What’s your call?
As always, the panelists are beyond bedeviled by opponents’ bothersome preemptive bidding. The majority took the conservative route.
Cohen calls 4♥ “such a big underbid that I am embarrassed that I will
have to see it in print.”
Stack says 4♥ stands out as an easy first bid. “It is tempting to bid 5♥, but what would it ask for? If the opponents bid 5♣ and partner bids 5♥, we will carry on to 6♥.”
For Walker, the decision comes down to her spade holding. “We may be missing a slam, but without better support for spades, I don’t see an accurate way to find it unless partner moves over 4♥.”
Ever the optimist, Boehm advises, “4♥. Stay fixed. Maybe bad splits will defeat an otherwise promising slam.”
“I can stand for partner to retreat to 4♠,” says Rigal, who also bids 4♥. “And of course on a good day, he might have a good enough hand to bid on, though I’m not expecting it.”
“4♥,” says Falk. “5♥ might be misunderstood as asking for club control rather than heart support. If the answer is ‘pass,’ 5♥ is too high. 5♣ loses my potential seven-card trump suit and guarantees spade support unless I have a good enough suit to bid on my own, which I do not.”
The Gordons call it “close between 4♥ and a card-showing double, but we feel that we need to show our seven-bagger, especially since we have (somewhat of) a spade fit to fall back on.”
Three panelists do choose to double.
Weinstein says that his double would typically show something like a 2=5=5=1 pattern, “but here I am not sweating a diamond response. My goal is to get to a 7–3 heart fit without inordinately emphasizing hearts over spades. I would be shocked if the double gets left in. Over 4♥ by partner, I will bid Blackwood, and over 4♠, I will try 5♣. If partner bids 4♦, I will underbid slightly with 4♠.”
Robinson: “Double, showing two places to play. If partner bids 4♦, I’ll bid 4♥, which shows spade tolerance. If partner bids 4♠, I’ll pass. If partner bids 4♥, I’ll bid six. Bidding hearts directly shows a better suit.”
Sanborn and the Coopers bypass the seven-bagger to raise spades to four. “So much to say, so little space,” laments Sanborn. “Partner surely rates to have six spades. If he doesn’t have a heart fit — likely — my hand may not be as good as it looks.”
While the Coopers aren’t sure that 4♠ is the best spot, “we don’t have anything else we can do that’s sensible. We hope the three aces make up for the missing trump.”
Colchamiro bids 5♣. “Transfer advances, anyone?”
Lawrence goes all in. “5NT, asking partner to bid a slam of his choice. If he chooses diamonds, I will bid 5♥ suggesting hearts and some spade support.”