Matchpoints. Both vulnerable.
♠9 2 ♥8 4 3 ♦A K Q 2 ♣A J 6 3
What’s your call?
The panel was split into three camps. Rebidding 1NT shows a balanced minimum, but doing it with two low spades can be dicey. Rebidding 2♣ is awkward for responder to bid over, and usually shows nine or more cards in the minors. The heart support is weak for a 2♥ raise. To solve problems like this is why we pay the panelists the big bucks.
“1NT,” said Larry Cohen. “I feel like the hand hog, but I don’t like raising on three low. My good partners are 4–4 in the majors and we are in the right strain.”
Lynn Deas agreed. “I would like to have a spade card, but it’s my style to show a notrump-type hand as soon as possible when balanced,” she said. “The two other possible bids have worse flaws. A raise to 2♥ is normally four-card support, or three with a singleton. Rebidding 2♣ tends to guarantee five diamonds and is hard to respond to because it has a wide range of 12–17 points.”
“1NT is not ideal,” said Karen Walker, “but the hearts are too weak for a raise, and 2♣ is just asking to play a 4–2 diamond fit. Stoppers or not, 4–4–3–2 patterns should be described as balanced hands, not two-suited.”
“Balanced minimum openers rebid 1NT — no exceptions!” exclaimed Jeff Meckstroth.
“I raise on three trumps more than most people,” said Allan Falk, “but I see no reason to do so now. If I had a heart honor instead of a club or diamond value, that would be different.”
“1NT,” agreed Bridge Buff. “I have a balanced minimum hand. Humans want to do something fancy while computers are boring, but practical.”
Mel Colchamiro agreed with 1NT. “If you raise to 2♥, partner’s heart suit might be Q–6–5–2, and it would be awful. 2♣ is not for me, although it could work out.”
Six experts chose 2♣.
“2♣,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “1NT and 2*H* are too ugly. After 2♣, partner will think we have the minors — amazingly, that’s what we have.”
Betty Ann Kennedy agreed with 2♣. “1NT looks wrong-sided,” she said.
“2♣,” echoed Steve Robinson. “While this sequence shows nine cards in the minors, this hand is an exception.”
“Presumably, the reason I open 1♦ is to show both suits,” said August Boehm. “I would raise to 2♥ with a singleton spade or a heart honor.”
Four experts raised to 2♥.
“I would like to have better hearts,” said Jill Meyers, “but I like 2♥ better than 1NT.”
“Bidding 2♣ is a feeble description and 1NT is disgusting,” said Mike Lawrence. “That means 2♥ is what’s left. Other than lousy trumps, the rest of the hand is fine for this.”
“I’m a keen raiser with three trumps,” said Barry Rigal. “This hand is on the cusp for me, but I prefer it to 1NT or 2♣.”
“The only time I raise with three-card support is when I have a worthless unbid doubleton,” said Don Stack. “I prefer to have a heart honor, but you can’t have everything.”
The votes were nearly evenly divided. The correct bid probably depends on your style rather than what is right or wrong.