Retro Edition

It’s Your Call

IMPs. None vulnerable.
♠K Q J 7 2   K 10 7 6 5   9 3  ♣K

West North East South
3 Pass Pass ?

What’s your call?

3 3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 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
3♠ 100
4 100
Dbl 40
Pass 30
August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, The Coopers, Allan Falk, The Gordons, The Joyces, Betty Ann Kennedy, Mike Lawrence, Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers, Barry Rigal, Steve Robinson, Kerri Sanborn, Don Stack, The Sutherlins, Karen Walker, Bridge Baron
Bidding up to find trump

Almost half the panelists choose to make a Michaels call with this hand while almost half elect to enter the auction with a 3♠ call. Here’s why:

Meckstroth says, “While I would love to bid Michaels at a lower level, I don’t think my hand is good enough to bid 4 to show both my suits here. We need to stop below game. At least spades is my best suit.”

For Sanborn, all the hand’s negatives add up to a 3♠ call: “I’m not quite good enough for a four-level Michaels cue. Not the right shape for a double. I don’t have to force us to play in a major with this hand. And I don’t have to force us up a level.”

Fear motivates the Joyces’ call as well. “3♠ is less likely to get doubled if East is lurking in the bushes with a good hand and short diamonds.”

Cohen says he doesn’t have quite enough to bid 4, but too much to pass. “If I doubled, my partner would bid 4♣.” So he bids 3♠. “If partner bids 3NT, I will bid 4 next.”

Meyers bids 3♠, but she doesn’t mind a double on the hand. Her only misgiving would be that partner, holding 3–3 in the majors and a five-card club suit, would bid 4♣.

For Colchamiro it boils down to the minor suit configuration. “I’m 2–1 the wrong way with a semi-useless ♣K,” he grumbles. “If I had ♣K–x and a stiff diamond, I would probably risk 4, investing a level to insure getting to the right major.”

Almost to a man (woman), the 4 bidders agree their action is anywhere from a mild to a huge overbid. But its pluses are that the Michaels cuebid zeroes in on what is likely to be the best trump suit.

Robinson is oblivious to the level. “4. Michaels shows 5–5 or better in the majors.” Is it really just that simple?

Boehm is of the school that 4 is a “mild” overbid. “The alternatives appeal less.”

Lawrence, on the other hand, calls 4 “a huge overbid, but one that will get us to the right major. We might be minus 500 instead of minus 800, but there is a fair chance of this working well.”

Walker, too, is willing to invest in the strain even if it means playing a level higher. “We could be a level or two too high, but at least we’ll be in the right trump suit.”

Rigal, ashamed of his 4 bid, asks that anyone who knows him to skip to the next paragraph. “It works for Lauria–Versace. In a Bermuda Bowl, one of them once did this in the direct seat on a hand Rodwell passed. But as everyone knows, I’m no Versace,” he says, pointing out the obvious. “I’ll explain I was balancing when they collect their 1100 penalty.”

Stack wishes he had the Q–J for his Michaels bid, “but we must work with what we have. I don’t believe that double or pass are good options, though either could be the winner.”

The Coopers call 4 “tempting,” as it gets to the right strain but may be too high. They call pass tempting, “but cowardly.” Then their bidding hand settles on the double card. “If partner as a diamond stack, double is the winner. Double also has the advantage of stopping in three or bidding a major suit game. If partner bids 4♣, we can bid 4 showing majors with no extras.”

With their double, the Sutherlins recognize that “there are lots of IMPs up for grabs here. We can be on for a major game or headed for minus 800 when partner has a poorly fitting subminimum.”

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