IMPs. N-S vulnerable.
♠9 8 7 3 2 ♥J 7 6 5 ♦J 8 3 2 ♣ —
(2) Poor hand: less than two queens.
What’s your call?
A very close vote. Surely opener would bid something over 5♣ with an unbalanced hand — asking a partner who has announced less than two queens to make a five-level decision would be masochistic. Therefore, opener rates to have a huge balanced hand with no club values. The winning call, by the slightest of majorities, was a straightforward 5♠ bid.
Meckstroth: “5♠. If partner is passing this around to me, I don’t want to defend with a void. Perhaps I should bid 6♣ but I’m not that confident we can make a slam.”
Sutherlins: “5♠. This is a forcing auction. Partner should be prepared for us to bid a bad five-card suit. If not, he should have doubled or bid his own six-card suit if he has one. He passed on his chance to double and collect a sure plus.”
Coopers: “5♠. We expect to make this since partner’s pass is forcing and sounds like a huge 4–4–4–1 or such. 6♣ would be too greedy because we have no queen.”
Cohen: “5♠. Partner’s pass is forcing and if I don’t bid with a club void, I suppose I’ll never bid. He asked for my opinion and I’m giving it. For the prior bidding, I have a decent hand (due to the shape). If this is wrong, then he should have doubled 5♣.”
Sanborn: “5♠. How nice to be able to show nothing at this level.”
More optimistic panel members look at their club void and envision slam.
Boehm: “6♣. North should double with the strong balanced hand-type and take his profit. Therefore, he has a huge three-suiter, or a nine- to 10-winner one-suiter where he wants to avoid the five level facing balanced junk. With balanced junk, he expects me to double; with this marvel, I cuebid to reach the right strain.”
Stack: “If we start with the premise that partner has invited me to bid, then I have a great playing hand after showing a hand with less than two queens. It is hard to construct a hand for partner that will not give us an excellent play for slam.”
Robinson: “6♣. Partner has no wasted values in clubs. Might as well play in partner’s best suit.”
Giragosian and Rigal both choose to bid 5NT as a general takeout, pick-a-slam statement. “Since 6♦ could easily be best, I don’t think 6♣ is correct now,”says Rigal. “That emphasizes the majors, I believe. Arguably 5NT suggests diamonds and a major, but we have to have a way to show this hand and in the post-mortem, I’ll explain why my choice was obvious.”
In the scoring, doubling with a void in clubs after North invited South to bid something is a bit of an insult to partner, but since it might work out better than any other call on occasion, it gets a little something.
“A nightmare hand,” moans the lone doubler, Lawrence. “North does not have a balanced hand or we would have heard about it over 5♣. North’s pass is forcing so we must bid something. I have a sneaking admiration for 6♣, but there is a problem on this hand. If North is short in clubs, very possible given his pass of 5♣, then my void won’t be worth much. Give him:
♠A K Q J ♥A K x x ♦A Q 10 x ♣ x
for example. Slam is no bargain. Having no way to find our best five-level contract, if one exists, I double.”
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