Steve Robinson asked to an experts panel. You are South and these are your cards:

South Holds 

 K Q J 9 8 7 5  A 5  K 8 6 4 


West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1
2 Double 3 ?


  The Panel’s Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert’s  
  4 Spades     100     3     8   
  5 Clubs     80     2     1   
  4 Clubs     70     4     20   
  4 Diamonds     40     1     10   
  3 Diamonds     20     0     7   

In constructive auctions there are usually two considerations, setting trumps and finding level. First you set trumps and then, once you have set trumps, you worry about level. In competitive auctions, one can use a cuebid to help find the correct trump suit. Holding a good 5-3-4-1 hand for instance AKQxx/Qxx/AKxx/x, you cuebid to get partner to bid a five-card or strong four-card heart suit. Partner could also show a diamond suit or a good two-card spade holding. Another use of the choice of games cuebid is to offer partner a choice between spades and diamonds by cuebidding and then correcting 4diamonds or 4hearts to 4spades, AJxxxx/Ax/AKxx/x for example. How would you bid these two hands if choice of games cuebid were not available?

In this problem we know what the trump suit is. This hand belongs in spades. If cuebidding is needed to help you find the correct trump suit, how can you use the cuebid as a slam try?

Two experts agree with me and bid what’s in front of them.

Parker: «4spades—This should make opposite most hands with some fillers in diamonds. We may miss a diamond slam but at match points I’ll settle for 4spades.»

Boyd: «4spades—No way to find out if partner has the needed cards for slam. Odds are that he does not have enough. I’m hoping unfavorable passed opponents don’t give us a guess at the five- level.»

Four experts cuebid. If partner bids 4diamonds over 4clubs, what does that mean? Isn’t partner supposed to bid 4diamonds with xx/Kxxx/xxxxx/KJ as well as Ax/xxxx/Axxxx/xx? Remember partner has to bid something over 4clubs.

The following expert might as well bid 6spades. Only if partner holds xx/KQJxx/xxxx/xx will he get to 4spades where he belongs.

Cole: «4clubs—Over partner’s 4diamonds, I’ll bid a slam. Over 4hearts, I’ll bid 4spades and if partner corrects 4spades to 5diamonds, I’ll bid a slam.»

King: «4clubs—I would like a bid that was exclusion Blackwood for diamonds (even though I plan on playing in Spades), but I don’t have one and so I will start by forcing to game and then hope to explore for slam if possible.»

Schwartz: «4clubs—Admittedly I probably will have to guess later, but I have to force. Maybe LHO will double 4clubs. If the opponents were non-vul, I would chance 3diamonds (hoping to either get doubled later or to better describe my hand) since probably someone will bid, but I can’t take that chance with the opponents vulnerable.»

Hopkins: «4clubs—The goal is to bid a lot if partner has good honors in diamonds. I would like to be in a grand opposite A/Qxxx/Axxxx/xx but only 4spades opposite xx/KQxx/QTxxx/Qx. I believe thus I should make a strong bid, but one that has the flexibility to let us bail out if the mesh doesn’t look good. Furthermore, I believe the cuebid implicitly confirms one of partner’s suits. I believe the real bidding problem on this hand would be what to do if partner responds 4diamonds.»

This is nice. Hopkins says that the cuebid confirms one of partner’s suit but unless partner is a mind reader how is he supposed to know which suit?

The following bid makes a little more sense than 4clubs. No matter how partner interprets it, Exclusion RKC Blackwood (asks for keycards but asks partner to ignore the club ace) or splinter bid, partner will assume that spades are trumps. However, isn’t partner allowed to make a negative double of 2clubs with xx/KJTxx/xxx/Axx? Opposite this hand partner would be lucky to make 4spades and can’t possibly make anything at the five-level.

Frankel: «5clubs—This should be exclusion blackwood. If partner has a pointy ace I’ll try 6spades, higher with right answer. Yes I know there are some hands making slam in diamonds and not spades but I don’t know how to find that.»

Woolsey:»5clubs—This hand is made for Exclusion Blackwood. Don’t know if I’ll gamble the grand if partner has two key cards outside of clubs, but otherwise exclusion figures to get us to the proper number of spades.»