Retro Edition

What’s your call?

3♣ 3 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
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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, Steve Weinstein, Bridge Baron
The lebensohl toolkit

Lebensohl is a handy convention to have to combat opponents when they start mucking around in your 1NT-opening auctions. Using lebensohl, 3♣ in this auction is forcing. (With a weak-ish hand and long clubs — a hand that wants to play 3♣ — responder bids 2NT, a relay asking the opener to bid 3. Responder can then pass.) The question on this auction is where to go once North bids 3♣. “We plan to do some torture bidding after the initial action,” promise the Gordons.

If partner bids 3NT over 3♣ (presumably showing a spade stopper), both Robinson and Meckstroth plan to bid 4NT to invite 6NT. “There is a chance that partner does not have a spade stopper and we belong in 5♣,” Robinson points out.

If partner bids 3NT over 3♣, the Coopers and Colchamiro plan to raise to 6NT. “It would take a real long shot for partner not to have the ace or king of spades,” says Colchamiro.“If partner bids 3♠, then I’ll give him 5NT — pick a slam.”

The Coopers say that absent East’s 2♠ bid, “we would have raised 1NT to 6NT, but now we might be off the first two spades. If partner can bid 3NT, we will still raise to 6NT.”

If partner bids 3NT over 3♣, Walker intends to jump to 5♠, inviting partner to bid six with second-round spade control.

Most of the 4NT bidders are also relying on lebensohl to describe their hand.

This month’s problems are full of firsts for Lawrence, who is 100% system-confident. “4NT. Invitational with no spade stopper. A first time for everything.”

“4NT. We’re not sure if lebensohl applies at this level,” say the Joyces, “but we have too much hand to bid 3NT and the vulnerability is too adverse for doubling them.”

B>oehm, Kennedy and Stack bid 4NT naturally. “Who knows about the ace or king of spades?” asks Kennedy.

Boehm, too: “I suppose partner might accept with 16 HCP and a good five-card suit, off the ♠A–K. That’s life.”

The Sutherlins and Sanborn bid 2NT forcing partner to bid 3. Although BBS includes lebensohl, Sanborn bids 2NT to transfer to clubs, which she’ll follow up with 5NT — pick a slam. “Sorry if we are off the ♠A–K, but if we’re off the ♠A–Q, we still have a chance. It is too tough to investigate seven with balanced hands, so I’ll be practical.”

The Sutherlins’ 2NT is a lebensohl relay to 3♣. “Hopefully we will be able to discover if we are off the ♠A and the ♠K and stop below slam.”

Weinstein bids a lebensohl 3. “I assume this is Stayman without a stopper. Over 3NT, I am bidding 6NT. Over 4, I will bid 5, asking for spade control and guess to convert 6 to 6NT. If partner passes 5, at least I’m not doubled!”

No lebensohl or invitational lollygagging for Cohen, who just leaps to 6NT. “Is it really likely that partner is missing both the ♠A and the ♠K? If RHO does hold the ♠A–K, I will have one very happy opponent.”

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