Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles -- September 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 - South deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QJ7432
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK74
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 6


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

1. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an invitational 4-card limit raise.

Call Award %
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 42 50
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 32 5
4NT 60 21 24
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 20 5 11
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 0 8
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 1
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 1

Welcome to an interesting set of problems, which has really opened up our Readers' Race as we move into the 2nd half of the year. An unprecedented seven people scored a perfect 500 this month, yet we have also lost a number of names from the leaderboard with several regulars scoring below 250!

Our first problem is the most straightforward, an uninterrupted limited auction with a ten-card major fit already diagnosed. Partner has invited us to game -- we do have a few extra points, so 11% of readers were happy to accept the invitation: 

Tony Treloar: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looks a long way off unless partner has the perfect cards.

Duncan Roe: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Did consider RKCB; if partner shows two then bid six, otherwise bid five to play. But if partner has no aces we are then in trouble.

Michael Burt: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Even if partner has images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)AK and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A, there is probably a diamond loser and the slam may well depend on the spade finesse. Partner is not guaranteed to have these cards and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looks a more sensible bid.

Toby Weinstein: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempting to cue 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but north needs too much to look for slam. Might also get a spade lead if I don't cue.

Bridge Baron: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). With any stronger hand, Bridge Baron would explore slam. But this doesn't quite qualify.

Emil Battista: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What is the problem? 

Giving partner 11 points for his invitation, and adding our 16, the 27-count certainly does suggest 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a good spot. Allowing for distribution, concentrated values, and our brilliant card play, do we have enough extras for a 33-point slam? A quarter of the votes say yes. Not maybe, but definitely yes:

David Matthews: 4NT. What else?

Margaret Reid: 4NT. Slam is surely on here.

Martyn Rew: 4NT. The number of key cards in partner's hand is a slam/no slam decider, so let's ask him.

Tania Black, Ian Patterson, JC Clement, Guy Herzmark, Tim Trahair:
4NT. A good slam if partner has two key cards.

Charles Scholl: 4NT. Since it's possible to make six on some hands with one key card, I'll take the plunge if partner shows two. Alas, almost never the expert bid!

Sam Arber: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Make cue bid first, and will bid 4NT over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

A few of the Blackwooders were even entertaining remote thoughts of a grand slam:

Ron Landgraff: 4NT. Slam very possible. Grand Slam is remote but conceivable.

Archie Julien: 4NT. My hand loses two aces and two kings. Partner has 10 to 12 HCP, so seven could still depend on the spade finesse -- but six looks pretty good. Can't hurt to ask for aces to avoid two losers off the top.

Wayne Somerville: 4NT. Going to slam opposite two key cards. I'll give up on grand (opposite say xx AKxx xx Axxxx, which seems like too much for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) anyway).

Yes, that looks like a GF raise to me, even opposite a "modern" 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opening.

Damo Nair: 4NT. North could easily have two controls and something else.

Dan Baker: 4NT. Two key cards plus whatever other values partner has for his raise ought to do the job more often than not, and I don't see a way to check for wasted club values.

Barbara Whitmee: 4NT. Should have eleven tricks, so doesn't hurt to check on keycards.

Barbara Hunter: 4NT. Worth an ask, ten card fit is promising.

Nigel Kearney: 4NT. I'll bid slam unless we are off two key cards. Three small diamonds opposite will be bad but it's too much to expect partner to understand a 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) slam try as asking for help there without agreement. The black cards in the deck have to be somewhere so diamond shortness opposite is quite likely.

Fraser Rew: 4NT. I'm happy to be in slam any time we've got enough key cards. It may be no play (Kxx-Kxxx-xxx-AJx) but if you can give me an auction to stay out sensibly on that, you're a better bridge player than me.

Those last two comments point out our real problem -- the slam depends on the fit in the side suits. This led the majority to a control-bidding auction, trying to enlist partner's help in clarifying the diamond position. Most chose to start with the cheapest cue:

John R. Mayne: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is worth one try, hunting for the perfecto.

Daniel Skipper: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is still a way off.

Ingerun Sjosvard: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I will pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Frank Campbell: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Cuebid, slam interest. Might as well involve partner.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Borderline slam invite with a regular partner and agreements. I'll content myself with 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if we haven't discussed the continuations.

Pontus Silow: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Nice hand - hopefully partner likes his.

Peter Vlas: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I see a lot of potential, so let's give it a try and cuebid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Peter Lipp, Niek Van Vucht, Jack Lai:
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Cue bidding to slam.

Murray Perrin: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner does not need much for slam. Something tells me some might bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) here.

Roger Yandle: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). There are lots of cards that pard can have that will make slam a good bet but he could also have a hand where 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is going off (e.g. KJx xxxx QJx KJx). I'll start off the enquiry process with a cue-bid and see what he can tell me in return.

Some of the 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bidders were hoping to hear 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) from partner...

Manuel Paulo: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner can cuebid clubs, slam is tempting.

Kees Schaafsma: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I'll bid 4NT to check for three keys, over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'll pass.

Ron Lel: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Largely this depends on methods. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) cue and hoping to hear 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is an excellent hand on which to be playing either Serious 3NT or frivolous 3NT.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Let's see if partner's answer is one I can use. 3NT (spade cue)or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will be useful.

Don Hinchey: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And then 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if responder bids 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Let's invite partner to the table and gauge his appetite for slam.

Michael Davy: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner hasn't got clubs covered he will rest in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Robert Black, Neil Pentland, Zbych Bednarek, Derek Pocock:
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hoping to hear 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

... and some were hoping the opposite:

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner cannot bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I have a huge hand. If he does I am not going beyond 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner doesn't cuebid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I'll follow with 4NT because slam is very possible.

Pete McAllister: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hopefully this isn't a help-suit slam try and partner has Serious 3NT available, so I can happily bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

A few of the cuebidders attempted to zoom in on the problem with a more calculated plan:

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner's holding in diamonds is likely to be crucial.

Wilma Domjan: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looking for aces in hearts or clubs.

Larissa Cowlishaw: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). First round control.

Ian Spight: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Cue bidding second round control. Is slam on?

Amr Elsoukary: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner has 8-9 points outside clubs he can evaluate his hand correctly and 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is makable.

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The only way to divine a diamond loser is to elicit a diamond cue -- over which I'll bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (mild slam try, expecting partner to move with two key cards.)

That approach will work out well if partner has a singleton diamond, but we are not likely to get a diamond cue if partner has the queen or doubleton. What we really need here is an artificial agreement.

A couple of people have already mentioned the "Serious 3NT" -- in my own methods, 3NT is the beginning of an asking bid sequence, allowing opener to ask for (among other things) queens and doubletons in specific suits. The expert panel also had some system suggestions:

Eric Kokish: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fancy methods would permit both long and short-suit slam tries. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a second suit; 3NT starts one suited slam tries.

Tim Bourke: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I like to play a new suit in this situation as a long suit trial bid (with 3NT as a serious, general slam try). This allows partner to be bullish on Kxx-Kxxx-xx-Axxx and conservative on Kxx-Kxxx-xxx-Axx.

Kate McCallum: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I suppose it's wishful thinking that this might be a help-suit slam try.

Andrew Robson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). For me this is a length-showing natural bid. Partner will now know images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q is a big card.

Ron Klinger: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The third-round diamond control is a worry. What is needed is a 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) short-suit slam try, but who plays that method?

Kajsa Larson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I play this as a splinter. Even without that agreement, it might get me a spade lead if my partner moves on to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Jacco Hop: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I am not sure how to get my hand across. I think bidding your short suit is sensible but you could be 6322... So I settle for the rather boring cuebid.

Sartaj Hans: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) showed shortage, it'd be my choice. In the absence of that agreement, I don't see how a random cue-bid would help our cause.

We do not have a full deal for this problem, it was borrowed from the Marks and Comments feature in the British Bridge magazine.

Hand Two - East deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q976
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 76
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AK8763


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


Call Award %
Pass 100 42 48
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 80 32 38
Dbl 80 26 13

It's been a while since we've asked you to overcall at the 3-level on a 9-count. In the past, this forum has voted to open 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on an 8-count, balance at the 2- or 3-level with a 4-count, and come in at the 5-level with all kinds of assorted rubbish. So historically speaking, this is a relatively good hand.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My hand is rather weak but, being short in the opponent's suit, I enter the auction.

Kees Schaafsma: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 18 total tricks -- on average -- are enough to bid.

Jack Lai: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). At this level, showing the suit seems better.

Martyn Rew: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Dbl - pass - 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? YUK. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) tells the story for partner much better, and his 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid can be supported with enthusiasm.

Michael Davy: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Double could be trouble.

Sam Arber: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Good suit bid rather than double or pass.

Barbara Hunter: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hope we don't miss out on a heart fit.

Wayne Somerville: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It's a little light, but I'd rather not decide what to do over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Amr Elsoukary: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Lead directing partner, as we don't want a heart lead.

Don Hinchey: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not sure this is right, but it should be popular. Don't have enough high cards to double.

Michael Smart: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Now if LHO opponent bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), partner can judge whether to complete.

Michael Burt: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Nowhere close to having a hand to double but the club suit could be very useful and is worth showing over a weak two.

David Matthews: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). OK partner might have hearts but I have a good suit.

John R. Mayne: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shortness must act. Or must it? This is risky, no doubt.

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows North we have reasonable values and good clubs. Game could be on somewhere.

Duncan Roe: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Worth a shot -- this is 1-point short of an opening hand.

As a couple of people mentioned, the risk in 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (apart from the general lack of values) is the difficulty of finding a possible heart fit. A small number of people decided to suppress the club suit in order to keep the hearts alive:

Tania Black: Dbl. Six losers and four hearts.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. Have to try for the heart fit, even though we might end in 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Lindsay Coker: Dbl. If partner bids diamonds, denying four hearts, I'll try clubs. If West raises spades and partner passes, I'll still try clubs. If partner leaves the double in, we're off to a plus anyway.

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. Not a great bid but it's IMPs. Do not expect pard to balance with spades.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. We are much more likely to miss a good 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) by bidding 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) than to go for a number by doubling and hearing -3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-Pass-(X). And if LHO does double, the more confident it is, the more likely we are to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. Would like an extra king or ace for this bid, but I am the one with the spade shortage so I should do something. Of course, I have now alerted the opponents as to the spade break too. If they end up playing in spades declarer will know how to pick up the trumps.

Robert Black: Dbl. With four hearts my duty is to double -- as I shall explain after partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)!

So which risk is greater? Losing the hearts, or finding the diamonds? The top vote went to a compromise:

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Bidding clubs probably loses a heart fit (if there is one) and is vulnerable as well. Double is not my bid for this hand.

Roger Yandle: Pass. a negative double would bring the hearts into play but I'm not sure I'm strong enough for that. Do I really want to defend 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x if pard passes my double?

Peter Vlas: Pass. Too weak, no time to compete (yet). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will probably not be expensive, but it masks the heart suit.

Pass gets the top score, which won't really shock anyone. But let's not forget that 58% of experts and 52% of readers chose to bid! With this in mind, we have upgraded both 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and Double to 80 points each -- but as always, it's "top vote, top score":

Leigh Matheson: Pass. I want to bid, I really do. I’m looking for a reason to justify taking action. But I can’t see any.

Murray Perrin: Pass. Not strong enough to bid, a bid here shows at least 12 plus, if in pass out seat 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Pontus Silow: Pass. I need a bit more to be tempted.

Ron Lel: Pass. Pass is obvious, especially at this vulnerability.

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Would IMO be ridiculous to bid with only 9 HCP.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Preempts work some of the time.

Charles Scholl: Pass. Anything else should come with an apology!

Well yeah, obviously an apology is included, that's standard procedure when you bid on hands like this. Although with one partner some years ago I came to an agreement where we'd just say sorry to each other once at the start of the session, removing the need to apologise with each individual dummy.

Emil Battista: Pass. Red vs green, even with a six bagger headed by AK does not move me to pick up the 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) card.

Dan Baker: Pass. No preempting over preempts. If partner has what you need to make 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), you'll probably be playing 5 (or at least 4). Double deserves to hear partner bid diamonds until you write down -1100.

Jacco Hop: Pass. Bidding here will usually lead to a minus since partner will put us in game a lot of the time.

True, but after he cashes six club tricks he may find the game is making.

Damo Nair: Pass. Marginal pass. Not even a ten in sight.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. Our hand is too weak for a vulnerable overcall at the 3-level.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Replace the heartsQ with the heartsA and Bridge Baron will try 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). As is, no.

Nigel Kearney: Pass. This is well below my requirements for 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Double is possible but I think it's a bit much.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Too weak for immediate action.

Archie Julien: Pass. Whole lotta shape, but suppose partner bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? East's 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) has done its job with favourable vulnerability.

Some of the passers commented that partner might still be able to act:

Tony Treloar: Pass. In tempo, too weak to show the clubs or double.

Neil Pentland: Pass. If partner cannot move we are going nowhere.

JC Clement: Pass. Not enough points for a double. Maybe 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is right, but I'm feeling not rich enough. And "pass" doesn't mean that the auction is over.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. seems like a now or never hand, but I prefer to wait for partner. Bidding would promise more than this.

The full deal, from the Grand Slam Bridge Centre:

spades A3
hearts K5 
diamonds AK54
clubs 109542
spades 10764
hearts A107
diamonds QJ1092
clubs Q
spades KQJ982
hearts J843
diamonds 83
clubs J
spades 5
hearts Q976
diamonds 76
clubs AK8763

At the table South passed, and West bought the contract with a raise to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), leaving North-South with a small plus in place of their 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) contract.

Hand Three - North deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q9
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J7432
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ96
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T2


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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 42 31
Pass 90 42 16
2NT 30 5 6
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 5 42
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 30 5 3
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 1
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 0 0 1

Our next problem provided an unusual result; apart from three strange solo choices, the panel is split right down the middle, with half voting for a takeout double and half voting for a trap pass!

Before getting to them, let's take a look at the reader majority, who actually voted for a third-party candidate:  

Charles Scholl: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Close call, but I have just enough to seek a fit and make a free bid at the 2 level, vs hoping for a big penalty.

Wilma Domjan: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Advising I've got points and hearts and don't like the spade bid. If partner has six he will rebid spades.

Bridge Baron: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Five-card heart suit, nineish points: "what it says on the tin". Shape is all wrong for a negative double. Can always support spades or bid notrump later.

Nigel Kearney: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good problem. If I still promise a rebid in competition I can live with rebidding 2NT though I suspect spades will play a trick better. Double risks partner bidding clubs. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could work and would be my second choice but loses a 5-3 heart fit.

Robert Black: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have enough hearts and points, and not enough spades or clubs to do much else. Pity about suit quality.

Daniel Skipper: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm not confident we're getting seven tricks against 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and Dbl doesn't help me find a heart fit.

Frank Campbell: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If I had more in the round suits passing in the hope of penalties might be a better option. This is only a slight exaggeration at worst. Who knows, they may go on in diamonds.

Pontus Silow: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not a pretty suit, but I do have five hearts, some values and a possible retreat to spades. Perhaps more importantly, I cannot decide what to do if I pass and partner doubles.

Tim Trahair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows reasonable values and five hearts, so better than Pass which gives North little info. Were we to pass and North doubled, then we could leave that in or bid 2NT to show good diamond cover. The potential problem with Pass is that North will do so also and we may miss game or a reasonable partscore somewhere.

Pete McAllister: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempting to pass, but 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might well get out for +100 against our +110/140.

While 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is marginal on point count and appalling on suit quality, the bidders had several reasons (excuses) for upgrading the hand:

Manuel Paulo: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Both queens increased their initial value, so my hand is worth a bid after the overcall; this bid shows five cards and that is just what I have.

Emil Battista: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Everything is working. AQ over overcaller and queen in partner's suit more than enough to make a positive move forward.

Tony Treloar: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't think the penalty pass of partner's re-opening double will make us rich. I am happy to upgrade the hand as my 6 points in diamonds will play a little higher.

Dan Baker: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'd like a better suit for this, but the filler for partner's spades and the diamonds over the bidder argue for aggression. Pass (and passing partner's double) probably gets you 100 against making a partscore or 300 against making game, not enough.

Michael Burt: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The hand is worth at least 10 points with the intermediates, useful spades and the favourable placing of diamonds. Partner's next bid should provide useful information about where we should be.

Margaret Reid: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good enough to bid at the 2-level especially as I have images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q9.

Barbara Whitmee: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have ten HCP when you consider the diamond holding. If partner mentions clubs I will bid 3NT. Partner may rebid spades with six. Then I will support that.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Better to stretch early. Now I should be able to pass later, having gotten the hand off my chest.

Archie Julien: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cheap bid with a 5-card suit, some support in spades, and diamond honours behind East. This is a good place for partner to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as an asking bid for me to go to 3NT with a diamond stopper.

Martyn Rew: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A cheap way to tell partner about the 5-card major, while waiting for more information.

For the expert panel, the sole vote for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was from guest panellist Paul Gipson, last year's Readers Race winner. It wasn't the only minority choice to get some reader support -- Eric Kokish's choice of 2NT also attracted some votes:

Eric Kokish: 2NT. Close between this, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and pass. Negative double risks the end of the world over 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an overbid with such a poor suit and a minimum. The problem with passing is that you have no idea what to do over his double. For me it's a mildly eccentric 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or a mild overbid of 2NT, with the latter gaining in stature if North is expected to show his hearts if he does not pass 2NT. The images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)9 is worth roughly as much as the ten on the auction.

Damo Nair: 2NT. 6 of 9 HCP are in East's suit. On the other hand, it will be difficult to get to hearts if North has four hearts.

Lindsay Coker: 2NT. Diamond stoppers I have, but who has the hearts? Double says clubs as well, so 2NT is better.

Duncan Roe: 2NT. I have East's diamonds well covered, so prefer 2NT to the less-specific 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) "good raise in spades" when my spades are not actually that good.

Ken Berry: 2NT. Perhaps I am too simple.

The top score went to the negative double, suppressing the 5th heart. Most felt this was fine, noting that a 5-3 heart fit with this trump suit may not be a great spot:

Michael Smart: Dbl. Whenever partner has four hearts, I want to try a heart game. Only a double will reveal that, whereas a raise of my 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (presumably NF) will not clarify partner's heart length or whether his minimum is 'good' or 'bad'.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Dbl. too constructive a hand to pass and this tells something of range and tells 4 hearts (J7432 is 4 cards :-)

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Suggesting a possible heart contract.

Jacco Hop: Dbl. Takeout. With another spot in hearts I would bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) now that would be slightly too pushy for my style. Pass and pass could be right but partner will sometimes pass fearing they can run to hearts since we didn't show them. AKJTx x Txx KQ9x or similar would make a nice 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) where will probably get after this start.

Ron Lel: Dbl. This is why I play negative doubles, isn't it?

John R. Mayne: Dbl. Too many hearts to ignore, and just short on the diamond quality to shoot at 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

In the absence of a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid from partner, the double still leaves us well placed over partner's alternative choices. For a hand that didn't raise spades, we have excellent spade support:

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. I will invite if partner bids hearts, otherwise play 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (or higher) could be very precarious even with a 5-3 fit. At least if partner bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I know it's a 9-card fit. If partner bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (showing extras) then I bid 3NT.

Kees Schaafsma: Dbl. It is by no means certain that North will double after pass-(pass), if not we may lose hearts and/or spades because of Q-small in spades. With xx in spades I would pass.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. I'm not quite strong enough to want to play in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x (if pard makes a balancing double) so will show my hearts. If pard rebids her spades as expected then I think I'll go quietly and pass.

Although not everyone was planning to offer spades as an option:

JC Clement: Dbl. And I will bid 2NT on 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) , 3NT on 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. Double, intending to raise 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and bid 3NT over partner's 2NT.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. My experience is that if partner doubles and I pass it, then we have a 9-card heart fit, and we get +300 instead of +420 after the opponents scramble six tricks. However, my other experience is that every time I hold this hand I get it wrong.

Toby Weinstein: Dbl. Will bid 2NT over 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) by pard.

Toby's insufficient bids will work out well if the opponents are not paying attention, but even then I think 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would work out better.

Par Ol-Mars: Dbl. Want to show some values when I have the opportunity, and avoid having to try to catch up when partner balance. Partner does not always bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Rainer Herrmann: Dbl. Since I would not pass a reopening double, I might as well double myself.

Only 16% of the readers chose to pass, but many of the passers were planning to pull partner's double (to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 2NT or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)).

Leon Slonim: Pass. 2NT if North doubles.

Valter Johansson, Peter Nuoristo:
Pass. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if North doubles.

Peter Vlas: Pass. If North doubles I'll give him the gross underbid of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't feel like pushing on this collection.

Henri de Jong: Pass. If pard doubles will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), as 100 in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled will not be good enough.

For the expert panel, Jill Courtney and Kate McCallum also intended to pull the double (to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)), while the rest of the passers were happy to defend 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled.

Murray Perrin: Pass. And expect partner to double (takeout) and change it to a penalty double. Partner has two or three tricks and I have three tricks and a ruff in clubs or spades, therefore declarer is off two at least and more on a good day.

Don Hinchey: Pass. Second-round action is the real problem. I will pass for now and raise a major suit rebid (either hearts or spades) one level. If North doubles, I'll pass, pray and lead the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

David Johnson: Pass. And lead the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. The hand is marginally too weak to take action now. If partner doubles then I pass. If partner takes another action, I'll re-evaluate. At this point the hand is defensive because of the diamonds.

David Matthews: Pass. And pass again if North doubles.

Same comment from Derek Pocock, Neil Pentland, Alexander Cook, Zbych Bednarek, Pat O'Connor and Bastiaan Korner.

Again, we do not have a full deal for this problem -- this one was provided by a reader with no details.

Hand Four - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) T9
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AT32
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q53
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QT87


West North East South
  1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
3NT 100 37 69
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 26 11
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 40 11 6
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 40 11 3
Pass 30 16 10
Other 0 0 1

As I mentioned earlier, we had seven readers score a perfect 500 this month. They were all from overseas -- Nigel Guthrie, Dean Pokorny, Malcolm Ewashkiw, Bram Amsel, Ig Nieuwenhuis, Jacco Hop, and Ron Lel (an Aussie living in Laos).

This is a remarkable result, even when you take into account the fact that our guest moderator, Jill Courtney, awarded the 100 points to two different bids on this problem. Just like the other Courtney, who guest-hosted a few years ago, Jill has little regard for old-fashioned traditions like "top vote, top score"!

The readers voted for 3NT in a landslide, but the panel were split 7-5 between the top two choices (3NT and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)). The 500-club were split 5 votes to 2: 

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is 5-5 at least. 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is barely in the frame. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely to be quite high enough. In context, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is likely to show a stop, so partner may even bid 3NT.

Jacco Hop: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think we have too much to pass and 3NT is too narrow minded. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could easily be the only game.

Bram Amsel & Malcolm Ewashkiw: 3NT.

Dean Pokorny: 3NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should show a decent hand with five spades and five diamonds, therefore 3NT is inevitable.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3NT. A bit light, but tells partner what I have.

Ron Lel: 3NT. I cannot conceive of passing or bidding anything else. In an expert panel this would be unanimous, but then again most experts would be playing good/bad.

The experts were far from unanimous, with barely a third of them bidding 3NT. The 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders had varying reasons for their choice, including doubt about strain, playing from partner's side, and the need to show strength:

Michael Smart: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is 5-5 or better, not to have balanced with a double. Show my initially unbiddable strength and keep 3NT in the picture.

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). North has 5-5, so 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ought to show a hand like this having passed originally.

Barbara Hunter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner can revert to spades if necessary.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too good for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Want partner to bid 3NT if that is right.

John R. Mayne: 3NT. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) shows zero points, while 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is overcommittal. Should 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) show this hand? I think it should show a penalty pass of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (as opposed to 3NT which shows this type of hand).

The majority was happy to just place the contract directly:

Nigel Kearney: 3NT. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could be better but a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) cue bid would endplay partner so my best guess is 3NT. At least I will have company.

Margaret Reid: 3NT. We have game, let's bid it.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. Seems obvious, partner has reversed and I am happy with my stoppers in both the outside suits.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. It looks mandatory; nevertheless, partner has the last word.

Martyn Rew: 3NT. About the same risk as any other bid, including pass, but greater potential reward.

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. Could pass, but there is a reasonable chance of nine tricks in 3NT.

Duncan Roe: 3NT. Has a reasonable chance, and this is Matchpoints. At IMPS I might have bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

JC Clement: 3NT. With a double stopper, I can't see any other bid, especially at Matchpoints.

Several people pointed out the value of the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)10, which as it happens did not actually exist at the table. South really held images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A9xx, but I added the ten because I thought it made a tougher problem (oops!).

Michael Burt: 3NT. The flattish shape, absence of controls (apart from images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A) and the intermediates suggest 3NT is the right place to be. There is a very good chance the A10 of hearts will be a double stop.

Peter Vlas: 3NT. This should have some play, with the ten of hearts.

Wayne Somerville: 3NT. Partner has a strong shapely hand and we have hearts double stopped, thanks to the ten. Plus it's Matchpoints.

Another positive for 3NT is the fact that partner (with our help) has two possible sources of tricks:

Daniel Skipper: 3NT. Partner should have good suits to bid like this and I'm hoping one of them will set up.

Ron Landgraff: 3NT. Hamman's rule. Partner should have a good distributional hand to bid at the three level vulnerable. I probably have a double stop. Either of his suits may run.

Archie Julien: 3NT. Honours in partner's suits, plus two stoppers against East's hearts and stuff in clubs possibly worth two stoppers, rate this hand too good for a simple choice that for all partner knows, might be on a bust.

Dan Baker: 3NT. Filler for partner's suits, two stoppers (and probably two in the unbid suit as well), and partner was willing to go to the 3-level when he didn't know I had anything. Seems obvious.

Murray Perrin: 3NT. Partner has show huge strength and shape and you have other suits blocked eg Q10xx in clubs should be a stopper.

Leigh Matheson: 3NT. If I’m wrong, at least I’ll be in good company. Now I can rely on good card play to get a good Matchpoint score.

This is the point where I'm supposed to make a joke about Leigh's card play, but after he cleaned me up on BBO last week I don't think I can get away with that.

Don Hinchey: 3NT. I'm not a big fan of "courtesy" raises with a doubleton. If partner has a "Marilyn Monroe" (i.e., a shapely hand), she will -- ahem -- reveal it.

Charles Scholl: 3NT. Partner will either pull to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with the good 6-4 I imagine she has, or leave it at 3NT with the strong more-balanced type. Either way we should be in good shape.

Sam Arber: 3NT. Have extra values after passing on the previous round.

Tania Black: 3NT. Right shape, and more value than partner knew last time.

Fraser Rew: 3NT. Ah, what exactly was I planning to do if Partner doubled? Go -470 against +140 or go +300 against +630? I think Double first time is better. Now that I've comprehensively endplayed myself, I have to take a stupid punt. I'm guessing we don't play good/bad 2NT, which doesn't help matters.

It's true, South could well have doubled on the previous round. Frank Campbell and Par Ol-Mars also objected to our failure to double on the last round, but chose different actions on this round:

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. This is the kind of problem created when you forget to double first round. Partner tends to be 5-5 but not so strong when he does not start with double.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is limited in my opinion and does not show a strong hand.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Pard is short in hearts but hasn't made a balancing double so I assume he has a distributional hand without high HCP. Hence 3NT might well be a stretch not worth risking at MPs.

The other minority choices were both showing spade support:

Frank Campbell: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3NT might make but if so 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should also make. Not sure why I passed last time. My cards should be working.

Pete McAllister: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Awkward. Prefer false preference to pass in case partner has extras, and hopefully he will be able to deduce why I passed on the first round if I support spades now.

Emil Battista: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I was asked to choose so I am choosing.

Tim Trahair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Shows preference. Our initial pass denies three spades and 10 HCP. Nevertheless game could be on in spades or notrump if North presses on.

Bridge Baron: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). True preference: simulation shows minus 164.57 on average in 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), minus 287.00 in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bridge Baron obviously isn't excited about going higher.

Lindsay Coker: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). East has hearts and clubs, so NT is a fright waiting to happen.

Kees Schaafsma: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It seems that 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes if 3NT makes but the reverse is not always true.

Robert Black: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner should not be too disappointed in dummy.

3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) each received two votes from the magazine's expert panel. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was backed by Frank Stewart and Peter Fordham; 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was the choice of our guest moderator and guest panellist (Jill Courtney and Paul Gipson).

The full deal:

spades AK8753
diamonds AK743
clubs 8
spades J64
hearts 85
diamonds 1086
clubs K9762
spades Q2
hearts KQJ1074
diamonds J92
clubs A10
spades 109
hearts A932
diamonds Q5
clubs QJ543


Hand Five - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK65
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J6542

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


Call Award %
Pass 100 68 66
3NT 80 32 18
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 0 3
Dbl 10 0 12
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 0 0 1

Our final problem may seem familiar to some of you, and not just because it's the kind of problem that comes up relentlessly at the table and in bidding forums. This deal has actually appeared in this column before, although this time we've put a new spin on it -- more details later. 

Peter Vlas: 3NT. Partner should be able to work out that I need values from him and my spade stopper will be no more than a single one.

Dan Baker: 3NT. Awkward hand. Going to need more luck than I deserve to make this, but 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is an equally large risk with a smaller payoff, double gets 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and minus a zillion, and pass is letting yourself be pushed around. Hope my teammates have given the opponents the same nasty problem.

Wayne Somerville: 3NT. Filthy, but we can't double with this and partner couldn't bid, implying short-ish hearts too, either that or a weak hand, in which case we're in trouble. But this is vulnerable at IMPs.

JC Clement: 3NT. If I double, I'm sure to hear 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)... With no singleton or void, 3NT looks better than a minor contract. Second option is to pass.

Ian Patterson: 3NT. For minors.

Charles Scholl: 3NT. Over 2M-3M this should be for the minors with at least this much strength.

Archie Julien: 3NT. To suggest minor suits. Both spade bids are pre-emptive, and I'm sitting here with 15 HCP. Partner easily has 10 HCP and we ought to be in game, even if partner passes.

Derek Pocock: 3NT. Avoiding takeout double, with minors therefore emphasised.

While Derek correctly points out that our failure to make a takeout double suggests some minor-suit length, a few of the earlier comments suggested that 3NT is actually artificial, for the minors. That is not a standard treatment, nor a sensible one. A natural 3NT will give us a chance of getting to 3NT, a very useful spot; an artificial 3NT is only useful if you want to play in a 4-level minor partscore (being unwilling to risk a 4NT bid). There are many ways to get to a minor-suit contract, but being able to reach 3NT is indispensable.

Michael Smart: Pass. Second choice - 3NT for the minors (I wish!)

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. I'd like to show my minors, but there is no way to do that.

This discussion is largely hypothetical though, as most people didn't think this hand justified any kind of bid.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. Too weak for 3NT, too off-shape for double.

Toby Weinstein: Pass. Tough to pass but not good enough for 3NT.

Ron Lel: Pass. What else, 3NT with no source of tricks, double with no heart suit? Please!

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. With the minor suit honours reversed, you might gamble 3NT. IMO that was a difficult set of problems.

Murray Perrin: Pass. Wrong shape to double and not strong enough for 3NT, if hand was full of nines and tens then 3NT might work

Tania Black: Pass. 15 HCP and a spade stopper, but 3NT is too risky.

Leigh Matheson: Pass. Any action will likely receive a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) reply from partner.

Duncan Roe: Pass. Dbl gives West an easy pass and we likely end in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x down for a number. Partner doesn't have a trap pass with long spades.

Tim Trahair: Pass. It looks as if EW may have nearly 20 HCP and East is trying to buy the contract. Against that we seem unlikely to have enough firepower to make a partscore in the minors.

Michael Burt: Pass. North's pass is a concern. If East's 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) has 3-card support then North only has two spades and couldn't find a bid (double with a 4432 distribution or bid a 5-card suit). Game our way looks a very marginal proposition given South only has two hearts. Let them have a partscore (at IMPs).

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Not man enough to venture 3NT, which is the only sensible alternative.

Emil Battista: Pass. Slowly. Double will fetch an unwelcome number of Hearts, 3NT an overbid and 4NT for the minors will probably get us too high. So wimping out with a pass.

A few people were happy to leave our side's involvement to partner (or on a good day, the opponents):

Margaret Reid: Pass. The opponents might keep bidding, then I can double.

Bridge Baron: Pass. If we have game, partner may well have a hand good enough to balance.

Damo Nair: Pass. Sometimes you are fixed. Maybe North will balance.

David Matthews: Pass. Will take my chances. Partner can still bid.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Too much down side to double since game is doubtful our way and if West is short in diamonds they may make. Partner is still there, maybe he has a minor suit hand. At Pairs, I would double.

Don Hinchey: Pass. Hopefully in tempo. E-W have won the battle; now let's see who wins the war.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Pard is short in spades but hasn't taken any action in first seat so doesn't have great strength. If she has some shape she'll balance in pass out seat so I'm sitting tight at this stage and will wait to see if there is any more action.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. I hope partner will balance. On a bad day he will pass and we can make slam in a minor.

Most people just trusted in the long-run winning strategy of taking a plus score:

Michael Davy: Pass. Defending looks more rewarding.

Tony Treloar: Pass. Would like to know who my partner is and their style over pre-empts. If they can't take action over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I doubt we can make anything so I'll take my score in hundreds (hopefully).

Robert Black: Pass. Hoping for a plus score. Any bid now increases my chance of a minus.

Jacco Hop: Pass. 9 tricks is a lot and partner will often bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) after double and we are likely to go down. Pass is likely our last plus score. If we have game it will be hard to bid the right one anyway.

Martyn Rew: Pass. If partner has enough to make this hand contract-worthy at the required level, then 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely to go light as well. In so saying, a double is very high risk against a potentially small reward. Game seems very unlikely, and steering towards the correct game is even less likely.

Barbara Hunter: Pass. Don't like my lousy club suit if partner has a trick we could take them down.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Too dangerous to bid with heart shortage. Should take 3 spades down.

John R. Mayne: Pass. They got us.

Ken Berry and a collection of young Kiwis (Nigel Kearney, Daniel Skipper, Fraser Rew) all gave similar comments, along the lines of "sometimes preempts work". Preempts certainly do work, and a few readers recognised just how well this one is working:

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. Opposite the hand from Problem Two (which is possible, though we would have some duplicated pips) this would produce 6clubs. However, partner seldom has the magic hand. If this is our hand I hope to get something on defense.

Henri de Jong: 3NT. If this hand corresponds with Hand Two it sure doesn't leave much for East other than length in spades. If Hand Two bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) we'll get to 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Sam Arber: 3NT. Is this the other hand from Problem Two, when 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) can be made? Difficult hand to bid, 3NT stab in dark.

Nicely spotted; this is the hand from Problem Two, from partner's point of view. Here is the full deal again, inverted to reflect the new South hand:

spades 5
hearts Q976
diamonds 76
clubs AK8763
spades KQJ982
hearts J843
diamonds 83
clubs J
spades 10764
hearts A107
diamonds QJ1092
clubs Q
spades A3
hearts K5 
diamonds AK54
clubs 109542
West North East South
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass
pass pass    

North (the hand from Problem Two) had a 2nd chance to bid when 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was passed back to him, but he again declined and passed out 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for +100.

Who is to blame for missing the North-South game/slam? Tim Cope said that North should bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on the 2nd round, while eleven of the expert panel felt North should have bid the first time (five of those also thought South's pass should share the blame). Eric Kokish said South was 100% at fault for not bidding 3NT, and seven panellists agreed that both hands were correct to pass, despite the result.

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 August 2011
1Nigel Guthrie GBR500
1Dean Pokorny CRO500
1Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN500
1Bram Amsel BEL500
1Ig Nieuwenhuis NED500
1Ron Lel LAO500
1Jacco Hop NED500
8Murray Perrin Qld490
8Geof Brod USA490
8Valter Johansson SWE490
11John R. Mayne USA480
11Fredrik Jarlvik SWE480
11Tom Moss NSW480
11Johnny Petersson SWE480
15Derek Pocock WA470
15Pat O'Connor NSW470
15Peter Vlas NED470
15Zbych Bednarek POL470
15Don Hinchey USA470
15Bastiaan Korner NED470
21Dominic Connolly NSW460
21Mark Laforge IND460
21Peter Stride Qld460
21Tom Kiss NSW460
25Henri De Jong Vic450
25Paul Freeland NZL450
25R. Samuel Leopold Stein 450
25Ron Landgraff USA450
25Peter Tarlinton NSW450
30JC Clement 440
30Gary Lane NSW440
30Fraser Rew NZL440
30Barbara Hunter NSW440
30David Winter Vic440
36Ingerun Sjosvard SWE430
36Pontus Silow SWE430
36Roger Yandle NSW430
36David Matthews WA430
36Par Ol-Mars THA430
36Conny Wahlgren SWE430
36Arthur Porter SA430
36Pravin Nahar NSW430
36Alex Kemeny NSW430
36Kay O'Connor NSW430
36Dan Wälivaara SWE430
36Leigh Matheson NSW430
36Daniel Skipper NZL 430
49Larissa Cowlishaw ACT420
49Kees Schaafsma 420
49Peter Nuoristo SWE420
49Rainer Herrmann GER420
49Niklas Andrén 420
49Stephan Winkler 420
49Gareth Birdsall GBR420
49Tom Estenson USA420
49Wayne Somerville IRL420
49Guy Herzmark GBR420
49Wilma Domjan ACT420
60Alexander Cook NSW410
60Ken Berry NSW410
60Niek Van Vucht ACT410
60Jack Lai 410
60Michael Davy Vic410
60John Sheean NSW410
60Paul Janicki CAN410
67Neil Pentland Qld400
67David Johnson CAN400
67Toby Weinstein USA400
67Peter Qvist SWE400
67Bruce Ballard 400
67Michael Smart ACT400
73Bill Patch 390
73Peter Lipp 390
73David Read NSW390
73Damo Nair USA390
73Nigel Kearney NZL390
73Dave Taylor NZL390
73Margaret Reid NSW390
73Leigh Blizzard Tas390
73Elin Claessen SWE390
73Leon Slonim Vic390
73Jim Thatcher NSW390
73Sam Arber Vic390

Leading scores for 2011
1Nigel Guthrie GBR1830
1Dean Pokorny CRO1830
3Mark Laforge IND1820
4Jacco Hop NED1810
5Gareth Birdsall GBR1800
6Peter Stride Qld1790
7Fredrik Jarlvik SWE1760
8Leigh Matheson NSW1750
8Conny Wahlgren SWE1750
8Nigel Kearney NZL1750
11Valter Johansson SWE1740
12Henri De Jong Vic1730
13Ron Lel LAO1710
13Dominic Connolly NSW1710
13Paul Janicki CAN1710
16Tom Estenson USA1700
16Derek Pocock WA1700
16Wayne Somerville IRL1700
16Ingerun Sjosvard SWE1700
20Ig Nieuwenhuis NED1690
20Rainer Herrmann GER1690
22Roger Yandle NSW1680
23Tom Moss NSW1670
24Tony Treloar Qld1660
24Par Ol-Mars THA1660
24Bram Amsel BEL1660
27Fraser Rew NZL1650
27Arthur Porter SA1650
29Peter Tarlinton NSW1640
30Peter Vlas NED1630
31Paul Freeland NZL1620
31Murray Perrin Qld1620
33Michael Yuen NSW1610
33Tom Rushford Vic1610
35Leigh Blizzard Tas1600
35Malcolm Ewashkiw CAN1600
37Rick Giles USA1590
37Niek Van Vucht ACT1590
39Ian Patterson Qld1580
40Peter Nuoristo SWE1570
40Peter Qvist SWE1570
40Gary Lane NSW1570
43Damo Nair USA1560
43Jack Lai 1560
45Charles Scholl USA1550
45Kajsa Larson SWE1550
45Tom Kiss NSW1550
48Kay O'Connor NSW1540
48Pat O'Connor NSW1540
48Zbych Bednarek POL1540
48David Johnson CAN1540
52Ken Berry NSW1530
52Frank Campbell NSW1530
52Dan Baker USA1530
55Barbara Hunter NSW1520
56Martyn Rew NZL1510
56Elin Claessen SWE1510
56Trish Whitton NSW1510
59Sam Arber Vic1500
59Michael Burt ACT1500
59Guy Herzmark GBR1500
62Bastiaan Korner NED1490
63Ron Landgraff USA1480
64Margaret Reid NSW1470
65Toby Weinstein USA1460
65Rick Lu NSW1460
65Tania Black SA1460
65Robert Black SA1460
69Pontus Silow SWE1450
70Tim Trahair NSW1440
71Andrew Macalister GBR1430
71Tim Runting Qld1430
71Dan Wälivaara SWE1430
75Jim Thatcher NSW1420
75Manuel Paulo POR1420
75John Sheean NSW1420
78John R. Mayne USA1390
78Duncan Roe Vic1390
80Geof Brod USA1370
80Alex Kemeny NSW1370
82Don Hinchey 1350
83Julian Gauld NSW1340
84Joe Gold WA1310
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 October-November issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your August-September issue to see what the experts said about this month's hands.