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April 2019

Readers' Bidding Forum with Nigel Kearney, April 2019

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, Frank Stewart,
Eddie Kantar, and Zia Mahmood, as well as many top Australian players.

The moderators of this forum are Brad Coles, Nigel Kearney and Fraser Rew.
This month's moderator is Nigel Kearney.

Click here to submit        
answers for June          

                Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 84
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T942
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQ2
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K65

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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 60 69
Pass 80 20 8
2NT 60 13 11
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 40 7 6
Other 0 0 7

We have another collection of finely balanced competitive decisions this month.

The first decision on this hand is whether we want to pass and hope for a reopening double so we can try to get a penalty from 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If not, we have a choice of constructive actions. First, the penalty seekers:

Peter Lipp: Pass. Hoping to hear double from partner.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. I don't have an easy bid. Let's try a trap pass (with hope of a reopening double and kiss of death ... tasty 200/500)

Tony Treloar: Pass. I seem to have a lot of defense so I'll pass (in tempo) and pass the re-opening double if it comes. I should have a clearcut game bid over any other action partner takes.

Phil Hocking: Pass. Trap pass?

The risk here is that partner is not forced to reopen and may just pass with a balanced minimum. The scoring is IMPs so the gain may be small even if everything goes according to plan. Of course, game is not certain either. With two minimum opening hands with no fit and an opponent holding a long suit and most of the outstanding strength, we could be headed for a minus if we declare. An undoubled 200 or 300 is not a disaster even if we do have game. If you are playing against an opponent who overcalls 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on the sort of hand that East actually held, it would be a pity to miss out on all the juicy penalties.

Only one passer did not wish to defend:

Pravin Nahar: Pass. If partner doubles, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (stopper-asking) is my next bid

In that case you may as well double immediately and eliminate the risk of defending 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) undoubled. We won't always have a perfect hand for a negative double and this is close enough. Double was the majority choice of both experts and readers:

Allan Simon : Dbl. And then, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to ask for a partial stopper (I hope partner sees it the same way)

Todd Holes: Dbl. Double is flawed, but it keeps the ball rolling.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Double showing support for the minors and two or fewer spades. Will be delighted if North can repeat his spades.

John R. Mayne: Dbl. I admire the passers; they may be right. Still, there are lots of good things that can happen after a double - one of which is right-siding notrump.

Damo Nair: Dbl. I have diamonds and three clubs. Double seems like the only logical bid here.

Bradley Johnston: Dbl. I have points, I don't have support, I don't have a trap pass of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What else?

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. I have to compete and although my hand is flawed this seems the best way to keep our side in the bidding.

Rainer Herrmann: Dbl. I see no real alternative to double. The problem will often come on the next round.

Kees Schaafsma: Dbl. I would rather bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but my guess is that the field will double.

Robert Black: Dbl. Keeping it low, as West may have some Heart ruffs

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Least bad call

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Dbl. Least lie, and at least it's forcing

Neil Silverman : Dbl. Must admit, I can't think of another bid.

Ron Lel: Dbl. My plan is to bid 3NT over partner's 2NT, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over partner's 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Brian Lawless: Dbl. No guarantee of a good penalty from defending 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X (following partner's re-opening X)

Julian Foster: Dbl. Nothing else makes any sense to me. The worst that can happen is if partner bids clubs, then I can bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to find out more.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. Seems pretty clear. You don't need perfect shape when you have extra values. The problem is whether partner would guess to bid 3NT on half a stopper if it continues -2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dan Baker: Dbl. Tempting to blast NT right away - after all, a stiff J in partner's hand is all I need for a stopper - but by taking the scenic route we give partner a better chance of judging when to run from NT.

Ian Patterson: Dbl. Then 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over partner's 3 minor or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) after 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Steve Robinson: Dbl. This hand is worth forcing to game and double is my first start.

Peter: Dbl. This one is easy, what's the problem. In Dutch style it's a negative dbl and this hand is fine for that. After 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from partner life might be a bit more complicated but not now

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. Tough problem, so many reasonable options available.

Cathy Hocking: Dbl. We have the balance of points. If partner bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) showing 6 spades then we are in for game in spades. I have both diamonds and clubs and if partner chooses either one of them I can support.

Keith Je: Dbl. we need to be in 3nt or 4s. Please describe your hand further partner

David Matthews: Dbl. We need to elicit more information about partner's hand before deciding what to do next.

As long as there is a game, the double will get us there and right siding 3NT could be important if partner has Ax or Kxx of hearts. This was the point made by Larry Cohen in the magazine. Therefore I don't agree with this:

Roger Yandle: 2NT. I'm tempted to pass but that just puts off what to do until next round when partner re-opens with a double. My heart stopper isn't robust but as little as a singleton honour from partner or doubleton honour from LHO will make it good.

This is right on values and was chosen by two experts, but without a trick source we'll probably need a double heart stop so partner should declare.

David Caprera: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bidding my 5 card suit.

Leigh Matheson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Gets the message across - keep talking partner.

Patrice Fincias: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Natural and forcing.

The 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid is unorthodox but will usually lead to the same outcome as double so it's harsh that it only scores 40. We can bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) from partner and there might be some 5134 hands where 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will work better than double.

The one thing I would not do is this:

Martyn Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Have you got a stopper for NT? keen to get the request in before 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) from West.

Alan Mace: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner bids 3NT with half a hold or rebids spades or minor.

Tania Black: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We could have a game somewhere, but will pass partner's 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

AB Standard doesn't mention this but I think it is common practice to treat this as a good spade raise, and start with a negative double or new suit on the hands that need a stopper.

As usual, this month's hands are from Paul Lavings, and, despite the fact that they all follow a common theme, they are all from real play in the past few months.

This one is from a duplicate game at Kings and Queens:

spades QJ10732
hearts A7
diamonds J108
clubs AQ
spades 95
hearts Q6
diamonds 976
clubs J97432
spades AK6
hearts KJ853
diamonds 543
clubs 108
spades 84
hearts 10942
diamonds AKQ2
clubs K65

Most of the field bid and made 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No one defended hearts, but I doubt there were any other Easts bidding hearts (even at the actual table conditions, which were nil vul).

Hand Two - North deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 73
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q85
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q74
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ532

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


Call Award %
Pass 100 40 31
3NT 90 40 38
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 13 14
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 50 0 12
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 7 0
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 50 0 4

This is a good example of a common type of problem. 3NT is the most likely game but we'll be overboard if partner has a shapely minimum double. Pass could be a top or a bottom. Then there is the wimpy option of 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (the one I chose). The expert panel was evenly split between pass and 3NT.

Ron Lel: 3NT. As much as I dislike a thrunt bid here, there is little else left. Pass is absurd and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) seems to be aiming for a very small target.

David Caprera: 3NT. Bob Hamman would agree.

Rainer Herrmann: 3NT. Follow Hamman's rule

Dean Pokorny: 3NT. Hard to tell if 3NT is better than passing, it depends a bit on partner's style.

Todd Holes: 3NT. How does it go, something something 3NT Hamman?

Alex Kemeny: 3NT. I have the heart stopper that partner seeks, an insufficient heart holding to want to play for penalty, and good playing strength.

Patrice Fincias: 3NT. In MP I have to try the most lucrative contract. No space to receive more information.

John R. Mayne: 3NT. Let's shoot for the brass ring. Hearts look 2=1=7=3 around the table which poses hazards - they can duck the first heart forcing me to be able to run two suits. Passing aims for a narrow target, but not as narrow as 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), which looks really wrong.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. Looks like the best chance for game. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) seems a little gutless.

Tania Black: 3NT. Partner is strong; knows I have passed. A nine trick game is suggested.

Neil Silverman : 3NT. Passing could be the winner but I will take my best shot for game in 3nt

Fraser Rew: 3NT. What am I missing? Sure, 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) could be making, but it seems a long way off.

David Matthews: 3NT. With game likely on, passing for +500 is not enough.

Julian Foster: 3NT. Yuck. Everything is horrible but at least 3NT will score well when it's right and now is our only chance to get there.

Three people mentioned Hamman's rule, which says choose 3NT whenever that is a reasonable alternative. Of course the reasonableness of 3NT depends on our expectations from partner's double. After you rule out 15-17 balanced, which would have opened 1NT, the set of hands for partner where 3NT is best look pretty small to me.

If we don't have a game we can probably get five tricks on defence so passing the double could easily be right:

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. +200 (more?) is a good thing to aim for

Peter Lipp: Pass. If we have a game, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should go down enough, and if not, I expect to make +200

Keith Je: Pass. i expect them to go at least 1 off.

Kees Schaafsma: Pass. In my book North's double shows convertible values, often with 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). AKxxxx/x/Kxxx/Kx may be enough. With 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) North needs to be stronger.

Bradley Johnston: Pass. It's matchpoints, my scores allowed to end in 30 every now and then.

Dan Baker: Pass. Matchpoint gamble. 3NT could be right, but five tricks are probably easier than nine.

Steve Robinson: Pass. Matchpoints and why not try for +200?

Pravin Nahar: Pass. Pairs Bid !!

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. seems easier collect 6 tricks at defense, than at least 10 in attack..

Brian Lawless: Pass. Seems the most likely plus score. No guarantee of making 3NT even though it looks attractive.

Damo Nair: Pass. Should be able to get +200 out of this?! Values are a bit soft, but 3NT seems a bit far with any clear fit.

Emil Battista: Pass. Slowly :)

Charles Scholl: Pass. Tempting to bid 3NT, but I probably need partner to have a 1NT opener and well-positioned cards for that to work. I expect a plus score by passing.

Roger Yandle: Pass. this might get us 200 but it could also backfire but I'm not sure anything else has a better chance. 3NT might make but it could also go for a bundle when 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) isn't making.

Getting 200 or even 500 is not necessarily a top. We could have a game in spades or clubs. If pass is wrong we probably get a bottom. I like partner to reopen aggressively with a shortage and don't want to discourage that. For those of us who wish to live to fight another day there is this option:

Martyn Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)X left in could end up very ugly for us. NT not looking likely here

Cathy Hocking: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Giving partner my best suit, but with an eight loser I am reluctant to bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner is stronger then he can take it to 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Robert Black: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I usually take out T/O doubles.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). In pursuit of a plus score.

Alan Jones: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Was that a really loud double?

This seems sensible to me. We have a suitable hand for a club contract opposite a takeout double but I think it is not quite strong enough to bid game in clubs.

Phil Hocking: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). After previous question it would be the double I was awaiting. Alas not as useful a hand for penalties. Partner has invited a response and is unlikely to have too many hearts.

The other possible part score is 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). To me this is less encouraging than 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and also less likely to be a successful part score with partner getting forced in the long trump hand.

Christine: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Delayed support. Unlikely to have a strong enough stopper in Hs for NT

Tim Trahair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Three spades, perhaps the least worse bid open to us. I don't like to show our clubs as that puts us past 3NT and 3NT would be very thin unless North has a heart honour.

The full deal, also from Kings and Queens:

spades AJ6542
hearts A
diamonds A92
clubs Q86
spades Q9
hearts K7
diamonds KJ10865
clubs 974
spades K108
hearts J1096432
diamonds 3
clubs K10
spades 73
hearts Q85
diamonds Q74
clubs AJ532

One player passed the double, for 500. The rest of the field played in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), going down at every table but one.

Hand Three - West deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QT9
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A8742
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KT853
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ---

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


Call Award %
Pass 100 80 54
1NT 50 13 30
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 7 11
Dbl 0 0 4

Our choices here are a highly offshape 1NT, an overbid of 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), or pass - intending to either pass a reopening double or jump in diamonds. First the 1NT bidders:

Michael Burt: 1NT. 6-9 points with a heart stopper.

Roger Yandle: 1NT. 6-9 points, heart stopper, < 4 spades, what's not to like?

Allan Simon : 1NT. All alternatives seem even worse

Niek Van Vucht: 1NT and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if partner bids 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Kees Schaafsma: 1NT. By far the most difficult partscore to defend against and minus 50 may be a good score. If I pass West may bid 1NT for a bad score!

Martyn Rew: 1NT. Confirms the lack of a 4 card spade suit and the heart stop

Keith Je: 1NT. I don't want to raise partner's expectations (and I'd like to grab 1NT before LHO does). This is clearly our contract, however it will probably get competitive, so I'll keep options open.

Peter: 1NT. Piece of cake? By no means a penalty pass or neg. dbl and too little for 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Anything else seems ludicrous.

Tania Black: 1NT. Seven tricks should be available despite our club misfit.

John R. Mayne: 1NT. We can win the race to 1N here. At nil vul, passing's really unattractive - even if we get the dream result of 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x, we haven't gotten a good board yet. Anything gets us too high too quickly, and I'm not joining the doublers because the 4-3 spade fit melts down once they lead trumps.

Fraser Rew: 1NT. With some partners I can bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show no clear direction, but that's obviously not standard. I'm not trapping with no trump intermediates, I'm not doubling with fewer than four spades when there's a viable alternative, I'm not stretching to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with a poor suit, a misfit and only 9 points, so 1NT it is. If partner pulls to 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), I can always bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

The eight of hearts could come in handy as a stopper eventually, but there's a good chance diamonds will play better because we can ruff those heart losers. I'm thinking of a hand such as KJxx x QJx Axxxx.

If partner doesn't have diamonds, he probably has a lot of clubs and will be rebidding them. A free 1NT also tends to suggest a more balanced hand, and we don't want to encourage partner to rebid clubs or to believe his semi-solid clubs will run.

To bid a forcing 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) now would force the auction to 2NT or the three level when we may only have half the deck and a misfit. One expert did choose this so it scores a rather generous 30.

Alex Kemeny: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A touch light on points but good shape. Heart spots not good enough for a penalty pass.

Cathy Hocking: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Giving partner my 5 card suit. and showing minimum points. I have a nice hand and if we find a fit maybe 5 diamonds is on.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Showing partner we have 5 Ds, 10 or so HCP and no support for his Cs.

Phil Hocking: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Starting to look like partner should be able to support me in diamonds so awaiting the reply.

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Passing only postpones the problem to 1 round later. I can't play 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled with such weak intermediates.

The reasoning does not convince me. I agree with not defending 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled but It's quite likely the problem is how to stop in 1NT, 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on a misfit and bidding 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) makes all of those impossible.

Finally the choice of 12 out of 15 expert panellists:

Tony Treloar: Pass. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks a little frisky-not sure what to do over partner's re-opening double, cross that bridge when it comes.

Steve Robinson: Pass. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would get us too high.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. Hopefully partner will double and I will pass. But 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 1NT are good alternatives

Ron Lel: Pass. I think pass is the best option, followed closely by 1NT.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. If partner passes out 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with 12-14 balanced, defending 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will be good enough. If partner doubles instead, I will jump to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). However, if I knew that double here denies 4 spades, I would rather double - aiming for a Moysian partial contract in spades (which always scores a top).

Alan Mace: Pass. If partner wishes to compete she will double which i can leave in.

Bradley Johnston: Pass. If we belong anywhere then partner will have more to say - doubling with 3550 is weird (not saying you need 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); just saying if you don't it should be a takeout X of Hs - not holding 5 of them), 1N with a club void terrible, and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is very committal with no guaranteed fits and not very many points.

David Matthews: Pass. Let's see what partner does. I can't double as that would show 4+ Spades. I can still bid 1NT if partner bids 1 Spade or Doubles. There is also the possibility of a reasonable penalty if East bids Hearts again.

Brian Lawless: Pass. Let's wait and see what partner produces

Charles Scholl: Pass. Looks like a misfit and any bid now will confuse shape or strength. Will bid 1NT if partner doubles.

Robert Black: Pass. No fit yet, and partner has another chance.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Nothing else makes much sense, though I do not aim for defending 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled.

Neil Silverman : Pass. Nothing looks appealing so will pass and bid 3d over partners double.

Emil Battista: Pass. Starting to feel like the Monks who took vows of silence!

David Caprera: Pass. The auction isn't over. I will pass if partner rebids 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if he doubles.

Todd Holes: Pass. The auction will not end here. Let's see what develops.

Alan Jones: Pass. The bidding is not about to stop. I think it will be easier to judge the right action next time round.

Peter Lipp: Pass. This time I am not going to pass, should a X come around....

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. trapping pass

Arthur Porter: Pass. Trusting P to re open with a double.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Unanimous?

Patrice Fincias: Pass. Wait and see. Void in partner's opening not very attractive.

Julian Foster: Pass. Depends a lot on methods. These days double is often a hand with some values and not 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is just 4+ spades. If that is our method then I'll double. But I expect it isn't (i.e. I suspect X would show 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would show 5) then I will pass and jump to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if partner reopens with the expected double. 1NT would express the strength but it feels too warped with 55 (including not very good H) and a void in partner's suit.

That last comment summarises the case for pass pretty well. There is no consensus on what to do if partner doubles - we could pass, or bid 1NT, 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To me it looks like 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is best when we know partner has some diamonds and we're limited by our previous pass. We could still have a guess if LHO bids 1NT and/or partner rebids 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).


Dan Baker: Dbl. With most of my partners I have a nonforcing 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) available here (big hands double and bid the suit later), but without that agreement it seems likely to get us in over our heads. If double lands us in a Moysian, it may play just fine on a crossruff.

This shows spades. A 4-3 might be ok but we could be playing a 3-3 on trump leads and it will be hard to get to either diamonds or NT which look like the most promising denominations for us.

The full deal, from a Nationwide Pairs session at Illawarra:

spades 65
hearts 10
diamonds AJ2
clubs AKQ9753
spades K743
hearts Q9
diamonds Q74
clubs J642
spades AJ82
hearts KJ653
diamonds 96
clubs 108
spades Q109
hearts A8742
diamonds K10853

The 19 tables produced 15 different results, with one pair bidding and making game (3NT, although 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is also possible). The most common results were in clubs, making a partscore or failing in game.

Hand Four - East deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 874
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 8632
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AK2
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ8

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

   2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = natural weak two.  

Call Award %
Pass 100 53 40
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 60 13 34
3NT 60 7 5
2NT 60 0 7
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 50 20 5
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 20 7 9
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 0 0 1

This is the fourth hand with an actual or hypothetical double in the passout seat from partner. Standard practice is to do this fairly aggressively, up to 2-3 HCP weaker than in the direct seat. So we don't necessarily have values for game. We also don't have a heart stopper or a suit that is known to be playable.

A further complication is our lack of agreements (the AB Standard notes simply say "Lebensohl"). We can bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 3NT directly, or bid 2NT first. A partnership should discuss the difference between these. Here we really don't want LHO on lead against 3NT if partner has something like AKxx Kx xxx KJxx, so the most attractive strong action is:

Dan Baker: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Argh. NT is wrong-siding even if partner does have a stop, passing with these garbage trump seems ill-advised, a minimum bid understates our values dramatically, and I'm not jumping on a three-card suit.

Cathy Hocking: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cue bid. Letting partner I have 3,3,4,3 with opening strength points and leaving it up to partner to choose which suit he would prefer as I can support all three suits.

Alex Kemeny: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Denying a spade suit and asking for a heart stopper, therefore with good minor suit values.

Niek Van Vucht: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). game values

Charles Scholl: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good hand but no clear bid of my own, so get more information from partner.

Allan Simon : 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping for something good to happen. I plan to pass if partner rebids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), as I like partners to balance with the right shape even if a bit under strength, and spades could break very badly.

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I would've passed 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled, I think. But the 2 level is far riskier. Who knows what North has in 4th seat.

Julian Foster: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not sure what the methods are here. Maybe this will get something useful out of partner. But I have a nasty feeling we are going to end in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in a 4-3 fit with the long trump hand being forced! Mind you it could still make if the defenders cannot continue the force and one of the minors can be used as substitute trumps.

Phil Hocking: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner pick your suit.

Steve Robinson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The better problem is what to do when partner bids 3 spades over 3 hearts.

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is a nasty hand, but I see no option but this bid. I am very curious to see what people come up with here. What to do after 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? I have no idea?

Tania Black: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We appear to have enough for game- somewhere.

Neil Silverman : 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Will raise to 5 of a minor and probably pass 3s and hope for best over 3s.

Fraser Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Yeah, sometimes he's minimum and this gets us overboard. But with such a good hand, I don't think I can do less. Pass is mildly tempting, but they probably have six heart tricks, and if that's all they're getting, we can probably make slam.

There was one 2NT bidder:

Nigel Guthrie: 2NT. Delaying difficult decisions. But tempted to pass the 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) puppet. Partner is unlikely to hold 5 spades and A 4-3 or 3-3 minor fit might play better than a similar spade fit.

Partner will usually bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and you have the same problem again without the option to defend and having wrong sided a possible 3NT.

If we don't want to commit to game we could try this:

Christine: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Our 2NT bid denied 8 HCPs so I'd have to bid a suit to show points. It won't be passed by partner.

David Matthews: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Passing could well give us +200. The danger is that partner has 5 Spades and a hand too good to balance with just 2 Spades. I play Lebensohl so 3 Clubs is game forcing.

This was chosen by three experts. When 2NT is Lebensohl, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows values but is not forcing. If partner passes we can probably scramble nine tricks on a dummy reversal and at least get a plus. However, most experts and readers chose the pass:

Peter Lipp: Pass and lead a heart.

Ian Patterson: Pass and lead a Heart

Patrice Fincias: Pass. EW vul. Expect to get 2 down.

David Caprera: Pass. Glad it is matchpoints. Trust the law and all that.

Martyn Rew: Pass. Hard to think that there is a better place for us to be.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. hoping he doesn't have a strong 1-suiter and we're missing slam, but we'll probably beat any game-score

Michael Burt: Pass. I have a defensive hand with no ruffing values. For us to make game 4 spades is the most obvious possibility and I would need partner to have 5 spades. This doesn't look promising. I choose to defend given the vulnerability.

Kees Schaafsma: Pass. If we can make 3NT, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is likely to go 2 down. And I have a good lead with the Ace of Diamonds and I can switch to a trump in time.

Brian Lawless: Pass. Looks like a plus score. Bad breaks seem likely in any of our suits

Tim Trahair: Pass. North probably has an opening hand, EW are vulnerable and we may be able to set them by 2 tricks.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Obvious trump lead.

Alan Jones: Pass. Take the money.

Todd Holes: Pass. Take the plus.

Peter: Pass. Top tricks, they vulnerable, no spade fit. What else? trump start, 2 off?

Robert Black: Pass. We have most of the points, but no obvious suit contract, so I am tempted at Matchpoints; would not be at imps.

Bradley Johnston: Pass. We probably aren't making game, hearts are 1642 or 2641 around the table (no raise). At most 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) stop, and the long hand getting tapped in every trump suit. Hopefully i don't double a second partscore into game in this poll

Roger Yandle: Pass. yuk! It's not often you're dealt 13hcp and you're unhappy especially after partner shows some values. Nothing looks good so I'm going to gamble that we can take them off on hcp alone. Just as well its MPs.

John R. Mayne: Pass. We're about 55% to set this, which seems like not enough to shoot, but all other options are awful.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. If we have a game, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x with a trump lead should often be +500.

"Should often be +500" seems optimistic but "55% to set this" is pessimistic. I expect to usually get 200 and there's considerable doubt about whether we have a game and can find it.

Alan Mace: 3NT. denies a heart hold. If partner has hold she passes.Bids 4 card suit if no hold.

Conny Wahlgren: 3NT. Lebensohl.

Leigh Blizzard: 3NT. Lebensohl (AB Standard), denies stopper.

Tony Treloar: 3NT. This shows the values for 3NT and denies the stop, doesn't it? Neatly transfers the problem to partner.

With the right agreements, this could be ok if partner had doubled in the direct seat and we were under the 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidder. But not when the double is in the fourth seat and the partner of the 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidder gets to lead through partner's hypothetical stopper.

The full deal, from the Gold Coast Senior Pairs Final:

spades AJ32
hearts 95
diamonds Q73
clubs KJ76
spades K10965
hearts K
diamonds J10865
clubs 105
spades Q
hearts AQJ1074
diamonds 94
clubs 9432
spades 874
hearts 8632
diamonds AK2
clubs AQ8

We can make 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but we have 500 available against 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on perfect defence.

Hand Five - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KJT76
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A8
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQJ87
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A
West North East South
1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
dbl * pass 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ?

   Dbl = support double (three-card heart support).     

Call Award %
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 47 16
Dbl 80 27 18
Pass 30 20 38
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 7 24
2NT 30 0 3
Other 0 0 1

The opponents are still bidding hearts, and if we got the first four problems right, they are still hoping for a plus score. This hands looks like their best chance to get one.We had a very good hand when we picked it up but LHO has bid our best suit and partner could not raise our spades, or do anything else. We might have doubled last time but that ship has sailed.

It seems a shame to sell out to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but there is no obvious alternative:

Tania Black: Pass. 19 HCPs and no suitable bid. Partner has 3 points max.

Phil Hocking: Pass. Any other option could have a higher cost.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. Cannot X as I cannot support clubs. In IMPs it doesn't pay to go for the unlikely 110 vs a possible +100

Patrice Fincias: Pass. Even with this huge hand, my diamonds are badly placed.

Alan Mace: Pass. Glade i don't have partners hand.

Peter Lipp: Pass. Had I doubled earlier, I could have bid spades now. Now I may well get higher than I can afford if I tried

David Matthews: Pass. I would have doubled first as, in principle, I don't like overcalls with 19 points. The range is too wide to make any meaningful future bidding decisions. Now I am snookered and must either Pass or bid 3 Diamonds. Partner would know 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is natural but it might run into a nasty penalty so pass it is.

Christine: Pass. It's unlikely partner has even 2 points.

Roger Yandle: Pass. looks like partner is a bust. Even if she has some spade support I'm not sure we can make anything. If West has the spades then we'll be in real trouble if we speak now.

Todd Holes: Pass. Nowhere left to go.

Arthur Porter: Pass. Partner must be broke so best to defend.

Brian Lawless: Pass. Partner heard my (vulnerable) bid and couldn't scrape up 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or a double. Possible heavy penalty if I bid on.

Robert Black: Pass. Partner is broke. We have chances of scoring minus 140 or plus 50 defending 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and minus 200 or minus 300 in 2 Spades.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. Partner should have close zero points (even without spade support)

Cathy Hocking: Pass. Reluctantly I think the best thing to do is pass as I only have 1 club and if I double partner will more than likely bid clubs which would be disastrous. Phil has been very quiet in the bidding and I think I might get into trouble if I choose to double or bid. I will defend instead and shut up for once.

Michael Burt: Pass. The bidding suggests that partner has very little in points and probably length in clubs. I'd expect to be down if I bid and we are vulnerable.

Alan Jones: Pass. Unless partner can do something, nothing is making our way, and I'm not sure that we can take 6 tricks in defence.

John R. Mayne: Pass. West has three hearts, and therefore at least four diamonds. Partner is likely entryless. It's tempting to push - as little as Qxx xxxx T9x xxx puts us in play for 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). But xx Qxxx 64 Qxxxx could lead us to a very ugly 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x. There will be people who double who correct 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and I think that's pretty sensibly played as natural. But partner will sometimes have a lot of clubs and bid more clubs and you will be very sad. If you're not passing, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is clear - and not at as much risk of being misinterpreted.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. What else?

People open and respond much lighter than they used to, so I can't agree with some of these estimates of partner's maximum strength. Eleven with LHO and three with LHO leaving seven for partner is possible, though of course it won't usually be that much. Maybe we should try again:

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think this hand is too strong not to have doubled the first time; that said, the auction seems to have worked out well for us so far, and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should make shape and strength reasonably clear.

Steve Robinson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think this has to be natural since I could have doubled or cuebid 3hearts.

Damo Nair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just bidding out my hand given my strong hand. What can I say! Another logical bid eludes me.

Fraser Rew: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This certainly shows a good hand. It's also natural - I think ...

Kees Schaafsma: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). When I have a clear message I don't double negatively. Should pard bid 3NT promising the King of Diamonds (just possible) I will convert to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Keith Je: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). you choose S or D partner. I expect him to be close to 2353 with <4 pts. And one off will score better than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). And if the opps keep going then I'll double.

Peter: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hardest hand of the lot. Dbl will most likely induce 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) from partner with no escape. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) seems a bit feeble with 19.

Tom Moss: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have not received February magazine Am I not financial?

It's not rubber so Tom will be just as financial as he was before bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). But it's starting to get dangerous at the three level with good reasons to suspect partner can't support either of our suits. If we are going to bid, it would be a shame to go past the safe resting spot of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

In fact we can just bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ourselves. Normally we wouldn't rebid a five card suit but this is not a normal situation. There could easily be eight tricks in spades for us and in hearts for them so there is a lot to be said for the somewhat brutal 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid.

Martyn Rew: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would expect opps to go to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which should be a very tricky get for them

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). On this auction, opener is likely to hold 4+ diamonds. A difficult set of problems.

Tim Trahair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has virtually nothing but we have a huge hand so keep on bidding to push EW up another level.

Emil Battista: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner marked with very little. Double eliciting 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response none too welcome. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) unlikely to be doubled. I hope Pass is the bid scoring 100%!

Bradley Johnston: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). There's no guarantee i can make 8 tricks, but 9xx spade is getting pretty close to contract and with the diamonds offside/ not breaking & holding 2 hearts game seems a long way away

The remaining option is double:

Niklas Andrén: Dbl. 3d on 3c

Allan Simon : Dbl. And pull the expected 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) response to 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)

Julian Foster: Dbl. Hate 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) the last time. I know the modern style is overcalls can be pretty heavy in points but this is taking that way too far. I would have doubled and then bid spades if I had to. Now I am stuck. But I have to do something - 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is almost cold opposite just the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

Tony Treloar: Dbl. If you didn't double last round you have to double this round. My guess is that partner has spade support but obviously no values.

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. Showing a good hand and hoping partner will pass with 4 decent trumps.

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. This cannot show a heart stack. If partner bids clubs, I will bid diamonds and I will have informed partner about this monster two suited hand.

Ron Lel: Dbl. Too good to pass, I originally thought of a 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid. However would partner raise with Hxx? I doubt it and that would be enough to give me a reasonable play for 4.

David Caprera: Dbl. Too good to pass.

Neil Silverman : Dbl. Will bid diamonds over clubs if given chance.

I like this better than 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) because if partner bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) we might consider bidding on. But most of the time we will hear 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and end up in effectively the same place as the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders. Staying low with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was the top expert choice and gets the 100 points.

See you next time.

The full deal:

spades 952
hearts 1062
diamonds 1054
clubs Q972
spades Q
hearts K53
diamonds K9632
clubs KJ43
spades A843
hearts QJ974
clubs 10865
spades KJ1076
hearts A8
diamonds AQJ87
clubs A

The 38 tables in the National Seniors' Teams produced 26 different results. The most common results all involved EW playing in hearts. Our side can make 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), although in practice most of the pairs in spade contracts went down.

The June questions are online now, here, and the magazine should have arrived by the time you read this. We have also had some requests to make the archives of our previous forums available, so we will be working to do this over the next few months. -Brad

Top scores for April
1Bradley Johnston 500
2Niklas Andrén SWE480
3Cor Lof NED480
4Dean Pokorny CRO470
5Geof Brod USA470
6Emil Battista NSW460
7Peter Tarlinton NSW460
8Jack Lai HKG450
9Conny Wahlgren SWE450
10Dominic Connolly NSW440
11Fredrik Jarlvik SWE440
12Nigel Kearney NZL440
13David Woulds GBR430
14Ig Nieuwenhuis NED430
15Ron Lel LAO430
16Neil Silverman 430
17Julian Foster NSW430
18Brian Lawless GBR430
19Alexander Cook NSW430
20Sam Arber Vic420
21Paul Sontag CAN420
22Henri De Jong Vic420
23Nigel Guthrie GBR420
24David Johnson CAN420
25Rainer Herrmann GER420
26Todd Holes USA420
27Christer Enkvist SWE420
28David Caprera USA410
29Tony Treloar Qld410
30Alexander Schennikov 410
31Andrew Richman 410
32Peter Lipp 410
33Pär Ol-Mårs 410
34Peter Nuoristo SWE410
35John Shield NSW400
36Bastiaan Korner NED400
37Steve Robinson USA390
38Mark Laforge390
39Alan Jones Qld390
40Robert Black SA390
41Bjarne Andersen DEN390
42Kees Schaafsma NED380
43Peter Heatherington 380
44Tim Trahair NSW380
45Allan Simon 380
46Vlad Dragalchuk 380
47Michael Burt ACT380
48Arthur Porter SA380
49Ian Patterson Qld380
50Pravin Nahar NSW370
51David Matthews WA370
52Zbych Bednarek POL370
53Charles Scholl USA370
54Peter Barker 370
55John R. Mayne USA370
56Mick McAuliffe NSW360
57Gary Lane NSW360
58Alex Kemeny NSW360
59Patrice Fincias 360
60Gareth Birdsall GBR350
61Hattie Curtis 350
62Sandra Richman 350
63Hans Van Vooren NED340
64Rick Lu NSW340
65Roger Yandle NSW340
66Peter Robinson Qld340
67Andrew Macalister GBR340
68Keith Je 340
69Fraser Rew NZL330
70Fairlie Ruggles 330
71Niek Van Vucht ACT330
72Ian Spight NSW330
73Pat O'Connor NSW330
74Bram Amsel 320
75Barry Teeger NSW320
76Damo Nair USA320
77Martyn Rew NZL310
78John Newman NSW300
79Neil Ewart  VIC300
80Barbara Hunter NSW300

Leading scores for 2019
1Ron Lel LAO930
2Nigel Kearney NZL920
3Conny Wahlgren SWE920
4Julian Foster NSW910
5Dominic Connolly NSW910
6Cor Lof NED900
7Brian Lawless GBR900
8Jack Lai HKG900
9Rainer Herrmann GER880
10David Matthews WA870
11Todd Holes USA870
11John R Mayne USA870
12Alexander Schennikov 870
13Kees Schaafsma NED870
14David Woulds GBR860
15Peter Tarlinton NSW860
17David Caprera USA840
18Pravin Nahar NSW840
19Andrew Richman 840
20Bjarne Andersen DEN840
21Fredrik Jarlvik SWE840
22Christer Enkvist SWE830
23Gareth Birdsall GBR830
24Niklas Andrén SWE830
25Fraser Rew NZL830
26Ig Nieuwenhuis NED830
27Alan Jones Qld830
28Ian Patterson Qld820
29David Johnson CAN820
30Vlad Dragalchuk 820
31Dean Pokorny CRO820
32Nigel Guthrie GBR820
33Roger Yandle NSW820
34Emil Battista NSW810
35Alex Kemeny NSW810
36Alexander Cook NSW810
37Pat O'connor NSW800
38Mark Laforge 790
39Henri De Jong Vic790
40Robert Black SA790
41Andrew Macalister GBR790
42Tony Treloar Qld780
43Arthur Porter SA780
44Tim Trahair NSW780
45Barry Teeger NSW780
46Bastiaan Korner NED780
47Hans Van Vooren NED770
48Peter Robinson Qld770
49Damo Nair USA770
50Neil Ewart VIC760
51Sam Arber Vic760
52Peter Heatherington 760
53Hattie Curtis 760
54John Newman NSW750
55Gary Lane NSW750
56Charles Scholl USA750
57Mick McAuliffe NSW740
58Sandra Richman 740
59Allan Simon 740
60Ian Spight NSW740
61Fairlie Ruggles 730
62Dan Baker USA730
63Richard Canton 730
64Niek Van Vucht ACT730
65Leigh Matheson NSW720
66Cathy Hocking NSW710
67Barbara Whitmee Qld700
68Murray Perrin Qld690
69Phil Hocking NSW690
70Larry Brose USA690
71Alan Mace 690
72Michael Davy Vic680
73Michael Burt ACT670
74David Winter Vic670
75Leigh Blizzard Tas660
76Tania Black SA660
77Tom Moss NSW650
78Martyn Rew NZL620
79Barbara Hunter NSW610
80Jenny Monger Vic610
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this year's forums.
Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the
June issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your
April issue to see what the experts said about this month's hands.