Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable.
♠7 2 ♥A K ♦A K J 10 ♣A Q 8 6 4
(1) Constructive: 8 or more HCP.
What’s your call?
3♥ and 3♦ are ostensibly natural here — partner will interpret either as showing one more card in the suit than we have. The panel thinks that’s worth the risk, though, and must have a plan to confirm that both 3♥ and 3♦ are intended as advance cuebids for a club slam.
Robinson calls 3♥ “bidding where I live. If partner thinks that I have three hearts, that works also.”
Boehm bids 3♥ because he doesn’t know what partner would make of a 3♠ bid. “With a possible club slam on the horizon, I’d rather not confuse the issue of spade control by bidding 3♠. Besides, 5–2 hearts might be our highest-scoring game.”
Sanborn, too, is more interested in keeping things as straightforward as possible. “Even though I could be showing three-card support, I don’t want to make the confusing 3♠ bid. If partner chooses 4♥ as a contract, it should be right.”
Weinstein believes that 3♥ really should show spade shortness. “I would have opened 2♣ and rebid 2NT with this hand,” he says. “But because it went this way, I have to show my great doubleton.”
Cohen: “I have no idea where this is going, but I might as well show heart ‘stuff’ for now. Partner might expect three of them, but I feel I need to say ‘hearts’ at this, my third turn.”
Likewise, Colchamiro is unconcerned that he’s a heart short. “If partner goes slamming, I’ll be all in.”
Six players try other three-level calls in an attempt to solicit more information from partner. Perhaps he has five hearts? Perhaps he has a hand suitable for notrump? Now’s the time to find out.
“3♦ may confuse partner as to my shape but my values are good enough,” says Lawrence. “This may end up right-siding notrump.” Then, in the next breath, “Was there a reason I didn’t open 2NT?”
3♦ is more or less a temporizing call for Rigal, as well. “I’m not sure if 3♣ denied five hearts (I play it doesn’t). I also play that it is too common that one needs to temporize here to insist that this auction promises 5–6 in the minor suits. I understand why that might be unpopular, but my plan is to raise 3♥ to 4♥ and hope to hear partner get notrump in. I’m not sure where we are going yet.”
For the Sutherlins, 3♦ is a cuebid. “Maybe we will get lucky and hear 3♠ from partner, after which we will bid Blackwood.”
Three players feel that 3♠ is clearly asking partner to bid 3NT with a stopper.
Stack notes that because he would bid 3NT with spades stopped, partner will have no problem interpreting the bid. “If partner bids 4♠, I can bid a club slam. If partner bids 4♣, 5♣ is probably the limit of the hand. If partner bids 3NT, there may still be a slam, but I will pass.”
Meyers plays 3♠ here as “groping.” Her hope is that partner can bid 3NT.
The Joyces play a two-way 3♠ here: first, asking for a stopper and/or help in bidding a club slam. No doubt the response structure Stack proposed works for their methods as well.
Two panelists actually dare to zip right past the sacrosanct 3NT mark. Walker and the Coopers bid 4♣.
“3♠ would find a stopper, but then what?” asks Walker. “Head to slam or go down in 3NT opposite a possible Q–x–x? If partner has a real spade control, 4♣ will drag it out of him.”