An exciting problem here,
with the panel coming up with seven different bids, and the
readers throwing in an eighth for good measure. Given such
diversity, it is interesting that half the panel went for the
straightforward 3NT signoff.
Manuel Paulo: 3NT. Partner should have some heart stopper; so, I try the nine-trick game.
Christer Enkvist: 3NT. Asking for a heart stopper (3) can lead to several bad things: West can find a lead directing double and perhaps even worse, East will get the lead and will be able to lead from his 4 or perhaps even 5-card suit! No, a direct 3NT makes a heart lead from West very difficult.
Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. Guessing.
Sam Arber: 3NT. May be spade ruff in 5
partner must have some value in hearts for opening bid.
Bastiaan Korner: 3NT. may be wrong sometimes, but probably right most of the time
Henri de Jong: 3NT. The most likely game contract.
Partner will have some hearts as he has very few values in the minors.
Lindsay Coker: 3NT. This may make, whereas 5 surely has no play.
Paul Freeland: 3NT. Tough problem, opposite some 13 counts (A, AQ
and K) 6 looks great, whereas opposite some 15 counts (KQJ, AQ, K) you can't even make 5.
Toby Weinstein: 3NT. Could be off the first 5 tricks.
Not the strongest argument for a 3NT
bid, but it gets the top score.
If we aren't willing to bid 3NT on
our own, we have to address the systemic issue of the meaning of
3 and 3.
Alvin P. Bluthman: 3. Boehm's Law. Trying for game in notrump, with two stoppers as yet unbid, bid the stopper you have, and let partner complete the sequence by bidding 3NT with a heart stopper. If he declines (by 4 or 4), you can then decide whether to pass or to go to 5.
This is the only treatment of this
sequence that I have ever seen, and it was supported by several
Cohen: 3. If I wanted to "ask" I could bid 3 to show heart
values, so I suspect this "tells". At least, that's what I will
say in the postmortem.
Tim Cope: 3. This should show a spade value (I could bid
3 if i was looking for a spade stopper). Still the toughest
problem of the set, as I will need partner's diamonds to be good
enough to get the suit to run for 3N to be right, and the range
of possibilities for successful contracts could be anywhere from
a partscore in diamonds, to NT being the only game or even a
slam in diamonds opposite different 12 counts that partner may
have. This bid gives partner enough room to determine where we
go from here.
Jack Lai: 3. No
heart stopper. Partner, please bid 3NT if you have one.
Boris Richter: 3. We do worry about hearts, they don't have a spade fit and partner does not have four hearts in my opinion. We don't want to miss a vulnerable game.
Mats Nilsland: 3. Where is the hearts? Why doesn't West raise spades? At the table I would have bid 3 NT but I need some points...
Richard Morse: 3. Tough problem. A minor suit slam is certainly not out of the question and the advantage of 3 over 4 is that it gives partner more space to express his hand.
readers chose the same bid even though they believed it asked for a
stopper instead of showing one!
Ian Patterson: 3. Does partner have control of spades?
Margaret Reid: 3. Maybe pd can bid NT.
Rex Fox: 3. Need help in spades for NT.
Hoi-Ming Chan: 3.
Bill Bennett: 3. Western
cuebid. If North bids 4 I will consider 5.
And some didn't care whether it
showed or asked, they just wanted to be dummy:
Paul Tranmer: 3. I'm trying to right side 3NT here. It rates to play much better from North than from South. With no
spade raise from West and no heart bids from either opponent pard rates to be 3-4-3-3 shape and so a
heart lead round to North would be better than one through him (I hope!).
Leigh Matheson: 3. 3NT would play better from partner's hand. Presumably this bid also denies hearts, by inference, since I might have bid 3 instead.
Similarly, several people believed
3 to be asking, not showing:
Denis Haynes: 3. Asking partner for a heart stopper/s for a 3NT game.
Tim Francis-Wright: 3. Bad news: partner had a cue-bid available and did not use it. Good news: partner could have a really lousy hand (xx KJx AQx Jxxxx) and we'd have good play for 3NT. Asking for help in hearts will get us to 3NT when it has play.
Roger Yandle: 3. I'm hoping this is a stopper ask - if I had hearts stopped and was looking for NT without spades covered I could always cue bid.
And then there was one mad genius
who knew 3 showed hearts, but chose it anyway:
Dean Pokorny: 3. Partner doesn't have
four hearts. So, I'll bid 3 trying to avoid a heart lead against 3NT.
Whatever the meaning of 3 and 3,
they take on a new meaning on the next round of bidding. If
partner bids 3NT and we continue on, then that reveals our 3
bid to have been an advance cue, showing control of hearts and
interest in a diamond slam. Several people were not planning to
settle for 3NT:
Courtney: 3. I am assuming partner has denied four hearts
and now wish to see where she goes next. I doubt I'll pass 3NT, although there is some case. Where are all the
hearts?? Sounds like we've got too many spades but 6
could be a good spot, so probably I'll bid 4 if 3NT
appears from partner.
Tim Trahair: 3. Cue bid showing 1st or 2nd round control in
hearts. Game is probably on somewhere e.g. 3NT or 5, possibly even slam.
Peter Qvist: 3.
Looking for a diamond slam.
Zbych Bednarek: 3.
Cuebid on way to 5, maybe
Over my 3, if
partner bids 3NT, pass from me, if partner bid 3 (positive) 6 from me.
Peter Riddy: 3. Trust partner will take this as agreeing
diamonds and cue bidding hearts. He may bid 3 or 3NT when I will bid 4 showing A.
I will convert any further club bid into diamonds.
Speaking of cuebids, there
was significant reader support for 4 as a slam try, either due
to doubt about 3 as an advance cue, or an unwillingness to cue
a 2nd round control on the first round.
Peter Oakley: 4. Cue, and great fits. If partner has the spade ace we should get to the diamond slam.
Maurice Buxton: 4. Is this here because partner has a heart stop and 3NT makes with 5-minor going down, or because partner doesn't and vice-versa? A guess, but since 3NT could be iffy even if partner does have a heart stop, and going for the minor allows for slam possibilities with as little as x Axx Axxx Kxxxx opposite I'll head the minor route.
Damo Nair: 4. May be its not such a bad idea to go beyond 3NT with that diamond suit.
Robert Black: 4. Where have all the hearts gone?
Fraser Rew: 4. I'd bid 4 if I were still on the panel, but I don't think that it will score so highly. LHO will normally lead whichever major is right vs. 3NT. 5 will make almost all the time that 3NT does, and a lot more besides. Would he open/rebid NT with 2245? If he has this shape with a 12-count all games may be off.
It's true, 4 didn't score so highly; not
because it was a bad choice, but because the majority were
looking to play in 3NT rather than slam. If you are looking for
slam, 4 is an excellent choice and it scored as well as all the
other slam tries.
Stewart: 4. Will apologize if North has Jx-KQ-AJxx-K10xxx
but accept congratulations if he has A-Jxx-AJxx-K10xxx.
David Matthews: 4. I am going to bid 5 so I may as well see if partner likes a splinter in Hearts
Rainer Herrmann: 4. 3NT could be right (or 3 could be the limit) but hard to reach with any certainty.
Conny Wahlgren, Mats Hedstöm: 4. Splinter.
Pontus Silow: 4. Splinter. I would love to see 4 by partner.
In contrast to those who
were looking for slam, some people were still looking
Emil Battista: 4. Partner's failure to bid hearts or cue bid spades makes me a little cautious so wimping out with 4.
Bridge Baron: 4. The spade stopper is great, but with no
heart stopper and an unbalanced hand,
Bridge Baron gives up on 3NT. There's
almost enough to bid 5 directly,
especially with the likely ten-card fit;
one more point anywhere would do it for
Bridge Baron. But no cigar, so it's a
maximum invitational 4.
Michael Burt: 4. We look to have a double fit in diamonds and clubs which means cover in hearts and spades is likely to be thin with NT being very risky. Diamond game looks possible but my spade values are not worth much in diamonds. Just strong enough to invite game.
Ken Berry: 4.
Where are the hearts??
In fact the sole 4 bidder
on the expert panel intended 4 not as a cue for slam, but as an
invitation to 5:
Ted Chadwick: 4. It could be right to pass, but I make
one final attempt to go minus on the hand with my natural game
try of 4.
Paul Gipson: 4. Game try highlighting where my values lie.
Anthony Goldstein: 4. Where are my partners points? Surely not in both
spades and hearts. 4 and he can pick the minor suit game call.
Having looked at the game
bids, the slam tries, and the game invitations, we must give
equal space (but not equal points) to the passers:
Larissa Cowlishaw: Pass. After some thought, partner neither jumped nor bid hearts nor bid the opponent's suit for NT.
Martyn Rew: Pass. Any movement toward a game contract would need more from partner than he has indicated in two bids.
Ron Landgraff: Pass. I hate it but where are the hearts and spades? 3NT and
five diamonds are tempting
but I don't put either as more than 33%.
Tim Bourke: Pass. I'd
bid 3NT at the table in a heartbeat but I believe either pass or
5 is a better choice.
Which brings us to the final choice, game in our best fit:
David Monahan: 5. Fast arrival gives a clear message that while
loser count is likely to be good, my controls are likely to be poor.
Frank Campbell: 5. I don't like my spade stopper enough to ask for a heart stopper so will try for the minor game. Hopefully we won't get a spade ruff.
Tony Treloar: 5. Looks like the best game. If partner had good stoppers in the majors then he should have bid 2NT.
Duncan Roe: 5. Not enough for slam so go straight to game.
Barbara Whitmee: 5. Safest game at IMPs.
Fred Altstock: 5. Should have a
Barbara Hunter: 5. With the double fit in clubs & diamonds seems a reasonable contract.
This problem was provided by Ron Klinger. North held:
We don't have the East-West hands, but 3NT is a very likely make. Both 3NT and 5 require you to find the
Q, but 5 also needs a blockage in spades as well as the club finesse.