This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?
Matchpoints. None vulnerable

♠ Q J 8 4 2 10 5 K J 9 7 3 ♣ 3
West North East South
1NT 2 (1) 2♠ (2)
3 Pass Pass ?

(1) (1) Five or more hearts, four or more of a minor.
(2) Non-forcing.

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from July 2008’s Bridge Bulletin), Dbl was named top bid.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the opponents didn’t interfere? On this problem they have, however, and the panel was divided among pass, double and 4.

It seems wrong to pass with 5–5 distribution, but you don’t really have a descriptive bid.

“Pass,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “It’s painful to do so with all this distribution. 4 could be the winning call, but we have no way to know. We are more likely to go plus by defending.”

“Pass,” agreed Jeff Meckstroth. “Maybe I should charge on with 4, but it seems too pushy. Double could be right, but I hate to get a zero if they make it.”

Seven experts doubled.

“Double,” said Barry Rigal. “As I notch up minus 530, I’ll say something encouraging to partner about how ‘that’ll teach them to steal from us’ or ‘If they don’t make a few doubled contracts, we are not doubling enough’ to which he’ll respond, ‘What do you mean we?’”

“I can’t go quietly when I have this much strength,” said Karen Walker, “but 4*D* is too unilateral. Partner will know I have a ‘maximum minimum.’ If it’s wrong to defend, maybe he’ll do something brilliant.”

“Double is takeout,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “This is matchpoints and we need to compete. If partner bids 4♣, we can correct to 4. We’re hoping partner has three-card spade support and a minimum and was not able to bid 3♠. If partner passes, the stiff club is a great lead.”

“Double,” agreed Steve Robinson. “Partner will know that I’m not doubling on heart length and can do something intelligent. It’s unlucky if partner has 2=3=5=3 distribution.”

Six experts bid their second suit.

“4,” said Kerri Sanborn. “At first glance, double looks attractive, but we know that right-hand opponent is at least 6–4 with clubs as his likely second suit. My 2♠ bid was an underbid, so I want to bid instead of doubling.”

Larry Cohen agreed. “I was a bit heavy for 2♠,” he said, “but I can live with it. Maybe double is better, but if partner has long diamonds (which is quite possible because he is short in the majors), my hand won’t be worth much on defense.”

“Ugh!” exclaimed Allan Falk. “We could be cold for 4*D* or even 4*S*, yet North would have no reason to bid. I bid 4. Somebody has to bid the suit.”

“4,” echoed Mike Lawrence. “North chose not to raise spades or to double hearts. He rates to like diamonds. I would have rather invited in spades, but that is apparently not part of our methods.”

The lebensohl convention works like this: Over 2, you can bid 2♠ to compete; you can bid 3♠ to force; and you can bid 2NT (a relay to 3♣, if partner is able to do so) followed by a 3♠ bid to invite.

“You have too much playing strength to sell out, and game is possible” said JoAnna and Lew Stansby. “Our second choice is 3♠.”

Betty Ann Kennedy is the lone 3♠ bidder. “Partner showed a minimum hand by passing 3,” she said. “I’ll stay at the three level.”

Double can win two ways. Partner may bid 3♠ when that is right or he may pass when that is right. Double loses when partner passes, and you have a big diamond fit — in that case, you should be declaring the contract. The “right” bid depends on what partner has, and you are guessing.


Call Score
Dbl 100
4 90
Pass 70
3♠ 40
3NT 20

If you’d like to hear what others are saying, join the debate on our Facebook page. Look for another “It’s Your Call” in your inbox every Tuesday.

To see past “It’s Your Call” problems, click here or here.