Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- April-May 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, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K52
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQJ
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQT865


West North East South
  pass pass 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass pass dbl
pass pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?
Call Award %
Pass 100328
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 801621
2NT 70118
Dbl 601111
1NT 5059
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4058
3NT 30119
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20523
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1053
Other 001

Our first problem this month has produced a very strange situation: among the 10 different bids proposed, there were votes for all three denominations of notrumps (about 10% of panellists and readers for each denomination).

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. Partner's last pass shows some values; I hope they include one ace or the club king.

Duncan Roe: 3NT. N converted my take-out Dbl to penalties, so he figures to have some useful cards, especially in H

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. Partner surely has hearts stopped, and I don't want east leading a spade through my king at trick one. So better for me to bid no trumps than north.

Ron Lel: 3NT. One of the assumptions in a bidding competition is that CHO is an expert. Although based on some of the bids I have seen from the "expert" panel, this is clearly a dubious assumption. Here we are nv, partner has not opened with a weak 2 bid first in hand and yet has made a penalty pass of a one level overcall. Partner's H have to be headed by 5 to the QJ or KQ, and given the failure to open a weak 2, probably the former. Pd probably should have another card to justify the penalty pass. My C suit is reasonably good and based on this and my estimation of partner's holding, I am bidding 3NT.

I have no idea what Ron is referring to with his comment about the panel -- I think all the panel bids are brilliant! Thanks guys for all your support.

Moving on to the lower notrump bids, and Michael raises a good point about the strength of the various levels:

Michael Smart: 2NT. Keeps a 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bailout in the picture; don't want to punish partner when he has a string of hearts and out. (Note: 1NT here should not be 18-20 opposite a penalty pass.)

Sam Arber: 2NT. Partner obviously has hearts. Next choice is 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) asking him for stopper as well.

Naren Gupta: 2NT. Strong hand with spade stopper.

Alan Jones: 1NT. It appears that partner has hearts while east has not. NT will avoid a nasty cross ruff developing.

Michael Burt: 1NT. North's pass of the double (rather than bidding 1NT) suggests that North has some points (about 6 points) but that they are in hearts. It also suggests that most of West's points are not in hearts and that they are in the wrong place from South's perspective. 3NT could be very tough even though we have the points for game as many key cards will be with West and South probably can't get to North's heart tricks (but on the other hand there may be end play possibilities). 1NT will probably score better than clubs and there is a good chance that 3NT won't make.

Tony Treloar: 1NT. Partner has stuff but not much of it may be all that useful. A good time to right side the NT contract.

Robert Black: 1NT. Partner is prepared to defend 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled. Does he have a good hand or just six hearts to the jack? He now has another chance.

Nigel Guthrie: 1NT. Were pass forcing, it would stand out.

I have no idea whether pass is forcing, but we do have some guidance from the panel. Tim Cope, Larry Cohen and Bob Jones stated that it is clearly forcing, while the other passers Michael Ware and Marshall Miles were silent on the issue. Some more mixed views:

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. As my spades are to weak for a diamond and no other bid is tempting. I choose Pass and expect partner to take some action after the penalty Pass.

Leigh Matheson: Pass. Sounds like partner wants to defend.

Jacco Hop: Pass. Normally I would double for T/O here. But since I don't think many people play that here I will leave this to partner. For me this is forcing.

I agree with Jacco about the double; after our side has made a penalty pass, the most common treatment is for future doubles to be for penalty. Ron Klinger and Eddie Kantar voted to double, intending penalty. Some of the readers agreed, some didn't:

Barbara Hunter: Dbl. I think partner has hearts so will be able to convert to NT if he doesn't like the double.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. Partner is a passed hand but has made a penalty pass of 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so has got long hearts and some points so its looks like we've got enough points for game but its not obvious where. 3NT might be OK but there could be communication problems between the hands. So I'm opting for a penalty double and then see what partner says.

Paul Freeland: Dbl. Partner is marked with some values and long hearts, but couldn't open, so maybe they have 4+ spades as well. Could catch opps in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X when we can't make 3NT?

Paul Gipson: Dbl. Pass is not forcing so I have to take some action. I trust (that is, live in hope) that partner will remove the double with short spades and long clubs.

Henri de Jong: Dbl. would like to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but partner may take this as natural, especially after the x of 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I need to hear from partner

Yet another bid that carries some ambiguity -- this is certainly a complicated auction. Of course, if we agree that double is for penalty, there should be no question of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) being natural.

Dan Baker: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good problem. We probably have a game somewhere, and I don't know if we can take 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) down three. Nor am I 100% sure pass is forcing - if it is, it's perfect (if partner has the hand to hit this, we may well collect 800, and if not his bid will give me a pretty good idea what to do next). Seems to me like it should be, but I'll make an unambiguous force rather than trying to win the postmortem when it goes all pass, +100.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would have opened 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) for better or for worse. Now I need to show the strong hand which pard does not yet know about. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Dbled not likely to work well at MP.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Prt has trapping pass on hearts, lets explore possibility game (maybe slam??)

James Coutts: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Second choice: 3NT.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Spades are inadequate for one level double. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should hint at this distribution. With more spades I might have doubled, with more diamonds I might have preferred to reverse.

That just leaves the club suit. As with notrumps, there is no agreement in level, although most people feel that both 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) are non forcing.

Christer Enkvist: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A jump to 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may be the easiest way to buy the contract but also the only way of giving EW a huge plus score.

Michael Davy: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I bid what I think I can make.

Damo Nair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'm just not interested in playing in a 1-level contract for penalties.

Frank Campbell: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It looks like North has long hearts, East long spades with both having little else. I may not be able to set 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) so will try for for the likely plus.

Emil Battista: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner does have 13 cards, a couple of them should be clubs

Fred Altstock: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Tell partner that we have clubs and still want to compete

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is a pretty weird sequence of bidding. N could not manage X or 1NT over our opening, so it appears he doesn't have 4 Hs or Ss. E's 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid suggests he is pretty weak and probably has very few Hs. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) hopefully shows N we are strong. However game is unlikely to be on unless N can venture a bid.

Jack Lai: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) might be too low. South double is only reopen and does not promise a strong hand

Wilma Domjan: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) possible and pushes opposition to 3 level or pass. Possible partner will support bid or oppositions final bid could be doubled.

Pontus Silow: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I wish I knew how partner would interpret a pass (and a possible pass+pull).

Ian McCance: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Need a source of tricks for NT, so partner needs something in clubs. If so will ask. Presumably 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) asks about spades since we already know about hearts?

Jenny Monger: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner shows no support. Unlikely to make game in either clubs or no trumps

Bridge Baron: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner's penalty pass suggests that we can make a game, and we may even have an outside chance at a slam. So we're not likely to get rich defending 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows both the strength of this hand and the club length; partner should have a pretty good picture of how to proceed. Replace the DQ with the D2 and Bridge Baron would simply overcall 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Andrew McKee: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). P must have nothing, still can't let them have a free run. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) gives them too much bidding space, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) puts pressure on them.

I can see how at first glance this auction might be deceptive, and I expect there are a few people who think partner has nothing. However, partner has made an undertaking to beat the opponents' 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) contract, so he is sure to have some values -- hence Michael Smart's earlier comment that we do not need extra values to bid 1NT.

Having said that, I now have to reveal that this auction took place in an intermediate game, so on this occasion partner did happen to have nothing. The full deal: 
spades 108
hearts J9852
diamonds 107543
clubs 2
spades J97
hearts KQ1073
diamonds A6
clubs KJ3
spades AQ643
hearts 64 
diamonds 982
clubs 974
spades K52
hearts A
diamonds KQJ
clubs AQ10865

Hand Two - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AJ543
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ652


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


Call Award %
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)10042 58
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 903721
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60165
Pass 0013
Other 001

On this problem the bulk of experts and readers are voting for the simple 2-of-a-minor response. But which minor?

Sam Arber: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Seems obvious bid

Roger Yandle: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This seems too obvious so I must have missed something.

Frank Campbell: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We may have game in various strains so make the logical bid.

Barbara Hunter: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has to rebid spades no great drama I have a rebid of 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if f necessary.

Paul Freeland: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Natural and forcing, intending to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as natural, nonforc, over expected 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) by prt next move = 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Paul Gipson: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A natural and forcing bid seems perfect. Why look elsewhere? The real problem will be whether to bid on over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

That's the issue: if we plan to bid both suits, we obviously bid diamonds first. If we are only making one bid...

Alan Jones: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). leaves room for partner to introduce diamonds.

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If I Pass we can miss a game. As I am to week to bid both minors I bid the Clubs which allows partner to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Jack Lai: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). raise to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if partner bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)

James Coutts: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner still has the opportunity to bid Diamonds, and now we don't miss the potential Club fit. Happy if P bids Spades again.

Christer Enkvist: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Weird. Pass is no alternative as we may easily make slam in a minor, 1NT simply insane, 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) stupid as we then got a real problem when partner bids the uninformative 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and we haven't got enough values for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Pontus Silow: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It is worrying that East didn't raise hearts.

Wilma Domjan: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for further info from partner.

The next question is whether these bids are forcing. The system states that a change of suit in response to an overcall is forcing; I don't think this a common treatment, so I probably should have put a footnote on the question to point that out. There is also a link to the system notes on the question page. As it happens, this hand fits nicely in between forcing and non-forcing, so a 2-over-1 response works for both camps.

Manuel Paulo: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not forcing, for certain; but my support for spades is poor, and our potential will be enormous if partner raises clubs or bids diamonds.

Fred Altstock: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can bid at 2 level with 10+ pts. Then we can show clubs. partner may have in minors with me.

Emil Battista: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can support spades later

Joe Lentz: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing, thankfully, in our system. Game is possible. Willing to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (nonforcing ?) over partner's 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in the hope of finding the right strain.

There were a few people who wished for a new convention to be added to the system:

Barbara Whitmee: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Would like to double to say equal length in the other two suits, but not sure if that is part of the Australian Bridge system. So will bid two diamond, the higher ranking of five card suits, and support spades if partner bids them again, otherwise I'll bid clubs.

Dan Baker: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Classic responsive double ... if only East had been cooperative enough to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner has clubs and a good hand, I'll hear 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) stopper ask next and we'll find our club fit. Curious why 1NT is even listed as an option; no one could possibly be crazy enough to treat the singleton 5 as a stopper, right?

Obviously a convention like this would be banned in most live events (Law 19.A.1, you can't double partner's bid). But I guess there's no reason to not allow it in the bidding forum -- not all our entrants take that law seriously anyway. Maybe we can look into that for the future.

As for the 1NT response... well, I've edited out all the readers' who responded 1NT, but the panellists get no such favours, so Sartaj Hans has nowhere to hide.

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) feels better. I'll take a chance with 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ron Landgraff: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game still possible.

Tom Moss: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). not with a lot of confidence

Pat O'Connor: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner may have a strong overcall.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This leaves the way open to venture a bid in Cs on the next round. Hopefully this is a better way to go than X which promises the minors.

Next, we have a group who are happy to let partner try to make 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes):

Bridge Baron: Pass. An absolute maximum pass for Bridge Baron. Replacing a low club or diamond with the 10 would be enough to get Bridge Baron to respond in that suit, as would a six-card minor; 1 more HCP anywhere would lead to a 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid. Notrump is out with no heart stopper. So Bridge Baron can only pass.

Tony Treloar: Pass. Happy that we aren't missing game if the bidding stops

Ron Lel: Pass. I would love to make a sputnik double of partner's overcall here, except that the director would be called. I am going to pass here on the assumption that 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will not end the bidding. I hope to be able to come back in with a 2NT bid later in the auction to show this hand. This is actually quite likely as East has not raised partner's opening bid.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. The fact that East did not raise at this vulnerability argues against North having a minor. Game chances are remote

Michael Smart: Pass. Will takeout X if LHO balances or raise partner if he rebids his suit.

There is no full deal for this one, but the problem was inspired by Marshall Miles' article in the April issue of the magazine. In the article, Marshall argued the benefits of a 2-card raise.

Mike Lawrence: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Marshall Miles would bid 2S with this and I suspect that this hand is borrowed from his writings somewhere. The trouble with other bids is that they are all off the mark. 2C or 2D run the serious risk of playing in the wrong suit. East's silence hints that he does not have much in hearts so North rates to be 5-4 or 5-5 in the majors. I do hope he is not 4-5 in the majors, an issue that is possible if playing with someone that overcalls in four card suits. My values suggest that 2S will be passed out which is likely as not to be a decent spot. The big problem with 2S is not what happens on this hand but what happens in the near future when you raise partner's overcall on a different hand. Partner will remember your two card raise.

Toby Weinstein: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). nothing very appealing

Ian McCance: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be better.

Jacco Hop: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Again I would like to bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to show D. But now I will just bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It might lead into a minor disaster if this is passed out. I have a lot of sympathy for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Hand Three - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A9764
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J762
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K7

West North East South
  1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?
Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 6362
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 60 1612
2NT 50 1611
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 20 04
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10 54
Pass 0 03
Other 0 03

Our next problem is fairly straightforward at first glance -- we have a diamond fit and enough values to raise to the 3-level. In fact, a few people think we have more than enough values.

Tom Moss: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slight underbid.

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. Won't bother mentioning the weakish spades again. Could pass and get a sure plus on the board. However, the queen of hearts is a good card and four card support for diamonds is helpful and we have two five cards suits which could be a source of tricks.

Wilma Domjan: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Showing fit and higher points but not enough for 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Over to partner.

Jim Greer: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 4th suit forcing for 3NT.

Emil Battista: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). NT better played from South. Not good enough for 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Pontus Silow: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It is tempting to try your luck with 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but that temptation is stronger at IMPs.

This was clearly the easiest problem of the set, with two-thirds of panelists and readers in agreement.

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have Diamond support so show it.

Jack Lai: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No bid can be better.

James Coutts: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Giving Partner the chance to bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), or 3NT. All of which we are happy with. If P passes, we should be in the best spot.

Robert Black: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have a good raise, and not enough in clubs for 2NT.

Paul Freeland: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner can't move over that, then we are probably in the correct spot.

Barbara Hunter: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just showing preference don't think this hand is going places.

Michael Smart: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I like to play this as encouraging i.e. stretching to give 2-level (false) preference with most minimums.

Conny Wahlgren: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Maybe not the most practical bid but at least it shows some interest.

The last three answers raise some questions about the strength of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) here, and that has always been a common thread in this forum (a good example is Problem 3 in the December 2008 forum). Personally, I learned bridge from an old text book, and that book supports Michael and Conny.

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This gives a good description of our hand and suggests 5 spades. Disinclined to venture in NT as we may only have four clubs between us.

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2NT is the only other bid even worth considering, and with decent support for partner's second suit and a single stop with no hold-up possible in the unbid suit (not even that good if East has a quick entry that West can find), 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) making scores a lot more matchpoints than 2NT down. If partner raises diamonds further, NT is probably the wrong place anyway, and if he bids a major I can offer 3NT.

Duncan Roe: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Show a fit with partner's 2nd suit. Also deny interest in clubs - if I'd had them I would have blasted 3NT.

Sam Arber: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). tempted to bid 2NT at MP bit too good for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ? not good enough for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)

Despite the clear majority vote, there are arguments for the minority actions. Firstly, are we likely to get a better matchpoint score in a different strain?

Roger Yandle: 2NT. a bit aggressive but then it is Matchpoints.

Fred Altstock: 2NT. Should invite game.

Michael Burt: 2NT. We look to be vulnerable in both spades and clubs. The most likely game is 3NT but I am not quite strong enough to go there. NT is usually a good place to be at matchpoints unless there is an obvious weakness. The 2NT bid might encourage a diamond lead which could help.

Bridge Baron: 2NT. Would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if we were playing fourth-suit forcing for one round, but Australian Bridge Standard is fourth-suit forcing to game, and this is clearly not worth a game-force. But a 2NT describes our 10 solid HCP and our black suit stoppers, and protects our images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K as well.

Good to see that the Baron took the time to check out the system page!

Joe Lentz: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A matchpoint bid.

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Prefer the major at pairs.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). MP scoring (higher score for M contract than minor suit). For game need 15+ from prt, if Prt bid sth GAME ON. Similiar probl was described by Krzysztof Martens (polish Master) from his winning play at MP tourney in Israel, Eljat '2009).

Not everyone agrees that a major scores better than minor:

Manuel Paulo: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I bet that we win two more tricks at diamonds than at hearts.

Christer Enkvist: Pass. Game is a longshot so that can be discarded. 2 in the correct major may be the best contract but 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a shot in the dark (and no guarantee that we'll end up in the correct major) whereas 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with one, two, or three overtricks will provide a good or even excellent score.

Paul Gipson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Unwilling to commit to hearts and take the low road playing matchpoints.

Jacco Hop: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This shows my support and highcard points. I am not an MP player. Some might try to be smart and bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) here.

The form of scoring doesn't only affect which suit we choose, it also has an impact on how high we are prepared to go. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be unthinkable at IMPs, with a game bonus within reach, while matchpoint players may be happy just to secure the plus score:

Damo Nair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Small underbid given that this is MPs.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At IMPs I would prefer 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Game chances will likely depend on the quality of opener's red suits.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). But I prefer 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at Imps. We need 2 club stoppers for notrumps anyway so right-siding the contract is of no real concern.

Tony Treloar: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Would like to try and protect the CK but 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is much better than 2NT S if partner is a minimum. Don't want to play 3NT if partner has nothing in clubs anyway.

Henri de Jong: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Considered 2NT, as well as 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but we need a plus score. Too good for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

So summing up everything we've heard so far: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an underbid, minors don't score matchpoints, and our clubs are too weak for notrumps. Given all that, I have some sympathy for this next group:

Toby Weinstein: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2nd choice

Ian McCance: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems to discourage hearts and diamonds not all that good

Ron Landgraff: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I put a Diamond in with my Hearts! Game is too close to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Invitational with and should promise something like Hx in H and good diamond support. This time not so good bu compenstaed y the good black honors.

3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) didn't score any panel votes, but since this group does contain one of Australia's top players and writers, I'm going to temporarily recruit Dr McCance to the expert panel and give the bid 20 points.

Hand Four - North deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 6
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KT3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) JT6543
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q92


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

* 1NT is 20th Century standard, not a forcing notrump.

Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1004237
3NT 904231
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1054
Pass 01123
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 003
Other 001


Frank Campbell: 3NT. Irrespective of what 1NT is, if hand 4 for February was a jump shift/game force then so is this.

Yes, I can see there may have been some confusion about the footnote there. The note says that 1NT is not forcing; this does not mean that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is not forcing. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is forcing to game no matter what type of 1NT response you play. Yet...

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. I wish I'd passed 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

That's the paradox of this auction: we would have been permitted to pass this auction out at the 1-level in our non-fit, but now, with partner having the exact same hand he held on the last round, and having found a real fit, we must keep bidding. Several people are not happy with that arrangement, including two panellists:

Andrew Robson: Pass. Yes yes I know partner's bid is forcing. But I only really bid 1NT to improve the contract and I think I've done that.

Tim Bourke: Pass. Yes, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is nominally forcing but I have a minimum with a poor fit for partner's hand.

Pontus Silow: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Another temptation, but passing 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is dangerous when partner needs a game force to open 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tempted to Pass, but believe it is forcing. (it was because of hands like this I bid only 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) last time on the 54 nineteen pointer).

Leigh Matheson: Pass. 3NT is just speculating that partner has the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A or images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)Qx. It's tempting to try 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) followed by 3NT.

Michael Burt: Pass. 3NT looks dubious with my hand, but 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should make as I can ruff spades for extra tricks. Go for the plus (would probably try for 3NT at IMPS).

Tom Moss: Pass. anything could be right. With the right cards slam could make and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) not make. A plus score cant be rotten.

Roger Yandle: Pass. At IMPs I'd push for game but it doesn't seem like a good bet here.

Stefan Bengtsson: Pass. Bidding on will make it too likely that we land in a poorer contract - and it seems too optimistic to hope that we make 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), especially at MP

James Coutts: Pass. Hope this isn't forcing.

Duncan Roe: Pass. I guess this is a long-suit trial bid by opener. I think he's found our best spot. I wouldn't have bid 1NT myself - I like to have 2 of partner's suit.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. seems our side has 3 losers in red suits.

A couple of readers respected that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was forcing, but entertained thoughts of still getting out below game on the next round:

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hope this tells N we have 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)s and few HCP so despite his strong hand game is probably not on. N can to decide whether or not to bid on. Conceivably 3NT is on if N ventures 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 4th suit forcing.

Damo Nair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If I had 1 more spade may be I'd try 3NT. Here I just want to get out.

Sorry, that's not going to happen -- there is no way our 20-point partner is going to drop us in a partscore after we've made two bids.

So basically it comes down to 3NT (the logical bid with stoppers in both suits), or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Each bid received the same number of votes, with Peter breaking the tie in favour of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let's hear the arguments for the winning bid:

Christer Enkvist: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Although 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should show 5-5 I got a feeling that in Australia it may be bid on 4-card suit. Therefore partner may be in a difficult spot if we bid 3NT. On 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) North may voice concern with 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) - we may even hit the 5035 jackpot!

Robert Black: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). And 3NT if partner's next bid is 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Better to show my long suit, but expect to be bidding 3NT on the next round.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Diamonds may be hard to reach if you rebid 3NT, but 3NT is still in the picture after 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)

Ron Landgraff: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). He said bid! I describe the hand. The next round will be tougher if Pard fails to bid 3NT!

Fred Altstock: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner has big hand. Probably heading for 3NT

Joe Lentz: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner's next bid should clarify the strain in which to play.

Bridge Baron: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Yes, Bridge Baron bothers showing the diamond suit on the way to a probable 3NT, even at matchpoints. Bridge Baron would consider an immediate 3NT to be masterminding.

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT is tempting (and might get partner to slam on the brakes), but he won't be happy if he passes on AKQJx Jx xx AKJx and we lose the first five tricks in the red suits.

So none of the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders are really expecting to play in diamonds, they are really just taking some care to avoid a silly 3NT contract. I do have doubts about Dan's example hand; it is only vulnerable if the opponents lead our 6-card suit, and even then we still have chances.

Finally, let's hear from the "masterminders":

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. If partner's suits are not solid he should have some red honour(s).

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) forcing to game, maybe this is the best spot.

Paul Freeland: 3NT. And hope something good happens!!!

Ron Lel: 3NT. I don't like this bid, but what else can I do here?

Jacco Hop: 3NT. I have a stopper in both red suits. 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/D both look far away. Not that I feel happy about 3NT. I often play with people that open in 22 counts so passing is not an option for me.

Wilma Domjan: 3NT. Stopper in hearts and diamonds.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. We look to have the values and I am guessing it should be played by South.

That's it for another month. Before we leave I'd like to acknowledge all the emails we've received lately asking why we don't always include the full deal for all our problems. The reason is because we there isn't always a full deal -- many of the problems are either made up or provided by a reader who doesn't remember the details.

You can rectify this by sending me all your best problems, along with the full details of what happened --

As always, thanks to everyone for all your contributions.