Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable.
♠A K J 10 9 7 3 ♥4 ♦6 5 ♣A 7 4
What’s your call?
Perhaps all the spade bids should get 100, since any of them could be right. In real life, the choice of level might well depend more on table feel than any objective evaluation.
Most of the panelists like 3♠. At unfavorable vulnerability, 3♠ more than adequately conveys the playing strength of the hand (“strongish” says Sanborn; “descriptive at these colors,” say the Joyces) while interfering with the opponents’ communication.
“Bidding 2♠ gives up the contest,” explain the Gordons. “Bidding 4♠ forces them to double, most likely with success. Bidding 3♠ puts enough pressure on without risking a number. Call us Goldilocks.”
Boehm, too: “If partner raises with club shortness, we might even score a game. 2♠ doesn’t accomplish much.”
“I’m trying to use enough room to jam their auction but not so much that they just shrug and double for minus 500,” says Walker.
“While it is possible East has a balanced 22-plus, there’s nothing to say they can’t make game or slam, and I certainly don’t want them to have a convenient exchange of information,” explains Falk. “On the other hand, 4♠ is too much.”
Meckstroth says, “I really want to bid 4♠, but the vulnerability is wrong.”
Nor is Kennedy color blind. “3♠. At favorable vulnerability, I would bid 4♠.”
Six panelists adopt a “Damn the colors, full speed ahead” approach and bid 4♠.
“If they can double me without ever mentioning their hearts, they beat me,” challenges Colchamiro.
“It was either 4♠ or a wimpy 3♠,” says Cohen, who talks a good game. “Can I bid three and a half spades? I fear minus 500, but I think I can get East to the five level. If I bid only 3♠, I won’t feel happy having to then sell out to 4♥.”
Nor could Lawrence live with himself if the opponents found their red suit contract without suitable interference. “4♠. This trades on a tendency that 2♣ bidders have, which is to show their suits and get too high.”
“If they were looking at my hand, I would bid just 3&spads;,” says Weinstein. “But since they’re not, I expect them to bid five of a red suit.”
“Make them guess,” conclude the Coopers. “If we go for too many, it’s only a board.”
Representing the 2♠ bidders are Robinson, Stack and Bridge Baron.
“I have a great hand for offense and defense and the vulnerability is troublesome,” says Stack, who bids a “pedestrian” 2♠. “I do not have a preemptive hand so I reject 3♠ and 4♠.”
Robinson is initiating his own constructive dialogue with partner. “I bid 2♠. I’m interested in seeing if partner has spade support and some distribution or strength.”