Retro Edition

IMPs. N-S vulnerable.
♠A 3   A 4   A 5  ♣A J 8 6 5 4 3

West North East South
Pass 1♣
2♣(1) Pass 4 ?

(1) Michael’s cuebid: at least 5-5 in the majors.

What’s Your Call?

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
Dbl 100
Pass 70
5♣ 40

Sometimes a double is penalty

The majority doubles. Often, double is takeout, but in this case, there are other calls for takeout (4♠ or 4NT), so double is penalty.

“Double,” says Walker. “Partner will pass unless he’s really loaded in the minors. I can’t justify chucking my odds-on plus score for a blind stab at 5♣.”

“Double is penalty-oriented,” says Boehm, “and 4NT would be minor-suit takeout. Bidding 5♣ is unilateral.”

“Bidding 5♣ would be a crapshoot and could lead to a silly contract, so I choose double,” says Robinson.

“Double could be wrong, but we are too strong to pass,” say the Coopers.

“Double is penalty because we could bid 4♠ or 4NT for takeout,” say the Sutherlins. “Partner should pull with extreme distribution.”

Other experts agree with similar reasons.

“Sure, left-hand opponent could be void in clubs and we could be minus 590,” says Falk, “but pass is absurd.”

Six experts didn’t agree with Falk.

“Pass,” says Sanborn. “I hope this isn’t a double game swing. Double is possible, but partner might offer up 5.”

“This is a tough problem,” says Meyers. “I’m concerned that if I double, my side might be playing 5. I think pass is likely to get us a plus score and bidding may not.”

“The difference between plus 50 and plus 100 is 2 IMPs,” says Kennedy. “If I double and they make it, the difference is 170 or 5 IMPs.”

Two panelists bid 5♣.

“This is an Edgar,” says Colchamiro. “When in doubt, bid your long suit.”

The term Edgar refers to the late Hall of Fame member Edgar Kaplan.

“If I double, partner is unlikely to pass with shortish hearts and probable spade length, so why bother?” asks Cohen. “Some days he might remove to 5 — a disaster. I will have play for 5♣ opposite a hand with very few values.”

The majority of the panel sees what looks like four tricks, so they double. When other bids can be used for takeout, double is penalty oriented.

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