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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles June-July 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 August forum
Hand One - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 873
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ652
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J75


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

1NT is 15-17.
Double is takeout.


Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 501330

Our first problem this month was given to us by Alfredo Versace, who was advocating a pass on the South hand. The panel and the readers have both resoundingly validated his opinion. Summing the hand up perfectly:

Pietro Campanile: Pass. Good points, great intermediates, chunky suit and no wasted values: this hand has it all. Automatic Pass :)))

For any Aussies who have trouble following Pietro's logic: he is from the Northern hemisphere, and everything is upside down over there.

Terry Dunne: Pass. The only alternative I can see is a highly speculative 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), where even if partner has three diamonds, there is still no surety that we will be better off than defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Steve Hurley: Pass. Based on loser trick count alone, partner has 6 or 7 and you have 10 -- that means you should not be venturing to the three level.

H C Wilton: Pass. How do I know my partner doesn't have four spades? How do I know that we can make anything?

Paul Tranmer: Pass. Give North a bog standard 1NT such as: Axx-AJx-Axx-Kxxx and there's little or no hope of making 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and considerable more hope of defeating 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). On a good day, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may even go two off, beating all partscores our way. I'm not at all sure the use of Double for takeout here is the best treatment. For example, holding KJ10x-xxx-Kxx-xxx I'd like to double 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for penalties. How about 2NT for takeout?

Tim Trahair: Pass. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems pretty risky bearing in mind we passed first time round. Reluctant to double since this seems to imply more strength than we have and might end up with us playing 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in a 3-3 fit. West must have a fistful of spades and East may not have much. Can we collect six tricks before they collect eight?

Sam Arber: Pass. Pass seems best option rather than competing and sticking neck out.

Josh Sher: Pass. It could be right to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but I think your best chance for a plus is defending, since the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q will not be pulling much weight on offense.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Maybe we can get them two off and being vulnerable will give us a better score than trying 2NT or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ken Berry: Pass. I don't know if Lebensohl is part of our system, to end up in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), if it is can I bid 2NT (unless pass is a better score of course!!)

Lebensohl is a convention that is used to distinguish game interest hands from competitive hands. Given that we passed 1NT, there is not much use for Lebensohl here. We have a much more practical meaning for 2NT:

Manuel Paulo: 2NT. One down!

Eric Leong: 2NT. Going down a little is no big deal if 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes against my nearly defenseless hand.

Sydney Frish: 2NT. Pass seems too timid and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) a bit high.

In the magazine, the 2NT bidders were represented by Frank Stewart, who offered this as a possible layout:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K32
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A104
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K873
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ6
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ10764
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q52
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 94
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K3
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 98
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KJ96 
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A10
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 109842
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 873
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ652
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J75

Note that in this example, the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q is worthless with the lead coming through South, but luckily West has no entry so the spades are cut off. But a few people were unwilling to have their queen beheaded so easily:

Sandy Barnes: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A spade lead though the queen rates to be bad in notrump.

Martin Eggins: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This right sides the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q rather than using a vague takeout double. The latter also wrongly implies I have hearts. With half the points 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) has a fair chance.

Arthur Hoffman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As between 2NT and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I choose the latter. I want West on opening lead.

Helena Dawson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Close between passing and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hopefully West will push on to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) one off.

John Leenders: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not a defensive hand and we are not vulnerable.

Rex Fox: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Opp should have 7ish tricks, eg AKJxxx-KQx-xx-xx or better. Should not be more than one off in 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may well make.

It's always nice to have 7 playing tricks, but it would also be quite normal for West to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on much much less. Against a strong notrump, it is important for West to balance with a long suit, because East could be passing with a flat 15-count. From West's point of view, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could be simple as:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ10
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K97
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ108
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AK9862
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 973
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 62
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 93
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 543
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ4 
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ43
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K76
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 7
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 10862
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J1085
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q542

If NS were playing a weak notrump, maybe West would need to be a little stronger, as East would be more limited. 

Bill Bennett: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Cannot be sure of defeating 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should make 8 or 9 tricks.

John R Mayne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm not selling out; I'm not looking for a 4-3 fit.

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could well make and with favorable vulnerability I will compete to 3 level.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Seems practical (but double would be better at pairs).

Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. Partner can leave the double in with four nice spades sitting over West. I could bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but partner may only have two, and East may get a spade ruff.

Stephen Bartos: Dbl. 2NT not an option because it would promise to have spades well stopped; double encourages partner to bid best suit, so we'd have at worst a 7 card fit -- or partner might even be able to pass for penalties.

No details of the full deal, so let's pretend Frank Stewart's example hand (above) is the real thing.

Hand Two - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT932
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQT9
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K54
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K


West North East South
pass pass 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) dbl
pass 4NT pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 100 2928
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 802740
Two aces 50270
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 401316
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 30415

A familiar bidding forum situation: partner has thrown a 4NT bid at us, and as usual we are torn between the three different interpretations of the bid.

Bill Bennett: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I cannot read 4NT as anything other than Blackwood.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Don't think 4NT is Blackwood here as partner is a passed hand. Will settle in this contract as he may have about 10-11 points.

Arthur Hoffman: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4NT can't be Blackwood as partner is a passed hand. He's probably (I hope) 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)322 with 10 or so HCP mainly in clubs and diamonds.

Helena Dawson: Pass. Has to be natural with club suit and around 10-11 points.

Steve Hurley: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Categorically, 4NT is not natural and therefore it is constructive. It is likely to be either balanced, stronger than a simple 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or stronger and two suited. I bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as choice and await further developments.

Ian Smith: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner must have a two suited take-out. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) denies clubs and lets him bid hearts or spades.

Frank Campbell: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Does partner have the two lowest unbid suits or a diamond stopper? There is nothing in the system notes to guide us so I will go for the former.

So the choice is between natural, Blackwood, or two suited. Hang on, I missed one:

Zbych Bednarek: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is showing seven clubs and a four card major.

This obscure-sounding choice was supported in the magazine by both Kieran Dyke and Andrew Robson. But let's get back to the three mainstreams, starting with the naturists:

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. 4NT must be natural (say xxx-xx-AQ-AQxxxx). Your hand is quite suitable for 6NT but bad breaks are expected. Major suit contracts are doomed on a defensive cross-ruff.

Eric Leong: Pass. It sounds like partner is something like xx-xxx-Ax-AQxxxx.

Pietro Campanile: Pass. East has likely some 7-4 in the minors and pard should have AJx to go with some club length. I stay put.

Josh Sher: Pass. I suspect partner thinks 4NT is a good 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, but I think it's natural, but based on club length. And I don't like my partner very much.

This is a good strategy. The best time to punish partner is when he is declarer. He gets to struggle in 4NT, and we get to go and have a coffee.   

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. North is a passed hand. Ten tricks will be hard enough to make.

Adriano Voscilla: Pass. Partner should have a balanced maximum.

Sydney Frish: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pass may be the winning decision, but that's what preempts are for, to make the decision difficult.

The second option, Blackwood, received almost no support from the readers. Obviously you've all learned by now that 4NT is never Blackwood in a bidding forum. Which brings us to the final option, the two-suited hand:

Manuel Paulo: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Two aces? No; my cheapest suit.

Paul Tranmer: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4NT cannot be natural as with diamond values the double would have been passed. So, can it be Blackwood? Not really because (a) North is a passed hand and (b) no suit has yet been agreed. So the only remaining logical explanation is that North is showing two places to play. Over my 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid North will bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and I'll raise to six.

Robin Cross: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner wants me to pick a suit, one of them should be hearts.

Ken Berry: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Can't imagine North has diamonds. Is 4NT meant to be clubs plus a major? Would like to pass but too scared.

John Leenders: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner shows two suiter. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) says I have strong major two suiter.

Martin Eggins: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm expecting 4NT is a two suiter. My 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) denies clubs so hopefully partner will bid his better major.

Terry Dunne: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Presumably partner has upgraded his passed hand because he has a diamond void. Even so, I can't picture a hand where slam is possible, especially considering the likelihood of bad breaks.

The magazine's guest moderator, Eric Kokish, awarded the final marks this month, and as always when we have a guest over, it can be tricky to navigate through the scores. Eric has awarded 80 points to anyone who bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in response to partner's two-suiter, but only 50 points to those who bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in response to Blackwood. In the Readers' Forum, I don't have the luxury of knowing what everyone is thinking, so everyone gets 80. Even the fence-sitters:

Sandy Barnes: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Is partner showing two suits or asking aces. 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) covers both. prospects.

Sam Arber: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If Blackwood then 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) right answer; if shows two suiter then likely to be clubs and hearts. Otherwise may be to play with clubs and diamond stopper.

Rex Fox: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What is 4NT? Blackwood? More likely natural or two lower suits, try 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (a two way bet) as South is min for the take out double, leave the rest to pard.

H C Wilton: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It's either two places to play or it's ace asking. How can I go wrong by bidding 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)?

Tim Trahair: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't know what 4NT means -- for me it would be 5-5 in the two lowest unbid suits. But it might be asking us to pick what game to play in. Whichever, 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems to be the best bid, it tells partner of our dislike of clubs and will survive if partner is saying pick a game.

The deal is from the 2006 Yeh Bros Cup. North intended 4NT as two suited, but South (Pablo Lambardi) took it as natural and passed, earning a perfect bidding forum score but a large negative in the IMPs column.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ754
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ7543
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A10932
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQ109
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K54
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K
West North East South
pass pass 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) dbl
pass 4NT all pass  
Result: NS -500

Hand Three - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QT632
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ85
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 92


West North East South
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10-15 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass ?

2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is Precision, 10-15 with 5+ clubs.
New suits are forcing.
Call Award %
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 5026
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 702946
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60 179
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2006
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2002
Other 0 01

This problem gives us a chance to wheel out one of my favourite bidding forum conventions: the Fit Showing Non-Jump.

Rex Fox: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Picture a perfect minimum for North of 6-7 losers eg. AQJxx-Kx-Kxx-xxx; this should give a good play for game. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is like long suit game trial, shows where you live, lets partner bail out at 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if unsuitable.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows five hearts with spade tolerance.

Arthur Hoffman: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This must be invitational, with spade tolerance, so partner can convert to whatever, based on his hand.

I'm still learning about this convention, but as I understand it: if you have tolerance for partner you bid a new suit, while if you can't stand partner's suit you... actually, I'm not sure what you do if you can't stand partner's suit. Raise him to game?

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows points, hearts and nothing about spades or notrumps.

Fred Altstock: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Happy to show my hearts as partner may have 5-4 in majors.

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Got to try something. Have I stopped partner from trying NT?

Stephen Bartos: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Have to show the five card suit: if we have a fit in hearts, game is a good option; if partner has six or more spades they can be rebid; only if partner has 5233 and minimum points might we be in trouble, and I'd trust him to pass in this case.

Trust is very important in a partnership, and it's good to know your partner can be trusted to pass a forcing bid.

Sandy Barnes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On the way to game, just in case.

Tim Trahair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). North must be reasonably strong as he is prepared to bid when we are vul. Let's hear what more he has to say -- we may have game somewhere.

Eric Leong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On any other bid I might land in the wrong non-heart game if partner has three hearts.

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner probably has spades and clubs. If he bids 3NT then I will pass.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 10 free marks at last.

Happy to oblige with the 10 free marks; in fact, I'll give you 70. Of course, in the British magazine, ten marks is enough to buy a perfect score. Down here, where the inflation rate is apparently much higher, ten marks is the award for insufficient bids and people who double their partners.

Terry Dunne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have an opening strength hand and partner overcalled at the two level. We either run the risk of bidding to game without sufficient values or run the risk of playing in a partscore with game on. Bidding has the best upside.

Bill Bennett: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hard to see any other possible bid, including pass.

Pietro Campanile: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My hand is strong enough to have great chances in whatever game we end up in and one should not be too finicky on suit quality in this instance with good secondary spade support.

Helena Dawson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't know where this is going yet. Only just strong enough for this bid but passing is worse. My partner will expect me to have some spade support or good quality(!) heart suit. And an opening hand...

Helena was not the only one worried about the heart suit quality, and this is why so many were unwilling to bid the suit.

Frank Campbell: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner may be strong. I am too good to pass so will cue with no clear direction.

H C Wilton: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner is limited so let's hear his rebid and then decide whether a pass is an option.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner shows some enterprise, we'll bid game.

Pat O'Connor: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for a stopper.

John Leenders: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Forcing bid. If pard bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I will pass.

Bogdan Agica: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This doesn't imply a bigger fit than Qx or xxx.

Adriano Voscilla: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner does not stop clubs, we shall play game in spades.

Amiram Millet: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for a game but not sure if it should be 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Paul Tranmer: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Showing a value raise to at least 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Although I'm arguably a spade short I must make a forward going move on this hand as game could easily be on here. If North's next bid is 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I'll pass, but over anything else I push on to game.

Finally there is the "support with support" brigade:

Sydney Frish: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pity the hearts are not better, would like to show them.

Ian Smith: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing a spade fit and a 10-12 TP raise.

Josh Sher: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I see no way of keeping all strains in play and while I have good values, it pays to be conservative after a pre-empt with no sure fit. I happen to know that the winning bid is 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but I am not up to that bid...

Clearly Josh recognises this problem from the newsgroup,, which is where we found it. Unfortunately I forgot to write down the details of the full deal, so if you still have it, email me at and I'll add it in.

Hand Four - North deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J32
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A82
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q8762
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K7


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


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 802145
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60418

Steve Hurley: Pass. The law of total tricks rules! If you can make 9 tricks, they make only 6 and that's +200.

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Is this some 'Law' problem? If we can get 9 tricks, are they stuck with 7. Once again too scared to double!!

A couple of different interpretations of the Law of Total Tricks there. Yes, in fact this problem does come from a textbook on the Law, namely Competitive Bidding At Pairs by Peter Hall. Hall uses this deal to illustrate the need to double in this kind of situation.

Eric Leong: Dbl. Routine matchpoint cooperative double. Why make a unilateral decision and bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) when you can give partner a choice?

Arthur Hoffman and Sam Arber: Dbl. At Matchpoints trying for the magic +200, if partner chooses to defend.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. The standard blame transfer.

Zbych Bednarek: Dbl. Matchpoint scoring, with hope for 'kiss of death'; at IMPs my bid would be 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Sandy Barnes: Dbl. Close decision, but you can't back into double if you first start with a suit bid.

Josh Sher: Dbl. I think this is what this double shows at the two level at Matchpoints. Although I am still trying to work out which minor I am leading.

Rex Fox: Dbl. Tight penalty double. Secondary honours suggest defence. In a high standard game a double is aggressive but if they go one off, +100 instead of +110 in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will be a poor score -- try for +200. Partner is still there and can pull it to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with a weak hand unsuitable for defence.

H C Wilton: Dbl. Since I can't sell out, let partner decide what to do.

Terry Dunne: Dbl. Of course, only in a bidding comp. In real life, it's 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and whatever happens I avoid the '...doubling them into game/law of total tricks...' lecture. It's a close call but my hand is better suited to defence than offence and we do have a small, but hopefully important, advantage in HCP.

Terry's comment sums up this problem nicely. The expert panel delivered a comfortable majority vote for the textbook double, knowing that (a) experts never drop a trick in defence, and (b) in a bidding forum you never actually have to defend anyway. The readers were less willing to take the risk.

Alexander Cook: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems automatic here. If you double you will get a top board or a bottom board.

Bill Bennett: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is not certain to fail, and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may make.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have an 8 loser hand and partner figures to be short in spades.

Stephen Bartos: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Invitational -- I know partner does not have 16 points, but game is a prospect if he has 14-15 and some distribution.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) looks safe; so, I compete.

Martin Eggins: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Telling partner I'm 8-10 HCP not 5-7. The offsuit values and club shortage should help nicely.

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not vulnerable, 11 points and a shy partner. Hope the opponents haven't got game and go for it.

Only 11 points? You forgot to add points for the sequence in diamonds. OK, I admit we may have been a little conservative on the previous round, but the spade holding probably isn't worth as many tricks as you might think. Here are some more people who never met a knave they didn't like:

Ian Smith: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why didn't I bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) cue raise over 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ??

Frank Campbell: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think I would have responded 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and if so I would now go 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so that's what I am doing.

The images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)J is not only worthless in terms of high cards, but it's also a potential negative value in terms of total tricks. If 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) had been passed out, I'm guessing partner would be glad we did not go any higher. Still, if you really do think the hand is worth a game try, it's not too late to show some encouragement now:

Pietro Campanile: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The auction has improved my hand commensurably: I had a borderline 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid before if it had not been for that nasty looking images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Jxx, now I am surely worth a game try.

Sydney Frish: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Marginally stronger than the 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid and not prepared to sell out that cheaply.

Adriano Voscilla: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Since I cannot leave them in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with a fit, I can now as well show that I have a very maximum hand.

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard must be short in spades and he doesn't know we are top of the range for our 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) response -- why didn't we bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) the first time round? This shows our interest in going further and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is on if we have a double fit or he has good clubs and perhaps an honour in diamonds.

John Leenders: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Show five diamonds, implying three card support in hearts. Partner can decide.

Helena Dawson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If we end up defending this hand it will help my partner to know my distribution (club ruff perhaps). Can't let them play in 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't mind them being in 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled.

Amiram Millet: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is too cozy for them.

Paul Tranmer: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I was maximum for my 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) raise and North could easily assemble five heart tricks, a diamond, two clubs and a ruff. If that doesn't pan out and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) goes one off it's quite likely that 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was making and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is very unlikely to be doubled. Finally, if EW take the push to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I'll double and lead the king of clubs!

The full deal:  

images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q6
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ763
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K104
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QJ3
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1097
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J105
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J53
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A864
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AK854
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 94
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A9
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10952
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J32
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A82
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q8762
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K7

As you might expect, given that the hand is from a Law-book, there are 16 tricks available on the deal. The winning action was to double, on the grounds that while we take nine tricks, they take only seven. Of course, if the tricks had split eight and eight, double wouldn't be looking so hot -- but then we could always blame partner for not pulling the double!

Hand Five - East deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J54
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 6
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K9632
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K874


West North East South
    1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1 pass
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2 dbl pass ?

1. Precision, 10-15 with 5+ spades.
2. May be a good hand, as 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is limited.


Call Award %
Pass 502552
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30017
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1002

Only two real options here, with a whopping 75% of the panel (as well as half of the readers) choosing to remove the double.

Pietro Campanile: 4NT. Difficult to construct a hand where partner has his double of a Precision 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid and we are not better off in 5 of a minor instead of fighting against 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

John Leenders: 4NT. Show two suiter denying hearts.

And probably also denying spades. So any two suits, as long as they don't include a major.

Sandy Barnes: 4NT. Suggests minors.

Leon Slonim: 4NT. Indicating minors.

Tim Trahair: 4NT. Pick a minor. Pard must be short in spades and West has little other than spades. Perhaps pard has something like 1444. Pard should realise if we had hearts we would have bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Josh Sher: 4NT. I have shape and partner's double is primarily for takeout. It's close between 4NT and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Denis Haynes: Pass. Not enough points for courageous calling, hang on to your seat and hope partner meant for penalties.

A couple of people were speculating on whether partner's double is penalty or takeout, but really that's just a matter of semantics. We all agree that partner has short spades. Isn't a penalty double with short trumps kind of similar to a takeout double?

Steve Hurley: 4NT. Partner is likely to be void in spades. 4NT cannot be natural and says choose your better lowest suit.

Rex Fox: 4NT. North's hand should be something like x-AQxxx-Axxx-Axx or better. Should give a play for 5 or 6 of a minor. 4NT brings both minors into play.

Martin Eggins: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner should be 5440 so either minor is a fit. With 5530 or 6520 partner should have bid 4NT as in Hand 2.

Ken Berry: 4NT. Where are all the hearts? Once again I've got no heart and bid.

Adriano Voscilla: 4NT. We have probably a double fit in the minors, and they are going to make 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Despite recognising that partner does not hold a trump stack, most readers saw defending as the safest option.

Sydney Frish: Pass. Just a feeling that pass has a better chance for a plus score.

H C Wilton: Pass. 4NT could be right, but it's (hardly) ever wrong to go for the plus score.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. I hope to set this contract.

Sam Arber: Pass. Go for sure positive.

Eric Leong: Pass. Pass may not always result in the perfect plus score but sometimes pass will be the perfect plus score.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Hoping to get them down as I have nowhere to go with this rubbish and may have two possible tricks?

Pat O'Connor: Pass. It will be easier to beat 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) than to make 11 tricks in a minor.

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Another 10 free marks. You may miss a minor game or slam. If partner has a couple of aces, including images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A you could get quite rich defending.

Actually you get 50 this time, so you're well up on your original expectations for the month. 

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. And lead singleton heart.

Arthur Hoffman: Pass. I'm defending with modest values when partner doubles vulnerable and I misfit his suit.

Amiram Millet: Pass. They might go down. Can't bid anything sane.

Terry Dunne: Pass. West does not have a good hand, or else partner has just invented the suicide double. It looks like the opponents both have something like 5-4 in the majors so I'm expecting partner to have pretty close to 0544. While our combined shapes favour offence, we can surely take five tricks on defence more easily than 11 tricks on offence. Maybe we'll even get some heart ruffs...

Paul Tranmer: 4NT. As a Precision player of many years standing I am VERY uncomfortable with the annotation stating that the 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid 'May be a good hand'. No sound variant of Precision I have ever come across play the direct raise to game as anything other than weak and distributional. This hand illustrates the point very well, because if West were 'good' North wouldn't even be close to having a bid at all.

You're looking at the auction only from South's point of view, but the 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid is targeted at North, not South. You and I know that West does not have that great a hand. But North had to make his choice looking only at his own cards, and from his point of view, West could indeed have a good hand (including both our minor suit kings).

Also challenging the system notes:

Stephen Bartos: Pass. At this level, partner's double likely to be for penalties; despite your footnote, if West's hand were really that good they would have progressed more slowly.

The footnote comes from Meckstroth and Rodwell (also Precision players of many years standing). They were EW on this deal, and they believe that it is much better to put the opponents under pressure than to have a sophisticated auction to the perfect spot. This deal was another success for the system, as opposite a standard 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening it would have been too risky for West to bid just 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes):
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 7
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AQJ4
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J85
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ1052
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQ86
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K8532
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 963
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A10932
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1097 
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ107
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J54
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 6
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K9632
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K874
West North East South
Rodwell   Meck'th  
    1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) dbl pass 4NT
pass 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass pass
dbl all pass    
Result: 9 tricks, EW +500

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 June-July
1Ross Best480
1Trish Whitton480
3Adriano Voscilla460
3Josh Sher460
3Kees Tammens460
3Leon Slonim460
7Tim Andrews450
7Zbych Bednarek450
9Gary Lane430
9H C Wilton430
9Ken Berry430
9Pietro Campanile430
9Slava de Leeuw430
9Tom S430
15Paul Tranmer420
15Andrew MacAlister420
15Tania Black420
18Sonny Schultz410
18Tim Trahair410
20David Matthews400
20Henri de Jong400
20John R Mayne400
20Michael Davy400
20Rick Lu400
20Sam Arber400
20Sandy Barnes400
20Terry Dunne400

Leading scores for 2006
1Gary Lane1360
2Leon Slonim1330
3Henri de Jong1290
4John Leenders1270
4Steve Hurley1270
4Andrew MacAlister1270
7Alexander Cook1240
8Sonny Schultz1230
9Robin Cross1220
10Nigel Guthrie1210
11Joe Lentz1200
12Tim Trahair1190
13Ian Patterson1180
13Sam Arber1180
15Bill Bennett1170
15Terry Dunne1170
15Trish Whitton1170
18Jameson Cole1160
19Rex Fox1150
20Ian Smith1120
21Ivan Demeny1110
22Nick Beaumont1090
22Tim Andrews1090
24Dean Eidler1080
24Paul Tranmer1080
26Kay O'Connor1070
26Roger Yandle1070

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 August-September issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your June-July issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.