This Week’s Expert Opinion

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

♠ A K 6 5 4 5 ♣ K 8 7 6 5 4 2
West North East South
3 3NT Pass ?

For yesterday’s It’s Your Call deal (from Nov. 2008’s Bridge Bulletin), 4♣ was named top bid.

The majority of the panel bid 4♣, but had different ideas about its meaning.

“4♣ is Stayman,” said Steve Robinson. “I’ll guess on my next turn.”

“4♣,” agreed Richard Freeman, “unless that is a transfer. I almost never take out 3NT on auctions like this, but this is an extreme hand.”

“4♣,” said Allan Falk. “Playing Bulletin Standard, this must be natural and forcing. Partner can have hands that make slam, and so I have to try. With most experts, 4♣ would be an ask for North to describe what sort of 3NT hand is held.”

Other experts agreed with Falk’s last remark.

“4♣,” said Jill Meyers, “regardless whether that bid is natural or, as is commonly played today, asking partner to describe her hand (not Stayman).”

“In our methods,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper, “partner would give us a range response to 4♣ with some shape information. We could easily have a slam if there is a black-suit fit, but we will be getting too high if there is no club fit.”

“4♣,” echoed Larry Cohen. “Of course, we need to know what we play here. Most of my students would take this as Gerber, but it shouldn’t be. So, it is either Stayman or natural, and I have both bases covered.”

“4♣,” said August Boehm. “What’s the SAYC method? Mark me down for assuming that it’s either Stayman or natural. Pass is out when we might have a suit slam, not to mention a better game.”

“I play that 4♣ is the start of a slam try,” said Kerri Sanborn. “Even without that understanding, it is a good start to this hand. Most would play it as Stayman, and that looks like a logical approach to this collection.”

There are different versions where 4♣ asks about partner’s 3NT overcall. In one of them, the 3NT bidder responds (after 4♣) in this way: A response of 4NT shows a minimum notrump overcall in the 15–19 high-card point range. A response in a new suit, for example 4, shows a hand that bid 3NT with tricks such as: A K Q 8 3 2 with a stopper and a side trick. A cuebid shows the notrump-type hand that is the strength of an opening 2NT bid.

Six panelists passed.

“Pass,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “What to bid is a total guess. We may go down in game, or claim slam at trick two when partner fits clubs. There’s no good way to explore so we take the middle road and pass.”

“It’s matchpoints, and I want to keep my plus score,” said Karen Walker. “There is no guarantee partner has clubs, so looking for slam is a gamble.”

Jeff Meckstroth agreed. “We could easily have slam,” he said, “but there is no guarantee, so I will take the plus score.”

Mike Lawrence also agreed. “Any bid is guessing that there is either 6♣ or that 5♣ is your only makable game. If 4♣ were natural, I might venture that.”

“Anything could be right,” echoed Janet and Mel Colchamiro. “Trying to figure out what to bid is giving us a headache. At least we figure to be plus. Our second choice is an honest 6♣.”

Barry Rigal agreed with 6♣. “It’s a sheer guess,” he said. “We might play 3NT and go down or make slam. All I can do is close my eyes and pick a number.”

Betty Ann Kennedy was the lone 5♣ bidder. “I would prefer that 4♣ be natural,” she said, “but partner might not take it that way.”

The experts were bidding within the Bulletin Standard system, so there is confusion regarding the meaning of 4♣. Do you and your partner have firm agreements? If not, then pass might be best.


Call Score
4♣ 100
Pass 80
4 50
5♣ 50
4NT 40
6♣ 30

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