Matchpoints. Both vulnerable.
♠K ♥A K 6 5 4 ♦Q 6 3 ♣K J 10 2
What’s your call?
Is 3♠ a cuebid looking for slam, or is it looking for the best game? The experts were divided. What you should bid next depends on the meaning of 3♠. If it’s a probe for the best game, then 3NT might be the best action because you likely have two diamond losers.
“3NT,” said Steve Robinson. “I’ve already shown hearts and clubs, and partner has denied three hearts. This is not a good-fitting hand.”
“I have tolerance for notrump with something in diamonds so I opt for 3NT,” said August Boehm. “How is partner supposed to bid with:
♠A Q J 2 ♥Q 3 ♦9 7 5 ♣A Q 7 4?”
“3NT, although it’s close between 3NT and 4NT,” said Jill Meyers. “We could easily be off two quick diamond tricks.”
“Partner should have cuebid 3♦ with any honor, rather than 3*S*,” said Kerri Sanborn. “I want to hear clarification before going higher than 3NT.”
“Opposite shaky diamonds, slam is unlikely,” said Larry Cohen. “Maybe partner has something like:
♠A Q J 10 ♥Q 7 ♦10 7 2 ♣A Q 6 4,
and 3NT might be the last plus score.”
Bidding 4NT is right on point count, and six experts opted for that.
“I choose a quantitative 4NT,” said Barry Rigal. “My partner might be on the way to cuebidding for clubs or looking for the right game. It’s up to him to tell me what is going on.”
“3*S* is either loving clubs or denying a diamond stopper,” said Mel Colchimiro. “My first obligation is to get to the correct game. We could be off the ♦A K, so 5NT, pick a slam, is too risky. So, I’ll settle for an invitational 4NT.”
“We play 4NT as quantitative and expressing doubt as to strain,” said Kay and Randy Joyce.
“I’m not sure what 3♠ is, but I choose 4NT, which shows a quantitative raise,” said Mike Lawrence.
“The 3♠ bid could just show concern about diamonds so we can’t just bid a cowardly 3NT and risk missing a slam,” said Linda and Robb Gordon. “4NT is quantitative as it satisfies two rules: It’s not Blackwood if you haven’t shown a fit, and it’s not Blackwood if you have a cheaper, forcing bid available (4♣).”
Three experts bid 4♣.
“Partner’s 3♠ bid showed club support, and a willingness to cooperate with a slam probe,” said Karen Walker. “4♣ allows me to hear if partner has a diamond control. It would be handy if 4NT were quantitative, but it has to be key card Blackwood for clubs.”
“What does partner’s 3♠ bid mean?” asked Brad Theurer. “North could have a good club fit and be cuebidding the ♠A, but denying the ♦A. I have a decent hand, but I need a diamond control from partner.”
“4♣,” agreed Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Partner has cuebid in support of clubs, and we may have a slam, so we need to go past 3NT. Maybe partner can cuebid 4♦.”
“4♠,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “We think partner’s 3♠ bid says he likes clubs, has the ♠A, is slammish and doesn’t have the ♦A. Our 4♠ cuebid highlights the diamond problem. Note that a 4NT bid by partner over 4*S* would show a place to play rather than be Blackwood.”
“6♣,” said Betty Ann Kennedy. “Partner’s 3*S* bid shows a maximum with a club fit.”
“This is a difficult problem to score,” said Allan Falk. “In Bridge Bulletin Standard, the 3♣ bid is game forcing, but not necessarily a slam try. Seven experts retreat to 3NT, afraid North is trying to pinpoint diamond weakness.
“The 4NT bidders think North must have at least values in diamonds, and so invite slam. Your scorer doubts the security of the diamond position.
“The 4♣ bidders think 3♠ must agree clubs, so they put opener in a position to make a convenient diamond cuebid.
“The 4♠ bidder and the 6♣ bidder have problems as well.”
If 3♣ is game forcing, but not necessarily a slam try, what is 3♠? Its meaning changes the meanings of subsequent bids.