Playing imps, I had:
RHO opened 1C (all vul) and I had my first choice: X or 1D.
I like overcalling 1D and dislike doubling with 5332, but this hand would be overdoing it. Bad diamond suit and not enough to take unilateral action again. Better double and be done, which I believe would be an easy majority vote anyway.
Next hand raises to 2C and partner cuebids 3C which RHO doubles. What does partner have? Even for long-standing partnerships, how many knows exacly what partner has? With both M's, why not make a responsive double? Many questions, how about some answers...
This was a regular partnership, but this sequence was not discussed and it wasn't an auction we had encountered before. I figured partner wanted to create a gameforce immediately and didn't guarantee both M's, but strongly suggested it.
Does the double of 3C change anything? Yes, without it, I would bid my suits up-the-line. Now I think 3D should show 5 cards, as I could pass otherwise. I also think 3D denies a M. With a major I could also pass and besides, I'm a strong advocate for overcalling with 5431's so I'm unlikely to have a M once I show 5D's.
I wouldn't treat this as a Manco/Mancoff situation with bids showing/denying certain holdings in enemy suit. Partner is looking for M-fit, not stoppers for 3NT. Partner continues with 3H. What now?
I think this shows 5+suit as I don't have 4, but I'm not sure partner shares my view. Well, he's up to something but I just raise to 4H. I think my diamond suit should be better for 4C. Partner isn't done and tries 5C, doubled once again! What is going on?
Partner is clearly interested in slam, but what does he want from us? I don't think it's clear but chose XX to show first-round control and partner bid 5D. No escape - what's your choice?
With a spade control and prime trumps H's, we're now required to bid slam. Does it matter which one? Not being sure if partner had gotten the message about 3D, I decided to jump to 6D despite the weak suit, offering a choice. I hadn't overcalled 1D, had I?
Partner passed, club lead and dummy surfaces with:
Considering the opponents relative silence with an 11-card fit, I play for the trump queen to drop with it does and all the tricks, and a 12 imp gain.
This was a tough hand, and I'm not sure if the relative mild opposing bidding made it easier or more difficult. I didn't really envision his hand, but sometimes you don't have to.
There are situations where the key is trying to figure out partner's hand but there are also situations where this isn't necessary. Evaluate your holdings within what partner can expect and trust partner knows what he's doing.
Be flexible. Don't get stuck trying to figure out partner's hand when you don't have to.