What’s your call?
For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from April 2009’s Bridge Bulletin), 3♥ was named top bid.
Half the panel bid 3♥. Partner shouldn’t expect more values than this. Because you passed the first time, he knows your hand is limited.
“3♥,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We would have taken some action over 1♠ with most eight-point hands, so partner should play us for values about like what we have.”
Karen Walker agreed. “My failure to make a bid on the last round should give partner a good picture of this high-card strength,” she said.
Other experts also bid 3♥.
“I have as much as partner could possibly expect,” said Grant Baze. “It is rarely right to sell out to 2♠.”
“The double is takeout,” said Mike Lawrence, “and I have a maximum hand (for the bidding).”
“I have the best hand I could have,” said Richard Freeman, “and passing is out of the question. Partner should have four hearts or a hand that is playable in hearts.”
Betty Ann Kennedy also bid 3*H* and remarked, “I would prefer a five-card heart suit.”
Some panelists weren’t so sure partner had four hearts.
“3♥,” said August Boehm. “This bid gets the values across; now, let’s hope we’re in the right suit.”
“3♥,” agreed Larry Cohen. “It’s not clear how to explore for alternative strains, as double and 2NT, without discussion, are both unclear as to meaning. Even if partner doesn’t have four hearts, a 4–3 fit might play well and score plus 140.”
“I would have made a negative double over 1♠, which would avoid this problem;” said Lynn Deas. “If 2NT was takeout, that would be my choice as that would assure us getting to our best fit.”
Seven experts thought 2NT was takeout and chose that action.
“2NT cannot be natural,” said Kerri Sanborn, “so it suggests two places to play. It is the best way to get to the correct partscore. It would not occur to me to pass and let the opponents play 2♠.”
“2NT, pick a suit partner,” said Barry Rigal. “It clearly is not natural. If you can’t bid 1NT on the first round, you can’t bid 2NT now (as a natural bid). I’d expect partner to bid the longer of his clubs or hearts. If he bids 3♦, I’ll pass.”
“I’m bidding 2NT and correcting 3♦ to 3♥,” said Jill Meyers. “Partner doesn’t promise four hearts for her double, so I don’t want to bid 3♥ in case we belong in clubs.”
“2NT shows two places to play,” agreed Janet and Mel Colchamiro.
“I hope 2NT shows two places to play,” said Allan Falk. “Partner could have several different distributions, so I can’t pick a suit all by myself.”
“2NT,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “We wish to compete. True, it may lose the heart suit, but that’s why we would have made a negative double the first time.”
What do the Coopers mean when they say you may lose the heart suit? If you bid 2NT and partner has four hearts and four clubs, he will usually bid the lower one (clubs) first. Over that, you know you’ve found a 4–4 fit, so you will pass. In a board-a-match team game, you will lose the board if you can make three of either suit and the other team gets to 3♥.
Although most of the panel thought it was wrong to let the opponents play 2♠, there were two panelists who passed.
“Partner has made a strength-showing double,” said Steve Robinson, “but that doesn’t promise four hearts. Bidding anything is too dangerous. To avoid this problem, you should make a negative double on the previous round.”
The other passer was the Bridge Baron software.
Because board-a-match teams is like matchpoints, the plurality favor 3♥, the highest-scoring partscore that is sensible. They feel that even if partner has only three-card support, 3♥ rates to be a playable contract. Also, some of the experts who chose 3*H* are not sure that 2NT will be read correctly by North — bidding 3♥ avoids a mix-up.
There are many distributions that North could have, however, that don’t include four hearts and a 4–3 fit may not play well. 2NT was chosen by seven experts, therefore, as a safer action.
Sixteen of the experts bid something. North probably has one or two spades. That means that East–West have eight or nine. In that case, you can’t sell out and let them play in a comfortable 2♠ contract as long as you have a safe action.
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