Do You or Don't You? (Answers)

Pairs, both vul, you hold

 S:J10xx H:xxx D:xxx C:xxx

PassPass2H: 4D:*
4H: ?

* D:+S:

Today's panelists: Ed Davis, Adam Wildavsky, David Milton, Alan LeBendig, Mike Shuster, Walter Hamilton, Robb Gordon, Andy Lewis, Kent Hartman, John Probst, Steve Altus, and Barry Rigal

This hand has a story. What really happened is that this was a much better hand (although I don't know the hand, I'm sure it's not nearly this weak). It bid 4S:. LHO bid 5C:(!) and partner doubled. RHO bid 5H:, this hand passed slowly. Partner bid 6S: and the opponents called the cops. Alan was the director, offered this as a ruling question, and bedlam ensued. OK, not quite, but during the discussion, I claimed that partner could have a hand as weak as the given one, so 6S: is a truly ridiculous bid. Alan and another person said, "what kind of twit would bid 4S: with [this hand]?" I would. Let's see who else would.

I do (bid 4S:). I don't think partner is forced to bid again if I pass and I won't take a chance on letting them play 4H: when we have nine spades and partner has a good two-suiter.
I know where this is from!

I pass. As in many situations, bidding freely without value almost guarantees a minus. Whatever we can make, partner will bid one more.

I don't, and now you are going to tell me that it works out because partner is 5161 or something like that and the opponents KQJ of diamonds are worth one trick when they are 22 and you are either down only one or making against their cold game.

So he has  S:AKxxx H: - D: KQxxxx C: xx and spades and diamonds are both 2-2.

Yes, Jeff, I MIGHT very well. But I would then double 5H: after partner doubled 5C:. That created the forcing pass. in this auction my partner is going to be bigger than the actual hand he held. I would totally agree with your premise if my RHO were not a passed hand. I think all the given conditions require that for trust purposes, I treat this as a forcing pass because of the double of 5C:. Unlike yourself, I have discussed this situation with my serious partners and we have agreed to these conditions. I find it more acceptable for constructive auctions to eat the RARE 850 here.
This whole hand has the stench of 800 at the four level, so I want to pass. But let's look closer.

4D: was forcing. Does the opponent's 4H: take the force off? I don't know. I'm guessing that if I pass, partner will not go quiet, doubling. Now I must bid 4S:. If partner thought my pass was forcing, might he interpret this sequence as forward going? Not in my partnership with JoAnna, where we play pass and pull as the weaker action (as recommended by Kit Woolsey; he was very convincing).

So back to the issue at hand. I believe that in a standard leaping Michaels expert partnership, 4D: has set up a force through 4S: or a double of the opponents. It follows that in a standard expert partnership, the sequence of pass and pull would be forward going while a direct 4S: would not be. So your choices are pass/pass and hope for four tricks or bid 4S: and hope for 8 tricks or no double or a 5H: call.

It seems like 4S: is the "safe" action. Strange, but that is what I'm doing.

As a law abiding citizen I do.
To me, this is a trick question. This is another convention that everybody plays and nobody discusses. IMO, this 4D: bid is a "power bid" and we have to play or double, with a bit of judgment allowed. So I make the weakest possible bid, 4S:.
No. Partner is marked with a big hand, and was prepared to hear 4S: if my lHO passed, but there's just too big a chance that bidding turns a plus into a minus, or that we end up in 6S: -2 when partner can't take a joke. On the other hand, if I took too long to make this decision, I would end up bidding. A slow bid here shouldn't cause ethical problems, but a slow pass puts partner in a no-win situation.
In spite of my reputation for answering this type of bidding problem with "pass," I'll bid 4S:.
I bid 4S:. 4 trumps etc etc.
Proddy and I bid 4S: and then have to double with this hand to stop partner doing something stupid. ... and yes we concede the occasional 850 and consider it the price one pays.
I'll bid 4S: at the table, what's right when it's a problem?
I'd bid. I don't think it's real close. I don't think we are in a force, but partner bid to the 4-level, hoping he'd catch a fit. He did, and I for one wouldn't consider not letting him in on the secret.
We twits rule the day!
Mike, Robb, and John claim that 4D: is forcing and sets up a force at all levels. That's simple enough, but I don't think it's best. I like to play that 4D: is forcing on any hand with a likely cover card or a fit. It does not set up a force in later auctions. I think it's illogical to play that it sets up a force as the whole point of the 4D: bid is to show that we have distributional rather than high card values. When we have shape and they have shape, forcing is unwise unless we know we have a substantial majority of the high cards, really of the aces. I could get my arm twisted to agree that we are in a force because they opened a preempt in 3rd seat, but I've learned by now that this does not promise a bad hand. Anyway, I think that we are not in a force and could pass 4H: if we wanted to. I just don't want to.

As far as the real hand goes, there was lots of debate as to whether the double of 5C: sets up a force; few suggested that we were in a force because of 4D:. That's a reasonable way to play, but again, since I think that partner's 4S: bid could be based on negative defence, I don't like it. I think it should show clubs. In fact, the hand held C:KQx and a void heart. The whole hand was approximately  S:KQ98x H:--- D:AK10xx C:KQx. Against the hand above, of course 6S: gets doubled and butchered. In practice, I assume it made; I don't know the real hand. I can imagine that doubling 5C: lets us beat 5H: by getting a quick club shift from partner. Or beats it another. I could be convinced that the double of 5C: should be artificial (they aren't planning to play clubs, right? right? Hmmm...) and set up a force. Then again, I'd feel REALLY dumb if they repounded 5C: and could make it when 5H: was going down on a bad break. Anyway, I'm not sure the double rule's best here, but in other similar situations it probably is. When?

A couple panelists mentioned reversing pass-and-pull to show the weak hand rather than the slam try. This has mild theoretical merit, but it has, in my opinion, pragmatic disadvantages. If partner doubles slowly when we have a slam try, it's obvious to any committee (I hope!) that we were planning to bid again to make a slam try, so we won't be forced to pass the double. On the other hand, if we have the weak hand, many committees are going to make us defend. In theory, if partner always doubled in tempo, we'd be fine, but these auctions are hard, and he's going to have to think fairly often. Thus, in the long run, strong pass-and-pull seems safer. Maybe when committees are much better than they are now weak pass-and-pull will be right.

Jeff Goldsmith,, June 12, 1999