IMPs. N-S vulnerable.
♠A ♥J 3 ♦K 10 6 4 2 ♣Q J 8 7 6
What’s your call?
With a spade misfit and a questionable notrump stopper — but maybe two places to play and maybe enough values for the vulnerable game, this hand splintered the panelists into four factions. If only one could responsively double partner’s bid!
The 2NT bidders actually mean their bid as notrump — not showing the minors. They cited the absence of a heart raise by opener’s partner as reason enough to infer that partner has a heart stopper opposite J–x.
“Yes, my heart stopper is a little etiolated but 2NT both limits the hand and ensures we might get to the best contract if we have a minor suit fit — whereas bidding one minor might lose the other,” says Rigal. “Besides, who leads a heart against this auction!” For those disinclined to look up etiolated as Barry suggests, it means sickly or lacking in chlorophyl. Proposing J–x as a notrump stopper may indeed strike some as beyond the pale. A little etiolated?
“2NT. Right on values, wrong on shape,” says Lawrence. “Other bids are an even bigger lie.”
“RHO’s failure to raise 2♥ to 3♥ leads me to believe that partner has a heart stopper,” says Kennedy. “Therefore I am making a constructive call toward game. However, I have a mild concern about the misfit in spades.”
Boehm also calls the non-vulnerable opponents’ mild heart bidding “comforting.” His 2NT bid aims to rightside a notrump contract, “e.g., ♥J–x facing either ♥A–x–x or ♥K–x–x.”
In classical “bid-your-higher-suit-first” fashion, the 3♦ contingent is hopeful they’ll get a chance later to show their clubs.
“3♦,” bids Robinson. “I have too much strength to pass, so I’m bidding my minors one at a time unless partner bids 3NT over 3♦.”
The Sutherlins are doing likewise: “We plan to continue with 4♣ unless partner bids 3NT. It’s IMPs and we are vulnerable, so we can’t afford to miss game.”
Content just to get a plus score, almost a fourth of the panel chooses to pass with this hand. One of them is Cohen. “Very wimpy and very dangerous to miss a vulnerable game at IMPs,” he concedes. “However, my heart holding is very bad and the only alternative (3♦) feels like it will usually lead to a minus score.”
“I don’t have a better suit than partner, and I don’t want to raise the level,” says Meyers as she passes. “I am shooting for a plus score.”
The 3♣ers are bidding up the line, hoping to hear a 3♦ bid from partner. There is some disagreement as to whether 3♦ should be forcing or not.
Falk says that the economical bid “allows partner room to bid 3♦, raise clubs, bid notrump or do something else that might lead me to place the contract. Of course 3♣ is forcing …”
Sanborn’s 3♣ bid is non-forcing. “If partner passes, we most likely have not missed a game. I play this nonforcing but constructive. Forces begin at 3♥ (if natural) in these sequences.”
Colchamiro, too, believes that 3♣ is the best way to find a minor suit fit or get to 3NT. “This hand is too strong to pass and too weird to raise spades or bid notrump, though either one of those could work.”