Matchpoints. None vulnerable.
♠8 6 4 ♥A J 7 2 ♦7 5 4 ♣A Q 8
What’s your call?
Bidding 1NT understates your strength. Jumping to 2NT with three low in the unbid suit is unappealing. Raising partner with three-card support could be a disaster. When the experts vote for five different calls, it means it’s a tough problem. Which is the least of evils?
“1NT isn’t ideal without a diamond stopper,” said Jeff Meckstroth, “but I need to take another bid, and I don’t want to raise a black suit.”
“All bids are flawed,” said Kerri Sanborn. “We don’t really have trick-taking potential, so will go the low road with 1NT.”
“What, the ♦7 5 4 combination is not a stopper?” joked Larry Cohen. “If they run the first seven tricks in diamonds, then I’ll go down in 1NT.”
“I am only one point heavy for 1NT with no diamond stopper and flat distribution,” said Don Stack, “so I’ll take the low road.”
“1NT,” said Steve Robinson. “A lot depends on whether 1; could be 4–3–3–3 or (4–3–2–4) or it promises five clubs.”
“This hand has 2.5 quick tricks, but not much else going for it,” said Karen Walker. “Even if you play 2♦ as the invitational version of fourth-suit forcing, a 2♥ rebid by partner puts you in an uncomfortable spot. This problem is a slight variation on a Bridge World Master Solvers problem from the early Eighties. Back then, the majority’s choice was 3♣.”
This time there is no majority, and 3♣ was the second-most popular bid.
“3♣,” said August Boehm. “This is easier for a partnership where the 1♠ rebid promises club length.”
“3♣,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We need to make a move towards game. Partner should bid 3NT when he has the right hand.”
“This hand is an advertisement for playing 2♦ as forcing only to 2NT,” said Linda and Robb Gordon. “We’ll settle for 3♣.”
“3♣ is the value bid,” said Mel Colchamiro. “I guess I owe partner a club. Bidding 2NT is taking the matchpoint thing too far.”
Only one panelist chose 2♦.
“I am upgrading this hand and bidding 2♦,” said Mike Lawrence. “I’m hoping my club suit will provide us with notrump tricks.”
Bidding 2♦ may solve your problem on this round, but could leave you with a hard decision on the next.
Two experts raised spades.
“We raise freely with three-card support to solve this type problem,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “We deduct one point for 4–3–3–3 distribution and only three trumps and call it 10. A simple raise, therefore, is fine. If partner passes, this is usually a good matchpoint result.”
Betty Ann Kennedy and Bridge Baron rebid 2NT, but gave no reasons. Although you don’t have a diamond stopper, 2NT shows your shape and values.
When faced with no descriptive bid, experts often choose to underbid and try for a plus score.