Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- June-July 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 - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 42
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ74
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q964


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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 45 26
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90 40 37
Pass 50 15 13
2NT 20 0 17
3NT 0 0 4
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 1
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1

We start this month with a familiar problem in the modern game. Opponents these days are opening with 10 points, responding with 3 points -- and here we are struggling to find our voice, yet wondering if we should be in game.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. Matchpoints suggest notrump, and red versus white points at game.

Emil Battista: 3NT. It might make.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. Looks like four tricks in South's hand, can partner have the other five?

Given how hard it was to get into this auction, it could be argued that 3NT is overkill -- it's possible that just declaring will get us a decent score:

Lindsay Coker: 2NT. Could be the losing option, but partner does have something, so this has to be bid.

Pontus Silow: 2NT. Goldilocks.

Margaret Reid: 2NT. Good chance of making -- ongoing bid if pard has stuff.

Pete McAllister: 2NT. Good chances of +120 if they're not making, or -50 against -90/-110. I don't think 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is likely to be off two.

David Scott: 2NT. Partner probably has 8+ points but could have 6+ spades -- my bid shows no immediate fit with spades but stoppers in their suits.

Alan Jones, Tania Black: 2NT. South seems to have the best hand at the table!

Tim Trahair: 2NT. We probably have the strongest hand and possibly 3NT is on if North has good spades and more than 10 HCP. He can go on if he wishes.

JC Clement: 2NT. I hope this is natural... but I'm not sure.

Typically when you pass a few times and then come in with 2NT, there is an artificial meaning attached. Here, of course, no such meaning is possible, and natural is the only possible interpretation. However, the majority preferred to play in a suit anyway:

Nigel Kearney: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The 5-2 (or 6-2) spade fit will usually play better than NT. It's close to a pass as we could easily concede 100 instead of 90 by defending but often we will make or they will bid one more.

Sam Arber: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Likely to make 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled may only be 100. 2NT may be hard to make.

Maurice Buxton: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner clearly has a few decent cards, but we're probably scratching for tricks in NT unless both E and W are rock bottom. Defending 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doesn't look inviting either, even doubled. A third pass seems pusillanimous though, and after this mutually stuttering auction backing in with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) must surely imply something like this.

Damo Nair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think this enough at MPs. Cards are all in opponent's suits.

Daniel Skipper: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). +110 better than +100.

Charles Scholl: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Aiming for the most likely plus score.

Derek Pocock: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Better for 110 or 140 rather than probable 100 from 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled.

Wayne Somerville: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I'd rather be +110 than +50 or +100. Partner should have a decent suit for a passed hand sandwich overcall.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Trying for 110 vs a probable +50. Assuming everybody has their bid, partner has a minimum. I'll double everything else.

Archie Julien: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). East has shown 12 to 15 HCPs, I have 14 HCPs, and West has 6 to 9 HCPs, leaving partner with 2 to 8 HCPs. Thus, I place partner with six-card or longer spade suit. With my nice hand and a partner who overcalled vul, I am going to be too aggressive to pass. At 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), partner may have one or two spade tricks, my clubsQ could be likely ruffed out and my images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)J caught, bringing our total to four or five such that 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) makes. I don't think game is likely opposite a partner who has passed. Partner shouldn't take 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) higher. 2NT looks fraught with danger because we cannot count on developing spade tricks in the case if partner has no outside entry.

Archie's analysis of points puts a lot of faith in the opponents having full traditional values for their bids. That's not always the case -- raise your hand if you've ever opened a distributional 10-count! It's better to trust partner than to trust the opponents.

Roger Yandle: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I assume pard wouldn't make a frivolous overcall at unfav vul so it looks like we've got the majority of the points. East hasn't tried NT so it looks like West has the spades under pard so it looks like the cards are sitting well for us. If the opps push on I'll double.

Tony Treloar: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Selling out to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems a little wet... 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should be -1 at worst, but I am hoping to be shooting at 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Joe O'Flynn: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I've got to bid something. The 5-2 fit looks best.

Frank Campbell: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can't leave them in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have three quick tricks and although 2NT is tempting I think this may be better.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I doubt that anyone can double 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and chances for 8 tricks are reasonable for either side.

Toby Weinstein: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Tempted to bid 2NT.

Ken Berry: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Wish it had more science than a guess.

Taking a gamble on partner's interpretive skills:

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double is for penalty and would indicate longer diamonds, but would be an option if they were vulnerable. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should show 2-4 in majors. Partner knows I had the strength to bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and when I didn't do that or doubled now I have only four hearts.

Alex Kemeny: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows my strong hand but still allows partner to bail out in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) when he is minimum. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may be our last making contract; it's pairs, so we must minimise the chance of making a minus score.

Having kept our mouth shut so far, a few people thought it best to not get involved at this late stage:

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. At pairs, double is just possible but fraught because, if unsuccessful it may deter partner from future enterprise.

Murray Perrin: Pass. East is very shapely, notrumps is no good as you have nothing to run.

Larry Brose: Pass. I thought of NT, but don't want to give opponents info.

Duncan Roe: Pass. I'm placing partner with six spades and less than 6 points. Sure I have three quick tricks, but then what?

Dan Baker: Pass. Misfit. Stay out. Even down one in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is worse than the opponents making 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tempted to double (penalty, as every suit has been bid), but that would let East play the hand pretty much double-dummy; better +50 than -180.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. And lead the spade four. If we could make 2NT then we will beat 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Going down two vul will be a bad score for us.

Ron Lel: Pass. The opps have bid three suits and I have a small doubleton in support of partner. Pass.

Fraser Rew: Pass. We can't make anything (it seems that RHO is 2254, LHO is 4432 and P is 5323) so even -90 may be good, or -110 may beat all the -200s. It's not an obvious lead (images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)4 could both be right). And going plus looks like it would be worth a lot.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. When I do not have neither a penalty nor a negative double, it seems pretty normal to pass and take my 40%. If we instead double as "partner, do something", this will drive us often to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and we do not want that.

Kajsa Larson: Pass. Why didn't I bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) my first turn?

Well, there are good vulnerable overcalls, and there are bad vulnerable overcalls, and then there's this hand. But Kajsa wasn't alone in wishing we had entered the auction sooner: on the expert panel, Kate McCallum wanted to overcall 1NT on the 14-count, or else double 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) for penalties, while Ron Klinger and Sartaj Hans wanted to raise partner's spades on the previous round. Likewise:

Dean Eidler: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Would have raised 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 2 last time.

Bridge Baron: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What Bridge Baron would have bid last round. Bridge Baron thinks partner's overcall as a passed hand in sandwich position is likely to be a six-card suit, so game is possible if partner has a maximum passed hand, despite no ruffing value in South's hand.

The expert majority agreed that we should not be in the auction, but felt that it was too cowardly to defend undoubled with a likely 23-24 HCP. Therefore:

Michael Smart, Bastiaan Korner, Peter Nuoristo: Dbl. ...and lead three rounds of trumps.

Don Hinchey: Dbl. 2NT has some appeal, especially if we're having a solid game and don't want to risk a gamble. But I think the opponents are stealing and thieves should be punished. BTW, pard should have legit values (10-11 HCPs), since I would favor a spade lead anyway.

Kees Schaafsma: Dbl. Also if they run to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); I'll lead my king against 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Leigh Matheson: Dbl. Finally the strongest hand at the table gets to say something, and it says +300 will be a fine score.

R. Samuel Leopold Stein: Dbl. I'll be happy wherever we land. If all pass, I will lead a trump, a trump and a trump.

Jacco Hop: Dbl. It is Matchpoints so you cant let them steal from you.

Tim Stewart: Dbl. Seems right for penalties -- we have the majority of the points, good diamonds and what looks like a misfit. Partner won't take it out because I've passed twice.

Peter Vlas: Dbl. Should be sort of optional I guess.

Tom Estenson: Dbl. Since it's Matchpoints...

Tom Moss, Mark LaForge: Dbl. They can't possibly make after three rounds of diamonds.

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Unusual for this vulnerability at MP. But we likely have 22+ points and good defense. 300+ is possible!

Michael Burt: Dbl. We look to have the balance of points but partner has only five spades (otherwise would have opened 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is no certainty and EW look likely to go off (possibly 2 off).

Robert Black: Dbl. With a 5-6 card major opposite a (weak) 1NT play in the major. But double should be for penalties and I expect a two trick defeat. If my expert partner feels the pressure 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should play well enough.

The actual deal, from the Bathurst Bridge Club:

spades AQJ106
hearts Q1082 
diamonds J8
clubs 103
spades 85
hearts K963
diamonds 9762
clubs J85
spades K973
hearts 5
diamonds Q1053
clubs AK72
spades 42
hearts AJ74
diamonds AK4
clubs Q964

At the table, Pass and Double would both have earned a bottom board (+50 and +100 respectively). Bidding either major was worth 70%, and if you chose notrumps, then you have +120 for a 40% score (or, if opponents slip in defence, +150 for a 2nd top).

Hand Two - East deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T42
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A952
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A5432


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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 50 20
Pass 90 45 63
2NT 50 5 16
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 1

Next we have our annual referendum on OBAR BIDS (Opponents Bid And Raise, Balance In Direct Seat). Nothing has changed since last time: the expert votes are closely split, with the bidders winning by a narrow margin. The readers' vote, however, was not at all close, with only 20% taking the top score: 

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Close between pass, double and 2NT. Prefer double as it keeps penalties (and hearts) in the picture.

Damo Nair: Dbl. Good controls and a reasonable distribution.

Jacco Hop: Dbl. I have all three unbid suits and I don't want to defend 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Barbara Hunter: Dbl. Might work as a push, partner may have hearts.

Nigel Kearney: Dbl. This is obviously risky but the auction and our hand suggests that letting them play 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) undoubled will be wrong far more often than right.

Sam Arber: Dbl. West likely to raise spades AND partner may lead a heart which could be bad but already passed hand worth competing.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. I hate passing (though it's very often right) and double brings all three suits into the picture -- 2NT is kind of fatuous, as with 3-3 minors partner will often guess wrongly anyway.

Murray Perrin: Dbl. Nice shape and two aces for balancing. Other option is 2NT for the minors.

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. 2NT could be right.

2NT did receive one expert vote, from Ron Klinger, but the others were not concerned about the risk that double might lead to a 4-3 heart fit. Here's why:

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. Partner's 2NT response to this is scrambling (two places to play). Even if it's not, partner should be looking for somewhere playable rather than going for greed.

To elaborate, if partner has four hearts and a four-card minor, he should bid 2NT, not 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); this will assure we find any 4-4 fit. If partner is not familiar with this scrambling technique, then he should just bid his suits up the line. Either way, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should be a five-card suit (or, on a bad day, 3433).

Fear of the 3433 encouraged several of the readers to accentuate the clubs and cut out the hearts:

JC Clement: 2NT. Never let fitted opps at the 2-level. A double may lead to a dangerous 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which may be doubled.

R. Samuel Leopold Stein: 2NT. We are unlikely to belong in hearts.

Dan Baker: 2NT. Balancing in direct seat. If we're going to get in the auction, it's got to be me (short in spades), and I'd rather offer partner two places to land than one. Letting the opponents play in a known fit at the 2 level rarely turns out well (although the alternatives occasionally turn out worse).

Michael Smart: 2NT. Passing 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is what every E-W pair wants to hear at pairs -- so let's make some noise.

Christer Enkvist: 2NT. Primarily to lure the opps to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Archie Julien: 2NT. This would be better in the balancing position, but I still think when they have found a fit on the 2-level, every effort must be made to compete. If I keep quiet now, the opportunity is lost forever.

The overwhelming majority of the readers chose to not get involved:

Roger Yandle: Pass. I'm missing something here obviously.

Bastiaan Korner: Pass. I seem to have missed something.

Duncan Roe: Pass. I think any other bid will end in tears.

Tania Black: Pass. Not enough hearts -- or points!

Lindsay Coker: Pass. Partner has spades, but I do not have enough to double.

Tony Treloar: Pass. The stiff spade is a plus, but all competitive actions seemed flawed so pass in tempo.

Some were simply afraid of the vulnerability; at the table it was actually nil vul, but Paul rightly convinced me to change the vulnerability to make it a tougher problem -- at nil vul, the double would be automatic.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. Double could very easily produce -200. Better to go with the field and pass.

Henri de Jong: Pass. It is Matchpoints and can't afford to go -200 or worse. Also West may not have finished bidding.

Frank Campbell, Joe O'Flynn: Pass. If North can't take action I don't want to play at the 3 level at this vulnerability.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Bridge Baron is not even close to tempted. Why would you enter the auction now, especially vulnerable? Maybe partner will balance if 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would otherwise be the final contract.

Several said that it was North's responsibility to enter the auction, as he is in balancing position...

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. I see no good reason to act in front of partner.

Ken Berry: Pass. Would bid 2NT for minors in passout seat.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. The balancing position, if this is the case, belongs to partner.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. I'm not in the pass out seat.

... in fact several people said they expected partner to make the winning decision, despite his spade length:

Peter Vlas: Pass. No need to be adventurous now, we still have a partner and if he doesn't do anything it's not the time for vulnerable experiments.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Partner can see his spades and his points and I can't. Let him balance if there is any balancing to be done.

Alex Kemeny: Pass. West is unlimited and my hand has no trick taking power. If West passes, partner is still there to balance. Then I can bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with confidence.

Pontus Silow: Pass. Both 2NT and double could work out well, but if partner has four spades and some values we can still be heading for a good score. And sometimes partner will balance.

Margaret Reid: Pass. Pard can balance if necessary.

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Partner is still there and my distribution is not ideal for either double or 2NT. Maybe West is strong and will bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), why should I then help them to solve the trump suit?

Pete McAllister: Pass. There is a danger partner won't be able to protect with length in spades if West passes, but he's likely to have a bid if we want to be playing at the three level.

Tim Trahair: Pass. North probably has four spades and might well have more than 10 HCP but couldn't bid because of West's opening bid. If so he may make a reopening double.

Can partner really balance here if he has four spades? Maybe he should. I've heard many people say that when 1M-2M is passed to you, you should double first and look at your hand later, which is not an unreasonable guideline.

Emil Battista: Pass. Laurenzo would probably double. But then again he is better than your average bear.

Michael Burt: Pass. I can't see any reason for bidding with a very ordinary hand and potentially give away information about a bad spade break.

Leigh Matheson: Pass. I used to take action in these situations. But I rarely made my contracts. So I don't do it anymore. West could have anything.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. this is not our hand; we may get a plus on defense.

Not as big a plus as you'd get against 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)!

Don Hinchey: Pass. I generally approve of pre-balancing, but not with this hand.

Robert Black: Pass. Would I want partner to pass my double? (or unusual 2NT?) The spot cards are terrible.

Maurice Buxton: Pass. OK, so I'm short on spades and better than I might be for my pass. I'm also vulnerable with mediocre shape, no stuffing, and a potential strong hand on my left. Doubtless horribly wrong on this deal since it's a question, but suspect this will be right at least 51% of the time.

No Maurice, passing was actually correct on the deal. Just to prove that we aren't result merchants here!

The full deal, also from the Bathurst Bridge Club:

spades Q853
hearts J753 
diamonds K763
clubs 6
spades AKJ96
hearts A6
diamonds J104
clubs KQ7
spades 1072
hearts KQ98
diamonds Q8
clubs J1098
spades 4
hearts 1042
diamonds A952
clubs A5432

South doubled, but East-West brushed aside the interference and went straight to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), which was not a success. Defending against 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would have yielded 500, although the double dummy spot is 3NT for 600. 

Hand Three - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQJ94
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ---
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQJT63


West North East South
  2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?


Call Award %
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 60 12
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 80 10 0
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 25 41
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 0 10
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20 0 23
6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 10 5 1
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 10 0 1
4NT 0 0 5
Pass 0 0 1
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 0 0 2
6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 1
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 1
Dbl 0 0 1
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1

Our third problem for the month produced a new record of 14 different answers, although the panel themselves only came up with four -- most of them simply choosing to bid our best suit. There were several reasons given for this choice.

First, looking for the best game:

Leigh Matheson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely one down. I'll see if partner likes one of my suits. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) first -- I might get to back in with 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), otherwise I'll double 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Second, exploring for the best slam:

Manuel Paulo: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Slam is in the picture, and prospects are fair in three strains.

Third, preparation for a competitive auction:

Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Expect more competition in this hand and showing the clubs now should place us best to find the right game.

Mark LaForge: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A tactical bid -- this will not end the auction.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Intending, next, to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or double 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Kees Schaafsma: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Over 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I'll bid 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) which would be unlucky to go down.

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I may or may not get to show my hearts but on this hand I am not prepared to distort the relative lengths of my suits.

Mike Lawrence and Eddie Kantar felt that 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would not be encouraging enough in the event of a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid from West, so they voted for 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), hoping to inspire a 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) "save" from partner.

The top reader vote chose to ignore the possibility of slam, which seems reasonable enough given our lack of aces:

Jenny Monger: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening means no two aces, no other four card major and no void.

Lindsay Coker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Assuming this is a weak two I do not look for slam.

Michael Burt: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slam doesn't look on as partner would need at least images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)AK and probably images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K for it to be a good place to be. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may stop a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid but I wouldn't count on it but then a 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid would show an alternative spot rather than slam interest.

Roger Yandle: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Might be missing slam but I'm not sure how I'd find out if pard has the right cards.

Frank Campbell: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think this is enough. I am worried about partners diamond losers if he has more than doubleton and his spades aren't headed by the AKJ.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Perhaps 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is enough.

Dan Baker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Need too much from partner to get slam (opposite AJTxxx xx xxx Ax with a diamond lead, your best bet in 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is Kx of trump onside, although 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) has a fighting chance). If we desperately needed a swing I'd try 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Exclusion.

Murray Perrin: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Great shape and suits should get you ten tricks. partner is either AKxxxx or AJ109xx in spades. So at most a heart, spade and club loser.

Margaret Reid: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Should make -- no problems.

Tania Black: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I do not think we have a slam, would double 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and lead images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K.

Bridge Baron: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bidding to make it. Bridge Baron doesn't see a slam on these cards, so it uses fast arrival.

In fact, not everyone felt that even game was a certainty:

JC Clement: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And hope to make it.

Don Hinchey: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's IMPs and we're vul. Aren't those the main criteria for aggressiveness?

Michael Smart: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Seems automatic opposite a vul vs not preempt...and might encourage a phantom save.

Dean Pokorny: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It is possible that some other game plays better, but 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) puts maximal pressure on the opponents who could feel forced to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), which I will double and lead clubs.

Wayne Somerville: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). AKxxxx and out makes 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) almost cold since the opponents can't lead two cards at a time [drawing trumps and cashing diamonds].

Ken Berry: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). May not be right, but it is what I would bid.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Who knows who makes what? I'll double 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

So that's it for the two most obvious answers: bidding our best suit or raising partner's suit. But there are still many more bids to come. First, we have the 2nd-largest reader group, happy to commit immediately to spades, but unwilling to settle for game.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Agreeing spades and forcing. With a bad 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-opening partner should rest in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I can then propose 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as an alternative contract after asking for aces.

Joe O'Flynn: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing for more info. Looks like 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for us.

Pete McAllister: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Happy to play in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), some chances of a slam if partner has just the right hand, and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) suggests no worries there.

Peter Vlas: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I presume partner has a weak two. Vulnerable he should have a decent hand. If he bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) now, I will raise to 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to see if his spades are good.

Michael Davy: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If minimum partner will rest in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just trying to keep all options open. Blasting 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or even 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be a bit rash.

Charles Scholl: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Most descriptive bid. Hoping to learn more before ending in 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Derek Pocock: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) plan to bid 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)!

Maurice Buxton: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Since our side's next bid might have to be at the 6-level, let's make it clear that we've got the right stuff. We're probably making slam if partner has a black ace and spades suitable for a vulnerable 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opener first in hand.

Jacco Hop: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam try in spades.

Toby Weinstein: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Then raise to 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Sam Arber: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too good to give up on slam bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? Do you bid again if he bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Robert Black: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Whatever it means I think I have it. Prepared to play in game or higher in one of our 3 suits, and to double their sacrifice in 5 or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

And a few who felt we have enough to move for slam on our own, some without even checking for aces:

Dean Eidler: 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bash.

Archie Julien: 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I expect partner to have his six-card suit and 8 to 10 HCPs. I expect West to have lots of diamonds and to interfere with any attempt at a scientific approach to slam by me. Better to sever their bidding communication and put the 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) sacrifice to them from the get-go.

Pontus Silow: 4NT. I would bid 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over a likely 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) continuation anyway, so I might as well use that 5-level risk to investigate slam. 4NT has the advantage over 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) that I still get some info if opps bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Barbara Whitmee: 4NT. RKCB. Four spades is a bit timid when vul at IMPs.

Alex Kemeny: 4NT. The only advantage of 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is that it allows us to stop in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). My partners don't open 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on filth, so the 5 level should be safe. If West decides to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), my 4NT RKCB allows partner to answer me via DOPI. So we should still arrive at the correct spot.

David Scott: 4NT. With two key cards 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a good chance -- can stop in a reasonable 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) contract if necessary.

John Moser: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 1430 Exclusion Blackwood.

Par Ol-Mars: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Exclusion Blackwood. If no ace new partner. If one we end up in 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If two I think 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is best to protect the hearts.

Christer Enkvist: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With two aces partner will have no problem bidding the slam. (5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) naturally shows a void).

Finally, we have some supporters for bidding our 2nd best suit (the bid found at the table by Hugh Grosvenor):

Duncan Roe: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't want to agree spades ... yet.

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Forcing to somewhere.

Daniel Skipper: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Have to start somewhere.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Forcing.

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This keeps 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and clubs in reserve as well as showing hearts. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be the most likely contract here, but who knows.

The full deal, from the final of the recent Australian Open Team playoff:

spades AKJ832
hearts 107 
diamonds 2
clubs 9754
spades 1097
hearts K52
diamonds AQ764
clubs 82
spades 64
hearts 863
diamonds KJ109853
clubs A
spades Q5
hearts AQJ94
diamonds ---
clubs KQJ1063

Grosvenor bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and then bid 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) when 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) came back to him. Burgess-Courtney at the other table bid an uncontested 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and both tables made 12 tricks for a flat 680.

Hand Four - North deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 7642
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J65
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 973
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 954


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

1. Better minor (can be 3 if 4-4-3-2).

Call Award %
Pass 100 55 50
Rdbl 90 45 35
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 20 0 10
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 4
1NT 0 0 1

Next we have the worst hand ever to appear in this forum; in fact it's one of two hands in the current magazine which involve a critical decision holding nothing but a jack.

We've been told that partner may have a 4432 -- our first question is, can partner still have that shape after passing the double?  

Alan Jones: Pass. I assume that North would redouble with only three diamonds.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Other contracts may be worse. If partner really has 4432, maybe he should have redoubled.

Lindsay Coker: Pass. Partner passes, good luck to him.

Manuel Paulo: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Redouble doesn't look right because [if partner was 4432] he would rebid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pass may be our best medicine, but I can't wait and see it.

Nigel Kearney: Rdbl. Partner would have removed to 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) already if 4432 but I still hope we have a better spot in one of a major.

Larry Brose: Pass. Everybody else is fine with 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled, why not me?

Frank Campbell: Pass. Anything I do is likely to make a bad situation worse. West should have four spades and redouble is hardly going to bluff an expert pair into bidding. That partner did not bid a second suit makes me think he has four or more diamonds.

Robert Black: Pass. If LHO is short in diamonds partner is not likely to have just three. And if 4-4-3-2 would he have passed 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled? 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled may as bad. And opponents at the other table may have the same problem.

I believe that most people would play a 2nd bid by North as constructive, whether it be Redouble or 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), so I don't think it's North's job to rescue us here. But Robert raises a good point about the auction at the other table, and he is not the only one who is hopeful of a flat board (or better):

Derek Pocock: Pass. Take the medicine, hoping minus 500 will be better than their 600 or more.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Ugly hand, ugly situation, but Bridge Baron would rather let partner try to take at least five tricks than scramble for some other contract. Sure, the penalty pass decreases the chances that partner has a long diamond suit, but 4432 is still unlikely.

Charles Scholl: Pass. West is more likely to be disappointed than my partner.

Don Hinchey: Pass. Would like the benefit of a little table feel here -- i.e., were the opponents' actions confident or tentative? Lacking that I'm going to go gently into the night.

A few people thought that our shortage of points absolved us from responsibility:

Stephen Bartos: Pass. This hand has no business bidding in this situation; any bid is likely to lead to a worse result.

Tim Trahair: Pass. We don't have the strength to do anything but pass. North may be comfortable with 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x. Seems probable EW have game on somewhere.

Duncan Roe: Pass. With 1 HCP, any bid from me can only make things worse.

Our point count isn't really the issue here -- hopefully we would have no trouble running if we held a 5512 yarborough! The problem is our shape, and the likelihood of finding a better fit than diamonds.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. The 3-3 fit, if it's there, will not be the worst of partner's problems. My flatness argues against moving to another contract which may be worse than diamonds. Partner can have diamonds!

Roger Yandle: Pass. There might be better places to play but trying to find them could well make things worse.

R. Samuel Leopold Stein: Pass. We could have a spade fit but no fit at all is more likely. I'll open my eyes when the carnage is over.

Joe O'Flynn: Pass. West shows both majors -- where can I go?

Tania Black: Pass. Anything else may be worse.

Jack Lai: Pass. Every suit likely bad break. Try to stop as low as possible.

Kees Schaafsma: Pass. May very well be our best fit.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. North is unlikely to have 4-4-3-2, but East probably holds a diamond stack. The trouble with any rescue operation is that no other contract is likely to fare any better and could do worse.

Michael Burt: Pass. 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is quite possibly the best of the many horrible places we can be. Leave it alone.

Dan Baker: Pass. Nowhere to run. Sure, partner could be 4-4-3-2 and we're missing an 8-card spade fit ... or he could be 2-3-4-4 and running will take us to a worse fit or up a level. Don't run unless you KNOW there's a better place; otherwise you're usually jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

This is an interesting question of philosophy. Dan says don't run unless you know there is a better spot; arguing the other side, many Australian readers will be familiar with my boss's 1992 Bols Bridge Tip, which basically says if they double you in a situation like this, you should believe them (click here to see the full tip).

Claiming the European rights to Paul's tip:

Jacco Hop: Rdbl. (Simon) de Wijs rule: Run when you are doubled at very low contract. XX could get us to 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in the 4-3 fit which could easily be the best spot.

Niklas Andrén: Rdbl. Always wrong to pass I think, East has 5+ good diamonds. Now there is a small chance to get out of the fire.

JC Clement: Rdbl. I believe my opps, and prefer to play 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Alex Kemeny: Rdbl. Unless East is a fool, I have to pull this. Redouble of part-scores is always SOS. Partner almost certainly has three diamonds, so he has a 4 card major.

Tony Treloar: Rdbl. Takeout doubles which are left in are generally pretty serious. If partner has a 4 card major we will probably end up better off on the likely breaks. Expecting carnage whatever happens.

Wayne Somerville: Rdbl. 1-level penalties tend to be based on a big trump stack, let's find a suit which doesn't break as badly. Not that I thought I would ever be making an SOS redouble of a natural bid with 3-card support.

Speaking of 3-card support, this same auction came up again on BBO last week, but with a 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening instead of 1diamonds -- and it was still right for responder to run (to the 2-level this time) holding 3-card support. His holding was images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)xxx and images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)J1098xx. I might put that in one of next year's forums.

Peter Vlas: Rdbl. Looks like we're in trouble, so let's find a way out.

Archie Julien: Rdbl. Partner should pick his own poison, as East's conversion from a takeout double to penalty signals he holds lots of trumps. I really have no business even thinking I can somehow land us in a better fit, when I hold equal support for any other suit.

Maurice Buxton: Rdbl. East presumably has more diamonds than De Beers and nowhere else attractive to go. Neither do I really, as partner likely has a balanced hand and I don't even have a ruffing value to offer. Still, E-W don't know that and if we wriggle into 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) they may bid something. Either way it's likely cheaper.

That's the upside -- just because we don't have a better spot, that doesn't mean all our other bad spots will be doubled. If we manage to find a 4-3 major fit, will the opponents really double us at the 1-level if trumps are 3-3 (or even 4-2)?

Leigh Matheson: Rdbl. I'll shop around for a suit they're not comfortable doubling.

Dean Pokorny: Rdbl. SOS. If our partner bids a major suit, maybe East would feel compelled to produce some bid and save us from a slaughter. Besides that, 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would be clearly wrong since partner could hold some 2443 hand.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Rdbl. Maybe we will not get doubled in another strain. Something to be said for pass if partner could take 5 tricks. With a diamond stack behind him that seems unlikely.

Pontus Silow: Rdbl. No guarantees that something else will be better, but we know that 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will be bad.

Damo Nair: Rdbl. May be hearts or spades don't break as badly & may get me -800 instead of a claim at trick 2 by the opponents.

It wasn't actually as bad as that -- the defensive claim didn't come until trick eight! The full deal, from Bathurst's monthly teams night:

spades QJ109
hearts KQ94 
diamonds Q106
clubs J8
spades K85
hearts 10832
diamonds K
clubs AKQ103
spades A3
hearts A7
diamonds AJ8542
clubs 762
spades 7642
hearts J65
diamonds 973
clubs 954

The defence started with a small diamond to West's surprised king, and two top clubs. Then a spade to the ace allowed East to draw trumps, conceding just one trump trick for +1700.

As several readers pointed out, if NS had escaped to either major, even the 4-3 heart fit, it would have been hard for EW to double. At worst, EW would have had a chance to get out for 500 or 800 in 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for a decent result.

Hand Five - South deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AK953
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKJ753

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


Call Award %
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 50 14
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 20 8
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 15 6
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 40 15 50
6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 0 4
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10 0 1
Pass 0 0 7
4NT 0 0 4
6NT 0 0 4
5NT 0 0 1
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 1

I thought this was the easiest problem of the set, but I was shocked to find myself in the minority. At the table I bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) without a second thought, and the auction proceeded smoothly:

Kees Schaafsma: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Sets clubs and asks for cues. If partner doesn't bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (AKxx-Qx-JTxx-Qxx) we can stop in game.

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I hope a follow up of 4NT by either side is natural.

Fraser Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). There's no safe way to show a strong hand with hearts and stay low when we have to -- 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is non-forcing, 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may already be too high. But I must make some try.

Jacco Hop: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Natural and forcing. My first response was 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) natural and forcing but H is unlikely to be better than clubs.

4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) received only 3 votes from the panel. Half the experts were happy to force to slam unilaterally, recognising that North is sure to have a diamond honour. Firstly, he has bid 3NT with no top clubs or hearts; secondly, our massive point count leaves no room for the opps to have images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AK and biddable spades. The conclusion: give partner a simple choice of trump suits:

Manuel Paulo: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This rebid shows my shape and my ambition.

Michael Smart: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A natural description of strength and shape. The ambiguity of 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should be avoided -- unless you're keen to hear 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) from partner.

Murray Perrin: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Choose a slam partner, either 6NT, 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner has shown 12-14 points.

Par Ol-Mars: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Natural and non forcing :)

Frank Campbell: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner must have red suit values as well as spades. There is no sensible way to try for slam in either of my suits other than to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and hope for the best.

Roger Yandle: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Slam in either hearts or clubs looks like a good bet even if pard has wasted values in spades.

Maurice Buxton: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Very scientific bidding there, partner. Presumably six or seven is on but we seem to be short of space now. Oh well, another good jump inviting preference at the six-level (in effect) seems about the best way to get across my shape and strength.

The readers' majority also voted for bidding hearts, but one level lower than the experts. A few people recognised that 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would end the auction, but they were OK with that:

Damo Nair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't see the problem. Too risky to let 3NT stand given two great suits.

Alex Kemeny: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner should be 4333 with 4 spades and 13-16 HCP. If not, I hate that 3NT bid! In any case, with 6-5 shapes, I bid out my suits. Call me old fashioned.

Peter Vlas: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Must be a strong hand with 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and longer clubs. If partner persists with 4NT I pass.

Dean Pokorny: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Since I didn't open 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), partner will know I have a decent 5-6 hand and will drive towards slam only when it is appropriate (decent fit, controls, etc.). 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be just too unilateral.

Pete McAllister: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Natural non-forcing but rather encouraging.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding out my shape. This promises at least 6-5 in clubs and hearts as partner is limited to max three hearts. The 3NT bid is also slam-discouraging since partner has spade value(s). With a maximum he can bid on.

Derek Pocock: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping for 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) leading to 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or even 7 with partner holding images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q, diamondsA and images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)Q -- partner's spade holding being a rubbishy Qxx!

I'd be wanting a new partner if he jumped to 3NT with spadesQxx. But Derek's comment does raise a telling point against the reader majority; the only way 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will not be terminal, is if partner gives preference to clubs (in which case we will raise to slam). In other words, we are bidding 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in the hope that partner will take us back to clubs. A good argument for both 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)

Many of the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders believed that 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was in fact a slam try:

Margaret Reid: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If pard has more she will move (I hope).

Charles Scholl: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Describes my hand (extras + distribution) and partner could still have hearts. If we stop short of slam we won't sacrifice much at IMPs and slam is likely to be much better in clubs or hearts than NT.

Leigh Matheson: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 6-4 bid some more. 6-5 come alive.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Fishing, can we get to club slam?

Ron Lel: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hard hand. Hopefully partner gets the message.

Michael Burt: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This should describe a 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) hand with slam interest (voluntary take out from 3NT). Partner should be in control of the bidding from here.

Jack Lai, Zbych Bednarek: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Try for slam.

JC Clement: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Describing the hand, a slam ii still possible, especially in clubs.

Jim Greer: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Showing two suits and a reverse bid showing strength, I think.

Michael Davy: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows six clubs, five hearts, no spades and I drive a red car.

Partner will be pleased to know about the red car, especially if he needs a lift home. But the rest of that information is unlikely to interest him until it comes time to write 680 on the scoresheet.

Dan Baker: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Slam in a round suit is entirely possible, even with partner having some wasted values in spades. I intended to reverse to hearts, so I'll do it, even if it is a couple levels higher than I'd planned.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Slam too likely, NT doesn't play well.

Tony Treloar: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This bid must show this hand, albeit we have some extras. 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is tempting but seems to take away too much room to explore the grand. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) shows our strength but hides our shape. I don't expect partner to pass.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hope this is forcing.

Before leaving the 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders, I'd like to point out that partner is very unlikely to have four hearts for his bidding (he would likely have doubled 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)). So is there really any chance than partner would raise to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) holding a limited balanced hand with 3-card support and wasted spade values?

Finally, a small group trying to make a genuine slam try while avoiding the space-munching effect of a 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid:

Ken Berry: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is not enough.

Don Hinchey: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slam in one of the round suits could be on. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) seems the only call that will help partner evaluate his hand effectively.

Nigel Kearney: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I will bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) next as I expect 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to usually be best but would like to keep clubs in the picture. An immediate 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) could be passed and I have a bit much to expect that will be right.

Sam Arber: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner may pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and we can't afford to miss slam. Partner almost certainly has diamond honour

Wayne Somerville: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slam is almost certainly on somewhere. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) shows doubt about the strain (4NT is quantitative, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows the 6-5 but is not forcing) while a direct 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looks like concern about spades.

The full deal:

spades KQJ6
hearts Q7 
diamonds KJ85
clubs Q92
spades A1087532
hearts J10864
diamonds ---
clubs 10
spades 94
hearts 2
diamonds A1097632
clubs 864
spades ---
hearts AK953
diamonds Q4
clubs AKJ753

South bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), and then 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over partner's 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) cue -- acknowledging that a grand slam, if available, would be too hard to find after this start.

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 June 2011
1Niklas Andrén 490
2Peter Stride Qld470
3Kees Schaafsma 460
4Rainer Herrmann GER450
4Roger Yandle NSW450
4Ingerun Sjosvard SWE450
4Frank Campbell NSW450
8David Taylor 440
8Don Hinchey 440
8Tom Rushford Vic440
8Pravin Nahar NSW440
12Andrew MacAlister GBR430
12Tom Estenson USA430
12Fredrik Jarlvik SWE430
12Elin Lindstrom  Claessen 430
12Ken Berry NSW430
12Mark Laforge IND430
12Wayne Somerville IRL430
12Nigel Kearney NZL430
20Leigh Matheson NSW420
20Gareth Birdsall GBR420
22Tony Treloar Qld410
22Paul Janicki CAN410
22Paul Freeland NZL410
22Murray Perrin Qld410
22Michael Smart ACT410
22Peter Tarlinton NSW410
22Leigh Blizzard Tas410
29Michael Burt ACT400
29Ron Landgraff USA400
31Nigel Guthrie GBR390
31Ian Patterson Qld390
31Peter Nuoristo SWE390
31Jack Lai 390
31Valter Johansson SWE390
31Maurice Buxton GBR390
31Martyn Rew NZL390
31Anthony Cohen 390
31Bram Amsel 390
31Fraser Rew NZL390
31Rick Lu NSW390
42Henri De Jong Vic380
42Jacco Hop NED380
42Conny Wahlgren SWE380
42Sam Arber Vic380
46Bruce Ballard 370
46Dean Eidler NZL370
48Barry Teeger NSW360
48Michael Yuen NSW360
48David Read NSW360
48Rick Giles USA360
48Dominic Connolly NSW360
53Tom Moss NSW350
53Peter Qvist 350
53Jim Thatcher NSW350
53Trish Whitton NSW350
53Ivan Demeny NSW350
53Joe Gold WA350
53Kajsa Larson SWE 350
60Robert Bäck SWE340
60Charles Scholl USA340
60Dean Pokorny CRO340
60Diana Mcalister Qld340
60Derek Pocock WA340
60R. Samuel Leopold Stein 340
60Jeffrey Gertz USA340
60Mats Hedström SWE340
60Peter Vlas NED340
60Damo Nair USA340
70Julian Gauld NSW330
70Daniel Skipper NZL330
70Ig Nieuwenhuis NED330
73Tim Trahair NSW320
73John Shield NSW320
73Joe O'Flynn Vic320
73Arthur Porter SA320
73Kay O'Connor NSW320
78John Moser CAN310
78Gary Lane NSW310
78Manuel Paulo POR310
78Zbych Bednarek POL310
78Niek Van Vucht ACT310
78Ron Lel LAO310
78Robert Black SA310
78Dan Baker USA310
78David Dibb 310
78David Johnson CAN310

Leading scores for 2011
1Gareth Birdsall GBR1380
2Nigel Kearney NZL1360
2Mark LaForge IND1360
4Nigel Guthrie GBR1330
4Dean Pokorny CRO1330
4Peter Stride Qld1330
7Tom Rushford Vic1320
7Conny Wahlgren SWE1320
7Leigh Matheson NSW1320
10Jacco Hop NED1310
10Kajsa Larson SWE1310
10Tony Treloar Qld1310
13Paul Janicki CAN1300
14Wayne Somerville IRL1280
14Fredrik Jarlvik SWE1280
14Henri De Jong Vic1280
14Tom Estenson USA1280
18Ingerun Sjosvard SWE1270
18Michael Yuen NSW1270
18Rainer Herrmann GER1270
21Valter Johansson SWE1250
21Dominic Connolly NSW1250
21Roger Yandle NSW1250
24Par Ol-Mars THA1230
24Derek Pocock WA1230
24Ian Patterson Qld1230
27Arthur Porter SA1220
28Leigh Blizzard Tas1210
28Rick Giles USA1210
28Fraser Rew NZL1210
28Ron Lel LAO1210
32Ig Nieuwenhuis NED1190
32Peter Tarlinton NSW1190
32Trish Whitton NSW1190
32Tom Moss NSW1190
36Charles Scholl USA1180
36Frank Campbell NSW1180
36Niek Van Vucht ACT1180
39Andrew MacAlister GBR1170
39Damo Nair USA1170
39Peter Qvist 1170
39Paul Freeland NZL1170
39Michael Burt ACT1170
44Bram Amsel OO1160
44Peter Vlas NED1160
44Dan Baker USA1160
47Jack Lai 1150
47Peter Nuoristo SWE1150
49Robert Bäck SWE1140
49David Johnson CAN1140
49Martyn Rew NZL1140
52Rick Lu NSW1130
52Gary Lane NSW1130
52Murray Perrin Qld1130
52Christer Enkvist SWE1130
52Tim Trahair NSW1130
57Ken Berry NSW1120
57Elin Lindstrom Claessen 1120
57Diana McAlister Qld1120
60Sam Arber Vic1110
60Kay O'Connor NSW1110
60Robert Black SA1110
63Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN1100
64Tim Runting Qld1090
64Manuel Paulo POR1090
64Tania Black SA1090
64Maurice Buxton GBR1090
64Tom Kiss NSW1090
69Barbara Hunter NSW1080
69Margaret Reid NSW1080
69Guy Herzmark GBR1080
72Zbych Bednarek POL1070
72Pat O'Connor NSW1070
74Toby Weinstein USA1060
74Duncan Roe Vic1060
76Jeffrey Gertz USA1040
77Ron Landgraff USA1030
77Jim Thatcher NSW1030
79Lindsay Coker Vic1020
79Bastiaan Korner NED1020
79Pontus Silow SWE1020
82John Sheean NSW1010
82Julian Gauld NSW1010
84John Shield NSW1000
84Barry Teeger NSW1000
84Dan Wälivaara SWE1000
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.