Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- August-September 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, 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) QT8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQT3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 53
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J972


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



Call Award %
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1006551
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 702531
1NT 501013
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 003
Other 002

Our first problem this month is a straightforward question of hand valuation, with the choice between 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Fraser Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Excellent problem, I changed my mind about three times. If P is 2344 notrumps will be best, if 1444 hearts will be best, with 2443 it's not certain. If 1NT is wrong it will be very wrong (-100 or +90 vs +620), whereas if 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is wrong it will be -100 vs +90. Pard can still bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if he has extras with a 3-card suit, or if balanced with a half-stop (Kx would be great).

Ron Lel: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This hand is just not good enough to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There is really not much to choose between 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 1NT and I would be happy with either at the table. If partner raises to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I will bid 3NT. On the other hand, if I bid 1NT he will need a pretty decent 5 card heart suit and a good hand to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), so I think a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid is more flexible.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have much better than a minimum so 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is out of the question. 3NT is still possible if partner tries 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

While 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the bid we would make with a yarborough, rather than our actual 9-10 count, most people did not feel the hand justified a jump to the 3-level. Some people thought that 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) described our values adequately:

Maurice Buxton: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On the transferred king principle, although I don't like it much. Still, if partner can't find another bid, we're probably not going anywhere, and West may help us out.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not good enough to cuebid or bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Lindsay Coker: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hope this will encourage partner with 16+ points, discourage him with only 13 or so.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This hand is just not worth 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 1NT is a bad compromise between 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Anthony Goldstein: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Is there another bid? 1NT must deny the possible 4-4 fit in hearts

Ron Landgraff: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why is this problem here?

Others were influenced by the spade suit:

Boris Richter: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 1NT is the only bid that shows values, but partner will infer that we are not broke if West passes, while from our subsequent 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) rebid if West does not pass. So 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) for me, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be a little light on values since we have some potentially wasted spade honors and our opponents seemingly don't have a spade fit.

Roger Yandle: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A bit of an underbid but I'm unsure at this stage whether my spades are worth anything.

Dean Eidler: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Lack of spade raise has me worried.

Rex Fox: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opposite a min double (x Kxxx AQxx Kxxx) 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is enough, images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q figures to be useless

Frank Campbell, Tony Treloar, David Johnson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Seems enough. My images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q may be worthless.

Tim Francis-Wright: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). While 1NT is right on values, I am not that thrilled with my spades. With 2 points in LHO's suit, this is not that good a 9-count, so 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is high enough, thank you.

Michael Burt: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partners double (not many spades) and West sitting over my holding makes NT risky. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the next best bid given my hand is probably only worth 7 points (nothing for the spades given West is behind me).

One advantage of an underbid like 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is that it limits our hand so that we have more freedom in the rest of the auction. Several of the 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders are expecting to have a chance to catch up later:

Paul Freeland: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Sure, this doesn't show any points whatsoever, but it does rightside the contract (who wants a spade through QT8). If partner moves, we'll be in game.

Peter Oakley: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Excellent hearts but not quite enough strength to jump. Something in reserve if doubler invites with 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A tough choice between bidding up the line or showing a major. We may be playing in a 4-4 or 4-3 fit in hearts, unless North has a big hand.

Duncan Roe: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). AB standard says 4 card suits up the line and no suit quality required for a suit response.

Just to be clear, the "four card suits up the line" rule is for bidding your suits while looking for a fit. Specifically it applies to the auction 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes); in all other auctions bidding four card suits is simply basic bridge, not a matter of system. But once you find a fit, you are allowed to show support. The system notes are not intended to force you to suppress major-suit support in favour of a four card minor.

Mats Nilsland: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No alternative gives us a better chance for the moment.

Lionel Gaffen: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A slight underbid, but unlikely that P has enough values for game if he can't raise to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Alvin P. Bluthman: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A tough one. If not for the spades I would bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (e. g. with xx AQTx xxx QJ9x). I choose not to bid notrump, because partner is asking for a suit, not for notrump, and I have the other major.

Ken Berry: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Were those 10's attempting to lure a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid?

No, the tens were attempting to lure a 1NT bid. We enticed several readers and a couple of experts.

Tim Bourke: 1NT. I'm not quite good enough for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) just doesn't express the hand. So, I choose the compromise action of 1NT and hope we can survive that choice.

Marshall Miles: 1NT. The spade holding will probably be worthless in a heart contract. A 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid would be too much, and a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid might cause us to miss a good game. If partner can't bid over my 1NT response, we probably have no game. If he can bid (2NT, for example), I can bid my hearts to give him a choice.

Pontus Silow: 1NT. Describes the hand type and my values. We can investigate hearts later. Hearts first and then no trump consumes much more bidding space.

Dean Pokorny: 1NT. I'm too strong for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and too offshape for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Therefore, I bid 1NT as 6-10. If my partner invites with 2NT, I'll bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) showing this type of hand.

Leigh Matheson: 1NT. Describes my hand better than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes): 6-9 points, balanced, spade stopper. The only thing I'm ashamed about is having 4 hearts, but that's not the end of the world.

Martyn Rew: 1NT. looks like we have the balance of points here, but if partner goes on, it should end up with him/her playing the heart contract.

Denis Haynes: 1NT. Show partner points (6-9) and some spades but no 5 card major.

Fred Altstock: 1NT. With 1 stopper in spades will let partner know my point range.

Frank Stewart: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I know world-class theorists who would bid 1NT. ("What if partner has only three hearts? What if he has a spade honor? 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows nothing.") I believe that trying to figure out what North has is the wrong approach. South should make the bid his own hand screams for.

A couple of inventors are looking to solve this problem by putting the 1NT bid to better (or at least different) use:

Conny Wahlgren: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Like to play 1NT negative so 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is positive with some 8+ points.

Sartaj, who contributed this problem, proposes the opposite meaning for 1NT:

Sartaj Hans: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I wonder if its worthwhile playing 1NT advance to double of 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as any 8-10 hand (balanced-ish), leaving the onus on the doubler to sort out stoppers and hearts etc. if they hold a game-going hand.

In the absence of an artificial 1NT bid, there is only one way to invite partner to game in hearts:

Barbara Hunter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There's enough to encourage game.

Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too good for 2 so lets get excited.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm not afraid to jump in a four-card suit.

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Passed hand but still 8 loser hand. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be enough but need to tell partner close to max.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to let partner know I have nine points and eight losers for hearts. Partner can go to game with a better than minimum hand.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding as if partner had opened 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (Acol). 1NT is a close runner-up.

That's a good way of looking at it; a takeout double of 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is really a lot like a 4-card major 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opening. Of course we would all raise an Acol 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to three with this hand. It doesn't take the spade wastage into account though.

Bridge Baron: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pretty much a minimum for this bid. Bridge Baron doesn't devalue the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q in this situation.

Henri de Jong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). NT may well be our best contract, but I do have a heart fit with partner and too strong to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Alan Jones: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I assume partner's double guarantees four hearts (or a massive hand).

The double is just a standard takeout double. It doesn't promise four hearts -- what would you do over 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with xx-AJx-AJxx-KJ10x? Keeping that in mind, several of the 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders do not feel that they are irreversibly committing to a heart contract:

David Monahan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Inviting game while showing the limit of my hand. 1NT looks a bit of an underbid and 2NT looks like an overbid especially with QTx before West but would be happy to accept if partner asks for help in stopping spades.

Paul Gipson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A tough choice with 1NT and 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) being reasonable options. Despite the dangerous spade holding I think I have to bid such a good 4-card suit and hope that partner gives me a chance to bid 3NT.

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It's a stretch but I'm vulnerable. 3NT is still available.

This deal is from Sartaj Hans, from the 6th round of the qualifying stage of the 2009 Yeh Bros Cup (some of the pips have been changed). North's hand is a mild disappointment, as he might have overcalled 1NT and saved us all a problem, although the double is perfectly reasonable:
spades KJ
hearts K104
diamonds A9632
clubs AQ7
spades A976543
hearts ---
diamonds KQ74
clubs K2
spades 2
hearts J87532 
diamonds J10
clubs 8653
spades Q108
hearts AQ96
diamonds 85
clubs J1094

It is still possible to reach 3NT if we respond 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and at the table 15 pairs out of 24 reached the solid 3NT for +630 or +660. Four pairs played 4hearts in the 4-3 fit going one off. Two pairs sold out to 3spades, +100, and another defended 4spades, +500. The other two pairs played in minor suit partscores.

Hand Two - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q762
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 42
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQT8652


West North East South
  1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 803531
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 301559
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 051

The next problem is deceptively simple, being a basic response to a 1-level opening. The readers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the cheap and easy 1-level response.

Roger Yandle: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This hand could well be a misfit so I'm going slowly.

Bastiaan Korner: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Don't like it, but nothing else available.

Paul Tranmer: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I hate having to do this, but there's no viable alternative. Please don't ask me what I'm going to do if pard rebids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)!

Bridge Baron: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bridge Baron bids majors before minors in almost all situations. However, if this were the French Bridge Bidding Forum and Bridge Baron had another five high-card points, it would bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), per Michel Lebel.

Nigel Guthrie: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). But pass at pairs.

Larissa Cowlishaw: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner likely to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as is usually the case and I would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) weak with a club suit.

If you would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with this hand, what would you bid with AQJxx-x-xx-AJ10xx? And more importantly, what do you do if partner bids 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)?

Sam Arber: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Only 5 loser hand but partner may get too excited if bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'll have a problem if partner now bids 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), as 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will be fourth suit forcing.

David Johnson: 1NT. I plan on rebidding clubs, which would mean something different if I start with 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

The problem of fourth suit forcing is a real one, and several people did not appear to see the problem coming:

Dean Pokorny: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What else? I see no reason for bidding 1NT instead of 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

David Matthews: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I bid my 4 card major. This is routine for me.

Michael Burt: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Cheapest bid available.

Barbara Whitmee: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Don't like to bid two clubs without ten points. If partner doesn't support spades I will bid clubs.

Lionel Gaffen: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Might be able to show club suit as being longer later, otherwise bid up the line.

Several people did see the problem coming, and have already worked out a plan in advance:

Alan Jones: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Planning to pass any red suit response.

Anthony Goldstein: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 1NT will not stand the postmortem after 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). And I'll now pass (unhappily) 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) from partner.

Peter Oakley: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not strong enough for 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes); looking ahead, I can hardly rebid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) -- or indeed over 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid when it might just be taken as 4th suit. So, with misfit looming, I'm making only one bid unless forced.

Margaret Reid: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Only room for one bid here.

Leigh Matheson: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The void heart in partner's suit is a downgrade not an upgrade. I plan to pass partner's next bid unless it's good news.

Any plan is better than no plan, and as plans go this is not a terrible one. The major drawback is we plan to play in a 6-card red suit fit, when there is a huge chance (approximately 100%) of finding at least a 7-card fit (more likely 8+) in one of the black suits. Specifically, one of the black minor suits.

Some people were fully aware of the risks of 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but were not willing to give up on the dream 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) contract:

Tony Treloar: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It might be hard to introduce the clubs later on, but 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will make it hard to find a spade fit and also misrepresent the overall strength of the hand.

Martyn Rew: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). any other bid would make spades very difficult to introduce. Clubs could end up being an excellent side suit.

Denis Haynes: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can be 4 only at the 1 level. Partner may be 5/4 in the majors.

Fred Altstock: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner might have 4 spades (hope) then can bring in clubs.

Dean Eidler: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have to look for the easiest game.

Paul Gipson: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Prepared to lose the spade suit in order to have a sensible call over a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) rebid.

Some of the readers mentioned the possibility of a 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response:

Bill Bennett: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1NT would deny four spades. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would not permit any rebid. So I make a weak jump takeout of 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Duncan Roe: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Essentially we have a misfit, and have now told the oppos what not to lead so I think 3 is enough.

Damo Nair: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'm never bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I wonder what 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is over 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

It doesn't mean what you want it to mean. The system notes are here -- they were written many years ago when Marty Bergen was just a promising young 500 player, so 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a fit-showing jump.

The equivalent auction to an intermediate 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response is 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) followed by 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This was the auction of choice for many readers:

Tim Francis-Wright: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would love to have a weak jump-shift available, or even a forcing NT (so I could rebid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)). The problem is do I bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and then 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and hope not to get too high, or bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and hope partner does not bid diamonds? I think the former is less likely to lead to a disaster.

Mats Nilsland: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)/1NT may be right but I prefer to bid and rebid clubs.

Paul Freeland: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Expecting to follow up with 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) after a likely 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/H rebid. If partner still wants to move then 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may still be a possibility, and if not, then 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may well be the only partscore making our way.

Fraser Rew: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I bid where I live. I'll bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next time.

Rex Fox: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With a faint hope of playing in 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Christer Enkvist: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Wouldn't surprise me the least if a pass would be the winning bid. Hopefully partner can find a pass on 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Ron Lel: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would certainly bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with my partner as we have the means to show a long club suit afterwards. I guess playing AB standard, I am bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) followed by 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

You can show a long club suit after any continuation from partner? That's a pretty good system, and well outside the realm of mortal players. Presumably some kind of transfer method such as fifth suit forcing; if you'd like to elaborate, I'll put a link to your methods here.

Toby Weinstein: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A tough problem. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) could be right.

Pontus Silow: 1NT. This is ugly if we do not have the opportunity of rebidding 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) after 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to show a limited hand with long clubs.

One of the expert panel did not see 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as a satisfactory substitute for an immediate 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response:

Phillip Alder: 1NT. If 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was natural and game-invitational, I would probably do that. As it is, I am going to show a relatively weak hand with a long club suit... I understand I am being a tad inconsistent by not bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) immediately has some pre-emptive value. And 1NT might cause all three opponents to misjudge.

Nevertheless, a third of the readers went for the 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response.

Manuel Paulo: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With these quite different black suits and a weak hand, I don't bid spades on my own.

Emil Battista: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1NT limits hand but the slight overbid of 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should not embarass. Partner may not have suitable hand for a 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rebid and we may miss out on a spade fit - bad luck!

Ken Berry: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hope my partner doesn't see this bid!

Barbara Hunter: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I think the suit is good enough to maybe over state the hand.

Boris Richter: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This best describes our hand, we should be counting tricks not HCP anyway. The 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) responses ( if invitational ) are a bigger misdescription of our hand in my opinion because we might have a play for a vulnerable game with some mildly fitting hands. Even 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) might make with some not perfectly fitting hands. Risky business but one generally does not pick a Ferrari for holidays in the countryside.

Peter Riddy: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). What I would really like is to find partner with Ax in clubs in 3NT. If he responds 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and then if I get 2NT I can respond 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Another difficult decision! If North repeats his hearts we then may be "forced" to try 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) which overstates our hand unless we find a fit in the black suits.

Actually, we have already found a fit in the black suits -- it's in our hand. 

Frank Campbell: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Unless partner has a good hand with spades, clubs is almost certainly our best spot. I would prefer not to have to bid clubs or NT over a force if I respond 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) initially.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Probably the best lie at IMPs vulnerable. Bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could be lucky and maybe correct if using 2/1! 1NT does not appeal.

Richard Morse: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1NT may be the correct technical bid but I cannot force myself to do it with a seven card suit and a void.....

The top scoring choice was 1NT. As Bill Bennett pointed out earlier, 1NT denies four spades, but the consensus of the expert panel was that we must ignore the spades on this occasion.

Maurice Buxton: 1NT. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be great if we find a fit. If we don't, the next bid is likely to be 2 of a red suit. Nasty. This way gives us a chance to get out in one piece if partner is weak and bids on by bidding 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next time around, and if they're strong we may still have time to find our best game.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 1NT. Forcing, I hope. To Goren, this would not be a problem. However, in the modern world, 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is about an ace stronger (and many, including me with some partners) play it as forcing to 3NT or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

David Monahan: 1NT. May miss out on a spade fit but much prefer the limit bid allowing me to bid long clubs over partner's likely 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) rebid.

Rainer Herrmann: 1NT. Not 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The choice is between 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 1NT

Hoi-Ming Chan: 1NT. Will follow up by bidding clubs to show 6+ clubs. Bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will bury the club suit.

Zbych Bednarek: 1NT. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should be GF, so 1NT is the lesser lie.

This deal was played by members of the NSW youth team in an online practice session on Bridge Base:
spades A3
hearts KQ1065
diamonds AJ1083
clubs 3
spades K10954
hearts AJ98
diamonds 5
clubs J94
spades J8
hearts 7432 
diamonds KQ976
clubs A7
spades Q762
hearts ---
diamonds 42
clubs KQ108652

Our South chose a 1spades response, and then after agonising for no less than 60 seconds decided to pass North's 2diamonds rebid. This was one down, but an excellent result as all other pairs got into trouble.

Five pairs played in hearts, mostly doubled at the four-level, going three or four off. No one attempted a 1NT response, but those who responded 2clubs managed to settle in 4clubs for two undoubled undertricks.

Hand Three - North deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QT5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KT8432
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ8


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


Call Award %
3NT 100 5024
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90 2016
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 70 1021
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 50 59
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 50 58
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 50 54
Pass 20 512
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20 07

An exciting problem here, with the panel coming up with seven different bids, and the readers throwing in an eighth for good measure. Given such diversity, it is interesting that half the panel went for the straightforward 3NT signoff.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. Partner should have some heart stopper; so, I try the nine-trick game.

Christer Enkvist: 3NT. Asking for a heart stopper (3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)) can lead to several bad things: West can find a lead directing double and perhaps even worse, East will get the lead and will be able to lead from his 4 or perhaps even 5-card suit! No, a direct 3NT makes a heart lead from West very difficult.

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. Guessing.

Sam Arber: 3NT. May be spade ruff in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) partner must have some value in hearts for opening bid.

Bastiaan Korner: 3NT. may be wrong sometimes, but probably right most of the time

Henri de Jong: 3NT. The most likely game contract. Partner will have some hearts as he has very few values in the minors.

Lindsay Coker: 3NT. This may make, whereas 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) surely has no play.

Paul Freeland: 3NT. Tough problem, opposite some 13 counts (images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AQ and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K) 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks great, whereas opposite some 15 counts (images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)KQJ, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AQ, images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K) you can't even make 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Toby Weinstein: 3NT. Could be off the first 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) tricks.

Not the strongest argument for a 3NT bid, but it gets the top score.

If we aren't willing to bid 3NT on our own, we have to address the systemic issue of the meaning of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Alvin P. Bluthman: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Boehm's Law. Trying for game in notrump, with two stoppers as yet unbid, bid the stopper you have, and let partner complete the sequence by bidding 3NT with a heart stopper. If he declines (by 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)), you can then decide whether to pass or to go to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

This is the only treatment of this sequence that I have ever seen, and it was supported by several expert panellists:

Larry Cohen: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If I wanted to "ask" I could bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to show heart values, so I suspect this "tells". At least, that's what I will say in the postmortem.

Tim Cope: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This should show a spade value (I could bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if i was looking for a spade stopper). Still the toughest problem of the set, as I will need partner's diamonds to be good enough to get the suit to run for 3N to be right, and the range of possibilities for successful contracts could be anywhere from a partscore in diamonds, to NT being the only game or even a slam in diamonds opposite different 12 counts that partner may have. This bid gives partner enough room to determine where we go from here.

Jack Lai: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No heart stopper. Partner, please bid 3NT if you have one.

Boris Richter: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We do worry about hearts, they don't have a spade fit and partner does not have four hearts in my opinion. We don't want to miss a vulnerable game.

Mats Nilsland: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Where is the hearts? Why doesn't West raise spades? At the table I would have bid 3 NT but I need some points...

Richard Morse: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Tough problem. A minor suit slam is certainly not out of the question and the advantage of 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is that it gives partner more space to express his hand.

Interestingly, several readers chose the same bid even though they believed it asked for a stopper instead of showing one!

Ian Patterson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Does partner have control of spades?

Margaret Reid: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe pd can bid NT.

Rex Fox: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Need help in spades for NT.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Stopper asking.

Bill Bennett: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Western cuebid. If North bids 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I will consider 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

And some didn't care whether it showed or asked, they just wanted to be dummy:

Paul Tranmer: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'm trying to right side 3NT here. It rates to play much better from North than from South. With no spade raise from West and no heart bids from either opponent pard rates to be 3-4-3-3 shape and so a heart lead round to North would be better than one through him (I hope!).

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3NT would play better from partner's hand. Presumably this bid also denies hearts, by inference, since I might have bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) instead.

Similarly, several people believed 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to be asking, not showing:

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Asking partner for a heart stopper/s for a 3NT game.

Tim Francis-Wright: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bad news: partner had a cue-bid available and did not use it. Good news: partner could have a really lousy hand (xx KJx AQx Jxxxx) and we'd have good play for 3NT. Asking for help in hearts will get us to 3NT when it has play.

Roger Yandle: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm hoping this is a stopper ask - if I had hearts stopped and was looking for NT without spades covered I could always cue bid.

And then there was one mad genius who knew 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) showed hearts, but chose it anyway:

Dean Pokorny: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner doesn't have four hearts. So, I'll bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) trying to avoid a heart lead against 3NT.

Whatever the meaning of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), they take on a new meaning on the next round of bidding. If partner bids 3NT and we continue on, then that reveals our 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid to have been an advance cue, showing control of hearts and interest in a diamond slam. Several people were not planning to settle for 3NT:

Jill Courtney: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am assuming partner has denied four hearts and now wish to see where she goes next. I doubt I'll pass 3NT, although there is some case. Where are all the hearts?? Sounds like we've got too many spades but 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be a good spot, so probably I'll bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if 3NT appears from partner.

Tim Trahair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cue bid showing 1st or 2nd round control in hearts. Game is probably on somewhere e.g. 3NT or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), possibly even slam.

Peter Qvist: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looking for a diamond slam.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cuebid on way to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), maybe diamond slam? Over my 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), if partner bids 3NT, pass from me, if partner bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (positive) 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) from me.

Peter Riddy: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Trust partner will take this as agreeing diamonds and cue bidding hearts. He may bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3NT when I will bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) showing images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A. I will convert any further club bid into diamonds.

Speaking of cuebids, there was significant reader support for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as a slam try, either due to doubt about 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as an advance cue, or an unwillingness to cue a 2nd round control on the first round.

Peter Oakley: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Cue, and great fits. If partner has the spade ace we should get to the diamond slam.

Maurice Buxton: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Is this here because partner has a heart stop and 3NT makes with 5-minor going down, or because partner doesn't and vice-versa? A guess, but since 3NT could be iffy even if partner does have a heart stop, and going for the minor allows for slam possibilities with as little as x Axx Axxx Kxxxx opposite I'll head the minor route.

Damo Nair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). May be its not such a bad idea to go beyond 3NT with that diamond suit.

Robert Black: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Where have all the hearts gone?

Fraser Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if I were still on the panel, but I don't think that it will score so highly. LHO will normally lead whichever major is right vs. 3NT. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will make almost all the time that 3NT does, and a lot more besides. Would he open/rebid NT with 2245? If he has this shape with a 12-count all games may be off.

It's true, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) didn't score so highly; not because it was a bad choice, but because the majority were looking to play in 3NT rather than slam. If you are looking for slam, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an excellent choice and it scored as well as all the other slam tries.

Frank Stewart: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will apologize if North has Jx-KQ-AJxx-K10xxx but accept congratulations if he has A-Jxx-AJxx-K10xxx.

David Matthews: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am going to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) so I may as well see if partner likes a splinter in Hearts

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT could be right (or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be the limit) but hard to reach with any certainty.

Conny Wahlgren, Mats Hedstöm: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter.

Pontus Silow: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter. I would love to see 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) by partner.

In contrast to those who were looking for slam, some people were still looking for game:

Emil Battista: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner's failure to bid hearts or cue bid spades makes me a little cautious so wimping out with 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Bridge Baron: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The spade stopper is great, but with no heart stopper and an unbalanced hand, Bridge Baron gives up on 3NT. There's almost enough to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) directly, especially with the likely ten-card fit; one more point anywhere would do it for Bridge Baron. But no cigar, so it's a maximum invitational 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Michael Burt: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We look to have a double fit in diamonds and clubs which means cover in hearts and spades is likely to be thin with NT being very risky. Diamond game looks possible but my spade values are not worth much in diamonds. Just strong enough to invite game.

Ken Berry: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Where are the hearts??

In fact the sole 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidder on the expert panel intended 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) not as a cue for slam, but as an invitation to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes):

Ted Chadwick: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It could be right to pass, but I make one final attempt to go minus on the hand with my natural game try of 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Game try highlighting where my values lie.

Anthony Goldstein: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Where are my partners points? Surely not in both spades and hearts. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and he can pick the minor suit game call.

Having looked at the game bids, the slam tries, and the game invitations, we must give equal space (but not equal points) to the passers:

Larissa Cowlishaw: Pass. After some thought, partner neither jumped nor bid hearts nor bid the opponent's suit for NT.

Martyn Rew: Pass. Any movement toward a game contract would need more from partner than he has indicated in two bids.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. I hate it but where are the hearts and spades? 3NT and five diamonds are tempting but I don't put either as more than 33%.

Tim Bourke: Pass. I'd bid 3NT at the table in a heartbeat but I believe either pass or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a better choice.

Which brings us to the final choice, game in our best fit:

David Monahan: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fast arrival gives a clear message that while loser count is likely to be good, my controls are likely to be poor.

Frank Campbell: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't like my spade stopper enough to ask for a heart stopper so will try for the minor game. Hopefully we won't get a spade ruff.

Tony Treloar: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looks like the best game. If partner had good stoppers in the majors then he should have bid 2NT.

Duncan Roe: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not enough for slam so go straight to game.

Barbara Whitmee: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Safest game at IMPs.

Fred Altstock: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Should have a diamond game.

Barbara Hunter: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With the double fit in clubs & diamonds seems a reasonable contract.

This problem was provided by Ron Klinger. North held: images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)J32 images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)AK83 images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AJ6 images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)752. We don't have the East-West hands, but 3NT is a very likely make. Both 3NT and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) require you to find the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q, but 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) also needs a blockage in spades as well as the club finesse.

Hand Four - South deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKQT7
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJT92
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T3


West North East South
      1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass pass dbl ?
Call Award %
Pass 1005527
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 704057
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2050
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2007
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 005
Rdbl 003
Other 001


We try to avoid problems with only two possible answers in this column, unless there is a particularly good reason. This hand makes the cut because it has implications for the play of the hand itself, not just the final contract. Also it gave us the chance to see if one of our expert panellists put his money where his mouth is:

Frank Stewart: Pass, of course. The (exact) deal below appeared in my syndicated column on June 16, 2008. West cashed two spades and shifted to the queen of diamonds. Declarer won, took the ace of trumps, and then led the king of clubs and a club to the ace. When West followed, South gave him 5-1-2-5 distribution and finessed with the ten of trumps to make the contract. My column suggested that West's 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid was a losing action. Is it possible that someone Down Under is trying to trap me? For shame!?
spades J64
hearts 63
diamonds 8653
clubs A654
spades AKQ107
hearts 4
diamonds QJ1092
clubs 103
spades 952
hearts J752 
diamonds 74
clubs QJ98
spades 83
hearts AKQ1098
diamonds AK
clubs K72

Michael Burt: Pass. Change the vulnerability and I will bid. Partner's pass means they are likely to have game in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and we will be two off doubled if we bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bidding will just give useful information to the opposition and may enable them to work out who has the missing queen of hearts if they have to guess.

Hoi-Ming Chan: Pass. Partner passed your 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid and therefore the opps have the majority of points. Why give them a blueprint to play the hand?

So there is the trap; did you see it coming?

Mats Nilsland: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What else?

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Automatic, IMO.

Bastiaan Korner: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can't think of anything else.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Well partner didn't like spades.

Tony Treloar: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just bidding out the hand-5 loser, 2 suiter, poor defensive values. I don't see any danger bidding this.

Boris Richter: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Well, we do have something. Good intermediates, perfect shape and honor solidity.

In addition to the fear of helping the opponents, some people thought that simply being in the auction was too risky:

Richard Morse: Pass. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is tempting but although West does not rate to have a trap pass, even one down doubled might be a bad result at this vulnerability. I cannot see that bidding 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at this stage does anything other than help the opposition.

Lionel Gaffen: Pass. Optional 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), as partner shows next to nothing, but since vul, decided to pass.

Duncan Roe: Pass. After partner couldn't raise 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'm disinclined to bid again. Redouble is tempting but then E could take it out

Alvin P. Bluthman: Pass. At least an ace short of 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If LHO bids (as expected), you will be safe. If he passes (penalties), and partner redoubles (SOS), you can reconsider. Otherwise, why not give yourself the best chance to play in spades?

In contrast to Alvin and Duncan, who would like to give partner the chance to pass out 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled, here is one person whose motivation is to get out of that contract:

Manuel Paulo: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Consider North holding J-xxxxx-874-xxxx and East xx-AJxx-AKx-KQxx. We lose -500 at 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled, but we win 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Its my turn isn't it? What's -800 between friends?

Not only is it risky for us to be in the auction, there is also the possibility that the opponents may be in trouble:

Alan Jones: Pass. Opponents have the balance of the points but no fit as yet. West presumably has spades, and east at most four hearts. Partner appears to have hearts and clubs and I am happy to lead diamonds against a no trump contract, so I prefer to let them struggle in a misfit.

And there is still another powerful reason for staying out of the auction: the opening lead.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Go quietly (they may easily have game and you would prefer a spade lead?). Maybe further bidding will reveal something. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled could be a great contract!

Ron Lel: Pass. In my younger days I used to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on hands like this. I think it was Klinger who once suggested a 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid should show willingness for that suit to be led. I prefer spades.

Ron Klinger: Pass. To bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) here suggests either a much stronger hand or a desire for a diamond lead rather than a spade. Since a spade lead is preferable, there is no interest in introducing the diamonds. I can compete to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) comes back to me and perhaps to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if that seems sane. On a really good day, they might even end up in diamonds if I pass here.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. I see little point in suggesting an alternative lead to spades.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. 2nd suit should be lead directing.

So what are the arguments in favour of bidding? Is it just a primeval instinct to describe our hands?

Margaret Reid: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just bid my shape.

Barbara Hunter: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 5-5 worth showing?

Peter Oakley: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A reasonable second suit shouldn't be suppressed.

Peter Riddy: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Think I am strong enough to show this suit to partner.

Or do we really have a genuine need to be in this auction?

Tim Francis-Wright: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to give partner a chance to play in 2 of a red suit.

Michael Yuen: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tell partner our shape now, or we will have to make a guess later at a higher level

Paul Gipson: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Safer to compete for the part score now than later.

Henri de Jong: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Diamonds may be no good in a spade contract, but spades may well be good for a diamond contract. It is also better to bid my diamonds now at a low level before the enemy bids hearts and we need to show our diamonds at a level higher.

Martyn Rew: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A pass or redouble here would force West in to action. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be enough to keep them as passed and partner can show a preference.

David Matthews: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Trying to find the best part score suit.

Maurice Buxton: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To give partner a chance to consider contributing after they bid lots of hearts.

David Monahan: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Encouraging partner to choose but not risking too much at this vulnerability if partner is a complete bust.

Ken Berry: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Why am I always vulnerable? At least I have pre-empted West from bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Speaking of preempting, it's time to look at those who thought 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) was not even enough to describe this hand. First, the disciplined ones:

Sam Arber: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is too high. need to show second suit. also bid should show extra values or distribution.

Fraser Rew: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't want to get partner too excited. If 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) were pre-emptive that would be fine, but I'm not going to tempt fate.

Roger Yandle: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let pard know my shape then he can decide where to go from here

Anthony Goldstein: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Must give partner a second opportunity - and I am over the double. If the vulnerability  were favourable I would bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Emil Battista: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Nice hand, but 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should not be end of bidding.

Dean Pokorny: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Unfavorable vulnerability for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would be enough.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tempting to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but 2 will give us a bit more bidding room and is a good description of our hand.

Bridge Baron: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With 5-5, Bridge Baron always bids its second suit at the two-level, given the opportunity. With the playing strength of the spade suit, this hand is nowhere near a pass for Bridge Baron; it would bid even a four-card diamond suit with no qualms. Bridge Baron sees no point in bidding at the three-level with a very weak partner.

Slightly less disciplined:

Ingerun SJosvard: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Now they cant bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Freeland: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This seems to take up the most room, while being relatively safe, and not making it obvious for the opposition what to do. I think a 2/3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid make it easier for EW to decide correctly whether to compete or not.

And some were not so restrained:

Bill Bennett: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 5 loser hand is worth this bid. It may make things difficult for West

Paul Tranmer: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A calculated overbid, hopefully making it harder for EW to locate their almost certain heart fit. In my style my 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid promises equal length suits so pard doesn't have to agonise about correcting.

Lindsay Coker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Gives distribution so partner can choose. Yeah, we're still talking.

Dean Eidler: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Stronger hand start with a redouble. This is more preemptive than constructive.

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Trying to shut them out of their probable heart fit.

Finally, here are a couple of minorities who just like to throw in a bit of confusion. You have to admire a person who is willing to psyche at unfavourable vulnerability, especially when their only reward is a score based solely on the popularity of their bid:

Jill Courtney: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is premised mostly on them playing responsive doubles and knowing I have outs when the doubling process starts. I may re-think it if a double of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows hearts. It is of course a risible and derisory bid but it also has the strategic advantage of preventing them from easily differentiating between what would have been a two heart response over my two diamond bid or a three heart jump making hand evaluation less easy. For this reason also the proper choice would be three diamonds but I prefer to experiment with throwing this spanner into the works occasionally. I nevertheless happily accept my masochistically low score.

Christer Enkvist: 1NT. EW most likely makes 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), only way of making it difficult is a hazardous (telling them the fit as well as giving them the chance of penalties). A forceful 1NT bid may lead the opponents astray.

As already noted, this hand is from Frank Stewart's bridge column. Thanks to Avon Wilsmore for spotting this in the New York Post and giving us a copy.

Hand Five - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQT
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AKJT4
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ---
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 75432


West North East South
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) dbl 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?


Call Award %
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1007016
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 801527
5NT 8051
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 401035
Dbl 40010
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3004
4NT 004
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 001
3NT 001

As usual I have saved the most exciting hand for last, and I have to say I did not expect to get a 70% majority for any bid on this hand. It's a tough ask to expect the readers to vote for an immediate and unilateral jump to the six-level; congratulations to those who found the winning bid:

Zbych Bednarek: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). ( I am not chicken) I can not see how to explore values in clubs at partner's hand ? With 55 minors he should bid 4NT. Seems 5431 or 4441 with short spades.

Rainer Herrmann: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Give the last guess to the opponents.

Tony Treloar: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Difficult to bid even in established partnerships. If in doubt bid the contract that you think will make.

toby weinstein: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hard to investigate right contract and strain.

Michael Yuen: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't know any more scientific way to explore/avoid the slam

Bastiaan Korner: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should be close.

Barbara Whitmee: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should have a good chance.

Alexander Cook: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The practical bid.

Ingerun SJosvard: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If I invite, how will partner know to accept with x-Qxxx-KJxx-KQJ?

While the top reader vote went to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), there were some who considered 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to be an underbid:

Christer Enkvist: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Most of the time when we makes 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) North will find the raise. To scientifically locate 13 tricks will be difficult and more often than not a worse guess than after a jump to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Practical bidding, since it is very hard to find a good grand slam.

Boris Richter: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Getting to a reasonable grand slam is an illusion but we will try. We don't want partner to pick a slam because we have a clear preference for hearts and that is why I intend to bid 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) next. He would have bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 3N with the appropriate game forcing hand and long diamonds, I don't know if 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is an available option for him but 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) followed by 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) certainly is.

Margaret Reid: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We have 6 of something here - maybe 7.

Henri de Jong: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may well be the most practical bid, but that excludes getting to a grand. If partner bids 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) we'll get to our H. Opponents have very little and may hold some C or D honours. If we bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) we may not get to even a small slam.

If 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an underbid, so is this:

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Timid.

Lindsay Coker: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Almost certainly an underbid, but what else? 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 3NT? Horrible.

Tim Trahair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Enough for the time being. Probably EW will try 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - which could well be on if they have a diamond fit as well as a heart fit. Our next port of call may be 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has hearts and a minor! Easy game and maybe slam if he has clubs as well.

The obvious motivation for the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid is the concern about our ability to know whether we can make slam -- when in doubt, go plus:

Alan Jones: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It's all a gamble. At least this is game.

Roger Yandle: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The opps have made life too hard so I'm bidding what I think will give me a reasonable positive score.

Bridge Baron: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bridge Baron should probably be thinking about slam in this situation, but it has no tools to do so. It's clearly strong enough to bid game.

Then there are those who don't really believe we are making slam anyway:

Rex Fox: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bad breaks mean slam is hard to find with any precision, get a plus.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). May miss slam, but partner is likely to have wastage in diamonds and it is likely east will have club honors over our partner's club honors.

Maurice Buxton: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not to get too carried away. He's quite likely to be points-heavy in diamonds with several losing clubs, and if not, well, we've neither missed slam nor gone too high yet.

Robert Black: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Perhaps an underbid but can partner stop club ruffs?

Michael Burt: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q10 are likely to be wasted values. Partner may have long diamonds which is not good for a potential slam. Slam may be there but may well be marginal. 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is enough encouragement for the moment.

Ron Lel: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There are likely to be wasted values in the pointed suits, so I think a simple 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is best.

Another motivation for bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the desire to make sure that partner doesn't end up bidding the hearts first. Of course, this tenuous argument supports both 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)...

Martyn Rew: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The expectation of a spade lead should mean more tricks if played by South. Slam might well be on but unlikely to be there if played by North

Peter Oakley: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Darn these weak 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)! Partner would have difficulty judging further action over double, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or even 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I need to be declarer. too.

Paul Freeland: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Firstly, no need to try and right-side this contract unless South is planning on playing in notrumps, and even then it is unlikely that West will lead away from the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, so... either punt 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or bid 5NT hoping that it is some sort of two places to play bid, and correct 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Ken Berry: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It seems that I want to be declarer, to protect images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)AQ... my partner would surely have heart tolerance and some values some where, even if I find both minor AK's is 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) enough? So I don't go looking.. I just bash!

... and also one of the invitations:

Bill Bennett: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). N should not have a 2 minor suit hand and slam is quite possible.

I don't find the argument of needing to be dummy all that convincing; partner probably has a singleton spade anyway, and who's to say that he will even bid the hearts first? So what do we have available apart from the immediate heart bids? A quarter of the readers went for the cuebid:

Lionel Gaffen: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3NT was on my mind, but decided on 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show a big hand, looking for a slam in hearts or clubs, to be worked out.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Best way to get to slam which seems highly possible.

Joe Lentz: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think I have to make one slam try. Partner's club holding is crucial but undiscoverable. If partner bids 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I will try 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Emil Battista: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think we are going places although diamond void may contribute to driving on wrong side of the road.

Sam Arber: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Like to be in slam. if partner bids 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) convert to hearts. considered 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid forcing to slam.

David Monahan: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Need a strong bid telling partner about my slam interest (good loser count and good controls, while also allowing for a possible club fit to emerge). I would take a 4NT reply as RKCB in hearts, would bid a cautious 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) reply and bid slam over 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Fraser Rew: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). On a spade lead vs 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I get dummy's clubs off on my spades. This could so easily get us overboard but, as our moderator has told me more than once, I am too aggressive against preempts.

Damo Nair: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) when North bids 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I'll say 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Richard Morse: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Remarkable - did this hand really happen? I might as well discover what I can about partner's hand before making a commitment......

Paul Gipson: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Seems easier to cue bid first and work out suits later.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slams are possible everywhere!

Manuel Paulo: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This looks easy. Hard will be the next round.

Mats Nilsland: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). To begin with. I partner bids anything but clubs I will bid 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) next.

Peter Riddy: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). To show spade control and slam interest. Partner may respond 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and I will bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) hoping he can either bid 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't know how to get partner to show whether he has first, second, or no control of clubs (about all I need for 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), even for 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)). But I can show great strength, followed by hearts.

The readers' 2nd most popular slam try was the double (all of the following readers intend this double as a takeout):

Leon Slonim: Dbl. I know you have hearts. How strong are your minors.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. A simple responsive double at this stage. We could have slam in Clubs or Hearts or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be enough. I need more info from partner and this seems the best way to get it.

Leigh Matheson: Dbl. Double first, bid hearts later and hope partner gets the message.

David Matthews: Dbl. Should I make a stronger bid like 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? Problem is that it pushes us past 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which might be the best contract. Double keeps all options open as I can bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as slam is likely.

Pontus Silow: Dbl. Tough. I have no better bid available this round.

And finally, one last slam try (not Blackwood):

Paul Tranmer: 4NT. Showing 2 places to play. If pard bids 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I'll raise to 6 and if pard bids 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I'll bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Says it all really!

This deal is also from Sartaj, from Sydney's North Shore congress earlier this year. We do not have the full deal, but we do know that slam was making, with North holding AKJ of clubs.

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.

Top scores for August
1Peder Linder SWE470
1Alvin P Bluthman USA470
3Tony Nunn NSW460
4Rainer Herrmann GER450
4Niklas Warne SWE450
4Richard Morse GBR450
4Zbych Bednarek POL450
4 Erin Tewes NSW450
4Paul Janicki CAN450
9Pravin Nahar NSW430
9Hoi-Ming Chan NSW430
11Boris Richter CRO420
11Mats Nilsland SWE420
13Rex Fox Vic410
13Ron Lel LAO410
13Lionel Gaffen 410
16Toby Weinstein USA400
16Manuel Paulo POR400
18Stephen Bartos ACT390
18David Monahan NSW390
18Jennifer Winney 390
21Michael Wilkinson NSW380
21Ian Spight NSW380
21Ian Patterson Qld380
21Paul Freeland NZL380
21Ron Landgraff USA380
21Christer Enkvist SWE380
21Tom Estenson 380
21John Sheean NSW380
29Arthur Robbins 370
29Ian Erratt NSW370
29Rick Lu NSW370
29Tony Treloar Qld370
29Barbara Hunter NSW370
29Derek Pocock WA370
29Bastiaan Korner NED370
29Ken Berry NSW370
37Maurice Buxton GBR360
37Paul Lee SWE360
37Lennart Kjellman 360
40Paul Gipson GBR350
40Michael Davy Vic350
40Peter Qvist DEN350
40Peter Oakley NZL350
40Michael Yuen NSW350
40Jean-Francois Fohrer 350
40Fraser Rew NZL350
40Sam Arber Vic350
40Arthur Porter SA350
40Dominic Connolly NSW350
40Valter Johansson SWE350
51Tim Trahair NSW340
51David Johnson CAN340
51Alan Jones Qld340
51Tobias Bende SWE340
51Tom Moss NSW340
51Ed O'Brien CAN340
51Andrew Macalister GBR340
51Alexander Cook NSW340
51Gareth Birdsall GBR340
60Andrew Thompson NZL330
60Tim Francis-wright USA330
60Dean Eidler NZL330
60Richard Rounds USA330
60Ivan Demeny NSW330
60Rick Giles USA330
60Eino Backman SWE330
60Hsu Tse Lin 330
68Peter Nuoristo SWE320
68Peter Swensson SWE320
68Kay O'Connor NSW320
71David Read NSW310
71Gary Lane NSW310
71Nigel Guthrie GBR310
74Tom Kiss NSW300
74Dean Pokorny CRO300
74Damo Nair USA300
74Joe Lentz USA300
74Jack Lai 300

Leading scores for 2009
1Tony Nunn NSW1820
2Peder Linder SWE1800
3Rainer Herrmann GER1720
4Manuel Paulo POR1700
4Ian Patterson Qld1700
6Mats Nilsland SWE1680
6Ron Lel LAO1680
8Erin Tewes NSW 1670
8Niklas Warne SWE1660
8Zbych Bednarek POL1660
10Ron Landgraff USA1650
10Fraser Rew NZL1650
12Tom Kiss NSW1640
12Bastiaan Korner NED1640
12Boris Richter CRO1640
15Hoi-Ming Chan NSW1620
16Andrew MacAlister GBR1610
17Tony Treloar Qld1600
17Alvin P Bluthman USA1600
17Paul Gipson GBR1600
20Michael Yuen NSW1580
20Julian Gauld NSW1580
22Alexander Cook NSW1570
22Damo Nair USA1570
22Rick Giles USA1570
22John Sheean NSW1570
26Ivan Demeny NSW1560
26Joe Lentz USA1560
28Rick Lu NSW1550
28Paul Freeland NZL1550
30Lindsay Coker Vic1540
30Michael Wilkinson NSW1540
32Peter Stride Qld1530
32Kay O'Connor NSW1530
34Dominic Connolly NSW1520
35Pravin Nahar NSW1510
35Tom Moss NSW1510
37Michael Burt ACT1500
37Robert Black SA1500
39Arthur Porter SA1490
39Leon Slonim Vic1490
41Ingerun Sjosvard SWE1480
41Dean Pokorny CRO1480
43Larissa Cowlishaw ACT1470
43Peter Qvist DEN1470
43Michael Davy Vic1470
43Pontus Silow SWE1470
47Roger Yandle NSW1460
47Tim Francis-wright USA1460
49Sam Arber Vic1450
49Rex Fox Vic1450
51Eino Backman SWE1440
51Gary Lane NSW1440
51Valter Johansson SWE1440
51Derek Pocock WA1440
55Jeff Brokenshire ACT1420
55Barbara Whitmee Qld1420
55Leigh Blizzard Tas1420
55David Read NSW1420
59Barbara Hunter NSW1410
59Bill Bennett Vic1410
59Bridge Baron USA1410
59Paul Lee SWE1410
63John Compton NSW1440
63Alan Jones Qld1400
63Ian Spight NSW1400
63Pat O'Connor NSW1400
63Leigh Matheson NSW1400
68Peter Oakley NZL1390
68Denis Haynes ACT1390
68Conny Wahlgren SWE1390
68Frank Campbell NSW1390
72Niek Van Vucht ACT1380
72Christer Enkvist SWE1380
74Tim Trahair NSW1370
75Tania Black SA1360
75Peter Tarlinton NSW1360
77Henri De Jong Vic1350
77Toby Weinstein USA1350
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum. Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the October-November issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your August-September issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.