Retro Edition

Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable.
♠A 10 2   A 9   A Q 6 2  ♣A 10 9 2


West North East South
1♠ Pass 2♠ ?

What’s your call?

2NT
3♣ 3 3 3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 4♠ 4NT
5♣ 5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Dbl Pass
Click to reveal awards
Bid Award
2NT 100
Dbl 80
Pass 10
Panelists
August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, The Coopers, Allan Falk, The Gordons, The Joyces, Betty Ann Kennedy, Mike Lawrence, Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers, Barry Rigal, Steve Robinson, Kerri Sanborn, Don Stack, The Sutherlins, Karen Walker, Bridge Buff
Two-way two notrump

With pass “out of the question,” the choices were limited. What was a little unclear among the panelists was whether 2NT was natural or unusual, showing the minors. Several who made the bid saw it as a two-way winner — he or she had it covered either way. Two actually used the words “I don’t care” relative to their partner’s interpretation of their bid!

“I think 2NT is for the minors, however I really don’t care how partner takes it here!” Meckstroth says.

Likewise Meyers: “2NT. My partner will think I have minors or a super strong notrump. Either way, I don’t care.”

Likewise the Gordons: “We think 2NT is unusual, although we can live with it if it is natural as well. Our goal here is to drive the opponents to the three level unless partner has a weak freak, in which case we might get to a successful five of a minor.”

Stack thinks of the bid as a pre-balance, since he doesn’t expect partner to have the high-card points to be able to do so on his own. “2NT points to the minors or two places to play. If partner passes from fright, that might work also. If the opponents take the push to 3♠, we will double.”

Most of the 2NT bidders present the bid as showing the minors. “Matchpoint madness,” justifies Walker. “Hoping to find a minor-suit fit and push them up a level.”

“2NT suggesting the minors and, with the unfavorable vulnerability, showing a good hand,” says Kennedy.

“2NT if it is for the minors,” says Boehm, unwilling to sell out to 2♠. “If 2NT is natural, I’m changing my call to pass. It’s much too dangerous to act without a source of tricks or a second spade stopper.”

“I have the minors and I can’t afford to pass,” says Lawrence, “and double is dangerous.”

Two of the panelists do play 2NT here as a strong notrump. Deliberately.

“We play this as natural at Steve’s insistence,” says Kitty Cooper. “Years back I told him, ‘Find me one good player who doesn’t play this as two suits.’ So the next expert who walked by was Steve Bloom, and he plays it natural.”

“In one of my partnerships I play 2NT in this situation as a strong notrump (perfect) because pairs bid so lightly these days,” explains Sanborn. “Even if it is unusual, it could work well on this collection. We rate to have an eight-card fit, and it seems really wimpy to pass.”

Then there are the doublers, who are undeterred by their doubleton heart holding.

The Joyces “aren’t thrilled, but hope partner will be able to survive.”

Rigal: “I’m not worried about my heart holding. Partner is short in spades so rates to have five-plus cards in the suit. I’d like to play 2NT as two-suited here by partner — but in fact, I play it as lebensohl.”

“Too much to pass, and we can’t expect partner to balance,” say the Sutherlins. “We are in trouble if partner bids a four-card heart suit; otherwise we are okay.”

Colchamiro can’t bring himself to pass. So he doubles, hoping partner will bid 2NT to scramble with only four hearts. “I guess I’ll find out how many play 2NT here as natural. I don’t.”

One lone passer feels systemically hogtied. “2NT would show 10 cards in the minors or, the way I play it, five or more hearts and five or more in a minor,”

Robinson says. “Because I can’t describe this hand, I will use the ‘P’ word. I hope this use of the ‘P’ word doesn’t make this answer R-rated.”

“Apparently ‘P’ is for ‘punt,’” counters Falk, “but this time it will end the auction — there’s no chance anyone else will find another bid.”

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