Directed by Robert Wolff
IMPs, none vul. You, South, hold:
A J 7 6 5
A J 8 7 6
|1 ||Pass||1 NT||Pass|
|2 ||Pass||3 ||Pass|
What call do you make?
My first impluse was to choose the simple five diamonds. On second thought, though, partner does not need much for slam. So, I must give him a chance, by bidding three spades. Agreeing:
ERIC KOKISH: "Three spades. Five diamonds would be too lazy, since we have good play for slam opposite as little as:
K x x
K x x x x
x x x x.
DON STACK: "Three spades. I intend to bid five diamonds, so I may as well try for slam. Partner could have:
K x x
Q x x x
A x x x x.
RON GERARD: "Three spades. Isn't this a good hand? The lively distribution, great controls, extra trumps, and the right heart holding make slam distinctly possible. I'm driving to five in any case; if North bids three notrump, I'll temporize with four diamonds, still looking for slam."
Is four diamonds on that auction forcing?
RICHARD FREEMAN: "Three spades. I will not pass three notrump. I will commit to five diamonds but want to investigate slam."
Others make the right bid for the wrong reason.
DICK KAHN: "Three spades. I still would rather play three notrump than five diamonds."
CARL HUDECEK: "Three spades. I will pass three notrump, unhappily. Over four clubs, I'll bid four diamonds; just maybe that will end it. My only easy route is if partner bids four diamonds over three spades--I'll pass."
There is yet another wrong reason for the right bid--to invite game.
DON VON ELSNER: "Three spades. Since I don't rate my hand good enough to spring to five diamonds, I will try to give partner some help in further evaluating his."
PAUL TRENT: "Three spades, the most descriptive game-try."
A colleague believes that he is making a try for both game and slam:
KIT WOOLSEY: "Three spades. This may enable us to stay out of a bad game or to reach a good slam. I will pull three notrump to four diamonds, which partner can pass with wasted club values; I will raise four diamonds to five, or make a slam move over four clubs or four spades."
Trying only for game is:
IRA RUBIN: "Four diamonds. The only possible game is five diamonds, but we need something fitting. So, I opt for four diamonds (actually, four-and-a-quarter diamonds) and let partner judge."
Ira can bid four-and-a-quarter diamonds, believe me. Not so this panelist:
ERIC RODWELL: "Five diamonds. At matchpoints, four is enough; as it is, four diamonds is a close second choice. I don't expect to score 100 for this aggressive bid, but I can't think of a 'scientific' bid that would pay off in the long run."
Aggressive! Well, he's right about not scoring 100, anyway.
SAMI KEHELA: "Five diamonds. What would you have me do instead, investigate for slam or find a way to stop delicately in four?"
AL ROTH: "Five diamonds. I won't bid a scientific three spades--I am satisfied to make game."
CHIP MARTEL: "Five diamonds. I bid it directly, since I don't think we belong in three notrump; and slam, while possible, is unlikely to be reached intelligently. Why help the opponents with a probing bid?"
EDGAR KAPLAN: "Five diamonds. When you know where you want to play, bid it. An unnecessary extra bid like three spades gives partner an extra chance to do something foolish. And the extra description of your hand gives aid and comfort to the enemy."
Of course, the Editor may have been influenced by the actual result, on the last deal in the semifinals of the 1978 Rosenblum Cup:
Q J 2
Q 9 5 4 3 2
Q 6 2
K 8 6 3
K J 9 8 4
10 9 5 4
K Q 9 4 2
A 10 7 5
A J 7 6 5
A J 8 7 6
In USA versus BRAZIL, the Brazilian South at my table bid four diamonds over three; North passed. A plus is a plus. My teammates reached five diamonds by North, on a different auction, down after East's natural ten-of-spades lead. So, we lost 5 imps when we needed a big plus on this final board to win the match.
In the other semifinal, FRANCE versus POLAND, the problem auction occurred at both tables. The Polish South leaped to five diamonds; West, faced with a blind guess, led a reasonable low spade: plus 400. The French South probed with three spades instead, and North bid five diamonds; the Polish West led a club, the natural lead on that auction. East won and found the winning spade return: minus 50. FRANCE had gone into this last board leading by 8 imps; it came out losing by 2. And POLAND went on to win the world's championship.
If our other Editor recognized the deal, he is a man of principle:
JEFF RUBENS: "Three spades. Slam is barely possible if North has exactly the right hand. Game? I can't see not taking a chance on it. Probably, only the lead will be affected by whether I choose three spades or a direct five diamonds--bidding spades will tend to stop the lead. Trouble is, I can't tell whether I want a spade lead. My guess is that I don't."