Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- March 2011

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 - West deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K9854
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK62
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J5

 


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


Call Award %
Experts
%
Readers
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 80 33
3NT 60 10 32
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 5 10
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 5 7
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 6
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 5
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 10 0 3
4NT 0 0 2
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 1
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1

Welcome to a new year of bidding forum problems. We begin the year with a well-known hole in standard bidding -- making a forcing raise of opener's minor suit rebid. A third of the readers chose not to be drawn in, going straight for the default game.

Lindsay Coker: 3NT. 14 + 12 = 26. That's bridge.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. I don't see any adequate rebid that helps us to find our best contract; so, as slam is unlikely, I bet on the nine trick game.

Ken Berry: 3NT. This is what I would bid at the table. Is this what I am supposed to do, or try and work out some expert bid?

Robert Black: 3NT. Enough for game. Where else? (Phil Gue's lecture Tuesday Jan 18!)

Emil Battista: 3NT. Partner does not have many points in diamonds, so 3NT from my side should be a fair chance. Not to mention fact I like being declarer.

Emil should be careful with comments like that, all his regular partners read this forum! But he wasn't the only one who thought it was important to be declarer:

Fraser Rew: 3NT. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is the only alternative but that may wrongside it. As everything else is awful, I bid what I expect to make.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. Might be best not to exchange a whole lot more information in this auction. Partner figures to have some black suit values so NT should play better from my side.

John Sheean: 3NT. We have values for game, partner's strength is outside diamonds and I don't want to wrongside images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K.

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. With the two major suit kings it is best for me to call no trump. Partner surely has some high card points in clubs.

Dan Baker: 3NT. Partner only has 3 points in diamonds, so he's got to have help somewhere. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is tempting, but if partner bids NT after that a spade lead through is both obvious and lethal.

Martin Bloom: 3NT. 6 loser hand unlikely to produce slam opposite minimum opening - better to have lead come up to images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K.

That group will be pleased when they see the full deal -- more on that later.

Tom Moss: 3NT. 2nd choice 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't like either much, but I will try for the cheapest game.

Col Choat: 3NT. Given that north has rebid diamonds missing the ace and king, it is likely that he has something in clubs. Diamonds will run.

Peter Oakley: 3NT. Partner has points outside diamonds, so looks like best game prospect.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. Toss up between 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3NT.

Wilma Domjan: 3NT. I would not have bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Have high points so would have bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) indicating 10 or more points plus five hearts. 26 or more points game is on. Depending on partnership might have called 2NT to indicate 4 card support and opening hand.

This is a fairly common error -- at my club I see it every day. We are taught that we can respond at the 1-level with 6 points, and at the 2-level with 10 points -- if the teacher is not careful, students often misinterpret this as "you should go straight to the 2-level with 10 points". Many teachers fail to convey the message that this applies only if responder cannot bid at the 1-level, for example 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows 6+ points, and that includes 6, 12, or even 20-point hands. Even if your system includes strong jump shifts, that would require a very good heart suit and a strong hand (that's 13+, or more commonly 16+, never 10+). The poor heart suit here is not appropriate for such a bid, and a jump to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) here would crowd the auction and kill any chance of finding the right spot.

If anyone wants more information on this topic, check out the new edition of Paul's book, The Language Of Bidding, coming out this month. The concept of "unlimited bids" is explained there much more eloquently than I have room for here.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. It's not so much that Bridge Baron imagines Jx as almost half a stopper, it's that Bridge Baron considers this a "stoppers are for children" auction when it has a semi-balanced hand, diamond support or no diamond support. Obviously, we're going to game, but not slam, in some denomination; there's no way to force partner without a big lie about some black suit; the opponents are more likely than not to lead spades; so despite the inference that partner likely has at most three clubs, Hamman's Rule applies.

Ron Landgraff: 3NT. UGH! Almost automatic at pairs, but here may be missing 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) when 3NT is down! Still, 9 tricks may be easy.

Pontus Silow: 3NT. Sure, I would not mind being in slam when partner has AQx, x, Qxxxxx, Axx - but I have stopped playing partner for the perfect cards.

While Ron and Pontus have slam in the back of their minds (and note there were also some votes for 4NT), several of the comments suggest that it is not automatic to even get to game with this hand:

Alex Kemeny: 3NT. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) has denied secondary heart support, so it's this or a diamond partscore. 3NT is worth a shot at IMPs.

Ian McCance: 3NT. A bit pushy. At NT both black doubletons better led up to.

Stephen Bartos: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Invitational. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is tempting but if partner has a minimum HCP we could easily lose three tricks.

David Johnson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would have bid 2NT but that wasn't an option in the bid window.

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have diamond support and a nice hand. Partner can now show his secondary support or bid on as appropriate.

Duncan Roe: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let partner know there is a diamond fit. If partner has a good hand, he can bid again, otherwise we likely weren't going to make five anyway.

That could be true, but you won't get rich betting on the failure of 26-27 point games. If opener passes 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) we should lose imps more often than not. A more aggressive approach:

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Computer simulation shows game in diamonds makes more often than 3NT. Opener is likely to hold less than three cards in one of the black suits. 3NT kills all slam chances, which will make in about one third of the cases.

Christer Enkvist: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forget 3NT - the question is 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Martyn Rew: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hearts not strong, so happy to support diamonds. Interesting to note that most of partner's points are in other suits, and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) gives partner the opportunity to cue-bid on the way to game or slam.

Maurice Buxton: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner doesn't have a black suit 3NT could be rocky even with running diamonds, and I can't see a non-misleading way to look for it anyway. Then again, with the right cards slam is there. So I'll try this and hope to hear a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid, coming to rest in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if all else fails.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not to confuse the issue.

Michael Burt: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A game of some description looks on. Losing trick count suggests that 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is on with partner probably having six diamonds to the queen-jack. We could also have three losers off the top (two clubs plus a major suit ace) in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) but 3NT is making. Partner didn't bid 1NT which suggests a weakness in either clubs or spades. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems a slightly better bet than 3NT. A 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid (trying to find 3NT) could be risky as it gives away information to the opposition.

John Davies: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Both this and 3NT (my 2nd choice) have very strong chances. With no spade calls, possible that North has something in spades. Also 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) keeps slim chance of North moving to slam alive (ie. with three aces or two aces and a king) which 3NT does not. Think best to protect North's clubs than my spades. Would 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) be a splinter or control? As I am not sure here I will not use it.

Marion Carney: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Min 28 TP, enough for game.

So far, 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the only (arguably) forcing bid we have seen, and it has the obvious flaw of bypassing 3NT. The top vote (experts and readers) went to an unusual bid which sets up a game force, possibly allowing us to make a forcing diamond raise at the 3-level later on. Obviously bidding a doubleton is risky, but many felt the risk was worth taking: 

Eric Kokish: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Could wrongside 3NT this way, of course, but this is the wrong sort of hand to jump to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We'd like to see 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2NT; 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)- to get our diamond support across below 3NT and ascertain that North has a club guard. 

Zia: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I play 2NT forcing here, but would still probably bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), hoping the ox bids 2NT for my delicate 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Michael Ware: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Highlighting club issue for NT. Partner has denied four spades, so should be safe making up the suit.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Implies five hearts (and four spades!). But partner might have rebid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with four spades, so no huge risk.

Paul Freeland: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I know this may look like a 4, possibly even 5-card suit, but it gives partner a chance to bid hearts or no-trump when 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might not be making. Good problem, 5 of a minor versus 3NT or possibly 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have to find a forcing bid to find out where we belong (3NT, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 5 or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)). It's not describing my hand very well but at least I have a stopper there.

Don Smith: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have to show at least opening hand. Can continue in diamonds if partner doesn't want notrumps or raises spades.

Peter Vlas: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Although a bit short on the spades it shows 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and is forcing. After 2NT from partner I can still bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Pete McAllister: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Advance cue. No danger of opener supporting spades on this auction and 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is clearly possible.

Wayne Somerville: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing and will hardly ever get raised (based on a style where you would bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if you had four spades).

David Graff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Gives pard option to raise hearts, bid NT with club cards or rebid diamonds if the other choices are not attractive.

Skafti Jonsson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not ideal but neither are the alternatives. I can raise 2NT to 3 (although I suspect 3NT plays better from my hand), 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Jameson Cole: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Now that we're in a game forcing auction, we keep our options open for game and slam in notrump, hearts, and diamonds. I'll support diamonds next round.

Similar comments from Charles Scholl, Sid Kanter, Zbych, Dean Pokorny, Ig Nieuwenhuis and Margaret Reid.

A couple of the more experienced players have seen this situation before and already discussed it with their partners:

Ron Lel: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We play this as artificial as opener has almost certainly denied 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). As this bid also shows the 5th heart, it is a useful convention to have.

Nigel Kearney: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner should understand I might do this on different types of game forcing hands: It may have spades, or diamond support, or just long hearts. So we should not wrongside NT when partner has a club stop and nothing in spades. Anyway no other choice really works because 3NT now is much too unilateral but we are far from confident of 11 tricks in diamonds.

Roger Yandle: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pard has 6+ diamonds, is short in hearts and has denied spades and clubs. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should be a general force and allows pard to bid 2NT with clubs stopped. I can then suggest diamond slam without ruling out 3NT.

2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) isn't the only unusual choice on offer; there were also a few votes, including one expert vote, for our other doubleton:

Steve and Barbara Shepard: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hoping this will help sort out whether we belong in hearts, diamonds or no trump with the added bonus that it might discourage a damaging club lead. We do not bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) here as partner could reasonably assume that shows lots and lots of cards in the majors.

Murray Perrin: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is forcing, and also shows five hearts. It gives partner a wide range of rebids from 3diamonds to 3NT. It also helps responder work out from openers rebid if a diamond slam is on.

Bogdan Agica: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), forcing to game. If partner bids 3NT, I pass, on anything else I show the diamond support.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Don't know anything less bad.

Peter Qvist: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Game forcing.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I hope new minor is forcing! 3NT or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is possible.

Herve Bazin: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for a 3-card heart fit.

Alpay Ari: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Aiming for 3NT.

The full deal:

spades 42
hearts
diamonds QJ10843
clubs A942
spades A965
hearts 10763
diamonds 5
clubs KQ108
spades QJ1087
hearts QJ2
diamonds 97
clubs 763
spades K3
hearts K9854
diamonds AK62
clubs J5

At the table South chose 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and (as predicted by most of the readers) North quickly guaranteed a minus score by bidding 2NT. In fact the bidding spiralled out of control to 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but there was no good contract after the notrumps were wrong-sided. Only two pairs out of 16 reached 3NT played by South.

Thanks to Blaine Howe for this tough problem. And things aren't getting any easier on our next problem...


Hand Two - West deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQT7542
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 8
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQJ
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ

 


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


 

Call Award %
Experts
%
Readers
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 51 20
4NT 90 19 17
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 10 6
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90 5 4
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90 0 9
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60 10 26
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 30 0 9
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 5 2
6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 1
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 1
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 4
Other 0 0 1

A similar problem to the last one -- we have all the same issues as last time, but now we also have to consider slams, as well as a possible spade contract.

After my previous comments about strong jump shifts, many of you will be asking why this hand doesn't qualify!

Manuel Paulo: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd rather have bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) the first time. Now, I must use some subterfuges before rebidding my long suit or raising partner's.

Malcolm Ewashkiw: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Almost impossible to bid accurately after not responding 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in the first place, but perhaps that wasn't possible according to system.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Better to have bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) perhaps.

Peter Vlas: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What a pity I didn't start with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Par Ol-Mars: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Would have preferred a forcing 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) first round, but guess that was not on the menu. Don't think 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is forcing now so choices as I see it is between forcing 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and splinter 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Marshall Miles, Bob Jones and Eric Kokish also said they would have preferred 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on the previous round. The problem was provided by Dan Baker of Austin, Texas, and at the time he happened to be playing weak jump shifts (as does AB Standard). I have no experience using this particular convention, but the following argument makes some sense:

Alvin P Bluthman: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Come on, guys, when you play weak jump shifts you MUST have some natural forcing bids or the style becomes completely unplayable.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 100% forcing. Seek 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) first -- making 10 tricks is much easier than making 11.

Archie Julien: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Again, convey our 5+ card spade suit, with an opening hand vs an opening hand. If partner can bid any spades, I'm going to 1430 RKCB. Partner could easily have three aces and the spade king for a virtual laydown 7NT. Otherwise, a small slam should be in the offing, cashing out clubs and cross ruffing the majors. Even if a total misfit reverts us to diamonds, partner should have at least one ace, which makes 1430 RKCB a safe inquiry, leading to a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) contract.

Di McAlister: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If this is forcing, otherwise 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Frank Campbell: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing. Again I have diamond support but my spade suit warrants this bid. Slam in either suit is a distinct possibility.

Larry Brose: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Gotta let partner know how good my spades are. I'd rather be in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) than 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'd end up wasting my diamond honors to trump hearts.

Margaret Reid: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Has to be forcing.

Ken Berry: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner has no aces and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is eventual end.. so be it.

Tom Moss: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It better be forcing.

Jenny Monger: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Jump bid showing points and 6+ spades.

Lindsay Coker: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Just how strong is my hand? Going to find out soon.

Barbara Hunter: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Should be slam in spades or diamonds.

John Sheean: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Show my strength and suit length. 4NT was my other option.

Christer Enkvist: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Then a slam try with 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on 3NT unless a miracle has happened and North raised spades (then Blackwood).

Murray Perrin: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing, asking partner if they have cover in the other two suits to bid NT and also asks partner if they have tolerance for spades. After partner's rebid one can look for grand slam most likely in diamonds or slam in spades/NT.

Duncan Roe: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Too strong for an immediate game bid; need to agree trump suit before using RKCB.

Marion Carney: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not ideal to show all my points, but no new suit to jump and NTs looks doubtful. Hopefully partner will bid on!

That was the readers' majority, supported on the expert panel by none less than Ron Klinger and the late Ted Chadwick. The bid was given a score of 40, but I'm going to preempt the emails and upgrade it to 60 right now. And having opened that can of worms, I guess I have to also give this other underbid a few extra points:

Peter Oakley: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). a 4-loser hand - relying on partner to bid on with spade honour-rag and aces. Otherwise wouldn't want to go past game.

Emil Battista: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Could bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and let partner say 3NT or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The 7th spade swayed me to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Wayne Somerville: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). IMPs, safest game, even if it is not the polling choice winner :)

Alex Kemeny: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner didn't change suit so it's really unlikely he's void in spades. And if he has three key cards, he can still bid the slam.

Fred Altstock: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner's hand appears not to be too strong so I will sign off in a spade game.

Several people considered and rejected 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and one of those rejected it even though he thought it was forcing:

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) a good alternative but consumes too much space.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) isn't forcing, only inviting.

Jameson Cole: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd like to bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) forcing, but it isn't. At least 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) gives us a chance to find a spade fit. Regardless I plan to drive to slam unless we're missing two aces.

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I would bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but I don't think this is forcing in ABS.

Setting aside the spade suit, let's look at the many different ways to support partner's diamonds:

Maurice Buxton: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is non-forcing in this system, yes? Unfortunately the spade suit isn't quite good enough to take charge with 4NT (unless we have a systemic pick-a-slam bid available?), but I'll probably get another chance to bid it later, so for now I'll splinter and see what partner comes up with next.

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter.

Fraser Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I assume that this is a splinter? Can't really see an alternative, we can always get to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) anyway.

Henri de Jong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a splinter, otherwise 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Martyn Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Most scope for partner to show more information with a valid forcing bid. Slam potential here in spades or diamonds

Pete McAllister: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter. Diamond rebid has improved my hand no end, and this 5-3 diamond fit would likely play better than 7-2 spade fit anyway.

Jack Lai: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter. Though images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)KQ is not good, but still worth to try the diamond slam.

While that was also my choice, it received only one vote from the expert panel (Phillip Alder). However, Peter has already upgraded this one to 90 points, saving me the trouble. He also upgraded the other diamond raises:

Col Choat: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hope partner will take this as a splinter.

Don Smith: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This hand is worth 20 points.

Guy Herzmark: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Splinter.

Ian McCance: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looks like a Blackwood hand but don't like being tapped in hearts. Looking for a cue of hearts.

John Davies: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam try. Fit in diamonds, no reason to look for a spade contract in IMPS. Stronger hand than hand 1 thus stronger bid.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam invite, asks for cues.

Aside from the splinters and direct raises, there was a lot of support for the direct route to slam (led by the man who provided the problem):

Dan Baker: 4NT. This is what I chose at the table, en route to 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Lots of hands that will make that where 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is hopeless, but not many the other way around (and the auctions needed to sort them out would be torturous). As it turned out, my partner held Void, Kxxx, AT9xxx, AJx and even 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) went down at the other table while 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) was easy.

Bridge Baron: 4NT. With controls in every suit, Bridge Baron classifies Blackwood as crude but effective. At IMPs, it's less important to be in 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is also making. The Vondracek phenomenon would make a good excuse for burying the spades, but is unlikely to apply here. (As a human, I might bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to give partner one more chance to mention spades before exploring slam, since I don't need to ask partner about the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K.)

Michael Burt: 4NT. 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks a real possibility even though we only have around 29 points. Will go to slam on two aces which should make if partner has images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, a singleton spade or images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K is onside. Partner has not gone 1NT indicating a weakness in clubs or hearts which increases the chances of finding partner with images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K. A crude approach but other approaches could be misleading.

Tim Trahair: 4NT. Here we go again! Partner has at least six diamonds with most of his HCP in the other suits and we have a very strong hand for playing in diamonds or spades. Slam in diamonds (or possibly even a grand slam in diamonds) seem very likely. There may even be slam or grand slam in spades.

Barbara Whitmee: 4NT. Not sure if a jump to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is forcing.

Rainer Herrmann: 4NT. Opposite three key cards I am prepared to bid the grand.

Martin Bloom: 4NT. Playing RKCB 1430, can subside in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if only one Keycard. If two I will bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - at worst on spade finesse.

Derek Pocock: 4NT. ready to pass 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nigel Kearney: 4NT. The spade king is not essential for a small slam and we can't find out if partner has the perfect holding for grand. There is a slight risk 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could fail when 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes but that's outweighed by the benefits of keeping the auction simple.

There was also a wish list for a range of other ace-asking bids, but none of them apply in our system:

Paul Freeland: 4NT. I'd like to be able to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as Minorwood, but guess that is not available. If partner shows two aces without the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q then I can either try and play in 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is still no worse than 50% (images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K onside?).

Peter Qvist: 4NT. I am the one who can see the slam. But prefer 4 of the other minor to be RCK.

David Graff: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Minorwood if we are playing it otherwise 4NT. Not going to be seduced by the spades since there is a big, known diamond fit.

Wilma Domjan: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for slam. Asking for aces will show up losers better and help decide on contract.

Ron Landgraff: 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) unlikely to make. Partner needs three aces and the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K or equivalent. 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may have play with partner having only 1 Ace and a bad lead by the defense. Blackwood only gives information to the opponents!

All good choices, and most of them have been well-treated in the awards. But the panel majority once again chose to go with the doubleton!

Damo Nair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The same logic as was used for the last problem. North could have many types of hands.

Bogdan Agica: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The same thing, although I plan to raise diamonds this time, if no spade support.

Robert Black: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Forcing, and hoping that partner will understand. And it shows that spades are 5+. (Would like 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) to be Keycard).

Pontus Silow: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I hope for a spade preference with Kx/Jx or better. If that does not happen, I go for a diamond slam.

Roger Yandle: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'm not sure where this hand is going. A diamond slam might be on as might game in spades and NT. Pard has denied clubs so this should be a general force to find out more about his hand.

Pat O'Connor: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for secondary spade support.

Tony Treloar: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Might find out something useful in a slow auction.

David Ho: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Other bid may not be forcing, very likely to have slam in diamonds or spades. Will support diamonds after partner's rebid.

Dean Pokorny: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Setting a game force. Will not attempt to force with 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), because unlike last time, I have a problem if partner raises to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Sid Kanter: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The goal is to discover whether pard has the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K and the number of aces. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) forces. after 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I'll bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) then after Blackwood if we have three bullets and the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, I'll bid 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

The full deal:

spades ---
hearts K743
diamonds A109632
clubs AJ4
spades KJ3
hearts QJ92
diamonds 874
clubs 865
spades 986
hearts A1065
diamonds 5
clubs 109732
spades AQ107542
hearts 8
diamonds KQJ
clubs KQ

At the table Dan bid 4NT on the way to 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). East led a trump, and declarer was able to pitch dummy's heart on the clubs. The final tally was six trumps, three clubs, one spade and two heart ruffs for +920. This was worth 14 imps when 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) went down at the other table.


Hand Three - South deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 6
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AKQJ3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK52
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q65

 


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

 

Call Award %
Experts
%
Readers
Pass 100 43 40
Dbl 70 38 39
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60 14 13
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 20 5 2
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 4
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 2

With the first two problems having a dozen different answers, the rest of the set should be relatively simple. This one is a slightly unusual variation on a common theme, with the everyday choices of pass, compete, or penalise. Pass took the top vote for both readers and experts, although by the closest possible margin in both cases.

Christer Enkvist: Pass. 200 will be sufficient for a solid score.

Michael Burt: Pass. Assuming West's 1NT is genuine and West has images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)10xxxx, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will probably fail. If West's 1NT is not genuine, 1NT should go at least one off (100+) on a heart lead. Passing might give the impression that South is weaker than the actual hand and may result in West misjudging finesses.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Best chance for a plus. Even with a heart lead we may have only 6 tricks. Partner is likely broke!

Murray Perrin: Pass. We should be able to take the first 7 tricks.

Ken Berry: Pass. Even if West has images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)10xxxx, I still think 1NT is in trouble.

Derek Pocock: Pass. Hoping for 200 against my 110 in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

David Graff: Pass. May be the last plus.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Pass and score plus 100.

Robert Black: Pass. Perhaps the last chance for a plus.

Sam Arber: Pass. Plus 100 better than 80 or 90.

Sid Kanter: Pass. Plus 100 in the bag vs who knows.

Leigh Matheson: Pass. Take my +100 and move on.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. To pull them out of 1NT vulnerable would be pure horror-bridge! 200 should be a great score. In a perfect world any other call should get a flat zero.

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. West bidding without heart stop is likely to have the upper range for his bid and not suitable for a takeout double, or a suit bid. I think chances are better they don't have seven tricks even with the spade lead, than we making eight in a contract of our own. If I would bid I prefer 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to reduce the risk of partner bidding 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. What else?

A couple of people were confused by an ambiguity in the system notes:

Frank Campbell: Pass. I would like to double for penalties and demanding the lead of my suit but AB Standard says 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is for the majors and anything else is natural, presumably meaning double is takeout. We might still get +200. If my interpretation of the system notes is wrong I would double.

John Sheean: Pass. Dbl for penalties would be my bid except AB Standard says all bids over 1NT except 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) are natural. Trust partner to lead a heart.

John and Frank appear to have made the same inference, that "natural" means takeout. It's funny how the game has changed over the years; I myself am a relatively young player who learned the game in the age of negative doubles, but even I find it incomprehensible that "natural double" could mean anything other than penalty!

Anyway, that discussion is academic, because a takeout double requires us to have support for all unbid suits -- such a hand cannot exist, especially when we have already shown five hearts.

Some people were worried that a double would carry lead implications:

Jacco Hop: Pass. Even if my partner is stupid enough to lead spades we will probably set the contract which rates to be a good result.

Alvin P Bluthman: Pass. If I double, am I asking partner NOT to lead a heart? Or am I showing a strong takeout, to be followed up with my second suit?

Duncan Roe: Pass. Partner knows to lead a heart; this should get the contract off from my own hand after that. Partner really can't have much, so Dbl may end in tears.

Martin Bloom: Pass. Take plus in matchpoints. Well trained partner should lead a heart, especially with his weak hand.

Charles Scholl: Dbl. No one is making anything here; lead a heart!

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. Nothing else appeals all that much, especially at Matchpoints where we can look for -200, given that West probably has 10xxx(x) in hearts in a strong balanced hand rather than a comic NT. (Please lead a heart anyway, partner. Please.)

Others had different reasons for rejecting the double:

Paul Freeland: Pass. Firstly, this looks like one of those situations where West has the right shape, and plenty of values, but no stop in hearts. It seems highly likely that EW can do better in spades. Hopefully we can run the first 7 tricks for +100 when they are making spade partials elsewhere.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. I can see at least 100, if partner has nothing, and 200 will be worth all the money. No need to double for a nice score. And who has the spades?

Malcolm Ewashkiw: Pass. I'll take my plus.

Alan Jones: Pass. If I double, someone (East probably) is going to bid spades, and then where will we be?

Deniz Apaydin: Pass. If I say dbl probably partner bid spades. I don't want to hear this. So at EW vulnerable -1 is enough for us.

Ian McCance: Pass. Playing for a positive, don't fancy defending spades (or clubs) where my hearts may not be full value.

Henri de Jong: Pass. Very little left for pard. If he has the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q we can make eight tricks in hearts, but we will take 200. Don't give opponents another chance to get to spades.

Ron Lel: Pass. Well this one looks pretty obvious. We can't make anything much and they are vulnerable. I would expect to beat this a trick or so, however there is no point in letting them run out cheaply to a black suit if I double.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. I'm hoping this is for penalties, asking for a heart lead. Mind you, this all looks a bit fishy. Where are all the spades and what sort of stopper does West have? Maybe I'm giving them a chance to run into a making contract.

The doublers were mostly unconcerned about spades, but there was very little agreement on how to proceed after the inevitable runout:

Martyn Rew: Dbl. If partner has so little that he gets scared and runs, revert back to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Mark LaForge: Dbl. If partner bids spades, I will bid 2NT.

Pete McAllister: Dbl. If we can make +400, there should be +500 or more available in defence. I intend to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over East's escape to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Emil Battista: Dbl. Plus 200. Or maybe not so good when partner bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and I am forced to rebid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Who's afraid of the big bad spades?

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. If they run I hope pard can double, otherwise I will bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Fraser Rew: Dbl. It could make, but partner isn't broke yet, and discards on all those red winners could be troublesome. The biggest worry is (2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes))-Pass-(4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)).

Nigel Kearney: Dbl. They might find a spade contract and do better than 1NT but I'm not willing to pass and put all my eggs in that basket when we could have a game or collect a large number.

Most of the doublers did not mention the spades at all, just hoping to take a shortcut to the magic +200 (doing it undoubled is too much like hard work):

Michael Davy: Dbl. For penalty of course.

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Go for the double and we should be able to make a 200 positive score.

Peter Vlas: Dbl. I can't bring myself to pass this one. We should be able to score 110 where we otherwise might end with 100.

Lindsay Coker: Dbl. I've got seven tricks, so can you help, partner?

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Looks like it might have come unstuck at the table but the vulnerability makes it look like an obvious choice.

Pontus Silow: Dbl. My only alternative is to pass and hope for two down and the magic +200.

Wilma Domjan: Dbl. North and East have approx 9 points between them or much less. Neither is likely to bid unless forced so I would double looking for partner's suit or support for hearts. If no response then should be able to beat 1NT if partner leads a heart.

Jameson Cole: Dbl. Partner may have no more than one ace, king, or queen. But there is no reason for him to bid, since he knows you know the situation. The magic number is -1 for +200.

Dan Baker: Dbl. Seven tricks off the top unless West has five hearts (which he might), and even then there are chances for a 7th. +200 is rarely a bad score at Matchpoints.

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. Take 200 at Matchpoints. Even if declarer has five hearts, he may still not have 7 tricks.

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. This looks fishy, time to expose the psyche (a hand like AQJx T98xx QT AK possible though).

John Davies: Dbl. West hand is a mystery. No double nor spade bid?? Could he have five hearts - surely not? Could he have a long club suit missing the queen and controls in other suits excluding hearts? Who has the spades? Problem with double is that North may treat it as takeout. However I expect to down the contract and with Matchpoints will take the risk and hope that partner treats double as penalties as intended, else we are in hot water. Pass is my second choice and I guess the choice of the panel.

I find it interesting that so many people were certain that West didn't have a heart stopper. If you knew West, I would understand your doubts, but I haven't revealed her name!

There were also a few votes for bidding out our shape, led on the expert panel by Eric Kokish, Mike Lawrence and Jill Courtney:

Manuel Paulo: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Without spades, I am not fond of doubling.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A good description of our hand. The principal danger is that EW may have a 9-card fit in spades and are able to bid it. Even then we have a strong hand for defence and with a little help from partner may be able to set 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Double serves no purpose and runs the risk of partner bidding 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If 1NT is not raptor then West and South have 33+ HCP together. A partscore is the probable plus score.

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I can pass at IMPs and probably collect +100 but not at MPs. Here 110 in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)/3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a real possibility.

Archie Julien: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). There are only 6 HCP for North and East to split. A double might be lucky if partner can bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but might also find me awkwardly facing a 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid by partner, with theoretically nothing in his hand but a worthless 4-card suit. I bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), have lots of power in reserve, and let partner take his choice of my two suits.

Peter Oakley: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). In case partner has no heart to lead. Seven tricks could come home in the black suits if this overcaller holds five hearts.

David Ho: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Red suit is too good for me to pass.

Marion Carney: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With a minimum of 25 points game should be on so jump shift showing 18+ and new suit forcing.

Bridge Baron: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A penalty double is a sweet dream, but it would be takeout here. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows this near-maximum hand nicely; partner will then choose the final contract. West is unlikely to have a textbook 1NT overcall, although 1098xx in hearts is theoretically possible; but even if West is psyching, slam is impossible, because partner didn't double 1NT.

The Baron is another fan of that "takeout double of notrumps" concept, which I assume is ideally some kind of 4544 shape. Not a shape that comes up very often, what with the 17 cards and all, and surely even less likely if you are a computer. 

The deal is from the 2010 Dubbo Congress. North held images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)xxxx images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)xxx images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Qxxx images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)xx
and West had a 17-count with only
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)109xx. 1NT was passed out for 300; if doubled, EW have a safe haven in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if they can get there. Most NS pairs were allowed to make ten tricks in hearts.


Hand Four - South deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) JT53
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 94
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKQ542

 


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

 

Call Award %
Experts
%
Readers
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 62 30
3NT 70 28 39
2NT 40 10 24
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 0 4
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 10 0 2
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1
 

This next hand was intended as a slightly disguised companion hand to Problem One. On that deal, the majority chose to bid a new suit at the 2-level on king-doubleton, wrong-siding 3NT. So I wondered, would those same people be prepared for partner to have that same holding on a similar auction from the other side of the table?

Christer Enkvist: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A direct 3NT and get a possible unpleasant diamond lead? Why not protect the diamonds if possible?

John Davies: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Prefer 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 2NT. If North bids 2NT I do not know if I will move to NT game. If North bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will pass. If North bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will bid 3NT.

Martyn Rew: 3NT. Looks like partner has the doubleton and the singleton covered.

Dan Baker: 3NT. Hearts stopped (well, sort of) with a source of tricks. I like our chances.

Paul Freeland: 3NT. Looks like a heart stop to me, and a good source of potential tricks in that club suit. It's dangerous to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as some sort of 4th suit force to try and right-side the NT contract, as after making a non-forcing 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) rebid, partner might pass 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Charles Scholl: 3NT. Unless partner can bid again, slam is out. With this heart holding, should play better from my side.

John Sheean: 3NT. Game values and hearts stopped.

The result of my experiment was inconclusive, but a number of other issues did arise. Firstly, is this hand good enough for game?

Duncan Roe: 3NT. With the rather ordinary heart holding, do we step carefully through an invitational 2NT? Nah - it's Matchpoints, bid game.

Roger Yandle: 3NT. I'm a bit concerned about entries to my hand if the clubs don't run but what else can I bid?

Deniz Apaydin: 3NT. If partner has at least diamond king and a little bit lucky, 3NT can be made.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. Trying for game. Hopefully the opponents wont lead spades.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. A bit of a gamble.

Those comments all indicated that 3NT was a risk, and this next group will be happy to stop in a partscore:

Alvin P Bluthman: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Just showing my pattern. For those who think I am forcing to game (by bidding the fourth suit), how can a hand that simply rebids its first suit at the two level have the strength to do that?

Maurice Buxton: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be forcing to game (unfortunately) and this hand isn't good enough, nor is it good for NT opposite a singleton club. If I end up bidding 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), say, at least partner will know not to expect too much.

Emil Battista: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A FSF 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is just likely to fetch 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think I will be dull and repeat those great clubs.

Alan Jones: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Notrumps depends on partner having at least a half stopper in hearts.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 2NT. No fit and a heart stop. In my own system limited and unbalanced as I did not open 1NT (12-14) or rebid 1NT (15-17).

Rainer Herrmann: 2NT. Notrump from South will often make the defense less obvious to knock out the side entry to the clubs in time. With a moderate hand, North should choose between 3NT or 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but rarely pass 2NT in this sequence.

Toby Weinstein: 2NT. Seems right on values.

Margaret Reid: 2NT. Heading for 3NT?

Jack Lai: 2NT. Hope to grab 8 tricks in MP and a score of 120.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Misfit alert! Lack of a fit is worrisome. Go low before the doubling begins. North is still unlimited. He may bid again, but unless he does, game possibilities are fading.

This seems a bit pessimistic to me, given that we are super-maximum for our previous bidding, and partner didn't pass 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes):

Bastiaan Korner: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Would have bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) instead of 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Alex Kemeny: 3NT. Happy to be able to catch up after my terrible 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid on the last round. Why didn't I reverse into 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with this 5 loser hand?

Wayne Somerville: 3NT. Having underbid last round, we need to make up ground, 3NT shows the great suit and heart stop.

Leigh Matheson: 3NT. Partner is inviting game.

Damo Nair: 3NT. What am I missing? 2NT is an underbid with my clubs.

Ian McCance: 3NT. Underbid first time, over the second?

Good logic; one of the advantages of limiting your hand is that it gives you the freedom to be aggressive later. Partner moved on in the face of our discouraging 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, so our actual hand is pure gold.

Michael Burt: 3NT. North needs very little for 3NT to make (two clubs, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K). North's bidding suggests more than a minimum but with a misfit. 3NT should score reasonably if it makes and it looks like there is a good chance it will.

David Ho: 3NT. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) didn't guarantee GF, so I'll bid 3NT.

Par Ol-Mars: 3NT. Can't really see any alternatives.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Expecting to score +417 on average (if the clubs run, then partner holding the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A or the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K with a side entry, will likely suffice.) A stopper matters here to Bridge Baron, because there's only one unbid suit (contrast with Hand One), but Bridge Baron considers J10xx a full stopper in practice. (Sure, West could have exactly two high heart honors, and East could have a diamond entry, and they could defend it perfectly. Also, I could win a free Super Bowl ticket.)

I saw the Super Bowl on TV, but I didn't see Bridge Baron in the crowd, so I guess that means his 3NT was safe.

Archie Julien: 3NT. I do not relish playing a contract in a presumably 6-card fit in either of partner's presumably 5-4 two suits, and despite that nothing has been yet said about hearts, I do have the suit stopped. With just two small clubs in partner's hand, along with the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K or images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, I could easily have nine tricks off the top. And if they can cash three hearts before I get my nine, then I get the next ten tricks.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. Matchpoints and Hamman's rule suggest this rebid.

Given that we are going to game, the next question is who should play it. And would we even be able to get partner to play it if we wanted to?

Tim Trahair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 4th suit forcing. We are unlikely to hear 2NT from partner but must keep the bidding going. 3NT seems a likely destination.

Tony Treloar: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think we are heading for 3NT no matter what but I would like to try to get it sided to partner and this looks like the best way.

Sid Kanter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Ultimately 3NT would work best from North as declarer.

Fraser Rew: 2NT. I assume we're already in a game force? If so I bid where I live. If P has 5440 then he can bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I could be wrongsiding it but he has to have points somewhere.

Murray Perrin: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Fourth suit forcing, denies three spades and four diamonds.

Ron Lel: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The universal 4th suit forcing, shift the blame if it's the wrong bid. What else on this hand?

And we'll finish off this problem with a group who are hoping for better things than 3NT:

Pete McAllister: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). More information, please! We'll likely play 3NT, but I haven't ruled out 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) yet.

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Still hoping for club preference.

Dean Pokorny: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Maybe we have 4-4 heart fit, or maybe we have slam in clubs. I'm just too strong to bid a simple 2NT (or 3NT, depending of methods). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the most natural and the most flexible call.

We don't have details of the full deal, but I do recall that all roads led to an easy 3NT contract, from either side of the table.


Hand Five - West deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T87
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K763
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) JT82

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

1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is "better minor" (can be 3, but only if we have a doubleton club).
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a weak jump overcall.
 

Call Award %
Experts
%
Readers
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 86 53
Pass 20 14 29
Dbl 10 0 11
2NT 0 0 7

Our final problem is the easiest of the set, a typical example of bidding after a preempt.

Fraser Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Right shape, right values, what's the problem?

Charles Scholl: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Seems straightforward!

Dean Pokorny: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Clear-cut. Excellent hand for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No other choice.

Peter Oakley: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Show the fit. I can't see a sensible alternative.

Sid Kanter: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A plus is better than a guess.

Pete McAllister: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Certainly don't want 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) passed out, but would want better hearts to double.

Henri de Jong: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Considered passing as West has passed and pard will re-open the bidding. But better to show my assets now and deny four hearts.

Michael Davy: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Everything else is worse.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hope pard can take another bid.

Alex Kemeny: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Nine losers, so going nowhere unless partner is big. If so, he can still bid 3NT. Or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), then I'll bid 3NT.

Duncan Roe: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner is unlimited, so I think Dbl must be unsound. Next-weakest bid is a minimum raise of his suit, which is what I do.

Martyn Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tells partner that he needs a lot more than a basic hand to go further.

A few readers were distracted by the little red herring in the footnote, but most found their way through it:

Jacco Hop: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have decent values and the chance of 4432 is under 1%.

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). After the 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid partner is unlikely to have 44 in in the majors and hence a 3 card diamond suit. Can't pass as 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be passed out and made while we also would have made 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Ho: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner has three only when 4432, and it is unlikely that pd would have four spades after a 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) weak jump, so 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be safe.

John Davies: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A bit weak for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but push on. North most probably has four or more diamonds. Pass, 2NT and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) are other bids I considered.

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Much against the odds that partner has exactly 4432.

Michael Burt: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). North should have at least 4 diamonds (4432 seems unlikely on the bidding). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) can just be justified and is likely to be the least damaging of the bids available.

Wayne Somerville: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This will be bad if partner is 4432, otherwise, it should be perfectly playable.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I was going 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) until I saw the better minor footnote. I am not good enough to bid that in a possible 7 card fit.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Give Bridge Baron another diamond and it will raise (yes, another diamond is necessary, even if 4432 is the only distribution in which partner has fewer than four diamonds). Give Bridge Baron another heart and it will make a negative double. Give Bridge Baron a Queen somewhere and it will bid 2NT. Otherwise, it's passing -- we don't have to compete on every single deal.

David Graff: Pass. Not good enough for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which could be a 7-card fit anyhow. Pard will almost certainly reopen.

Pontus Silow: Pass. This is the worst part of playing "better minor". I could risk a double (at this form of scoring), but this time I will rely on partner to keep the fire burning if he is interested.

John Sheean: Pass. Best option with my 9 losers and partner possibly having only 3 diamonds. See where the bidding goes from here.

The 8 HCP / 9-loser hand provided another possible diversion from the winning answer, and this was the focus of most of the passers:

Jameson Cole: Pass. To bid now would show more strength than you have. No reason for us to play this hand if partner can't compete further.

Damo Nair: Pass. If the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A were somewhere else I might have tried 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Manuel Paulo: Pass. Any other call looks like an overbid.

Ron Lel: Pass. 9 losers! 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is likely to excite partner. I pass.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Can pass now and if partner rebids then I can show a preference.

David Johnson: Pass. I'll bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over partner's double.

Don Smith: Pass. If partner bids on, then I can say something.

Neil Pentland: Pass. If pard moves we can look to play in partscore. Otherwise the preempt may have worked -- but why go looking to go down and lose a possible plus?

Murray Perrin: Pass. Pass and wait to see if partner doubles then ask partner for a spade stopper. Some might prefer 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) here as it denies four hearts.

Roger Yandle: Pass. A slow 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? Hopefully pard can re-open and then I can support diamonds.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. At Matchpoints, partner will stretch to re-open. Else we defend. Immediate action is masterminding.

The key here is that partner should not expect a full-strength invitational raise, because he will know we are under pressure. Especially if we are the one with shorter spades, we can't count on a re-opening from partner.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Basic Law raise.

Tony Treloar: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Stretch to support partner in the competitive auction.

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Stretching to support in competition. 3NT isn't out of the question if partner has extras.

Nigel Kearney: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pre-empts sometimes make you guess and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is clearly the percentage guess compared to pass. If partner is minimum 4432, at least this hand will help you convince him to play weak NT in future.

Robert Black: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not enough hearts to double, so this overbid seems better than passing.

Ian McCance: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I believe mandatory.

Alvin P Bluthman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). About what the hand is worth. No double without four hearts.

Margaret Reid: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Must bid something so will support diamonds. Not strong enough for NT.

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We need to keep the bidding open, in case partner has rather better than an opening hand. Not sure how the bid will be seen as we are playing inverted minors and had there been no interference from East, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would have been seen as a weak response.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Support with support and lead indicating.

While the panel only considered 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and Pass, there were two minority choices which attracted some support, led by our current National Open Teams champion:

Martin Bloom: 2NT. At Matchpoints prefer to go for NT contract.

Paul Freeland: 2NT. If this is Lebensohl... I want to show a weak raise to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and am happy to forgo a natural 2NT in these situations. If not, possibly a direct 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as a weak raise.

Ken Berry: 2NT. Same bid if it goes 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) .. perhaps too simplistic....

Marion Carney: 2NT. Shows spade cover and balanced. Not double - this would imply hearts.

Archie Julien: Dbl. I need five cards to bid any of the other three suits outside spades (including a raise of diamonds), so as I have to bid something, by a process of elimination, that only leaves a negative double.

Emil Battista: Dbl. Let's hear what else partner has to say.

Wilma Domjan: Dbl. Looking for guidance from partner. Someone has points but it appears to be a bad match of suits and weakness in hearts so letting partner know I have points but want partner to provide more info or take penalty position.

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. Not ideal, but if there was an ideal bid on any of these hands they wouldn't be in a bidding forum! Gets the basic nature of the hand across (which 2NT wouldn't), and shows a few values (which 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) wouldn't).

Herve Bazin: Dbl. sub minimal double... and with no four hearts!

That's it for our first forum of 2011 -- congratulations to Dean Pokorny getting off to a perfect start with a score of 500.

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 February 2011
1Dean Pokorny CRO500
2Geof Brod USA490
2Gareth Birdsall GBR490
4Mark Laforge IND470
5Par Ol-Mars THA460
5Pete Mcallister GBR460
5Conny Wahlgren SWE460
5Nigel Kearney NZL460
5Rob Avery CAN460
5Tobias Bende SWE460
5Alvin P. Bluthman USA460
5Kajsa Larson SWE460
13Charles Scholl USA440
13Marko Mancic SRB440
13Michael Yuen NSW440
13Nigel Guthrie GBR440
13Peter Stride Qld440
18Tom Rushford Vic430
18David Ho TPE430
18Tony Treloar Qld430
18Jacco Hop NED430
18John Moser CAN430
18Dave Taylor NZL430
18Leigh Matheson NSW430
25Derek Pocock WA420
25Dominic Connolly NSW420
25Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN420
25Valter Johansson SWE420
25Dean Eidler NZL420
25Ian McCance Vic420
25Henri De Jong Vic420
25Bogdan Agica USA420
33John R. Mayne USA410
33Arthur Porter SA410
33Ron Lel LAO410
33Paul Janicki CAN410
33Sid Kanter USA410
33Niek Van Vucht ACT410
39Margaret Reid NSW400
39Peter Vlas NED400
39Robert Bäck SWE400
39Robert Black SA400
43Barbara Whitmee Qld390
43Tania Black SA390
43Dan Baker USA390
43Ig Nieuwenhuis NED390
43Ian Patterson Qld390
43Christer Enkvist SWE390
43Lindsay Coker Vic390
43Tom Moss NSW390
51Johnny Petersson SWE380
51Peter Qvist DEN380
51Tom Estenson USA380
51David Graff USA380
51Skafti Jonsson DEN380
56Michael Burt ACT370
56Trish Whitton NSW370
56Fredrik Jarlvik SWE370
56John Davies NSW370
56Rick Giles USA370
56Wayne Somerville IRL370
56Alan Jones Qld370
56Kay O'Connor NSW370
64Jameson Cole USA360
64Paul Freeland NZL360
64Martyn Rew NZL360
64Rainer Herrmann GER360
64Roger Yandle NSW360
64Zbych Bednarek POL360
64David Johnson CAN360
64Tom Kiss NSW360
64Fraser Rew NZL360
64Col Choat NSW360
64Gary Lane NSW360
64David Matthews WA360
64Michael Davy360
77Damo Nair USA350
77Tim Trahair NSW350
77Pat O'Connor NSW350
77Ingerun Sjosvard SWE350
77Don Smith WA350
77Peter Oakley NZL350

Leading scores for 2011
1Dean Pokorny CRO500
2Geof Brod USA490
2Gareth Birdsall GBR490
4Mark Laforge IND470
5Par Ol-Mars THA460
5Pete Mcallister GBR460
5Conny Wahlgren SWE460
5Nigel Kearney NZL460
5Rob Avery CAN460
5Tobias Bende SWE460
5Alvin P. Bluthman USA460
5Kajsa Larson SWE460
13Charles Scholl USA440
13Marko Mancic SRB440
13Michael Yuen NSW440
13Nigel Guthrie GBR440
13Peter Stride Qld440
18Tom Rushford Vic430
18David Ho TPE430
18Tony Treloar Qld430
18Jacco Hop NED430
18John Moser CAN430
18Dave Taylor NZL430
18Leigh Matheson NSW430
25Derek Pocock WA420
25Dominic Connolly NSW420
25Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN420
25Valter Johansson SWE420
25Dean Eidler NZL420
25Ian McCance Vic420
25Henri De Jong Vic420
25Bogdan Agica USA420
33John R. Mayne USA410
33Arthur Porter SA410
33Ron Lel LAO410
33Paul Janicki CAN410
33Sid Kanter USA410
33Niek Van Vucht ACT410
39Margaret Reid NSW400
39Peter Vlas NED400
39Robert Bäck SWE400
39Robert Black SA400
43Barbara Whitmee Qld390
43Tania Black SA390
43Dan Baker USA390
43Ig Nieuwenhuis NED390
43Ian Patterson Qld390
43Christer Enkvist SWE390
43Lindsay Coker Vic390
43Tom Moss NSW390
51Johnny Petersson SWE380
51Peter Qvist DEN380
51Tom Estenson USA380
51David Graff USA380
51Skafti Jonsson DEN380
56Michael Burt ACT370
56Trish Whitton NSW370
56Fredrik Jarlvik SWE370
56John Davies NSW370
56Rick Giles USA370
56Wayne Somerville IRL370
56Alan Jones Qld370
56Kay O'Connor NSW370
64Jameson Cole USA360
64Paul Freeland NZL360
64Martyn Rew NZL360
64Rainer Herrmann GER360
64Roger Yandle NSW360
64Zbych Bednarek POL360
64David Johnson CAN360
64Tom Kiss NSW360
64Fraser Rew NZL360
64Col Choat NSW360
64Gary Lane NSW360
64David Matthews WA360
64Michael Davy360
77Damo Nair USA350
77Tim Trahair NSW350
77Pat O'Connor NSW350
77Ingerun Sjosvard SWE350
77Don Smith WA350
77Peter Oakley NZL350
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum. Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the April-May issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your February-March issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.