What’s your call?
For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from March 2009’s Bridge Bulletin), 5NT was named top bid.
Partner couldn’t bid before and he can’t double 4♠. Now, he’s bidding 4NT. What’s going on?
“Pass,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “This sounds like partner has a minimum opening bid with a spade stopper and a partial club fit. Will it make 6♣? We think not, so go for the best matchpoint contract.”
“5♦,” said Steve Robinson. “Partner’s 4NT is for takeout. He denied holding six hearts, three clubs or five diamonds. My guess is that his distribution is 2=5=4=2.”
“What the?!” exclaimed Allan Falk. “Partner could not raise clubs, could not bid diamonds or rebid hearts at the three level, and now emerges with 4NT. I am hard pressed to find a logical meaning other than partner opened on distributional cheese (with hearts and diamonds) that was too good for a weak-two bid (2*H*).”
“5♦,” agreed Betty Ann Kennedy. “I believe partner’s 4NT bid is based on a light opener.”
Some of the experts rebid 5♣.
“We might make 6♣,” said Jeff Meckstroth, “but I want to make sure I get a plus score.”
“I am playing partner for a weakish takeout,” said Kerri Sanborn. “It looks like he has a 2=5=4=2 pattern, and I’m hoping that clubs will play better than diamonds and I can use his heart suit to discard my diamond losers. A weak 4–4 diamond fit may fall apart while a club contract may withstand a bad break or two.”
“My partner from problem 1 seems to be at it again,” said Karen Walker. “4NT can’t be natural as he would double with a spade trick. If he had enough cards in the minors to be suggesting them now, he would have bid 3♣ or 3♦ over 2♠. Bidding 5♣ seems like the safest way out of this.”
“Partner is probably 4–3 in the minors and is bidding to allow for the hand where we are 4–4 in the minors,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “5♣ rates to be our safest spot. We think partner needs perfect cards to make a slam.”
Seven experts didn’t agree with that and insisted on slam by bidding 5NT.
“Wow!” exclaimed Larry Cohen. “Partner should have raised clubs with three and he can’t double spades. He must have six hearts and four diamonds. Because slam is okay opposite as little as ♥K 8 7 5 4 3 and ♦A K 7 5 I will drive there via 5NT, pick a slam.”
Mike Lawrence agreed with Cohen. “North couldn’t bid over 2♠ and now bids 4NT?” he asks. “This must be April 1. I tried envisioning some hands North could have and none of them passed the test. 5NT asks partner to pick our slam.”
“Partner is apt to be 2=5=4=2 without spade strength (no double),” said August Boehm. “5NT is the pick-a-slam variety.”
Janet and Mel Colchamiro also bid 5NT. “Because partner was forced to bid, 4NT refers to distribution more than strength,” they say. “The death hand for partner is:
♠4 ♥K Q 7 6 5 3 ♦K J 6 5 ♣Q 4.”
This is a hand that most players would open. Notice that you are off two aces.
“If you’re sure partner is trying to communicate diamond length, then 5♦ (or perhaps 6♦) stands out,” said scorer Walker. “Most of the panel chose to punt, either aggressively with 5NT, or safely with 5*C*. This gives partner one more chance to clarify what he really has.”
Want to receive the retro “It’s Your Call” by email?
Click here to subscribe.
For archived versions of this feature, click here.