. “I don’t like bidding Michaels on a hand like this. If I am going to buy the hand, it is probably in spades. If I defend, I don’t want to tip off the distribution.”

Also, if you declare the hand, having a hidden five-card suit can give the defense problems.

The most frequent call is a tie between the 1♠ overcall and the 2 Michaels cuebid. The scorer Kitty Cooper is another who isn’t craven. She breaks the tie and thus 2 scores slightly better.

Awards

Call Score
2 100
1♠ 90
Pass 60
2 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. Both vulnerable

♠A 9 8 7 4 A J 4 2 K 3 ♣ A 8
West North East South
1 Pass 1 1♠
2♣ Pass 2 ?

Double was named top bid.

You have a nice hand, but partner didn’t peep. Do you pass and go quietly or bid again?

A hand like this one shows how players approach bidding. Some are conservative, some are aggressive and yet others take the bull by the horns. Two panelists bid 2.They fall in the last group.

“2East can have only four hearts,” said Mike Lawrence. “North did not raise spades, so opener can have three of those. This means opener has only one or no hearts, and that gives North the possibility of holding four or five of them,” he explained.

Partner might have four (or even five) hearts, but she might not either. A 2bid is more appealing if the heart spots were better — A J 9 8 or something similar.

Seven panelists, including the computer program Bridge Buff, took a conservative route and pass.

“Hopefully partner can balance if it passes around to him,” said Shawn Quinn. “My suit is so weak, and it sounds like partner doesn’t have a fit. I have tons of defense and little offense.”

“Partner still has a bid left,” agreed Jeff Meckstroth. “I would bid 2not vulnerable.”

Fred Gitelman said, similarly, “Partner will occasionally take a call if 2comes around to him.”

Allan Falk also passed. “They could be stealing from me, but 2, although natural, “requires that hearts be 4–4–4–1 around the table. This is possible, but a small target with no safety valve. Meanwhile, 2does not have to be a good spot for them, so I see no strong reason to bid and many good reasons to keep silent.”

Most of the time partner won’t be able to bid again. That’s expecting too much. We have two bidding opponents and our hand is strong. What does that leave for partner? If partner can’t bid, however, what have we missed?

Others didn’t agree with this reasoning. They were the aggressive group. What did they have to say?

“A dangerous auction to enter as the opponents do not have to have a fit, but I have extras and want to compete,” said Randi Montin. “I doubt we will get a good score letting them play 2.”

But if you end up minus 180 or minus 200, that won’t be a good score, either.

Janet and Mel Colchimaro had similar reasons. “Extra values and we want to compete. Pass is not our idea of winning matchpoint strategy. Wouldn’t 2show five?”

Why isn’t it winning strategy to pass when you most likely have no fit and a partner who is broke? If partner does have three spades, then perhaps she can scrape up a bid over 2 as other panelists have suggested.

“I think 2should show five,” Paul Soloway asserted. “Double is more flexible including partner sitting for 2 doubled.”

Robinson doubled, commenting, “We can’t sell out to 2 and double brings hearts as well as penalty into the picture.”

Hoping the double brings hearts into the picture is asking a lot. Partner may have ♠Q 5 and
Q 7 6 3 with 2=4=3=4 distribution and will bid 2♠.

Peggy and John Sutherlin felt that, “We need to show extras and get partner involved. If partner has a singleton spade and six points, he can elect to defend.”

If partner has a stiff spade, our side has excellent defense. If not, you have only three tricks in your hand, maybe four. Without the singleton spade, partner likely won’t contribute enough to set them.

While a double may be a flexible bid, it may give partner a choice between minus 200 and minus 180. Those numbers won’t look good on your private scorecard. The panel majority didn’t agree with the conservative pass, however, and took an aggressive course.

Awards

Call Score
Double 100
Pass 70
2 50
2♠ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠A 7 8 6 A Q J 2 ♣ A K 10 7 3
West North East South
1 DBl
2 Pass 3 ?

2 < span style=”color: #ff0000;”>♥= weak raise

Pass was named top bid.

You have a very good hand, but the opponents are not cooperating. You doubled at your first turn, but you’re at the three level at your second turn. Should we pass and go quietly? Should we bid again? If we bid again, what?

Barry Rigal bid 4♣ but didn’t like it. “The swine! They sucked me in when I know I should pass, but I’m a sucker for punishment.”

Randi Montin also bid 4♣. “I would like to reopen with a double, but that really emphasizes the spade suit. Partner is likely to bid 3♠. I don’t want to play this hand with a weak 4- or 5-card spade suit (by partner) as trumps.”

Others were willing to double and take their chances.

“Can’t pass and let the auction end at 3,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “If partner bids spades, hope he has five.”

Jill Meyers also doubled. “Too much to pass. If partner bids 3♠, I will correct to 4♣ and partner should know I have the minors.”

August Boehm reasoned similarly. “Planning to correct 3♠ to 4♣. If (instead) I hear 4♠, I deserve it because my sequence was poorly timed.”

Partner doesn’t rate to have the type hand to jump to 4♠. He had a chance to bid 2♠, but didn’t.

Allan Falk agreed with this. “It is unlikely North will bid 4♠,” he said. “If he bids 3♠, I can bid 4♣ and have strongly implied diamonds. I will pass 3NT and be delighted to defend 3 doubled if that is partner’s decision.”

Both 3NT and pass by partner are long shots. They are possible, though, and add equity to choosing a second double.

The majority didn’t agree with double; they passed. When the opponents push you around, sometimes you have give up.

Fred Gitelman is one who passed and said, “Given partner’s silence over 2, it is unlikely that we belong in game. If I take another call, we may land on our feet, but I would rather take my chances that 3< span style=”color: #ff0000;”>♥ goes down.”

Richard Freeman also passed. “If partner could not move over 2, we do not have a game, and I like our chances of a plus against 3< span style=”color: #ff0000;”>♥ better than in four of a minor.”

“Pass,” agreed Paul Soloway. “Too rich for my blood. I would have overcalled 2♣ to start with. Double then correcting to 4♣ shows a bigger hand.”

August Boehm, John Carruthers and Janet and Mel Colchamiro were other panelists who mentioned that they would have bid 2♣ at their first bid.

Steve Robinson passed. He felt that, “Partner probably has four spades, but did not bid. He has fewer than six points, therefore, and bidding is too dangerous.”

Carruthers passed and said, “My partners bid over 2 with any excuse.”

Grant Baze agreed. “Now that partner is almost certain to have only two hearts, why didn’t he bid over 2? It is one of three reasons: he has four spades and forgot to bid them, he has fewer than four spades and forgot to double or he has nothing.”

What Baze meant is that if you trust partner, he has nothing. He felt pass is clear, therefore.

Kerri Sanborn reasoned similarly. “Partner couldn’t muster a bid or a responsive double. I’m playing with fire to bid again with this hand. Even if I should find a minor suit fit, how would we be able to stop at the right level.”

The point the panel majority was making was that sometimes you have to give up and hope for the best. You have a good hand, but partner probably has nothing.

Awards

Call Score
Pass 100
Dbl 80
4♣ 60
3NT 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠2 A 8 6 10 9 7 2 ♣ A 7 5 4 2
West North East South
1 Dbl Pass 2♣
2 4♠ Pass ?

5♠ was named top bid.

Partner has shown a monster, and we have two aces. Most panelists wanted to try for slam. What is the best approach? Two bidders took
the direct route.

“4NT,” said Richard Freeman. “I am bidding at least six, but would like to give partner a chance to bid seven when (I next bid 5NT and) he realizes I have two aces.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed. “Partner’s hand figures to be something like:
♠A K Q 7 6 4 3 K Q 4 2 3 ♣8.

A 5control bid is possible, but partner will be hard pressed to bid six, not knowing we have two aces.”

Other panelists wanted to cuebid.

“5♣,” said Randi Montin. “This is a cuebid, and spades are trumps. If partner bids 5, I will bid 5. I think partner has solid spades, but there is a chance he has two small diamonds with a hand such as:
♠A K Q J 7 6 4 3 K Q J 4 3 ♣ —.”

Kerri Sanborn also bid 5♣. “How can I not bid again?” she asked. “I can’t really be bidding 5♣ to play, so I must be making a cuebid. This leaves partner room to control bid 5at which point I will obviously continue with 5. Aces are surely worth more than their 4-point valuation when you are involved in auctions such as this one. Let’s give partner a normal hand for her bidding:
♠A K Q J 8 7 6 K Q 5 4 ♣K 6.”

The problem with Sanborn’s example hand is that partner won’t bid 5.With this auction, she would want the ace or a void to do so since she’s already shown her values. You may not find out what you need to know.

The third group of panelists focused on the problem and jumped to 5♠ asking for a diamond control.

“Want to make sure we don’t have two diamonds losers,” said Paul Soloway. “The question is will partner believe that I have two aces?”

Steve Robinson cast his vote for 5♠. “Invitation to slam, probably without a diamond control since I didn’t bid 5.

Grant Baze echoed the 5&spades bid. “Tempting to bid six to keep pressure off partner, but partner is going to have to assume I have two aces for this. I don’t think we are off two diamonds tricks, but will go through the motions anyway.”

Barry Rigal voted for 5♠. “I simply could not look at myself in the morning when partner produces the hand he should have for this auction (and we make a slam). If the five level is not safe, I can always find a new partner, but I have to live with myself forever.”

The panel members felt they had too much to pass. Given that, there were different approaches that could be taken. The majority 5♠ bid focused on the diamond problem and gets the partnership to six when the big hand has first- or second-round control.

Awards

Call Score
5♠ 100
4NT 80
5♣ 70
Pass 60
5 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. No one vulnerable

♠10 A K 8 6 5 ♣ Q J 10 8 6 4 3
West North East South
Pass 1♠ Pass 2♣
Pass 3 Pass ?

3NT was named top bid.

We have a nice hand, or do we? Half of the panel put the brakes on by bidding 3NT.

“I looked for ‘punt’ in my bid box, but it wasn’t available,” joked Allan Falk. “As 2♣ was not game forcing, the 3 bid is not a splinter, just hearts with extra values. 3NT should be a cakewalk.”

“Let’s slow things down on this horrible misfit,” said Larry Cohen.

Randi Montin echoed the 3NT bid. “This auction is not going very well. Partner is probably 6–5 and we could belong in spades. I am afraid to bid 3♠, however, as partner will take this as two- or even three-card support and bid too much.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro had similar reasons for bidding 3NT. “We must slow the auction down. Usually partner’s jump shift is based on at least 10 or 11 cards in the majors. If partner bids 4, we’ll give him 4♠. Why did partner jump shift and blow out a level? We just hate that.”

August Boehm agreed with that last point. “This is a good illustration of why 3 is a poor way to develop a big major two-suiter after a 2/1 response.”

Two panelists, Paul Soloway and Betty Ann Kennedy, bid 4. Kennedy’s comment was simply, “Egads!”

4 ♠A K Q 7 3 A K Q 6 3 or something similar where 6♦ would be a great contract? To get to a slam in diamonds, somebody has to bid the suit.

Others didn’t look for the perfect cards in partner’s hand. It’s a misfit and they simply rebid 4♣.

Grant Baze was one who voted for 4♣. “Our only slam prospects are in clubs and if we don’t rebid them, those prospects are gone. 3NT is a terrible bid. Not only is it likely to be the wrong contract, it will suggest to partner that I have more than one card in his two suits.”

“I want to let partner know I have long playable clubs with no interest in her suits,” agreed Jill Meyers.

“Obviously this is a misfit deal, so I had better let partner in on the news,” said Fred Gitelman, who agreed with the 4♣ bid. “3NT might accomplish the same thing, but to a lesser extent. If partner is not going to insist on a major, I think I would rather play 5♣than 3NT.”

This is a good point. That club suit is pretty strong and playing 3NT could be messy.

Jeff Meckstroth agreed with this point. “These hands play poorly in 3NT.”

“This is a tough call. If partner bids 4♠ over my 4♣, I’ll subside. I don’t like 3NT, since even a stiff honor in clubs could produce a slam,” explained Kerri Sanborn.

When playing 2/1 game force methods, a 3 bid is a splinter. With It’s Your Call, the bidding system is a version of SAYC and so 3 is an old-fashioned jump shift. No action is clear and the panel is divided.

Awards

Call Score
3NT 100
4♣ 80
4 60
5♣ 30
4NT 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠A A K 6 4 K 9 8 7 3 ♣ J 9 5
West North East South
Pass 1
1♠ 2♣ 4♠ ?

5♣ was named top bid.

Partner has made a 2/1 bid, but in competition that is not game forcing. The cornerstone of 2/1 game force is the 1NT forcing response. That is not available when an opponent intervenes, so the 2♣ bid promises five or more clubs and only 10 or more points.

Should we raise now or wait to see what partner does? The majority of the panel raised to 5♣.

“Pass is not forcing, so I have to do something,” said Allan Falk. “Bidding 6♣ is too much. Double announces a misfit when that is far from what I have. I’d be awfully nervous being higher than the five level. If we can make slam, partner is still there.”

Grant Baze also bid 5♣. “Nobody asked me to bid at the five level, so 5♣ shows a good hand. I don’t think I have much extra, so bidding more is out of the question.”

John Carruthers agreed. “Pass would be non-forcing and I must express my extras. The 2♣ bid is forcing for only one round.”

“5♣,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “Lots of issues here. Would pass be forcing? We both say no. How light can partner be for 2′? We say fairly light, for example,
♠8 7 6 Q 3 10 2 ♣A K 10 7 4 3.

“If we bid 5♣, we should go plus. The last issue is what is 4NT here? RKC? A good 5♣ bid? We like it to mean the latter but don’t believe that’s part of the system we are bidding under.”

Several panelists would have liked to pass if that is forcing, but realized it is not.

“If I thought pass was forcing, I might choose that call,” said Fred Gitelman.

Jill Meyers, Mike Lawrence, Richard Freeman, Steve Robinson and Paul Soloway had similar comments. They would like to pass, then if partner doubles, pull to 5♣ to show some extra values. Since a pass is not forcing, they couldn’t do that.

What does 4NT here mean? Two experts didn’t agree.

“4NT is a minor-suit oriented takeout,” said Barry Rigal. “Like it or not, I must take action. 4NT is not Blackwood in these auctions, something has to go and that (Blackwood) is less likely to be needed than getting partner involved in the choice of games.”

Larry Cohen bid 4NT and said, “I’d like to make a strong raise, but without discussion, I’ll bid a practical 4NT. If we are playing 1430, I can stop in 5♣ opposite only one key card. Opposite more key cards, I am committed to at least 6♣, for better or worse.”

Perhaps these two should have formed a partnership?

Unfortunately, 1430 is not part of the Bridge Bulletin bidding system (Standard American Yellow Card). That means over 4NT, partner will bid 5with one key card, and you will be forced to 6♣, off two of them.

There were North hands that made slam on which partner may not bid again. Three panelists opted for the direct route.

“6♣,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Partner should have a play even with a minimum hand. 5♣ would end the auction.”

“6♣,” agreed Jeff Meckstroth. “My best guess. Not sure what 4NT is here.”

Yes, that’s the problem with 4NT. If it’s not clear what it means, then that can’t be a recommended action. Maybe a better problem than this one would have been to poll the panel as to what 4NT would mean on this auction, without showing them a hand.

Since the 2/1 response in competition is not forcing to game, you have to do something yourself. Partner may have nothing to say. Raising partner is almost always a practical approach, and that’s what the panel majority did.

Awards

Call Score
5♣ 100
4NT 70
6♣ 60
Dbl 60
Pass 50
5♠ 50

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable

♠— A K 6 A K Q J 10 ♣ A Q 10 5 2
West North East South
3♠ Pass 4♠ 4NT
Pass 5 Pass ?

5♠ was named top bid.

Why do the opponents always preempt when you have a monster like this one? Is 4NT for the minors or something else? If it is for the minors (or two suits), why did partner bid hearts?

Most of the panel agreed with the 4NT call, but a few experts didn’t.

“No,” said Kerri Sanborn. “Double gives partner an out with something like a 3=4=3=3 hand with no points.”

“My first thought is that I would have bid 5NT to get partner to pick a minor as my best shot to reach a grand slam,” said Barry Rigal. “As it is, 4NT has worked out well.”

Why do most of the panelists agree with the 4NT bid?

“Double is too likely to be left in when we have a slam,” pointed out August Boehm.

“I don’t want to play 4♠ doubled if partner has
♠5 3 2 ♥8 5 ♦8 6 4 2 ♣J 6 4 3,”
said Steve Robinson.

“4NT is okay because your hand does not want North to pass for penalty with some 3–3–2–5 hand,” agreed Mike Lawrence.

“A likely result of double is partner passing with a balanced hand and the penalty we collect not compensating for the slam I always intended to bid,” said Fred Gitelman.

Some played that 4NT could be two suits.

“I play 4NT shows two suits, either clubs and diamonds or a minor and hearts,” said Paul Soloway.

Others thought 4NT shows a powerhouse three-suited hand.

“Ideally the hand would be 4–4–5 for the bid,” said Randi Montin.

The majority felt that 4NT shows the minors.

“Ostensibly I showed the minors,” said Larry Cohen.

Gitelman agreed and said, “While 4NT could be based on any two-suited hand, partner should assume the minors and bid accordingly.”

How you define 4NT affects what you bid now. If you think it is for the minors, then North has shown a long heart suit and 7 should be laydown or have a good play at the worst. If it shows any two suits or is a three-suited takeout, then you are not sure how to proceed.

“5♠. I am not convinced that partner ‘chose’ hearts as opposed to either minor,” said Sanborn. “If he thinks my 4NT call could have shown hearts and another suit (or all three unbid suits), the 5 call is not nearly as impressive as if it had been in the face of a minor-suit takeout.”

Robinson was concerned about the same issue and also bid 5♠. “The problem is what does 4NT mean. If it shows hearts and a minor, then we could be in the wrong strain. If it shows minors, then we should be cold for 7.”

“5♠. Will certainly try for seven,” said Paul Soloway.

“5♠,” said John Carruthers. “If we have solid hearts, seven should be on a club finesse at worst.”

The panelists who play that 4NT is (expected to be) for the minors had more information. You asked partner to choose one, but the bidding took an unexpected turn.

“7,” said Grant Baze. “Since 4NT is for the minors, to bid hearts, partner needs good hearts. Something like Q J 10 7 5 3 will usually make seven and anything more and it is cold.”

Gitelman used the same reasoning. “Partner should assume the minors. I think he has a seven-card suit and in that case, 7 rates to be either excellent or laydown. Sometimes you just have to bid what you think you can make!”

Peggy and John Sutherlins also bid 7. “Partner bid hearts facing a two-suiter, which may be clubs and diamonds. We expect him to have a seven bagger.”

Rigal agreed. “7. Easier to be brave on paper, but if partner can pick hearts when I’ve shown the minors, he gets to play at the seven level.”

Larry Cohen bid 7 and underscored an issue that many 5♠ bidders didn’t consider. “I know 5♠ will be popular, but what is the point? I showed minors and partner chose hearts! He must have a ton of hearts, so how can I stop short of seven? Bidding 5♠ first is asking for trouble — and then you bid 7 anyway over partner’s next slow call? Director! You’ll tell him you were always bidding seven, so why not just do it now? What will you learn anyway with 5♠? So why bid it?”

Scorer Karen Walker said, “I’m not sure what information the 5♠ bidders were expecting to extract from partner. Are there any circumstances that would talk them out of bidding the grand in hearts?” she asked.

“7 gets the Expediency Award,” said Walker. “It was promoted in the scoring as a reward for not torturing partner with a practice cuebid.”

Something new: It’s Your Call is giving out awards. Is an Expediency Award similar to “style points”?

Cohen and Gitelman summed up the argument for 7♥. What will you learn with 5♠? Sometimes you just have to bid what you think you can make.

Awards

Call Score
5♠ 50
7 50
Pass 25
5NT 25

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable

♠K J 8432 8 A K 6 2 ♣ 4
West North East South
3♣ Pass Pass ?

4♠ was named top bid.

Do you make the slight overbid of 4♠ or the slight underbid of 3♠? Neither bid seems exactly right, and the panel was split.

“3♠,” said Allan Falk. “4♠ shows a more solid hand than this (at least the ♠Q instead of the ♠2).”

Paul Soloway agreed. “Not the suit or strength for 4♠.”

Richard Freeman brought up another good point. “Good enough playing hand to bid game, but partner might expect better.”

Barry Rigal agreed with this. “Yes, the hand is worth 4♠, but that might get us too high.”

“Any more than 3♠ and partner may push too hard,” echoed Grant Baze.

Others were more aggressive.

“4♠,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “No go slow tactics for us.”

“An overbid in terms of high cards,” said Fred Gitelman, “but reasonable on playing strength.”

“Too good for 3♠, which I would bid with less in balancing seat,” agreed Larry Cohen.

“4♠. You would bid 3♠ without the < span style=”color: #ff0000;”>♦A,” pointed out Mike Lawrence. “North can have too many 9- or 10-point hands that make game.”

John Carruthers summed up the crux of the problem. He bid 4♠ but said, “Pray that partner does not think he has enough to bid on. 3♠ is simply not enough with this hand.”

“4♠. Don’t need much from partner,” said Jeff Meckstroth.

Meckstroth held this hand in the Mixed Pairs at the 2002 Montreal World Bridge Championships, an event he won with Becky Rogers. He bid 4♠ then too, was doubled and made it with a slip from the defenders.

Awards

Call Score
4♠ 100
3♠ 90
Dbl 30

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. None vulnerable

♠Q 5 A 9 7 6 5 K 10 9 5 4 2 ♣ 
West North East South
1♠ Pass 1NT
Pass 2♣ Pass ?

1NT = one-round force

2 was named top bid.

You have 11 red cards, so naturally your partner bid the other two suits. There is an expression that says, “Six-five, come alive.” There is also the conventional wisdom that says you should bid conservatively with a misfit.

How do you proceed? The majority bid the minimum in their six-card suit.

“2,” said Paul Soloway. “A bit conservative, but maybe partner can raise diamonds or bid 2. Some sort of Bart would help.”

Bart is a conventional 2 bid, developed by Les Bart, that applies in this sequence: 1♠, 1NT; 2♣,2.

It asks partner to bid 2 with either two or three hearts and is the beginning of other descriptions. Several panelists mentioned Bart, but realized it was not part of the It’s Your Call bidding system.

“This would be a great hand for Bart,” said Jill Meyers, “but since that isn’t part of Bridge Bulletin standard, I’ll bid 2 anyway.”

Mike Lawrence also bid 2. “This leaves room for North to bid 2 if he has a maximum and three of them. An artificial 2 bid is possible here, but I do not think it is widespread,” he said, referring
to Bart.

“I’ll bid 2,” said Larry Cohen. “Most tournament players use this as conventional (Bart), which would be desirable here.”

“I’ll bid my long suit and see how
it works out. Not much partner can do to upset me, is there?” asked Barry Rigal.

“I’ll try to settle for a plus sore,” said Betty Ann Kennedy who bid 2.

Richard Freeman agreed with 2. “If partner passes, that may be our best spot.”

Others bid 2♠ over the 2♣ bid. That has the advantage of being (at least) a 5–2 fit.

“I am just going to bid 2♠,” said Shawn Quinn. “If partner can’t bid over this, it’s unlikely we have game.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed. “With only two cards and two points in partner’s suits, we go slow.”

Kerri Sanborn took a more aggressive position and bid 3. “We could still have game in three or four strains,” she said. “After 3, partner could try 3, 3♠ or 3NT or a diamond raise of some kind.”

The panel majority, including Bridge Baron, bid only 2. If partner can’t bid over that, it’s still possible we have missed a game. Give him something like:
♠K 8 7 5 4 K J 8 A J ♣J 10 7
and partner will pass 2 K J 8 and 4 K J 8 would be a good spot.

It’s more likely, however, that partner has more points in the two suits he bid and 4 won’t be a good contract. When partner passes 2, it will usually be an acceptable contract.

Awards

Call Score
2 100
2♠ 60
2 40
2NT 40
3 40

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. None vulnerable

♠A K A 4 K 6 ♣ A J 10 8 5 4 3
West North East South
1♣
1 Pass 2 ?

3♣ was named top bid.

Your hand has two features that you’d like to describe. You are strong and you have a long club suit. The panel was split between rebidding clubs and doubling. Double shows the strength of the hand while bidding 3♣ is an underbid.

“Double,” said August Boehm. “Too strong for 3♣. I hope the next round of bidding provides more clarity.”

“Double is an easy start,” said Larry Cohen. “I can handle all continuations. Doubling then bidding clubs is perfect.”

Paul Soloway also doubled. “Too strong for anything else.”

Other panelists chose 3♣ as the best chance for a plus score. Double shows your strength, but you really just want to play in clubs most of the time.

“Too good for 3♣, but what else?” ask Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Partner probably has fewer than 6 high-card points, and there aren’t many 3- or 4-point hands opposite which we want to be in game.”

“3♣ is an underbid, but it’s my best guess,” said Jeff Meckstroth.

Barry Rigal also bid 3♣. “The real issue is what to do when they bid 3, pass or double?”

Kerri Sanborn agreed. “3♣ is the most likely makeable contract. The real question is what to do when 3 comes back to me.”

“3♣. I will double at my next opportunity, given the chance,” said Shawn Quinn.

What if you double and partner bids 3? Now you have to bid 4♣. This takes you past 3NT and may be too high if partner is broke.

“Yes, I have a good hand,” said Allan Falk, “but if I double and North cannot bid 2♠, I will probably never have a chance to play 3♣. At IMPs, I’d have to double, but at matchpoints, I have to look for my most frequent plus, and 3♣ looks like the most certain road to that goal.”

Two opponents are bidding and you have a strong hand, so partner can’t have much. Half the panel felt that game is remote, so they took the conservative action by bidding 3♣.

Just because your opponents overcall and raise, however, doesn’t always mean that partner is broke. Thus the other half double since they feel that’s the best chance to get to game. Which camp are you in?

Awards

Call Score
3♣ 100
Dbl 90
2NT 50
3NT 40
4♣ 30
Pass 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠ 9 4 2 A 9 5 4 3 ♣ A K Q 8 7
West North East South
1
Pass 1 Pass 2♣
Pass 2♠ (1) Dbl ?

(1) Fourth-suit – may be artificial

3 was named top bid.

Should you rebid a strong five-card club suit? This shows its length and strength. Or should you raise partner? Showing support can never be a bad thing. The panel was split on this one.

“3♣,” said Grant Baze. “The cuebids can wait. Now I want to show my 5–5 shape while keeping the auction low. I will get the rest of the pattern and power expressed later. Continuations will be easy.”

“3♣,” said Barry Rigal. “I can always raise hearts the next time, and will. But this suit is too good to neglect.”

“I hate not to rebid such a robust suit,” agreed Shawn Quinn. “I will certainly support hearts at my next opportunity. This should give a pretty good indication of my hand.”

“3♣,” echoed August Boehm. “3 is tempting, but 3♣ makes the auction easier. I plan to remove 3NT to 4, thus finishing my distribution.”

“For now I bid 3♣,” said Larry Cohen, “planning to raise hearts the next time. Yes, I could bid 3, but in general, when there are two options, I prefer the one that takes up less space. Maybe partner will rebid 3 and then I can bid 3 and send a lot of information while still at a level that allows good exploration.”

The problem with 3♣ is that on certain continuations, partner may not believe you have three-card support. Over 3, you would often have to bid 3 with a doubleton.

“3,” said Steve Robinson. “It is my first duty to show three hearts.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed. “After partner’s fourth-suit game force, opener’s first responsibility is to show three-card support. Opener should next bid notrump with a stopper. If we bid 3♣ now, many bids by partner will leave us badly placed. Only if partner bids 3NT will 4 paint the three-card support.”

“It is tempting to bid 3♣,” said Allan Falk, “but then I may never convince North I have three-card support, especially as West may bid 3♠ or even 4♠ next. If my hearts were stronger, I’d bid 3♠ or 4. If next partner bids 4♣, I will be off to the races.”

One problem the panel doesn’t explore in their comments is that you might be able to make slam in clubs or diamonds but not in hearts, even if hearts are a 5–3 fit. Rebidding clubs, besides showing five of them, also shows at least five diamonds and may get you to the best slam on certain constructions.

What about this hand:
♠A 4 A J 8 4 3 K Q 8 ♣J 4 3?

Bidding 3♣ may work out better than an immediate heart raise. Key card Blackwood would keep you out of 6 (off a key card and the queen of trumps), but six of either minor (or 6NT) is a good contract.

Here’s another example:
♠A 3 A K 8 4 3 Q J 8 ♣J 4 3.

This hand requires luck in the diamond suit to make 6 (since you have a sure heart loser) and so six of either minor is preferred.

On the other hand, bidding 3 has its attraction. Supporting partner now may make the slam probe auctions easier on the constructions when you belong in hearts.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
3♣ 90
3♠ 50
4 20
Rdbl 10
4♣ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable

♠A Q 7 4 K Q 8 6 A J 8 4 ♣ K
West North East South
1
Pass 1 Pass ?

3was named top bid.

A number of the panelists only invited game, despite having 19 high-card points.

Other panelists forced to game and were split into two groups: those who show the club shortness and those who don’t.

Mike Lawrence bid 3, calling it “a little conservative and making allowances for the potentially wasted ♣K.” He adds, “This hand might be a disappointment if North goes further. It would be nice to have a couple more spot cards.”

“If partner passes 3, we are probably high enough,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin.

“Because of the lack of interior spot cards and a singleton king, the hand doesn’t really evaluate to 19 HCP,” pointed out Kay and Randy Joyce.

Larry Cohen called 3 an underbid, but said, “We are white at matchpoints — a time when we don’t have to bid every game in sight. My ♣K could be worthless.”

“3,” agreed Kerri Sanborn. “Technically an underbid, but if partner passes, we are unlikely to make a game.”

Even though conventional wisdom cautions against making a splinter with a singleton honor, almost half the panel believed that was the best description.

Richard Freeman bid 4♣ and said, “I
don’t like to splinter with a ‘kingle-ton,’ but I’m too good for 3 and too unbalanced for four hearts.”

“Must show the club shortness,” agreed Steve Robinson. “I would like to have the ♣K somewhere else, but showing shortness is important.”

“Do not like to splinter with an honor in the suit,” said Randi Montin, “but it shows the shape and strength of the hand. My other option is to jump shift in spades, then jump in hearts, but I like that to show the very strongest hand I could have, namely changing the ♣K to the K .”

“Settling for less than game seems wrong,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro who also bid 4♣. “We do agree with the concept that you should be cautious splintering with 4–4–4–1 hands since you (often) have no source of tricks.”

The third group wanted to be in game, but wanted to avoid the singleton honor issue.

“4,” said Paul Soloway. “Treat this as a balanced hand. I do not like to splinter with a singleton honor, especially with minimum values outside.”

“4,” agreed Barry Rigal. “Denying a singleton — well, I don’t really have one, do I?”

“I’m not going to splinter this hand,” said Shawn Quinn, “since 4–4–4–1 hands really play more like balanced hands.”

If partner has:
♠K 8 3 J 9 7 4 Q 10 3 ♣8 6 4 2
he might pass 3 and miss a reasonable game. Non-vulnerable at matchpoints, he probably won’t push.

For other hand types, he might get excited over a splinter bid and get too high.

And still others, partner might sign off in game opposite the 4♣ splinter when his club holding is Q–J–4–2 and the hand looks to be ill-fitting. The ♣Q J are tricks once the ♣A is driven out, something he can’t know.

The bottom line is that the bid that works best often depends on what partner’s hand is. You have to make a bid, therefore, that you think will work well most often.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
4♣ 90
4 40
1♠ 10
2♠ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable

♠K 4 3 Q 10 8 6 5 4 ♣ K J 8 3
West North East South
1♠ 3 3♠
4 4 Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from April 2006), 4♠ was named top bid.

What does 4mean in this auction? Is it a choice of games? Is it a slam try? Or is it to help you decide what to do if the opponents bid on to 5? The panelists had different answers to these questions.

The 5bidders had their reasons.

“I have a great hand with nothing (wasted) in diamonds,” said Jeff Meckstroth.

Kerri Sanborn also bid 5. “I hope that 4 is a slam try and not just an ‘in case they bid on’ bid. Anyway, I have a good hand with three (important) cards for partner. I can visualize
♠A Q 8 6 5 A K 9 7 3 8 ♣A 7
without too much trouble.”

Paul Soloway bid 5. “I have full values for 3&spades. Partner could have:
♠A Q 8 6 5 A K J 3 8 ♣A 7 6.
I don’t think 4 is passable.”

Yet almost one-third of the panel passed. What were their reasons?

“Pass,” said Grant Baze. “Playing partner for 5–5 rather than an obscure last train.”

Richard Freeman also passed. “I like my hand for slam purposes, but partner may be under pressure to show his 5–5, and I need to give him some leeway.”

“Pass,” echoed Betty Ann Kennedy. “Seems like an ideal spot. We have a double fit.”

Barry Rigal agreed with pass. “Yes, maybe we should play 4as natural and non-forcing. I’m not 100% sure I am allowed to pass. What the heck, I will!”

“Pass,” said Mike Lawrence. “A question of whether I can pass or not. I just did.”

Others bid 4♠. What were their reasons?

Many of them were not sure what partner meant by his 4 bid and were taking out insurance.

“Is 4 a cuebid or a suggested place to play?” asked Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Not worth risking being left in a cuebid.”

“I could cooperate with a slam try, and I could pass,” said Larry Cohen. “But I am afraid to pass without discussion as partner won’t enjoy playing 4 K J 8 if he has:
♠A Q J 10 6 A 8 6 ♣A Q 10 7 6!”

“Too dangerous to pass 4,” said Allan Falk, “as that is North’s ‘last train’ slam try below game.” Falk gave some good examples of hands that North would have to try for slam with, but where the heart suit is only three cards.

Janet and Mel Colchamiro also bid 4♠. “Often partner’s 4 bid in these auctions is just prepping the five level.” They mean that 4 is meant to help us decide what to do if the opponents bid on to 5 (rather than being a slam try).

“I’m going to bid 4♠ for tactical reasons,” said Shawn Quinn. “Passing will tell the opponents that they have a cheap save. I am doing my best to get to buy the contract at the four level.”

There is confusion about what 4 means. Some experts seemed sure, others not so sure. This is the beauty of bridge — its complexity adds to its attraction.

Awards

Call Score
4♠ 100
Pass 90
5 70
5♣ 20

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

Matchpoints. No one vulnerable.

♠ K 8 5 A K Q 10 9 5 3 ♣ 6 5
West North East South
1
2 3♣ Pass ?

3 was named top bid, though just as many on the panel opted for 3.

You want to rebid your heart suit, but you also have a powerful hand for clubs.

Half the panel wanted to send a message emphasizing the heart suit.

“3,” said Mike Lawrence. “This is forcing since North bid a new suit freely at the three level.”

Jeff Meckstroth also bid 3. “Club support can wait at matchpoints.”

Richard Freeman echoed the 3 bid. “If partner can’t raise, I’ll bid 4♣ over 3NT or 4over 4♣.”

Paul Soloway and Janet and Mel Colchamiro bid 3 on reasoning similar to Freeman’s.

Karen Walker also bid 3 .“A club raise or 3cuebid will bury the heart suit, which could be matchpoint death,” she said. “If partner can’t raise hearts, I can show the club support next and head for slam.”

Kerri Sanborn bid 3 and explained that “Although a cuebid expresses the power of this hand better than a simple rebid, I expect to do a lot more bidding later. I want to hear a natural bid from my partner, so I will know more about whether and which slam to go for.”

The panelists who cuebid wanted to send a message expressing their strength.

“3lets partner know I have a good hand while keeping it as low as possible,” said Shawn Quinn. “If partner bids 3NT, I will follow with 4♣. I hope to get some cooperation for slam.”

Jill Meyers agreed. “After my 3bid, over 3 or 3NT, I am going to bid 4♣. My hand is huge in support of clubs.”

“3shows extra strength and takes up no room,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin.

“I could repeat my hearts,” said Barry Rigal, “but I fancy getting slam interest across as fast as I can.”

“We have a slam unless partner has wasted diamond cards,” said Randi Montin, who votes for 3.

Allan Falk bid 3and called it “the cheapest forward-going bid.”

You have two messages to send. You want to emphasize your heart suit, especially at matchpoints. You also want to express your strength in support of clubs.

The 3 bidders wanted to show their heart suit, but planned to raise clubs later. The cuebidders wanted to show their strength immediately, but hoped to be able to get into a heart contract if that is where they belong.

The difference in the two approaches may be a matter of preference. There are two messages they wished to send, and the two sides planned to send both before the bidding dialogue ends.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
3 90
4 40
4 20
4NT 20

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠8 7 9 5 4 A K 7 A 6 4 ♣ Q 8
West North East South
1♠
Pass 2NT (1) Pass 4♠ (2)
Pass 5♣ Pass ?

(1) Game-forcing spade raise
(2) Minimum Opener, no singleton or void)

5was named top bid.

You told partner that you have a minimum hand, but he is still interested in slam. Most of the panel cuebid 5to show their lowest ace.

“5,” said Jeff Meckstroth. “I have a pretty good hand now.”

Barry Rigal agreed. “5. Yes, I’m minimum,” he said, “but I showed that, and my controls are amazing.”

“Partner is looking for slam without first-round control in either red suit after we have said we have a bad hand,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin, who also bid 5. “He must have good trumps.”

Richard Freeman was another who bid 5. “Partner must have top spades and the ♣A K. I’ll cuebid hearts at the six level if I get the opportunity.”

Shawn Quinn, Jill Meyers, Larry Cohen, Steve Robinson and Betty Ann Kennedy bid as Freeman did for similar reasons.

Four panelists jumped to 6♠. They recognized the power of their red-suit controls.

“6♠,” said Randi Montin. “In spite of my bad spades, I have top cards in the remaining suits, and partner has cuebid after I showed a minimum. He must have good spades.”

“Too good to stop short,” said Mike Lawrence, who agreed with 6♠. “Not good enough to look for seven.”

“6♠,” echoed Paul Soloway. “Might even have seven, but no good way to explore.”

Normally you cuebid your lowest ace, but Karen Walker bid 5.

“If you want to encourage,” she said, “it must be right first to cuebid the suit where you know he has the problem.”

Allan Falk promoted 5in the scoring.

“I think the 5 bidders have the right idea for this hand, which requires some subtlety,” he said. “They show their heart ace first; next they intend to bid 6, which, since it is forcing to slam, is a grand slam try. Partner should reason that with both red aces, they bid this way because they had something extra in hearts, and should place South with A K and A.”

The problem with 5 is that partner may jump to 6♠ and you won’t have the opportunity to show the A.

What can partner have to bid like this?

“Sounds like partner might have something like:
♠ A K Q 3 5 4 K 5 3 ♣ A K 4 2,”
said Quinn.

Falk suggested that partner may have:
♠ A K 9 3 6 4 K Q 5 ♣A K 4.

You can make 6 ♠, while 7 ♠ requires only a 2–2 spade split.

August Boehm gave this example hand:
♠ A K Q 3 9 4 5 3 ♣ A K J 10 4.

With this hand, many players would start with 2♣ instead of the 2NT bid. Bidding 2♣ shows partner a source of tricks.

Janet and Mel Cochamiro thought partner may have:
♠ A K Q 3 8 4 K J 3 ♣ A K J 4.

Cohen suggested a similar hand:
♠ A K Q 9 2 6 5 5 2 ♣ A K J 5.

In all these examples, partner has strong trumps and your red-suit controls are important. Most were not willing, therefore, to stop short of 6 ♠. They wanted to show both controls in case this is what partner needs to hear to bid the grand slam. You limited your hand with 4♠, so you can bid aggressively after that.

Awards

Call Score
5 100
5 90
6♣ 70
6♠ 50

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. E-W vulnerable.

♠10 7 6 A K J 8 7 10 8 7 ♣ 5 3
West North East South
1♠ Dbl 2♠
3♣ Pass Pass ?

3was named top bid.

The law of total tricks suggests that you should compete to the trick level that equals your side’s combined number of trumps. There are some exceptions, such as when the partnership has a fit in two suits or other adjustment factors. Players who follow the “law,” therefore, feel you need nine trumps to compete to 3♠.

Though you (most likely) have eight trumps, the majority voted to compete over 3♣ by bidding 3.What were their reasons?

“3,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “This is the lead I want if the opponents continue bidding. We could still make four of a major if partner has the right hand.”

“It might be right to defend,” said Paul Soloway, “but such concentrated values say bid on.”

Betty Ann Kennedy called 3 “an easy call showing where I live and the lead if they choose to continue.”

Richard Freeman agreed. “Seems automatic. I’m not going to sell out, and I want the lead if they compete further.”

“I feel obligated to take another call,” said Barry Rigal. “While this does not come with guarantees, I think getting my values across looks right.”

“3,” agreed Shawn Quinn. “Reel me in, I feel like a guppy. I prefer a transfer system here. I could have shown my hearts and spades. Partner would know what I had and I wouldn’t be guessing now.”

Some panelists realized that they were “breaking the law,” but bid again anyway.

“3 may turn out to be ‘anti-law,’  ” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro, “but it sure feels right. If the opponents go on to 4♣, partner will know what to lead.”

Karen Walker bid 3. What’s her reasoning?

“3 may technically be a ‘law’ violation, but it feels wrong to let them play 3♣. Bidding may turn our plus 100 into minus 50, but the alternative (passing and turning our plus 140 into minus 110) is more expensive.”

Kerri Sanborn also bid 3and calls it “anti-law.” She added, “We could still have a nine-card fit in hearts, and surely the opponents could have their nine-card club fit. Those two possibilities, combined with the excellent lead director, compel me to trot back in with 3.”

Other panelists passed.

“I have no reason to bid,” said Grant Baze.

Randi Montin agreed. “I have three low spades, no help in two other suits and a balanced hand.”

“I have no reason to think we can make 3&spdes;,” said Allan Falk. “I’ll go quietly and see if we end up plus 100 or minus 110 and get on to the next hand.”

Larry Cohen wrote the book that popularized the “law.” What did he say?

“Pass,” said Cohen. “If my minors were reversed, pass would be routine. Here, it is not routine to pass, but I believe it to be the long-run winning action. The major gain for bidding on comes when both three-level contracts are making, but that isn’t likely. Partner would have bid with a sixth spade, or a singleton club. So, he has at most five spades and at least two clubs. There is a good chance there are only 16 trumps, and quite possibly eight tricks for each side. I don’t want to turn plus 100 into minus 50 by forging on.”

While many of the panel passed, the majority bid 3. They admitted they were breaking the “law,” but they were persuaded by the fact they can bid hearts, a suit in which they are strong.

Awards

Call Score
3 100
Pass 80
3♠ 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.

♠ 7 3 J 5 4 K 10 9 5 2 ♣ K 10 7
West North East South
Pass Pass
4 5♠ Pass ?

6♠ was named top bid.

What does a jump to the five level mean after an opening 4 bid? The panel was divided into two groups. There were those who decided 5♠ was a strict ask about a heart control. The second group felt that having that interpretation is too limiting – 5♠ shows a good trump suit and invites slam.

“Pass,” said Karen Walker. “An undiscussed auction, but whatever partner is looking for, such as a heart control, I don’t have it.”

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed. “It’s hard to imagine partner’s hand, given our minor-suit kings. 5♠ asks about hearts, and we can’t help. Our guess is that partner has:
♠ A K Q 8 7 5 3 2 5 4 A 3 ♣ A.”

This example hand needs more than a heart control to make slam. You have a diamond loser that partner needs to cover.

“Pass,” echoed Mike Lawrence. “Given what I have, it is hard to be sure what North wants. Typically, he is asking for heart control, and I do not have it.”

What is the difference between bidding 5♠ immediately and first bidding 4NT (takeout) and then bidding 5♠?

“The 5♠ bid should deny a heart stopper,” said Jill Meyers. “Partner would bid 4NT and then bid 5♠ with hearts controlled.”

Larry Cohen agreed. “Never seen this one before. What would it have meant if partner started with 4NT takeout and then bid 5♠? I’ll interpret this (5♠) as a strict heart-control ask. Maybe he has:
♠ A K Q J 10 5 4 3 5 3 A ♣A Q.”

None of the panelists who thought that 5♠ asked for a heart control considered this: Some of the time the opening 4 bidder will have an eight-card suit, and East won’t have one to lead. If so, North is likely to make 6♠. For example, using Cohen’s hand, declarer wins the opening lead, draws trumps, cashes the A and crosses to dummy in clubs to pitch a heart on the K.

The panel majority disagreed that 5♠ is an ask about a heart control.

“6♠,” said Steve Robinson. “5♠ shows a better hand than 4♠. My kings should be valuable.”

Betty Ann Kennedy agreed. “I believe partner is asking if I have outside values. If so, my two kings should fill the holes in his side suits.”

Barry Rigal was another who bids 6♠. “Partner has a hand too good for 4♠, and I’m going to gamble that I have a working card or two. I expect partner to have 10 or 11 tricks.”

Paul Soloway echoed 6♠. “Sort of a guessing game, but I have values in the right places,” he said.

Peggy and John Sutherlin said “Partner thinks he can make 5♠ opposite very little. We have more than he expects. 5♠ is not an asking bid.”

Allan Falk pointed out the difference between this auction and others where the jump to five would be an asking bid.

“If we had been bidding and raising spades, I’d need a heart control to bid slam. But here, partner said, ‘I have 11 tricks in my hand; do you have anything to contribute?’ I certainly do, and this seems like a no-brainer. I’m likely to find partner with:
♠ A K Q J 5 3 2 5 A Q J ♣ A Q
or a similar hand.”

“6♠,” said August Boehm. “Partner is making a general slam try, something like:
♠ A K J 10 7 6 4 A 3 A 7 ♣A 5.”

“6♠,” said Grant Baze. “Partner has 11 tricks in his own hand, and I have at least one. There was not enough room for him to suggest nine solid spades, two small hearts, and two aces, so we are forced to assume partner needs a trick for slam, not heart protection.”

Kerri Sanborn bid 6♠. “I can’t quite believe that partner has the other 11 spades and a doubleton heart. I think that he has a great spade suit and a request for some tricks. I can visualize:
♠A K Q 9 7 6 5 4 A 4 ♣A 7 6.”

Richard Freeman thought you likely have a grand slam. He bid 5NT in an attempt to get to seven.

“I don’t know what partner wants,” he said, “but I seem to have it. 7♠ is a close second choice.”

“The passers may have felt that 5♠ asked for a heart control,” said scorers Kitty and Steve Cooper, “but our hand argues against that. What would partner do with a quantitative spade hand, needing fillers like those kings? We admired the attempt to describe both kings at one time with the 5NT bid and so upgraded it in the scoring.”

Some panelists were sure 5♠ is a heart-control ask. The majority felt that it is more likely your partner simply wants to make a slam invitation. Since this occurs more frequently, assigning it that meaning is a practical approach.

The deal was played on the Internet at Bridge Base Online. North held:
♠ A K Q J 8 5 4 A 6 ♣ A Q 5 2

Awards

Call Score
6♠ 100
Pass 60
5NT 40
6♣ 20
6 10

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.

♠ — A 6 5 A K Q 9 2 ♣ Q 8 7 6 2
West North East South
1♠ ?

Double was named top bid.

After your opponent opens 1♠, you can double, you can overcall 2, or you can bid an unusual 2NT. Each of the three is an approximate description of your hand. Which one is best?

“Double,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “If we bid 2NT, it will be difficult to get hearts into play.”

“We may belong in one of my minor suits,” said Randi Montin, “but double seems like the best overall description.”

“Double,” agreed Karen Walker. “The tougher problem may come on the next round.”

Allan Falk also liked double. “The fact that my 13th card is the ♣2 instead of the 2 does not change the fact that this is a three-suited hand. I’m worth two bids. If I double and they bid 4♠ pass, pass back to me, I’m willing to try 4NT.”

“Double,” said Larry Cohen. “I could start with 2NT and then bid hearts to show my exact pattern, but I think I am just a little light for that.”

Kerri Sanborn preferred 2NT. “It’s nice to be able to describe 10 cards at one time,” she said.

“2NT,” agreed Steve Robinson. “Show my minors first and later show three hearts. I don’t want to play in hearts unless partner has five.”

“2NT and then bid 3if I have a chance to,” said Paul Soloway. “I can follow up by doubling if they raise to 3♠.”

Grant Baze echoed the 2NT choice. “There is danger that we will lose the heart suit,” he said, “but there is greater danger of preemption in which case we might not locate our best trump suit.”

The third group overcalled 2.

“2.” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro, “If we double, the inevitable spade barrage will not leave us well placed. At least this way, we won’t be defending 4♠ with 10 diamonds between us.”

“2. I’m planning to bid again,” said Barry Rigal, “and double and 2NT don’t get the main feature of my hand across. Yes, over 4♠, I will have to pick between double and 4NT.”

There is no right or wrong bid on a hand such as this, and your choice depends on your bidding style. It’s interesting that the experts tried to look ahead and make a bid that will leave them well placed at their next turn. This is something that advancing players can make an effort to do to elevate their game.
Awards

Call Score
Dbl 100
2NT 60
2 50

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable.

♠ A Q 10 9 2 J 9 7 5 3 7 5 ♣ 2
West North East South
1(1) ?

(1) Precision, could be a doubleton

2was named top bid.

The panel was almost evenly divided between overcalling 1♠ and bidding 2. The Michaels cuebid shows both suits, but misrepresents the hand strength. Bidding 1♠ doesn’t overstate your strength, gets your side into the auction, but may lose the heart suit.

“Sorry, but this is too weak for a Michaels cuebid when vulnerable,” said Allan Falk. “I want a spade lead so the balance of risk and reward favors 1♠.”

Randi Montin agreed with 1♠. “I am bidding my good suit. A Michaels cuebid brings a very weak heart suit into the picture, but gets me a level higher and therefore is something I am not sure I want to do.”

August Boehm called 1♠ “a compromise between a timid pass and an excessive cuebid.”

“I would bid Michaels if this hand were better,” said Shawn Quinn, “but I don’t want to force to the two level.”

The fact that your second suit (hearts) is weak persuades some panelists.

Betty Ann Kennedy bid 1♠ and says, “If the majors were reversed, my call would be 2.”

Barry Rigal agreed there’s not enough value in the heart suit to merit a Michaels cuebid. “Switch the majors and I have a tougher problem,” he said. “To make a Michaels cuebid, I’d like to switch my 9 for the queen, giving me:
♠ A Q 10 9 2 Q J 7 5 3 7 5 ♣2.”

Mike Lawrence bid 1♠ and called it a bid that is “aimed at getting a good lead rather than competing.”

The majority of the panel preferred the Michaels cuebid. It may be an overbid, but it brings both suits onto the radar screen.

“It is best to get both majors into play,” said Grant Baze, “rather than place all our chips on lead direction.”

Larry Cohen said his hand is a “dead minimum” for bidding 2. “All my points are in my suits,” he explained.

Karen Walker summed up the argument for 2, but admitted it is not clear-cut. “In theory, I don’t think this is what partner will expect vulnerable at IMPs,” she said. “In practice, though, I can’t justify passing, and I don’t want to hide my second suit, weak as it is. There is a lot to be said, however, for the ‘compromise’ 1♠ bid.”

Awards

Call Score
2 100
1♠ 85
Pass 0

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. Both vulnerable.

♠ A 2 J 3 A K J ♣ A Q J 9 5 2
West North East South
Pass Pass 3 Dbl
Pass 4♠ Pass ?

5♣ was named top bid.

The panel agreed with double — you have 20 high-card points. You hope partner can bid 3NT. If he bids 3♠, you can try 4♣ — doubling and bidding your own suit shows a strong hand. Your partner jumped to 4♠, though, and he expected you to have at least three-card support. Do you pass and hope for the best, or do you bid your own six-card suit? Are you afraid of missing a slam?

The panel was nearly equally divided. Those who passed felt that partner was likely to have five spades and bidding anything else was just a guess.

“Pass,” agreed Jill Meyers. “Partner should have five spades to jump to four.”

Shawn Quinn also passed. “I am not sure anything else is a great bargain. Partner rates to have five spades to jump.”

“We may start with two heart losers in a club contract,” said Mike Lawrence. “I prefer to take my chances in 4&spades.”

Other panelists did not agree that partner had to have five or more spades.

“Partner could have only four spades for this auction,” said Barry Rigal who bid 5♣.

“5♣,” said August Boehm. “Just guessing. Sometimes partner has only four spades.”

“Partner might have ♠J 7 6 5 3 and 4♠ may still be a poor contract,” said Kerri Sanborn.

“Since partner is a passed hand, his spades are probably not that good,” agreed Steve Robinson.

“Passing 4♠ is too risky, and we may have a slam,” added Peggy and John Sutherlin.

One of the panelists held this hand at the World Championships.

“Pass,” said Richard Freeman. “I passed then and I’d do so again.”

North’s hand was:
♠K Q 10 8 7 ♥9 6 ♦7 6 2 ♣K 10 6.

Awards

Call Score
5♣ 50
Pass 35

This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?

IMPs. No one vulnerable.

♠ 3 Q 10 9 7 2 10 9 3 2 ♣ A 8 4
West North East South
1♣ 1♠ Pass Pass
Dbl Pass Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from July 2006’s Bridge Bulletin), Redouble was named top bid.

Partner has overcalled and the reopening double was left in. East has a spade stack, and this is not good news. Do you gamble that you have a better spot or do you pass and hope for the best?

“Pass,” said Larry Cohen. “I have a little help and who is to say anything else would be an improvement? Besides, I don’t have to play it.”

Peggy and John Sutherlin agreed. “Doesn’t seem like a good spot for a rescue redouble. We probably don’t have a heart fit. Even if partner has A 7 6 4, we may be no better off since we are a level higher and the opponents figure to lead trumps.”

“At least we are at the one level,” said Mike Lawrence, who also passed.

“The spades are dividing poorly,” said Randi Montin, “but there is no reason to think any other contract is better. Partner might have a six-card spade suit.”

Karen Walker agreed. “This may not be our best fit, but we’re still at the one level, and the penalty may be worse at the two level. Partner could have 6=2=2=3 distribution.”

“J’suis, je reste,” said Barry Rigal. “I’m here, and I’m staying.”

The panel majority redoubled for rescue. What were their reasons?

“I believe they have us,” said Kerri Sanborn, “so I’ll look for a better spot. If partner has no second suit, he can bid 1NT and I will escape to my five-card heart suit.”

“If East thinks we’re in trouble,” said Steve Robinson, “I believe him. If I end up in hearts, at least I have two trump tricks.”

“The opponents are telling me we are going down,” said Shawn Quinn. “I believe them!”

“It’s not clear,” said Jeff Meckstroth, “but I’ll gamble on improving the contract.”

“I find sitting for one-level doubles is wrong,” said Paul Soloway, “when we have other places to play.”

“I think we have a better spot,” added Richard Freeman.

Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed with redouble. “2 could be the winner. We wish we had better agreements on how to show longer hearts than diamonds, but we don’t.”

“It is never right to pass in this situation with a singleton trey in partner’s suit,” said Allan Falk. “The redouble leaves 1NT available for North when he has no second four-card suit. Then I can try 2, but I don’t want to do that if North has either four clubs or four diamonds.”

“If partner can’t volunteer a minor, we’ll take our lumps in 2,” said Grant Baze.

Running from 1♠ doubled could make things worse. The panel majority felt that you were in trouble, however, and was willing to take a chance on finding a better contract.

Awards

Call Score
Redbl 100
Pass 70
1NT 30
1 10

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