Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- April-May 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.
Scroll down to see the final scores
Submit answers for the June-July forum
Subscribe to Australian Bridge magazine
Hand One - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJT
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) T7643
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKQ3


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

  1NT = 15-17

Call Award %
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 50 47
Pass 90 45 45
4NT 70 5 5
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 1
Other 0 0 2

Our first problem this month is from an Appeals decision at a recent American national (I believe it was the 2010 Spring NABC). The decision is whether South should be permitted to bid on after a slow 3NT from North.

Christer Enkvist: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is near and it will be awfully unlucky if we cannot make 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opposite an unsuitable hand. Note that North hasn't denied 4-card diamond support, he merely showed stoppers in both majors.

Barbara Hunter, Sam Arber: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Could be slam in the minors?

Tim Trahair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Forcing with shortage in one of the majors. Game is probably on (and perhaps slam) in one or both of the minors.

Henri de Jong: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pard has clubs and we would like to get to 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Jacco Hop: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner rates to have clubs if he doesn't have diamond support.

Leigh Matheson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Set trumps. I have to explore a small slam; grand is on opposite AKx, xxx, AKQ, xxxx.

Bastiaan Korner: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Slam should have a chance.

David Graff: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Will bid 6 of the minor pard prefers.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With such poor diamonds, it's hard to explore a slam intelligently, but 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be still be safer than 3NT.

One of the difficulties with taking problems from real-life events is that not everyone (or even anyone) plays the same system as AB Standard. A few people were happy to point this out for us.

Ron Lel: Pass. According to your website, Stayman followed by 3-minor is natural and forcing (and promises a major). I wonder what happened to my major? Obviously we don't play anything nice like an initial 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid showing a 13(45) hand. Oh well. I pass.

Daniel Skipper: Pass. I have promised a major here -- which one do you think it is?

Wayne Somerville: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) the 1st round to show this hand (a fairly common agreement).

Dean Pokorny: Pass. No need to go against the field. Partner has good major suit stoppers. I should have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (or something like that) to show the 13(54) shape.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. This is more a system problem than anything else. All depends whether we have duplication in spades.

Maurice Buxton: Pass. Why did I bid Stayman when it guarantees a major? And why did I introduce that, uh, incredibly powerful diamond suit when I didn't WANT partner thinking that QJxx was excellent support for possible slam purposes? However, since partner must have some major-suit values and we're now in the expected 3NT anyway, let's stay there.

Good questions -- I'll answer the one about the diamonds later.

Mark LaForge: Pass. I really do not like this sequence -- either bid 3NT directly or make some kind of shape showing bid. I do not like 5 of a minor at matchpoints

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. Yes, opposite the magic hand slam is possible. 3NT rates to score better. I would prefer asking for minors after 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)

Michael Burt: Pass. We have a maximum of 31 points. A slam in the minors looks marginal but could be there if partner has the right cards. 3NT normally scores reasonably. I've already lied with my 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid (I am supposed to have a major) and there is a risk of misleading partner if I go on and ending up in the wrong contract.

Dan Baker: Pass. Partner doesn't seem interested in a diamond slam, and 6NT is going to require miracles. Looking for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is aiming at a pretty narrow target. Hope I haven't misled him into thinking I have a major by starting with Stayman.

Michael Davy: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). What a fine mess 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) has got us into.

On the contrary; while 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) wasn't a very professional approach, on this occasion it happened to work out brilliantly. We found out that North has 7+ cards in the minors, so we either have a 9-card diamond fit or a very good 8+ club fit. We also know the opponents have nine spades. If only all our auctions were this efficient.

Pontus Silow: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner's 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) made my hand much better when it comes to high level minor suit contracts. Besides, I don't like my spades for 3NT.

Emil Battista: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is one way to a zero but passing 3NT does not appeal when opponents hold 9 spades.

Ian Patterson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We have four spades between us. Five of a minor has to be a better option with 6 a real possibility though even with 17 pts partner could have no aces.

Damo Nair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If North has weak spades with a hole in the diamond suit 3NT goes down.

Don Hinchey: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Lots of slam potential here opposite a strong notrump with no four-card major.

Alex Kemeny, Manuel Paulo, Aake Sjoeberg: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Given that 3NT could be down, with a minor suit slam making, I have to make one more try for slam.

Paul Freeland: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Good problem. Must have a minor suit fit on this auction, partner can hopefully now judge what the correct strain should be, and can try for slam with a maximum or a great fit.

David Ho: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner has at least one 4 card minor, so we will have 8 card fit. 5m will be a safe contract. If pd has Axx Kx AKx Jxxxx, 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be a very good contract.

Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With an almost guaranteed double fit in the minors and controls in the majors, it must be worth making a move towards slam.

Paul Janicki, Jack Lai, Margaret Reid, Zbych Bednarek: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We have a fit in at least one of the minors. Slam is a real possibility.

Nigel Kearney: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It's risky to leave 3NT behind at Matchpoints, but there are good chances of slam and quite often 3NT will not do better than five of a minor.

It's actually not so risky, and here's why:

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With a 3334 or soft values partner can still bid 4NT - the 'stop' bid. Will bid 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if partner manages anything else (after all, he is missing the top 3 club honours).

Jameson Cole: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is a slam try, emphasizing the minors and partner should value his controls. If his honors are misplaced, he should sign off at 4NT.

Agreements about a natural 4NT are fairly common at expert level, but this was the cause of some debate at the appeal. North-South pointed out that North's 4NT rebid would be a signoff; East "expressed doubt" about that fact (which, let's face it, means he was calling South an amateur and a liar).

Agreements aside, some people were concerned that even 4NT may be too high:

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Yes we could still make 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but neither 4NT nor 5-minor is certain. So especially in Matchpoints better to follow the pack and stay in 3NT.

Charles Scholl: Pass. Too many ways for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to fail, even 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) could fail on a diamond lead through KJx, and I don't think we have the values for 6N.

Frank Campbell: Pass. We might make 12 but it is not very likely.

Tom Moss: Pass. When you are lost, get out as easily as possible.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Simulation: +611.65 average score in 3NT, +428.90 average score in 6NT. Bridge Baron doesn't yet know how to delicately explore for a minor-suit slam here.

Yes, this simulation is a bit misleading because the expected value in 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will be much higher than in 6NT. As for delicately exploring a minor suit slam, AKQx looks like a biddable club suit to me. Or is the Baron playing Gerber?

There actually were some votes for 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), so I'm guessing there really were some people who were worried that 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was Gerber. It reminds me of a recent hand from our local club: East opened 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), passed round to North in 4th seat who balanced with 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). East tried 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), pass-pass to North, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). East persisted with 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), yet again passed to North who now jumped to 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)! As 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) drifted one off, North explained, "I had to bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), because 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would have been Gerber!"

Tania Black: Pass. 2nd choice 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)!

Ron Landgraff: Pass. It's Matchpoints - slam is not obvious.

Roger Yandle: Pass. It looks like pard has got clubs so a club slam could well be on if she's got the right cards (e.g. AJx KQx Ax Jxxxx) but I'm not sure how you'd find that out from here. Even if you could there's a chance she hasn't got the right cards (e.g. Kxx KQx AKx xxxx) in which case you'd probably end up in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) - not what you want at MPs.

Lindsay Coker: Pass. McBeth has struck again. Slam or no slam, that is the question. Call me chicken - is that a dagger I see before me?

Ian McCance: Pass. Close to minor slam but will go with 3NT. At MP no point in exploring minors; we're playing either 3NT or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Joe O'Flynn: Pass. How do I enter a vote for 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? Apparently not to be considered.

That's correct Joe -- if a bid does not appear in the drop down box, you do not want to be choosing it. The box contains all bids made or hinted at by the panel, and (just because I have a vicious streak) any red herring that I think might possibly receive a vote. If a bid isn't even in the box, it's extremely wrong (such as a unilateral attempt to play in diamonds instead of clubs opposite AQx, KQx, Ax, Jxxxx).

Having said that, if you do want to make an "off-book" bid, just choose "Other" and write your bid in the comment box. We get about ten of those each month, and this month there were more than usual. I always delete the names to protect the guilty, but they still get a zero (only because my scoring program doesn't cater for minus scores)!

Fred Altstock: Pass. Not sure about slam.

Peter Vlas: Pass. Not too happy, but following the field probably.

Duncan Roe: Pass. Should come home with 29-31 HCP. Slam might be on, but I think it more likely we'd get too high looking for one that isn't.

Murray Perrin: Pass. At Matchpoints it should be best even with the spade problem. At teams I would bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

There were also a couple of votes for 4NT RKCB, which scores 70 points courtesy of Sartaj Hans' solo vote on the expert panel. For the record, Sartaj intended 4NT as quantitative, not Blackwood.

We'll finish with an answer from the actual South:

Marshall Miles: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would (and did) bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner must have four or more cards in one of the minors. Maybe something like AKx-Kxx-AJ-J10xxx. I must have intended to show both minors. If partner has an unsuitable hand, we should be safe enough in 4NT (which is natural, whichever hand bids it). In a North American national, opener took 6-7 seconds to bid 3NT, so the director and protest committee changed our making slam to 3NT because of a "break in tempo." I thought that was a miscarriage of justice. There was much more to think about over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) than over Stayman. Should he have taken ten seconds to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) so that if he had a problem next round, he could take the same length of time to think about it?

The actual deal:

spades K106
hearts K63 
diamonds AKQ5
clubs 642

spades 4
hearts AJ10 
diamonds 107643
clubs AKQ3

North bid a direct 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), making 12 tricks. This was adjusted to 3NT making 11 tricks.

Whatever the actual merit of a 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, the appeals committee totally missed the point here. As Marshall pointed out, it's obvious that he always intended to show both minors. Do we really think his endgame was to get the brilliant diamond suit into the auction? The 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid was simply the first step in a two-step description -- if he wasn't planning to finish the description, he wouldn't have started it.

The appeals committee ruled on the basis that they didn't believe most people would bid on over 3NT. But this hand isn't about what most people would have done; it's about what most 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders would have done.  

Hand Two - West deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KJ96
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ762
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ92
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ---


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


Call Award %
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 90 70
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 10 12
Pass 60 0 6
Dbl 20 0 11
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1

The easiest problem of the set, with 70% of readers finding the winning bid (in the forum, not at the table).

Pontus Silow: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It looks like this could be a complicated deal, so I happily stick to simple solutions for as long as I can.

David Ho: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looks like we will have a major suit contract.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Maybe a later double can introduce spades. Without clubs I don't see an alternative as the hand is not shapely enough for a Michaels bid.

Charles Scholl: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Any other bid distorts the shape or values of this hand. This hand might be worth game in a major -- we might even belong in diamonds -- but I want to keep the bidding low if we have no fit.

Bridge Baron: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Clearly strong enough to act. Bridge Baron would want a much stronger hand or much longer clubs to double.

Stephen Bartos: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Conservative, but takes account of the vulnerability. Let's see if partner supports hearts or introduces spades.

Manuel Paulo: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Wrong shape for 1NT, insufficient clubs for double, too strong and major-oriented for pass.

Several people expressed concern about who had the club suit, although they were not swayed from the 100-point answer:

Leigh Matheson: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I imagine they're cold for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) for this to even be a question. I still bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) though.

Sam Arber: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Choice is between 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and double, although this may push them into clubs.

Par Ol-Mars: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pass is an alternative, but generally not wining bridge to allow opponents to play at the one level. Yes they might find a better contract in 1NT or 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but it's worth the risk.

Ian Patterson: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will re-open with a double when West's 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is passed back to me.

Dean Pokorny: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Clearcut. Pass could be also good (they probably have fit in clubs, but not in diamonds), but is risky to miss our potential major fit.

Ron Lel: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This looks totally obvious to me. Yes, I know the dangers of partner's possible 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, and it is still obvious.

Frank Campbell: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Either West has a big hand or partner also has diamonds. Either way this looks to give me more flexibility on what to do next. Double followed by partner's club bid is not an exciting prospect.

Damo Nair: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am not risking a double here, as North will bid clubs until we are doubled. I'll bid spades at the 2 level.

Paul Freeland: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Sometimes the obvious bid is the correct answer, hopefully...

That's actually always the case, Paul, it's just that sometimes we don't all see what the obvious bid is.

Jameson Cole: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double can't be right if partner bids clubs and I am forced to bid a suit. He will play me for a much bigger hand. 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doesn't preclude a spade contract.

Duncan Roe: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am strong enough to open, and my longest suit looks to be the obvious choice.

Roger Yandle: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It doesn't look like pard has got many diamonds but he hasn't overcalled so probably doesn't have a great hand. Also all of the opps' points are behind me and the vul is wrong. So entering the auction might be a bit dangerous but there are lots of hands where game is a good bet. 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) isn't great and might miss a 4-4 spade fit but other bids (e.g. 1NT, 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), double) are too likely to mislead pard.

Robert Black: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner would have doubled with 4 spades, 3 hearts, and diamond shortage. And 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is high enough if he has less than 3.

Ron Landgraff: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Take a chance! If partner has either major we have good chances for a plus.

Nigel Guthrie: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempted by majors to ignore forebodings of doom.

Fraser Rew: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The long diamonds are certainly a negative, but I can't pass with this much.

Don Hinchey: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why not? This doesn't rule out a spade advance by partner.

Bogdan Agica: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will double for takeout over almost any number of clubs.

Michael Smart: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double will fetch a club bid and a headache, whereas 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) allows both spades and cue raises to remain in the picture.

Henri de Jong: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double will no doubt get a 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response and now we need to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). West has a very good hand and Michaels will get us too high.

Tim Trahair: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Unfortunately not quite right for 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Michaels. Won't be surprised to hear 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) from North in which case we will try 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and hopefully progress to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or perhaps 2NT.

Dan Baker: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not doubling with a club void, because I know perfectly well what's going to happen and I don't have as strong a hand as partner would expect to pull to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 2NT. 1NT is equally insane. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) appeals somewhat but if it's supposed to be 5-5 majors, I ain't got it (and I don't even have a club to pretend was mixed in with my spades). So 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) it is.

David Graff: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 1NT would be cute and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Michaels is a close 2nd but I opt to bid what I have at the one level.

1NT didn't receive a single vote from the readers or the panel, although Jill Courtney admitted that she considered and admired it. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Michaels did in fact receive the 2nd highest vote (both readers and panellists):

Lindsay Coker: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Best descriptive bid, as double will get a club response. Also alerts West on majors, who may try more diamonds.

Archie Julien: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I believe that in this case, distribution counts. Michaels has served me very well, thank you equally very much.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I cannot quite bring myself to pass here.

Emil Battista: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have been in this position before and played in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) when 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was cold. Unlikely to be the case here.

Maurice Buxton: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Seems to get the gist of it over. Unless I'm playing with a member of the Blue Team, double on this shape does not appeal -- two-card club support, maybe, but not nil-card support. Since partner could well have a decent reasonably balanced hand, I'm not keen on pass either. Even if West is strong, with my major/diamond holdings it's unlikely EW are going anywhere if I bid.

The next most popular minority choice was double. I meet a lot of people who believe that all bids other than double show less than opening points (one of the following comments says less than 12). Certainly there may be a point when a hand is too strong for a simple suit bid, but 12 ain't it, even in balancing seat. If anyone has a textbook promoting this method, I'd love it if someone could contact me with the title and author -- I'm just curious from a historical point of view. 

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. In the balancing position, double is 12+, any shape. If partner bids 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), we look for game.

Ian McCance: Dbl. Off-shape but want to show both majors. Cramped by 4th seat -- would like to bid hearts but too strong for 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Ken Berry: Dbl. Can bid hearts and spades and NT over clubs. Hope not too high.

Ian Spight: Dbl. I will bid NT if partner shows clubs. If partner calls a major, we have a great fit.

Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. If partner answers clubs then I will bid hearts.

Joe O'Flynn: Dbl. Shows both majors and stronger than Michaels.

Daniel Skipper: Dbl. Too good for 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Finally, a lonely few take a (successful) gamble on the hand belonging to the opponents: 

Peter Vlas: Pass. Again reluctantly. We could be missing out on a game, but so could they.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Better to accept a small minus or a small plus rather than open the door to 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or even 3NT for West.

Tom Moss: Pass. If part has anything it must be in clubs, so let's try for a plus.

Michael Burt: Pass. West may well have a strong hand and EW the balance of points. If I bid they may find a better spot. 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rarely scores well and it doesn't look a good spot for EW. Leave it alone.

The full deal:

spades Q754
hearts A105 
diamonds 1076
clubs Q109
spades A8
hearts 3
diamonds AK543
clubs AKJ87
spades 1032
hearts J984
diamonds 8
clubs 65432
spades KJ96
hearts KQ762
diamonds QJ92
clubs ---

Leigh guessed the layout almost correctly -- 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is not a bad spot single-dummy, but in fact 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is the limit. South did pass 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at the table, as NS were playing a very aggressive style in direct seat. This was a good result for NS even after a misdefence allowed West to make 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Hand Three - East deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 9854
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) T6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KJ98


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


Call Award %
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 60 43
3NT 80 15 26
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 25 13
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 0 11
Pass 10 0 4
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 2
4NT 0 0 1

Next we have another one of those minor-suit nightmares from regular contributor Blaine Howe. Just like Problem One from last month, partner has clearly denied any four-card side-suit, leaving us free to take some liberties in an attempt to describe our hand. Therefore the majority were happy to just put their money where their cards are: 

Sam Arber: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has jumped opposite passed hand and we are maximum. Looking for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Michael Davy : 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If I get a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) response I bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Nigel Kearney: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) response has made it impossible for us to have a sensible auction. If partner has heart shortage we belong in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but if he has heart values we probably belong in 3NT. My best guess is to try 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and pass if partner bids 3NT, otherwise play 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

David Ho: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We have a good 10 card club fit, but 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) looks a little far away. So I bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and hope partner bids 3NT with diamond stopper, and more if he has a good shape or power.

Dean Pokorny: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The only bid that can help us find the right strain (3NT, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)).

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I know this isn't the practical (3NT) bid. But chances are high that partner or RHO has the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K. I need to focus on the diamonds.

Ian Patterson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Let partner bid 3NT if that's where we should be.

Peter Vlas: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Must mean a stop since partner can't have four spades. He can now choose.

There were also some votes for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ("asking" for a stopper):

Emil Battista: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Give partner another chance to bid NT.

Alan Jones: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Are we asking or telling? With my regular partner, this asks for a diamond stop in no trumps. If, on the other hand, we are telling, bid spades.

This sounds like a very complex agreement. Where exactly would one draw the line of "3rd suit asking"? How about the similar auction 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) -- does that ask for a stopper? In the absence of an intricate set of agreements, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (like everything else) is basically natural here.

Michael Burt: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). There is a risk partner will interpret me as 5 hearts and 4 spades and bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with 3 card support, in which case I will bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) which should have some chance. There is also a chance that the bid will mislead the opposition and they won't lead a heart against 3NT if we get there.

Maurice Buxton: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Since partner would presumably have bid spades if he had them, this is most unlikely to get raised. Will settle for 3NT if that's what partner bids next, otherwise 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Maybe even 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is on.

Fred Altstock: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner could have a diamond stopper and we are obviously looking for 3NT.

Ian Spight: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Third suit forcing - Looking for 3NT

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). In MPs it's too early to commit to clubs.

Joe O'Flynn: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Don't want to go past 3NT. Pard might bid 3NT with a diamond stopper.

Robert Black: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And pass over 3NT; 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dan Baker: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This will incite partner to bid 3NT with diamonds covered. If not, I've got enough to take him to 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but I doubt we have slam.

Frank Campbell: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North should have values in the red suits so showing my spade control may rightside NT if that is our best spot.

Tom Moss: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Will pass 3NT and convert 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (I only have 1 more diamond than I showed).

Jameson Cole: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Shows a club fit (else I would bid 3NT) and concentration of values in case partner is angling for 3NT.

While Jameson feels that he has already shown the club support, and others are planning to pass 3NT without showing the clubs, several others intend 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as only a partial description, intending to show the clubs over 3NT.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). An advance cue-bid, before raising clubs.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 100 marks for now; but no idea about how or whether to proceed, later.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Will bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over the expected 3NT, looking for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner persists with notrumps, I'll pass 4NT. 

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not too fond of my 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid. Will follow up with 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if partner bids 3NT.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Will bid at least 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next.

David Graff: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Don't want to make a unilateral decision. Will bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) next and pard should get the picture.

Ron Lel: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Two possibilities and neither one is 3NT. With a regular partner I would bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and pull 3NT to 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but if I am playing with the guy who thinks he has a 4 card major in board 1, then I think 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is the bid. Oh well, I am supposed to be playing with an expert, so 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) it is.

Did I mention that your inadequate partner on Hand One was Marshall Miles? From where I'm sitting I can see two of his books on my bookshelf -- they are the ones with the dog-eared pages from repeated reading!

Next we have the 3NT bidders, accounting for a quarter of the readers and three panellists. 

Pontus Silow: 3NT. 3NT could be better from partner's side, but I want to protect my spades and leave the opponents unaware of my heart quality and the number of clubs we can take.

Roger Yandle: 3NT. A club slam might well be on the cards but at MPs I'm going for 3NT hoping to keep my weak heart suit a secret - surely pard must have diamonds stopped given my strength in spades and clubs. Any more bidding by us will only help the opps to find the right lead.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Balanced hand in a "stoppers are for children" auction. Partner's likely to have something in diamonds.

Ian McCance: 3NT. Who needs stoppers?

Bastiaan Korner: 3NT. If I bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) partner may bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Alex Kemeny: 3NT. OK, at Matchpoints, maybe pass is sometimes right. Maybe I can claim at trick 1 and shove my red cards back into the board before anyone notices.

There were quite a few votes for passing, but no comments. I can see why pass could be an option, although it's a little insulting to partner. As Sam pointed out earlier, if partner doesn't have a game opposite a sharp 10-count with KJxx support, his jump to the 3-level opposite a passed hand is frivolous.

Ken Berry: 3NT. It's always a race to bid 3NT first at our club, so why not in a bidding forum?

Damo Nair: 3NT. If 3NT doesn't make I can't see 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) making.

Wayne Somerville: 3NT. No reason to think 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) makes, so follow Hamman's Rule.

Archie Julien: 3NT. Very straightforward. Partner opens, then jumps, so leave anything further to them.

Henri de Jong: 3NT. Would like to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), cue agreeing clubs and denying red suit honours. Despite the jump, I just don't believe that pard has enough strength outside AQ10xxx to cover our red suits. So at MP's better to get to NT. Only other bid is 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to start cues.

There were plenty more votes for 3NT, but most of them offered no comment other than "it's Matchpoints" (although as we saw above, most of the 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bidders also intended to play in 3NT after finding the essential diamond stopper). Matchpoints notwithstanding, a quarter of the panellists thought the hand justified a unilateral move past 3NT:

Margaret Reid: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Do we play minor suit Blackwood? If so this is the bid. Otherwise I bid 4NT RKC.

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Forcing, obviously; 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will deny heart control - if partner cannot cue 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I'll simply sign off in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Fraser Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If I bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (my second choice) I can't pass 3NT comfortably, as P may have Kxx/x/AKx/AQ10xxx. 3NT may be the last making game but playing 5 minor at Matchpoints isn't as bad as it's made out to be.

Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner must have some prime cards to justify the jump to 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). At Matchpoints this must rate as a pretty serious move towards slam.

Duncan Roe: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner can limit-bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) without the KJxx, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should be OK.

Don Hinchey: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No reason to fiddle around. 3NT and 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) are unlikely. 

Charles Scholl: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Other bids might be better since 3NT might work out, but I think partner must be very distributional and we should play our most likely game. Would like to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as RKCB!

Tim Trahair: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Our hearts are pathetic as are our diamonds, but North is showing a fistful of clubs and a good hand. Slam looks doubtful so let's chance where game is likely to be.

5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) didn't receive any support from the panel, but Phil was in a good mood this month, twice giving 60 points to a bid that received no votes, and 70 points to several bids with one or two votes. The result is our highest scoring set ever, with about 130 people scoring in the 400s. 

The full deal:

spades J
hearts AK 
diamonds A72
clubs AQ107432
spades 10543
hearts QJ762
diamonds KQJ9
clubs ---
spades K9876
hearts 103
diamonds 8543
clubs 65
spades AQ2
hearts 9854
diamonds 106
clubs KJ98

At the table South bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and North bid 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), making 12 tricks.

Hand Four - West deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AK3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A7642
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQJ32


West North East South
pass 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?


Call Award %
Dbl 100 70 69
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 25 28
Pass 30 5 0
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 1
4NT 0 0 1
Other 0 0 1

This one appears to be a fairly straightforward yes/no problem. We were about to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for 620 or better, when the opponents gave us the option to accept 500 or 800 as an alternative. Do we want to gamble, or stay with the field?

Nigel Kearney: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This should usually make opposite a second seat vulnerable preempt. We could get 800 from 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), maybe even more than half the time, but I won't risk a bottom with an anti-field action when it is this close.

Michael Smart: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Clearly a pairs problem. Expect to lose images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A and at most two trumps (given the vul vs nonvul opening).

Alex Kemeny: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). At these colours and especially in second seat, partner has exactly 7 definite tricks in spades. Doubling 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is unlikely to yield 800.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 5 Spades, 2 Hearts, 1 Diamond and 2 Clubs makes 10 tricks. Doubling for penalty is unlikely to achieve 800.

Roger Yandle: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A penalty double would be tempting at IMPs but it's unlikely to get us 800 so at MPs I'm shooting for game in spades.

The reason all these people are bidding game, is the vulnerability and the position. Being in 2nd seat reduces the preemptive effect, while the vulnerability increases the risk. Therefore partner's bid should be disciplined, even down under in the land of crazy preempts.

Michael Burt: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). At the vulnerability, partner should be within 2 tricks of the pre-empt contract. I have 3+ tricks in my hand and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should be a good chance. Partner should either have good spades (at least AK) or images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A as an entry if the spades are not so good. The 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid does increase the likelihood of bad breaks but we need to get them 4 off in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x to score better than 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) making.

Charles Scholl: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not sure I would do this at the table, but partner should have 7 tricks and this hand rates to have 4 more.

Lindsay Coker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner does not bid three on rubbish trumps, not in this position.

Pat O'Connor: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has 7 tricks in spades and I can supply three more.

Jameson Cole : 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). We are vulnerable, so partner should have six tricks in his suit. I can't see setting 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) more than the value of a vulnerable game.

Ian Patterson: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner does have 7 spades and about 7 tricks to go with my four or five (images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A might get ruffed). Opponents have missed their heart fit? East with no take-out double presumably has 4+ spades and/or most of the diamonds.

Murray Perrin: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Three quick tricks plus the clubs and partner was in 2nd seat vul. At equal vul I'd double.

Manuel Paulo: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I hope to win game. Let the opponents bid again if they wish so.

Peter Vlas: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). As long as he hasn't 3 spade losers it should have a chance or might even lure them in to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Robert Black: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Would like to double for penalty, but the system says "Negative doubles to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)".

Sorry for the lack of clarity, but negative doubles apply to an opening bid, not a preempt. If you did want to play a takeout double in this auction, you would need to be at least 5-5 in the unbid suits (although you'll have a better chance of a fit if you are 6-6). Not a practical approach.

The doublers fell into several categories. First, some of them did not feel that we were making 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), so they were happy to take any plus:

Bastiaan Korner: Dbl. Glad we are out of 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. Since I would have passed 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I cannot see any other alternative. Will double 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) too.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. At least we score something.

Michael Davy : Dbl. Aiming for plus 500.

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. And lead clubs. Will hopefully have the high-card tricks to beat this in hand, and if I can get partner in the little trumps may come in very handy. Unless partner is the sort who is guaranteed to have KQJTxxx rather than KQxxxxx to open 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I don't want to be on the declaring side here!

Sam Arber: Dbl. A bad break may beat 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's a tough choice, but go with the certain positive.

Ian McCance: Dbl. Expect to beat it.

Pontus Silow: Dbl. There is no reason to expect that 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will make - or that EW will continue bidding over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Jack Lai: Dbl. Get a plus score without fit.

Daniel Skipper: Dbl. I'm a money taker.

Rainer Herrmann: Dbl. I double 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) too.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. Seems the most likely positive score for us. Partner might still bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)AKQ.

Ken Berry: Dbl. I hope East has some losers outside diamonds.

Paul Freeland: Dbl. 3NT and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) aren't guaranteed, so take the likely plus.

At the other extreme, there were some people who were considering slam. Not seriously considering it of course -- everybody spotted the two likely losers -- but the mere mention of slam provides a contrast to those who thought 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would go down.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Dbl. As we probably do not make slam I will try to punish them (enough). Anywhere they run I can double.

David Graff: Dbl. Pard shouldn't have ace of clubs so 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) a stretch. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may very well make but is boring. I'll take the plus... and maybe a big one.

Martyn Rew: Dbl. Partner's bid does not indicate the ace of clubs so a slam seems unlikely. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) not vul doubled should still go for more than a vul game in spades.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. Can't see how this could make. No doubt some game or slam is making but I don't know which one.

Dan Baker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Even AKQxxxx isn't a guarantee of no trump losers, and we'd need that to make 6. With even one spade, I'd go RKC instead.

Others thought that a bad break may be a problem in our game:

Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. If this is passed out I will lead club king. Almost bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but West appears to have at least four trumps.

Henri de Jong: Dbl. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is possible, but spades may not break and North cannot guarantee only two spade losers in a vulnerable opening

Alan Jones: Dbl. On this bidding, West holds almost all the missing spades.

Joe O'Flynn: Dbl. How strong are North's spades? Too dangerous to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with probable bad distribution.

Some of the doublers had not even been planning to play in spades:

David Ho: Dbl. Our best contract seems to be 3NT. Since they bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), double should be the best choice now.

Damo Nair: Dbl. I can't imagine not getting 300 or 500 out of this. I think 3NT has no chance with suits breaking badly.

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. Hard to get to 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Christer Enkvist: Dbl. What would the option be? Search for a possible 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) contract which will be better once in a blue moon?

Tim Trahair: Dbl. East probably has 5 or 6 losers and West looks to be pretty weak with possibly only one diamond. 3NT looks too risky because our diamond cover will get knocked out very promptly and we don't know if North has an entry. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) also looks pretty risky as we have no idea of the quality of North's spades and West might have 3 or 4 of them.

And lastly, some were aware that 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was a likely make, but still hoped for a better result in diamonds:

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is an alternative but this could be Armageddon.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. At this vulnerability North's spades should be reasonable so this looks like our best shot. I will lead my top club.

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Excellent chances for 4 off. Interesting lead problem (king of clubs).

Stephen Bartos: Dbl. I can see this going off at least 5, more depending on partner's holding, and there is no good spot for opponents to find an alternative.

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Can see lots of penalty points.

Tom Moss: Dbl. No explanation necessary.

That's one of the many advantages of Matchpoints; no teammates asking you to explain how you missed your 26-point vulnerable game!

Par Ol-Mars: Dbl. What else? Am I supposed to hope that they will go higher if I don't double them?

Don Hinchey: Dbl. Important and oft-overlooked principle: We preempt not to prevent the opponents from bidding but in hopes they'll go astray when they do. Mission accomplished on this hand.

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Simulation: +496.00 average score defending 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled, -19.75 average score in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), even with partner's vulnerable 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opener. Where are the opponents going to run? East guessed wrong. We're leading the heartsA, not the clubsK.

The Baron sums up the general consensus: even a vulnerable 2nd seat preempt isn't enough to make game here. This seems to be a major flaw in modern bidding. If you cannot bid a confident 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with this hand, then when can you? Sure, the old rule of 2 and 3 (which suggests we have 11 tricks) is ancient history, but just how bad can a modern preempt be in this position? Even if you accept the occasional 1100 as the cost of doing business, what about all the times when partner does have his bid and you miss a routine game?   

The full deal:

spades KQJ10432
hearts J109 
diamonds 9
clubs 105
spades A87
hearts Q86542
diamonds 3
clubs 987
spades 965
hearts 7
diamonds KQJ1085
clubs A64
spades ---
hearts AK3
diamonds A7642
clubs KQJ32

The vote for double was emphatic, but it's interesting that the deal contains nothing we didn't already know (in fact North and East are both minimum for their bids), yet 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is still a good save against 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Hand Five - West deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K7643
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KJ64
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KJ73

West North East South
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ?


Call Award %
Dbl 100 80 55
Pass 80 10 34
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 10 11

Our final problem is a lack-lustre 11-count which we get to start bidding at the 4-level. We all know the person with the short hearts has to bid here, as partner will have no way into the auction with Axx-xxxx-Axx-Axx or similar. The question is how do we go about it.

I have a lot of respect for the sheer guts of this minority choice:

Sam Arber: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's a bidder's game, prefer 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 4NT, although we may be in the wrong suit.

Leigh Matheson: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Don't give partner the option to defend.

Margaret Reid: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Little defence so let's try 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe partner has some spades?

Archie Julien: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is an incredible opportunity to show my spade suit. North did pass, but may actually hold the key to slam.

Michael Davy : 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is usually a transfer to spades.

Toby Weinstein: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Will take my lumps in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) at 50 per trick; if doubled will bid 4NT.

Jameson Cole: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Who knows whose hand this is. If East bids a slow 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I would pass. Fast bid of 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can't you give us a little table presence?

Sorry, the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid was already on the table when I got here. I do like Toby's approach of bidding then running, although in today's game it will almost certainly involve a director and appeals committee.

The huge majority went for the tame takeout double (where Jameson found the table presence he was looking for):

Jameson Cole (2nd set of answers): Dbl. This could be disaster but double is the most flexible bid.

Rainer Herrmann: Dbl. Close between double and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I can not afford to pass.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. A bit light but slightly prefer this to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. To bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is far too unilateral. Double looks appropriate; its biggest damage occurs when we can win 10 tricks in spades and in some minor suit.

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. Have to guard against being robbed blind. My honours and well placed and my shape is excellent. If partner has four good hearts, I am happy for him to convert my double to penalties.

Damo Nair: Dbl. Just a guess, could easily work out.

Tom Moss: Dbl. May be trading a plus for a minus, but at least my partner is playing it.

Par Ol-Mars: Dbl. Hope for the best. Could be very wrong here both to be active or passive.

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Must bid, and this seems most flexible.

Ken Berry: Dbl. Not vul, whatever partner bids wont be too bad.

While double is 100% takeout, several were hoping that partner would have enough heart(s) to pass:

Martyn Rew: Dbl. Option for partner to leave the bid in if he has the hearts that I don't.

Daniel Skipper: Dbl. Hoping for a pass from partner.

Maurice Buxton: Dbl. Hah! The usual dilemma. No guarantee of doing better but passing could be awful too. I don't mind if partner passes, as the kings look well placed.

Zbych Bednarek: Dbl. All my values seems well placed.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. North could have reasonable hearts (and might leave the double in) but we are content to play in any other suit with a hand then worth 16 HCP.

Nigel Kearney: Dbl. Second non-problem of the set. If you are having trouble finding good problems, let me know and I will send you some.

Thanks Nigel, I'd appreciate that. Same goes for the rest of you. As a reward, I'll give you an automatic 100 points when you answer the question (as long as you get it right, which you should do if you've seen the full deal).

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. If partner bids, at least I'll be sure we have a superfit.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. This could work or could be terrible -- I guess it depends on how strong East is. I'll soon find out if they get the baseball bat out!

Dan Baker: Dbl. This would be a very easy call at Matchpoints; at IMPs the risk of running aground on -800 (-500 would only be 2-3 IMPs) is a little scary. The possibility of a double game swing is too large to pass this.

Ron Lel: Dbl. Well partner is not going to bid, so I guess it is up to me. Double is more flexible than 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Yes, again I know this may not work out, so sue me.

Michael Smart: Dbl. Who dares wins. I'll take the odd -590 on the chin.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. With my eyes open - I may be walking into a trap.

In the early days of weak twos, Terence Reese described them as a pop-gun weapon not to be taken seriously. All these years later, the pop-gun managed to keep a third of our readers out of the auction on a slam hand:

David Graff: Pass. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) followed by 4NT (minors) if doubled looks appealing but I don't want to have to explain -800 to our partners.

Charles Scholl: Pass. Any bid by our side is likely to be costly; if it isn't, then they might not make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so the save would be a phantom.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Doubtful offense - probably good defense.

Joe O'Flynn: Pass. East could be waiting with a spade stack.

David Ho: Pass. Good shape but weak hand, I guess pass would be better than double or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. I have questionable defense and lousy offense. I expect it will go down, but it might even make as I will get squeezed.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I will defend and see what happens.

Pontus Silow: Pass. I would not be surprised if no game makes.

Michael Burt: Pass. North could have a reasonable hand with hearts and no sensible bid. East could be weak and pre-emptive or strong but not expecting to make slam. Too much uncertainty with the risk of EW making a doubled contract or us going down in a big way. Leave it alone and don't give away information about potential bad breaks etc.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Partner does not have an opening hand. Would bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if I also held the spade ace -- not so likely to be doubled then.

Bridge Baron: Pass. This auction scares Bridge Baron, as East can have a wide range of hands. It would need a longer, stronger suit to overcall 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); it would need a monster to double.

Don Hinchey: Pass. Tough hand. The decision appears to be a crap shoot. I'm going to pass the dice.

Duncan Roe: Pass. We're at the 4 level and I wouldn't have even opened at the 1 level. Dbl would get us too high if partner didn't make a trap pass - on the bidding he has 3 max so why would he?

Murray Perrin: Pass. The hand is great shape but no aces. If partner doesn't mind the occasional -800 then I'd double.

The deal was played in a Florida regional event, with Meckstroth - Rodwell sitting
East-West. As with most American events, there are no hand records, but we do know that North-South were making 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). At the table South doubled and North jumped to 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), so I'd assume North had something like AQxx-xxxx-QTx-Ax.

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 April 2011
1Kajsa Larson SWE500
1Nigel Guthrie GBR500
1Peter Nuoristo SWE500
1Su Yi-yen 500
1Jacco Hop NED500
1John R. Mayne USA500
7Dean Pokorny 490
7Ron Lel LAO490
7Par Ol-mars 490
7Arthur Porter SA490
11Maurice Buxton GBR480
11Fredrik Jarlvik SWE480
11David Graff USA480
11Barbara Hunter NSW480
11David Ho 480
11Aake Sjoeberg SWE480
11Jack Lai 480
11Conny Wahlgren SWE480
11Damo Nair USA480
11Wayne Somerville IRL480
11Rick Giles USA480
11Rosemarie Goodwin 480
11Peter Lipp 480
11Henri De Jong Vic480
11Paul Janicki CAN480
26Jim Thatcher NSW470
26Guy Herzmark GBR470
26Gareth Birdsall GBR470
26Trish Whitton NSW470
26Ig Nieuwenhuis NED470
26Ingerun Sjosvard SWE470
26Michael Yuen NSW470
26Sam Arber Vic470
26Tim Runting Qld470
26Peter Tarlinton NSW470
26Nigel Kearney NZL470
26Leigh Matheson NSW470
26Manuel Paulo POR470
26Tom Estenson USA470
26Tony Treloar Qld470
26Jim Greer GBR470
26Christer Enkvist SWE470
26Bogdan Agica 470
26Dominic Connolly NSW470
26Ashwani Mehta 470
26David Johnson CAN470
26Frank Campbell NSW470
26Derek Pocock WA470
49Tom Kiss NSW460
49Bram Amsel 460
49Toby Weinstein USA460
49Mark Laforge 460
49Michael Davy 460
49Dan Baker USA460
49Pontus Silow SWE460
49Niek Van Vucht ACT460
49Leigh Blizzard Tas460
49Fred Altstock Vic460
49Rainer Herrmann GER460
49Fraser Rew NZL460
49Gary Lane NSW460
49Tim Trahair NSW460
63Dave Taylor NZL450
63Alexander Cook NSW450
63Tom Rushford Vic450
63Tom Moss NSW450
63Pat O'Connor NSW450
63Ian Patterson Qld450
63Wilma Domjan ACT450
63Bridge Baron USA450
63Diana Mcalister 450
63Jeff Brokenshire ACT450
73Ron Landgraff USA440
73Roger Yandle NSW440
73Peter Qvist 440
73Michael Smart ACT440
73Rick Lu NSW440
73Margaret Reid NSW440
73Valter Johansson SWE440
73Göran Lidgren SWE440
73David Matthews WA440
73Don Hinchey 440
83Dan Wälivaara SWE430
83John Sheean NSW430
83Andrew Macalister GBR430
83Duncan Roe Vic430
83Elin Lindstrom Claessen 430
83Barry Teeger NSW430

Leading scores for 2011
1Dean Pokorny 990
2Kajsa Larson SWE960
2Gareth Birdsall GBR960
4Par Ol-Mars 950
5Nigel Guthrie GBR940
5Conny Wahlgren SWE940
7Nigel Kearney NZL930
7Jacco Hop NED930
7Mark Laforge 930
10John R. Mayne USA910
10Michael Yuen NSW910
10David Ho 910
13Henri De Jong Vic900
13Ron Lel LAO900
13Tony Treloar Qld900
13Leigh Matheson NSW900
13Arthur Porter SA900
18Bogdan Agica 890
18Paul Janicki CAN890
18Derek Pocock WA890
18Dominic Connolly NSW890
22Tom Rushford Vic880
22Dave Taylor NZL880
22Geof Brod USA880
25Niek Van Vucht ACT870
26Ig Nieuwenhuis NED860
26David Graff USA860
26Valter Johansson SWE860
26Peter Stride Qld860
26Christer Enkvist SWE860
31Fredrik Jarlvik SWE850
31Tom Estenson USA850
31Wayne Somerville IRL850
31Rick Giles USA850
31Dan Baker USA850
36Trish Whitton NSW840
36Margaret Reid NSW840
36Tom Moss NSW840
36Charles Scholl USA840
36Ian Patterson Qld840
41Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN830
41David Johnson CAN830
41Damo Nair USA830
44Peter Qvist 820
44Rainer Herrmann GER820
44Gary Lane NSW820
44Fraser Rew NZL820
44Peter Vlas NED820
44Ingerun Sjosvard SWE820
44Tom Kiss NSW820
51Tim Trahair NSW810
51Tania Black SA810
51Ian McCance Vic810
51Tim Runting Qld810
55Peter Lipp 800
55Leigh Blizzard Tas800
55Robert Bäck SWE800
55David Matthews WA800
55Pat O'Connor NSW800
55Roger Yandle NSW800
61Kay O'Connor NSW790
61Toby Weinstein USA790
63Peter Tarlinton NSW780
63Manuel Paulo POR780
63Jeff Brokenshire ACT780
63Barbara Hunter NSW780
63Pontus Silow SWE780
63Guy Herzmark GBR780
69Michael Burt ACT770
69Bram Amsel 770
69Duncan Roe Vic770
69Robert Black SA770
69Dan Wälivaara SWE770
74Jameson Cole USA760
74Zbych Bednarek POL760
74Jack Lai 760
74Paul Freeland NZL760
74Peter Nuoristo SWE760
79Martyn Rew NZL750
79Stephen Bartos ACT750
79Aake Sjoeberg SWE750
79Göran Lidgren SWE750
83Lindsay Coker Vic740
83Bastiaan Korner NED740
83Andrew Macalister GBR740
83Paul Lee 740
83Rick Lu NSW740
83Phil Davis NZL740
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 June-July issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your April-May issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.