Kit Woolsey, director
Matchpoints, both sides vulnerable. You, South, hold:
A K J 7
Q 5 3
7 5 2
10 9 4
|Pass||Pass||1 ||1 |
|1 ||2 ||Pass||Pass|
What call do you make?
To bid, pass, or double--that classic matchpoint problem.
MARSHALL MILES: "Pass. We probably have a slight preponderance of high cards--22 to 18--but our honors are poorly placed. I think this is the opponents' deal."
STEVE ROBINSON: "Pass. If I knew for sure that they were going down both in hearts and diamonds, or that I had a score to protect, I would double."
AL ROTH: "Pass. Too risky to bid, and you forced me to bid one spade freely. Had I passed, I could have known better what to do when they bid."
We all know Roth is an advocate of strong free bids, but I can't see why South would have more information if he had passed. Doesn't he now know that North doesn't have spade support?
PAUL SUGAR: "Pass. So I have a little more than I promised, and so they have found their perfect spot. Three clubs is minus at least 200, a double minus 670. Passing could get me up to average if enough people go nuts and keep on bidding."
A majority of the panel were not prepared to sell to the opponents' perfect spot without putting up a fight--they have seen their matchpoint score for defending two hearts, whether they beat it or not. Those who went nuts and kept on bidding:
JEFF RUBENS: "Three clubs. My spades are good for a close double, and my hearts are okay. But I don't like what's happening in diamonds, and I have too many clubs for comfort."
IRA RUBIN: "Three clubs. Can't really help yourself (they should score 110, and we may easily go minus 100)."
LARRY WEISS: "Three clubs. I really prefer a pass, but partner surely has a club suit, and maybe East-West will take a push."
Even granted that partner is likely to have five clubs (although 3=3=3=4 is quite consistent with everything), I can't see the merits of three clubs. Assuming partner is balanced without three-card support, either two hearts or three clubs will go down, maybe both. At this vulnerability, that argues for defending.
A majority of the panel was not willing to settle for below average--they went for top or bottom.
EDDIE KANTAR: "Double. I hope partner passes."
BORIS KOYTCHOU: "Double. If partner does not pull, we will probably get the magic plus 200."
BILLY EISENBERG: "Double. I hope partner passes."
MARTY COHN: "Double. Simple--I take two tricks, you take four."
PAUL HEITNER: "Double. Partner will have no more than two spades, so we will score several tricks (and perhaps a ruff) in that suit. LHO did not open two hearts and is likely to hold only a five-card suit. It is hard to envision a bad result when partner would pass two hearts doubled."
I agree that the opponents' spades "must" be four-three, but I would still await that dummy with plenty of apprehension--one piece of unexpected East-West distribution can make this tight double a loser.
ERIC KOKISH: "Double. Fashionable, I know, but not less dangerous for all of that. Where are we going opposite a minimum with one or two spades? But it's matchpoints, and we might get plus 200 if North passes, or plus 110 if he pulls to three clubs. Pass looks better and better, if I must tell the truth."
Yes, it does. But settle for average-minus without a fight? I can't bring myself to do that either.