♠A K 10 6 ♥A K 10 9 7 2 ♦A Q 10 ♣—
What’s your call?
Why does your opponent always preempt when you have a monster hand? The panel majority used the old standby answer for that: double.
“Double shows a good hand,” said Larry Cohen. “Even though it’s not penalty, partner rates to leave it in and takes it out only with lots of shape or strength. Double, however, is better than guessing at some number of hearts. Bidding 5NT, pick a slam, or 6♣, might look like a good idea, but the problem is you have the wrong shape. If partner picks diamonds, will you know to pass? If you correct 6♦ to 6♥, will partner know not to go to spades with 3–2 in the majors? So, by default, double it is.”
Jill Meyers agreed with Cohen. “I choose double,” she said. “If I bid 5NT and partner bids 6♦, I won’t know whether to pass or bid.”
Partner may leave it in, and your decisions are finished. What do you do, however, if partner bids at the five level?
“I have a great hand, but we might make nothing, game or slam,” said Brad Theurer. “I choose double. If partner passes, that could turn out fine. If he bids 5♦, I’ll bid 5*H*, showing a strong hand with good hearts, but a hand playable in other strains because I didn’t bid 5*H* directly.”
“Double may be settling for an inadequate penalty,” said August Boehm, “but if we have a better spot, how often will we find it if I bid?”
“With three losers and bad breaks likely, I can’t commit to slam, so I double,” said Karen Walker. “If partner passes as expected, we should collect at least plus 500. If he bids, he’ll have a long suit. Maybe that will be a problem in the next issue of the Bridge Bulletin.”
“I’ve no idea whether to insist on one of my suits, so I’ll double,” said Barry Rigal. “That’s the best way to transfer blame to partner.”
“There is no good way to explore for a slam, so we double,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We have enough defense to be plus 500, and beat the players in game if partner elects to pass.”
Six players took charge.
“6♣,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “If we double, partner will pass and we doubt that this is right, so we go for a better score. If we’re wrong, it’s only a board.”
“I choose 6♣ and I’ll convert 6♦ to 6♥ to show tolerance for spades,” said Mel Colchamiro. “Double could work out, but partner could be endplayed into passing with a hand that could make slam, for example:
♠Q 2 ♥J 8 4 3 ♦K 8 7 4 ♣8 7 4.”
“Partner needs very little to make a slam,” said Don Stack. “The upside on offense is much greater than defense, so I’m bidding 6♣. I’m willing to miss a grand slam, but not a small.”
“6♥,” said Steve Robinson. “I need very little from partner to make slam. There is no way to show this hand without misstating my major-suit length. I don’t want partner to choose spades with three spades and two hearts.”
The majority recognized they don’t have a clear-cut way to show their shape, so they chose double. It may not work out, but it’s in the right ballpark.