Retro Edition

What’s your call?

3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 4♠ 4NT
5♣ 5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
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August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, The Coopers, Allan Falk, The Gordons, Geoff Hampson, 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

Pattern patter
Partner has shown a 5=3=0=5 or a 5=3=1=4 pattern, or something like that, and a solid to maximum opening. Now, what do you do with that information?

“5♣,” says Robinson. “Because partner is short in diamonds, I don’t think we belong in 3NT. Opposite

♠A Q x x x  K x x  x  ♣A Q x x,

5♣ is a very good contract.”

Boehm bids 5♣. “Diamonds are too weak for notrump facing shortness. 4 is apt to be interpreted as ‘to play,’ backing into a 5–3 fit.”

Walker, too, is worried about the diamond situation in notrump. “Even if Q 8 6 2 stands up as a stopper, we might need two diamond stoppers to make 3NT.”

The Joyces go along with 5♣, even though “this might be a slight overbid.”

Cohen offers this analysis. “Without much wasted in diamonds, beautiful trump support and a side ace, I have a wonderful hand for partner. We could easily have a slam opposite perfect cards, but maybe we are already ahead of the game if we play 5♣ making six (beating the pairs in 3NT). This is not a weak fast-arrival jump; our side wasn’t yet committed to game. Partner is inviting game and I am accepting.”

The Gordons say they could have had a lot less for 3♣, even discounting the Q. “It’s not right to bid 3♠ on a low doubleton. 3♠ should show honor-doubleton.”

Sanborn sees her options as 3NT, 3♠ or 4♠, 4♣ or 5♣, or 4. “I think that partner is pointing out short diamonds, so this may not be a good hand for play in 3NT. My cards should be working enough for a black-suit game, but jumping to 4♠ probably shows a spade honor instead of Q. 4♣ is inadequate. 5♣ should be right. 4 could be misconstrued as a five-card suit and a place to play. I have a hard time constructing hands where 4♠ is a better contract than 5♣, so why offer it up with 3♠?”

Kennedy tells why: “I’ll let partner know I have a doubleton spade. 4♣ would be an underbid. Partner seems to be short in diamonds, so 3NT is out of the picture.”

The Sutherlins, too: “It’s time to let partner know we have two spades. There are many 17-point hands that partner can hold where 4♠ will make and score better than 5♣.”

Meyers temporizes with 3♠ as well. “Partner does not guarantee a fourth club. If I knew partner had two diamonds, I would bid 3NT. I am hoping that with J x, partner will.”

Colchamiro bids 4 to ask partner to choose between 4♠ and 5♣. “Do I have to say that 4 can’t be natural? If partner punts back with 4, I’ll give him 4♠. With as little as:

♠A K J x x  K x x  x  ♣A x x x,

we should be okay.”

Weinstein and Falk use 4 to investigate slam.

“4 is the only way to make a slam try, and my hand got very good,” says Weinstein. “4 would be an offer to play, and there are plenty of hands where slam is excellent. This hand is worth more than 5♣.”

“4 — time for a ‘Bluhmer,’” says Falk. “Named for the late Lou Bluhm, a Bluhmer is an ‘impossible’ bid by a limited hand that proclaims, ‘Partner, I’ve got a hand for you that might be a perfecto.’ I can’t tell if partner is testing to see how good my diamonds are, or whether he is actually void in diamonds with almost a jump shift, in which case we may have a club slam rather than just game.”

Hampson thinks that at matchpoints, bidding 3NT is clear. “Although there is still some slam potential, I expect Q 8 6 2 facing a presumed small-ish singleton to be worth a stopper when in the closed hand.”