This Week’s Expert Opinion

The Expert Opinion is in. What do you think?
IMPs. Both vulnerable

♠ K J 4 8 6 K 10 3 2 ♣ A 5 3 2
West North East South
1 1♠ 1(1) ?

(1) Weak
For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Sept. 2008’s Bridge Bulletin), 3♠ was named top bid.

What do you do when you don’t have values for a 4♠ bid, but 3♠ seems like an underbid? Four panelists took the aggressive action and jumped to 4♠.

“4♠,” said Karen Walker. “No room to squeeze in a game try. I want to be in 4♠ (vulnerable at IMPs) with just about any hand that partner considers a vulnerable overcall at IMPs.”

“There’s no way to invite and I’m too good for 3♠,” agreed Jeff Meckstroth.

“A 3♠ bid is not enough, and a responsive double might go all pass,” said Allan Falk. “I would have bid 3♠ without the K, so I might as well shoot for game.”

“Certainly no one likes to hold a 3.5 spade bid here,” said Kay and Randy Joyce. “We don’t fault going high (with 4♠) when vulnerable at IMPs.”

Most of the panel choose 3♠.

“3♠,” said JoAnna and Lew Stansby. “It’s tempting to bid 4♠, but the doubleton heart is worthless.”

Kerri Sanborn agreed. “I have the death holding in hearts. If we are off the first two tricks, we have to hold the other losers to one (to make 4♠). Partner has another bid.”

“Partner is allowed to bid game if he has a good hand,” agreed Steve Robinson, who also chooses 3♠. “I don’t want to hang partner for overcalling with:
♠A Q 10 9 2 7 3 A 6 4 ♣Q 8 6,
or even a worse hand.”

“I’d like to bid 3 1/2 spades,” said Larry Cohen. “Does IYC allow that choice? The fact that I have two low hearts and partner likely has two, also makes me go low. If I had one or three hearts, that would make this a better fit. I want to give partner latitude to overcall 1♠ with hands such as:
♠A Q 10 9 3 4 3 A 7 6 ♣8 7 6.”

“I have extra values, but not enough to bid game,” said Grant Baze. “Opposite a reasonable but minimum overcall, even 3♠ may not make.”

“Yes, I would call 3♠ with less,” said Barry Rigal. “Some people play double of 3 is a limit raise in spades. Without that agreement, I think 3♠, however, is a fair approximation of my hand.”

“3♠,” said Richard Freeman. “I prefer to play double here as invitational in spades.”

Freeman was trying to bid within the framework of IYC standard.

“We had a split vote,” said Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “Janet likes 4♠, but Mel likes 3♠. We flipped a coin and it came out 3♠— either could work out. If we’re not mistaken, Mike Lawrence likes to play that double in this auction shows a good 3♠ bid and 3♠ shows a lesser raise. That’s a good treatment for this hand.”

The Colchamiros were on target.

“Double,” said Lawrence. “This shows a limit raise. This is a better treatment than using double (at the three level) to show the two unbid suits.”

Betty Ann Kennedy also doubled. “If partner bids 3♠, I’ll pass,” she said.

Whether the double is more valuable showing the limit raise or showing the unbid suits is a matter of which of these occurs more frequently. Most of the bridge world hasn’t adopted Lawrence’s idea yet, but he may very well be right.

Experts are usually aggressive bidders, but the panel majority took a slightly conservative route on this deal. They were vulnerable at IMPs (and, therefore, want to push for game), but they realized partner had another chance to act.


Call Score
3♠ 100
4♠ 90
Dbl 50
Pass 0
4 0

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.