Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- October-November 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 - South deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ765
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) T954
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 7432


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



Call Award %
Dbl 1005040
Pass 902019
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 702529
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2057
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 001
Other 004

Welcome to our penultimate bidding forum for the year. The October-November magazine was a little late this year, and the December one is going out nice and early in time for Christmas -- this means there are only a few weeks in between issues this month, so if you haven't submitted your December answers yet, don't delay. Peder Linder has built up a big lead, but the rest of the top ten is packed close together with one set to come.

Our first problem this month is a toss-up between three actions:

Peder Linder: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Here we have three reasonable choices.
Pass: Too passive, pd will probably not be able to reopen due to his spade length.
Dbl: Will get us in all sorts of trouble, just imagine if pd passes.
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes): in my view the best bid. We may still be able to reach 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if that’s the best spot.

Jack Lai: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With weak hand, better bid the fit first.

Pontus Silow: Dbl. Most flexible, as the experts say.

Paul Tranmer: Dbl. Sorry, this seems so blindingly obvious I must be missing something...

Paul Gipson: Pass. I'm sure I'll be happier bidding on the next round rather than this one, even if it's over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled.

Barbara Hunter: Pass. If forced can bid next round but am not giving partner much encouragement.

Supporting, passing, or doubling. Let's start with the doublers, many of whom think they might get to a heart contract:

Frank Campbell: Dbl. This is the only way to get hearts in the frame. I am happy to play in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if that is partner's bid.

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Four or more hearts, seven or more points (counting three for the spade void): a mandatory negative double for Bridge Baron. Would also double over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. To bid hearts myself looks overdone; but, with a fit, I can suggest them.

Maha Hoenig: Dbl. Better than bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and losing the heart suit.

Michael Burt: Dbl. I have to show that I have something and (at least) four hearts. The bidding suggests that partner has at least 14 HCP. If partner has four hearts, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) could well be on as the 10 and 9 of diamonds could well be useful (as well as the void).

Wilma Domjan: Dbl. Looking for hearts and encouraging partner to show strength of hand and preferred suit.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. Partner may have four hearts and bid them now; or he may have four spades and pass for penalties. Suspect opponents have the balance of the HCP.

Alvin P Bluthman: Dbl. A negative double should be obvious. The only questions concern whether you are strong enough. Given the second place to play (partner can rebid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if he lacks heart support), this may be a non-issue.

What's obvious to one person is not always obvious to another person. Or to that same person on a different day...

Alvin P Bluthman (2nd answer): Pass. A minimum hand, worth a bid at the two level, not at the three level. (If East had overcalled 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I would bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) playing negative free bids and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) otherwise.) Another consideration is that partner is likely to hold wasted spade length/strength (three or four of the missing cards), which won't help him play in diamonds or help me play in hearts.

In reality there is very little chance that partner will bid the hearts for us, so some took matters into their own hands:

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I will not negative double nor bury the heart suit. Bidding hearts is an overbid but there is reason for optimism.

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows points and hearts and allows partner to confirm the major or alternatives.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Speak now or forever hold your piece. Surely 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) sends a fit-non-jump message. Whatever message it sends it's not far off the mark. If you double first then you have to make the last guess when it goes 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) passed back to you.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Can then support diamonds if partner does not like hearts.

A couple of people have a good reason for not worrying about the hearts:

David Hester: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If you are worth only one bid let it be to support partner. For competing against spades, diamonds are as good as hearts and a lot safer.

Nigel Kearney: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). They are likely to raise spades so I want to help partner make a decision and double suggests a different hand. Losing the heart suit may not matter if they continue to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Show the fit, let partner judge over West's likely 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (which should pinpoint our void if he's holding three small). No point looking for hearts when the chances of playing there are negligible and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is probably safer than 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) even if he has a few; at Matchpoints I'd double to keep that chance alive.

Michael Smart: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hearts are a distraction... unlikely we'll be allowed to declare 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) anyway, so show I show my fit and my (playing) strength immediately. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) positions partner better than a double when LHO bids the predicted 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) -- I have a trick in defense if pard doubles 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Good point -- and partner won't be pleased to find out about your diamond support during the play of 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled. Also bidding with the 5-level in mind:

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 1st rule, show support if you have (let partner make decision over expected 3/4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) by opps).

Fred Altstock: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Happy to compete at three level here and will leave it up to partner to go further depending on his strength.

Another problem with the double is the embarrassing -670:

Michael Yuen: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Double certainly provides the highest chance that we locate the fit, but it is too risky that partner pass it with a wrong hand.

John R Mayne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Double is wrong with a void; the chance of playing 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled is way too high with a sharp partner. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a little bold for my taste, but could well work.

Roger Yandle: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let pard know we've got a fit. I'd like to make a takeout double but I don't want to defend 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled.

Maurice Buxton: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looking wistfully at a takeout double, but this hand is so weak and short on spades it will be horrendous if partner passes. Just about worth the raise on shape though, and if partner is strong enough to bid on we might yet (wild optimism) find the heart fit if it's there.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The majority choice is always double on this kind of hand but, IMO, it is wrong if partner might pass with Qxxx-Qx-AKQJxx-x.

Another correct prediction, although I'm not sure partner would necessarily pass with that hand.

Hoi-Ming Chan: Dbl. Risky if partner chooses to convert, but too much chance of missing game otherwise.

Damo Nair: Dbl. Too rich for me to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hope North doesn't leave it in.

Emil Battista: Dbl. With some trepidation. Not many defensive tricks in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled.

Ken Berry: Dbl. I guess this is a problem if partner thinks I have some values and passes. Too bad.

Niklas Andrén: Pass. I want to bid, but I'm afraid of a pass from partner if I double. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is an option.

Which brings us to our final option:

Sam Arber: Pass. Double would show little extra although great shape, partner likely to have spades and may pass double.

Lindsay Coker: Pass. Not even with five points and a void can I bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Just a wimp. Over to pard.

Ron Lel, Peter Qvist: Pass. Not quite enough to double here, though it is very tempting.

Paul Freeland: Pass. Who knows who this hand belongs to, and why make it easy for the opposition by announcing a diamond fit? Double could be very dangerous.

Ingerun Sjösvärd: Pass. The points that I have are excellent but a bid now would show more. If 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was weak pd probably has cards to bid again.

2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is weak, but some players have been known to not always have their bid when partner is a passed hand. A few extra values would not stop East from making this bid, as he will have little risk of missing a game.

This problem was spotted on the internet by Peter Gill and Sartaj Hans a few years ago, so sadly the details are long lost.


Hand Two - West deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A97
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KJ62
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KJT85


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


Call Award %
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)1004541
3NT 902037
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 802012
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)70100
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4058
Other 002

Our next problem centres around the spade suit, or lack of it. Partner appears to have expressed some doubt about notrumps, and although we have a possible stopper in the unbid suit, it is far from stable.

A few people are happy to go with the stopper, even if it is a singleton.

Margaret Reid: 3NT. Hope pd is asking for stopper?

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3NT. It's Matchpoints. The opps may lead away from the ace, or partner may have images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)JTx as a stopper anyway.

David Flitton: 3NT. Partnership has at least 28 HCP and North's 2NT bid shows a hand balanced enough to cover my singleton king.

Others believe partner has already shown a stopper, in which case our stiff king will provide ample assistance:

Lindsay Coker: 3NT. 2NT suggests a minimum with partner, as well as a spade stopper. Of course, this bid could be far too mundane.

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Happy to be in game. Partner should have a spade stopper with his 2NT bid.

Bill Bennett: 3NT. Single spade a hazard but North did bid NT and therefore should be plenty of points.

Boris Richter: 3NT. Obviously partner is holding some sort of spade stopper for his 2NT rebid but he is not sure whether 3NT is the best game. Since we can help him in stopping spades from running, 3NT looks like a playable contract.

Duncan Roe: 3NT. Spades could be a problem, but partner opened opposite my 15-count so he may have the odd spade honour. Anyway this is Pairs.

And then there is a compromise. A bid that doesn't commit to notrumps, but doesn't rule it out either:

Ron Lel: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Assume that 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) showed a stopper, so I will bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show a half stopper in my methods.

Fraser Rew: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing half a stop, surely? Now if he bids 3NT on his half a stop of Jxx I pass and we are only one off. Opposite his 3442 13-count, 3NT will normally be best.

Occasionally some issues of system confusion creep into our forum; on this occasion, we have a small group who are unclear about who is asking whom for what:

Peter Riddy: 3NT. I assume partner is looking for a heart stopper.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. I think I will alert 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and say I thought it was a stopper ask. AB Standard only cue bids first round controls so partner should not have slam interest after the 2NT bid.

Sam Arber: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 2NT and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) appear non forcing; not sure of meaning of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so will bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and let partner figure it out.

Ken Berry: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I wish I had some clue what was happening... not a suit, not a splinter? A cue? 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) must be forcing, I hope it means something.

But the majority are finding concensus, seeking clarification of the spade position.

Tim Trahair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Game may be on, but where? 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is 4th suit forcing looking for a spade cover and the possibility of 3NT.

Martyn Rew: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have you got a spade stop -- otherwise next query will relate to the level of the diamond contract.

Barbara Hunter: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hopefully we can end up in 3NT or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Intending to pass 3NT.

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Please bid 3NT if you have a stopper pd.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). According to Klinger, the third suit shows something in hearts (the 4th suit asks). The opponents are going to lead spades. Bid the 4th suit to warn partner, asking for a stopper.

Ron Klinger: 3S. Expressing doubt without giving up on 3NT.

David Matthews: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4SF to see if partner has acceptable spade stop for 3NT. We may still play in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

John R Mayne: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A good spot for a last shot at 3NT before heading into the murk.

Roger Yandle: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asking pard for help with spades looking for 3NT.

Roger Watts: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'm not quite sure about a spade stop, despite partners 2NT bid. 4th suit forcing will find out. Another point - South's 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) was rather a limp bid But perhaps we're playing 2 over 1 GF??

Roger suggests that 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may have been non-forcing in a non 2-over-1 system. I don't think this is the case. I would take this as forcing in most methods -- in fact some would say it's a bit of an overbid, and we should have bid 3NT instead:

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Partner has a minimum balanced opening. Bridge Baron has 15 HCP. Therefore we should be in 3NT. So Bridge Baron makes the same bid it would have made last round. It spares no thought for a possible diamond slam, especially as partner might still have only three diamonds.

Richard Morse: 3NT. Unlike hand 1, my hand has got less exciting as the auction has gone on. Slam seems unlikely, so I'm happy to settle for what I think will be the easiest game.

Michael Ware: 3NT. Not sure why I was trying for a diamond slam opposite a weak NT at matchpoints.

Not everybody agrees with Michael's evaluation:

Rex Fox: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Counter cue, should end up in 6NT. This hand is as good as it could be. Pard could have QJx-KQx-AQxxx-Ax.

Jack Lai: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Explore diamond slam if possible. If partner cannot bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then 3NT likely the final contract.

Paul Tranmer: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Keeping the ball rolling here, hoping to catch a club cuebid from North.

Damo Nair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can this convey a slam interest to North? If North can make some noise in clubs slam may be on.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With a hand like Axxx-Kxxx-AQx-xx, partner should rebid 3 NT; but with xxx-Kxx-AQxxx-Ax he can try slam. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) keeps this alternative open.

Denis Haynes: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Fourth suit asking for cover in spades. Next step Blackwood asking for Aces etc.

Peter Oakley: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I originally thought far enough, despite partner's interest in 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and chose 3NT. But 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doesn't cost, so let's co-operate in case he's as good as Qxx-Kxx-Axxxx-Ax and pray the diamond queen drops.

Eric Leong: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Looking for a spade stopper, not showing a spade stopper since I could bid 3NT. If partner doesn't have a spade stopper he should like his hand to play in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) perhaps even 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Peder Linder: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Planning on bidding 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3NT from pd, clarifying my spade shortness.

David Hester: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This horrible auction has left my partner with no idea of my strength, so I will have to make the final choice between 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3NT. I am tempted to pot 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (would 4NT agree hearts? I cannot consider 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)), but I think 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is slightly better, intending to pass 3NT and bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over anything else.

Lots of votes for slam investigation there. Here is another lot, not as delicate as the last:

Andrew Thompson: 4NT. Blackwood. Would have bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (asking for aces) if Minorwood had been in the system.

Maha Hoenig: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). RKCB for diamonds.

There are some other slam try bids available; first, a couple of panellists who have never seen a hand they didn't like:

Kate McCallum: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I need to tell partner that I have extras with some slam interest - the hand appears to fit well. (3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should be values in hearts with weakness in spades.)

Bob Jones: 4
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). My first thought was to bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), proudly bidding out my pattern. But isn't that what I would bid with xx Ax in the majors, pin-pointing the spade weakness? I don't think partner will have trouble recognizing this as a splinter. If he does, we're in for another long chat at the bar.

Pontus Silow: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Well, I have decided to stop with the 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bids in these situations. They have disappointed me too many times.

Yet another option is the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid; most people intended this as an offer to play rather than a slam try (although many of the previous answers suggest that 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is not even a real suit). Either way, a few were happy for partner to misinterpret the bid:

Paul Freeland: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding out my shape, or cue agreeing diamonds, I don't really care which. Partner can correct to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if need be.

Dan Baker: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Assume partner is showing some heart cards, moderate doubt about spades for NT. Probably 3=3=4=3 or 3=4=4=2 with three small spades. Not sure whether partner will take this as modest heart support (can't be four or I'd have bid them earlier) or a control bid, but either way it fits.

Nigel Kearney: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Choice of games. If partner cue bids next, I hope he will let me out at 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) since I'm not really worth a slam try opposite 12-14 balanced.

Mats Nilsland: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Difficult hand. I hope partner can bid once more over 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then I would venture 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Maurice Buxton: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Presumably he's 2-4-4-3 or 3-4-4-2 with weak spades and about 14 HCP, so the 4-3 fit is probably our best (only?) realistic shot at game -- and since it's not that easy to reach, will probably scoop a lot of Matchpoints if it's on.

Joe Lentz: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has shown a 12-14 NT hand and concern about the spade suit for 3NT. I’m a little concerned about spades, so I’ll force to a minor suit game leaving open playing game in hearts with a 4-3 fit. Partner may have xxx-KQxx-AQxx-Qx.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A bit nebulous but if partner has four good hearts and passes that is likely to be a fair contract: Jxx-KQTx-Axxx-Qx.

Paul Gipson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am not interested in 3NT after the 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid, so a matter of the best way forward. A 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) cue bid may stymie partner, so I will lurk in wait.

True, 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will avoid confusion about the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid, but not everyone is on the same wavelength with 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) either:

Alvin P Bluthman: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To play. My 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) forces to 3NT or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), not to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (to say 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a common mistake I see in the US). If partner held strength in both majors, he would bid 3NT. His 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) denies strength in spades, and 3NT is impossible opposite, e. g. xxx, Jxx, 10xxx, or Qx, etc. Opposite all of those, my king is wasted (and the singleton will be exposed on the table), so I will downgrade to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A narrow target but at MP, I must maintain our plus score, even if it is a small one.

Michael Smart: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too good for 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), so let's set diamonds and start cueing. Want to cue 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but dislike the ambiguity so I avoid it.

Niklas Andrén: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No spade stopper, could be slam.

This deal is Board 4 from the 2009 Australia-Wide Autumn Pairs:
spades 653
hearts QJ43
diamonds AQ83
clubs A7
spades QJ974
hearts K65
diamonds 975
clubs 92
spades A1082
hearts 1082
diamonds 104
clubs Q643
spades K
hearts A97
diamonds KJ62
clubs KJ1085

The board was played at about 1000 tables all around Australia, so many of you might recognise the deal. Of the 48 tables at the Grand Slam Bridge Centre heat, 17 pairs played in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (+130 or +150), 16 played in 3NT (half making and half one off), and six were in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (again half making and half one off). Three pairs bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (-200), and three played 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (-100). At some tables EW competed to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for a poor score.


Hand Three - East deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QT6542
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ---
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T432


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


Call Award %
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 6025
Pass 80 3545
1NT 70 515
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 014
Other 0 01

This one turned out to be a two horse race, with the readers passing and the experts bidding their long suit. There were also two minority actions, receiving a third of the readers' votes and one panel vote. The lone panel vote came from the man who supplied the problem:

Sartaj Hans: 1NT. All the bids are misdescriptive in some sense. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is very tempting as our heart length suggests partner has a hand close to classic shape. However, the hearts are getting overruffed, the club spots are weak and sounds like there is more bidding to come.

Denis Haynes: 1NT. 6-9 points and a heart stopper -- if partner has spades why didn't she overcall and save me the angst!

Michael Burt: 1NT. Conveys that I don't have much; don't have four spades but I do have heart cover. The quality of the hearts is too poor to leave the double in.

Richard Morse: 1NT. Hearts are not good enough to pass. I hate bidding three card suits and 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is out of the question with such feeble clubs. This seems to me the best compromise, although I won't enjoy choosing what to do if partner takes out to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Second choice 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)

Ron Landgraff: 1NT. I can't figure out whose blood is in the water! I hope it is not ours! But a heart lead through me doesn't appeal. I pray partner has the big hand and we don't get too high.

David Flitton: 1NT. North has the other suits covered and I am showing confidence to cover hearts.

Margaret Reid: 1NT. Not enough to pass - at least I have 1½ tricks.

Mats Nilsland: 1NT. Pass is often wrong.

Roger Watts: 1NT. Tempting to pass but they could easily make 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't like a 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) contract. West will lead out his AK hearts and then give his partner a ruff. Might try NT as the best option. If West rebids his hearts, now I'll double.

The other minority choice was, in keeping with the general them of this set of problems, the expected Moysian fit:

Manuel Paulo: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't want to risk a score of -160 when, with our Moysian fit, we can get +80.

Rex Fox: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hearts not quite good enough for a pass.

John R Mayne: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's tempting to just take the -260 and be done with it, but I'll take the risk and root around for a plus.

Zbych Bednarek: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Lesser lie, pass would be so risky. We can have even slam.

Michael Smart: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Never passing 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled with those pips.

Boris Richter: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Perhaps the best compromise and the only contract that makes, and anyway doubling 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is better than leaving the double at the one level.

Michael Yuen: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Somebody will bid again, let's stay low, and stay away from disasters.

Eric Leong: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Why shouldn't I bid the best feature in my hand?

This is why:

Paul Freeland: Pass. I'll take my chances. Too often I bid a weak or 3 card suit, only for partner to bid my void or force by cueing the opponent's suit, and it always ends in disaster.

That's what happened at the table, and the final result was one off in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Here are the rest of the passers, whose expectations range from 500 to -160:

Niklas Andrén: Pass. Party!

Paul Tranmer: Pass. I'm hoping this'll go 1 or 2 off and that our limit will be a partscore.

Leigh Matheson: Pass. What's there to bid? My hand wants to play in hearts.

Martyn Rew: Pass. Nothing very helpful for partner. 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled one light is better than 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) making two.

Alan Jones, Jack Lai: Pass. Our last chance for a positive. Competing with misfits is not a good idea.

Bill Bennett: Pass. Not pretty, but anything else could be worse.

Peter Riddy: Pass. Anything else would be misleading.

Pontus Silow: Pass. Gah! I cannot decide what to do, so I try for blood.

Emil Battista: Pass. Suit quality not good but I do have six.

Barbara Hunter: Pass. This may be the best use of my hand, we'll see!!!

Alvin P Bluthman: Pass. The suit is diaphanous, and they might make it. But trying for seven tricks in notrump with an open diamond suit, or eight or nine in clubs (especially if equal level conversion is permitted, so that partner might not hold a club suit) does not appeal.

I don't know what diaphanous means, but it might have something to do with the fact that we are missing six of the top trumps. That's why Alvin's twin chose to play it safe:

Alvin P Bluthman (2nd answer): 1NT. If I pass, partner will lead hearts through me (which I cannot stand), not try for diamond ruffs. Maybe I will get the chance to defend 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (or higher). I can always hope.

Sorry, couldn't resist J -- I promise I'll leave you alone now!

A couple of passers do not think the bidding will end here:

Peter Oakley: Pass. Unlikely to be played in this contract and the pass warns partner of the misfit. If it makes, well not the end of the match.

Tom Moss: Pass. But what happens over 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled, pass pass?

Tim Francis-Wright: Pass. We might have a game, but that's no sure thing. If we get to defend 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x, we should fare well, and if West runs to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), partner can double with good diamonds.

Tim Trahair: Pass. Hard to work out what to bid! So pass as a start and see what happens. If the bidding comes round to East he is unlikely to leave the double in with at best two hearts.

For anyone who doesn't like scores that require the use of a calculator, here is the panel majority bid of 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes):

Frank Campbell: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Don't like a penalty pass with my spots and being in front of the hearts nor NT with the void. Who knows, partner may be strong with spades.

Peder Linder: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'm not suicidal.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Heart pips simply not good enough to convert.

Niek Van Vucht: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not enough for a penalty pass, so longest suit.

Fraser Rew: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I get punished whenever I pass out 1M doubled, and they may run to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled and mercilessly and continuously endplay partner.

Maurice Buxton: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I don't think this heart suit is strong enough to go for the penalty pass, especially if partner has strength in diamonds (likely enough). Prefer a simple 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or a jump in clubs (suits too weak and not enough useful HCP).

Nigel Kearney: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Obvious as pass is horrible with those trumps and anything else is a serious misdescription.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pass could easily backfire. There is no need for desperate measures.

Roger Yandle: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The hearts are too weak to leave dbl in and I'm not sure where 7 tricks are coming from if I bid 1NT. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be right if I could guarantee pard wouldn't get excited.

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This gives me deja vu feeling. :) I recently passed in a similar situation and let's just say it did not work out. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is my second choice.

Damo Nair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No way I'm passing this. I'd have to give it long thought before passing 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x.

Me too. In fact I think a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opening is more likely to make than a 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opening. Move one or two high cards from West to East, and now dummy has entries which could allow West to take some ruffs in hand and make six trump tricks.

Dean Eidler: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1NT shows 8-10 so that's out so I bid my longest suit.

David Matthews: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). From bitter experience 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled will make more often than not, particularly as I get endplayed several times, so I bid my suit.

Ken Berry: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Come on west, bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)

Paul Gipson: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I can bid notrump later and prefer to start slowly, permitting someone to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not interested in passing when I may be ruffing declarer's diamond losers.

Anthony Goldstein: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I will bid from the bottom up looking to punish 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) by the opposition. So if the bidding continues pass pass 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I can bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) happily.

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Late in a match, you might well take a view and pass; but early on you may not relish the prospect of a prolonged harangue from teammates when partner holds KQJx-void-Jxxx-AKJxx.

Duncan Roe: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Penalty pass attracts, but may be more help to the opposition than partner. We look to have a nice cross-ruff in the red suits, so my little clubs may well take tricks.

Dan Baker: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Rule of Nine suggests a pass (six trump, two honors, one-level contract), but it's too much of a gamble at IMPs for no likely gain (+300 is a long shot, and +100 is a push at best if we have any makes). Might try it if I felt like going for a swing at Matchpoints (+100 beats the +90 from 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 1NT making).

Ian Patterson: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over partners 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Hester: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With an air of conscious virtue.

This problem was given to Sartaj by a player from New Zealand, who faced the problem in a local club game. At the table South bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and North raised to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) holding 22 HCP, one off. Sadly we don't know the fate of 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled.

Hand Four - North deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A96
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q832
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQT73


West North East South
  1NT pass 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
pass 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?
Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1002514
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 902012
Pass 8057
Dbl 702536
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70209
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4001
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2006
3NT 10514
Other 001

On our next problem there was a lot of support from the panellists and the readers for a double of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Several simply assumed that partner would interpret this as takeout, although most were happy to go with the double either way:

Damo Nair: Dbl. I'm not sure what it means. Whatever North does is fine with me.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Game could be on for us if North has diamonds well stopped and he should deduce we have enough for game, less than four spades and probably four hearts. Otherwise double should be positive for us as we have all the other suits covered.

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. What else is available in this sort of situation? Even if it's taken as penalty -- well, we have a chance of getting East's risky late bid down two.

Michael Yuen, Jack Lai: Dbl. Secure a positive score.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. Should get a good score -- we have enough for game but let's punish the opps.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Strange bid by east. Despite all our points, 3NT is not assured. Dbl probably tortures partner, but he hasn't been bidding very well anyway! Maybe I can win the post mortem!

Roger Yandle: Dbl. Hopefully this shows convertible values -- enough for game, four hearts and not four spades.

Hoi-Ming Chan: Dbl. Stuck for a bid. This shows cards.

Roger Watts: Dbl. Interesting problem. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be weak in most bidding agreements. Can't support spades, and have already shown four hearts. Have to show strength somehow ... double for 'values' seems the best. Partner can always pass and convert it to penalty.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. Partner has only four spades, so might expect four from me if I support them now. We have at least 27 HCP between us so 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is likely in trouble if partner passes.

A couple of people are expecting to take this off simply because East could not overcall on the previous round:

Richard Morse: Dbl. Why did East not bid over 1NT and then interfere? We are not vul, so I am happy to leave this one to partner, he should know that I have four hearts.

Dan Baker: Dbl. Where on earth are his tricks coming from? If partner takes it out I'm fine with anything he can bid, but if East had any prayer of escaping for less than 300 he would have bid the first time. I expect East was overcalling for a lead, and it's time to punish him for it.

Another explanation is a long solid diamond suit, which he was hoping to cash against 3NT. One panellist points out the irony of East's sequence:

Bob Jones: 3H. The only bridge reason for this peculiar sequence is solid diamonds. He was hoping to be on lead against a NT contract. If he had passed once more, he would have been on lead against a NT contract, but not now.

In the absence of a systemic double, we have no end of alternative actions (eight in total). We'll start with the simplest, the cheapest, and the one with the highest usage of the word "hope":

Peter Qvist: Pass. Forcing.

Alvin P Bluthman: Pass. Hoping/assuming the sequence is forcing. Giving partner a chance to clarify.

John R Mayne: Pass. I think (hope?) this is forcing. I'll honor a double by partner, else we should be well-placed.

Alan Jones: Pass. Partner should know what I have: 9+ HCP, not four spades, therefore four hearts and short diamonds from the interference. He can decide what action to take.

Next we have a group who does not believe our theory about the long solid diamond suit:

Bridge Baron: 3NT. East couldn't overcall 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but came in with 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), so Bridge Baron infers that East has six or more diamonds, but either a fairly weak hand (8 to 10 high-card points) or a fairly weak suit (A9xxxx or Q10xxxx or worse). Perhaps Bridge Baron is trusting East's initial pass too much, but simulation on 20 deals shows that 3NT averages +430, so Bridge Baron just bids it. Bridge Baron might have bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with a weak major two-suiter or a weak three-suiter with club shortness, so it can't count on partner to bid 3NT with a diamond stopper.

That's the catch with simulation -- it's very hard to tell a computer to understand the psychological reasons why East might bid like this. 

Bill Bennett: 3NT. Enough points for game. North must know I have four hearts and may bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if he has four and no good diamond stop.

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Hopefully partner has good points in diamonds.

Eric Leong: 3NT. I have to do something. East can not have a really good diamond suit since he would have shown it earlier.

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 3NT. I wish double was for takeout but I don't think so. Instead I just have to hope pd has four hearts or a diamond stopper.

Dean Eidler: 3NT. Matchpoints.

Maha Hoenig: 3NT. Partner will know now that I have four hearts plus the other minor, and game values.

Emil Battista: 3NT. Partner will be 4243 shape with two diamond stoppers -- he won't disappoint.

I know you have some pretty good partners Emil, but they ain't magicians.

Up next we have what I'm told is a "slot bid" -- a term I am not familiar with myself, but if anyone has a definition, please let me know and I'll edit it in:

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This cannot be a 5 card suit as I would have transferred.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Playing transfers partner should get the message that I want to make a cheap forcing bid. Over openers rebid:
Pass 3NT
Raise 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
Correct 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
Cuebid over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Nigel Kearney: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Improvising since double is penalty and pass nonforcing. Partner won't know what 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) means but will bid something descriptive as it cannot be to play.

Michael Smart: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has denied hearts, so 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) simply says 'ongoing and uncertain'. I will correct partner's 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Moysian raise to the 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Moys (implying spade tolerance and clubs).

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Strength, no fit, no diamond stopper.

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Can't pass. Won't bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as it goes past 3NT. Hoping pd can bid 3NT and doesn't fall off seat when sees my hearts. Wouldn't it be lovely if partner bids clubs?

Barbara Hunter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hope partner doesn't think I have five hearts however with a couple of stoppers in diamonds we might get to 3NT.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner bids 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and if he bids 3 NT I pass of course.

Lindsay Coker: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should get to 3NT with pard's diamond stoppers. Anything else could be fraught. And this inhibits a heart lead.

David Flitton: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cheaper bid than 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and still leaves 3NT available for partner if he has diamonds covered.

Most of the bids we've seen so far are intended to keep 3NT in the picture. Here's another one:

Rex Fox: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Looking for 3NT, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would not be a terrible contract.

Peter Oakley: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Moysian fit yes - could be very right, and doesn't go past 3NT if partner has two diamond controls and four weak spades.

Denis Haynes: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has points and four spades, she may be surprised by the 7 card fit if game is played in spades but the "blind Freddie" heart bid seems pointless and this leaves 3NT open.

Michael Burt: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Probably the least misleading of the bids available. We will probably end up in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in a 4-3 fit but with good diamond cover by north, we could end up in the right spot of 3NT. At Matchpoints 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may turn out to be a good place to be, with a diamond rough in the short hand. On the minus side the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid by east has increased the chances of a bad spade split.

David Hester: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We have the points for game, but where to play it? At worst, I'll settle for a partscore in the Moysian.

Leaving 3NT behind, let's see what happens if we just bid out our shape:

Sam Arber: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Again many options, likely to get bad breaks in spades, clubs may be better.

Mats Nilsland: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Keeping options open.

Wilma Domjan: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows four hearts and strength in clubs and interest in game.

Zbych Bednarek: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Smart East waited with top diamonds? If our side has no wasting values in diamonds slam possible.

Ian Patterson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Then 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over partner's 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Peder Linder: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We may miss out on 3NT. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) might be the best bid.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). UK bidding boxes often contain a TD (Tournament Director) card that cunning players deploy to distinguish Takeout Doubles from Penalty :) But, lacking this useful facility, you must improvise on hands like these, where, without discussion, double is likely to be penalty.

It's a great idea, and bridge would be a much simpler game if there were a greater variety of cards in the bidding box. Imagine having one card for a strong notrump and one for a weak notrump, so you could choose whichever fits your hand. I think the UK is on to something there.


Paul Tranmer: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Assuming East isn't a complete lunatic our (likely) 4-3 spade fit should play very well.

Fraser Rew: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good problem. I have never had any agreements about how to treat interfering opponents after our Stayman. If East is any good he should have solid-ish diamonds; P will have only one stop at most. There is a good chance that they will break 5-1 but game could make anyway.

Tim Francis-Wright: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What a bizarre sequence! There's no safe way to check for a heart fit anymore (4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would be a cue bid agreeing spades; 3NT promises diamonds; X is penalty.)

Manuel Paulo: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Another Moysian fit. Consider this deal where North makes 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but not 3NT, and we set 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) only by two tricks.
spades QJxx
hearts AJx
diamonds Kxx
clubs Axx
spades Kxxx
hearts Kxx
diamonds xxx
clubs Jxx
spades xx
hearts xxx
diamonds AQJxxx
clubs xx
spades A96
hearts Q832
diamonds 6
clubs KQ1073

This problem was provided by Peter Gill from a club game in Sydney, but unfortunately the hand records are not available. Let's assume that Manuel's example is the real deal (in spite of the absence of solid diamonds in the East hand).

Hand Five - East deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ9
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ952
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A74


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


Call Award %
3NT 1005516
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 901540
Dbl 802543
Pass 7051

This question came from a caller named Wendy, who faced this problem at a club game and wanted to know what she should have done. Unfortunately by the time I realised I could use the problem in this forum, I had failed to ask for her full name. So if you're reading this, thanks Wendy.

At the time I recommended this bid (although with not much confidence):

Michael Smart: 3NT. More descriptive than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), if slightly pushy.

Rainer Herrmann, Sam Arber: 3NT. Prefer this rather than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Tranmer: 3NT. Somebody famous once said if 3NT is playable, bid it. I think it's as likely a game contract as any other, so I'll bid it. It also doesn't stop West from expressing a different opinion if necessary.

(As many of you repeatedly tell us, that famous person's name is Bob Hamman).

Maurice Buxton: 3NT. A guess of course, but I suspect partner is more likely to guess wrong over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), which could be quite a bit weaker and more shapely.

David Hester: 3NT. Well, at least it solves the rebid problem.

John R Mayne: 3NT. Auto. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a distant second. Double is awful.

Peder Linder: 3NT. Anything else would be horrible.

Horrible seems a bit strong, but we have to trust him -- he's running rings around everyone else on the leaderboard.

The majority of readers were split between the other two options. Hedging their bets:

Niklas Andrén: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT might be a better bid?

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double and 3NT are also contenders.

Mats Nilsland: Dbl. I could also bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3NT. This hand is in between everything...

Frank Campbell: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3NT could be right but I will bid the heart suit hoping it is our spot.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Close between 3NT, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and double. Double worries me with what to rebid after partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 3NT is a bit too unilateral. I think I'll go 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) - partner can still bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over it.

Lindsay Coker: Dbl. May be the right move, may be wrong. Isn't bridge beaut?

As always, the doublers are in agreement about nothing but the double; on the next round, everyone goes their separate ways:

Paul Gipson: Dbl. Every answer this month is setting us up for a new problem on the next round! I can bid 3NT over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but will raise 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Roger Yandle: Dbl. I'll bid 3NT over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (hoping pard isn't a bust) and pass 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ian Patterson: Dbl. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over partner's 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 3NT over partners 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)

David Matthews: Dbl. I could bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but partner wont realise I am this strong. I think double is better - I will pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Anthony Goldstein: Dbl. I will pass a 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) response, bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and bid 3NT over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I assume partner has not much more than 7-8 points.

Dean Pokorny, Peter Riddy: Dbl. Intending to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and pass over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Eric Leong, Tim Trahair, Duncan Roe: Dbl. Keeping the most possible contracts open. If partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Tim Francis-Wright: Dbl. 3NT could be right, but doubling also lets us play at the 3-level if partner has a 3-count and a 4-card major; if she tries 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I can try 3NT.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Most flexible. Delays the agony! 3NT cannot be ignored - may be the only making game. Miracles do happen, partner could bid hearts! Over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), bid 3NT. Over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), hope for an understanding partner!

Emil Battista: Dbl. And 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over partner's 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) response.

Bill Bennett: Dbl. Automatic. Except for 3NT any other bid will deny this strength. The next bid may be harder.

Boris Richter: Dbl. Ideally we would want partner to bid 3NT (he might have images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Qx) but there is no way to get him to bid 3NT. However doubling is probably best since we are not giving up on spades or hearts yet. We have all the time in the world for bidding 3NT next. Nevertheless a problem arises when partner is 4351 or 4252. Nonetheless this is not a tragedy since a Moysian game is not the end of the world.

Ron Lel: Dbl. Actually close to a pass with this flat hand.

Pass is not out of the question, and was supported by one lone panellist:

Mike Lawrence: Pass. I need a pretty good hand from North to make game and I have one of the hands that can reasonably hope for partner to be able to bid with if he has one of them. If North has short clubs and almost any kind of values, he rates to bid.

Our final option is 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A very wide ranging bid; some felt they were too strong, but others thought it was just right.

Fraser Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Seems like enough, on what is actually a pretty poor hand.

Roger Watts: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm strong enough to bid at the 3-level with 17 HCP here. The heart suit may be a bit weak but no other bid appeals. Double gives partner the wrong info about my shape, and 3NT is just too ambitious.

Dan Baker: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A little heavy, perhaps, but with the spade finesse likely to fail (if partner doesn't have the king) and no guarantee of a fit seven ordinary points may not be enough in partner's hand to make game. Double (raising hearts or bidding them over diamonds) or 3NT might work too, but they could go horrifically wrong too.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm not nearly strong enough for a double in direct seat. Better if partner can bid 3NT with images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Qx.

Jack Lai: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too weak for 3NT, shape not good for double.

David Flitton: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Show five card suit and all those points.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Describes my strength and length.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Though risky, this overcall looks normal.

Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good hand -- hope pd bids 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with something.

Ingerun Sjosvard: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If clubs and spades were reversed I'd consider 3NT.

Thanks to all 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 October
1Ken Berry NSW480
2Michael Wilkinson NSW470
2David Johnson CAN470
2Paul Tranmer GBR470
2Damo Nair USA470
2Niek Van Vucht ACT470
7Robert Black SA460
7Toby Weinstein USA460
7Paul Lee 460
10Andrew Mckee 450
10Frank Campbell NSW450
10Ron Lel LAO450
10Lindsay Coker Vic450
10Manuel Paulo POR450
10Alvin P Bluthman USA450
10Fraser Rew NZL450
10Joe Lentz USA450
10Eino Backman SWE450
10Bastiaan Korner NED450
10Niklas Warne SWE450
10Hoi-Ming Chan NSW450
10Barbara Hunter NSW450
10Valter Johansson SWE450
10Barry Teeger NSW450
25Alan Jones Qld440
25Ian Spight NSW440
25Jerome Cheung 440
25Duncan Roe Vic440
25Pontus Silow SWE440
25Peder Linder SWE440
25Peter Nuoristo SWE440
25Leny Day NSW440
25Sam Arber Vic440
25Tania Black SA440
25David Flitton 440
25Nigel Kearney 440
25Marjolijn Verhaar 440
38Tom Moss NSW430
38Trish Whitton NSW430
38Peter Stride Qld430
38Michael Davy Vic430
38Dominic Connolly NSW430
38John Moser 430
38Martyn Rew NZL430
38Peter Qvist DEN430
38Lennart Kjellman 430
38Susan Dyne NSW430
38Tim Trahair NSW430
38Jeff Brokenshire ACT430
50Maurice Buxton GBR420
50Michael Cook 420
50John R Mayne USA420
50Kay O'Connor NSW420
50Peter Riddy 420
50Pat O'Connor NSW420
50Margaret Reid NSW420
50Geof Brod 420
50Tim Francis-wright USA420
50David Matthews WA420
50Roger Yandle NSW420
50Rick Lu NSW420
50Gary Lane NSW420
50Christer Enkvist SWE420
50Arthur Porter SA420
50Alexander Cook NSW420
66Wilma Domjan ACT410
66Andrew MacAlister GBR410
66Nigel Guthrie GBR410
66Marian McCulloch 410
66Jack Lai 410
66Dan Baker 410
66Boris Richter CRO410
66Mats Hedstöm 410
66Larisssa Cowlishaw 410
66Richard Morse GBR410
66Rainer Herrmann GER410
66Peter Tarlinton NSW410
66Rick Giles USA410
79Ian Patterson Qld400
79Ian Smith Vic400
79Helena Canaris NSW400
79Gareth Birdsall GBR400
79Pravin Nahar NSW400
84John Sheean 390
84Esmond Harmsworth 390
84Niklas Andrén 390
84Ingerun Sjösvärd 390
84David Hester SA390

Leading scores for 2009
1Peder Linder SWE2240
2Tony Nunn NSW2170
3Manuel Paulo POR2150
4Rainer Herrmann GER2130
4Ron Lel LAO2130
6Niklas Warne SWE2110
7Ian Patterson Qld2100
7Fraser Rew NZL2100
9Bastiaan Korner NED2090
10Hoi-ming Chan NSW2070
11Mats Nilsland SWE2050
11Boris Richter CRO2050
11Alvin P. Bluthman USA2050
14Damo Nair USA2040
15Zbych Bednarek POL2030
16Andrew Macalister GBR2020
17Joe Lentz USA2010
17Michael Wilkinson NSW2010
19Tom Kiss NSW2000
20Alexander Cook NSW1990
20Lindsay Coker Vic1990
22Paul Gipson GBR1980
22Rick Giles USA1980
24Rick Lu NSW1970
25Robert Black SA1960
25Ron Landgraff USA1960
25Peter Stride Qld1960
28Kay O'Connor NSW1950
28Dominic Connolly NSW1950
30Tom Moss NSW1940
31Julian Gauld NSW1930
31Ivan Demeny NSW1930
33Paul Freeland NZL1920
34Pravin Nahar NSW1910
34Arthur Porter SA1910
34Pontus Silow SWE1910
37Peter Qvist DEN1900
37Michael Davy Vic1900
39Valter Johansson SWE1890
39Eino Backman SWE1890
39Sam Arber Vic1890
42Michael Yuen NSW1880
42Roger Yandle NSW1880
42Tim Francis-wright USA1880
45Leon Slonim Vic1870
45Paul Lee 1870
47Barbara Hunter NSW1860
47Gary Lane NSW1860
49Jeff Brokenshire ACT1850
49Niek Van Vucht ACT1850
49Michael Burt ACT1850
52Frank Campbell NSW1840
52Ian Spight NSW1840
52Alan Jones Qld1840
55Rex Fox Vic1830
56Pat O'Connor NSW1820
57David Johnson CAN1810
57Dean Pokorny OO1810
57Toby Weinstein USA1810
60Tania Black SA1800
60Christer Enkvist SWE1800
60Tim Trahair NSW1800
63John Compton NSW1790
64Bridge Baron USA1780
65Peter Tarlinton NSW1770
66Barbara Whitmee Qld1760
66Leigh Matheson NSW1760
68Duncan Roe Vic1750
68Conny Wahlgren SWE1750
68Derek Pocock WA1750
71Bill Bennett Vic1740
71Peter Oakley NZL1740
73Barry Teeger NSW1740
74Trish Whitton NSW1720
75Michael Smart ACT1700
75Henri De Jong Vic1700
75David Hester SA1700
78Denis Haynes ACT1680
79Ken Berry NSW1670
79Richard Morse GBR1670
81Ian Smith Vic1660
82Gareth Birdsall GBR1640
83Martyn Rew NZL1630
84Maurice Buxton GBR1620
84Andrew Thompson NZL1620
86Fred Altstock Vic1610
87John R. Mayne USA1600
87Tony Treloar Qld1600
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum. Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the December-January issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your October-November issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.