Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- August-September 2008

The following comments were received from the readers of Australia's national bridge magazine, Australian Bridge, and other bridge enthusiasts. The same problems are also discussed in the magazine, by an international panel of Andrew Robson, Larry Cohen, Mike Lawrence, Bob Jones, Marshall Miles, Frank Stewart, Eddie Kantar and Zia, as well as many top Australian players.
Scroll down to see the final scores
Submit answers for the October forum
Hand One - North deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJT8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A43
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKJ86


West North East South
  pass pass 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
dbl rdbl 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass pass ?


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1003320
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 801013
Dbl 703334
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)601425
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5002
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4051
2NT 3052
Pass 004

Three of this month's problems were provided by one of our expert panellists, Larry Cohen, and Larry also appears as guest moderator of the bidding forum in the magazine. So make sure you grab a copy of the August issue and check out the article.

The first problem of the month led to a few queries about system, so let's get that out of the way first...

David Davies: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I can't double if partner can't.

Fraser Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Double from either side would be penalty here. If partner can't double I certainly can't and game should be on somewhere, so I pattern out to give him the choice.

Dean Eidler: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It's a forcing situation so I can't pass. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would sound like 4441.

Göran Lindberg: Dbl. There is nothing "forcing" about this takeout.

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. For takeout; partner can choose a penalty pass.

Ulf Nilsson: Dbl. Takeout with extra values.

Ron Lel: Dbl. What sort of hand does partner have for his redouble? Is the pass of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) forcing? Despite partner being a passed hand in my partnerships it would be. Playing with my partner I would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but on this forum double is the most flexible bid.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am going to assume partner's redouble signifies a maximum pass. So we have enough for game and it may be 3NT or one of the minors.

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). So what does the redouble mean? The system doesn't provide any guidance. East's 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) response suggests he has some HCP and perhaps West has about 12, so it seems North is weak and probably can tolerate clubs.

It's true, AB Standard doesn't mention North's redouble. It doesn't mention West's double either; for some auctions we just rely on the basics:

Language of Bidding by Paul Marston: Redouble shows 10+ HCP and interest in penalties...

Official Encyclopedia of Bridge: ...any strong hand with a minimum point count of about 10, usually with a defensive hand ... With a fit for opener's suit, a redouble is unattractive because it makes it simple for the opponents to find a fit.

Bridge Bidding Made Easy by Eddie Kantar: ... neither promises nor denies support for partner, although in an expert game he is likely to be short. Most experts with four card support disdain the redouble ... with a big fit it is unlikely that East-West can be punished at a low level.

Goren's Bridge Complete: If, as is probable, the opponents' elect to bid, they will fall into your trap and you will be in position to make a devastating penalty double.

With those comments in mind, now seems a good time to announce that the top reader vote, and the equal top panel vote, went to the devastating penalty double.

Bruce Crossman: Dbl. Redouble shows 10+ HCP and shortage in clubs. So partner's pass figures show shortage in spades and clubs. Looking for penalties or possible game in NT.

Jameson Cole: Dbl. Everyone at the table is playing a deep game besides me. I think West is 3442 and partner 3343. We should get 500.

Alan Jones: Dbl. We have most of the points. Partner appears to have hearts and no support for my suits. This could easily be 800 to us.

Alvin P Bluthman: Dbl. Expecting partner to pass for penalties. Because he had the opportunity to support my suits, and failed to do so, I can only conclude that he cannot do so. Therefore, he should hold hearts and diamonds, not clubs or spades. If he pulls, it will probably be to 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes); I will then bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), showing a diamond stopper and asking for a heart stopper for 3NT.

Barbara Hunter: Dbl. I expect partner may have 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if not he can bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Martyn Rew: Dbl. If partner stopped bidding because he has hearts, double will pick up more than a part score.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. What is pard up to? I'll double and maybe it will give us a result. After all we should have 25 points.

Some of these comments suggest that double is intended as penalty, despite the singleton. Bidding partner's hand for him, you might say. A gutsy call, but it has to be a losing action when the LOTT man is moderating.

Many of the doublers explicitly stated that the double was intended as takeout:

Sydney Frish: Dbl. With combined count of at least 25 HCP hopefully on way to 3NT unless North should prefer conversion to penalties.

Damo Nair: Dbl. What's the catch? I don't get it, I have 16 HCP good shape and controls on top of North making strongish noise. If I can't double with this hand I don't know what hand I can re-open with!

(I have it on good authority that Damo is a very good card player, so he is accustomed to adding a point to all his valuations).

David Monahan: Dbl. Double gives a good description of my hand while partner has the option of leaving the double in with a reasonable holding in heart -- Rule of 4 and Rule of 6 will give partner a good indication of the possibilities including the NT option.

Kajsa Larson: Dbl. Game is not out of question. Since partner didn't double 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), she hopefully doesn't have many wasted points there. If he bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I pass; if he bids a minor, I will raise.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Maybe partner will do the right thing. With clubs and hearts he can bid 3NT, else pass and hope for down 1 or 2. If he has good hearts, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x will be juicy.

Much of the confusion surrounding this problem came from our 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rebid:

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fixed by failure to pass and pull.

Robert Black: Dbl. Did I rebid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? That sounded a bit weak. We seem to have 25 HCP and partner's redouble may be penalty oriented. Perhaps my 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid stopped him doubling 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If he thinks I have some hearts we are in trouble -- maybe the end of a partnership.

Andrew MacAlister: Dbl. It is going to be difficult to persuade partner that I have a good hand after I showed a weak distributional one with 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner may have been waiting to penalize 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so now I give him the chance at 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Gipson: Dbl. Not a problem unless double is wrong, but I am maximum for my (third seat) opening and I cannot let them play in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have already suggested that I do not like hearts by bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

So what does that 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid mean exactly? Let's go back to the textbook...

Official Encyclopedia of Bridge: ... the opening bidder will not take a further bid at his next turn unless he has a distributional hand unsuited to defence.

That does cast some doubt on the wisdom of our 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid, but does it necessarily mean we have shown short hearts?

Whatever it means, Larry was not amused by all this apparent disregard for the textbooks -- an understandable response from someone best known for writing bidding texts. He awarded 70 points to the double, with the top score going to this much less ambiguous takeout action:

Amiram Millet: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Catering for hands that will play 3NT better than 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Even a black Slam is a possibility. Doubling 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) isn't always best.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't want to miss vulnerable game

Tony Treloar: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We hold game values and partner's pass suggests that 3NT (or in the absence of a heart stopper 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)) appear better than 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner did not double 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so no strong holding there. Feel partner should do something.

John Furedy: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is promising 10+ HCP, so if he has a stopper in hearts, 3NT is a good bet.

Roger Yandle: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pard can't double 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) nor support spades so looks like a balanced 10-11 count with 2-3 small hearts. I can't double on strength alone (opps might have Axxx-AQxx-Jxxx-x opposite xx-KJxxx-xx-xxxx). However I think I need to make one more try for game before giving up.

Ian Smith: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A splinter asking partner to choose a suit.

I'm not sure that 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a splinter, but one of the experts was thinking along similar lines (as well as expressing concern about our earlier 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid).

Eddie Kantar: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I thought bidding over a redouble showed a weak distributional opening bid? In any case I'm jumping to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to try to make up for past sins.

Eric Leong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We belong in a game. The only question is where?

Terry Dunne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). With Larry Cohen moderating, 'Pass' won't score very well. It's our hand, with 3NT being the most likely spot. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 'forces' 3NT to be played by the more suitable hand. There's a fair chance partner would pass a double and I can't imagine taking 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) off three tricks.

Well, hopefully we can all agree that partner has 10+ points, so it's true that passing our combined 25 count won't score very well.

The remaining options involve simply describing our hand and letting partner decide what to do:

Boris Richter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The obvious thing to do, saving bidding room with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Seemingly giving partner the wrong information, showing six clubs and five spades, but then again we could have bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) immediately with such a hand (or opened 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)).

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bid out my shape, showing better than minimum, and suggesting 3NT if partner has heart stoppers. The singleton heart, and a probable club fit suggest that penalising 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will not be profitable.

Bill Bennett: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We must be close to game values, but NT is unattractive if North does not have two heart stops. He may bid NT over my 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), or EW may be tempted to raise hearts.

Emil Battista: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Passing is too wimpish and I am too wimpish to double.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looks to me like a good description of the hand. With 4045 I would tend to cuebid in this position.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bidding my shape out.

David Hester: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Flexible; giving partner a chance to do the wrong thing.

John R. Mayne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm strong enough to show the shape of the hand. Partner will do the right thing.

Tim Francis-Wright: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It is time for partner to admit to her heart stopper.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Showing shape (4135 or 4045) with points on way to 3NT.

We have been told that this deal is from a world-class event, but we don't know which one. As usual, if anyone recognises the hand, please send us the full deal and I'll add it in. 

Hand Two - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQ652
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AT832
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A74


West North East South
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?

   * 2NT would be for the minors.
   * 3
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) asks for a stopper.
   * 4
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows diamonds and hearts.
   * Double is for takeout. 

Call Award %
Dbl 1006747
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)602941
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)2058
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)1002

Fraser Rew: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With better hearts and worse diamonds I would bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). But I'll make sure we get to the right strain, level be damned.

David Monahan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Keeping it simple -- at this stage, no certainty that we should be at 4 level at all.

This is a common issue that comes up in bidding forums: just how many tricks is playing in the correct suit worth? 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) lets us stop at the 3-level, but 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) gives us twice as much chance (or more) of playing in a fit. Which of these is more valuable?

Ron Landgraff: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). May be the last making contract for us. I can bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) later. After 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)?

John R. Mayne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not strong enough for 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes); we may not be done yet.

Michael Ware was the sole supporter of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on the expert panel (after all these years he seems to suddenly have become shy about the 4-level).

Here is my problem with the above two comments: it seems to me that if we should be in diamonds, then the opponents will be happy to pass us out in 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). While if 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is right, the opponents will bid again -- in which case you intend to show the diamonds at the 4-level. In other words, you are happy to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but not until you've given the opponents the option of defending 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

The rest of the panellists were choosing between double and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let's start with the minority:

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). "What it says on the tin" again. With aces and good clubs, double is a close 2nd.

Terry Dunne: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Shows what I have. Admittedly, I'd like to be a bit stronger, but any other bid is likely to suggest greater strength (when I have to bid again), or to misrepresent the shape of my hand.

David Hester: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Thanks for telling me what to do!

Peter Oakley: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can't decline the suggestion, with this ideal hand for the convention!

John Furedy: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Even if pard has a spade stopper, 3NT is not a good bet. I'm not sure whether my partners would interpret 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as diamonds and hearts, but if this is the interpretation, that seems the best bid.

Tim Trahair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hand doesn't seem strong enough for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) -- we probably can't make 3NT even if North has spades well stopped. So it is Pass or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hopefully partner has hearts and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) could be on. Give him a choice.

Bill Bennett: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am reluctant to double with a decent 5 card major, since North will find it hard to bid hearts with three. But I do not want to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and find partner with four diamonds and one heart.

Göran Lindberg: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I saw double as an option but to many bad things can happen. Better just to drop a bomb and hope for the best.

Denis Haynes: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If I double west can bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and cut out my partner.

Alan Jones: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If that's what it means, let's bid it. (Given that this bid is available, anything else would give partner a wrong picture of the hand).

Emil Battista: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Probably should have stuck to my first choice -- double. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) gets shape across but not playing strength.

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The only options seem to be double or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is risky but is the pressure bid, which could gain in many ways.

Boris Richter: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The real value of this hand lies in the exceptional distribution we are holding.

Sydney Frish: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With potentially a 5-loser hand there is a good chance to reach a game with limited support from partner.

There is one problem with the 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid (and it's not that it gets us too high).

Kajsa Larson: Dbl. The bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is maybe better, but I am afraid to miss a good club contract.

Sam Arber: Dbl. Don't want to miss out on club suit so prefer double to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Niek Van Vucht: Dbl. At least 3 card support for any suit partner has. Will raise partner's bid.

Ron Lel: Dbl. The most flexible bid as this really does look like a 3 suiter. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be a close second.

Alvin P. Bluthman: Dbl. The most descriptive call, only two cards from the classic 1-4-4-4. Perhaps a system upgrade: 2NT shows the minors, unless a 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) advance is pulled to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes); then it shows the reds.

That's one good use for 2NT -- panellist Eddie Kantar suggested a different alternative:

Eddie Kantar: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Finally I would get a chance to use 2NT as I think it should be used -- hearts and a minor, a hand not strong enough to jump to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). But then the *&^% footnote tells me it shows the minors. I will not be a happy camper if partner has long clubs.

While double (and Alvin and Edwin's 2NT suggestions) keep the clubs in the game, not all the doublers are on the same page regarding a club contract:

Frank Campbell: Dbl. At least two places to play and at least four hearts. If partner bids clubs I will pull it to hearts.

Jameson Cole: Dbl. Ok, so I've got an extra pair of deuces, it still looks like a takeout double. I plan to follow up with 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If opps go to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and partner doesn't compete, then I'll pass.

Another advantage of double is the possibility of defending:

Eric Leong: Dbl. Why should I give up on getting to a club contract or defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x?

David Matthews: Dbl. What else? 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is too unilateral taking us past 3NT and also preventing partner from applying the axe.

Margaret Reid, Manuel Paulo, Larissa Cowlishaw, Martyn Rew: Dbl. Partner may pass for penalties.

David Davies: Dbl. Red suit internal quality is poor, if partner passes the score may be okay.

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Partner might have a penalty pass, in which case I like the aces. Not quite the suit quality for a vul 3 level overcall and not wanting to force to the 4 level.

Hoi-Ming Chan: Dbl. The hearts and diamonds and horrible for leaping Michaels, and you don't mind defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)X with three aces. Bidding 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on such poor suits doesn't appeal either.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. I'll be a little bit nervous if pard leaves it in but I've got quite good defensive values so could well be OK.

The possibility of defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled is a powerful argument for the double, although some see it as an argument for the other side...

Tim Francis-Wright: Dbl. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could work out well, if partner has a good hand, but there is no guarantee that she does. If she has a good hand, double will often cater to it -- the only real risk is that she will leave it in when we want to be on offense.

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Seems like a good hand for the Leaping Michaels or whatever its called. Bypassing 3NT is a bit of a problem if North shows up with 5 intermediate spades. But, that's balanced by the fear of letting them make 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled!

Ulf Nilsson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). May push us overboard, but at least it puts extra horses in the race. Won't double at the 2-level with a void when alternatives exist.

Robert Black: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I seem to have hearts and diamonds, and do not fancy partner passing a double.

On balance, the arguments for double seem to outweigh those for 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and the panel vote was decisive, 14 votes to 6. 


Hand Three - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT63
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AK62
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 83
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T52


West North East South
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 3839
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 90 3311
3NT 50 149
Pass 30 1024
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20 59
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20 05
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 02

This problem was rejected from the June issue out of fear of a unanimous vote for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I've always thought this was a good problem though, and Larry agreed to give it a run this month. I'm pleased to see the panel supported my at-the-table choice of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes):

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Keep 3NT in the frame.

Ulf Nilsson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not a thing of beauty, but it gives us the best chance of finding a major-suit fit.

Göran Lindberg: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There is no other bid.

Terry Dunne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If I end up playing a Moysian fit, I'll explain to partner that I was showing a stopper...

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think I must do something with AAK as partner has overcalled Vulnerable. Partner will expect a 5 card suit for this but I am stuck and at least this keeps both 3NT and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as options.

Paul Gipson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Truly horrible, but I am not prepared to gamble 3NT so will make the lowest call I can make and hope to survive. At least club ruffs will be in the short hand :)

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On way to slam if partner has short clubs and at least one major.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Enough for one bid; will pass 3NT or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). For another zero.

Emil, the point of bidding forum is NOT to get zero. Lucky for you, you're not very good at it, and you've failed again -- you'll have to settle for another 100.

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At this vulnerability partner should have a nice hand, so I have to bid. I hope to hear 3NT. I will raise 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) to 5. The problematic event is when partner bids spades. Does this show 4 or not? I would bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), assuming that partner is showing a stopper. 

Amiram Millet: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Going forward. Partner is strong. Slam is possible, but 3NT, or 3M might be best.

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Unable to ask for club stopper. If partner repeats diamonds will bid 5; slam may be on if he has singleton club.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping partner can bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3NT. If partner raises, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may have play as the short hand is ruffing the clubs. If partner bids 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I raise to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Hoi-Ming was sitting West on this deal, but understandably does not seem to have recognised the hand from this angle. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Hoi-Ming (age 21) and his partner Leigh Matheson (23), who won their first national open title at the ANC this week (ANC Open Pairs).

Eric Leong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Keeps alive the possibility of game in hearts and spades alive and also 3NT. Since partner didn't double 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and I have three clubs there is a good chance partner is short in one major or long in the other major. Otherwise, partner might be able to bid 3NT with something like Kxx-xx-AKJ10xx-Kx.

Frank Campbell: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looking for 3NT. I have 3 quick tricks so we should be ok to go on in diamonds if partner cannot bid it.

Sydney Frish, Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Ongoing. Maybe pard can bid 3NT.

David Monahan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pre-emptive bids can make thing awkward -- keeping the bidding a simple as possible gives us the best chance of finding our contract despite the lack of bidding space.

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows suit and points allows partner to repeat diamonds or show stoppers for NT.

Kajsa Larson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The problem of having to play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on 4-3 is hopefully not that big, since I probably ruff clubs in dummy.

Tony Treloar: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We are holding close to game values, must give partner the chance to bid 3NT is they hold a club stopper.

The main alternative to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the cue bid. A cue usually shows support for partner's suit, but the panellists see this auction as an exception:

Andrew Robson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). First message of a cue bid in preempt auctions is Choice of Game a la Zia.

Kate McCallum: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Cue-bids above the 2-level don't always promise a fit.

Manuel Paulo: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). To wait and see partner's rebid.

Tim Trahair, Damo Nair, Joe O'Flynn: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If he has a major he will bid that or otherwise subside in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Boris Richter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We can't expect our partner to be holding a stopper, he would have bid 3N. He will be holding a stopper only with some very strong hands where 6N has a play. We have to guess and I am guessing with 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Even after reading the expert arguments for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), I still see this problem as a close choice between 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3NT. Do we really want to be bullied out of 3NT by a preempt from a non-vulnerable 21-year-old Australian?

John R. Mayne: 3NT. You Aussies like to preempt like I do; the 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidder might lead something else.

David Davies: 3NT. Nobody ever has a solid suit for a 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) opener.

Jameson Cole: 3NT. Preempts are rarely solid-suited and East failed to raise, so I think partner has clubs stopped. If I get doubled, I'm going to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Dean Eidler: 3NT. Bid 3NT quickly/confidently. No one has a good suit these days, also no raise.

Ron Landgraff: 3NT. What else! Partner still has a bid. Maybe I'll win the post mortem! After all, how many clubs can they run? I really don't want to hear the answer! 

The answer is 7, but that's not really the point -- one hand proves nothing.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. The choice is a little tricky, as Bridge Baron feels that a bid of any suit should show five or more cards in that suit. So it bids 3NT and hopes it doesn't lose the first six or seven tricks.

Bastiaan Korner: 3NT. How else do I get there?

Unfortunately the panel did not agree, so the 3NT bidders have to settle for a poor 50 point score.

Finally, for those who are unwilling to choose between a four card major, a stopperless notrump, or a directionless space-consuming artificial force, there is one other obvious alternative:

Fred Altstock: Pass. Can't see 3NT or game!

Bill Bennett: Pass. Cannot reasonably expect North to hold solid diamonds plus a club stop. I need another 2 or 3 points to invite game in NT. Have to accept that pre-empts can be effective.

Alvin P. Bluthman, John Furedy: Pass. I assume that, if partner had a four-card major along with his diamonds he would double, not bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Given that constraint, no good advance is available.

Joe Lentz: Pass. It's 3NT or pass. If I had a fitting diamond honor or a club stopper it would be 3NT. I guess I'm a chicken for passing.

Peter Oakley: Pass. Partner is likely to have a club stopper, but 3NT looks too dicey -- and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) must be too high?

Tim Francis-Wright: Pass. There are lots of ways to bid or try for game, but taking our plus might be fine here.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Too flat to push on. I'll take what's probably a positive rather than risk a negative. Maybe that's too wimpish being vul at IMPs - probably should just bid a confident 3NT.

The pass was supported by Stephen Burgess and Peter Fordham, enough to give it an award of 30 points. The full deal:
spades KQ82
hearts Q7
diamonds AJ9765
clubs 3
spades 9
hearts 10843
diamonds 10
clubs AKJ8764
spades J754
hearts J95
diamonds KQ42
clubs Q9
spades A1063
hearts AK62
diamonds 83
clubs 1052

West's uncharacteristic suit quality would have put a quick end to a 3NT contract, but the spade fit was easily uncovered after South's 3hearts response. East, with trump length and the diamonds locked up, felt that 4spades would be a struggle, but the contract made a redoubled overtrick for 1480 points.   

Hand Four - East deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ9
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QJ97
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AT652


West North East South
    2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass
pass dbl pass ?

   * 2NT is Lebensohl, a puppet to 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).
   * Bidding 3
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) directly shows more
        values than going via 2NT.

Call Award %
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1006240
Pass 502431
3NT 401011
2NT 40517
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 001

Before getting into our 4th problem, there is one more systemic issue that needs to be addressed:

Manuel Paulo: 2NT. As I see it, a stronger action than a direct 3NT.

David Hester: 3NT. We need an agreement on which bid shows heart stoppers, this or 2NT first. Lacking one, I go for natural.

Damo Nair: 2NT. What's the difference between a direct 3NT & a Lebensohl approach? Procrastination?

I have to confess, I've played Lebensohl all my life and I've never been comfortable with the distinction between 2NT/3NT and a direct 3NT. Let's bring out the textbooks again:

The Lebensohl Convention Complete by Ron Andersen: A direct jump to 3NT denies a stopper in the enemy suit. Partner will pass with a stopper, or else explore for a better contract. 2NT followed by 3NT shows a stopper, and asks partner to pass.

I don't know how common this distinction is these days, but we've given everyone the benefit of the doubt and awarded 2NT and 3NT the same score.

Zbych Bednarek: 3NT. Bid what you can make.

Fred Altstock: 2NT. I think game is on.

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. Partner should have diamonds stopped.

Tony Treloar: 2NT. How good are partner's doubles of weak 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Close enough to go for game.

Jameson Cole: 2NT. I don't think the clubs are good enough to warrant 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Slow (to 3N) shows a stopper and about these values. Let East lead up to partner.

Peter Oakley: 3NT. Tempted to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to leave partner opportunity to show spades first. But 3NT denies defence possible heart ruffs, so should still be best contract

Sydney Frish: 2NT. Not a game I would bid with enthusiasm but at least I have better than double heart stopper.

Ron Landgraff: 2NT. Shows 10 points and a stopper. If partner was a little light (as he surely can be), it won't be the first time we have been down in 3NT.

Kajsa Larson: 3NT. I follow a rule learned from Jan Lagerman on SyskOn: with QJxx in the opponents suit, bid 3NT even with minimum (with AKxx in the opponents suit, do not bid 3NT even with maximum).

The principle here is that with AK(xx) you have 7 HCP being used to take just two tricks, leaving not many points outside to find the rest of your tricks. With QJxx, you are taking those same two tricks with just 3 HCP, essentially making your hand 4 points stronger.

That's a great tip, although I'm not convinced that this hand is even good enough to be called "minimum" opposite a balancing double. The almost universal opinion was that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was enough to describe our hand:

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3NT looks tempting, but the vulnerability is wrong for bidding close games and West might prefer to lead a diamond against 3NT and not a heart.

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Can't pass 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), my 10 HCP look too good for Lebensohl.

John Furedy: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Considering I'm forced to bid, I've got a nice hand.

Ian Smith: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Expecting to bid 3NT over a diamond response or raising 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 4.

Bill Bennett: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hope partner will either bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or request a heart stop.

Paul Gipson: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I will not hang partner for balancing. He can still ask about a heart stop if strong.

David Matthews: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If EW were Vul I would definitely pass but Non Vul I think it's better to play in game our way in 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Göran Lindberg: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner has very good cards its always best to go middle of the road. Its not up to me to win every board.

Boris Richter: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looks obvious, if partner is stronger we belong in 3NT. In 3NT we can certainly hope to develop some tricks with those spades we are holding and some club tricks as well.

Frank Campbell: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My hand is at least invitational to 3NT which I will bid over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Terry Dunne: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not enough to pass, too much to use Lebensohl and pass 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), not strong enough to use Lebensohl and bid 3NT, right strength and shape to bid a direct 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Roger Yandle: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pard could be balancing with something like Kxxx x Axxx QJxx in which case leaving the double in or unilaterally pushing on to game could be wrong. If he can't bid over 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then we probably haven't missed anything. At MPs I'd be more inclined to leave the double in.

Larissa Cowlishaw: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner hasn't bid yet, could have a good hand -- if partner bids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will go 3NT.

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Showing reasonable values. Don't fancy 2NT and then a 3NT rebid with diamonds wide open. Presumably North has no more than five diamonds otherwise he might have bid them rather than double. If his next bid is 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) then we can chance 3NT.

Amiram Millet: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner's Double is in balancing position. 3NT, and even a black Slam is still possible.

Tim Francis-Wright: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The only problem with 2NT, then 3NT is that partner need not have the Rock of Gibraltar for a balancing double. If she can show extras over 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then I can try 3NT.

Bridge Baron: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This hand doesn't qualify for a penalty pass (make the Two of Clubs a heart, and you've got Bridge Baron's attention.) So Bridge Baron's bid is simple: a natural bid in its longest suit. Bridge Baron feels that it's not particularly close to being weak enough to go through 2NT Lebensohl.

Robert Black: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Too strong for Lebensohl. Hope partner bids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) for my stoppers.

Duncan Roe: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Well over minimum for a first-round pass, with a nice club suit. So bid clubs directly.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Will bid 3NT over partner's 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

A third of the readers chose to defend, showing total disregard for the run of trashy reopening hands that have appeared in this column in recent years.

David Davies: Pass. Heart holding is wasted in non-heart contracts.

Ron Lel: Pass. I rarely pass auctions like this but here I have decent hearts and a diamond stiff. Also the clubs are not that great for a 3NT contract. I just hope I am not hanging partner here.

Barbara Hunter: Pass. A good chance of scoring 500.

I'm looking at the scoring table in the back of my cheat sheet, and I don't see 500 on the list. The only scores listed are 470, 570, 670, etc.  

Emil Battista: Pass. A sure positive. Only fools are certain I am sure of that!

Ulf Nilsson: Pass. Going for the most likely plus score.

John R. Mayne: Pass. Take the money and run.

Margaret Reid: Pass. At least we will have a plus score, Game is doubtful for us (maybe).

Oh I see, you guys are looking at the undertrick table! Yeah, a common mistake, but that's not the right scoring table for this hand. 

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Partner's protective double may be off-shape and quite weak.

Fraser Rew: Pass. Though if it makes partner will stop making modern-style aggressive takeout doubles, which would be a shame. But I don't think that it will so I take a likely big plus. No doubt he'll be 4045 if I pass and 4243 if I pull.

Alan Jones: Pass. On balance we stand to make more in penalties than we can achieve by competing. Anyway, West may decide to rescue!

Alvin P. Bluthman: Pass. I expect to defeat 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X; I need to beat 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X only two tricks to approximate a nil vul game. If partner has the strength for us to make game, all the better - 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X will go for 500 or more. A technical question for bidders, based on how strong you expect partner to be, playing Lebensohl in response to a passed-hand TO dbl, is a direct three-level advance forcing for one round? If partner had not been a balancer, would it force to game?

Eric Leong: Pass. If partner made a light balancing double you are in your right spot. If partner made a balancing double with the type of hand that would have made a direct takeout double of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if given a chance you are not going to lose very much if at all by passing 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x if game makes and if your side can't make game you are a winner. Finally, you are a winner if partner has extras so you can score extra to beat your possible games when slam is very unlikely or iffy.

Bruce Crossman: Pass. Meets the 'rule' of 6 and 4 for a penalty pass with comfortable spade lead. Expect them to be at least 2 off and likely 3 and we may have a mis-fit.

David Monahan: Pass. Rule of 4 and Rule of 6 suggest defense may be our best option.

For those unfamiliar with the rule of 4 and 6 (including me), Roger Yandle has given me the following explanation.
Rule of 4: The number of trump tricks in my hand + the level of the contract must be at least 4.
Rule of 6: My trump length + the level of the contract must be at least 6.

Translated into English: we can beat 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if I have four trumps and two trump tricks. The rule of 4 and 6 doesn't say anything about our making slam though:

Dean Eidler: Pass. Easy pass. If 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) makes cest la vie.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This hand from Bermuda Bowl 2007 -- we can make 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but EW made 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled. It was also in bidding quiz Dutch IMP magazine (summer 2008); 12 passed, six bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

My Dutch is probably not as fluent as your English, so Bastiaan, can you send me a copy of the full deal, and we'll find out what Noorden had for his dubbel. (Postscript: the full deal has now been published in the October issue of the magazine.)

Hand Five - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQJT83
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQJ6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ5


West North East South
  pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass
pass dbl 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ?
Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1002428
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 901916
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)80199
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70145
3NT 201012
Other 009

Bill Bennett: Pass. We must have 28 HCP yet game in a suit looks unlikely. Better for North to be declarer in NT.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Bridge Baron doesn't have a natural 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid in its book, doesn't have a heart stopper, and doesn't have an unbid suit that it would bid when partner will have a chance to bid again. So if 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a psyche, it's paid off against Bridge Baron (unless, of course, West takes a preference to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)!)

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Ouch. I'm tempted to bid spades, but how would partner take that. If 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a stopper ask I'll bid that (it should be, as double can show hearts, and 2NT the minors).

The problem with all the artificial methods abounding these days, today's youth don't recognise a natural bid when they see one! All the (natural) spade bids received some support from the panel and from the readers; let's start at the top:

Sam Arber: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3 loser hand partner should get message . not much needed for slam even though partner is passed hand ,but too hard to find out

Ron Lel: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Natural of course. Again not system induced but up to an understanding with partner. The only real worry here is that I will be forced in Hearts. Hopefully partner has some Heart cards to put paid to that possibility. Even if I am forced I should have a good chance of making on sheer power.

Tim Francis-Wright: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I do not want to get too cute, lest West discover that his bad hand with 1-5 in the majors is in fact quite useful.

Fraser Rew: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What I expect to make. Maybe 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the top spot but opposite a passed partner I just can't see a likely sequence to get there.

4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) does get the message across quite effectively, but wouldn't 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) show much the same thing?

David Matthews: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). After partner has stretched to keep the bidding open I will tell him I have a very strong hand with a good Spade suit. We might still play this in a slam.

David Davies: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Opponents have fallen on their feet and I can't lead a heart so double looks dangerous.

Paul Gipson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Naturalish, showing a stop in spades and will pass 3NT, hoping that partner has a double heart stop. I'd like to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but the hand could collapse on a heart lead through partner.

Naturalish. Well, you do have a stop in spades -- maybe a few stops if the opponents broach the suit for you.

Not surprisingly, the most popular spade bid was 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), taking it slow while we try to decide what to do.

Amiram Millet: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Natural and strong.

Manuel Paulo: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Natural.

John R. Mayne: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Start slow; let's see where we land.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). for sure should be natural on spades, looking for 3nt from prt's hand

Göran Lindberg: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing with stopper in spades.....will be more trouble later i suspect.

Jameson Cole: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't like 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), if I get tapped in hearts and diamonds. If partner has something extra, we may still get to game.

Fred Altstock: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing partner that I have spades under control. Don't think I can bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with four diamonds.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Strong and natural. You have better spades than the opener (who is limited to A9765 or thereabouts), so why not suggest playing in that suit?

Boris Richter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is a very unusual hand. Is partner holding a spade void or more likely 1444 or even more likely 1435. In any event EW are vulnerable and they are not very likely to fool around. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), let's find out where our fit in a minor lies first. Bidding 3NT is too committal.

Dean Eidler: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Very hard problem. Showing a stopper and one round force.

Alan Jones: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We have the balance of points, and spades looks to be our best fit!

Joe O'Flynn: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What will happen if I bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ? It looks like game for us ,but where ? Let's see what partner will do.

Despite all the support for those spade bids, current BF rules state that the top score goes to the single bid with the most votes. So, by the narrowest of margins, top score goes to:

Terry Dunne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Admittedly not the right shape, but the only way I can show the strength of my hand. Even with a minimum takeout double in the passout seat, 3NT from north should play OK.

Ulf Nilsson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Asking for stopper.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Asking to heart stopper for 3NT, also showing a strong hand.

David Monahan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cue bid better indicates my strength and, while my Loser count could be very good - no fit is guaranteed. With a stopper in heart from partner, NT will have a good play especially with such a solid spade suit.

Joe Lentz: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hopefully this forces us to game. God only knows where we will end up.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If North is a bridge player he will bid 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

John Furedy: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If p has a heart stopper (likely), 3NT should be a good bet.

Eric Leong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is never going to play you for this hand so you simply have to take charge and take a view. The best contract is 3NT played by partner when he has something x-Q10xx-Axxx-Kxxx. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) has to be a command to bid 3NT. You show a good hand. You can't have hearts because you would either bid hearts earlier or doubled 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). You can't have a minor or both minors as you would have bid earlier and obviously you have a spade stopper.

Sydney Frish: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Perhaps 3NT seems natural choice - but with East's spades so weak he may cash four hearts and at least images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A when 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be on.

Tim Trahair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Stronger than double and forces North to bid again. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) suggests we are comfortable to play in any other suit or in NT if he has hearts well stopped. Hopefully North will deduce we have values in spades.

Tony Treloar: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Wonder what the penalty on 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be? Partner is very like to have the hearts well stopped on the bidding. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) probably has play anyway although West has length in the minors.

As usual when we throw a freak hand into the forum, there are a wide range of minority bids. The strangest of these is a unilateral leap game in one of the last denominations where you would expect to play a hand like this:

David Hester: 3NT. He cannot have the faintest idea what I hold, so let's make a bid he has to pass. He has about 10 points including (I hope) a double stop in hearts.

Damo Nair: 3NT. North has hearts, I have spades and points. Sounds like 3NT! How rich are we going to get doubling 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)? Something is fishy, I'm bidding what I think I can make. Ok, I'll settle for -3.

Margaret Reid: 3NT. Pard has hearts so NT could be a winner for us.

Martyn Rew: 3NT. Partner must have good heart cover for his double.

Ian Smith: 3NT. With my Heart void I expect partner to have Hearts stopped.

And finally, there's the double. Returning to where we started on Problem One, we have a feeling that we would like to double the opponents, but we have a real problem with trumps. What does a double show in this auction?

Alan Jones: Dbl. We have support for both minors, and partner may well pass for penalty. (Who knows? maybe West will show a preference for spades!)

Barbara Hunter: Dbl. Partner is likely to have hearts if not we are going places in the minors.

Denis Haynes: Dbl. Get partner to show a suit or direction for NT.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. If partner bids a minor, I'll bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) asking for 3NT which will then be played from the right side. If he passes with hearts, we may or may not do well! If he refuses 3NT, we will play a reluctant 5/6 of a minor.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. Looks like E is 5/5 or even 6/6 and pard has balanced on shape. I'm assuming dbl here is for take-out (i.e. short in hearts with spade suit hence no original dbl) but will be reasonably happy if pard decided to leave it in. Hopefully he can overruff W when N tries to get rid of his spades. If pard takes dbl out to a minor then I'll cue bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looking for 3NT.

Bruce Crossman: Dbl. Pard does not have five hearts (would have bid them instead of dbl). East is likely to be 5-5 in majors at this vul. So dbl - if partner passes expect to put them at least two off. Risk is a slam makes if partner has the two vital aces. 

I believe that a double in this situation traditionally shows a penalty double of 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not sure what it says about the other suits, but if we're lucky, we might be able to arrange to defend this hand.

Emil Battista: Dbl. There should be blood on the floor after thirteenth trick. Mine if there is no further Bidding Forum entries.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. Will West jump back in with spades? We could well take them for a bigger number than the minor game would get us.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. Interesting problem. Looks like the opponents have a fit in hearts but if partner is prepared to sit this I can't see where they are going to make 8 tricks. We may be close to a diamond slam but it all depends on partner's next action.

Robert Black: Dbl. Is East wearing a funny hat? Partner's double in 4th seat has not promised 2 heart stoppers, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K to make 6NT. So even 3 off should be a profit.

This problem was provided by a reader, but unfortunately I have lost the details. If anyone wants to lay claim to it, please send me the details so I can publish the full deal and give appropriate credit.

Top scores for August
1Amiram Millet ISR490
2Tony Nunn NSW480
2Joe O'Flynn Vic480
4Michael Wilkinson NSW470
4David Matthews WA470
6Niek Van Vucht 460
6Terry Dunne USA460
8Eric Leong USA450
8Bastiaan Korner NED450
10Paul Gipson GBR440
10Tony Treloar Qld440
12Michael Davy Vic430
12Hoi-Ming Chan 430
12Sam Arber Vic430
15Göran Lindberg 420
16Frank Campbell NSW410
16Paul Janicki CAN410
16Tim Trahair NSW410
16Andrew Thompson NZL410
16Ron Nelken USA410
21Gary Lane NSW400
21Ron Lel LAO400
23Manuel Paulo POR390
23Julian Gauld NSW390
23John Furedy NSW390
23Nigel Guthrie GBR390
23Tim Francis-Wright USA390
23Kajsa Larson 390
23Dean Eidler NZL390
23David Johnson CAN390
23Boris Richter CRO390
32Toby Weinstein USA380
32Arthur Porter SA380
32Ian Patterson Qld380
32Roger Yandle NSW380
32Leon Slonim Vic380
32Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN380
32Ulf Nilsson SWE380
39Andrew Macalister GBR370
39Pravin Nahar NSW370
39Sydney Frish NSW370
39 Fraser Rew GAB 370
39Ian Erratt NSW370
39Zbych Bednarek POL370
45Rainer Herrmann GER360
45Joe Lentz USA360
47Michel Beauchamp 350
47Alan Jones Qld350
47Michael Smart ACT350
47Jameson Cole USA350
47Peter Kahler ACT350
47Larissa Cowlishaw ACT350
53Alexander Cook NSW340
53Paul Tranmer GBR340
53Dominic Connolly 340
53Margaret Reid NSW340
53Martyn Rew NZL340
53Richard Harman 340
53Ian Spight NSW340
53David Monahan NSW340
53Alvin P. Bluthman USA340

Leading scores for 2008
1Ulf Nilsson SWE1830
2Amiram Millet ISR1810
3Rainer Herrmann GER1750
4Terry Dunne USA1740
4Michael Wilkinson NSW1740
6Paul Gipson GBR1700
7Sam Arber Vic1680
8Michael Davy Vic1670
9Frank Campbell NSW1650
9David Matthews WA1650
11Pravin Nahar NSW1640
11Gary Lane NSW1640
13Tim Trahair NSW1630
13Brian Thorp ACT1630
13Boris Richter CRO1630
16Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN1620
17Nigel Guthrie GBR1610
17Peter Stride Qld1610
19Manuel Paulo POR1600
20Tim Francis-Wright USA1590
21Arthur Porter SA1580
22Ian Patterson Qld1570
23Eric Leong USA1560
24Jeff Brokenshire ACT1550
24Ron Landgraff USA1550
24Zbych Bednarek POL1550
24Joe Lentz USA1550
24Roger Yandle NSW1550
29Ron Nelken USA1520
30Ron Lel LAO1500
30Robert Black SA1500
30Peter Tarlinton NSW1500
33Paul Tranmer GBR1490
33Emil Battista NSW1490
33Sydney Frish NSW1490
33Alan Jones Qld1490
37Pat O'Connor NSW1470
37Ian Smith Vic1470
39Derek Pocock WA1460
40David Monahan NSW1450
41Duncan Roe Vic1440
42Leon Slonim Vic1410
42Rick Lu NSW1410
44Peter Klarie Qld1400
44Peter Nolan Vic1400
44David Read NSW1400
47David Hester SA1390
47Ivan Demeny NSW1390
49Kay O'Connor NSW1370
50Julian Gauld NSW1340
50Rick Giles USA1340
52Ian Spight NSW1330
53Bridge Baron USA1320
54Andrew Macalister GBR1300
54Fred Altstock Vic1300
54Tania Black SA1300
57Tony Nunn NSW1280
58Barbara Hunter NSW1270
58Tony Treloar Qld1270
60John Furedy NSW1250
60Denis Haynes ACT1250


Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum. Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the October issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your August issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.