Matchpoints. None vulnerable.
♠— ♥A 8 7 6 4 3 2 ♦A J 10 3 ♣K 4
What’s your call?
A majority of the panel chooses 3♥ to describe this highly distributional hand in the balancing seat. Despite the ratty quality of the heart suit, there are seven of them, which has to count for something, right?
“I have a hand light on high cards but with loads of potential,” says Sanborn, who bids 3♥.
Cohen thinks 3♥ “feels about right. A good suit and intermediate values. Also has some preemptive value.”
Rigal echoes Cohen’s evaluation — intermediate values and heart strength eliminate both double and 4♥ (“could be very silly”) as possible calls. “Do I plan to sit for 3NT from partner?” he asks himself. “Not sure!” he answers himself.
“3♥,” Kennedy bids. “I’m setting the trump suit and indicating a hand that can play at the three level.”
Meyers “doesn’t love it,” but she bids 3♥ as well. “I don’t want to double with a spade void; I’m too good for 2♥ and not good enough for 4♥.”
Lawrence agrees. “Double goes against the grain since we may end up defending 1♠ doubled for plus 300 when we are cold for a grand slam.” He chooses to bid 3♥, invitational.“4♥ is a very sane second choice.”
As one of the two who opts to bid 4♥, Meckstroth reasons, “I have too good a hand to consider stopping below game. I would also like to force a spade rebid from West to come at the four level.”
Robinson is also in the 4♥ camp. “I assume that I would make 4♥ more often than not, and I can’t think of any other contract that would be good.”
Walker demoted 2♥ in the scoring because of the rest of the panel’s choice to make a strong move toward game. “Considering how far modern players will stretch to balance at matchpoints, this hand looks at least two winners too heavy for a simple 2♥,” she explains.
The demoted 2♥ bidders are Boehm and the Coopers, who explain their “underbid” (their word) thus: “The hearts are poor and it is matchpoints. Partner likely has enough to bid 2NT or 3NT, then we can correct to 4♥. If we get passed out in 2♥, we rate to make it.”
Falk, alone, doubles. “Not happy about this, but the only real alternatives are 3♥ or 4♥, and with such a moth-eaten suit, that seems silly to me (plus I have no guarantee that partner has values — LHO could have 20 HCP). If partner leaves this double in, we’ll get a decent score.”
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