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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles November 2005
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 including Andrew Robson, Larry Cohen, Mike Lawrence and Ron Klinger.
Scroll down for final scores
Hand One -  East deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 72
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQ96
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ942
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 87


West North East South
1clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?


Call Award %
Dbl 100 31 29
3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90 4 4
2spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 19 10
3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 80 11 0
2clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 15 4
4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 70 4 15
3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60 8 20
2heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 50 8 6
2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 0 4
5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 8

We have an unusually high-scoring set this month, with 36 people scoring over 400 points. This means either (a) we have a lot of really good bidders among our readership, or (b) I have been setting problems that are too easy. If you believe the answer is (b), please send me some difficult problems to use next year. Your generous donation can help to ensure that this upward trend in bidding standards is brought to a quick end.

David Hester: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game is not in view, and a diamond contract that makes scores better than a heart contract that doesn't.

Andrew Gordon: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Limit raise. Very good fit, normally showing five card support.

Malcolm Olivestone: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have four losers in spades and clubs. Game seems most unlikely.

Nathan Crafti: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have five diamonds in support of my partner. I have an intermediate hand. I don't have enough for a cue raise. I don't see the problem.

Most people did see the problem, or at least one of the following problems:
(1) Do we want to be constructive or defensive?
(2) If defensive, do we want to push them into game, or keep them out of game?
(3) If constructive, we have three cuebids available - what does each one mean?
(4) Is there any point in showing the heart suit?

Let's start by looking at the cuebids:

Ron Lel: 2clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Nice problem. Pard and I have two cuebids available here, in clubs and spades. We play that the club cue bid shows some heart values as well.

Robin Cross: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The 'higher' cuebid shows 4+ card limit raise values in my methods. If partner bids hearts, I will raise since I have already shown 4+ card support for diamonds.

Barry Noble: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Limit raise, stronger than 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Jameson Cole: 2clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Clues partner in on the good diamond fit immediately. If we have a heart fit, perhaps partner can uncover it, however, we are likely to be outbid because of the two bad doubletons in their suits.

Sam Arber: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good raise to 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The other option is 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Keep them guessing by not mentioning the heart suit.

Concealing the heart suit might keep them guessing, but it may be partner who needs to guess. In the interests of helping partner, put me in with:

GMJ Hofman: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Fit-showing.

Nigel Guthrie: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It isn't clear, from the system summary, whether or not this is a fit jump but, anyway, it's worth risking for the lead.

A good effort from Nigel, backing his judgement in spite of doubt about how the bid would be scored.

Denis Haynes: 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Show the hearts and wait for the next round to support diamonds.

Manuel Paulo: 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On the way to 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) -- the value bid -- I show my heart values, allowing partner to better evaluate his hand.

For those that chose to support diamonds directly, there is the question of where we want the auction to end:

Peter Robinson: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I reckon it's their hand, but there's no certainty they'll make the game they're about to bid.

Alexander Cook: 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). At favourable vulnerability, a jump to 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is worth the risk to stop the opponents bidding 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This bid puts maximum pressure on the opponents and makes them do the guesswork.

Frank Campbell: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I have five good trumps and useful values. Doubt they can make game but this shouldn't be expensive and could make.

Rex Fox: 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With six loser count should not go for more than -500 if doubled.

Eric Leong: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Who knows? With our side holding at least a ten card fit in diamonds bidding 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might result in buying the contract when the opponents have a game or get the opponents to overbid.

Tim Trahair: 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As inverted minors are in the system, this seems an economical bid. If EW have a fit in the black suits we may need to end up considering a sacrifice in 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Apologies to anyone else who felt that inverted minors were in play here. Inverted minors are only played in uncontested auctions. In contested auctions, cue raises are available for constructive supporting hands. It is essential to show trump support in competitive auctions, so a natural 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a necessity, for those hands where you can't afford to do more. 

In fact, some people (inexplicably) did feel that we can't afford to do more:

Meshack Kgosidialwa: 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Show partner 6-9 points and diamond support.

Fred Altstock: 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Give some support to partner since we are not vulnerable.

Two thirds of the panel chose to support diamonds, but their votes were split among six different actions. So, in keeping with our hideous policy of giving the top score to the bid with the most votes, the 100 points goes to the minority who chose to give the opponents a free run:

Steve Johnston: Dbl. I am prepared to bid 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ming Chan: Dbl. Too much for a simple 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid.

Richard Bowdery: Dbl. This is an easy one for me, my system dictates that double shows diamond support plus four cards in the unbid suit.

Just because the system gives you a bid that shows hearts as well as diamond support, that doesn't mean you always have to use it. Have you weighed up the benefits of a preemptive diamond bid, against the chances of partner caring about your heart suit?

Paul Hardy: Dbl. Majors first, so I show my hearts before supporting diamonds.

The reason for "majors first" is because it's easier to make 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) than 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). But can we really play this hand in 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes)? If we have a heart fit to go with our ten diamonds, that leaves us with only eight black cards.

That leaves the opponents with about a thousand spades, and the final word. They outrank both our red suits, so do we really care whether we play in hearts or diamonds? Apparently, we do:

Craig Taberner: Dbl. Double to show fourth suit, and later support diamonds.

Zbych Bednarek: Dbl. Showing hearts -- good enuff for partner to lead, while I have an easy diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q lead from my side.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. Showing hearts. I will support diamonds in due course.

Fraser Rew: Dbl. Then bid diamonds if pard doesn't bid hearts. Tougher at IMPs. I suppose having 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes) showing diamonds with heart tolerance could make sense (2clubsm.gif (113 bytes) being the cue raise) but it's a bit too much to expect pard to work it out at the table.

Sydney Frish: Dbl. Prepared to bid diamonds later to necessary level. But to show hearts first could be important for partner should he be on lead.

Hand Two -  South deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ9852
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A7
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QT976


West North East South
      1heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass pass ?

Call Award %
5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 61 45
4NT 90 8 3
Pass 80 12 40
Dbl 60 19 9
Other 0 0 3

While the first problem generated ten different answers, the rest of the hands in this set are basic "do you or don't you" problems, with only two or three sensible options.

Ladies first:

David Hester: Pass. Colour me yellow!

John Leenders: Pass. I'd hate to hear 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Rex Fox: Pass. 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be a gamble at this vulnerability.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. No bullets no fight. Give me clubsm.gif (113 bytes)AQTxx and 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be automatic (no risk no fun!).

Fred Altstock: Pass. With no support from partner am not interested. Don′t want to push them up to a possible slam.

Eric Leong: Pass. Bidding over 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is like trying to buy a winning ticket to a lottery.

Nathan Crafti: Pass. This looks suspiciously like Problem One from last month from the other side. Pard has heard the bidding and has nothing to contribute. Neither do I (but then again I ALWAYS get these wrong).

True, it is very similar to last month's problem. But last month you doubled (in keeping with your "always getting these wrong" philosophy!).

Andrew Gordon: Pass. Cooked. Some days 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) could be tried. Partner could not find any bid.

Alexander Cook: Pass. Partner could have bid 4NT for the minors, raised to 5heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or doubled. Your hearts and clubs aren't strong enough to make a unilateral bid of 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 5heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Jameson Cole: Pass. Partner didn't make a penalty double, so 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) probably will make roughly half the time, but a 50-50 proposition is not sufficient to warrant the risk of declaring 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 5heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled.

For those who chose to act, 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is the obvious choice.

Fraser Rew: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The only problem with this is that my eager-beaver partner may take the push to 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Possibly slam is on for us. 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) lets pard know how strong we are and to decide what to do next -- if anything.

Sam Arber: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Five loser hand. Partner did not double 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes), so keep bidding.

Manuel Paulo: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner couldn't afford a penalty double; so I take insurance.

Frank Campbell: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Can't risk a diamond bid if I double, and would like to play in one of my suits.

Robin Cross: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Do we really want to keep playing with our other pair? The partner with 'shortness' is supposed to bid. I hope that partner does not hold something like AJ9x of spades.

Ron Lel: Dbl. As double by partner is takeout, not penalties, I have to protect against the penalty pass (hopefully) that partner has.

Denis Haynes: Dbl. Partner could have my share of spades and be short in hearts.

A couple of people commented on the possibility of partner having a penalty pass. AB Standard does state "negative doubles to 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes)", so we know North's double would have been penalty.

But does that mean South's double is also penalty? While some claim that double is penalty from both sides, I have some doubt about that. How do you play this with your partner? If, like me, you don't know, you probably should discuss it soon. 

Ming Chan: Dbl. For takeout. 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 4NT don't allow the possibility for penalties. Two aces are always good if partner wants to penalise; if partner bids 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) then pull to 5heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Bill Bennett: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Any bid, including pass, is a gamble, but with this two suiter, we are likely to find a fit, and catastrophe is unlikely.

Sydney Frish: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Perhaps this time partner will have the right cards.

Peter Robinson: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Next. Even with 5-5, bidding on seems to work in these situations.

Malcolm Olivestone: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows a big two suiter and asks for preference. Double could find partner with long diamonds and few spades.

Barry Noble: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner only needs to have clubsm.gif (113 bytes)KJx, and maybe heartsm.gif (112 bytes)Qx.

Nigel Guthrie: 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We all need 100 easy points. Thank you :)

You're welcome. But you certainly don't need the easy points with the scores you've been getting lately! The same applies to:

Richard Bowdery: 4NT. Two suited, not wishing for partner to pass a re-opening double.

At first glance I thought that 4NT was at least as good as 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes), putting emphasis on the hearts rather than the clubs. But there are three good reasons to abide by Phil Gue's decision to give the bid only 90 points: (1) I rarely change the awards that Phil gives, (2) I would rather have West on lead than East, and (3) I couldn't bear the thought of two Brits scoring 500 points in the same month.


Hand Three -  East deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K84
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AKQ6
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KT86
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A2


West North East South
    1clubsm.gif (113 bytes) dbl
1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ?
Call Award %
Dbl 100 52 63
Pass 90 48 33
Other 0 0 4

A great advertisement for getting to the three level quickly. While 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) traditionally shows a constructive hand (say 16+), there isn't really a lot of downside in East making this bid on any hand with a good suit. On a bad day, his partner may end up in 3NT doubled for -800 (my team mates budget for this kind of thing). On a good day (today) he will give South a nasty problem.

Nathan Crafti: Dbl. Too much firepower to supinely surrender to 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). For gawd's sake pard bid something.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. If at first you don't succeed ...

Richard Bowdery: Dbl. One more try at dredging up a noise from my man, and if he passes...

Alexander Cook: Dbl. This second takeout double shows a super-powerful hand with at least 16 HCP. With four cards in both of the unbid suits and 19 HCP you are certainly strong enough to make this powerful bid.

Malcolm Olivestone: Dbl. Double will hopefully find partner with one of the red suits. If West bids again, there is the good possibility of a penalty double.

That's true. But if you double, West won't bid again (except for a loud redouble).

Bill Bennett: Dbl. We probably have the majority of the points, and should look for a red suit fit.

Ron Lel: Dbl. One last shot. I will pass three of a red suit.

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Asking partner to bid either hearts or diamonds or pass if he has clubs for penalties.

Eric Leong: Dbl. I suppose I should try to show a little more sign of life. After all, a decent game is possible if partner holds something like xx-xxxxx-QJx-xxx or the equivalent.

John Leenders: Dbl. Must do something.

In my experience, bidding because I "must do something" has gotten me in a lot of trouble. I'm learning to make sure there is a sensible "something" to do, before I do it.

Peter Robinson: Dbl. The theory of Total Tricks has generally improved outcomes in this area. Partner may be able to judge to pass 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with only a few trumps.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Competitive and showing a strong hand. Seems a good chance North has four in one of the red suits.

Paul Hardy: Dbl. Pass just doesn't seem right and double is the only other choice.

I started this problem as a swinging voter, but after hearing all the arguments, I'm 100% with the minority:

Manuel Paulo: Pass. After another double, partner is likely to bid a 3-card red suit; I would rather defend.

Denis Haynes: Pass. EW will end up in 3NT. 

Fraser Rew: Pass. As much as it pains me to do this, partner, holding a semi-balanced near-yarborough with four (or even five) hearts will thank me. He's heard me double -- with a bad hand and distribution he can bid 3-red on his own.

That seems about right to me. If West is planning to pass 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then surely partner will reopen when it's right. If West isn't planning to pass 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then we can dish out some serious injuries -- as long as we keep quiet until they hang themselves.

Andrew Gordon: Pass. My spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K looks like his head will be lopped off. The bidding has not finished yet.

Ming Chan: Pass. Partner did not bid over 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and figures to have very few points. From the LTT 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) figure to go down.

Rex Fox: Pass. Partner should try to bid over the 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid with even 4-ish points and a useful fit in the red suits, so he is probably bereft.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I would like to compete in three of either red suit but partner has nothing and could even have mainly black cards. This could be our best chance of a plus.

Robin Cross: Pass. Partner should have a really nice zero HCP hand. We might even go plus defending 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. The hardest bid. Even if pard a has red suit, his range is close to ZERO. No bullets no fight.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Undervalues my hand by two kings, but we are close to beating any contract they declare even if partner is broke.

Sydney Frish: Pass. Unlikely that partner has any points. We should have better chance defending.

Sam Arber: Pass. They may keep on bidding, try for a positive.

Hand Four -  South deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ754
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQJ
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 9632


West North East South
      1heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass ?

3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a weak jump overcall.
3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is natural and forcing.


Call Award %
3NT 100 65 37
4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 80 27 45
4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 40 8 11
4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 20 0 6
Other 0 0 1

Eric Leong: 3NT. 3NT is the least ridiculous bid available. Perhaps if partner doesn't have club help the suit is blocked.

Richard Bowdery: 3NT. Yuch, nasty problem. I will guess that clubs are either stopped or blocked.

Denis Haynes: 3NT. I do have "some" clubs and control in the red suits.

Bill Bennett: 3NT. Weak jumps are seldom based on a solid suit, so I must hope North can stop the clubs. Forced to bid, I can hardly support pard, rebid hearts or bid 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

It was a last minute decision to include the clubsm.gif (113 bytes)9 in this hand. In retrospect, this was an error, as it gave two-thirds of the panel an excuse to bid their favourite contract. This would be a really tough problem if the clubs were clubsm.gif (113 bytes)5432.

Barry Noble: 3NT. Slightly dangerous if partner doesn't have a club stopper.

Nathan Crafti: 3NT. Bid confidently and pray pard has half a club stopper. By the way what sort of idiot system makes the 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) forcing?

I thought I had seen every system under the sun, but I've never seen anyone play 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as non-forcing here. Surely even the most zealous negative-free-bid supporters wouldn't go this far?

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. I've changed my mind about opening this hand. I expect West will take the first seven tricks I just hope that he is so happy that he forgets to double.

Craig Taberner: 3NT. Is weak J109xxx (my style) or AKxxxxx?

Weak includes both of these hands. If you have an agreement that weak is always JT9xxx (or always AKxxxxx) then it's too easy for the opponents to know what to do. You need to mix up your preempts, otherwise they are a blunt sword.

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Least of bids available to me. Cannot pass. Partner has forced me to bid.

Steve Johnston: 3NT. This is tough, if this is a disaster at least I will be declarer.

Sam Arber: 3NT. Hope partner has semi stopper, or partner has delayed heart support or lots of shape. Maybe 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a better bid but I'll stick with 3NT; partner may pull with no stopper.

That's right, it's always partner's problem!

I originally voted for 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but after reading the comments, I'm now totally convinced that 3NT is right. I wonder if any of these people will feel the same way:

Zbych Bednarek: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What can I do?? 3NT?? NEVER. 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) the only bid.

Robin Cross: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Maybe partner has diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Kxxxx or a really good sense of humour. He hopefully rebids his good 6+ card spade suit and I pass in tempo.

Fraser Rew: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was waiting that would be ideal, but it should show some spade raise. It's better to lie in a minor than a major.

Frank Campbell: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can't bid 3NT, support spades or repeat my hearts, so what's left. Will pass 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Rex Fox: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Describing where I live, trust partner to have either solid spades or concealed heart support.

Malcolm Olivestone: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tough one. 3NT could be suicide. With six spades, partner can go 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

John Leenders: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No option.

Tim Trahair: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Risky bidding a three card suit but don't like anything else!

Margaret Reid: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Would like to chance 3NT but could be expensive. Bid my hand.

Peter Robinson: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't often do this, but I don't see a safe alternative. No reason to place partner with any clubs.

Jameson Cole: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pass is NOT an option. Partner wouldn't have bid 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with a weak suit and a club stopper. So he either has a good 5+ card suit or heart support, and he may have a doubleton club. I won't bid 3NT lacking a stopper. My 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid does not show spade support since we have a cue bid available. I'll pass partner's 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) call.

Ming Chan: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Make a small lie rather than a larger one. Whatever you bid could be wrong; pass, 3NT, 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could all be wrong but 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the lesser of evils.

Sydney Frish: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'd rather abstain - but I hope this bid is better than 3NT.

Ken Berry: 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not sure what 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) means, but I've still got hardly nothing.

Andrew Gordon: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Where is my 4th Diamond?

Paul Hardy: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Ugh.

David Hester: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Ugh! What else is there? Let's keep it flexible, and hope it isn't my neck.

My spellchecker rejected "Ugh", but I've added it to the dictionary in case it comes up again. But I'm drawing the line at "Gack".

Ron Lel: 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Gack. I would like to double partner's bid for takeout, but that is illegal.

In the old days, before computers, when people submitted their bidding forum answers on postcards, there would have been a lot of people doubling on this hand. Today, the good old drop down box prevents that. I was tempted to include Double on the list to see if anyone took the bait -- maybe one day I will (so stay alert).

On that topic, several people have asked me how we decide which bids to make available as potential bids (since some of the options in the drop down box are pretty bizarre). The answer is, I go through the list of every partner I have ever played with, and imagine what they would do. Then I put all the results into the drop down box. So if you think some of the options are weird, then you have some idea of the kind of thing I've had to put up with over the past 15 years (not mentioning any names -- you know who you are)!

Hand Five -  West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKQ3
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) JT94
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 7
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ52


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


Call Award %
Pass 100 42 58
4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 27 6
Dbl 60 31 36

Ron Lel: Pass. Easiest problem. I would say "You have got to be kidding!". Partner has short hearts and can't move? What's the problem?

OK Ron, you get the points again. It was really close though, with 58% of experts choosing to take action (meaning the top score has once again gone to the minority view).

Nathan Crafti: Pass. Sadly, double is for takeout and if I double pard will surely bid 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fixed by the preempt. Just have to settle for +100.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. If double is mainly takeout what do you do if partner bids diamonds? In the UK we get round this by using the stop card before doubling.

Eric Leong: Pass. If you play a double of 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) for takeout than doubling with this hand simply risks trading a small plus for a big minus.

Ken Berry: Pass. Who's spades are better, North or East? Who's afraid of 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? Too many questions... too hard.

Richard Bowdery: Pass. Partner has short hearts and failed to act, I can't stand a 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid if I double.

Bill Bennett: Pass. 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is quite likely to fail. If I double, North is more likely than not to bid diamonds, and neither a diamond contract nor NT is attractive. A bid from me will probably turn a positive score into a negative.

Alexander Cook: Pass. Double would be for takeout, so pass to obtain a likely positive score. Doubling for takeout is not a clever idea with length in the opponents' suit. You should make one heart, one or two spades, and one or two clubs to defeat 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) by one, possibly two tricks if partner has something.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Partner is short in hearts and took no action. Pass is the best hope for a plus score.

Sam Arber: Pass. Again pass looks best way to get a plus score, with partner short in hearts but not bidding. West may be a big two suiter in hearts and diamonds, so we may not even shoot 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes). But likely to go down in any of our contracts.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I have at least one trump trick and we could well defeat this. Partner must be short in hearts but could not bid. Double is for takeout so what happens after the inevitable diamond response? I don't really fancy 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4NT so will take the most likely plus.

Paul Hardy: Pass. Partner has 13 cards in the other 3 suits (and so does RHO). Are you sure I am not playing with West? To much to risk going for a digit or two.

Rex Fox: Pass. Partner with shortage should double for takeout if possible, a double or 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) here asks for trouble.

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Pass if we have been playing well. Double if we need to catch up, hoping for a spade response, and not diamonds.

Margaret Reid: Pass. What can we do but stay fixed. At least we will get a plus score. Can't double cos pd will surely bid diamonds.

John Leenders: Pass. Hate to hear 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) after a double.

Nearly all of the passers mentioned the fear of partner bidding diamonds (again, reminiscent of last month's Problem One). This didn't faze everyone though:

Malcolm Olivestone: Dbl. If partner goes to spades, fine. The only real problem is if he bids 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Robin Cross: Dbl. The LAW strongly suggests that partner should not bid 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We tend to either defend 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or perhaps partner might bid 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with extreme shape.

Note how Robin spells "LAW" with all upper case, while Peter Robinson spells "theory" with all lower case! Maybe we could call it the "Supposition of Total Tricks".

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Too strong to pass. 4NT would invite 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and no doubt North has a fistful of them. But he may also have four spades.

David Hester: Dbl. I want to bid "Penalty double", but they won't let me do it any more.

Denis Haynes: Dbl. Trumps and tricks in side suits give me the strength to double.

Ming Chan: Dbl. Risky passing or doubling but it must be bid.

Another person doubling because they "must". Like I said before, "must" isn't always a good enough reason for bidding -- you also need to have a sensible bid (in this case, 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes)):

Barry Noble: 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner is short of hearts and could easily have four or five small spades.

Peter Robinson: 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is a standard problem, and I've observed that this seems to work more often than one would expect.

Andrew Gordon: Dbl. For take out. The problem comes when partner bids 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). One could try a gamble bid of 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) might be the only game.

Sydney Frish: Pass. But 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on a good day!

Fraser Rew: Pass. Again, not much fun passing. But the hand with the shortage hasn't taken action. Prefer 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rather than double.

I thought there would be a lot more votes for 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but maybe people were afraid of not getting the top score. Even Al Roth chose 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and they don't come any more conservative than him. I bet you would have all bid 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) at the table!

Top scores for November
Rank Name Score
1 Steve Johnston 500
2 Nigel Guthrie 490
2 Richard Bowdery 490
4 Margaret Reid 480
4 Peter Stride 480
6 Andrew MacAlister 470
6 Bill Bennett 470
6 Fraser Rew 470
6 P Nolan 470
6 Sam Arber 470
6 Sydney Frish 470
12 Barry Noble 460
12 Jeff Brokenshire 460
12 John Leenders 460
12 Zbych Bednarek 460
16 Eric Leong 450
17 Arthur Porter 440
17 Craig Taberner 440
17 Duncan Roe 440
17 Frank Cambell 440
17 Henri de Jong 440
17 Julian Gauld 440
17 Marcel Hoeven 440
17 Nathan Crafti 440
17 Paul Hardy 440
17 Rong Lu 440
27 Gary Lane 430
27 Peter Robinson 430
29 Barbara Whitmee 420
29 Derek Pocock 420
29 Jameson Cole 420
29 Julian Vyner 420
29 Michael Davy 420
29 Trish Whitton 420
35 Robin Cross 410
35 Ron Lel 410

Leading scores for 2005
Rank Name Score
1 Fraser Rew 2050
2 Peter Stride 2030
3 Zbych Bednarek 2000
4 Henri de Jong 1990
5 Ken Berry 1910
6 Trish Whitton 1900
6 Jameson Cole 1900
8 Ron Lel 1890
9 Jeff Brokenshire 1880
9 Sam Arber 1880
9 Margaret Reid 1880
12 Andrew Gordon 1870
13 Craig Taberner 1860
13 Frank Campbell 1860
15 Eric Leong 1840
16 John Leenders 1830
17 Robert Black 1820
17 Gary Lane 1820
19 Tim Trahair 1800
20 Michael Davy 1760
21 Nigel Guthrie 1750
22 Ian Smith 1740
23 Rex Fox 1720
23 Sydney Frish 1720
23 Alexander Cook 1720
26 Ian Patterson 1710
27 Fred Altstock 1700
27 Derek Pocock 1700
29 Duncan Roe 1680
30 Andrew MacAlister 1660
30 Nathan Crafti 1660
32 David Hester 1630
33 Manuel Paulo 1620
34 Bill Bennett 1610
35 Terry Dunne 1590
36 Others 1580

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 December-January issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your October-November issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.