This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?
Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable

♠ A 5 K 10 4 A 4 ♣ A Q J 9 7 4
West North East South
2 2♠ ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from July 2008’s Bridge Bulletin), 2NT was named top bid.

If partner has a good heart suit, you likely have a slam, perhaps even a grand slam. If his heart suit is not strong, game may be the limit. To try and get more information, five experts started with 2NT.

“I want to hear my partner’s response over 2NT,” said Jill Meyers. “I am willing to assume the *C*K is onside, but I don’t want to be in slam if partner doesn’t have the A.”

“If partner shows a minimum over 2NT, I can cuebid 3♠ and give him a chance to show a good minimum, which is what I need for slam,” said Steve Robinson. “If the opponents raise to 3♠ and partner bids 4, I can go slamming. We’re playing bad methods for this hand. I would like to be able to bid something besides 4NT as Roman Keycard Blackwood. After a 5 response (showing one key card), I can’t ask for the Q.”

Some experts bid 4NT.

“I can find out if North has the A Q and the ♣K,” said Mike Lawrence.

As Robinson points out, if playing standard Roman Key Card, you can’t ask about the Q without committing to slam. If you play 1430, then 5♣ would show one key card and 5 could be used to ask for the trump queen.

“In the old days, I’d just bid 6,” said Allan Falk. “but now I have to worry that partner has opened on a ridiculous suit. Over 4NT, if partner shows the A, I’ll bid 7 on the grounds that partner can figure out hearts for no loser and the club finesse will win if needed.”

“If partner shows the A Q, this is a five or seven hand,” said Grant Baze who bid 4NT. “To bid 6 if he has the A Q is silly. You should bid seven.”

What Falk and Baze mean is that East has bid and so is more likely to hold the ♣K.

The experts are used to playing 1430, so 4NT makes sense in that case. If playing 0314, you can’t find out about the trump queen after a one-ace response, and that makes 4NT less desirable.

Three experts probed by cuebiding 3♠. They were in no rush to bid 4NT.

“Let’s establish ownership of the hand, and that we have heart support,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We will follow with RKC, but the situation is complicated because the response (to RKC) may leave us poorly placed on this almost certain five or seven hand.”

Larry Cohen agreed with 3♠. “If partner signs off in 4, I’ll leave him there,” he said. “Because he was dealer at favorable vulnerability, he could be quite light. If he makes any noise other than 4, I’ll use RKC.”

Three panelists gave up on slam and bid 4.

“4,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “Let them save red on white. If they do, we’ll have to decide what to do.”

“We expect to make 4 most of the time,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper. “If they bid 4♠, we will double. If 4♣ were fit-showing, as it is for us, we would prefer that bid which prevents a disaster when both sides are making (when partner has a club fit).”

Barry Rigal agreed with 4♣. “4♣ is fit-showing with clubs and hearts,” he said. “If partner passes 4♠ to me, I’ll double, which must simply show extras.”

Fit-showing jumps are valuable bids, but they are not part of Bridge Bulletin standard.

Karen Walker bid 5NT as the grand slam force asking for two of the top three heart honors. “This is somewhat of a gamble because even the small slam could go down if partner doesn’t have the heart ace and East finds the right lead,” she said. “If partner has the A Q, though, the grand is a good bet, requiring little more than setting up the club suit (the *C*K rates to be onside).”

Comments on the scoring by Walker: “The slam searchers chose five different ways to start, but all roads seem to lead to Blackwood. 4*H* was demoted because everyone else appears to be moving toward at least a small slam. I’d normally promote 5NT in the scoring, as it’s a shortcut to the same contract the other slam-goers are investigating. But because it happened to be my choice, I gave it a 50.”

In most auctions, using Roman Key Card with 1430 responses renders no advantage to 0314 responses. This deal offers an example, however, of why 1430 can be superior.


Call Score
2NT 100
4NT 100
3♠ 60
5NT 50
3♣ 50
4 40
4♣ 40

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