Retro Edition

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.
♠9 8 7 3 2   J 7 6 5   J 8 3 2  ♣ —

West North East South
2♣(1) 4♣ Dbl(2)
5♣ Pass Pass ?

(1) Strong.
(2) Poor hand: less than two queens.

What’s your call?

5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Dbl Pass

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Bid Award
5♠ 100
6♣ 90
5NT 20
Dbl 10
Pass 0

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August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, The Coopers, Allan Falk, The Gordons, The Joyces, Betty Ann Kennedy, Mike Lawrence, Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers, Barry Rigal, Steve Robinson, Kerri Sanborn, Don Stack, The Sutherlins, Karen Walker, Bridge Baron
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A very close vote. Surely opener would bid something over 5♣ with an unbalanced hand — asking a partner who has announced less than two queens to make a five-level decision would be masochistic. Therefore, opener rates to have a huge balanced hand with no club values. The winning call, by the slightest of majorities, was a straightforward 5♠ bid.

Meckstroth: “5♠. If partner is passing this around to me, I don’t want to defend with a void. Perhaps I should bid 6♣ but I’m not that confident we can make a slam.”

Sutherlins: “5♠. This is a forcing auction. Partner should be prepared for us to bid a bad five-card suit. If not, he should have doubled or bid his own six-card suit if he has one. He passed on his chance to double and collect a sure plus.”

Coopers: “5♠. We expect to make this since partner’s pass is forcing and sounds like a huge 4–4–4–1 or such. 6♣ would be too greedy because we have no queen.”

Cohen: “5♠. Partner’s pass is forcing and if I don’t bid with a club void, I suppose I’ll never bid. He asked for my opinion and I’m giving it. For the prior bidding, I have a decent hand (due to the shape). If this is wrong, then he should have doubled 5♣.”

Sanborn: “5♠. How nice to be able to show nothing at this level.”

More optimistic panel members look at their club void and envision slam.

Boehm: “6♣. North should double with the strong balanced hand-type and take his profit. Therefore, he has a huge three-suiter, or a nine- to 10-winner one-suiter where he wants to avoid the five level facing balanced junk. With balanced junk, he expects me to double; with this marvel, I cuebid to reach the right strain.”

Stack: “If we start with the premise that partner has invited me to bid, then I have a great playing hand after showing a hand with less than two queens. It is hard to construct a hand for partner that will not give us an excellent play for slam.”

Robinson: “6♣. Partner has no wasted values in clubs. Might as well play in partner’s best suit.”

Giragosian and Rigal both choose to bid 5NT as a general takeout, pick-a-slam statement. “Since 6 could easily be best, I don’t think 6♣ is correct now,”says Rigal. “That emphasizes the majors, I believe. Arguably 5NT suggests diamonds and a major, but we have to have a way to show this hand and in the post-mortem, I’ll explain why my choice was obvious.”

In the scoring, doubling with a void in clubs after North invited South to bid something is a bit of an insult to partner, but since it might work out better than any other call on occasion, it gets a little something.

“A nightmare hand,” moans the lone doubler, Lawrence. “North does not have a balanced hand or we would have heard about it over 5♣. North’s pass is forcing so we must bid something. I have a sneaking admiration for 6♣, but there is a problem on this hand. If North is short in clubs, very possible given his pass of 5♣, then my void won’t be worth much. Give him:

♠A K Q J   A K x x  A Q 10 x  ♣ x

for example. Slam is no bargain. Having no way to find our best five-level contract, if one exists, I double.”

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