What’s your call?
For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from July 2009’s Bridge Bulletin), 5♥ was named top bid.
Nine experts heard their partner double, saw they had five hearts and felt they knew what to do.
“5♥,” said Karen Walker. “I predict a unanimous panel.”
Jeff Meckstroth agreed. “5♥ seems clear to me. I suppose we might belong in a minor, but I don’t know how to find out scientifically.”
“This might be our hand, but might be theirs,” said Mike Lawrence.
“5♥ seems about right on values,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “We have more offense than defense. We are not good enough to bid 4NT and then 5♥.”
“Surely, given my spade void, it’s right to bid 5♥,” said Larry Cohen. “I don’t like 4NT because partner would take out to a minor and I’d rather insist on hearts. A relevant issue is what is the difference between a direct 5♥ as opposed to 4NT, then 5♥? The Editor would probably appreciate it if I didn’t get into that here.”
Too late. The Coopers beat Cohen to it. They are both referring to the principle that when you can bid to a contract directly or you can take a roundabout route, the less-direct path is stronger. A simple example of this is when you bid a Jacoby transfer over 1NT, then raise to game (to make a mild slam try) versus bidding to four of a major directly by using a Texas transfer. Another is the situation in which you pass, then pull a double in a forcing pass situation. This shows a stronger hand than bidding directly. Other situations are when partner makes a cuebid or Drury bid and the opponent doubles. In these cases, differentiating strength is useful, and players at all levels can improve their bidding by having agreements with their partners.
Barry Rigal agreed with 5♥. “I don’t like double because partner will pass with a balanced hand. As long as partner has few values in spades, it is possible that both 4♠ and 5♥ will make.”
“We’re bidding 5♥,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We may make or they may make, so we’re taking out insurance.”
“5♥ is a possible make or a sacrifice,” said Don Stack. “I’m not bringing the minors into the picture.”
Six experts chose 4NT, even though they have a five-card heart suit.
“By bidding 4NT, I could find a nine-card minor-suit fit instead of an eight-card heart fit,” said Kerri Sanborn. “The drawback would be not getting the heart lead when they compete to 5♠. This is IMPs, so finding the right strain rates to be more important.”
“4NT,” said Steve Robinson. “I want to play in partner’s best suit.”
“By bidding 4NT, I’m showing more than one suit to play in,” said Jill Meyers. “If 5♣ or 5♦ is a 4–4 fit, partner can use my hearts for discards.”
Allan Falk also chose 4NT. “Sometimes North does not have a four-card heart suit and my five-card heart suit is getting tapped early and often,” he said. “North is sure to have at least one four-card minor, and now the tap does no harm. At matchpoints, I would bid 5♥ because if it makes, it’s a higher scoring contact. At IMPs, I’m just trying to bid any game that makes 11 tricks.”
Janet and Mel Colchamiro agreed with 4NT. “Partner could have only three hearts for the takeout double,” they pointed out. “Pass is too timid. We don’t like to double with a void, although it could be the winner opposite a strong notrump-type hand.”
“Double,” said Lynn Deas. “I am just showing working values. It seems unilateral to bid 5♥* rather than let partner judge what to do.”
Bridge Baron was the only panelist to choose the conservative pass. “I am used to playing with humans who usually overbid.”
The panel felt there is too much of a chance that 4♠ makes, and, at IMPs, they aren’t willing to take that chance. By bidding, you may play a game contract you can make or you may push the opponents to 5♠.
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