What’s your call?
String of hearts
Usually it’s clubs or diamonds: 1m–1M; 3NT shows a long running minor with the two unbid suits somewhat guarded (and generally shortness in the bid major). Here, however, it seems that partner is doing it on a running heart suit. With a ruffing value and no real love for notrump, most of the panelists opt for 4♥.
“I would think partner has long, strong hearts and is giving me a choice between 4♥ and 3NT,” says Weinstein, “and that choice is easy.”
Hampson describes his thinking: “I am assuming that 3NT shows lots of tricks based on a running heart suit and some side stoppers. I have a low singleton and a fit for partner’s presumed six (or more) hearts, so I place us in 4♥.”
“Partner has shown a semi-solid heart suit with short spades,” according to Rigal, “so 4♥ looks a safer spot. If my partner has a balanced hand, there will be words (softly spoken, of course) exchanged afterwards.”
Kennedy bids 4♥. “Playing matchpoints, I’m hoping for 620 instead of 600 or even a minus score.”
Falk joins Kennedy on the safe side. “If partner had opened 1♦, we would know what sort of hand to expect. Still, I don’t want to take a chance that partner holds something like:
♠Q ♥A K Q 10 x x x ♦A x ♣K x x,
where a diamond lead means 3NT has no play and 4♥ is straightforward. I also don’t think the matchpoint angle makes a difference. We need to be in a contract that makes, and when it is not clear which of two possibilities fulfills that criterion, we ought not worry about 10-point differentials.”
Using the so-called Reverse Hamman Rule, “when passing (bidding) 3NT is a reasonable option, do it,” Stack passes. “Nine tricks are easier than 10.”
The Sutherlins don’t believe that partner is offering a choice, and they pass. “Partner has almost a 2NT strength hand with a running heart suit. He has chosen to take a shot at 3NT rather than 4♥. We should not override that decision.”
The Joyces give partner a pass in 3NT as well. “Although this is an unusual auction, pass seems like a reasonable bid, given our chunky clubs and spade holding.”
Sanborn, the Coopers and the Gordons join Stack, the Sutherlins and the Joyces in the passing lane.
The nuances of the auction were apparently lost on the computer program, which bid 4♠.