IMPs. Both vulnerable.
♠9 3 ♥A Q 7 6 4 ♦9 7 2 ♣10 7 2
What’s your call?
After squirming a bit, most of the panelists choose to bid 1NT with this unfortunate collection. While far from being a perfect call, 1NT has the advantage of keeping the bidding low, showcasing what meager values there are (hearts) and steering the partnership away from defending, at least for the time being.
“No great bid here,” says Meckstroth. “1NT seems like the best choice.”
Ditto Robinson: “Have to bid and nothing else makes sense.”
Rigal is not as uncomfortable. “1NT seems normal enough. Passing for penalties does not rate to be a great idea — they rate to make it or be able to run to 1NT or 2♣.”
“My hearts are not good enough to convert the double for penalties,” says Kennedy.
Given the “awful” hand pattern and the unhelpful diamond holding, Falk isn’t interested in defending, either. He hopes to get out for a small minus in 1NT or 2♦. “This the wrong form of scoring to shoot for the moon with no heart spots. Even if I can take three tricks on defense against 1♥, can partner take four?”
Colchamiro has a formula for this kind of hand. “In response to a takeout double, the values required for 1NT go down as the rank order of the suit doubled goes up. My rule of nine (number of trumps + honors in the opponent’s suit -including the 10 – + the level of the contract says not to pass.” Say what?
Cohen’s formula is a bit more conservative. “Pulling a double to notrump shows a decent hand, and I am a bit short. But I can’t see bidding anything else.”
Stack hopes that 1NT “will not get partner too excited.”
The deciding factor for the Joyces is the seven-trick contract versus battling for eight tricks. “1NT keeps us at the one level, although 2♦ could be a better contract.”
Indeed four panelists bid 2♦ on three small. Walker calls it close between 2♦ and 1NT, “but the trump contract looks safer. I’m expecting my hand to provide an extra trick or two with spade ruffs.”
Boehm bids 2♦, calling 1NT “easier to double. Then they have us on the run.”
Sanborn also bids 2♦, and muses, “While my hearts are poorly positioned, I might get away with passing. Left-hand opponent might not be able to stand the pressure.”
The Coopers and Lawrence are gambling that LHO will blink first and they do pass partner’s double. “It looks odd,” says Lawrence. “However, if they are using support doubles, East has two hearts. If my partner has two hearts, West has four and will probably run. I do not like my chances of getting away with 1NT or 2♦.”
The Coopers pass, saying, “We would prefer better hearts, but no other bid seems sensible. Maybe they will run or even go down. This is not game yet, and we could easily go for a number in partner’s minor.”