Retro Edition

IMPs. Both vulnerable.
♠A Q 7 3   A Q 5 4   K 7 5 4   ♣6

West North East South
1 Pass Pass ?
1 1♠ 1NT
2♣ 2 2 2♠ 2NT
3 3 3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 4♠ 4NT
5♣ 5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Pass Dbl

What’s your call?

Click to reveal awards
Bid Award
Dbl 100
1NT 60
1♠ 50
2 30
Pass 20
1 10

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from October 2009’s Bridge Bulletin), Dbl was named top bid.

Bridge players are taught not to make a takeout double with a singleton in an unbid suit. Yes, there are exceptions: If you have a very strong hand, you can double and bid your own suit or bid the cheapest level of notrump, if your hand is suitable.

This hand has a singleton club, and this argues against double. All other choices are flawed, though, so nine experts chose double.

“By doubling, we’ll immediately discover we have a major-suit fit,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We will be poorly placed over 2♣, however, and will overbid by continuing with 2NT, if that happens.”

Karen Walker agreed. “I’ll double and bid an ugly 2NT if partner hasn’t heard the ‘rule’ that he should never bid clubs,” she joked. “I think this hand is too heavy in high-card values and majors for a balancing 1NT. Pass would be reasonable at matchpoints.”

“Double is likely to find the best partscore,” said Kerri Sanborn. “I can overbid a little with 2NT if partner bids 2♣. A 1NT reopening is possible, but we might miss a 4–4 major-suit fit.”

“Double,” said Barry Rigal. “My plan is to bid 2NT over 2♣ and make a simple raise of a major. The last time I saw a deal like this, the opponents could make 6♣. It won’t happen again, will it?”

“Last time I reopened with this shape, the opponents got to 5♣ and made it,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “This hand is too strong to pass, so we double.”

Rigal didn’t get any respect. Bridge players bid one more against him than against the Coopers.

“Double seems like the least of evils,” said Lynn Deas. “This will often get us to game in either major, and even if he bids 2♣, I can bid 2NT, which is only a slight overbid.”

Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers and Mel Colchamiro also doubled and gave similar reasons.

If double is flawed, what call is better?

“1NT,” said Larry Cohen. “I am heavy and off-shape, but desperately want to play from my side. I hope partner can use Stayman and get us to a major-suit fit.”

“1NT is the closest bid to describe my hand,” said Betty Ann Kennedy.

“Doubling and having partner bid clubs does not appeal,” said Don Stack. “Pass could be the winning call because the opponents are vulnerable.”

It wouldn’t be a surprise if pass were the winning bid, although no panelist chose that.

Allan Falk agreed with 1NT. “If I double and North responds in clubs, I either have to pass for a terrible result or bid notrump showing a far better hand. I think pass might be better than double, but I have no good diamond spot cards (for defense), and 1 or 1♠ would be a guess.”

Two players bid 1♠.

“I can’t see doubling and having to bid 2NT if partner bids clubs,” said Steve Robinson.

“My computer simulations show that 1♠ is the most likely call to get us to the proper contract,” said Bridge Buff. “Humans are too quick to double with a singleton in an unbid suit, and 1NT is a misdescription.”

Two panelists bid 2 to emphasize the majors.

“Pick your poison,” said August Boehm. “I pick 2. Because I’m balancing, partner will allow more leeway.”

“2,” agreed Mike Lawrence. “This is one of my favorite themes. I hope I have a sympathetic moderator.”

Lawrence’s comment meant he knew that 2 usually promises more length in the majors than 4–4. Still, it gets both suits in play, and the majors are where you are likely to have game. Also, it avoids the nasty problem of rebidding 2NT.

The majority voted for double. There are several good things that can happen, particularly when partner bids a major. There are bad things, too. Partner may bid clubs, or the opponents may bid clubs and bid to a better contract. As Deas said, however, double is the least of evils.

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