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Retro Edition

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.
♠A 10 5 3   —   Q J 10 9 8 5 4  ♣10 2

West North East South
2 Dbl 5 ?

What’s your call?

5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Dbl Pass
Click to reveal awards
Bid Award
6 100
Pass 60
Dbl 20
5♠ 20
5NT 10
Panelists
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 Buff
Vertigo

This auction got awfully high awfully fast. Partner’s vulnerable double is good news. He could have made a Michaels cuebid or, worse, bid 2NT or 3NT, which would reek of wasted heart values. Thus it’s entirely possible that the magic cards needed to bring home a diamond slam are right across the table.

Meckstroth calls his 6 bid a very tough choice. “It could be right to bid 5♠ or it could be right to defend 5 doubled. At least by bidding 6, I will be able to maintain control of the trump suit.”

Walker says she’s relying on her opponents to envision a dummy with no heart wastage, which is dangerous. “I hate being stampeded into a hopeless slam, but not as much as I hate being intimidated into missing a good one.”

Several experts suspect that the auction won’t end with a 6 bid.

Boehm bids 6 and asks, “Right suit but wrong level? If so, maybe they will save.”

Stack argues, “Again, the opponents think that we have a slam, so we will bid the long suit and ignore the spades as we are expecting a sacrifice at 6. If the sacrifice comes, we will not continue to 6♠.”

Kennedy, too, chooses to ignore the four-card spade suit. “With 7–4 distribution, I’ll bid my seven-card suit.”

The Gordons say that even if 6 is wrong, the opponents may take the push to 6.

Meyers, too, sees the opponents’ bidding as a sign that slam is in the cards. “I don’t know if we can make 6, but the opponents may take a save, so I am willing to push this up one level.”

Lawrence questions whether a pass by him would be forcing. “On hand two of this month’s problems, I made a forcing pass. Assuming pass would be forcing on this hand, I do not choose it,” he says as he bids 6. “On hand two, partner had a lot more information from me than he does on this hand.”

Sanborn, Rigal, Robinson and Cohen all make what they believe might be a forcing pass.

Robinson is fairly certain partner won’t let the auction die. “When the opponents are saving, my pass becomes forcing. If partner has a minimum takeout double, he will double again. If partner has a giant hand, he’ll know that I have some values. If partner does bid, I’ll know whether he has four spades.”

Sanborn uses the vulnerability and the opponents’ willingness to save as proof positive that her pass is forcing. “Partner is required to act, although she won’t know how freakish my hand is. It will be a problem again when double comes back to me. The five level looks comfortable with this hand, but 5♠ is too out there for me.”

“I hope this is forcing,” says Rigal, “but what am I going to do when partner doubles? I’m glad you didn’t ask. Maybe next month!”

A somewhat bewildered Cohen also passes, saying, “The problem here is that I don’t know if we are in a forcing auction or not.”

“6 is too much, pass is too little and double is too weird,” dismisses Colchamiro. “Maybe 5♠ will work out.”

Falk doubles. “Not a penalty double,” he is quick to explain. “I just don’t want to bid 6 (if I can make it, partner will probably raise me to 7) and I don’t want to sound like I might be broke. If partner, with an unbalanced hand, pulls, we should be able to land on our feet in some makeable contract — either spades (I’ll raise 5♠ to 6) or diamonds (I’ll correct 5NT or 6♣ to 6♦).”