IMPs, None Vul
As South, you hold:
A 7 3
K Q 6
K Q J 6 3
East opens a weak two hearts in first seat. WWGD?
The STCP™, holding a balanced 17 points and ace third in the opponents’ suit, would give some thought to 2NT. Our expert panel wasn’t fooled.
The panel’s view is best summarized by Chorush: “I think G might rule out 2NT because of the lack of a spade stopper as well as because it is the least misdescriptive bid.” Similar contrarian thinking comes from Wiss: “One of the facets of the Gee Burger bid is that he bids 2NT when anybody’s first five guesses would bypass it, and the corollary is that he would almost never bid it if five out of five other players would.” Fair enough. But there are other considerations.
Ross: “He feels this hand is too good to overcall 2NT due to his excellent heart stopper, good spots and source of tricks.” True. Those sixes and sevens could prove key.
Smith: “2NT is obviously wrong and it’s a trap for the STCP™. We don’t want the heart lead coming into our ace of hearts. We want it to come into partner’s Qx or J9X or other soft heart stopper. If it is right to play in notrump we want partner to do it.” He understates the importance of having Gee play the hand, but all in all, a shrewd analysis. In fact, it is the consideration of “right-siding” the hand that leads one of our panelists into error.
Larsen: “My best Gee guess is 2nt to insure the right hand is declaring final contract.” Chris hasn’t yet entered the Twilight Zone, where hand-hogging just isn’t enough. See Chorush above.
And all of our panelists, save one, overlooked the most obvious objection of all.
Robert: “2NT is clearly unusual for the minors.” Clearly. And the rest of you guys call yourselves experts?
Three clubs was taken more seriously. First we will turn to the sole panelist who was taken in.
Tuncok: “I think Gee would bid 3C. And if the opponents are smart enough to compete to 3H, he then would be obliged to rebid his good club suit at the 4 level. A humble guess for the final contract is 4CX.” Wrong, but for the right reasons. It is the planned rebid of 4C that earns 3C 40 points instead of a zero. But the objections to 3C are best expressed by
Smith: “We don’t want to bid 3 clubs. Our hand is not suit oriented at all, especially in a minor. We don’t want to mislead partner like that. Our hand is too balanced and notrump oriented with a source of tricks. Three clubs is out.” Of course this makes sense only if we refuse to bid 2NT as well. A further point:
Robert: “17 points is too good to make a simple overcall!” The rest of the panel used elimination.
Chorush: “Three clubs is a poor bid but why would we spend our time discussing bids that are merely poor, when we have double available, which is atrocious?”
Wiss: “What is left is a semi-reasonable 3C and a less reasonable X. I vote for the latter.”
Mori: “Bidding 2NT (the correct bid) without enough heart stoppers and no spade stopper is out of the question so Gee is left with the choice of bidding 3C, his long suit, or to cover all situations, he has double. He has to double.”
An absolutely wretched, almost winning choice, that most of our panelists failed to consider is Pass. This is N/S’s best chance to go minus, since 2H may actually make. Yet only three of our panelists even mentioned it.
Smith: “We are a little too strong [to pass] but if partner bids spades or notrump we are happy to raise.”
Wiss: “Pass wins, you say? Drat.” Doesn’t win, but damn close. And the panelist who voted for it displays a solid understanding of captain-crew theory.
Robert: “Those weaker minded among us might try to double, but the problem with that is your partner is captain, and will bid a new suit in reponse to the double. And since the crew can’t pass a new suit by the captain, you would be stuck bidding again! Clearly unacceptable. So that leaves a heroic pass, which is the only logical choice on the hand. My guess as to the final result is 2h down 1, for -7.2 for Gee. His side had 3NT making? How unlucky!” Hard to argue. The master, however, is the final arbiter, and the master chose double, again for captain-crew reasons.
Mori: “He has to double. If partner bids spades he would never do it without the appropriate length to cover Gee holding this hand so the average expectation in that case is 6 spades. Gee gave the captaincy to his partner by doubling so he is now absolved of all blame in further developments.” It’s always wise to take the post mortem into account.
Smith: “Double. If partner bids 2 spades, then we can bid 3 clubs showing them a decent hand without spades, if they have hearts stopped and a good hand, they can go on. If they have 6 or 7 spades and a good hand, they can jump to game. It is the most flexible bid and the one that I feel Gerard has picked.” So flexible, in fact, that another panelist has a different rebid in mind entirely.
Ross: “Gee doubles planning to bid NT if partner bids spades.”
Bonus points go to one of our panelists for suggesting, though ultimately rejecting, a bid that occurred to no one else.
Smith: “3 hearts — Northern Cue — telling partner we have a heart stopper and a good hand and asking them if they have a source of tricks. This may be too tough on partner to figure out the source of tricks. We do have stoppers in every suit and they may not count their broken suits as a source of tricks even though they should.”
At the table West raised to 3H over Gee’s double. North held:
K J 2
J 10 8 5 2
A 9 5 4
He had his own ideas about “right-siding” the hand and bid 4S, with which some of our panelists may not concur. (I’d bid 4H myself but I’m just moderating.) It goes down three for -150 and a 12 IMP loss. 3H is off 1, 2 on a trump lead. 5C is cold, and West holds both missing aces so 3NT also makes.