♠K Q J 7 5 3 ♥10 7 ♦A 3 ♣A 9 8
What’s your call?
After West shows both minors, East ups the ante to 5♦— now what? The panel chooses seven different calls. Double was the most popular.
“Double,” said Karen Walker. “At this vulnerability, I’m taking the sure thing which could be plus 500.”
Jeff Meckstroth agreed. “It could easily be right to bid more, but I’m going to take the sure plus.”
“We’re not thrilled with any of our options,” said Kay and Randy Joyce. “The five level should belong to the opponents.”
“Weird hand,” said Mel Colchamiro. “If we only have game, our plus 300 or plus 500 against 5♦ doubled should compensate.”
“With none vulnerable, we will do well if we can set them three tricks, a likely result,” said Mike Lawrence. “North could have bid 4♥, so his 3*H* bid may be on the competitive side. This favors double.”
“I double and hope we don’t have a slam,” said August Boehm. “What is the range of 3*H*? This type of problem, difficult enough, becomes a total crapshoot. Could partner have cuebid 3♣ to show a stronger hand with long hearts? Assuming that 3*H* is limited, perhaps he holds: ♠A 2 ♥A K J 6 3 2 ♦7 5 ♣Q 6 3, and slam is a poor bet.”
Boehm makes the point that if partner had a strong hand, he had cuebids of *C* or 3*D* available. North’s failure to make either means slam is iffy.
Others agreed and bid 5♥.
“Partner should have extra length and values because of the 3♥ bid, so 5♥ should make,” said Betty Ann Kennedy.
“Wow, this is a tough one!” exclaimed Linda and Robb Gordon. “We may be able to beat them only a trick or two when we can make slam. But we could go down at the five level on ruffs and bad breaks. We think 5♥ a middle course, but we’re not proud of it. We could see 5NT — pick a slam — as an alternative.”
Three players agreed with the Gordons’ alternative.
“5NT — pick a slam, partner” said Allan Falk. “North could rebid 3♥ on a variety of hands where spades could be the superior trump suit, such as: ♠A 6 2 ♥A K 8 6 3 2 ♦K 7 4 ♣5.
We might make a grand slam, but that’s too tough. If we find any small slam that makes, I’ll be satisfied.”
“5NT,” said Jill Meyers, “and hope we’re not overboard. I have yet to show partner I have a game‑forcing hand. Bidding 5NT should bring spades into the picture.”
Larry Cohen agreed with 5NT. “Good problem,” he said. “Given partner’s free 3♥ bid, we should have a slam. I could try for seven by bidding 6♦, but would partner know I have the ♣A? So, rather than try for seven, I think it is practical to settle for six. This 5NT — pick a slam — has to be better than bidding 6*H* because if partner chooses spades, how can it be wrong? Scorer: Please don’t give a higher score to 6♥ than 5NT.”
The scorer gives them equal marks.
Two players bid 6♥.
“6♥,” said Kerri Sanborn. “This is a hard problem. I would think that we have a spade fit which might play better, but how to find out? Bidding 5NT sometimes means ‘pick a slam,’ but might be interpreted as grand slam force.”
Don Stack agrees with 6♥. “I’m hoping the power of my aces and potential tricks in spades will carry the day in slam. There is no guarantee of making six, yet we could be cold for seven.”
Others aren’t content to settle for a small slam.
“6♣*,” said Steve Robinson. “I have to make a strong bid. Your bid at this point might depend on the answer to some questions. Would 3♣ by North after 2NT show a strong hand with a good heart suit? Does 5NT by South offer a choice of slams?”
“6♦,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “Let’s give partner a chance to bid 7♥ when he has solid hearts and the ♠A.
The Sutherlins must believe that because the 6♦ bid is a try for seven, North may infer that South has the ♣A.
“6♦,” agreed Kitty and Steve Cooper. “They have made us guess and we are guessing that 6♥ is right. How to get partner to bid a grand with solid hearts and the ♠A? We think that we wouldn’t bid 6♦ without at least two aces and some tricks in spades.”
“My choices are to jump to 6♥, 6♠, offer a choice of slams with 5NT or the pessimistic double,” said Barry Rigal. “6♠ could be right on with as little as a singleton ♠10 in partner’s hand. I’m taking the unilateral route and bidding 6♠ and will apologize to partner later.”
Scorer’s comment: “The bids between 5NT and 6♠ were scored the same, as they all rate to lead to the same contract — 6♥. There’s no room to find an improbable grand slam.”
A preempt gives South a problem on this deal and the wide array of calls reflect that. Some experts doubled, some bid a small slam and some tried for a grand slam.
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