Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- November 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.
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Hand One - East deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ983
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 854
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A7643


West North East South
    pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?

   * North may pass a rebid of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).


Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1006246
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 801918
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 401430
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3054
Other 002

Welcome to the October bidding forum. Our first problem for the month is an interesting novelty, featuring exactly four possible answers, one in each denomination. 

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not enough strength and not a good enough diamond holding for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is an overbid as it is game forcing. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) does not promise six. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an overbid by about a king and a trump.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). How else do we find our club slam?

George Zuber: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). My bidding strength came from shape and unless there is a spade fit or partner has better than opening values game isnít on. So I give my weak bid and see if partner has more to offer. If partner has only limit values and no spade fit, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is where we should be. If partner has more let him say so.

Boris Richter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't have a maximum for a bid like 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and I don't have four card diamond support for a splinter raise but I do have two five card suits and quite possibly a lovely double-fit.

Opening with ten points is not usually popular with the readers, but there don't seem to be many objections to opening this hand, with valuations ranging from minimum, to game force, to slam try. There were some objections to the choice of opening though:

Robert Black: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I meant to open 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)!

Paul Tranmer: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I HATE that opening bid! Surely 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would have been better? I'm now endplayed to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and pray a wheel or two doesn't fall off.

GŲran Lindberg: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To open 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on this hand is stupid. 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a better choice... or pass.

Gee, that's a bit harsh. I don't know if stupid is the right word... but you did have a bit of support from the magazine's expert panel:

Eddie Kantar: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Why didn't I open this hand 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if I was going to open at all?

Bob Jones: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If I opened this hand, I would open 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Having chosen to open 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), several readers feel that we are now too weak to do anything else but rebid our 5-card suit:

Paul Gipson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Better to show a minimum than do anything that might over-excite partner at this stage. Raising diamonds does depend on system a little (strong 2-4-4-3 hands start with 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)) but xxx is not a great holding.

Bridge Baron: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bridge Baron has a minimum opening hand. It can't bid notrump with a heart void. It can't raise to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with only three-card support for a minor. It can't bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) without more strength. Thus it sees 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as its only bid.

Eric Leong: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I have to keep the bidding open and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) are all highly misdescriptive.

Rex Fox: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pard usually promises another bid, spades are OK to try 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Erin Tewes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't think this is enough for a game force.

Duncan Roe: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Really, I wish I hadn't opened. In the old days, I would have bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show a minimum -- but that promises 6 of them nowadays, doesn't it?

No, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doesn't promise six -- but 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) does promise a game force! As much as I usually hate rebidding 5-card suits, it is perfectly normal to do so in 2 over 1 auctions when you can't afford anything else. Partner will be well aware that you may simply be too weak to bid your 2nd suit.  

Jim Thatcher: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Spades are not strong enough to rebid.

Fred Altstock: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Have to show some clubs, but probably wouldn't have opened light.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Show shape with a weak hand; over any rebid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (could be 5134 or 5035).

Stephen Bartos: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Don't know enough about the quality of partner's hand yet; will pass if she rebids diamonds.

Partner will not be amused at that double-cross; even in 1950s Acol, that auction must be 100% forcing. And even if partner weren't unlimited, I'd still be content to have a shot at game opposite a minimum 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid such as x-xxxx-AQJxxx-Kx. Further, the opponents' silence, with their known heart fit, makes it even less likely that partner is minimum:

Amiram Millet: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has only 10 HCP, opponents are going to overcall (they have at least nine hearts), so this is the first step on finding where we belong.

Most of the 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders were aware that the bid was game forcing, but thought the hand was up to the job:

Kristian Frimer: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Donít think I am strong enough to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), even though I know 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is game forcing. If partner bids 3NT or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I will support his diamonds.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I suppose it is somewhat against the rules, but what else?

Ron Landgraff: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Must look for game, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or even 3NT.

Damo Nair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is a decent hand with good controls and North bid diamonds, not hearts.

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Seems a good description of our hand. If North now bids hearts, 4th suit forcing, we will revert to spades and hope we find a reasonable contract.

Frank Campbell: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Donít like to support diamonds yet with only a poor 3 card suit. I intend to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over either 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3NT but at this point either of my suits may be our right spot.

John Furedy: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Need to communicate shape, and though short of HCP, void in hearts should compensate.

David Monahan: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Now partner knows I am distributional and if he/she rebids diamonds, or 4th suit forcing, I will show my interest in game (or better) in diamonds.

It seems clear that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is an overbid. On the one hand, having opened a 10-count it is tempting to try to slow down the auction with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). On the other hand, we opened this hand because of its great potential opposite a fit. So aren't we selling ourselves short if give up on the search for that fit?

It looks like we need a way to search for a fit without forcing to game. Top score:

Sydney Frish: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I opened a 10 HCP shapely hand vulnerable. To bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would give the wrong information and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may prompt partner with a good hand to go over the top.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is misdescriptive, anything else is too much of an overbid, but I prefer 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to a splinter.

Tony Treloar: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't like it, but it seems the best option.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner passes with about 11 points than we are in the right partscore. If partner bids 3NT then I will take it out to the safer 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). In pursuit of a plus score.

John & Jennie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). North has 10+ HCP and at least 5 diamonds so support the diamonds with your 15 total points.

Ron Lel: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This is a matter of style. Some people play that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) show extra values (as do I). For those, there is only one bid Ė 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Personally I think this style is sensible in a 2/1 system; I have always wondered how those who don't play this can show extra strength without getting too high.

Well, with respect to the 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, the answer is simple -- they can't. The 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders will land on their feet occasionally, but most of the time they will find themselves in deep water. However, I don't think the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid falls into the same category. In the age of "support with support", I would hate to play a system that prevents me from supporting my partner with a minimum hand.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With the fit, this hand is worth about 15 points, which seems to be at about the top of the "passable" raise to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) in your system. Here in America, neither the 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) nor 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebids could be passed, even in a partnership that allows itself to pass responder's 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid in a sequence such as 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes); 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Sam Arber: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not strong enough to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), if partner passes 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) probably best spot.

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too weak for anything else.

Tim Francis-Wright: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) has some merit, but it understates my diamond support. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be better if I had a fourth diamond. (Opposite 10-11 HCP and long diamonds, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is not that great a contract on balance.) If I bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and partner makes another move, then I will be fine, either because she has extra values or because she has spade tolerance.

Pat O'Connor: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What a heartless auction!

Roger Yandle: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard will expect 4 but my void in hearts makes up for it - pard should have 5 diamonds unless 2443. If she can't bid on after 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) then we're probably (hopefully) at the right level.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). My support is not long enough to justify a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) splinter bid, but I must raise.

Leading to our final, and most extreme option: the 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) splinter. This received virtually no support from the readers, and just one vote from the expert panel:

Kate McCallum: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will be the right move when there's a diamond slam, but will get us way too high when partner's hand is something more normal like xx-KQTx-AQxx-Jxx. Even 3NT may be too high facing that sort of hand, but it probably has a shot. I wouldn't quarrel with a non-forcing 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) -- that could easily be our last plus score.

Ulf Nilsson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Three small is not enough support for a splinter raise. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is more encouraging than 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tom Moss: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Diamonds not good enough for a splinter. Partner would expect a diamond honour.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not strong enough to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). In US would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Barbara Hunter, David Matthews: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Really not strong enough for a splinter so will just give support. Will see what partner does over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Terry Dunne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). In my view, we would need either an extra diamond or more strength to splinter. Similarly, we're not really strong enough for 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Whoever is bidding 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) can't count...and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the only other bid I can think of.

The full deal:
spades 652
hearts A1093
diamonds AKQ63
clubs J
spades 1074
hearts J752
diamonds J1092
clubs KQ
spades KJ
hearts KQ864 
diamonds 7
clubs 109852
spades AQ983
hearts ---
diamonds 854
clubs A7643

Hand Two - South deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQ5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QT86
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) T973
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q4


West North East South
pass 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
1NT * 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?

   * 1NT is for takeout.

Call Award %
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1005749
Dbl 40515

On our next problem, we were just about to bid to our normal 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) contract for an undoubtedly flat board. Then the opponents stepped in and provided us with a bunch of different options. Which should we choose?

Barbara Hunter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think this is safer than 3NT.

Sydney Frish: 3NT. Looks safer than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) -- and would help partner if EW should try 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. Either game looks unlikely; on the other hand, East should not make nine tricks.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. Points in the oppís suit with weak hand, and nothing that we haven't shown already.

First, let's look at 3NT. The great thing about 3NT is "partner can convert when it's right". Good old partner, always knows what to do.

Sam Arber: 3NT. Balanced hand, let partner judge.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. Stoppers in spades, at least suggest the alternative contract, partner can convert with the right hand.

David Monahan: 3NT. Shows the balanced nature of my hand and my stoppers giving partner a choice if unbalanced/distributional.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3NT. Close choice between 3NT and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT is a choice of games-partner can convert to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) when it's right.

Leigh Matheson: 3NT. 9 tricks are easier than 10. With a shortage partner can pull it to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

I kind of agree, but with some trepidation. Is it really right for North to pull with a shortage? Both opponents bid the suit, you showed a stopper; he probably thinks you already know about his shortage. Besides, I'd be more worried if partner doesn't have a spade shortage; that would mean his shortage is somewhere else...

Robert Black: 3NT. 9 tricks might be easier than 10 -- if they do not discover my diamond secret.

Terry Dunne: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I guess the cool kids will bid 3NT. But me ... I couldn't stand the "explanation" from partner that I need a stopper in all of their suits to bid no trumps.

Boris Richter: 3NT. Good intermediate cards for the only possible game.

"Only possible game" seems a bit much -- don't we have an 8-card heart fit and 26 points? Actually, maybe we don't...

George Zuber: Pass. We're a max of 23 points and a heart fit ... not enough for game in hearts or NT. They're vul with a max of 17, split 10-11 and 6-7 with 5 spades given the optional 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good chance to take them off, so itís either a pass or penalty double for me.

George is either assuming that 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a preemptive raise, not invitational; or else he is simply downgrading his hand because of the spade wastage. Both reasonable positions, both with some support from the other passers:

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Partner's jump raise sounds more distributional and worried about spades than strong. I would not be surprised if 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Defending may be best with better support for LHO's suits than for partner's. Double a second choice.

Alvin P. Bluthman: Pass. I have one to two tricks, and think I need more to double. For offense, too much of my values are in the opponents' suit, opposite a partner who must be short.

Ulf Nilsson: Pass. Do not expect both clubs and hearts to be breaking on this auction. Partnerís bid is based on shape rather than strength as no X of 1NT.

GŲran Lindberg: Pass. My values say "no bid" and I usually listen.

Jim Thatcher: Pass. Opponents are at the three level.

Rex Fox: Pass. Values look soft, defend.

Given that we were about to bid a game and our vulnerable opponents have ventured to the 3-level, taking our compensation at 100 per trick seems a little pessimistic to me. Taking the more aggressive route:

Amiram Millet: Dbl. Suggesting a punish. Can't find a better action.

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Can see plenty of penalty points for us.

Tim Francis-Wright: Dbl. Either someone just found a hidden Ace or they are going down.

David Matthews: Dbl. Opponents could be in trouble here so will suggest penalty to partner.

Despite all of the above, an undeniable majority opted to just ignore the intervention:

Margaret Reid: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have enough for game.

Joe O'Flynn: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I like our fit.

Roger Yandle: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At MPs I'd be tempted to dbl 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looks like a positive score after partner's jump raise.

Emil Battista: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double a close alternative.

Eric Leong: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There is a good chance the opponents are going to sacrifice in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If not 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should have some kind of play.

Tim Trahair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double is tempting but we could be in trouble if we find them with a double fit in spades and diamonds. 3NT also has attractions but we may find our images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) cover evaporates quickly. North presumably is short in Ss and his HCP must be elsewhere.

Bastiaan Korner: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hand looks bad but the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q and all these tens and nines may help.

Duncan Roe: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I interpret 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as meaning "go to 4 with extra values, partner". My heart suit could be worse, and I could have had less points and still bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) last time.

John Furedy: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looks to be a better chance than 3NT with 2 likely tricks in hearts on a spade lead.

Ron Lel: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not getting into the trap of bidding 3NT on this hand (the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)T was a cute card Brad).

John & Jennie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opener is showing a 4 card fit for images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with 16-18 TP. With 10 TP in hand we are good for game.

Frank Campbell: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has jumped so this seems automatic.

Barbara Whitmee: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner should have about six loses for the jump rebid. I have three winners so making four hearts is a good chance.

One advantage of 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the possibility of a 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) sacrifice (assuming we can beat that):

Damo Nair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I can't imagine getting rich with these soft controls in 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x. Besides, there's a small chance that they'll bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is the easy bid, the problem may be on the next round over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ron Landgraff: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is probably making. I'll double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is not making we will likely make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Tranmer: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should be a safe make, and I'll double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if they bid it.

There are a lot of variables to consider in this problem, and the problem with bridge is we don't have time to properly evaluate them all at the table. Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, we can now approach these problems more scientifically:

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Bridge Baron projects that doubling will result in an average score of +111.5, and bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will result in an average score of +156.3... yet it doubles! Why? Bridge Baron assumes that South will be faced with the same decision at the other table, and so it calculates the average IMP gain or loss for each action. It projects that doubling will gain +0.46 IMPs, on average, over bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), even though the average score for doubling is less than the average score for bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). To see how this can happen, consider, by way of example, these simulation results on three deals: 500 vs -50 (11 IMPs), -960 vs -50 (-14 IMPs), 200 vs -50 (6 IMPs). The average score for doubling is -86.67, and the average score for bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is -50, yet on these three deals, the average gain for doubling instead of bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is +1 IMP.

Problem solved. The full deal:
spades 3
hearts K543
diamonds Q52
clubs AKJ73
spades J10642
hearts 9
diamonds AK864
clubs 108
spades A987
hearts AJ72 
diamonds J
clubs 9652
spades KQ5
hearts Q1086
diamonds 10973
clubs Q4

3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) can be made, although several pairs failed to make nine tricks. Only three NS pairs (out of 13) competed beyond 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes): two of these played in the making 3NT, while the third went three off in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Hand Three - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AK
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T874
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K94
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ73


West North East South
  1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
pass 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) *
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?

   * 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is 4th suit, an artificial game force.


Call Award %
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 6232
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 299
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90 58
3NT 50 539
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 03
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20 05
4NT 10 04

Emil Battista: 3NT. My heart bid should inhibit a heart lead!

Sydney Frish: 3NT. Not likely to get a heart lead, all else should be safe.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Bridge Baron wants a bit more strength to really think about a minor slam. It doesn't really recognize the possibility that it has the perfect hand for slam, with fitting honors in partner's suits and partner's potential shortness in hearts. So with spades stopped, it simply bids 3NT.

Problem Three is this month's swing generator, with 39% of readers opting for the 3NT bid. Strangely, many of them had the same comment about why their choice was wrong!

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Happy to be in game. Hearts aren't that crash hot.

Terry Dunne: 3NT. Yes, hearts are likely to be a problem. Still, most defenders will lead a spade...

Tim Trahair: 3NT. If we are lucky partner may have a heart honour. We may well scramble home with 9 tricks before they remove our spade cover.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. My hand is better for 3NT. Hopefully my hearts are good enough.

Ron Landgraff: 3NT. What else! Looks like 6 diamonds, 2 spades and a club. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) just directs the lead!

Sure, assuming the hearts do survive (unlikely), I wouldn't expect 3NT to present a challenge. But this is a bidding forum -- we expect more from our readers than just pedestrian games.

Amiram Millet: 3NT. If partner is going on we'll find our best slam or 5m. 3NT might be our best spot.

Kristian Frimer: 3NT. Nothing else to bid? partner has shown 12-18 and if he has max he will bid again after 3NT.

Really? Can partner really be expected to guess that we have concealed AJxx and Kxx support for his suits? Would he move again with xxx-x-AQJxx-KQxx? That's barely an opening bid in the first place.

Let's face it: this is a slam hand. The point of the problem is simply to determine the best way to get there.

Erin Tewes: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Cue, find out what kind of hearts he has. If two small, play in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). He canít have 3 small or he would have opened 1NT (strong) or raised to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (weak).

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing pard to bid again. I don't like my heart stopper.

Ron Lel: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Starting with 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show my images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) stopper and will hear what happens. If partner bids 3NT I will pass; if he bids 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I will bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) hoping to hear 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We have a double minor fit. Partner may have raised hearts with 3 of them so partner is likely to have a heart shortage. Slam may even be on the cards.

My concern with the cuebid is, as usual, that I don't really know what it means. Does it explicitly agree diamonds? If not, the remainder of this auction will be murky at best. Much better to keep things simple:

Rex Fox: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Set trumps, looking for a heart singleton or void. If pard has a good minimum say xx x AQxxxx KQxx then slam is cold.

Ken Berry: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looking for slam.

Damo Nair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Just setting trumps. All we have to decide is whether there's a slam on or not. North with 6 diamonds and 4 clubs needs to show a control for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No rush to show the spade controls, let's set the trump suit and take it from there.

Manuel Paulo: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This raise defines the strain, and asks for control bidding.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Lack of spade stops and heart support could be good news.

Boris Richter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Seemingly a lovely double-fit.

Roger Yandle: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My hand looks good opposite partner's shapely minor 2 suiter. I'll make a slam try (prefer 4-4 clubs than 5-3 diamonds). Hopefully pard has longer spades than hearts. At MPs bypassing 3NT would be much harder.

Tim Francis-Wright: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). At matchpoints, I would be worried about going past 3NT if it turns out slam is not in the cards, but at IMPs I just want to get the cuebidding started. As for which minor to suggest as a strain, clubs may turn out better if partner needs to ruff hearts in her hand.

Sam Arber: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 4-4 fit may be better than 5-3 or 6-3 diamond fit.

Sometimes a 4-4 fit is better than a 5-3, because playing in the 4-4 fit you can show a profit by taking ruffs in the 54 hand. However, that is only useful when we have losers in both side suits (hearts and spades).

Try it and see: whatever shape North has, there is no profit in using North's clubs to ruff hearts. It will simply result in an endgame where our spade winners crash on partner's diamond winners. (If we had some losers in spades, it would be a different story).

Even though there is no advantage to playing in clubs, setting clubs as trumps does give partner an easy chance to cue 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ulf Nilsson (similarly Zbych Bednarek): 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Although we belong in diamonds, it's better to set clubs as trumps. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will pinpoint the hearts. If we start with 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), partner might be in a jam with empty spades and short hearts. We'll never be able to sort it out with any accuracy.

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Time to set the trump suit to be followed by cue-bids.

David Matthews: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I am interested in slam so will just give preference at this point. Really depends on partner's heart holding or lack of it.

Paul Tranmer: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). As the right 11 count would make 7images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) frigid, we'll proceed slowly here and hopefully exchange lots of cue bids to determine the right level.

The initial 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid came in for a bit of criticism:

Eric Leong: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Setting trumps and checking to see if I can coax a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid from partner. I think the 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid with a weak suit and a possible slam oriented hand is a poor systemic choice to respond with.

Tom Moss: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Very suitable for a potential slam if part can control hearts. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may have been more informative than 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

GŲran Lindberg: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was a big error. Hearts will still be in the picture after a direct 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid. I would rather see partner splinter hearts on my 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Now Iím making a slam-try but partner is in a fog.

I do agree, my 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid was an error. In an attempt to make up for this hand, I have now stopped responding 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with a good hand and a weak suit. So far my new policy has shown a small loss -- I've missed two 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) games, one of which would have failed!

David Monahan: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Acknowledge the 4-4 fit and wait to see what partner wants to do after the game force. Partner is clearly short in hearts (probably 4522 or 4513 or possibly 6 card diamond suit) and while 3NT describes my balanced hand, we could easily lose 5 or 6 tricks in NT.

Bastiaan Korner: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Could even be a grand slam; all points seem to be working.

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Does 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) promise extra length (or stuck for a bid)?

Stuck for a bid.

Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Presumably this is stronger than 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), hopefully this invites partner to start cue-bidding and we can find out if pard has 2 quick heart losers

Duncan Roe: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Show my preferred strain. Don't leap to 5 straight away, partner might have slam interest.

Correct. However, we do have 12% of the readers going off on their own with a jump straight to game. I'm not sure exactly what a jump to 5-minor means in a game forcing auction, but those who included a comment seemed to intend the jump as a signoff.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner is 6-4, with a heart singleton (or void), we have a slam, but I don't know how to find out. So, I bid conservatively, to secure my plus score. Certainly, bidding 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is not the way to start, especially as I do not want to find heart support, but rather a shortage opposite. How about a 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid on the first round?

George Zuber: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner is not much more than an opening bid with minor shape exposing us in hearts for a NT game call. Want to be in game and prefer the min 4-4 in clubs to diamonds. Partner still has an option but I doubt he will exercise it.

John & Jennie: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 16 total points plus opener's 12 is good for game in diamonds. Hearts are too weak for 3NT.

Barbara Hunter: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner looks like 6 diamonds & maybe 4 clubs so I think 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the best place.

John Furedy: 4NT. At IMPs, if partner has at least one more ace, 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks like a good bet.

4NT will probably get you to a good spot, but there are two flaws: (1) partner is unable to use any restraint with an unsuitable hand, and (2) we don't know for certain about the heart shortage yet.

The full deal:
spades J6
hearts K
diamonds AJ8653
clubs Q952
spades Q974
hearts AQJ63
diamonds Q7
clubs 86
spades 108532
hearts 952 
diamonds 102
clubs K104
spades AK
hearts 10874
diamonds K94
clubs AJ73

South bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and stopped in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), making 11 tricks. All other pairs played in either 3NT (also making) or a diamond partscore (at the tables where North failed to open).

Hand Four - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QT3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T94
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q5
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q9862


West North East South
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass
pass dbl pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 1005265
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 903329
4NT 90103
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1003

Bridge Baron: Pass. Bridge Baron doesn't even simulate partner's double unless there's an "obvious" reason to do so, which at this vulnerability would require five-card support for partner. So it simply passes.

John & Jennie: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner probably void in spades so bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) says partner's TP = 25 plus my 7 TP in hand = 32.

I love accountants. They have a skill set that I will never be able to grasp, and they are willing (in exchange for large amounts of money) to manage those parts of my life with which I just can't be bothered. But bridge and accountancy are very different professions. Do you really think your images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q are worth exactly 2 points each?

HCPs are not the answer. So how do you solve a problem like this?

Paul Gipson: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If in doubt, bid one more.

John Furedy: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Using principle of bid one more.

Rainer Herrmann: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). When in doubt bid one more.

I don't know what is the opposite of an accountant, but those guys are the opposite of an accountant. But that's not the answer either.

One tool which many find useful is the concept of ODR (offensive to defensive ratio). This is discussed in great detail in one of my favourite books, Partnership Bidding at Bridge by Andrew Robson and Oliver Segal. It's a combination of high-card strength, shape, distribution of values, and type of values. ODR is a tricky concept, and not everyone agrees how to interpret it...

David Monahan: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). High ODR, hand is better suited to play in our suit where my queens may be of help.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. My hand, with low honours and high spots, looks more defensive than offensive.

For the record, here is Robson's answer from the magazine:

Andrew Robson: Pass. Probably wrong in practice but it does look like down one - down one, a nine imp difference. Who knows, my images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)10 may be something in defence.

GŲran Lindberg: Pass. This is one of those "on the job" decisions. Some of them are wrong.

The key questions, obviously, are (1) can we make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and (2) can they make 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? If the answer to either question might be Yes, then we should probably bid.

Question 1: can we make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)? Some say yes...

Tony Treloar: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be setting by a trick or so, but have to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in case either contract is making.

David Matthews: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Certainly can't leave 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled with partner void in spades. There should be a reasonable play for 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Boris Richter: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looks like an obvious pass, the thing is however that I just hate passing with partner's likely void in our opponents' suit and anyway 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will make on a good day, anything more than this is probably suicidal.

... and some say no ...

Fred Altstock: Pass. Can't make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so letís go for penalties.

Hoi-Ming Chan: Pass looks normal. 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may go down.

Rex Fox: Pass. Does not look like this hand has much help to make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), hope 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) fails

Ulf Nilsson: Pass. 4 tricks likely easier than 11 with my queens, although the length in hearts is a bit bothersome.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I didn't bid over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) so can hardly do so now.

Question 2: can they make 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? Some say yes...

Stephen Bartos: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Canít see any defensive tricks in this hand - so better to go on the attack.

Damo Nair: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have useful cards for north, outside spades that is. I'm also afraid that 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may make.

Ron Landgraff: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't like it but 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is much too likely to make. We could easily have no defense in spades or hearts.

Tania Black: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have 11 hearts, and I have possibly only one defensive trick.

Margaret Reid: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not much defence here so will support pard.

David Read: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No defence to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has a void

Paul Tranmer: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). As it's not clear as yet who can make what, I'd prefer pard to declare than us to defend!

... and some say no ...

Erin Tewes: Pass. Hopefully we can make at least 3 aces and my spade. Don't know what hearts will make.

Sam Arber: Pass. Partner must have outside values. At IMPs pass at MPs may bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Barbara Hunter: Pass. Have a few points so think best to leave the double in.

Tim Francis-Wright: Pass. And lead trumps.

Emil Battista: Pass. My trump holding should provide an extra trick for us.

Alvin P. Bluthman: Pass. Partner's double should be penalty-oriented, because he is bidding over a raised pre-empt, but I don't think he can have much trump length. So, he must have some prime cashable honour cards, and my trumps may be the setting trick.

Terry Dunne: Pass. Partner has extras and we still don't. It must be easier to get 4 tricks in spades than 11 in hearts. Hopefully our queens can provide a trick on defence. On a good day, partner will have the diamond AK.

Duncan Roe: Pass. I think partner's double means business. My spade holding may help. Don't like the 5 level.

Duncan was not alone in thinking that the double was straight penalty, based on the system notes which say "takeout doubles to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)":

Tim Trahair: Pass. The system says double up to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is for takeout, so this double is for penalties. We don't have much to help North but might glean a spade trick and be able to help in the minors. Unlikely to make as many as two heart tricks in defence.

Robert Black: Pass. If partner has a spade void and his double was for takeout we shall need to discuss the system.

Certainly we do need to have a word about system. If you're expecting a spade stack in partner's hand, it might be useful to go back and have another look at the auction.

Yes, we do play takeout doubles to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and negative doubles to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). However, partner's bid is not a regular takeout double, nor a negative double. It is a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) overcall. The fact that it takes the form of an X on the bidding sheet, that can't take back the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid. It just means it's a good 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) overcall.

George Zuber: Pass. My system has the option of penalty double or 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) exercised only immediately seated after the 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partnerís double is therefore for penalty only.

Still, in the end, this problem is really just another search for a plus score:

Roger Yandle: Pass. I've got a balanced hand with probably one defensive trick so defending looks like the best way to get a positive score.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. Easier take 4 tricks in defence than 11 for our own game ... plusses on your side in scoresheets (even +100) better than -100.

The hand is from a recent World Championship. North held void-AKQJ54-J642-AK7, so both games are actually making for a potential double game swing. It has been suggested that North would have done better to bid 4NT over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), instead of doubling.

Hand Five - West deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQ3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 73
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A9763


West North East South
1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?

   * 1NT by South would be natural.


Call Award %
1NT 903817
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 40019
Other 001

Obviously the decision on this board is simply "to bid or not to bid". Our point count argues for bidding, our shape and suit quality argues against.

If we choose to bid, 1NT is a straightforward option:

Emil Battista: 1NT. Making it easy for partner to judge what to do next.

Paul Gipson: 1NT. I'd rather get my values across than double without four hearts.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 1NT. And hoping that partner has clubs, so that I can run seven tricks.

Kay O'Connor: 1NT. May as well announce my point range and make it easier for everyone. Partner can't have enough to get carried away.

Frank Campbell: 1NT. With a balanced 16 count I can hardly do otherwise. The club suit is too poor to bid.

Barbara Whitmee: 1NT. Shows my points. Don't want to bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with only one honour in the suit. Could pass I suppose, and if they stop bidding at the two level then I could bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

One concern about 1NT is our lack of stopper in the opponent's suit:

Michael Smart: 1NT. Most descriptive game-going bid. Buy pard a drink when they cash 5 diamonds.

Sam Arber: 1NT. Seems best bid even without a diamond stopper.

Damo Nair: 1NT. What else? If I wait around to have a diamond honour to bid 1NT in these situations it will only be after I've lost many IMPs.

Rainer Herrmann: 1NT. This could be bloody. But if you deem 1NT too risky then why do you have this agreement in the first place?

As always, there is danger in 1NT; even more so when both opponents are bidding. Several people felt that the danger could be easily controlled:

Barbara Hunter: 1NT. You canít get into too much trouble partner can always transfer I hope.

David Matthews: 1NT. Although 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or double might be right at least 1NT right sides the hand and gets it off my chest leaving partner to judge what to do next. If I'm doubled I can still pull it to 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

The readers' majority felt that 1NT was too dangerous, and voted strongly in favour of silence:

Boris Richter: Pass. A lovely pass :)

Hoi-Ming Chan: Pass. Given the opponents are vulnerable, they probably have their values. Dbl would require an extra heart, and 1NT is risky. 1NT may work out, but call me chicken: I'm passing.

Hoi-Ming Chan (2nd answer): Dbl. Too strong to pass, and bidding 1NT without a diamond stopper seems wrong. The AQ should compensate for the lack of a 4th heart.

Peter Oakley: Pass. Not a good time to show my strength - let's hear more first?

Amiram Millet: Pass. Partner might have less than 5 HCP. I have a flat hand. IMP, not Vul. I'm taking the low road.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. I am not in a hurry to enter the auction.

Some of the passers felt that there were bigger things in their future...

Tim Francis-Wright: Pass. I have three Aces, but the hand gets worse--a lot worse--after that. My best plan is to stay quiet and wait for 4 tricks on defense.

Tony Treloar: Pass. Let's see where they go.

Rex Fox: Pass. Looks like defence is more attractive opposite 5 points or less. Pard will try to overcall on any semi decent suit.

Tom Moss: Pass. For now.

Eric Leong: Pass. Pass for now. Double for later.

Margaret Reid: Pass. Forcing auction here -- maybe they will get too high (hope so) we are not going anywhere as not much left for pard.

Terry Dunne: Pass. Taking them off in 1NT or 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) at 100 per trick is surely our best chance.

David Monahan: Pass. Too dangerous to bid - better to wait and see if we can try and get a good plus in defeating their vulnerable contract.

Sydney Frish: Pass. The auction is not over yet -- so why warn EW early?

Jim Thatcher: Pass. The auction should continue for at least one more round.

Despite receiving only two votes from the panel (Tim Bourke and Paul Yovich), the Pass has been upgraded to 60 points. While on the topic of upgrades...

A comment I frequently hear from readers is "Why doesn't the moderator have the freedom to upgrade bids that are overlooked by the panel". Well, the fact is that Phil Gue and Peter Smith often upgrade the bids they like, and I sometimes apply further upgrades after I read their column (including adding scores for the bids that received no panel support at all).

However, please bear in mind that if the expert panel completely ignores your choice, it's not because they didn't think of it -- it's because they didn't like it. Having said that...  here's 40 points for:

John Furedy: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). What else, given a five card suit?

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A good description of our hand but perhaps not its strength. If we double that is a better description of our strength -- but would prefer to have four hearts.

Ron Lel: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Actually close to passing this, but people respond on such rubbish these days. I don't care which of the "expert" panel bids 1NT. That is an awful bid and I wouldn't even bid it with a diamond stopper; I have no source of tricks. 

Ron, the panel agree with you that 1NT is not the right bid. Unfortunately they're not on the same page with respect to the 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bid what you have... 1NT is bad without a stopper in diamonds, double is worse (you wont be able show your clubs over the opponentís expected 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)).

Bridge Baron: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Obviously strong enough to overcall, but with each partnership having about half the strength, there's no need to do anything forceful, at least not until hearing from partner. Bridge Baron won't double on this auction with fewer than four hearts.

George Zuber: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Despite my strength partner has max of 4 points. We're not going anywhere so 1NT would be folly. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) for me.

Paul Tranmer: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This bid shows a good hand as pard has passed the 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opening bid. I have absolutely no sympathy for anybody who bids 1NT here. It's a tired old trick that seldom, if ever, works.

Fred Altstock: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With partner not bidding letís just bring in 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to see what develops.

But the top score, with a clear majority of the expert panel, goes to the basic takeout double. A call that is rarely attempted in this sequence without four hearts, but the panel felt it was the safest action on this occasion:

Roger Yandle: Dbl. I'd like to have 4 hearts but you can't have everything.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Owe partner a heart.

Ulf Nilsson: Dbl. Gives us a shot at competing without sticking our neck out too far.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Most flexible without much risk. If they bid on in spades and pard passes, I'll consider 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

John & Jennie: Dbl. No images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) stopper so can't bid 1NT so double for takeout.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. Plenty of points and no special suit preference. They opened diamonds so North is unlikely to respond in that suit - would bid NT if he did anyway.

Tania Black: Dbl. There should be a play for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 1NT.

GŲran Lindberg: Dbl. Canít say Iím proud of my bid, but it's better then pass. I envy the 1NT-bidders and feel a bit gutless.

There's no reason not to proud of that choice Goran -- it gives you the chance of playing in any of three denominations, which in turns minimises the danger of running into a penalty. A worthy winner.

The full deal:
spades 82
hearts 97642
diamonds QJ8
clubs 1042
spades 9764
hearts K8
diamonds AK1096
clubs Q8
spades KJ105
hearts J105 
diamonds 542
clubs KJ5
spades AQ3
hearts AQ3
diamonds 73
clubs A9763

Thanks very much for all your answers and comments; I'll see you again in early December for our final forum of the year, where we announce the winners for the 2008 Readers' Race. Meanwhile, here are the totals so far (don't give up, Ulf might forget to put in his answers next month...)

Top scores for August
1Peter Wong 500
2Roger Yandle NSW500
3Tony Nunn NSW490
4Michael Smart ACT480
5Ken Berry NSW480
6Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN470
7Sam Arber Vic470
8David Johnson CAN470
9Sid Kanter USA460
10Paul Gipson GBR460
11Andrew Macalidter 460
12Erin Tewes ACT460
13Tom Moss NSW460
14Rosalind Dey 450
15Trish Whitton NSW450
16Margaret Reid NSW450
17GŲran Lindberg 450
18Ulf Nilsson SWE450
19Toby Weinstein USA450
20Brian Thorp ACT450
21Duncan Roe Vic440
22Nigel Guthrie GBR440
23Joe Lentz USA440
24Ian Erratt NSW440
25Andrew Thompson NZL440
26Bastiaan Korner NED440
27Joe O'Flynn Vic430
28Barbara Whitmee Qld430
29Tony Treloar Qld430
30Ian Spight NSW430
31Paul Tranmer GBR430
32Rainer Herrmann GER430
33Ron Lel LAO430
34Eric Leong USA430
35Damo Nair USA420
36Gary Lane NSW420
37Arthur Porter SA420
38David Matthews WA420
39Kajsa Larson SWE420
40Michael Davy Vic410
41Pravin Nahar NSW410
42Terry Dunne USA410
43Robert Black SA410
44Peter Tarlinton NSW410
45Manuel Paulo POR400
46Tim Francis-Wright USA400
47David Davies GBR400
48Pat O'Connor NSW400
49Michael Wilkinson NSW400
50John R. Mayne 390
51Sydney Frish NSW390
52Marion Carney NSW390
53Barbara Hunter NSW390
54Dee Reynolds 390
55John & Jennie 390
56Ron Landgraff USA380
57Emil Battista NSW380
58Robin Erskine ACT380
59Noemi Bruni NSW380
60Frank Campbell NSW380
61Elizabeth Morrish 380
62Rex Fox Vic380
63Derek Pocock WA380
64Michael Burt 370
65David Read NSW370
66Leigh Matheson NSW370
67David Monahan NSW370
68Tom Kiss NSW370
69Julian Gauld NSW370
70Rick Lu NSW360
71Paul Janicki CAN360
72Kay O'connor NSW360
73Peter Stride Qld360
74Boris Richter CRO360
75David Winter 360
76Stephen Bartos ACT360
77Tania Black SA360

Leading scores for 2008
1Ulf Nilsson SWE2280
2Rainer Herrmann GER2180
3Paul Gipson GBR2160
4Terry Dunne USA2150
5Sam Arber Vic2150
6Michael Wilkinson NSW2140
7Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN2090
8Brian Thorp ACT2080
9Michael Davy Vic2080
10David Matthews WA2070
11Gary Lane NSW2060
12Amiram Millet ISR2060
13Roger Yandle NSW2050
14Pravin Nahar NSW2050
15Nigel Guthrie GBR2050
16Frank Campbell NSW2030
17Arthur Porter SA2000
18Manuel Paulo POR2000
19Joe Lentz USA1990
20Eric Leong USA1990
21Tim Francis-Wright USA1990
22Boris Richter CRO1990
23Peter Stride Qld1970
24Tim Trahair NSW1960
25Ron Lel LAO1930
26Ron Landgraff USA1930
27Paul Tranmer GBR1920
28Peter Tarlinton NSW1910
29Robert Black SA1910
30Zbych Bednarek POL1880
31Jeff Brokenshire ACT1880
32Duncan Roe Vic1880
33Sydney Frish NSW1880
34Emil Battista NSW1870
35Pat O'connor NSW1870
36Trish Whitton NSW1860
37Derek Pocock WA1840
38Ian Patterson Qld1840
39David Monahan NSW1820
40Ian Smith Vic1810
41Rick Lu NSW1770
42David Read NSW1770
43Tony Nunn NSW1770
44Ian Spight NSW1760
45Peter Nolan Vic1740
46Kay O'connor NSW1730
47Ivan Demeny NSW1720
48Julian Gauld NSW1710
49Tony Treloar Qld1700
50Rick Giles USA1690
51Toby Weinstein USA1690
52Ian Erratt NSW1660
53Tania Black SA1660
54Barbara Hunter NSW1660
55Joe O'flynn Vic1640
56Bridge Baron USA1630
57Margaret Reid NSW1620
58Barbara Whitmee Qld1610
59Paul Janicki CAN1600
60Damo Nair USA1590
61David Johnson CAN1580
62Fred Altstock Vic1570
63Marion Carney NSW1560
64Sid Kanter USA1560
65Bastiaan Korner NED1530
66Denis Haynes ACT1530
67Ron Nelken USA1520
68Larissa Cowlishaw ACT1510
69Alan Jones Qld1490
70Alexander Cook NSW1450
71Stephen Bartos ACT1440
72Rex Fox Vic1420
73Leon Slonim Vic1410
74Peter Oakley NZL1400
75Peter Klarie Qld1400
76David Hester SA1390
77Leigh Matheson NSW1360
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 December issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your October issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.