Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- April 2009

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 - North deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q98
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K963
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J7
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J764


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



Call Award %
2NT 1008054
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 701518
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4053
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2004
3NT 1001
Pass 10017
Other 001

We have five problems with a common theme this month. In each problem we are faced with a situation where we know we should bid, but each hand is accompanied by a tiny voice saying "maybe we should just pass and stay out of trouble". Be warned though: if you passed on most of these problems, I'm afraid you are in for a disappointing score this month...

The first problem involves a reverse, or at least something quite similar to a reverse:

Tim Francis-Wright: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't think I have what partner wants, but passing 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is bad form.

Martyn Rew: 2NT. shame 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is forcing

David Hester: 2NT. Is 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) forcing? If not, I would pass, but the current trend is "If in doubt, it's forcing".

I didn't actually think there was doubt here, but that's good advice nevertheless. Let's hear from the partner-crushers.

Henri de Jong: Pass. Did contemplate 2NT, but with all vul West will have his bid. The Moysian will be OK.

Aake Sjoeberg: Pass. I can hardly bid again.

Barbara Hunter: Pass. I can't see game anywhere so possible 4/3 fit in spades best.

Denis Haynes: Pass. I am not offering partner much assistance, 7 card fit and possibly less than 20 points will test their playing skills!

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Partner did not make a jump rebid so the no trump game is unlikely to make. Prefer the 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Moysian fit, rather than 2NT.

Paul Freeland: Pass. Partner will need a really impressive hand to make more than this, and can take stronger action by doubling, cueing clubs or jumping in a new suit. At least by playing in spades, you should be able to get to dummy for any finesses through West.

I think it's a bit rough to expect partner to jump to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with a good hand, and double could be quite inappropriate if he has short hearts. Don't forget, partner did not have to bid here. If he has the 4153 12-count that Denis is anticipating, he would have been very happy to pass and leave the next move to us.

Frank Campbell: Pass. We might as well be in a 7 card fit in the major than what may well be a 6 card fit. I have slightly worse than a minimum response and no desire to go further.

Peter Oakley: Pass. I'm glad I bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but now I pass. Sorry, Partner, but I guess I'm just not aggressive enough for this game.

Duncan Roe: Pass. Will be a Moysian fit but should play OK. Another bid from me might mislead partner to think I'm stronger than I am.

While none of the panellists actually passed, of course, two of them did briefly consider it:

Tim Bourke: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pass and 2NT appeal but the former will not be a good idea when North has a hand such as AJ10x-Ax-AKQxxx-x. In any event 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be seen as a neutral bid.

Marshall Miles: 2NT. I'd be tempted to pass at Matchpoints.

Marshall's answer is particularly interesting when you consider his latest article in AB, The Default Bid, published in the same issue as this problem. The article is about the advantages of giving preference to partner as a default option. For this reason I expected him to be leading up a large group of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders. Not so -- the lead spokesperson for diamonds turned out to be Sartaj:

Sartaj Hans: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Anyone who bids anything else should be shot!

Harsh. This is why gun ownership requires a waiting period.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A false preference because this sequence is forcing for one round.

Peter Nuoristo: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has six diamonds and four spades it is probably better play in diamonds to keep control.

Dean Eidler: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No support double so pard is probably 4252 or 4261, hopefully the latter.

Rex Fox: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard suggests having AKxx-xx-AKQxx-xx or better. A 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) contract will not go well unless we have at least an 8 card fit. Wait for pard's rebid of spades.

Fraser Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The club stopper, such as it is, is not the main feature of my hand, which is actually not too bad. I can bid NT next time but in the meantime settle for false preference.

John R. Mayne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too strong to make an anti-systemic pass, and too weak to bid 2NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is fine, doubleton or no.

Dean Pokorny: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too weak for 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Perhaps I'm missing something but I don't have a great hand and would like to slow things down. It partner continues, then I can overbid to my heart's content.

Bob Jones: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner's bid is forcing so I can't pass. I could bid 2NT showing my robust stopper, but that would be a forward going bid. I want to go backwards.

Simple preference is indeed a great way to slow things down. So why is such a large majority so keen to blast into notrumps? Well, not everyone agrees with Bob's assessment that we need to go backwards:

Christer Enkvist: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Sure, it would be nice to be stronger but FSF makes the continued bidding so much easier and game is unavoidable unless I make a crazy pass.

Boris Richter: 3NT. No good fit, finesses towards North are probably going to work, right siding the contract with the most likely vulnerable game at stake must be right.

Mats Nilsland: 2NT. Not necessary to make any final guess as partner will continue the bidding. I would insist on notrumps over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 2NT. Partner has reversed. Invite game.

Peder Linder: 2NT. I normally use 2NT as a Lebensohl type bid. But here a natural invite seems like the best chance for scoring a game.

Tim Trahair: 2NT. North has reversed so 3NT may be on. Our clubs are very thin and we won't withstand a club onslaught unless North has a couple of clubs with at least an honour. If so he may chance 3NT. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is 4th suit forcing and would be forcing to game -- which could be too ambitious.

Even among those who do think we need to go backwards, most believe that 2NT is the way to do it. One reason: 2NT is the only way to get to 3NT.

Michael Ware: 2NT. A gross overbid as I have complete junk but if I don't bid NT now will almost certainly miss or wrongside 3NT. Also gives partner room to describe further.

Tim Cope: 2NT. The alternative of just bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will make it impossible to get to 3NT as partner will have no room to ask for a club stopper.

David Davies: 2NT. 3NT is the most likely game even if partner has little in clubs and it will play better by me. Hearts are not good enough to try for a 4-3 heart fit.

Rainer Herrmann: 2NT. If we have game it is most probably 3NT.

And the other reason: 2NT is the best way to stop in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)!

Andrew Robson: 2NT. images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Jxxx is hardly exciting, but it rates to be a good enough stopper on hands where partner passes/raises to 3NT. Naturally if he corrects to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), we'll pass and table our hand happily with its images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)J and images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

Larry Cohen: 2NT. This saves the most space. If partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) next, it is NF and I will pass.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2NT. Natural, descriptive, saves space. Partner can still bid with a shapely hand.

The big problem with 2NT is clearly our weak stopper (although you'll have a whole new appreciation for Jxxx after you get to the end of this set of problems).

Malcolm Ewashkiw: 2NT. Do I have a club stopper? Time will tell.

Roger Watts: 2NT. Is four to images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)J a stop? But I'm showing a min 5-7 HCP with my bid so partner won't expect much. Any 3-level bid misleads partner about my strength, and a pass risks missing a vul game. If partner has a club void she has six diamonds and can rebid them.

Robert Black: 2NT. Cheapest bid and describes shape and invitational values over the reverse. Hoping that partner does not think I have a double stop in clubs.

Ron Landgraff: 2NT. Pard has extras of some kind. 2NT describes my hand.

Tony Treloar: 2NT. Only because we are vulnerable at IMPs. Otherwise I would bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner might have the magic cards.

Roger Yandle: 2NT. Not overjoyed with this bid but nothing else seems to describe my hand any better (i.e. some points, no real support for either of pards suits and a probable club stopper). Pard doesn't have three hearts (since no double) so might have help in clubs or might be 6/4 in diamonds/spades. In either case 3NT might be best bet.

Leigh Matheson: 2NT. If West passed and partner rebid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), absolutely everyone would choose to bid 1NT now. Not much has changed. Partner should be 6-5, in which case he will surely bid again. If not, he ought to have something in clubs to reject a takeout double.

Sam Arber: 2NT. If partner has five spades he will rebid them.

True; while partner is a good chance to be 6-5 here, we should be assuming 6-4 until we hear otherwise. So this last group has gone off a little prematurely:

Bridge Baron: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bridge Baron can't show an eight-card fit. It doesn't want to bid notrump with only a half-stopper in clubs. But it can show a seven-card fit.

Emil Battista: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Less encouraging than 2NT -- hopefully.

Damo Nair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe North has five spades. Anyway, my aceless hand is not good for NT.

Eric Leong: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner most likely has a shapely hand with five spades and longer diamonds. Also, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is what partner most wants to hear about when he has something like AKJxx-Ax-AKxxxx-void.

Pontus Silow: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I expect partner to double with four spades. Hence, I assume he has 5-6 in the pointed suits. With 4360 and not wanting me to pass his double, partner will have to start with 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Hand Two - West deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) JT962
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKT84


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

   1. Natural weak two.

Call Award %
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1005559
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)80303
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)3009
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2052
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1051

Alvin P. Bluthman: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I don't know of a bid that shows spades and stronger clubs, so I will just have to bid them one at a time. I start with clubs not only because it is stronger, but because 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is cheaper than 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)/4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be popular, but leaves you ill prepared.

2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was indeed popular, achieving an outright majority in readers and experts. Before looking at the majority, let's take a look at the two main minority groups:
(1) The readers, with the takeout double;
(2) The experts, with the conventional two-suiter.

We'll start with the (non-systemic) conventional two suiters.

Peder Linder: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Clubs and a major. Perhaps not the perfect hand for it, but we get our point across and gives us good odds for finding the right strain, unless 3NT is the last making spot.

Mats Hedstrom, Peter Nuoristo, Valter Johansson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Clubs and a major.

Mats Nilsland: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will work if I have an agreement with partner that I show a good two-suiter.

There's a pretty strong cultural line there, with all five of those comments coming from Sweden. Plus one American...

John R. Mayne: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Just because partner doesn't know what I'm doing doesn't mean he won't be blamed.

In bridge it is much more important to avoid blame than to be right. This is even easier in a bidding forum -- partner doesn't even get a chance to defend himself, so he is a perfect scapegoat.

So, with no mention of Leaping Michaels in our system notes, is partner going to get this right? Well, in addition to the 30% of experts who chose 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), there were several others who would have chosen 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if they thought the hand was good enough:

Bob Jones: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If AB plays 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as a game force with clubs and a major, I don't think this hand is quite good enough.

Andrew Robson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'm tempted by 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (clubs + a major). But my hand hardly warrants this, so I'll settle for a slightly cautious 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Dean Eidler: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not good enough for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Leaping Michaels.

Dean Pokorny: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Too weak for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Leaping Michaels.

Ron Lel: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The hand is not good enough for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), though that was my first thought. Also the heart void suggests caution.

4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) wasn't the only conventional option mentioned:

Phil Gue: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This should promise ANY two suiter. Of course it would be good to play 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to show clubs and a major, but not in this partnership's armoury.

This option also received minimal reader support (again, 100% from Sweden):

Christer Enkvist: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Michaels, spades + another. Sure the spades should be much better but we can now avoid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) partner will either bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on which we can bid 3NT or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) which we can raise to 5 (knowing that we only have two spade losers).

Aake Sjoeberg: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Showing 5 spades and 5 in a lower suit.

Britta Johansson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Showing highest suit and one more.

There were also a few who wanted to go artificial but (correctly) assumed the system didn't cater for it:

Hoi-Ming Chan: Dbl. An ugly double. Hopefully partner won't bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will rebid spades on next bid. Simply too good for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A Leaping Michaels bid of 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be good but is unavailable.

Peter Oakley: Dbl. I'd Michaels 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) so long as it showed spades and EITHER lower suit, but too many play it only as both majors over a minor opener. When partner bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I've decided to show clubs instead of my spades, and over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 3NT. Blast those pesky weak-2 openers.

David Matthews: Dbl. If the choice was there I would bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which, in my system, shows spades + another at least 5-5. However I have no option other than double. Over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I will bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

If we ignore the artificial options, we are basically down to either 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or Double. The panel were in no doubt, voting 11-0 in favour of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The readers were more divided:

Alan Jones: Dbl. Intending to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) when partner bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Hopefully partner has some values in spades! I will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if he bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Martyn Rew: Dbl. partner will come back with hearts and a NT contract looks viable if a spade rebid is not supported

Henri de Jong: Dbl. Very tough as pard will bid a number of H. May still end up in 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)

Sam Arber: Dbl. Too good for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) suit not good enough for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Double first and bid spades over heart response.

Robert Black: Dbl. And 2NT over partner's 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); "sorry" over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)!

Before embarking on a plan like that you should check that you have enough "Sorry" cards in your bidding box.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. Difficult with the heart void. Partner is either weakish or has the bulk of the remaining 4 diamonds. Prefer to double with 2 places to play and bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which is I think better than bidding an immediate 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Either of my suits or 3NT may be our spot and this seems the best way to find out.

Stephen Bartos: Dbl. Have a good rebid no matter what partner's suit is.

Michael Burt: Dbl. Just strong enough (useful 10s and 9s) to bid over hearts by partner.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Planning to show the strength of our hand following North's response. Game may be on but don't know where -- possibly 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Helena Canaris: Dbl. Quickest way to find out if partner has four hearts. If he does bid hearts you have plenty of time to show your black suits, and also shows your strength better with a double first followed by a bid!

Some arguments against the double:

Manuel Paulo: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner raises, I bid game. On the other hand, after double and partner's likely advance of two or more hearts, I don't see how to reach a sensible spot.

Denis Haynes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 5 card suit and opening points, look for a fit rather than double and possibly be unable to access partners hearts.

Jim Thatcher: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Double or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would show hearts while 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would show the value of the hand but lie about spade values.

Duncan Roe: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not short in oppo's suit so don't like to double -- will likely get hearts back (similar to what happened in Q5). Clubs is a nicer suit but they'll be useful with spades as trumps -- the converse is not true.

The straightforward 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid was a clear winner. Fear of underbidding was not a deterrent...

Pontus Silow: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is no overbid, but I don't have a lot of attractive alternatives.

Damo Nair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A bit cautious. I can't have North jumping around in hearts. 2NT is a big distortion.

Tim Francis-Wright: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'm heavy for this, but I will often need support from partner to make game, and at these colours E-W quite often have some values.

John Furedy: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If pard can't raise then game is probably not on, and major suit bid may score well.

Boris Richter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Oh hell, we should be doing just fine after a humble 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), it is Matchpoints after all. I can always come alive later on.

Roger Watts: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing 11-15 HCP and a 5-card spade. Not quite enough here for a 16+ values double and absolutely the wrong shape for a takeout double. Will go to game if pard raises but not slam.

David Hester: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Yes, I might have less and this bid might miss a game, but NE have 10-11 hearts and the overwhelming necessity is not to encourage North in that suit. I can bid 3NT over partner's 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Not everyone was concerned about missing game; several thought the choice was between 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and pass:

Barbara Whitmee: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner will have something as East is silent.

Paul Gipson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Mildly concerned that partner has not acted, so he is either very weak or has diamond length. With the latter, hopefully we shall hear 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) next.

Rex Fox: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Most other pairs will likely be bidding on these cards, this bid should show 5/6 loser count, about right even with weak spades.

Eric Leong: Pass. Why speculate on a game? Partner presumably has some heart values which does little good for offense. There are good chances of being +200 by defending which beats all the part scores the other pairs in the field might be in. Further, even +100 might be a great score if other pairs are in game or a part score going down.

Suit quality was not a deterrent...

Erin Tewes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). missing spade high cards p will probably raise even without lots of strength. double will be met with a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid at least.

Barbara Hunter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No hearts means no Michaels & double not good either, so make the weaker suit as trumps.

David Davies: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The spades aren't great but my hand is decent overall, we are non-vulnerable and there are unlikely to be lead directing considerations.

Paul Freeland: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Would prefer a better spade suit, but not strong enough to double and correct hearts to spades or no trump. If partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then can bid 3NT, or raise 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to game.

Concealing the great club suit was not a deterrent...

Leigh Matheson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Intending to rebid 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I refuse to dble and pray partner doesnít respond 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes): I prefer to keep my life in my own hands. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), intending to bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), is clever but now you give up on 3NT: not so clever. Bidding a direct 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is possibly worse! I canít see any other bid that keeps the spades and notrumps options open.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Most flexible. Dbl is out. Clubs is an overbid and may lose the spades.

Tony Treloar: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely the best game and 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is the bid most likely to get us there.

Emil Battista: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have an easy rebid over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) by opponents.

Bill Bennett: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North probably has hearts, but even with 10 HCP 3NT would be chancy. He may be able to support my suit.

Roger Yandle: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No doubt if pard has got hearts and enough points he'll angle us towards NT.

Michael Yuen: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The question seems to be what's next after 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) from partner.

That's a much bigger question for the doublers than for you.

Hand Three - West deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQJ9862
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K5
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J42



What do you open in 4th seat?

West North East South
pass pass pass ?
Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 4531
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80 3531
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 50 1519
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 515
Pass 0 03

Another of our rare opening bid problems. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.

Ingerun Sjosvard: Pass. I chose the pessimistic view that if we make game so do they. Alternative bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Roger Yandle: Pass. I'm going to take my zero and run since I'm concerned if I open my mouth I'll end up with a minus when the opps find their spade fit.

Peter Nuoristo: Pass. Or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but that is probably not made, plus the risk that the opponents find the spades.

So the choice is basically between Pass and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), huh? I feel like there might be a couple of bids in between that have been overlooked. Let's move things up a level:

Robert Black: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A sound opening bid! If the enemy gets excited with spades I expect partner to disappoint them.

denis haynes: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Allows partner some bidding space (if they have anything to bid), there are 29 points floating around the other 3 hands hopefully partner has something to offer.

Frank Campbell: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Seems straightforward.

John Furedy, Stephen Bartos: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too strong for a preemptive bid.

Mats Nilsland: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may work, but may also be to high.

David Hester: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A preempt might miss a game, unless I gamble 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This seems more important than shutting out spades, which might be partner's suit.

Barbara Whitmee: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Won't bid four hearts. Partner could have two tricks for me, but it's highly unlikely to be three. Partner can respond and we'll probably subside in two hearts.

Several of those comments convey the impression that 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the only preempt available. The next group considered the alternative preemptive options, but deliberately rejected them:

Paul Gipson: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too good for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with the seventh heart and not that frightened by the lack of spades.

Manuel Paulo: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On average, partner has 10 points (we have the majority), four spades (opponents should not compete at the three-level), and two hearts (we have a fit). So, I don't preempt.

Helena Canaris: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Any higher and opps much more likely to bid over you, suspecting you to be weaker than you are... at this level also still gives time to hear what partner has.

Barbara Hunter: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't think you should preempt, just keep bidding hearts.

Pontus Silow: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I see no reason to gamble when I have a perfectly sound action available.

Duncan Roe: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Game seems unlikely but this is a hand to open on. Too strong for a pre-empt (why would you bother in 4th seat?), so open 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Why would you bother? I think the answer has something to do with spades. Let's step it up a level and see what we can find out...

Roger Watts: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too risky to open 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in 4th as they'll find a cheap spade partial. Do other use the Rule of 15? Everyone looks to have 9 or 10 HCP and if partner has an ace and two kings 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is at least 50%. I like to open in 4th with a 6-loser hand.

The rule of 15 (aka Pearson Points) means you should pass out the hand in 4th seat if your spade length + your HCP is less than 15. That rule would suggest a pass on this occasion; however, the rule should only be used in borderline cases (see later comments from Peter Oakley and Leigh Matheson). Judgement and valuation always trumps Pearson Points -- and mothers... 

Alan Jones: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My mother said "Never open in 4th place without spades". However, while pass my produce and average result, it seems better to bid the hearts. Bidding 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) only makes it easy for the opponents to find their spade fit, so it is a question of bidding 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). (4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is too likely to attract a penalty double).

Ron Lel: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in this seat should show something like this.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Must be long hearts, range 10-13 hcp (special meaning in 4th seat).

Dean Eidler: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not enough spades for 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4th in hand weak twos are supposed to be up to strength.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not good enough to open 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may go down. Need a few things from partner to make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Equivalent in my partnership to a 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opener with 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) rebid.

Tim Francis-Wright: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Passing could work out, but partner is marked for a reasonable hand and game could well be laydown. Bidding 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) here lets partner upgrade aces and hearts.

Rex Fox: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows a self supporting suit, about 6 playing tricks, pard should raise accordingly. The singleton spade is a worry.

Paul Freeland: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This should show 8 playing tricks or thereabouts, and partner can now evaluate their hand accordingly.

Martyn Rew: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Where are all the points? 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be overkill and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) very optimistic.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Where I want to play unless pard has a max pass. Slightly preemptive. I can bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with minimum risk.

Bridge Baron: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bridge Baron opens any hand with 14 points (counting distribution) in any seat, unless set to Very Conservative opening bids. Hands with a seven-card suit don't qualify for a fourth-seat weak two-bid.

Strangely, while the Baron rules out 7-card suits from his 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) openings, he didn't give any thought to the next stop on our tour...

Malcolm Ewashkiw: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If I would open 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in fourth seat with one less heart (and I would), it makes sense for me to open 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in fourth seat with this hand.

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Isn't this a standard 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opener in 4th seat?

Peder Linder: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). With a 7th heart 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the obvious bid.

Erin Tewes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will let them find spades, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows like a 16 count in 4th seat, but a shame to miss out on a positive score by passing. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will probably make if high cards are spread around evenly.

Bill Bennett: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A gamble, but North may not respond to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) even with enough for game.

Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hope to shut out opps.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hopefully with the right cards partner will be able to raise to game.

John R. Mayne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am not afraid, much. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is right on values, right on blocking value, and right on pretty much everything but defending 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

David Davies: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows something like this. It is quite likely our hand and we could even have game. Opponents need not have a spade fit.

sam arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). partner marked with some points, realises you must be maximum range can bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with right hand. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) stops opponents getting in

Fred Altstock: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Remaining Points would seem to be scattered so hopefully has some values for me.

Dean Pokorny: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should show seven hearts, ~10-13.

Larissa Cowlishaw: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempted to pass out based on spade count.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The risk of going minus is more than outweighed by the chance of making game.

Henri de Jong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There are 29 HCP missing which will be equally divided. We have our 6 loser hand and trust pard knows what to do.

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Unlikely to miss game. Too easy for opponents to find a spade fit and then probably bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) anyway.

Lindsay Coker: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Well, it's what I'd do at the table, anyway. Someone's got the points, probably partner, and he may convert to NT. Yeah.

Aake Sjoeberg: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What else?

What else? Well, most of the relevant options were on a drop down list, so the answer to that question is self-evident. Which brings us to our final stop (and some more references to the rule of 15):

Peter Oakley: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This hand falls far short of the rule of 15 (pass when high cards points plus number of spades totals less than 15) but as a 6-loser must be opened. 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) avoids a tussle with spades, whoever holds them, and passed partner might supply enough honour cards for game to succeed?

Leigh Matheson: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The textbooks say that Pierson Points (rule of 15) is only to be used in borderline cases. This is not such a case, so you must bid. At Matchpoints good players should be dropping out of trees to open spades and since the opposition passed, opening 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be appropriate. At Imps, it is not so safe to open 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). But an average 9 or 10 count in partnerís hand should be enough to make game at least a 40% chance.

Eric Leong: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a slight overbid. However, partner could have the right cards to make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At the same time I want to make it harder for the opponents to find a cheap 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) sacrifice or to find a lucky 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) make. Finally, if the opponents do guess to come in with 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) it could be a big mistake.

Fraser Rew: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). And double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if I can. Could be very wrong. But maybe they'll think I'm double-bluffing with a spade suit.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't know if Namyats is available, but this hand is too weak for it anyway. So, I will gamble with 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and hope to catch a decent dummy.

Boris Richter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If it makes good for us, if it doesn't bad luck.

Tony Treloar: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Mandatory with short spades.

Tim Trahair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Seems to be the best spot. Let's hope North has a few HCP in the minor suits.

Jim Thatcher: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This makes it difficult for the opposition to find a spade fit and it should make.


Hand Four - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ952
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 7
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KJ975
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K2


West North East South
  1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?
Call Award %
3NT 1005046
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80259
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 502035
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3053
Pass 001
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 003
4NT 001
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 001


Another convincing result, with 3NT winning almost an outright majority in both camps.   

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3NT. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (forcing) is reasonable, but it's hard to find hands where it can elicit useful information. Slam is unlikely on a misfit unless partner has good fitting honors.

Peder Linder: 3NT. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is not an option. 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may very well be the best bid.

Rainer Herrmann: 3NT. A good advertisement for changing to a strong club system.

John Furedy: 3NT. any lead is likely to be helpful.

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Easy game in 3NT but partner might go to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) depending on his strong hearts?

Robert Black: 3NT. Enough points, and showing just a single heart.

Ron Landgraff: 3NT. Hamman's Rule.

Ron Lel: 3NT. "Snookered", as the elephant said to the snake.

If there's anyone else out there (besides me) who didn't understand that comment, type snake, elephant and snooker into Google. But be warned, it's not pretty and the snake gets a little bit messy.

zbych bednarek: 3NT. If partner bids again, slam is on.

Tim Trahair: 3NT. Looks like misfit but we have a stack of HCP. Don't want to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as 3NT might be the only making game.

Fraser Rew: 3NT. Misfitting combined 28-count, what's the problem?

Roger Watts: 3NT. Nasty! I'm worried pd might take out my bid to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and make my minor kings look sick. But she'll know by my failure to support that I have only a singleton. Can't see any slam chances.

David Davies: 3NT. Nowhere near slam, more likely to have trump problems in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) than club problems in 3NT.

Duncan Roe: 3NT. Show partner a reasonable hand with some outside strength, but poor heart support.

Denis Haynes: 3NT. Shows game strength (stoppers in the minors) and little stomach for hearts. Partner can persevere in hearts if they must.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. Shows my stoppers and values.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. The hand appears to be a misfit. Diamonds and clubs are half-stopped. The partnership holds at least 27 or so high-card points. Bridge Baron bids 3NT with few qualms.

Paul Freeland: 3NT. Tough hand. First is slam a possibility? Partner will need 9 playing tricks, and with a long running suit and a squeak from partner would rebid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). So, 3NT or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), positionally I think 3NT is superior, and much more likely to get a trick on the lead. Opener with something like 0733 will now know to correct to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as partner must have some useful values in the minors.

The primary alternative to 3NT is 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), which raises the question of suit vs cuebid. Only one reader explicitly said that 4m would be a cue bid:

Paul Gipson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Too strong for a simple raise and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be misread, so start with a simple cue bid.

Eric Kokish: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Primes and a possibly duplicated club shortness point to the suit contract. Whether 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is agreed as natural or a control for hearts, it's not the right hand for either.

The cue-bid interpretation was also supported by expert panellists Larry Cohen, Bob Jones and Tim Cope. Phil Gue and Patrick Huang thought 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be natural but was likely to be misintrerpreted. Kate McCallum said it should be a control bid, but partner should "tread carefully" in case it isn't this time.

The rest of the readers saw 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as natural.

David Matthews: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Natural bid giving up 3NT.

Emil Battista: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT likely to fetch 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) from partner. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) gives more information re distribution (heart shortage).

Stephen Bartos: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would indicate a weaker hand than I have, but too unbalanced for NT.

Margaret Reid: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing. We have a game on -- pd may have 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or can rebid hearts or support diamonds.

Leigh Matheson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). How annoying. Can we go back to playing Precision now?

Bill Bennett: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Must look for game. Happy if North has either a diamond fit or good enough hearts to bid 4.

Amiram Millet: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). On the way at least to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dean Eidler: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The hard part of this hand comes in the next round.

Henri de Jong: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have a lot more than advertised by our 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid. We will bid our hand and await pard's next action.

Helena Canaris: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If he does bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then you may not be happy about it, but partner will be forced to play in his 6-1 fit!

Speaking of being forced to play in a 6-1 fit, a few readers (and a quarter of the experts) saw the heart fit as a the destination of choice, rather than a last resort:

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Almost impossible to bid sensibly without detailed agreements, as to how strong (solid, semi-solid, less) partner's suit can be. Also, whether a new suit by me now is natural or control-showing in support of partner's hearts. Not having agreements with "North of the ABC", I will take a middle position, and hope that if partner's suit is not as strong as I hope, at least I will give him the side-suit values needed to make game.

Tim Francis-Wright: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding 3NT is just too porcine for me.

Ingerun Sjosvard: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hope this is a safer contract than 3NT.

Martyn Rew: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Of course partner has enough top hearts to clear the suit.

Boris Richter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Perhaps not that obvious since it just leads to an unpretentious but making game.

That's OK, even the unpretentious games get a 500 point game bonus. But yes, a lot of people are looking for more than that:

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If North has some diamond cards 6 could be on. This hand is just too strong to wind things up in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Sam Arber: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too good to bid 3NT, slam may still be on.

Roger Yandle: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam looks like a good possibility so I'll bid out my shape.

Pontus Silow: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I cannot give up in 3NT and no higher bid strikes me as better at this point.

John R. Mayne: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). How bad can this be? This should be natural, right? Slam is still in sight, and the timid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) has little appeal.

Malcolm Ewashkiw: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fifty years ago, we'd hear, "What's the problem?" We have to keep the possibility of a diamond slam open.

Rex Fox: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard should have a 5 loser hand something like xx-AKQxxx-Ax-QJx. Want to be in at least 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows the 5 card spade suit. If pard is slightly better then 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) are possible contracts.

Mats Nilsland: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Close decision, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems too conservative though. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may lead to trouble if partner thinks I have a fit and a diamond control.

Alan Jones: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Who knows what slam is making here. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should alert partner to my heart shortage while showing an on-going hand.

Manuel Paulo: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam is likely, but I don't know yet in which strain. It looks natural to bid my other suit.

Tony Treloar: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Have to at least look for slam at IMPs. Should show 5/5 and deny two card heart support.

David Hester: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't like the misfit, but slam may be on somewhere by sheer power. Where is that somewhere?

Peter Oakley: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT alternative is too tame.

Finally, there are two minority options to choose from:

Dean Pokorny: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe partner has three spades.

Eric Leong: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). When you have many alternative places to play the hand, make the cheapest forcing bid to leave the most bidding room to find out the best spot to play.

That one was also supported by one lone panellist...

Patrick Huang: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). should be forcing and will show my diamonds if partner rebids 3NT. A direct 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should also be natural but may sound like an advanced cue-bid. Willing to by-pass 3NT with good slam potential in 3 suits.

Jim Thatcher: 4NT. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a game force opposite a minimum a keycard inquiry shows the value of this hand

Barbara Hunter: 4NT. RKC find out if you should be in hearts or NT. Sounds like there could be 6 somewhere.

There were also a surprising number of votes for some convention called Gerber -- I couldn't find any mention of that in my Encyclopedia of Expert Conventions, so I opted to delete those comments to avoid confusion...

Hand Five - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQ92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ63
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 9864


West North East South
  1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) dbl
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 1004029
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 80109
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 602011
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 40154
3NT 401015
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 40527
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4004

Very similar to the previous problem, this one involves a minor suit and adds an annoying opponent into the mix. With silent opponents we would have bid a quick 3NT, but the threat of a running club suit forces us to look elsewhere. Well, most of us anyway.

Tim Francis-Wright: 3NT. That's what the other table is bidding, right? If partner has her 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) call, then there are all sorts of ways to make and no good way to find out if they apply here.

Tim Trahair: 3NT. A bit risky but surely North has some values in clubs as well as a diamond stack. Clearly he doesn't have 4 in either major.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. Partner knows you haven't got many diamonds, might convert if short in clubs.

Christer Enkvist: 3NT. Partner shows a club stopper otherwise he should bid something else, most likely 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Emil Battista: 3NT. Has Roger Yandle been submitting more hands?

No, I have to confess that this hand is a work of pure fiction, designed simply to torture you. Nothing so awful could actually happen in real life. 

Bridge Baron: 3NT. No unbid suits. No fit, not even a 4-3 fit. No rebiddable suits. 3NT by default -- this time with qualms aplenty, but no alternative.

Jim Thatcher: 3NT. One may as be in 3NT as 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with a partial stopper in clubs and trust partner to save in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with nothing in clubs.

Erin Tewes: 3NT. No fit, but enough for game, just have to cross fingers.

I wish I had a full deal so that I could tell you 3NT was the winning bid, but bravery will have to be its own reward.

Unwilling to risk 3NT, many people decided to look for a Moysian major fit. The experts voted 3 to 1 in favour of spades, while the readers were 7 to 1 in favour of hearts. Let's hear the arguments:

Andrew Robson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Because my slow values are in spades I like 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) a little better than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Tim Cope: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Prepared to play in a Moysian fit in Spades where I have reasonable suit quality. Let's hope pard can bid 3NT with their A10 of clubs and my images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)9 will carry some weight.

Patrick Huang: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I choose spades over hearts because it looks more playable than hearts in a 4-3 fit.

David Davies: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a gamble, we could easily have three club losers. A 4-3 major suit fit may be the best chance, spades in preference to hearts due to the slightly more solid intermediate. It also gives partner the chance to bid 3NT.

Michael Burt: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We look to have enough points for game and best bet looks to be a 4-3 fit in one of the majors.

Preferring to show the hearts first:

Manuel Paulo: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't give up, so far. Game is possible in a Moysian fit or in diamonds.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT cannot be right. Partner should read this as game going with 4 cards trying to seek the best strain.

Bill Bennett: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Dare not bid 3NT and it is difficult to see how 11 tricks can be made in diamonds. If North is 3361 with solid diamonds and a major honour or two a Moysian Game is just possible.

Frank Campbell: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Difficult. We have the values for game and there is no reason North may not have clubs stopped or a self sufficient diamond suit. My double could have shown as little as 8 points and I think I have to make an effort to get to the vul game.

Robert Black: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Game may be possible in a Moysian fit. If partner hates hearts she may bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (which I shall raise), or 3NT if he finds the club stopper he/she couldn't see last time.

Margaret Reid, Michael Smart, Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner raises hearts Moysian may be good spot. If partner bids 3NT, pass.

Ingerun Sjosvard: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Most flexible. Maybe we can play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)/images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on 4-3, or 3NT. Will pass 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Rex Fox: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pard might have Axx Kxx AKQJxx x. In which case a Moysian 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might work, else with a club stopper 3NT. South should pass with a 5 card heart suit in a weak hand, so 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is forward going.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Temporising. If partner raises to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'm happy to play there; if partner bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I'll happily bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Leigh Matheson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This hand is getting worse by the second. Pity itís not yet bad enough to pass. Maybe I can wait for some lengthy period of time and then pass. Is that an option?

That certainly an option, with or without the hesitation. More on the pass later.

Henri de Jong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This may help pard to 3NT with solid diamonds and a club stopper.

Fred Altstock: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner might have a void in clubs so 3NT does not look good. He could have four hearts also. Exploring other options and if he bids spades I could support him there.

Helena Canaris: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Presumably P has 5-6 diamonds and no major, however you have no idea how strong P is, so if given the most common scenario with P having (3352) you are know in a 7-card fit instead of a 6 card one.

Tony Treloar: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What can I do? I don't have the stopper and I can't support partner's suit. Seeing as I have already shown 4/4 in the majors I bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to show partner I have interest in game but I don't know which game.

Paul Freeland: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seem a long way off, but if partner has a 3 card major then a Moysian game seems reasonable. If 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was 'pick a major' then I would vote for that, but it may be confused as being a cue agreeing diamonds.

Is 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pick-a-major? I wouldn't have thought so, but there was some support:

Dean Pokorny: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). As "pick a Moysian game".

Roger Yandle: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd like to think images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)9864 is a stopper but I'm not overconfident. I'm hoping pard will read 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as "pick a major" (not a cuebid agreeing diamonds) so we can play in a Moysian fit. I can then ruff clubs in dummy. If pard is 2272 then he'll bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and we'll end up in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fraser Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pass any bid of a major (and hope partner's on the same wavelength), as a Moysian will play well here. And 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be OK too.

Eric Leong: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Since partner didn't bid 3NT, I don't expect him to have a long running diamond suit and a club stopper. If 3NT is out and I want to be in game, I bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to get partner to decide if game is better in a 4-3 major suit fit or in diamonds.

John R. Mayne: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is the perfect end to a tough set; 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might not be forcing; 3NT, if right, is wrong-siding; and diamond support's a little thin. I'd like 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to be strain-finding, but it isn't. Maybe I should just put a club in with my hearts and bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but I'll punk out with the solvers-club permanent answer of the cue-bid.

If we rule out notrumps and a dodgy 4-3 fit, at some point we need to consider actually playing in a minor. There was some debate about the meaning of 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but the readers mostly thought it was invitational:

Malcolm Ewashkiw: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Is this forcing? I hope it's invitational and that 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would have created a force.

Joe Lentz: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Aiming at a final contract of 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) depending on partnerís next action giving up on 3NT or a major-suit contract. Partner should have something like Axx-Qx-AKQxxx-xx up to a max of Axx-Kxx-AKQJxx-x. If partner next bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) showing interest in slam then I will try a 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) cuebid suggesting that partner bid six with the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I hate it but there are too many values to pass at imps vul. If he has a club stop I may need another partner!! 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be off two clubs plus more.

Paul Gipson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I need a real stop here given that partner has not bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Pontus Silow: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner appreciates me not having a stopper or a control in clubs -- then I really like my hand.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Giving partner the chance to make the final mistake.

Aake Sjoeberg: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Invitational.

The panel did not agree:

Marshall Miles: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think most people play 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) forcing, and that a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is an invitation to slam if partner has a club control. I don't think I am strong enough for that.

Sartaj Hans: Pass. I would like to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as an invitational bid but unfortunately that's forcing.

Roger Watts: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner has 17 HCP and didn't bid NT so can't have images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K - probably has a 3262 with images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A, images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K, and all the diamond honours. Now I can count 11 tricks. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would be stronger showing slam interest, and 3NT loses first 6 tricks.

Having looked at bids in every possible denomination, now is the time to point out that none of them gets the top score. At the start of this column I referred to the tiny voice that says "maybe we should just pass and stay out of trouble". Well, now is finally the right time to start listening to that voice. Congratulations to the 29% of readers who found the top-scoring pass with a combined 26-count. 

David Hester: Pass. Here the point-count is misleading; we have no fit and no club stop.

Alan Jones: Pass. I have told partner about my hand. Since he denies a 4-card major and ought to be short in clubs, diamonds should be safe.

Dean Eidler: Pass. No diamond filler and partner didn't bid NT themselves so I can;t see 3NT and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems a long way off.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Partner knows I have the majors and he still could not bid no trumps. There are no stoppers in my club holding.

denis haynes: Pass. Partner obviously has lots of diamonds and a part score in diamonds looks the best option. The clubs look too weak for NT.

Damo Nair: Pass. This is just too hopeless for 3NT. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) & 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) has to show 5-card suits & not trying for 3NT.

Duncan Roe: Pass. Why did I double? I didn't in Q2 for this very reason. Partner has jumped in my singleton suit and now I have nowhere to go

That's just a little bit more paranoia than is healthy, IMO.

Peter Oakley: Pass. My first double said it all. Partner should be content in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Boris Richter: Pass. Not again. Can we have a fit please. :-)

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. With something useful in clubs North might have bid differently.

Playing in a 26-point 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a hard way to earn a top score in a bidding forum, and the points are well deserved. Not surprisingly, no one achieved a full score on this set of problems. Larissa Cowlishaw scored full marks on each of the first four problems, but fell at the last hurdle to score an impressive 480. Also finishing on 480:

John Furedy: Pass. Game looks too risky even at IMPs.

Peder Linder: Pass. We have more or less a minimum hand. My only option would be 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) given that it means bid-a-game.


Thanks again to the readers and the experts for all your interesting comments and for your continued support of this forum, one of the cornerstones of our magazine (which will be arriving in your homes this week by the way).

Top scores for April
1Larissa Cowlishaw ACT480
1John Furedy NSW480
1Peder Linder SWE480
4Leon Slonim Vic460
5Tony Nunn NSW450
5Bev Beck NSW 450
5Julian Vyner NSW 450
5Tom Kiss NSW450
5Niek Van Vucht ACT450
10Ian Patterson Qld440
10Rick Lu NSW440
10David Davies GBR440
13David Hester SA430
13Rainer Herrmann GER430
13Kay O'connor NSW430
13Boris Richter CRO430
17Jill Graham NSW420
17Kevin Simpson Tas420
17Mary Hussey 420
17John Sheean NSW420
17Rick Giles USA420
17Alexander Cook NSW420
17John Compton NSW420
17Robyn Compton NSW420
25Lindsay Coker Vic410
25Bastiaan Korner NED410
25Mats Nilsland SWE410
25Roger Watts 410
25Andrew MacAlister GBR410
25Michael Smart ACT410
25Mats Hedstrom SWE410
25Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN410
25David Monahan NSW410
34Valter Johansson SWE400
35Larry Brose USA390
35Julian Gauld NSW390
35Bill Bennett Vic390
35Jeff Brokenshire ACT390
35Barbara Whitmee Qld390
35Denis Haynes ACT390
35Susan Dyne 390
35Ron Landgraff USA390
35Peter Tarlinton NSW390
35Brian Morgan Vic390
35Margaret Reid NSW390
35Erin Tewes ACT390
35Bob Samuels NSW390
35Duncan Roe Vic390
49Peter Qvist 380
49Zbych Bednarek POL380
49Joe Lentz USA380
49Conny Wahlgren SWE380
49Niklas Warne SWE380
54Arthur Porter SA370
54Michael Yuen NSW370
54Manuel Paulo POR370
54Ingerun Sjosvard SWE370
54Damo Nair USA370
54Gary Lane NSW370
54Rosalind Dey NSW370
54Rabbi Helman 370
54Ron Lel LAO370
54Phil Davis NZL370
64Derek Pocock WA360
64Leigh Blizzard Tas360
64Mark Reeve GBR360
64Ivan Demeny NSW360
64Fraser Rew NZL360
69Barry Teeger NSW350
69Joe O'Flynn Vic350
69Dean Eidler NZL350
69Tom Moss NSW350
69Fred Altstock Vic350
74Tony Treloar Qld340
74Penelope Young NSW340
74Terry Dunne USA340
74Annie Fletcher 340
74Paul Janicki CAN340
74Jean-Francois Fohrer 340
74Bridge Baron USA340
74Leigh Matheson NSW340
74Dean Pokorny 340
74John R. Mayne USA340
84Michael Davy Vic330
84Robert Black SA330
84Michael Wilkinson NSW330

Leading scores for 2009
1Larissa Cowlishaw ACT960
2Tom Kiss NSW940
3Peder Linder SWE930
3Rick Lu NSW930
5Leon Slonim Vic920
6Mats Nilsland SWE910
6John Sheean NSW910
6Ian Patterson Qld910
9Rainer Herrmann GER900
9Tony Nunn NSW900
9Michael Smart ACT900
12Andrew Macalister GBR890
12Rick Giles USA890
14Alexander Cook NSW880
14John Compton NSW880
14Joe Lentz USA880
17Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN870
17Manuel Paulo POR870
17Boris Richter CRO870
20David Hester SA860
20Bastiaan Korner NED860
20Lindsay Coker Vic860
23Damo Nair USA850
23Rosalind Dey NSW850
23Niklas Warne SWE850
23Conny Wahlgren SWE850
23Mark Reeve GBR850
23Ingerun Sjosvard SWE850
23John Furedy NSW850
23Zbych Bednarek POL850
31Ivan Demeny NSW840
31Kay O'Connor NSW840
31Leigh Blizzard Tas840
31Denis Haynes ACT840
31Julian Gauld NSW840
31Ron Landgraff USA840
31Ron Lel LAO840
31David Davies GBR840
39Tony Treloar Qld830
40Tim Francis-wright USA820
40Jill Graham NSW820
40Robert Black SA820
40Paul Janicki CAN820
40Fraser Rew NZL820
40John R. Mayne USA820
46Brian Morgan Vic810
46Phil Davis NZL810
46Larry Brose USA810
46Valter Johansson SWE810
46Mats Hedstrom SWE810
46Niek Van Vucht ACT810
52Jeff Brokenshire ACT800
52Bill Bennett Vic800
52Leigh Matheson NSW800
52Michael Wilkinson NSW800
52Michael Yuen NSW800
57Peter Tarlinton NSW790
57Peter Stride Qld790
57Dominic Connolly NSW790
60Dean Eidler NZL780
60Erin Tewes ACT780
60Alan Jones Qld780
60Michael Burt ACT780
60Gary Lane NSW780
60Alvin P. Bluthman USA780
60Arthur Porter SA780
60Michael Davy Vic780
60Pontus Silow SWE780
60Tania Black SA780
70Paul Gipson GBR770
70Duncan Roe Vic770
70Tom Moss NSW770
73Fred Altstock Vic760
73Sam Arber Vic760
75Rex Fox Vic750
75Pravin Nahar NSW750
75Dean Pokorny 750
75Eino Backman SWE750
75Bridge Baron USA750
75Stephen Bartos ACT750
75Joe O'Flynn Vic750
82Pat O'Connor NSW740
82Robert Back SWE740
82Paul Freeland NZL740
82Robert Fisher Qld740
82Trish Whitton NSW740
82David Winter Vic740
82David Read NSW740
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 April issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your April issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.