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August 2019

Readers' Bidding Forum with Fraser Rew, August 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 Fraser Rew.

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            Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - North deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A54
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ987
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 98752

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

1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) can be 3, if we have 4-4 majors. We open 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with 4-4 minors, and 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with five clubs and four diamonds.


Call Award %
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 27 37
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 20 18
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 20 10
Dbl 50 13 24
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 40 7 3
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 40 7 4
Other 0 0 4

The spring plants are all blooming, the ANC has been completed for another year (and well done to all the NSW teams) and the Cricket World Cup has been completed (and hard luck to the New Zealanders), which can only mean one thing: it's time for another bidding forum.

I confess that I would have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), splinter, on the previous round. Sure, I'd prefer another point or two, but I do have two aces, five-card support and a void. These will be useful in a slam if partner has the right cards -- if we're opposite xxx-xxx-Kxxx-AKQ, a pretty uninspiring collection, we just need diamonds and clubs to break for 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) to be cold -- but the aces will also be useful on defence against 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled, which seems a lively possibility. And 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is very often where the auction has reached before we get another go, so it's important to get our hand off our chest as soon as possible, so partner can judge what to do.

However, only two experts (Sartaj Hans and Andrew Robson) were with me on this, as was one reader. Let's hear from him:

Gareth Birdsall: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would have been a much better call on the first round.

Now that we haven't bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), there's a lack of consensus, even amongst the experts, about what our actions show. It still amazes me, after nearly 100 years of bridge, how many fairly common auctions this applies to. Views about how strong 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is ranged from merely competitive to strongly invitational, and one reader intended his 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as a slam try. Likewise, some thought double from either side would have been for takeout -- as three-level doubles normally are -- but others couldn't see any need for a takeout double, when we've already shown a fit and denied four hearts.

Hoping for more clarification around earlier bids was:

Ron Lel: Dbl. I dislike 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Does it promise a good diamond fit? To what level is it forcing? If I bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) now is this a game force? All of these need discussion in a good partnership. I hope it just shows a hand with good playing strength. If partner bids 3NT after my double should I pull to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? What if partner passes? Too many questions but at least double is somewhat flexible.

There was no footnote, but a low-level non-jump cuebid normally shows a good raise to at least three of opener's suit. Typically it's forcing to that level -- i.e., in this case, forcing to at least 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) -- but over a minor, it makes sense that 2NT would also be non-forcing. Whatever your agreement, we're already above 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), so we're no longer in a forcing auction.

Obviously growing up in the UK turns you into pessimist (although I don't know where Alan is from):

Julian Foster: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). My first instinct was 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). But there is some risk partner is a 4-4-3-2 weak notrump here.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Unimaginative, but enough opposite Qxxx-Kxxx-KJx-KJ.

Alan Mace: Dbl. Partner probably has 4-4-3-2. Points at least 22-18 in our favour. Partner may convert to penalties.

At Matchpoints, pessimism is often well rewarded. But as Ron Klinger pointed out in the expert panel, the chances that partner will be 4-4-3-2 exactly are quite slim. We can't work out the exact odds without knowing how likely the opponents are to have a ten-card spade fit, or the hands on which partner would have bid over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). But even if partner does always have four spades, at most five diamonds, and no void, he could also be 4-3-4-2, 4-2-4-3, 4-4-4-1, 4-1-4-4, 4-2-5-2, 4-1-5-3 or 4-3-5-1, so he has the death shape only one hand in four. Real-world considerations (he may have only three spades, or six diamonds) probably make it less than 20%.

Even once you've decided what to do, the question is, how do you do it? We had two different actions from people who just wanted to make a game try:

Arthur Porter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). In case partner has clubs. Highly invitational.

Brad Johnston: Dbl. I'm happy doubling for takeout. Partner knows that they're in the sandwich in spades, so they won't pass lightly. The odd -730 is a matter of course, but you can't really know when it's right to defend, play 3NT, or play 4/5 minor. Double lets partner decide what's good.

But most were happy to rebid their diamonds, the exact level being a matter of taste. Some were bidding reluctantly; others sounded like they almost wanted to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Charles Scholl: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Feels right. Too much potential to pass, too little defense to double, no guarantee we'll even make four.

Robert Black: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner seems reluctant; may wish to double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner passes I doubt we have the potential for more tricks.

Dan Baker: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It's quite likely one of 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes. Doubling 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) expecting partner to have a stack and leave it in may be right, but the fact that I can't lead them to cut down on ruffs (and that partner is in front of overcaller) makes me think it'll backfire too often.

Peter Vlas: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Although I already made a cue-raise, I don't like to introduce clubs now; they are too bad and basically the same applies against bidding 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Matthews: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I can't immediately go the whole hog with 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as partner may have a balanced minimum. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) describes my hand and I will leave the decision to partner. Another option is a trial bid of 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have about 27 HCP if the contract is played in diamonds, so we must keep bidding.

And one was trying for slam:

Peter Robinson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Surely forcing, setting the suit. Slam is still possible with no wastage in spades.

I'm not sure I'd want that agreement. Sometimes, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) are the last two making contracts. This would mean we could defend 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or play 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but nothing in between. Sitting firmly on the fence:

Neil Silverman: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Really I bid 4 and a half diamonds but they disallowed it.

As you may have guessed from my desire to bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), game forcing, on the previous round, I would be going high here. Let's hear from those who are with me:

David Caprera: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A magic void, two aces and a fifth trump, what's not to like? Too many losers to search for although opener could be something like Qxx-Kxx-Kxxxx-Ax where six is good.

Tania Black: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). And looking confident!

Nigel Kearney: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We could be too high if partner has spade values, but 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) sounds like a hand that just wants to compete and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be a cue bid not a help suit try.

And highest of all was someone who chose the strong road to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes):

Emil Battista: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner's pass is a bit of a red flag. If partner is 4-4-3-2 then 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) forcing us to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may not prove to be winning action.

I suspect that Peter Robinson would have bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as well, if his partner was making him play 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as non-forcing.

The last option is the ever-popular Double. Something I learnt many years was to avoid takeout doubles with a void. Like any bridge maxim, there are plenty of hands on which it should be ignored -- will this be one of them? There's one very big upside that I'm surprised didn't get more mentions, from either the experts or the readers:

Phil Cummings: Dbl. South's hand has good minor options for North to choose or if North has four hearts a seven card fit may also work well.

Indeed. With as little as xxxx-KQJ10-Kxxx-x, for example, you can ruff the spade opening lead, play a heart to hand, ruff another spade with images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, cross to images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K, draw trumps and cash diamonds for a probable 11 tricks. Even a trump or singleton diamond lead allows you to make your contract -- and I've only given partner a 9-count. A wary potential doubler:

Henri de Jong: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Would like to double, but do we have five tricks?

Other doublers were hoping that partner had a trap pass:

Phil Hocking: Dbl. Assume North's pass is leaving it up to me or a trap pass waiting for a double from me? HCP may break 22-18 or better. I can always bid on in diamonds if the double isn't left in.

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Defending at these colours is attractive. Partner knows we are short and we have some defence.

Cathy Hocking: Dbl. I have shown partner I have a fit with his diamonds and I am giving him the option to make a decision to leave the double in if he has four spades and doesn't want to rebid diamonds.

Ian Patterson: Dbl. Partner must hold four spades. If he bids, I will bid clubs.

Roger Yandle: Dbl. This looks like the most flexible option. Pard likes likely to have a weak notrump hand with 3-4-4-2 or possibly 4-4-3-2 shape. If so, then hopefully we've got enough to take 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) off. If pard has different shape then hopefully they'll let me know!

Mick McAuliffe: Dbl. This would seem to be the most versatile forward going bid, as partner should have about four spades, but just how good are they? There may be blood in the water.

Martyn Rew: Dbl. We have the balance of points here and partner could have four spades from the bidding. I expect him to pull it to diamonds if he does not have a good defensive hand.

Let's hear the argument against a double. Each year, the NSWBA hosts a Teams of Three event, in which three less experienced players play with an expert, who's drawn from a hat on the day. This year they were short of actual experts, so I got asked to help out. One of my victi ... -- er, sorry, teammates -- was someone who's obviously emerged from the scars I inflicted with his sense of humour still intact ...

Alex Kemeny: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Doubling a partscore with a trump void often isn't good. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems too committal, so let's try for a plus in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If they push to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I will double that for -790, which is better than the -930 that I will score for doubling now.

(For what it's worth, we didn't record either of these scores on the day).

The full deal, from Paul Lavings at Kings and Queens:

spades A765
hearts K3
diamonds K6432
clubs Q4
spades QJ83
hearts J1062
diamonds 10
clubs AJ103
spades K10942
hearts Q987
diamonds J5
clubs K6
hearts A54
diamonds AQ987
clubs 98752

Most of the field played in the making 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Hand Two - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) T965
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKT8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ84

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


Call Award %
Pass 100 67 79
2NT 80 20 4
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 7 3
Dbl 40 7 10
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 0 3

At last, another nice, easy one. We'd have to chance the 2-level with no five-card suit, and length in the opponents' only known suit. Our side seems to have at most half the high card points, and we could have just 16 or so. In short, we have no reason whatsoever to compete, as expressed by:

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. I am curious what my alternatives are.


Except ...

Except that this hand is nil vulnerable at Matchpoints, and at these colours you need to compete -- not because you want to, but because the maths favours it. If they make 1NT and we go off in our contract, -50 beats -90, and -100 beats -120. If they're going off and we make, +90 or +110 beats +50 or +100.

In last month's AB, Andrew Robson's regular column was about this exact position, and true to form, he was in there bidding. I was going to quote him, until I realised that one of our readers paraphrased him almost exactly:

Julian Foster: 2NT. At nil vul Matchpoints I would never pass 1NT out. Double will have partner bidding hearts 90% of the time. Guessing a minor could end us up in a ridiculous spot. This at least will get us to our better minor and might also stop them finding a heart fit which they could still have.

This sentiment is well ingrained in the Australian community -- or in the Australian Open team, at least. On the expert panel, Sartaj Hans commented that he and Peter Gill play delayed DONT here, so any bid shows that suit and a higher one, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I gave Peter a similar problem a few years ago (albeit with a slightly different hand), and he said, "I don't really mind. You can bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or Double. It probably doesn't matter much in the long run, just as long as you don't pass".

Let's hear from the small minority of readers who were agreed that we should act:

Peter Vlas: Dbl. Although spades are bad it still has all the makings of a penalty pass and that's the message I want to send. And if partner bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I might regret this but I'll pass.

Henri de Jong: Dbl. Matchpoints, surely we can do better than collecting fifties. Pard will not easily bid hearts as I did not act over 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

That seems pretty optimistic. Our failure to double last time may just be because we were short in a minor (4-4-4-1 or 4-4-1-4, for example). However, there is an upside: we may defend 1NT doubled; if partner does bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), we can bid 2NT to show this sort of hand. If we get 1NT two off doubled, we'll have a clear top, and one off will beat all the +50s and +90s.

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Need to keep the bidding alive so try 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If North ventures 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) we can try 2NT with fingers crossed. Otherwise we push EW up a level.

Charles Scholl: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Practical. We might belong in three of a minor or even in notrump. If partner bids hearts I'll try 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

David Matthews: 2NT. I could pass out 1NT considering they don't have a fit. However I think I must compete. Partner did not open a weak 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so should have some support for one of the minors.

Arthur Porter: 2NT. Takeout for minors.

Almost agreeing were ...

John R Mayne: Pass. I play a lot of robot bridge on BBO, and I'd balance against them, because they don't like doubling. These opponents might, though. If you're going to shoot, shoot 2NT. Better one level too high than the wrong strain, probably.

Mick McAuliffe: Pass. I would suspect any other bid rolls the dice for a top or bottom board, while good defence might get a better than average result. However, if this turned up at the end of the round, and I am having bad day... 2NT … why not roll the dice?

That all makes sense -- to me, at least. However, a strong majority of experts and an even stronger majority of readers were happy to take the low road. A few of them disliked pass, but took that action for want of anything better.

Peter Robinson: Pass. Yes, defending these 1NT contracts never seems to work out, but can't see how to arrive at our better spot. I think if I bid anything, we'll be playing in hearts.

Dan Baker: Pass. I know, selling out to 1NT at this vulnerability is usually not good. But the opponents appear to have missed their heart fit, and I'd rather not give them a chance to find it. If they don't have one, I'd rather not double and hear partner bid them (which he absolutely will), nor guess which minor to bid.

Tony Treloar: Pass. Not happy passing at this vulnerability, but looks like our most likely plus.

Emil Battista: Pass. Slowly:)

However, most just did what they thought was normal:

Nigel Kearney: Pass. Bidding a minor or even 2NT might work but we won’t have too many tricks on trump leads. Partner’s heart lead may not hurt as we have the queen so I prefer to defend.

Cathy Hocking: Pass. If I had four hearts instead of four spades I would have doubled. I can see my partner would bid hearts so I think sitting on their notrumps would be a better option. If East rebids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then I would double to compete at the two-level and hopefully push opps up.

Robert Black: Pass. No bid describes my hand; nor partner's, it seems.

Neil Silverman: Pass. Not willing to get to three-level in minor when partner might be 2-5-3-3 or even worse.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Pard is a passed hand and I've got length in opener's suit. Hopefully all the suits are breaking badly and we can set 1NT. If we could get to 2-minor I'd give it a go but if I double pard is odds on to bid hearts.

David Caprera: Pass. Someone has a ton of hearts and it isn't me. I am not afraid to defend. Partner's heart lead shouldn't blow a trick. My recent experience at the Gold Coast leads me to believe I will be one of few defenders.

Ron Lel: Pass. This is a very dangerous auction in which to enter the bidding; much more dangerous than if the opening bid had been 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Matchpoints or not, this is clear to pass.

Brad Johnston: Pass. Why let them find a better spot? This looks like a misfit hand and we're typically outgunned. Doubling will get partner to bid hearts, and guessing which minor partner has a better fit in isn't great, as West can double me if I'm wrong, or bid 2M on an appropriate hand. Get out low in misfit hands, imo.

Martyn Rew: Pass. With no info from partner, we are more likely to make seven tricks in notrump than eight or nine tricks in a suit contract.

Let's end with Alex again:

Alex Kemeny: Pass. Either minor could be wrong and maybe they belong in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm leading the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K.

Director, please!

(Sorry, Alex).

The full deal, from Paul Lavings at the Gold Coast Senior Pairs:

spades 842
hearts A8
diamonds J965
clubs A1093
spades 7
hearts KJ1097654
diamonds 32
clubs J5
spades AKQJ3
hearts 32
diamonds Q74
clubs 762
spades 10965
hearts Q
diamonds AK108
clubs KQ84

We can make three of either minor, or even 2NT, although you would never be allowed to play there. With half of the NS pairs scoring +50 or worse, against 1NT or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), the key to winning the board was to find the nine top tricks defending 1NT.

Hand Three - South deals, both vul, Butler. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 98
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQ975
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QJ976

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


Call Award %
Pass 100 53 58
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 90 20 15
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 70 13 11
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 50 13 13
Other 0 0 3

This is similar to the last one: will we do better in notrumps, or should we move towards a minor? Obviously there are differences -- the notrump bid this time will be approximately balanced, and this time we have at least half the deck -- but the thinking will be similar. This may explain why a majority of both panels, albeit a smaller one than in Problem 2, elected to pass. Something raised by quite a few experts, but only a couple of readers, is partner's likely shape. Normally, you wouldn't open or rebid 1NT with a nine cards in the majors, because you might miss a fit. But when the opponents have shown spades, the thinking changes, and if partner has a 4-5-2-2 shape with a good spade stopper, 1NT may well seem better than rebidding a five-card heart suit. It's even possible that he could be bidding like this with a hand like KQ10x-Kxxxx-xxx-A (though the more creative may try 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on that hand).

If we do chose to bid, we should start with one of our five-card suits, right? And when you do that, don't you start with the higher one? So say Tim Bourke, Sartaj Hans and ...

Phil Cummings: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Indication to North that South has strength in the minors. Invitation to go higher in notrumps.

But ... not always, say Ron Klinger, Ron Smith and Frank Stewart, as well as these readers:

David Caprera: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bid my cheaper suit to allow partner to correct to diamonds.

Arthur Porter: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hopefully partner will pass or bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Matthews: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner please choose one of my suits.

That does make a lot of sense. The only risk (which also applies to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)) is that partner may play us for a hand too weak for an immediate 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, such as xx-xx-Kx-QJ10xxxx and pass with a 4-5-3-1 shape. However, as a passed hand, that hand would either open 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), or just bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

A few readers opted for the known seven-card fit, and I think they make a good point. 5521 hands often make surprisingly good dummies when the doubleton is in trumps: there's a suit you can ruff, or, if the defence leads trumps, there's a choice of suits to set up. Thinking along these lines:

Nigel Kearney: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My hand looks more useful in a heart contract as partner may be cut off from dummy in 1NT.

Robert Black: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The 5-2 fit should be satisfactory: at least we have an extra trick or two in hearts.

Tim Trahair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Our double promises values in the minors but North bids 1NT probably showing nine cards in the majors. So North will know we are only showing two Hearts and probable shortage in spades.

Roger Yandle: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). That's not the bid I wanted to hear! Now my hand isn't as good as I hoped. I might have 3/4 tricks for pard in hearts so hopefully he can provide the rest.

Brad Johnston: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There's no reason not to take the simple action here. Sure I may be able to argue that partner should know that I have good clubs if I did something like bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) here (because I didn't open a weak two in diamonds), but as I'd prefer to bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and I don't have that same inference it's not valid. We have at least a 5-2 heart fit (or a good 4-2 as per partnership style in third seat), and no guarantee of a good fit in a minor; nor any way to safely find it. The lack of raise from West is curious -- I'd wager that NS aren't playing Flannery and partner's 4-5-x-x here.


Charles Scholl: Pass. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) might work better but I think my values are more helpful in notrump.

Tony Treloar: Pass. Looks like the tricks will come from somewhere. No guarantee there is a better two-level contract.

Once more, though, a majority of readers opted to go quietly:

Peter Vlas: Pass. Don't see the problem. I got what I promised. Why gamble on one of the five-cards and end up in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)?

Dan Baker: Pass. I told partner I have the minors. He wants to play 1NT. I don't see a reason to overrule him yet. If West balances with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'll consider 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (choice of minors).

Martyn Rew: Pass. Partner knows that I have the minors and opted for notrump as the best playing option. I will trust partner, but don't think there is enough for game here.

Henri de Jong, Brian Lawless: Pass. I have bid my hand.

That's true ... but 1NT isn't a definitive signoff. It's just showing a (semi-)balanced hand with 11-14 high card points. Now it's up to us to choose a contract.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. A minor probably plays better but bidding might over-encourage partner KQJ-Axxxx-xx-Kxx.

Cathy Hocking: Pass. I can see a bad fit and to bid another suit may be wrong. At least I can help partner with the minor suits and he has said he has cover in spades.

Ron Lel: Pass. Partner may well be 4-5-x-x, especially in view of West's failure to raise. I could bid a non forcing two-minor, but there is no guarantee this will hit a fit. Pass is safest.

Neil Silverman: Pass. Partner sounds like 4-5 majors with no raise of spades. 1NT figures to have good chance of success. Might not go all pass anyway and I can get another chance after 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-Pass-Pass.

Julian Foster (with Peter Robinson similarly): Pass. Seems totally clear. This smells of a misfit. Spades haven't been raised so partner is most likely 4-5-x-x. Where are we going?

Alex Kemeny: Pass. Given my double for the minors, partner should have pretty good spades. If not, I may regret not converting to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Tania Black: Pass. We only need seven tricks in this contract. Dummy should not disappoint.

The full deal, from Peter Gill at the NSW ANC Selection event:

spades AK4
hearts AJ1042
diamonds QJ2
clubs 43
spades 10875
hearts 953
diamonds A43
clubs 1052
spades QJ962
hearts K76
diamonds 86
clubs AK8
spades 3
hearts Q8
diamonds K10975
clubs QJ976

Only one pair managed a plus score, playing in 1NT. The rest of the field were in 3NT or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), after a more normal 1NT opening from North. North bid this hand quite poorly, but he wouldn't be alone - there are many players who refuse to ever open 1NT with five hearts, and the small doubleton club would only enforce that view.

Hand Four - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQT864
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K832
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q4

West North East South
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4NT pass 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)
pass 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?

4NT = two places to play.
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = clubs and hearts.

Call Award %
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 60 51
Pass 70 27 46
5NT 50 13 0
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 20 0 3

I actually played this deal, though I didn't recognise it -- possibly because this hand was held by my partner, possibly because it was at the end of a long week, and possibly because I forgot the system (on a different auction) and we missed our best spot. One ahead of me was:

Alexander Cook: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). From Round 12 Board 12 of the South West Pacific Teams.

For all our readers, this was a simple question: do you or don't you? Well ... all but one ...

Brad Johnston: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). *checks the backs of the cards* Sadly I don't have any good agreements in spots like this; so I'll bid a quiet 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and plan to bid 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) after that. If something fun happens like 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-double-redouble I might get a bit more excited, but who knows.

I guess 'quiet' is a relative term.

The hand for partner that got quoted a lot was x-AJxxx-x-AKxxxx. Can he or can't he? Yes, say:

Julian Foster (with Kees Schaafsma similarly): Pass. Why should I assume partner has three aces for this bidding? Give him x-AJxxx-Q-AKJxxx and I'd bid like this.

Ron Lel: Pass. I am going to cut my partner a little bit of slack here. Could partner not have x-AJxxx-x-AKxxxx? Yes, my rounded cards are excellent but there is no guarantee that we are not off two bullets. To be honest this is a guess and I am going to guess on the conservative side. East did not raise spades despite being very short in hearts and having favourable vulnerability. He may well have some defence.

No, says:

Alex Kemeny: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner must have more than images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A, images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K to be acting at this level.

Hopefully not, say:

Nigel Kearney: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Really just a guess. Partner is under pressure and might have x-AJxxx-x-AKJxxx but there are also plenty of hands where slam will be cold. Even if we have two losers they may save.

Neil Silverman (with Nigel Guthrie similarly): 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping for xx-AJxxx-void-AKxxxx or better.

But for the rest, it was really a guess. Going low:

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. A pure guess.

David Matthews: Pass. I don't have enough information to punt 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There could well be two losers off the top.

Martyn Rew: Pass. I will apologise to partner for being a wimp after he makes 6.

Peter Robinson: Pass. Just don't see how I can assume partner has three aces or a void.

Peter Vlas: Pass. No aces, one keycard, they outbid us. Yes, I have great cards for the rest but partner doesn't necessarily have three aces. 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be gambling all or nothing.

David Caprera: Pass. Partner didn't promise seven controls but will not be disappointed with six-card support.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Slam might be on, especially given the adverse vul (opps might be bidding on nothing), but we could easily be missing two aces.

And, going high:

Brian Lawless: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Four honours and eight cards in my partner's suits when I could have an absoule blizzard.

Charles Scholl: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Likely to make considering partner is willing to risk 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) missing all of these hearts, but 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) requires all four aces and the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K. Silent east might well have a few spades and a little defense, too.

Dan Baker: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). How can I do any less with six-card support, a filler in the second suit, and shortness that may not be duplicated (if East had 3-4 spades, I suspect we'd have heard 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 4NT)?

Mick McAuliffe: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Justification if it all goes wrong ... LoTS & loser count. Reality?... a guess.

Tim Trahair: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). So what does North's 4NT really mean -- is it a cheap sacrifice or does he have a really strong hand? He knows we are not interested in clubs but when he shows considerable interest in hearts our hand becomes ver powerful. So chance slam in hearts.

Tania Black: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Still feeling confident!

John R Mayne: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This isn't guaranteed to make. The grand-tryers are asking too much.

And finally, a comment that makes me worry about the future of this game:

Phil Hocking: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). As partner is willing to play in 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should make. If I passed a previous partner would accuse me of not eating enough red meat.

The juniors these days are all vegetarian, and many are vegan. Maybe in 50 years aggressive bidding will have died out. Or maybe people will just be accused of not eating enough tofurkey.

The full deal is from Round 12 of the SWPT, as reported in the February issue of the ABF Newsletter:

spades AQ8
hearts AJ752
clubs AK1062
spades KJ976432
hearts 93
diamonds J104
spades 10
diamonds AQ9765
clubs J98753
spades 5
hearts KQ10864
diamonds K832
clubs Q4

66 out of 112 pairs reached some kind of slam. Seven pairs made 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); at one of those tables East was on lead, but failed to correctly interpret his partner's Lightner double.

Hand Five - South deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 97
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q9743
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ96
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A3
West North East South
pass 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1NT ?

1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) can be 3, if we have 4-4 majors. We open 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with 4-4 minors, and 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with five clubs and four diamonds.       

Call Award %
Dbl 100 33 38
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 27 29
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 80 13 0
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 70 20 23
Pass 30 7 10

As with Hand 2 and Hand 3, a couple of people were happy to go quietly:

Top scores for August
1Dan Baker USA500
1Todd Holes USA500
1Alex Kemeny NSW500
1Peter Nuoristo SWE500
5David Woulds GBR490
5Vlad Dragalchuk 490
5Neil Silverman USA490
5Peter Heatherington 490
9Sam Arber Vic480
9Tania Black SA480
9Alexander Cook NSW480
12Barbara Whitmee Qld470
12David Johnson CAN470
12Alpay Ari 470
12Pär Ol-Mårs SWE 470
12Julian Gauld NSW470
12Nigel Guthrie GBR470
18Dick Canton USA460
19Nigel Kearney NZL460
20Ian Spight NSW460
22Michael Davy Vic450
23Mick Mcauliffe NSW450
24Hattie Curtis 450
25Peter Qvist SWE450
26Fredrik Jarlvik SWE450
27Gareth Birdsall GBR450
28Tony Treloar Qld450
29Julian Foster NSW440
30Jim Thatcher NSW440
31Kees Schaafsma NED440
32Ian Patterson Qld440
33Rainer Herrmann GER440
34Conny Wahlgren SWE440
35David Caprera USA440
36Brian Lawless GBR440
37Dominic Connolly NSW440
38John R Mayne USA440
39Peter Robinson Qld440
40Pravin Nahar NSW440
41Robert Black SA430
42Dennis Raymond NSW430
43Charles Scholl USA430
44Bjarne Andersen DEN430
45Andrew Macalister GBR430
46Peter Tarlinton NSW420
47Niek Van Vucht ACT420
48Bruce Ballard NZL420
49Ron Lel LAO420
50Rick Lu NSW420
51Peter Vlas NED410
52David Matthews WA410
53Niklas Andrén SWE410
54Emil Battista NSW410
55Neil Ewart Vic410
56Martyn Rew NZL410
57Tim Trahair NSW410
58Larry Brose USA410
59Cor Lof NED400
60Andrew Richman 400
61Arthur Porter SA400
62Jack Lai 400
63Sandra Richman 400
64Alexander Schennikov 390
65Peter Stride Qld390
66Roger Yandle NSW390
67Tom Moss NSW390
68John Shield NSW 390
69Henri De Jong Vic390
71John Newman NSW390
72Barry Teeger NSW390
73Nancy Kent USA390
74Alan Mace 390
75Christine Chandler 380
76Cathy Hocking NSW380
77Phil Hocking NSW380

Leading scores for 2019
1Todd Holes USA1840
2Ron Lel LAO1835
3Nigel Kearney NZL1825
4Cor Lof NED1800
5Julian Foster NSW1780
6Gareth Birdsall GBR1770
7Conny Wahlgren SWE1770
8David Woulds GBR1770
9John R Mayne USA1770
10Kees Schaafsma NED1765
11Brian Lawless GBR1760
12Dominic Connolly NSW1760
13Fredrik Jarlvik SWE1755
14Vlad Dragalchuk 1730
15Nigel Guthrie GBR1730
16Rainer Herrmann GER1725
17Alexander Cook NSW1720
18Peter Heatherington 1720
19Niklas Andrén SWE1710
20Peter Tarlinton NSW1700
21Dan Baker USA1700
22Sam Arber Vic1690
23Pravin Nahar NSW1690
24Robert Black SA1680
25Alex Kemeny NSW1670
26Andrew Macalister GBR1670
27Tony Treloar Qld1670
28Jack Lai 1660
29Dean Pokorny CRO1660
30David Matthews WA1655
31Peter Robinson Qld1655
32Brad Johnston NZL1650
33Arthur Porter SA1650
34Bjarne Andersen DEN1635
35Neil Ewart Vic1630
36Henri De Jong Vic1630
37Charles Scholl USA1625
38Niek Van Vucht ACT1610
39Alpay Ari 1605
40John Newman NSW1600
41Andrew Richman 1590
42Ian Patterson Qld1590
43Roger Yandle NSW1580
44Michael Davy Vic1580
45Hattie Curtis, John Shield1570
46Sandra Richman 1560
47Mick Mcauliffe NSW1555
48Ian Spight NSW1550
49Tim Trahair NSW1545
50Alan Mace 1530
51Barbara Whitmee Qld1520
52Murray Perrin Qld1510
53Jim Thatcher NSW1500
54Tania Black SA1500
55Hans Van Vooren NED1490
56Gary Lane NSW1490
57Peter Vlas NED1470
58Tom Moss NSW1470
59Neil Silverman USA1465
60Martyn Rew NZL1460
61Phil Hocking NSW1440
62Barry Teeger NSW1420
63Bastiaan Korner NED1420
64Emil Battista NSW1410
65Peter Nuoristo SWE1400
66Cathy Hocking NSW1395
67Julian Gauld NSW1380
68Larry Brose USA1370
69David Winter Vic1340
70Rick Lu NSW1300
71David Johnson CAN1290
72Christer Enkvist SWE1280
73David Caprera USA1280
74Alexander Schennikov 1260
75Damo Nair USA1255
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this year's forums.
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