Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable.
♠A J ♥A 5 2 ♦A 10 7 3 ♣A K 7 3
What’s Your Call?
A practical bid
One of the items added to Bridge Bulletin Standard is that 5NT means pick a slam in auctions where no major suit has been agreed upon. Ten experts choose that bid.
Rigal: “5NT says pick a slam, implicitly the minors. 4♥ is not a transfer to spades. It suggests a good hand with two or three suits. I’ll let partner pick his poison and name the trump suit.”
Robinson: “For 4♥ to be a Texas transfer, it must be a jump. Therefore, 4♥ is forcing Stayman. Over 5NT, partner is expected to bid his lowest four‑card (or longer) suit.”
Colchamiro: “5NT is pick a slam, but not spades. With spade support, I would bid 5♥. Partner is a lock to hold at least one minor.”
Meyers: “5NT, pick a minor, is a practical bid. My hand is so good, I’d like to bid 5♥ to bring a grand slam into the picture, but I’m afraid that would also bring spades into the picture. If partner bid 5♠ over 5♥, now 5NT would create confusion.”
Gordons: “What is the difference between 5♥ and 5NT? Does 5♥ bring spades into the picture? Does 5NT bring 6NT into the picture? We really don’t know.”
Walker: “4♥ is definitely not a Texas transfer — it has to be a jump. My hand is so big in support of either minor that bidding 5♣ or 5♦ isn’t enough.”
Two panelists thought 4♥ was Texas.
“4♠,” says Stack. “What does 4♥ mean? I’m guessing it’s a transfer to spades. If partner corrects to five of either minor, I will raise to six.”
“4♠,” agrees Kennedy. “I see no reason not to comply with partner’s transfer.”
Four experts cuebid 5♥. What does that mean?
“I assume Texas is not on,” says Cohen, “I can’t imagine holding a better hand for whatever partner has in mind.”
“We couldn’t have a better hand for slam,” agree the Sutherlins, “but we need to find the best suit. If partner bids 5♠, we will continue with 6♣, asking him to pick between the minors.”
“Let’s agree that 4♥ is Stayman, not a transfer,” says Falk. “Partner could have bid 3♠ forcing, so he rates to have only a four‑card spade suit. I can be certain, therefore, that he has at least one four‑card minor, so I’m going for the gusto and try to find the right strain, even if slam is pushing the level a bit.”
The panelists are going for the gusto a lot this month. This one isn’t.
“I’m bidding 4NT as a hedge that confirms a heart stopper,” says Boehm. “What would double of 3♥ have meant? If not a negative double, partner may be employing Stayman with his 4. We may belong in five of a minor, but it’s impossible to answer without an agreement about double.”
Bridge Buff passed. In previous situations, when the software wasn’t sure what a bid means, it passed to avoid getting into worse trouble. Maybe that’s what happened here.
The 5♥ bidders don’t intend to pass 5♠, so that call has no upside over 5NT. As Meyers points out, 5NT is a practical bid that avoids confusion — partner, pick a slam.
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