What’s your call?
Paging Mr. Berkowitz
This problem has the panelists fairly knotted up. Three reasonable calls and an opening lead emerge, all justified.
Colchamiro agonizes. “3♥. This gave me a headache. But 3♥ leaves room for 3♠ and 3NT from partner. 4♥ (or 4♠) is probably where the money is.”
The Joyces: “We could have shown three-card heart support immediately, so 3♥ now should show a doubleton honor in support.”
The Sutherlins offer 3♥. “We denied three-card support when we passed 3♦, so partner knows to expect only two-card support. 4♣ by us takes us past 3NT in addition to denying two hearts.”
While Robinson believes partner’s double to be penalty, he recognizes that partner might just be stuck for a bid. “He shouldn’t have three spades or six hearts. He probably assumes that I have some diamonds since I didn’t bid over 3♦.”
Sanborn’s call is also 3♥. “Our most likely game is 4♥, and I am almost sure to have a doubleton in this auc-tion. Partner’s double is not defined as penalty in front of the bidder, so I’ll pull under the likelihood that we have a game and they aren’t crazy.”
Contrast Cohen’s and Boehm’s defi-nition of the double: Boehm bids 3♥, supporting it by saying that it strongly suggests a good doubleton and leaves room for other strains. “For the record, I play partner’s double as cooperative, typically high honor–third in dia-monds, neither strictly takeout nor penalty.”
Cohen passes. “This is a pure penalty double (since we are in a game force). Hopefully, partner knows what he is doing. I have reasonable defense. I would pull with a diamond void, but in that case, I likely would have bid directly over three diamonds. Please don’t print this if David Berkowitz is reading. (He hates defending doubled partscores at IMPs.)”
Pass by Walker. “Doubles after a 2/1 response should be penalty. There’s no reason to play this as takeout. Whatev-er partner has — six-plus hearts, a club suit, a diamond stopper, spade support — he has a bid to show it.”
Amen from the Coopers. “We are in a game force and partner’s double is for penalties. We see no reason to overrule him.”
“♥K,” answers Rigal. “Yes I’m not delighted with my choice, but what can one do? I believe it might well be right to lead the trump in case declarer is going to take ruffs in dummy, but it could also be very wrong.” Hey! Barry! “What? This wasn’t a lead problem? You want me to bid? Only if partner doubled 3♦ very slowly.”
Surprise! The 4♣ bidders found an-other five-card suit in their hands.
Here’s Meckstroth: “I definitely need to pull this double with a stiff. It might very well be right to bid 3♥, but I think I should show my other five-card suit before showing the doubleton heart.”
Stack’s interpretation of the double is that it is “likely a plea to do something intelligent.” He bids 4♣. “We have a pretty decent heart fit. Also, it is one of my personal rules not to pass doubles for penalty with an unbid five-card suit.”