Matchpoints. N-S vulnerable.
♠K J ♥9 8 4 3 2 ♦A 7 3 ♣Q 9 3
What’s your call?
Again, there is a clear favorite among the panel.
“Double. Looks like a four-card heart suit,” says Robinson. “Hand not quite good enough to bid 2♥.”
Kennedy agrees. “Double. Not ideal but I see very little alternative. We have more than half the deck so I need to make a competitive call.”
The Sutherlins double, projecting, “Only a 3♣ bid from partner will leave us poorly placed. 2♥ and 2NT are seriously flawed.”
Meckstroth is on the same page. “I know I have 10 HCP and five hearts, but I don’t want to bid 2♥ with this. Double is safer and much more flexible.”
What’s interesting is the alternative that most of the negative doublers consider a strong second choice.
“Double — the safe way to introduce hearts, but not necessarily a safe bid,” says Lawrence. “Might be best just to raise to 2♥.”
“Double,” say the Gordons. “Not sure any other choice has merit. Maybe a little for 2♥.”
“Not suitable for 2♥,” says Rigal as he, too, chooses to double. “Much closer to a 2♠ call — my spades look like three, don’t they? I plan to raise a 2♥ call to 4♥.”
“This is a problem?” asks Falk, who is among the doublers. “I can’t imagine less than a unanimous panel. Well, some aberrant soul may bid 2♥, but that’s not my cup of hemlock.”
Let’s hear from a couple of those aberrant souls quickly before the poison kicks in:
“2♥,” bids Walker. “Had to count twice, but there are five hearts and 10 points, which is just what this bid promises.”
Stack, too, likes 2♥. “Showing a five-card suit and 10-plus points is a good description of this hand. Best way to uncover our eight-card heart fit if it exists.”
“Hands like this are why we play 2♥ in this situation as non-game-forcing,” says Sanborn.
So what about a straight 2♠ bid? While many of the top-scoring panelists regarded the single raise to be almost as good as a negative double, it was worth only half the score. One brave soul acted upon the courage of his convictions, however. “I’ve been doing this more and more with good results,” asserts Colchamiro. “K–J must be as good as x–x–x.”
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