Matchpoints. None vulnerable.
♠A K Q J 7 ♥8 7 5 3 ♦9 4 3 ♣K
What’s Your Call?
Handling a misfit
You have an opening hand facing an opening bid, but can’t be sure of what direction to take. Seven panelists choose to double. What does that mean?
“Double,” says Cohen. “This is the old standby showing values. It’s 2011, so surely not penalty, although if partner passes, I doubt they are making it. Let’s hear something from partner and decide from there.”
“I double,” says Rigal. “I’m not going to drive this hand to game. I’ll pass a 3♣ response.”
“We express values with a double,” say the Gordons.
“Double says it’s our hand, but we have no clear bid,” say the Coopers. “We have too many red-card losers to be sure we can force to game.”
Six experts choose to make a jump to 3♠. This shows a six-card suit with invitational values. They consider the hand invitational because of all the losers. The five-card suit is strong enough to play opposite short spades.
“3♠, only invitational,” say the Sutherlins. “Let’s stop when partner has a flat 12 count.”
“Even though I have an opening bid opposite partner’s opening bid, I am going to invite with my strong five-card suit,” says Stack. “I can’t insist on game.”
“I’m guessing to treat my spades as a six bagger and the hand as invitational,” says Boehm.
“I can’t remember jumping in a five-card suit before,” says Colchamiro, “but all signs here are bad. At IMPs, I would have to bid 4♠, but at matchpoints, going plus could be huge.”
Four experts downgrade their hand severely, choosing a non-forcing 2♠.
Sanborn: “I am picturing 2=2=4=5 or 2=2=3=6 distribution from partner and not a good hand. It feels like a lot of high cards, but too many losers to make any game. I wouldn’t make this bid at IMPs, but at matchpoint scoring, plus scores are golden.”
“Amazing!” exclaims Lawrence.
“Even 2♠ may not be safe. East–West can easily have enough winners to defeat 3♠ or 4♠ and notrump rates to be out of the question.”
“I don’t have to bid game every time I have 13 HCP opposite an opening bid,” says Falk, who agrees with 2♠. “I could double, but partner is more likely to bid 3♣ than anything I’d like to hear, so I will go low and hope to be plus for a great score when others bid hopeless games.”
Walker agrees. “I’m looking for a plus score at matchpoints, which could be a challenge on this misfit.”
Meyers chooses to cuebid. “3♥. This is tough because I don’t have a stopper in either of their suits.”
The average player may count his points and insist on game, but experts visualize how the North–South hands fit together, based on the bidding, and choose not to do that.
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