IMPs. Both vulnerable.
♠J 9 6 ♥K Q J 9 7 6 ♦Q 3 ♣10 2
What’s your call?
Doubling 1NT can be tricky. Your side may have the majority of high-card points, yet you can’t defeat the contract. On this deal, for example, East may be able to win the ♥A, take five clubs and one more winner. You might be able to set up your hearts, but not get in to cash them.
The majority of the experts chose to bid their strong six-card suit.
“2♥,” said Karen Walker. “This hand looks like all offense to me. Nine points is usually enough for a penalty double, but the lack of an outside entry is a big warning sign that I may not be able to run my suit.”
“Enough points to double, but the wrong type of hand,” agreed Don Stack. “This hand is for offense and will play well in the excellent heart suit with the spade fit being a bonus. They could easily make 1NT and, at the same time, we could make anywhere from 2♥ to 4♥.”
“2♥,” agreed Steve Robinson. “My heart suit is practically solid. If we’re playing in spades, my hearts could be worthless.”
“The likelihood that we want to defend 1NT doubled, and that they will pass it out if we do double, is slim,” said Barry Rigal. “My hearts look more useful to me as trumps than to partner playing in spades.”
“2♥,” echoed Jeff Meckstroth. “Doubling 1NT could get a big dividend, but could also be a disaster. If we go minus 180 instead of plus 140, that’s an 8-IMP loss. Also, we could have a game, and bidding hearts gives us our best chance to get there.”
“East could have seven or eight tricks in notrump when we can take eight to 10 in a major suit,” said Allan Falk. “If I double and they run to a minor, I have to bid 2♥ — that would then be forcing. Better to just bid the suit now.”
“It looks like hearts should be trump,” said Larry Cohen. “Playing in spades, my heart suit rates to wither on the vine.”
“I’m bidding 2♠ and keeping hearts in reserve,” said August Boehm. “If the opponents compete, then we can play either major at the three level. Double risks finding the 1NT bidder with running clubs.”
“2♠,” said Mike Lawrence. “I’m guessing they have a home in a minor, so I’m giving up on penalties. One reason against bidding 2♥ is that they may lead a spade and get some ruffs.”
What about double?
“Dummy has virtually nothing, which makes double more appealing,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Declarer will have to lead everything from his hand. We will probably be collecting a big number.”
“Double,” agreed Betty Ann Kennedy. “If they retreat to a minor suit, I’ll bid 2♠.”
There was one vote for 2NT. What does that mean?
“2NT usually shows a two-suiter,” said Kerri Sanborn. “Regardless, I rate to survive and show a good raise in spades.”
The experts who bid 2♥ did a good job assessing trick-taking potential rather than just to count high-card points. When your hand is weaker than your partner’s, consider playing in your suit rather than his.