Ask the Experts Volume 1, Number 5

Lori Leopold of Avon asks, “Matchpoints. We are red and they are white.  RHO opens 1 in the third seat.  I hold the following hand. What do I bid?”






Jeff Goldman kicks it off:

I think 2NT to start is pretty easy. If partner will understand that 3NT over partner’s anticipated 3m shows the minors with a spade stopper, I do that.  Should show 55 or more in minors and A or Ax or Kx in spades, I’d think. Partner should have a decent idea what to do next

If partner bids something other than 3m, could make a slam with the right cards.

Vul vs not, especially opposite a passed hand, 2NT should show a decent hand.


Rich DeMartino:

2NT seems to be the most descriptive call.


John Stiefel:

No good bid here. 2NT (unusual notrump) is the least bad of all the bad options.

Possible bids:

Pass - too strong for this.

1NT overcall - doesn't describe the hand well enough. Is only right if partner has a balanced 9 or 10 count.

2D - terrible suit.

Double - ruled out due to no heart support.

2C - right strength but rules out what might be our best fit.

2NT - describes my distribution and leaves me prepared to compete with a double if it goes 3S - P - P.  Assures us (most likely) of not getting a terrible result and still leaves open the possibility of a good result (e.g. partner jumps to 4D with xxx, xx, Kxxxx, xx).


Larry Bausher:

2NT, the unusual notrump showing both minors.  Traditionally used to show a weaker hand, I think it is best to be used weak or strong.  Chances are you will have a fit in one of your suits, and this is your best shot at finding it since you can show your hand with one bid.  I don't worry about the occasional hand where there is a total misfit and we can be minus some phone number.  I don’t double (you don’t want partner bidding hearts, do you?).  If they bid a major suit game I will double hoping partner can make the right decision as to whether to play or defend, and hope we beat it if partner passes.


Steve Becker:

I would bid 2NT and then raise my partner's minor suit response to four.


Jeff Horowitz is with the rest of the panel on the 2NT bandwagon.



2NT may not be perfect, but it’s the panel’s unanimous choice.

Now let's move on to round 2. I polled a separate panel of experts to see what pard would bid over 2NT. Pard’s pleasant surprise bid of 4 creates the real problem for overcaller on this deal.


John Stiefel:

I settle for 5. K of hearts is wasted, so is J of clubs and K of spades may be opposite a singleton.


Jeff Horowitz:

Assuming 2 NT was for the minors I would bid 5 over 4. Even after a third seat opener there is probably too much work to do to make six.


Larry Bausher and Steve Becker join John and Jeff with 5.


Rich DeMartino:

I would bid 4, clearly a cue bid. 


Jeff Goldman:


At this vulnerability, 2NT bid should be pretty sound. 4 is not a weak action. As long as I have trust in my partner, I’ll bid 4 which I think is forward going and forcing (agreeing clubs). I already promised at least 5/5 in minors, now I want to hear if partner can cue bid an ace. If they don’t bid 4M, I sign off. If they cue bid, I’ll bid 6. What can pard have for 4 bid? Must either have diamond fillers or diamond shortness. I’m a little worried they may be able to get a spade ruff. 




The two hands were as follows. The 4 bid by advancer was the majority choice of the separate panel of experts, with 5 running a strong second.












6 is a strong favorite to make, but under tournament conditions, it would not be surprising if a significant proportion of even the best pairs failed to reach slam. In a contested auction, when both partners are max for their actions, it is all too easy to stop one level too low.