Our choices here are a highly offshape 1NT, an overbid of 2, or pass - intending to either pass a reopening double or jump in diamonds. First the 1NT bidders:
Michael Burt: 1NT. 6-9 points with a heart stopper.
Roger Yandle: 1NT. 6-9 points, heart stopper, < 4 spades, what's not to like?
Allan Simon : 1NT. All alternatives seem even worse
Niek Van Vucht: 1NT and 2 if partner bids 2
Kees Schaafsma: 1NT. By far the most difficult partscore to defend against and minus 50 may be a good score. If I pass West may bid 1NT for a bad score!
Martyn Rew: 1NT. Confirms the lack of a 4 card spade suit and the heart stop
Keith Je: 1NT. I don't want to raise partner's expectations (and I'd like to grab 1NT before LHO does). This is clearly our contract, however it will probably get competitive, so I'll keep options open.
Peter: 1NT. Piece of cake? By no means a penalty pass or neg. dbl and too little for 2. Anything else seems ludicrous.
Tania Black: 1NT. Seven tricks should be available despite our club misfit.
John R. Mayne: 1NT. We can win the race to 1N here. At nil vul, passing's really unattractive - even if we get the dream result of 1x, we haven't gotten a good board yet. Anything gets us too high too quickly, and I'm not joining the doublers because the 4-3 spade fit melts down once they lead trumps.
Fraser Rew: 1NT. With some partners I can bid 1 to show no clear direction, but that's obviously not standard. I'm not trapping with no trump intermediates, I'm not doubling with fewer than four spades when there's a viable alternative, I'm not stretching to bid 2 with a poor suit, a misfit and only 9 points, so 1NT it is. If partner pulls to 2, I can always bid 2.
The eight of hearts could come in handy as a stopper eventually, but there's a good chance diamonds will play better because we can ruff those heart losers. I'm thinking of a hand such as KJxx x QJx Axxxx.
If partner doesn't have diamonds, he probably has a lot of clubs and will be rebidding them. A free 1NT also tends to suggest a more balanced hand, and we don't want to encourage partner to rebid clubs or to believe his semi-solid clubs will run.
To bid a forcing 2 now would force the auction to 2NT or the three level when we may only have half the deck and a misfit. One expert did choose this so it scores a rather generous 30.
Alex Kemeny: 2. A touch light on points but good shape. Heart spots not good enough for a penalty pass.
Cathy Hocking: 2. Giving partner my 5 card suit. and showing minimum points. I have a nice hand and if we find a fit maybe 5 diamonds is on.
Tim Trahair: 2. Showing partner we have 5 Ds, 10 or so HCP and no support for his Cs.
Phil Hocking: 2. Starting to look like partner should be able to support me in diamonds so awaiting the reply.
Damo Nair: 2. Passing only postpones the problem to 1 round later. I can't play 1 doubled with such weak intermediates.
The reasoning does not convince me. I agree with not defending 1 doubled but It's quite likely the problem is how to stop in 1NT, 2 or 2 on a misfit and bidding 2 makes all of those impossible.
Finally the choice of 12 out of 15 expert panellists:
Tony Treloar: Pass. 2 looks a little frisky-not sure what to do over partner's re-opening double, cross that bridge when it comes.
Steve Robinson: Pass. 2 would get us too high.
Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. Hopefully partner will double and I will pass. But 2 and 1NT are good alternatives
Ron Lel: Pass. I think pass is the best option, followed closely by 1NT.
Dean Pokorny: Pass. If partner passes out 1 with 12-14 balanced, defending 1 will be good enough. If partner doubles instead, I will jump to 3. However, if I knew that double here denies 4 spades, I would rather double - aiming for a Moysian partial contract in spades (which always scores a top).
Alan Mace: Pass. If partner wishes to compete she will double which i can leave in.
Bradley Johnston: Pass. If we belong anywhere then partner will have more to say - doubling with 3550 is weird (not saying you need 4; just saying if you don't it should be a takeout X of Hs - not holding 5 of them), 1N with a club void terrible, and 2 is very committal with no guaranteed fits and not very many points.
David Matthews: Pass. Let's see what partner does. I can't double as that would show 4+ Spades. I can still bid 1NT if partner bids 1 Spade or Doubles. There is also the possibility of a reasonable penalty if East bids Hearts again.
Brian Lawless: Pass. Let's wait and see what partner produces
Charles Scholl: Pass. Looks like a misfit and any bid now will confuse shape or strength. Will bid 1NT if partner doubles.
Robert Black: Pass. No fit yet, and partner has another chance.
Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Nothing else makes much sense, though I do not aim for defending 1 doubled.
Neil Silverman : Pass. Nothing looks appealing so will pass and bid 3d over partners double.
Emil Battista: Pass. Starting to feel like the Monks who took vows of silence!
David Caprera: Pass. The auction isn't over. I will pass if partner rebids 2, bid 3 if he doubles.
Todd Holes: Pass. The auction will not end here. Let's see what develops.
Alan Jones: Pass. The bidding is not about to stop. I think it will be easier to judge the right action next time round.
Peter Lipp: Pass. This time I am not going to pass, should a X come around....
Zbych Bednarek: Pass. trapping pass
Arthur Porter: Pass. Trusting P to re open with a double.
Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Unanimous?
Patrice Fincias: Pass. Wait and see. Void in partner's opening not very attractive.
Julian Foster: Pass. Depends a lot on methods. These days double is often a hand with some values and not 4 and 1 is just 4+ spades. If that is our method then I'll double. But I expect it isn't (i.e. I suspect X would show 4 and 1 would show 5) then I will pass and jump to 3 if partner reopens with the expected double. 1NT would express the strength but it feels too warped with 55 (including not very good H) and a void in partner's suit.
That last comment summarises the case for pass pretty well. There is no consensus on what to do if partner doubles - we could pass, or bid 1NT, 2 or 3. To me it looks like 3 is best when we know partner has some diamonds and we're limited by our previous pass. We could still have a guess if LHO bids 1NT and/or partner rebids 2.
Dan Baker: Dbl. With most of my partners I have a nonforcing 2 available here (big hands double and bid the suit later), but without that agreement it seems likely to get us in over our heads. If double lands us in a Moysian, it may play just fine on a crossruff.
This shows spades. A 4-3 might be ok but we could be playing a 3-3 on trump leads and it will be hard to get to either diamonds or NT which look like the most promising denominations for us.
The full deal, from a Nationwide Pairs session at Illawarra:
The 19 tables produced 15 different results, with one pair bidding and making game (3NT, although 5 is also possible). The most common results were in clubs, making a partscore or failing in game.