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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles April-May 2006
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, Phillip Alder, Bob Jones, Marshall Miles, Frank Stewart, Eddie Kantar, Marc Smith, Eric Kokish and Zia Mahmood, as well as many top Australian players.
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Submit answers for the June forum
Hand One - East deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K832
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 9763
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ52


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


Call Award %
3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1005452
3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 802523
2spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1043

Our first problem gives us the option of bidding notrumps with no stopper, treading water with an ambiguous cuebid, or describing our hand by bidding our suits. Must be a trick question...

Eric Leong: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It can't be wrong to bid a suit where the other 5/8 of your HCP are.

John Leenders: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Show your values and leave it to partner to bid 3NT.

Tim Trahair: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). North has a strong hand and West has probably very little. This bid lets North try 3NT if he has a good diamond cover.

Rex Fox: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would have thought of replying 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on the previous round.

Steve Hurley: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was an underbid -- given partner has shown much better than an overcall, I should at least pay the courtesy of showing a bit more.

Nick Beaumont: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was feeble.

1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) seems automatic to me, but it appears a few people were considering 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). There's really no reason to jump with this hand -- partner can't possibly pass 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if game is on. Also, don't forget partner was in balancing seat, so he could have been borrowing part of your hand in order to keep the bidding open. And just imagine how difficult the auction would be now if you were a level higher.

Manuel Paulo: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My hand is maximum in the context; so, despite the misfit, I show where my values are.

David Hester: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I must keep the bidding open, as I have shown no strength yet.

Nigel Guthrie: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). For which, I guess, the panel will vote. A gross underbid because partner has a mountain. 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be the correct technical bid -- but it's unlikely to score much.

Is 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) really an underbid? You are bidding a new suit while voluntarily raising the level of the auction -- this is a very constructive move. 

Jameson Cole: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My eight count puts me at the top of my range, so we should be in game (at least). 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows where I live and keeps options open for 3NT, 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or slam contracts. Other bids are ambiguous or suggest weakness.

Frank Campbell: 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I assume 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is forcing and don't think diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)9 is a stopper.

I wouldn't write off that diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)9 so quickly. It could be useful as long as you are careful to position it properly. More on that later.

Denis Haynes: 2NT. Keeps the bidding at the two level and allows partner to bid again. Not happy but partner has an opening hand and diamond stopper(s)?

Terry Collier: 2NT. Best describes the hand.

Sydney Frish: 3NT. I couldn't find a better bid. Partner, promised 18+ HCP, so 2NT would show a weaker hand than 8 HCP. Also, if NT is our contract, it should be played from my hand to protect stoppers in spades and clubs.

There is no need to protect your clubsm.gif (113 bytes)AJ or spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K -- you are sitting over all the points, so your stoppers are already secure. Even more so if you can get East on lead, leading away from his honours. Here are some likely layouts:
  clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q4
clubsm.gif (113 bytes)9763   clubsm.gif (113 bytes)KT8
  clubsm.gif (113 bytes)AJ52
  diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AT
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)852   diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)KQJ4
  diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)9763
  spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q5
spadesm.gif (111 bytes)JT97   spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A64
  spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K832

Even with the clubsm.gif (113 bytes)9 instead of the clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q, you still might gain a trick if East leads a low one from the K10. It's these little cards you need to protect, not the aces and kings!

For those who didn't feel that 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was a strong enough action, the cuebid was the only thing left.

Bill Bennett: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game is possible, but probably only in notrump.

Sam Arber: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Ongoing bid. Partner may bid 3NT with half stopper. Second choice is 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Willem Willemse: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Fortunately 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was slightly underbid -- now partner is showing a big hand it's time to wake up. If he bids 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'll give up.

Adriano Voscilla: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has a diamond stopper, probably 3NT is best.

Terry Dunne: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have as strong a hand as we can for our 1spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid so given partner's second bid we must have the strength for game. This is a stopper ask in this sequence rather than heart support, as a raise of hearts would be invitational.

In contrast to those who think we have underbid our hand, we'll finish with a minority option which was supported by Mike Lawrence, Ted Chadwick, Marc Smith and Marshall Miles.

Paul Tranmer: Pass. I cannot believe I bring enough to the party to make ten tricks even remotely likely, particularly as the opener is sitting over North. North's actions describe a meaty single suiter with about six tricks, so I should be able to make up the other two.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Not really interested as only possible two tricks for partner.

Hand Two - North deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AK4
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 92
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QT7654
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QJ


West North East South
  1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1
pass 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 2 pass 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3
pass 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4 pass ?

1. Limit raise or better.
2. Cuebid.
3. Cuebid, denies heart control.
4. Cuebid, also promises heart control.


Call Award %
5spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1005049
6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 802125
5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 702513
6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 40 04
5heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2040

A tough problem here. We have reached the 5-level, but it's still not yet clear whether we should be in game, slam, or grand. Anything other than 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a grand slam suggestion, and that's where the majority are headed.

Barbara Whitmee: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Could bid 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but a grand slam is possible.

Jameson Cole: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner initiated this slam try, so I can't sign off with a control not shown, even though I don't like cue bidding at the five level. Partner may have something like x-Axx-AKxxx-AKxx leading to 7NT.

Alexander Cook: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Declarer has first and second round control in clubs, and a heart control. If declarer has diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AK a grand slam should be possible.

Tim Trahair: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing 2nd round control in spades and letting North decide whether to bid 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The grand will be on if North has diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AK.

Terry Dunne: 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The club suit will provide at least one and probably two discards. Partner should have either the ace or king of diamonds as well. Hopefully if he has both he will know to raise to seven.

A lot of talk there about partner having the top two diamonds, but there is a better way to get this information:

Sydney Frish: 5NT. Should be safe to go for a grand if partner has two top honours in diamonds.

Some of the 5NT bidders were concerned about whether 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) showed first round control of hearts.

Steve Hurley: 5NT. If 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows the heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, then we are looking at 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Over 5NT grand slam force, if partner shows two honours, I'm bidding 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nick Beaumont: 5NT. Ostensibly GSF but as I have denied a heart control...

David Hester: 5NT. Hello, Josephine! I hope his heart control is guaranteed first round.

5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) doesn't guarantee heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, but this really shouldn't be a concern -- if partner is missing the heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A he should give a negative response regardless of his trump holding. Knowing there is a heart loser, he won't bid the grand unless he is working for the other side.

Manuel Paulo: 5NT. Partner should bid seven with first round control of hearts and the top diamond honours.

The 5NT bid didn't receive a single vote from the expert panel. But as far as I can tell, 5NT has only one possible flaw, pointed out in the magazine by:

Michael Ware: The problem with 5NT is partner could well bid seven holding 3343 or 4243, with no spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

This very specific holding would leave us with only 12 tricks, which I guess is a good enough reason to reject an otherwise perfect solution. So we need a way to find either the spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q or the 4th club. Addressing the club holding:

Eric Leong: 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner would want to know about some club help so he can count 13 tricks in 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

I really like the 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, but the majority decided to focus on the spade holding. 

Frank Campbell: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). My clubsm.gif (113 bytes)QJ could be big but as I have no way to tell him I have them will cue my second spade control. Partner can use 5NT if he wants to try for the grand.

Patrice Fincias: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Valuable information for my partner.

Bill Bennett: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A second spade cue bid should indicate a strong diamond fit and enable North to decided whether or not the grand slam might be on.

Rex Fox: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Sounds like the heart control may be 2nd round. Partner might need to know of the 2nd spade control in order to bid 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Paul Tranmer: 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I do have a small nagging doubt about the trump suit. After all, North doesn't need to hold AKxx, could be AJxx(x). If so against certain Easts I would bid 7diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) anyway, "knowing" the diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K would be finessable!

38% of the readers were not interested in the grand, but they were not very vocal about their choice. Speaking on their behalf is one of the only readers to mention the club duplication:

Willem Willemse: 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Big risk partner has three clubs and we can't discard the losing heart and spade. On the other hand partner doesn't know that I've got 1st and 2nd control in spades. Too complicated for me -- I give up: 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

The full deal is from the 2006 NEC Cup. It doesn't tell us much, because of the unusual nature of the 1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opening (holding five clubs). And a few of the cards got mixed up on the way to publication. But the general vibe of the thing was something like this:
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) T75
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 7
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AJ83
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AK762
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ98
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KT64
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K2
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T43
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 632
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQJ853 
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 9
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 985
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AK4
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 92
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QT7654
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QJ
West North East South
  Lambardi   Brenner
  1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
pass 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass 5spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) all pass  
Result: 12 tricks, NS +920

There was no danger of getting overboard on this deal, because North always knew that there was a heart loser. The hard work had already been done by the 1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opening -- the pairs who opened 1clubsm.gif (113 bytes) were not able to find the slam.

Hand Three - North deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q732
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQJ
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q8543


West North East South
  1clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?
Call Award %
3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1005029
3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90136
6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 01
2spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 10 019

Don't look so surprised, I'm sure this isn't the first time you've held AKQJ in the opponents' preempt suit. In fact if you've ever played against me, I'm sure it's happened to you more than once!

Robin Cross: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). East has a jump overcall in diamonds?

Ken Berry: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Who is East? What suit quality is needed for 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)?

I think 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) promises a suit headed by at least the ten. Unless somebody else has the ten, in which case it promises a suit headed by one of the lower cards.

Fred Altstock: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Testing if partner has spades otherwise I go back to clubs next time.

Manuel Paulo: 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Natural and forcing; as I play it, only bidding the next suit (hearts) shows five cards.

In a set where the reader's votes matched the expert votes almost perfectly, this was the main discrepancy. 20% of readers went for 2spadesm.gif (111 bytes), a bid which was not even hinted at by a member of the panel. Personally, I have never heard of this bid being made with only four cards -- I thought that was why God invented negative doubles.

Patrice Fincias: Dbl. Wait and see, partner can have four spades.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. If pard bids hearts I'll settle for 3NT; and pard will know I also have spades.

Terry Collier : Dbl. If partner bids 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I will go 3NT; 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I will raise to four; and over 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I will bid five.

Sydney Frish: Dbl. On the way to a contract in Spades or 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes), possibly 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Denis Haynes: Dbl. Shows partner points and diamond stopper.

After 30 odd years of negative doubles, clearly Denis is trying to lead the trend back towards the old fashioned penalty axe. A noble calling, but I really don't think it will catch on.

Adriano Voscilla: Dbl. if partner bid hearts, I will show my spades, and if there is no fit then we shall play 3NT.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. OK provided that it promises only one major. If partner jumps to game in hearts, we can correct to his (longer) club suit. It's never right to make a negative double with support for partner, unless you can stand a penalty pass :)

That's right, if partner has a penalty pass we should get at least 1700, so the double is fairly safe in that regard. But does it only promise one major?

Frank Campbell: Pass. I need five spades to bid them and double is out with my void. Only other possibility is 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or a cue raise but pass has a bigger potential upside depending on how partner reopens.

Sam Arber: Pass. If partner reopens then pass; if he bids 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 3NT; if West preempts in hearts then look for 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Defending 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x is really not an option. West will have no trouble running to his six card heart suit, and all you will have achieved is to muddy the auction. We have a chance right now to describe our hand, so let's not waste time.

Steve Hurley: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x in my experience will not yield enough. I expect 5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to be laydown, if not 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) followed by 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) please.

Alexander Cook: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A trap pass may get a better result, but partner may not reopen with a double. If partner bids 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) next, I will bid 3NT.

Paul Tranmer: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As with Problem 2, this shows a limit raise or better in clubs. If North's next bid is 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'll try 3NT. If North bids 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I'll cue bid for real next time with 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Jameson Cole: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Over 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I'll bid 3NT. Over 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'll raise to 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Over 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes), I'm thinking 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Henri de Jong: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Need to find out more about partner's hand. Clearly he has some hearts.

David Hester: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I wanted to bid 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to show a void, but it isn't on the list so it probably doesn't.

Dean Eidler: 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Exclusion Key Card Blackwood.

Not actually in the system, although that's the logical interpretation of the bid. But if we included bids like this in the system, it would be like giving you the answer on a silver platter.

Without 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) available, here is a viable alternative:

Zbych Bednarek: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should be shortness, agreeing clubs (if not I must change system or partner).

Tim Trahair: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Control bid confirming clubs as trumps and promising first round control in hearts. If North able to show first round control in spades, we can then show our diamond strength.

Terry Dunne: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Over whatever bid partner makes, I'll bid 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and the picture should be clear.

Bidding 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and following with 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is placing a lot of faith in partner. He may think he knows what 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) means, but then 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) gives him that nagging doubt that maybe it was natural after all.

Speaking of which, we'll finish with a man whose flair for system development has probably seen him play in a cuebid or two. These days he doesn't appear to be as scientific as he once was:

Eric Leong: 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would bid 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is not cold it could be a steal if East doesn't find the right opening lead.


Hand Four - East deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J9643
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQJT4
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4


West North East South
    3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ?


Call Award %
3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1004231
3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 401326
4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) N/A 40

Not a very good hand, but we do have short clubs. These days, with all these youngsters running rampant with weak six card preempts, we really can't afford to be shut out with hands like this, can we?

Robin Cross: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The partner with shortness in the enemy suit should strive to bid. Maybe partner will have a decent heart fit...

David Hester: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Dangerous, but nothing is safe including pass. I am the one with short clubs.

Bill Bennett: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Although the suit is poor, North will not mention hearts if I don't.

Terry Collier : 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not sure hearts are good enough but once again nothing is perfect.

Tim Trahair: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pathetic hearts but must bid. If North bids 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes), then bid 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Perhaps 3NT would be better provided this is read as 5-5 in the lowest unbid suits -- however this does not seem to be part of the AB Forum system.

I think Tim is just trying to stir me up with this 3NT comment. Here's another one:

Sydney Frish: Pass. Would bid 3NT if by agreement this would show at least 5-5 in two of the unbid suits.

OK, maybe it's time for AB Standard to move with the times; how about starting next month, we'll officially introduce the Unusual 3NT. All 3NT bids in all auctions show 5-5 in unbid suits. Drop us a line if you're in favour.

Fred Altstock: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping partner has a heart raise.

Eric Leong: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am really rooting for partner to have a 3NT bid rather than a heart raise.

Jameson Cole: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) keeps options open for 3NT, 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It also risks going for a number.

Terry Dunne: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This must be OK on strength as it was OK last month to overcall at the three level with a minimum opening bid, as this hand is. Over anything but a raise in hearts -- happy days -- it seems obvious to show diamonds next while not overstating the overall playing strength.

Martyn Rew: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid over partner's expected 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Steve Hurley: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). While I have a solid diamond suit, I have only one chance to show these hearts.

It does feel natural to show the major before the minor, but there are a couple of people who think they will still have time to show the hearts later:

Adriano Voscilla: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Planning to rebid hearts.

Sam Arber: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bid the better suit and may still get a chance to bid hearts.

Margaret Reid: 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What else is sensible?

Concealing a five card major is always dangerous. Take a look at Peter Gill's hand from the Gold Coast final (page 11 of the current issue of AB). He bid and rebid a six card club suit holding a 1516 12-count, missing a cold 4heartsm.gif (112 bytes) contract.   

Unable to decide which red suit to show, a few readers decided to bring spades into the picture:

Denis Haynes: Dbl. Shows points and keeps the bidding at the three level.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. On a good day partner will bid a red suit or 3NT but if he does bid spades I will bid 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which should tell him I also have hearts. Don't think my hand or my hearts are good enough to bid both suits.

Paul Tranmer: Dbl. For takeout. The only time that can go wrong is is North bids spades, but even then more often than not North will hold five. Finally, passing in this position is hugely anti-percentage, as what is North supposed to do holding Kxx-Axxx-xxx-xxx after the auction 3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) - pass - pass - ?

On the actual deal, the correct contract was actually in spades, so Paul's comment was right on target. Clearly partner will never be able to take action with that balanced hand -- and if partner is unbalanced, then the auction is unlikely to still be at the three level when it gets to him. But there are plenty of votes for leaving the tough decisions for someone else. 

Patrice Fincias: Pass. I am not playing alone.

John Leenders: Pass. Partner is still there and any bid could be a disaster.

If you're afraid of getting injured, John, maybe you should consider a less violent sport. Half the fun is in knowing there's a chance your head might get taken off!

Alexander Cook: Pass. A better hand is needed to overcall or double at the three level vulnerable. You can't overcall with lousy hearts and the shape is not quite there for a sub-standard double.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Second seat actions should be sound.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. If West bids 3NT, I can bid 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to show a two suiter.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. Wait and see; I am not strong enough to overcall at the three-level.

A recent partner of mine taught me that it's OK to make a questionable bid, as long as the bid has only one flaw. Here, there are multiple flaws with all bids, so I do have a lot of sympathy for the passers. Of course, that didn't stop me from bidding 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) at the table -- I'm a slow learner.

Henri de Jong: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On distributional hands keep it simple.

The full deal is from the 2005 State Teams at the NSWBA (warning: the following bidding may be offensive to some viewers).

spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ9532
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K87
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A3
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A7
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 74
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQ5
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 7652
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10863
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K86
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 102
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 98
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQJ952
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A10
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J9643
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQJ104
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4
West North East South
    3clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
5clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 5heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) dbl
pass 6heartsm.gif (112 bytes) all pass  
Result: 11 tricks, NS -100

Obviously East's 6clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid was insane, but all I can say is that he knew his customer, and North didn't disappoint him.

Hand Five - North deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QT832
heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 764
diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q
clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AK83


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


Call Award %
3spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1003816
3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80179
4clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60429
4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 6081

Although I probably would have bid 3NT myself, I'm quite pleased to see another bid get the top score on this problem. If 3NT always gets the top vote, the bidding forum starts to get a bit predictable. Here are the readers who went for the obvious BF winner (with not a single person blaming their choice on you-know-who):

Paul Tranmer: 3NT. At last, an easy one! Given the 1diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opening bid, I find it inconceivable that North will not hold enough in hearts to stop the suit. Could 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) be a better contract? Possibly so, if North held A-Kxx-AKJ10xx-Qxx but even then 3NT will be cold if the heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A is right or the hearts break.

Denis Haynes: 3NT. Partner has opened and must have some points in the majors.

Sydney Frish: 3NT. Partner refused spades but with close to 30 HCP we must be at least in game. The high singleton in partner's suit should also help.

Terry Dunne: 3NT. Six diamonds, two clubs, and partner must have an extra trick somewhere, hopefully in hearts!

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Partner is forcing to something -- hopefully game.

3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is actually not forcing here (although it would only ever be passed with a bare minimum). With a hand too strong for 3diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), always a problem in standard bidding, you have to make up something else. A common treatment is to play an artificial 3NT rebid to show that kind of hand, because a natural 3NT is rarely needed in this auction. 

Alexander Cook: 3NT. 3NT is the most likely spot. diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q will be of use to partner, and he should have a heart stopper amongst his 16-18 HCP.

Bill Bennett: 3NT. There should be enough points, and if North does not support my spades, I hope he has hearts stopped.

Robin Cross: 3NT. If 3NT is an option, that is one reason to bid 3NT. Who needs a heart stopper?

David Hester: 3NT. He must have some hearts, but I have wrongsided the contract. 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would avoid this, but he might have no club stop and too many hearts.

Tim Trahair: 3NT. Assume North has some values in hearts. Would like North to bid NT to protect his heart holding but can't work out how to achieve this.

The desire to have North play the hand was one reason for rejecting 3NT, but there is a simple way to deal with this problem:

Adriano Voscilla: 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing the fifth spade, and hoping to rightside the probable 3NT contract.

Steve Hurley: 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I have another spade and I'm not a minimum -- your go partner.

John Leenders: 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Do not want to go past 3NT. Show fifth spade and deny heart stop.

Willem Willemse: 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A heart stopper with partner 3NT will have a good chance. The only way to find out is to show my five spades. Awful hand, maybe it was better to pass.

The other reason for rejecting 3NT was because of higher ambitions.

Eric Leong: 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Time to let partner know that 6diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a possibility by showing something in clubs.

Sam Arber: 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3NT gives up on slam. It's IMPs, so look for game or slam in minor.

Terry Collier : 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Unfortunately cuts out 3NT but leaves 4spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 5diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) still viable.

Zbych Bednarek: 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Control bid, agreeing diamonds. Seems better play in suit than notrump.

Jameson Cole: 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Tough problem. Partner almost certainly has a heart stopper (ace or king). If I bid 3NT, I give up on a spade or club game. If I bid 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then 3NT might be the only game that makes. If I bid 3spadesm.gif (111 bytes), partner might thing it non-forcing. If I bid 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes), that's weird.

Nigel Guthrie: 4clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner bids a firm 4NT, then pass. 4diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) has the right idea but denies club control. 3NT is a bit of gamble and may wrong-side that contract. 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is a daft self-trap -- how can you continue sensibly over partner's 3NT?

I think the 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders are not planning to continue over partner's 3NT. But the real problem with 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is no one knows whether it shows hearts or denies them.

Rex Fox: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This would be useful asking for a stopper as pard with a 4 card heart suit would have bid 2heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If pard has a stopper, 3NT should have chances.

Frank Campbell: 3heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner doesn't realise this is a stopper ask, it may stop the opponents from leading them.

But expect a director call after partner explains your call as natural. And if you're using screens, you'll have to tell the opponents about the heart weakness yourself!

The top scores for the month are listed below. Note that these scores will differ slightly from those published in the magazine. This is because several of the bids received from readers are not found by any members of the expert panel, and have a score of zero at the time of printing. Once all the reader's votes are in, including the occasional appeal, these responses are sometimes upgraded causing changes to the scores and rankings.

Top scores for April-May
1John Leenders490
1Robin Cross490
3Alexander Cook480
3Gary Lane480
3Julian Gauld480
3Tim Trahair480
7Bill Bennett470
8Jameson Cole460
9Ian Patterson450
9Kay O'Connor450
9Peter Nolan450
9Willem Willemse450
13Andrew MacAlister440
13Derek Pocock440
13Ender Ozcan440
13Henri de Jong440
13Terry Dunne440
18Roger Yandle430
18Trish Whitton430
20Nigel Guthrie420
20Patrice Fincias420
20Rex Fox420
20Steve Hurley420
20Zbych Bednarek420
25David Hester410
26Arthur Porter400
26Sonny Schultz400

Leading scores for 2006
1Gary Lane930
2John Leenders920
3Steve Hurley900
4Henri de Jong890
5Leon Slonim870
6Alexander Cook860
6Robin Cross860
8Andrew MacAlister850
9Bill Bennett840
9Nigel Guthrie840
9Ian Smith840
12Ian Patterson830
13Derek Pocock820
13Joe Lentz820
13Sonny Schultz820
16Ivan Demeny810
16Jameson Cole810
18Rex Fox800
19Sam Arber780
19Tim Trahair780
21Terry Dunne770
22Sydney Frish760
23Jeff Brokenshire750
24Kay O'Connor740
24Peter Tarlinton740
24Roger Yandle740
27Martin Eggins730

Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum. Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the June-July issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your April-May issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.