Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- February-March 2010

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 - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQT872
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 8732
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QT
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4


West North East South
  1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ?



Call Award %
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1003236
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 902724
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90182
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60511
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 6053
Dbl 4050
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30916
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 006
Other 001

Welcome back for another year of bidding forum problems, and congratulations to our 2009 winners Tony Nunn and Peder Linder. Peder will be joining the expert panel in the magazine for one year, so you won't be seeing his answers here for a while. Who will take his place at the top of the leaderboard for 2010? Let's find out...

Our first problem contains a feature rarely seen in one of our forums: four card support for partner. Hey, it was Christmas time when I set these problems, I was feeling generous.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). First, show support. Then follow up if partner makes a game try. Would not criticise 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) either. But the spade strength could be wasted (if partner holds a red-suited monster and a singleton spade), and you have no honour strength in your trump suit.

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If p so much as sneezes I will bid game after this.

Jarl Jönsson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows four hearts and 6-9 points. Gives the possibility for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from partner.

Peter Swensson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and would like to avoid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a timid start with such a fine hand, and there are (at least) four more aggressive raises available. Let's start with the preemptive jump:

Frank Campbell: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Although 7 losers I have only one quick trick and I am wary of hands with low points and low losing trick counts. Unless partner is sub minimum he will bid game.

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Best to show heart fit.

Margaret Reid, Niek Van Vucht, Wilma Domjan, Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Limit raise with four hearts.

Fred Altstock: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Have found perfect fit so will let partner decide on game or continue further if he has a big hand

Peter Riddy: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No wasted values.

Most of those intended 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as a limit raise. Of course, in the modern age this is not a common treatment, as the LAW requires us to get to the three level on any old hand with four trumps (which also helps partner decide what to do when West bids 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)):

Leigh Matheson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Support with support... before it's too late.

Richard Morse: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good problem. This is probably my last bid below the five level, given the vulnerability, so what is the priority -- supporting partner with my anaemic hearts, or introducing the spade suit? I prefer to indicate my heart support because such values as I have (such as the single club) should be more valuable in hearts than spades. All my points are working, so I prefer 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

If we do want to treat this hand as a limit raise, this is the modern way to do it:

Joe Lentz: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The hand looks like an invitational raise of hearts though short a few HCP. Forget the spades. Partner may be looking at an opponent's 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid next.

Ron Landgraff: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 4 trumps and a singleton! 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is also ok but ignores slam possibilities with the Spades.

Ian A Smith: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A limit raise showing 10-12 TP.

Bridge Baron: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bridge Baron really likes supporting partner's major suit, so it doesn't really consider a spade bid. With support, it's merely a question of strength and length. Bridge Baron considers this hand to be well into the "limit raise or better" range -- we'd need to take away a Queen to weaken it out of that range -- and the hearts aren't long enough for Bridge Baron to be tempted by a leap to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Damo Nair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I have just enough for a good raise with the singleton club. If I bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I may never be able to show the heart support at a convenient level.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). who cares about spades:)

Jim Priebe: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Would like to bid spades then hearts, but lack something.

Although the Law seems to suggest the 3-level on this hand, we are still not quite doing justice to this hand yet. One of the best bridge tips I have ever received: when you have four card support and a singleton, you want to be in game after a major opening. Hence the top score goes to:

Duncan Roe: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have a fit, so bid the game (a la Meckwell(?))

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A typical overbid at IMPs. The spades can wait until declarer sees the dummy or I lead them.

David Matthews, Pontus Silow: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What I think we can make.

Aake Sjoeberg: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 6½ losers in hearts when pard opens. I am trying for a vulnerable game.

Michael Burt: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 7 loser hand, so 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a reasonable chance because of the fit. Makes it difficult for the opponents to find the correct sacrifice.

They won't find it terribly difficult, but at least our partner will know we have some playing strength.

Lindsay Coker: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 7+3 = enough points for game with 4 trumps. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) suggests better trumps, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a free droppable bid, and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) takes up their space.

Michael Smart: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Establishing fit and strength takes priority over showing my spades.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hope shows a fit with not a lot of points

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). IMO 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = 100, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 90, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = 80, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 60. A 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) fit jump is the bookie's favourite and it would help partner to evaluate his hand over a 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) sacrifice but you are vulnerable and it may over-excite him. Also, you are on lead against 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), so you don't need to direct the lead.

Roger Yandle: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Let pard know we've got a fit cos it looks like the opps are going to be pre-empting in clubs. Not strong enough for a fit showing jump to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Maurice Buxton: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No guarantee of a spade fit, hard to find out if the QT in diamonds are working, and although a fit-showing jump would be nice I don't want to let West help out East by doubling 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for takeout or bidding 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

John R. Mayne: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Other bids show more defense than I have. I can honor partner's decision over 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) now.

Rex Fox: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should make 9 or 10 tricks opposite a good min eg Ax AQxxx xxx Kxx, if opps sac (they may make 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)) then could be tricky.

Mikael Westerlund: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Unbalanced hand with less points. Should be a good chance in this contract.

Time to move on to the next problem? Of course not! There are still more ways to show support:

Ken Berry: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I want to be in game. Partner will be disappointed when I show no key cards.

Paul Gipson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I want to bid a fit-showing 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but this does not appear to be part of the system so will settle for the splinter. Any bid that does not show heart support immediately risks having to bid over 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next.

The link to the AB Standard appears at the top of the question page, although I understand that many readers and a few experts have not noticed it. Fit-jumps are in the system and a handful of readers did go that way, as did Ron Klinger, Andrew Robson, Phillip Alder and Bob Jones.

We'll finish with those who felt it was essential to show the spades, but didn't like (or didn't notice) the fit showing jump:

Manuel Paulo: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). My heart support allows to bid this fine suit with a weak hand.

Denis Haynes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 10 points with support for hearts, let partner know of your spade holding.

Martyn Rew: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). anything other than spade support from partner will see my next bid in hearts

Christer Enkvist: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). As soon as partner have a Ax/xxx or better S-support 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will most often be a good contract.

Jack Lai: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Do not want a heart lead if partner is on lead.

Sam Arber: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing, show values before supporting hearts.

Ian Patterson, Hoi-Ming Chan, Tony Treloar, Marion Carney, Ron Lel: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I will try to bid hearts later if I can.

Peter Oakley: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Why not show the 6-cd suit? If partner doesn't like Spades I'll support his hearts, even at the 4 level.

As previously mentioned by several of the heart bidders, expecting to show support later at the 4-level may be optimistic.

Robert Black: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Happy to bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) next, unless I need to know what to do over 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Paul Freeland: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I like being able to bid this as non-forcing as I am forced up a level by the overcall. I know this won't be to everyone's taste but it has worked well for me. Give partner AK of hearts and an outside ace and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will have a reasonable chance.

Paul Tranmer: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No reason to support hearts now, better to show North where our values lie. We can always offer delayed support later is the auction pans out that way.

Emil Battista: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Only a bit of an overbid.

Tim Trahair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Possibly a little light for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is too weak and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)/3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) too strong. Leaves the way open to play in 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) unless North can show extra strength.

Dan Baker: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Too much playing strength for a preemptive move (give partner Ax AQJxx Axx xxx and slam depends only on the heart finesse), but a cuebid or splinter hides the best feature of the hand. Partner may expect more HCP, but if we have a double fit this hand has enormous potential ... and if not, at least 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should be safe.


Hand Two - North deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A86
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQJ63
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QT94


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


Call Award %
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)10045 17
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 903218
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 801811
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)60533
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 20016
4NT 004
Other 001

In keeping with my newfound generous nature, our next problem offers a primary fit for not one but both of partner's suits. Spoilt for choice, which way do we go? The largest reader vote, by an overwhelming margin, went to "undecided": 

Leigh Matheson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) tends to show extras, so slam is looking quite good now. If partner has no wasted values (doesn't bid 3NT) then it will be time to press on.

Duncan Roe: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4th suit forcing to game. If partner actually has diamonds he might bid 3NT. Otherwise I'll raise his next suit bid to game.

Lindsay Coker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4th suit. promises points with S+C support. if pard bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'll bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Slam is smelling good.

Daniel Dahlkvist: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Depending on partner's rebid, I'd guess he'd say 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with Ax in hearts, or 3NT with good diamond stopper which will be moved to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from partner, next bid would be 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and we might end up in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)/5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) etc depending on continuation.

Henri de Jong, Sam Arber: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Find out more before committing yourself.

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing. With a double fit in the black suits, slam may be on.

Paul Freeland: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fourth suit forcing. If opener doesn't have a hold in diamonds then I will explore 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Frank Campbell, Margaret Reid: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fourth suit forcing. We could have slam in spades or clubs and North can now bid out his hand.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game forcing, will convert 3NT to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Linda Lubeck: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to see if partner will bid NT with wasted diamond honors.

Richard Morse: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let's see what partner says next. I'm happy to let him play 3NT if that comes next, raise hearts or get enthusiastic if he repeats one of his black suits

Ken Berry: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). one more enquiry.. will most likely end up at 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but why not have some fun on the way

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam prospects are good, but trying to sort out which suit to play in may be a nightmare. Tempted to just bash 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but I'll try to get some more info out of partner. Expecting to RKC over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if partner is somehow 5=3=1=4), or bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (forcing) over 3NT.

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Try 4th suit forcing . Game in Spades or slam in clubs

Jacco Hop: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We had a similar problem in the Dutch bridge magazine IMP (I send that one in actually). We didn't get a clear resolution but in Holland more and more players start with 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on those type of hands. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will provide some more info about partners hand. Over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I would bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but that might would get me in trouble

Roger Yandle: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fourth suit forcing. We've got a double fit in the black suits so let's take it slowly.

Although consuming the least possible space initially, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) does not actually achieve the aim of "taking it slowly". You still haven't shown any of your support, and the bidding will still be at the 4-level when it gets back to you. A more effective way to show support is to do it quickly:

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) must be forcing to game. N has some extras and I have an excellent minimum so I do not want to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) right away.

David Monahan: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) promises another bid which will allow me to show the double fit (confirming 3 card support for spades) and/or slam interest next bid.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 10, 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) = 9, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) = 6. IMO with four clubs, you should bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With that understanding, 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should promise a double fit, in which case it would be the best bid, by far.

Aake Sjoeberg: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Could be 12 tricks in spades and 2 losers in clubs, so I try spades.

Mats Hedström: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing to game.

Ron Lel: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Lets wait and hear partner's reaction to this.

Rex Fox: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Set the suit first, inviting cue bidding

Michael Burt: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slam could be on with the double fit. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) gives some room for partner to ask more if partner has a really good hand.

Robert Black: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slow arrival; we have a game force in place, and slam prospects, but the black kings may be critical.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Splintering or raising clubs makes it difficult to stop below six and partner is probably short in hearts. If partner makes another slam try over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I will jump in clubs next.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). will continue with club support

Yes, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is game forcing; even though we are not playing a 2-over-1 system, a new suit at the three level sets up a game force in any standard system.

But not everyone is happy supporting the spades:

Manuel Paulo: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With support for the black suits and slam ambition, I suggest the 4-4 fit.

Paul Lee: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is more preferred than 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), therefore I choose 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) rather than 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Peter Swensson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is the most probable slam

Paul Tranmer: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A move towards a possible C slam. I hope/expect N will either cuebid or try Blackwood.

Jim Priebe: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). heading for slam for sure

Maurice Buxton: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Just show support and let partner start cue-bidding for the moment; may want to bid 5NT pick-a-slam later.

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner is showing extras (except among a small group of 3/1 players), and you are making a forcing bid. Choose clubs (probably 4-4) over the spades (5-3?), because you need to play in the less divided trump suit to take pitches on the spades.

John R. Mayne: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Set trumps; we're headed to slam. No reason to prefer spades to clubs; partner would not fake a high reverse.

Mikael Westerlund: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). trying for slam. there is a chance its better to play the slam in SP, but I still have the chance to change to SP later if it looks that way.

Christer Enkvist: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Natural slam try. Yes it is!

Yes it is. But if you are planning to try for a club slam then I can't see why you wouldn't prefer the more descriptive raise:

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hopefully North thinks it's a splinter. I have a great hand given North's two suits.

Tony Treloar: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Is this a splinter agreeing clubs? I think it is a good time to show the stiff diamond, if partner can cue the HA then we are off and racing

Pontus Silow: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let's see if we can get partner going with a diamond splinter. 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is probably not better than 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but 7images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may be the only grand.

Michael Smart: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Minimum, but shows my shape.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Must be a slam try somewhere! Maybe partner will bid something descriptive. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be a splinter (for Spades? for Clubs?) or at least a control bid.

Peter Nuoristo: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Q with clubs

Stefan Bengtsson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Cue bid (often splinter), accepting C as trump. I will P 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (lacking 4 aces out of 5), but otherwise be very interested in slam.

Jack Lai: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). slam is coming, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is safe

Dean Eidler: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Splinter and pass 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Joe Lentz: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Splinter, showing shape, overall strength, slam interest and agreeing clubs. Should be unanimous (ha,ha,ha).

Paul Gipson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The splinter will allow us to hear about a heart control and then let us show a spade control. This is not an auction where partner needs to invent a 3-card forcing bid, so playing in clubs looks right for slam.

On to the minority votes, and a significant number of readers chose 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), usually with a comment along the lines of "we have enough points for game". Some of them expected partner to carry on with a good hand, possibly unaware that 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would have been forcing. At the other extreme, a few readers opted to go straight to Blackwood -- this option has many disadvantages, one being that it forces you to the 5-level when there is plenty of room to explore slam below 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Hand Three - North deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKQJ8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 8753
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 964
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K


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

* North could have made a support double, which would have shown three card spade support.

Call Award %
Dbl 100 3632
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90 98
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 2311
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 70 55
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 70 54
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60 2331
Pass 0 07
2NT 0 01
Other 0 01

Thanks to Peter Smith for this gem that produced nine different answers in what started out as a very straightforward auction. We have 13 HCP and partner has opened in first seat -- in the old days that would have meant we were going to game. Times have changed:

Margaret Reid: Pass. Pd can balance maybe (hopefully)

Leigh Matheson: Pass. This hand is playable in too many contracts for me to make a unilateral decision. Sorry partner, this problem is yours not mine.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Where are pard's points if opps are bidding sensibly at adverse vul? Probably in clubs & diamonds. Not sure what dbl would be in this situation so will pass and see what pard can say.

Those three all believe partner will bid again; not unreasonable given our heart length, but if he does pass I wouldn't be confident we are in the right spot. Even if he doesn't pass, I still wouldn't necessarily be happy:

Barbara Hunter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With a solid S suit you can afford to show it you really don't want partner to rebid clubs unless he has lots.

Assuming we can't make game, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is definitely where we want to be, and that view is shared by the largest group of readers:

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Ugh! Game appears not there but they may make 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)! At imps I would defend but not at pairs. I'll double their 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Jim Priebe: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 13 points do not look attractive now

JC Clement: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x might be the winner... But also a terrible loser !

Peter Riddy: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can't let it stop here

Rex Fox: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If opp bidding is to be believed then 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could be difficult to play. NV it is anti percentage to try for misfit games, get a plus

Peter Oakley: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's either 2 or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - my innate conservatism rules.

Denis Haynes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Let partner know I have strength in spades (if not length - my repeat shows 5 at least) - we may have a 7 card fit.

Tim Trahair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). N may expect us to have 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)s - but we have very high quality in this suit. Seems most of N's HCP are in Cs and Ds. Game in NT may be on if N has a reasonable H cover.

Lindsay Coker: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North sounds like a minimum, with C&D. If he has enough he can bid NT.

Peter Swensson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). NT game on partners hand ... otherwise no game

Robert Black: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner clearly has points in the opponents' suits, and may just need to know I have good spades, for 2NT, which I shall raise. If he cannot do so, or raise to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) we probably have not missed game.

Richard Morse: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner rates to have a weakish opener with cards in the minors. Passing now is too feeble. I'll give it one more shot and happily leave partner in 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is he converts. The quality of the spades makes up for the absence of a sixth

Michael Davy: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). possibly an underbid but crosstrumping looks a real danger

Linnea Edlund: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Solid suit, hoping to push opps to 3-level, don't like X to risk getting more clubs from partner

Ron Lel: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. This seems like a 50 point deck. I suppose double would be for penalty. Whatever, I am going for the huge underbid of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Michael Smart: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Too many red losers to force here.

Christer Enkvist: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We need the ops to bid once more.

Duncan Roe: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We seem to have the balance of strength, and would quite like to defend a doubled contract. Bat maybe not at the 2 level

That group have mostly given up on game, but a few of the spade bidders were more confident:

Wilma Domjan: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 25 points between us. Top 4 spades. N does not know if S has 4 or more spades or how many points and may have some spades so 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) cut off bid.

Michael Burt: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North's points look to be in clubs and diamonds. We look to have enough points for game. Some of my losers could go on North's clubs. North is behind West, so any diamond finesses have a better chance of working. North and West don't have many hearts and north can probably stop hearts running by trumping. The bidding suggests there is a good chance that north has two spades (and we may only need north to have one spade). My spades are capable of taking out trumps because they are strong. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) looks a reasonable chance of making and looks to be the only game on.

Fraser Rew: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). P is 2236, they can run only 3 red tricks (I hope), I draw trumps in 4 rounds and play on clubs.
Emil Battista: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). As good as 6 spades. Partner should be short in Hearts and have Diamond values

Ken Berry: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). even if partner has 1 spade, they have points somewhere.. let them bid NT if its right..

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think we can make game probably in spades.

Damo Nair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Its MP so 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3NT may still be an option for North.

Marion Carney: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). shows an extra spade and opening points

Hoi-Ming Chan: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The spade suit looks like a 6 carder.

Dan Baker: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Yes, I know he doesn't have three-card support, but this should be a fine trump suit for a 5-2 fit. With no stoppers in either red suit, I don't want to suggest NT (though I'll happily pass if partner bids it).

There were also several votes for stopper asks in each red suit, including one each from the expert panel. But which suit do we ask for? Eric Kokish chose 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), on the grounds that he thought hearts was the more dangerous suit, while Ron Smith preferred 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), asking for a diamond stopper. (That's right, a bid of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows a stopper in that suit, asking for a stopper in the other suit -- a point that confused many of the readers).

Disappointingly, the top score went to not just one bid, but a collective known as "Double". I'd like to see each type of double scored separately, but we can't do that so the top award was a foregone conclusion.

Dean Eidler: Dbl. Penalties or takeout I don't care which. If partner bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I pass that.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. IMO _X = 10, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = 6, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 5, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) =4, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 2. Double is no thing of beauty but must be worth 100 marks.

Pontus Silow: Dbl. Dbl stands out - no second choice.

Jacco Hop: Dbl. this will get us to a sensible spot. Partner might pass looking at the vulnerability since I could have made a different bid.

Ian A Smith: Dbl. Hopefully showing extra strength than a 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rebid

Paul Tranmer: Dbl. As far as I can see, this is about the only positive way to proceed. If N fancies defending I'll be happy and if very distributional I'll hear from him/her again.

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. would bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) at imps

Frank Campbell: Dbl. The only real option is 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but this should show a longer spade suit. Hopefully his pass shows heart and diamond values and he will bid 2NT.

Mikael Westerlund: Dbl. If P bids on this its ok, and if he pass I have no problems with that either. I don't think East will get more then 6 H-tricks then. And if he gets another trick its still 1 down and our side doesn't always make game here.

The majority of passers intended their choice as penalty:

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Pure penalty. Bridge Baron smells blood. Its guess here (based on relatively primitive computations) is a two-trick set.

Zbych Bednarek, Paul Freeland: Dbl. Going for the magical +200 with no game making our way.

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. I hope to set our vulnerable opponents: +200 versus our part-score or +500 if we have game.

Sam Arber: Dbl. too good for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) go for 200 by double

John R. Mayne: Dbl. I'd like to have a higher heart card, but there's too good a shot at +200 not to try for it. By the way, these are atrocious methods. Since I've shown five spades (or are we playing double as non-spades?), partner should be raising routinely with three, and double should mean something else.

Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. A misfit, Double seems the best option.

Ian Patterson: Dbl. Lead images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A then switch to images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K.

Martyn Rew: Dbl. very hard to see 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) making. Opponents seem to be rating not many HCP very highly.

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. Despite having plenty of HCP, this is looking like a misfit on which game is uncertain, in which case we probably want to leave the opponents holding the bag. Assume double is penalty here since I didn't double 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), trying for a potential +200 top.

There were also a few votes for a takeout double...

Aake Sjoeberg: Dbl. In my opinion , D is a take out double. If north bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), I will try 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Stephen Bartos: Dbl. ask partner for more information

Paul Gipson: Dbl. I also considered the massive underbid of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but double seems to keep the notrump game in play otherwise I fear we may be playing in one of our two 5-1 fits at the 3-level.

David Matthews: Dbl. Not really sure where we are going on this one but we need to be in game

You've got to love a problem where people are making penalty doubles and takeout doubles on the same hand!

Hand Four - South deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT854
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ72
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AK3


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

* 1NT is Standard American, not a forcing notrump.

Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1005051
2NT 702710
3NT 60516
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 501820
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 001
Pass 001
Other 002

Two issues here: do we invite game, or do we show our second suit? Why can't we do both? Because there are no invitational bids that show diamonds. If we show the diamonds we have to choose between the underbid of 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), or just force to game ourselves. The majority opted for the latter:

Leigh Matheson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Go on then. This answer must be wrong because it's a bidding forum and I can't see any alternative.

John R. Mayne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I keep looking at the problem to figure out if I drank too much watching the US Super Bowl and missed something, but I still don't see it. Anything else is severely misguided; this looks like a hand from a beginner's book.

Paul Freeland: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT straight away may be successful, but is unilateral. There is no reason why partner can't have long clubs, diamonds or hearts in a weak hand, which will contribute to informing the final contract.

Dean Eidler: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). And 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over partners 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Lots of controls but little in the way of tricks.

Joe Lentz: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing to game, either 3NT or a minor depending on partner's next action.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing, natural.

Mikael Westerlund: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As I play 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is forcing here. But I assume that is not the case in this problem. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is an easy bid then.

That is correct -- this auction is a serious gap in standard bidding. A couple of Swedes propose some modern solutions:

Pontus Silow: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I do recommend playing 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as two-way here (either natural or any strong hand with spades). Lacking such an agreement, I see no reason not to do what's natural.

Aake Sjoeberg: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). In Sweden 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) in this situation is forcing. (Can be used after 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) - 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) - 1NT, 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - 1NT ) This particular convention is called the Witch.

Outside Sweden it's called Gazilli, a convention that all experienced partnerships should consider.

Bridge Baron: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Book bid. Unbalanced hand, lower-ranking four-card suit available, near-maximum: jump-shift.

Emil Battista: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hopefully partner's 5+ card suit is not hearts.

Jacco Hop: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am too simple minded to bid anything else.

Ron Lel: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have seen this problem before and one of the suggested answers was 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), so that you don't miss a club game or slam opposite long, good clubs in the responding hand. That is a total "wide boy" response. Just make the normal natural forcing 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) response and don't mastermind.

Ken Berry: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). NT could be ridiculous.. my problem is what to bid over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from p

Ron Landgraff: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tempting to bid 2 or 3NT but I choose to describe the hand rather than mastermind it. The vulnerability argues for caution. Hopefully partner will read me for club values if he needs them.

Ian Patterson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Then 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) from partner, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 3NT

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This says what I've got. Can partner bid game?

Robert Black: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have game somewhere, maybe 3NT.

Paul Tranmer: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We're going to be in game on this auction so far, so the only question is where. If N bids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'll try 3NT and if 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) emerges from N I'll raise to game.

Peter Oakley, David Matthews: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What it's worth.

Damo Nair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With such a control-rich I'll chance a jump-shift.

Henri de Jong: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Would like to bid NT, but partner does not need much for 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fraser Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I know, I know, terrible bid, just give me my +600.

Fraser doesn't recognise the hand -- he was in the less interesting North seat at the time. He did get to be declarer though, and he did get his +600 after my overbid of 3NT. Fortunately I did get a few supporters:

Jack Lai, Margaret Reid: 3NT. Best spot for MPs - should make if we are lucky

Denis Haynes: 3NT. I assume 6-9 points and given my hand partner must have some points in hearts.

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. IMO 3NT = 100, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) = 90, 2NT = 80. With half your points in your short suits, nothing is ideal.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. No logical way to explore his values so just bid game and cross my fingers.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. partner may have 6 pts which could make game, rather than bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Should have easy 3NT game. Partner may have 4 hearts and a stopper there.

JC Clement: 3NT. Practical and simple, no ? :)

That's what I thought. Next, we have the players who believe the hand is worth an invitation, and are willing to sacrifice the diamond suit in an attempt to reach the correct level:

Toby Weinstein: 2NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) a close 2nd.

Manuel Paulo: 2NT. With as little as xx Jxxx Kxx Qxxx in partner's hand, game is likely.

Peter Swensson: 2NT. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 2N, off shape is OK

Jim Priebe: 2NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is too much and 3NT could be totally wrong

Rex Fox: 2NT. 8 tricks could be hard to make, still most of the field will try for game, so should be in good company; seems perverse to go against the field. for game to make pard needs a very specific type of hand eg. Kx J109x Kxx xxx, but even then could be difficult to raise to game. Simply not enough room without artificial means.

Hoi-Ming Chan: 2NT. Close between 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 2NT. Since it's Matchpoints I'll go with 2NT.

Paul Gipson: 2NT. I'll put a diamond in with my hearts.

Paul Lee: 2NT. Luckily my singleton heart is an honour, which gives me an excuse for bidding 2NT.

Michael Burt: 2NT. On the bidding 3NT is the only likely game and we have roughly the right amount of points. The hearts are a worry and bidding another suit is only likely to encourage a heart lead. The 2NT bid is a compromise. If partner is towards the top of the range then the chances of a heart stop or being able to run the minors improves and 3NT is a reasonable chance. If partner is a the lower end then we might make with 3NT going off one.

Richard Morse: 2NT. Our best strain, I expect, but allowing partner to suggest something else at the 3 level if he wants. If we get to 3NT, I hope pard has some hearts.....or that they lead the wrong suit. The trouble with 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is that it may pinpoint the heart lead for them.

Sam Arber: 2NT. prefer this to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), may even try 3nt

And lastly, here is some support for applying our partnership's 25 points to a minor-suit matchpoint partscore:

Alvin P. Bluthman: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Almost worth 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), whether or not 1NT is forcing.

Roger Yandle: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bit of an underbid but not sure HQ is full values

Daniel Dahlkvist: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Depending on agreements, however usually north bids 1 more time unless he has a really crappy hand with decent support. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would indicate better holding in spades/diamonds and might lead to a bad 3N Other choices are 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if conventional, or gambling for 2N/3N, however it doesn't seem like the right game in this hand.

Maurice Buxton: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If that's a Standard American 1NT it's likely to be a desperation move on short spades and a few points. With that singleton HQ of unknown value I don't want to force to game, so just make the simple natural rebid.

Kjell Staffas: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No need to rush, 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is still forcing. A jump to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows 5-5 and max.

Dan Baker: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not quite worth a jump, though it's close - I'd bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with AJT54, 8, AQ72, AK3. Problem is that the stiff QH isn't a "real" value. If partner can't scrape up a response to this, we won't be missing a game (though if he has a heart stop, NT may score more).

Lindsay Coker: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner either has H, C, or D - or even a couple of spades. We play 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) here as forcing. Let's see the response.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Shows our 2nd suit. If N can now venture a H bid we will quickly be in 3NT.

Tony Treloar: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). While this isn't forcing, it generally expects another bid unless partner has a particularly poor hand. Looks enough for now.

Hand Five - East deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT83
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK864
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A9


West North East South
    4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) dbl
pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 1008265
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 801410
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 2053
4NT 0011
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 009
Other 002

Regular readers of this feature will have noticed I have greatly reduced the number of preemptive problems over the past year, and I think this has been a good move. I still like to slip in one wild hand per issue though, which some have referred to as the "goofy problem of the month". Here's the latest one:

Hoi-Ming Chan: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Close between pass and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hopefully 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is better than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), or partner will read this as diamonds and spades.

Sam Arber: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). hearts likely to break badly, partner may have 4 h and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes),if he bids 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then pass

Margaret Reid: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hope pd has 3 or 4 - she will know I am big

Ingerun Sjösvärd: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I am taking a chance this shows Sp+D. If it doesn't why dint I bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) instead of dbl?

Leigh Matheson: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner will know this is a 2-suiter. Otherwise why would I double first?

Alvin P. Bluthman: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner would bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with four cards in each major, so this is simply a correction to (I hope) a better trump suit). No, he has not shown values; that might come on the next round.

Joe Lentz: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This should show two places to play. Partner may be 44 or (45) in the majors.

Dan Baker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Wouldn't have doubled first if I didn't have a second place to play, so this should get across the spades-or-diamonds choice (should also indicate primary diamonds, since I'd just overcall 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with 5-4 the other way). Partner shouldn't have a whole lot extra, so I'm not too interested in slam. If partner has six hearts and a yarborough, nice preempt, East.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pass = 100, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)