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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles August-September 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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Hand One - West deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQT93
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) JT
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K632


West North East South
pass 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) dbl 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) * pass ?

2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) could be three-card support.


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1003229
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 902720
Pass 803237
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3004
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2099

We have a special guest panellist this month, Patrick Huang of Taiwan. Normally a member of the magazine's expert panel, he decided to donate his answers to the readers' forum this month. (OK, the truth is he forgot to submit his answers in time for the magazine, so he said we could use them here).

Our first exhibit is the most basic of bidding problems: we've found a fit, and we need to decide whether to bid game.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). You have a double fit and 7 losers so must bid game. IMO the worst bid is 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) which partner might pass with Axx-Jxx-Ax-Axxxx.

Willem Willemse: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why didn't I start with a redouble (showing 8+ HCP)? I have a 7 loser hand: in IMPs good enough for game.

Barbara Whitmee: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Stretching but I have a seven loser hand. Would like to have the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q for this bid, but I think partner has help in clubs because East was happy doubling the opening bid, which indicates tolerance for the other suits. East could have four hearts, but I am over him with KQ1093.

Steve Hurley: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My loser count is 7, and partner should have a 7 loser hand 7+7=14, and 18-14=4. I bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

That's exactly what I thought when I was given the problem. But then I counted my points and chickened out, opting for this sensible compromise:

Patrick Huang: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This 7-loser hand is worth an invitation. Opponents should have either an 8-card spade fit or a 9-card diamond fit so I don't expect to be able to play a quiet 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) anyway. A direct 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid may stop them finding the diamond fit but I am not too concerned with that as we own the heart suit and they are vul.

Adriano Voscilla: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This invitation should direct partner to value anything he has in hearts and clubs, and only good controls in the other suits.

As it happens, North has bucketloads of values in hearts and clubs AND magnificent controls in the other suits! But more on that later.

Amiram Millet: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Will help partner's evaluation. 

John Leenders: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is not forcing and East has hearts. Still 3NT may be the right contract.

Dean Eidler: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not a reversion. Forcing.

I'm not sure that this is forcing, but it's clearly forward going, and very descriptive, and that's good enough for me. Another forward going bid, but not so descriptive:

Denis Haynes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Confirms five hearts and max points.

Tim Andrews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Some possibility of game -- so invite and show I have five hearts.

Sydney Frish: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). To confirm five hearts and invite game -- while still giving partner a choice between the heart and NT game.

Margaret Reid: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Limit raise ahead of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) -- if pard is max we should make game.

Josh Sher: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hate being 2-2 in the pointed suits, but we have a double fit and a sound opening bid will usually produce four cover cards (such as images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)AQ and two side aces). If I was 3514 or 1534 I would have just bid game.

I know what you mean I hate it when partner opens with less than three aces! You won't enjoy Problem Three in this set.

Alexander Cook: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Two doubletons, a fifth heart, excellent trumps including the 10-9 and support for partner's clubs mean that this hand is worth a game invitation.

Robin Cross: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The system lists support doubles. So I assume that the 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which 'could be three-card support' shows a decent three card raise without wasted values (my normal style of support double).

The footnote overrules the AB Standard system. Frequently we are given problems from real life, and in real life most people don't play AB Standard.

Ivon Chen: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Nine points plus two kings likely to be well placed behind East.

Ian Patterson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why didn't East support his partner's free bid? Could he have three spades and four hearts?

Very likely.

Boris Richter: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Showing 5+ hearts and inviting, with values in partner's club suit this hand is now worth a limit raise.

Sam Arber: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 7 loser hand, feel like passing but give it one more try for game especially with possible club fit.

Rex Fox: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With 7 loser count should try for game, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) forcing to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), asks for Pard with a good min like: xxx-Axxx-Kx-AQxx (gives a 50% chance for game) to accept the invitation, or bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with an unsuitable hand.

Marion Carney: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 11 TP + North's 12 HCP = 23 minimum. So game is on if North has max HCP.

Hmmm, it seems obvious when you put it like that. Still, in the interests of diversity, I guess we should see what the cowards (sorry, I mean the cautious bidders) have to say:

Ross Best: Pass. Don't think game is likely. Might try 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

David Matthews: Pass. East's pass, rather than 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), implies hearts, so let's just hope we can make 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

I agree that East looks like he has four hearts here. But at least I know where they are, and mine are a lot better than his.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Can't see game on with everyone bidding so happy to stay in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or will go to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if they bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Bill Bennett: Pass. Barely enough to justify an invitation. Plus the known strength of East is behind dummy, where more tricks can be lost than in front of, if it had been at West.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. After East's takeout double, the probability of making game looks somewhat under 45%.

45%? I live for the day when one of my games has a 45% chance.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I am minimum and so is partner. If he is on the high side with four trumps we may make game but it doesn't seem very likely to me.

Terry Dunne: Pass. We'd love to play in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if given the chance. This is very unlikely as there is a probable double fit each way but you never know your luck. If forced, I'll bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and give partner a choice. The tougher decision might be whether to double if they bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tim Trahair: Pass. North response seems weak. We only have 10 HCP so game doesn't seem to be on.

Jameson Cole: Pass. The LAW bid. Possibly our last chance for a plus, but West might compete with a 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) call which doesn't make.

I don't think it's fair to blame the Law for this choice. Assuming both sides have 8 trumps (we could have more, they could have less), it's not unreasonable that they can make 6 tricks while we make ten. On the actual deal, it's six and eleven:

images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A753
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A42
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ754
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KJ108
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 75
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 87543
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 108
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q64
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J86
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQ92
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J9
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ1093
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J10
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K632

South passed and made 12 tricks in 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) for +230. My boss held the North cards, so I don't want to imply in any way that his 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid was, say, a bit timid. And the word spineless never crossed my mind. It's just good to see him have some high cards to justify his bidding for a change.

Hand Two - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 763
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K75
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ83


West North East South
  1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) dbl
pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 904117
6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4041
4NT 20 021
Other 007

On our next problem, South's double came in for a lot of criticism, with many players wanting to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on the first round.

Gary Lane: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I would have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) instead of the negative double as partner now expects four hearts.

Ian Patterson: Pass. 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might be on. What would partner have bid after 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (instead of double)?

Willem Willemse: Pass. Did my double promise four hearts and 10+ HCP? If not I would like to cancel the double.

Willem is the proprietor of Stepbridge, Australia's online bridge club. So he is used to having an Undo button to click on. We haven't implemented the Undo function in the bidding forum yet. 

Terry Dunne: 4NT. Double huh? Nice... I wonder why 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) asking for a stopper wouldn't be more appropriate. It can't be limit raise or better in this sequence. West didn't extend the preempt so partner has at least two spades, probably 2443 shape. He also has every picture card outside of spades. Ideally I would like partner to bid notrumps but I can't see how that will happen now. The one safe way to get to 6NT if it's on is to hear partner show three aces. Otherwise, if he bids 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) we will have to hope for the best in 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Patrick Huang: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Did I promise 4+ hearts with my first double? If yes, why did I choose it to get myself into this trouble. I would have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as a western cue asking spade stopper for 3NT. If 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a diamond raise in the system, then I'd bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) in preference to the double. Partner's 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows an unbalanced good hand but could be either 5-4, 6-4 in the red or 1-4-4-4. Since he might cue 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with the latter I play him for long diamonds and run to the safer place. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may sound like a slam try in hearts.

Frank Campbell: Pass. If we are playing AB Standard why do I make bids outside the system; is it to create bidding forum problems? Double should promise four hearts playing negative doubles to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), now we are past 3NT and I have no idea if partner's red suits are 4-4, 5-4 or whatever. We may well have the same losers wherever we play so pass.

In answer to your first question, Frank: well, yes, pretty much. Some of the toughest problems are the ones you cause yourself. The fact is that sometimes in life you face a situation where you think, "Damn, why did I make such a stupid mistake". Some of us more than others. But you still need to move forward.

Incidentally, the (nameless) man who doubled is currently in Shanghai as a member of the Australian Seniors' team, so unfortunately we can't ask him what he was thinking. Our job is just to try to clean up his mess. Or look the other way and make it partner's problem:

Josh Sher: Pass. North likely has at least two spades on this auction (due to West's pass) so that makes us less likely to want to play in the five level and less likely that partner has five diamonds (2443 or 3442 18-19 is pretty likely here). I made my bed with the negative double of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (actually I think I must have cut in on the hand in the middle of the auction) and now I have to live with it.

Kay O'Connor: Pass. Partner figures to have two spade losers.

Jameson Cole: Pass. We may have values for slam, but we may be on a 4-3 fit with hearts breaking badly. If pard holds Ax-KQxx-AQJxxx-x, we still aren't a favorite to make 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't like 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) because pard may have 2443 shape.

David Hester: Pass. Horrible distribution outweighs extra points.

Boris Richter: Pass. This could turn out to be a very embarrassing situation, bad shape with three low ones in East's spade suit. If North is holding a singleton or an ace in the spade suit however a slam in hearts could be making. Still West did not support spades so I'm going to pass this 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid.

Alexander Cook: Pass. No reason to depart from the safety of a game contract for the sake of a highly speculative slam in a 4-3 fit.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. If North has a hand like xx-KQxx-Axxx-Axx (and East AKQxxx-xx-xxx-xx), the Moysian fit is our best strain.

Robin Cross: Pass. We should make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on 'values'. Searching for slam without a known eight card fit is a bit much.

Robin has picked the hand well; ten tricks are available on brute force, although declarer was not able to find them at the table. If partner is a poor declarer, we may need a less challenging contract:

Ross Best: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam may be a possibility but 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) not guaranteed. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems better value than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as we may have only 4-3 heart fit and partner is likely to be forced in spades.

Nigel Guthrie: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner probably has something like x-KQx-AQJxxx-Axx. Pity to go down in what may be a 3-3 fit with 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) cold.

Steve Hurley: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner could be 65 -- unlikely. I suspect 54 and partner thinks I have hearts for the double. The leap suggests good values and slam could be well on with my hand. But how to continue? I bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner must understand I am simply rebidding his suit and if I don't have hearts (where I would pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or cue bid), I must have good values with diamonds. Partner can move if he feels so inclined.

Adriano Voscilla: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I expect partner to cuebid with substantial extras, so his jump should be based on shape, something like 64 or even 65. With a black ace I could try for slam, but anyway it should be better to play in diamonds.

John Leenders: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). North has four hearts and a 4-3 fit, and four hearts with West is likely.

A few people have chosen to play partner for a strong two suiter. Apparently they found our previous bidding so traumatic, they've actually blocked the double out of their memory.

Tim Trahair: 4NT. I read North as being strong with 6-5 and therefore two or fewer cards in the black suits. So slam could be on.

Fred Altstock: 4NT. I'd say partner has a distributional hand -- could be 6-5 so slam is a possibility.

Margaret Reid: 4NT. Ask for key cards -- we have at least 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Rex Fox: 4NT. Pard should have a good 4 or 5 card heart support and five loser count to jump to game. With my 7 losers slam should be investigated. RKCB may not solve your problems, but nothing else springs to mind. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would appear to be a sign off -- probably would give the wrong message implying lack of heart honours in a three card suit, and 4 card support for diamonds.

Sam Arber: 4NT. Too good to give up on slam, partner appears to have five hearts unless 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be non forcing. 4NT keycard in hearts; if get 2 response could still be missing 2 aces or 2 spade losers. If more, bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Sydney Frish: 4NT. The double does imply (if not promise) four hearts -- there should be a good chance for 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) but prepared settle for 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Matthews: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North's 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) must be a 17+ with four hearts. As I can have as few as 8 points, I have to make some sort of slam try & hope partner doesn't have two small spades.

The full deal:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K763
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ843
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ7
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A102
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 42
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J106
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 109542
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQJ984
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q1098
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 92
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 6
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 763
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K75
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ83

Ten tricks are available in hearts, even without the heart finesse -- your only losers are two trumps and a spade. But it's never easy to play a hand when all you can think about is killing your partner, so North dropped a trick or two in the play.

Hand Three - South deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J54
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) Q6
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AT8
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQ964


West North East South
      1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?

2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is natural and forcing.


Call Award %
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 4040
2NT 90 3220
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 60145
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 401422

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). There are 3 choices - 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the best of a bad bunch. Qx is not bad support and partner can still bid 3NT.

There are two more choices: one third of the expert panel went for 2NT, and there was also a bit of reader support for the anti-systemic pass.

But first, in keeping with the spirit of a set of problems where our predecessors have been able to do nothing right, here's a word from our friendly complaints department:

Willem Willemse: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Did I really open (vul and on 1st position) with an 8 loser hand? Need to explain a lot to pard.

Rex Fox: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not happy with the 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) opening, 8 losers, but now have to follow through; 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems the least worst action, pard may even pass with 11 or 12 soft points.

Robin Cross: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I open about 85% of balanced 12 HCP hands. This one with Jxx spades and Qx of hearts would be in that other 15%.

So you say now -- but nobody actually passes a 12-count at the table, do they? That's why God invented the guilty conscience. I know I'd never have the discipline to pass a hand like this in real life, unless Roth himself was actually sitting behind me.

Ironically, the people who were embarrassed about the opening bid, were the ones who opted to accelerate the auction by supporting partner. If you really want to slow down an auction, nothing says "shut up partner" like rebidding your own suit:

Tim Andrews: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I must respond but have a minimum opening and limited support for partner.

Steve Hurley: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No issue here -- I have a minimum, only secondary heart support, and a suit to rebid. Partner can bid on.

Kay O'Connor: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Minimum, no heart support or spade stopper, genuine clubs.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Definitely 100 marks :)

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows we have 5+ clubs and no heart support. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would have a similar effect but encourage pard to bid 3NT with a good spade stopper. Our hand doesn't seem strong enough to encourage in this way.

Sam Arber: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Q6 probably not enough to raise hearts, so show five card club suit.

Jameson Cole: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Forcing. Shows a potential source of tricks. If pard bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I'll show delayed heart support. Keeps options open for 3NT, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), or perhaps 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

In contrast, for those who think we haven't done enough bidding so far, it's always fun to manufacture a three-card reverse:

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be possible; partner's next bid will clarify things.

And then dummy will clarify things even further -- including possibly the future of your partnership!

Next, there is the bid that takes up no space, and doesn't promise anything we don't have. Seems obvious to me, but it received only a handful of votes.

Patrick Huang: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I play this as just denying the ability to find other suitable calls. With genuine heart support I would support immediately or find other strong bids. All other bids are distortions (in order of preference: 2NT, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)).

Margaret Reid: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Waiting bid -- we can play 2NT at least or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Boris Richter: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asking for a stopper in spades. Partner can retreat in hearts with 6 cards or in clubs with three; with stronger hands and no stopper in the opponent's suit he can cue.

Lastly, in the fine bidding forum tradition, there's the inevitable stopperless notrump:

Terry Dunne: 2NT. So many times in the past, no stopper has been sufficient to bid no trumps, so surely half a stopper will be plenty.

Alexander Cook: 2NT. The Case of The Phantom Notrump Stopper #101. If you bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and partner doesn't have a stopper, then you have told the opponents that you don't have a real stopper. Bidding 2NT gives away the least amount of information to the opponents.

Amiram Millet: 2NT. Least of evil bids.

Fred Altstock: 2NT. Will invite partner to 3NT if he has a stronger hand.

Adriano Voscilla: 2NT. We have a choice between two lies, but in the case we are in a partscore, I would rather play 2NT than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Besides, if partner continues, he can always show his 6th heart on the way.

Manuel Paulo: 2NT. The stopper is not good enough, indeed; but my hand is balanced.

Josh Sher: 2NT. Since I have to bid something, Jxx will have to do, since showing a balanced hand and a weak NT at least gets the character of the hand across. On a lucky day partner has the other half stopper. But other good things might happen. Their suit might block. Or they might not lead it after you bid NT. As Steve Robinson is fond of saying, sometimes the act of bidding NT is its own stopper. And if partner has Axx my bidding NT will work really well!

Sydney Frish: 2NT. And 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if partner bids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

John Leenders: 2NT. The bidding suggests that North will have a stopper, so 2NT is the minimum bid possible.

The one option we didn't mention is the anti-systemic pass; it received several votes, and I would have been willing to promote it if even one of them had been able to support their choice with a comment. But, unsurprisingly, they were all silent on the matter, so I can't find an excuse to give it any points.

Hand Four - South deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) T86432
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KJ93


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


Call Award %
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 4040
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30017
Other 001

This problem is part of our continuing experiment to see just how bad a hand needs to get before it scores a unanimous pass. This one apparently isn't even close:

Willem Willemse: 2NT. If 2NT is a take out for the minors, then I bid 2NT, otherwise it will be a pass.

Margaret Reid: 2NT. Let's muddy the waters and play in a minor (hopefully).

Phil Houlton: 2NT. Delayed action, therefore only 4-4 in the minors is promised.

4-4 in the minors? Somehow I think that if we were 4-4 we might be closer to that unanimous panel.

Adriano Voscilla: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). LHO, with 16-17 HCP will be forced to guess. Since people like to declare, he is going to guess right, but anyway partner will be well placed to decide.

Marion Carney: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Sacrifice bid, not vul; 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is probably on.

Bill Bennett: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This is one of those 'blue murder' bids which leaves three at a table wondering what's in my drink. Sadly, partner will lead it if they go to 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pray they don't.

Lisa Simpson once said that prayer is the last refuge of a scoundrel. (Yes, I know someone else probably said it first, but I only know quotes that come from The Simpsons).

Frank Campbell: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Who has the spades? Presumably pard and West, who may have a big two suiter. This isn't a bad hand despite the lack of diamond honours. I don't think West will pass, and I hope to muddy the waters a little.

"This isn't a bad hand despite the lack of diamond honours". There isn't really anything I can say about that assessment, so let's hear a few quick words from the majority and then move on.

David Hester: Pass. You must be joking!

Jameson Cole: Pass. 2NT or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is masterminding and asking to be doubled.

Patrick Huang: Pass. The auction is not dead yet and I can't find a convenient way to interfere. 2NT does show the minor but I don't like the 2-card disparity. Will reconsider the situation if partner balances with 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ian Patterson: Pass. Partner still has a chance to re-open.

Rex Fox: Pass. Pard did not overcall 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), must have a horrible hand. This looks like an unsuitable hand for a sac in a minor

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. We don't want a diamond lead nor do we want to play in a 4-2 club fit. Partner has lots of spades and is probably about to protect anyway.

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. You have half your points in opponents' suit.

Tim Andrews: Pass. If half my points were in diamonds I would bid them, but not with this hand.

Josh Sher: Pass. 6-4 says bid, the KQ of hearts says pass. The tie breaker is bidding the six card suit is usually much safer than bidding 2NT for the minors (imagine partner is 2-3 in the minors) and I don't want a diamond lead.

Steve Hurley: Pass. Spades are breaking poorly for them, and any 2 suited bid will give away too much information on where the spades are.

Ken Berry: Pass. How much do I want a club lead? Would like to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but too scared.

Hand Five - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ9863
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) JT72
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 87


West North East South
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) * 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) dbl ?

2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is artificial and strong.
East's double is for takeout.


Call Award %
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1005033
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90109
Rdbl 8053
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 8055
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 801038
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 8050
6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 8050
7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80101

After such a serious and controversial set, it's time to let our hair down with AB's annual "test your personality" quiz.

Ross Best: Pass. I'd rather keep quiet about our huge heart fit so I don't bounce them into a making slam. They may misjudge the hand if I keep quiet.

Manuel Paulo: 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I hope we'll be five down, at most; this raise forces the opponents to make the last guess.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Using up the bidding space.

Barbara and Manuel should have a discussion about the definition of "using up the bidding space".

Dean Eidler: 4NT. Take away their Blackwood.

Jameson Cole: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This splinter should help pard judge how high to sacrifice.

Several people wanted to bid spades, on the assumption (incorrect as it turns out) that the opponents have a spade contract:

Amiram Millet: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). On the way to a heart sacrifice.

Ken Berry: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Would my opponents think a bid of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is stupid? With 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) they can't Blackwood so they have to guess too.

Alexander Cook: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A psyche of 4NT or 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) does look attractive however.

Zbych Bednarek: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I can see here three possibilities: psyche 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (against weak opponents); pass; or jump to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (we may have a diamond trick to set 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)).

Sam Arber: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Could psyche a spade bid but put them under pressure with 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid, may find it hard to bid spade slam if making.

David Hester: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why no 'other'? I want to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), bidding to the level where I don't know if I want to be doubled (-500 or 800) or outbid (-680). I expect them to have a slam which I cannot afford to sacrifice over if they bid it.

David is asking why I included no option to select "Other" in the list of available bids. The reason, of course, is because there were no other bids; I deliberately included every legal bid in the list of choices. Including Redouble, which I thought was the least likely option -- but one of the expert panel in the magazine gave it a go:

Andrew Robson: Rdbl. The more hearts I bid, the purer the opponents will think the deal is. So I'll stall with a redouble, muddying the waters. Perhaps I'm not supposed to let this affect my thoughts, but we must be aware of the possibility that partner is messing about (in which case a leap to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will not fill him with glee).

Frank Campbell: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Toyed with the thought of redoubling to see where West and partner might go but that seemed wimpish and this may even make so here goes.

The great majority went for the routine options, perhaps aware that crucial Readers' Race points are at stake. Top score, somewhat surprisingly I think, goes to the alleged Goldilocks bid:

David Matthews: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Let's make life difficult. 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is not enough and 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is too much.

Josh Sher: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Does my partner like to psych? There is something to be said for: (a) 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) leaving them room to stop short of slam; (b) 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) taking away Blackwood but letting them play 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); (c) 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) maximum pressure. And maybe even 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) since I strongly suspect they can make at least 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Sydney Frish: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Prepared to defend to this level anyhow, so why not take some bidding space away?

Ivon Chen: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 5+6 =11. Likely West has spade suit and only 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) sacrifice can block their communication. They will fear you being void in spades and bid on.

Ian Erratt: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is Zia's delightful first date -- you want to do everything and do not know where to start (at least 21 options!!). Good guessing (and luck).

Tim Trahair: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). EW have game in spades and possibly slam if they have a spade fit -- which seems very likely. One may also have a void in hearts as we have at least 11 between us. This bid tries to make it difficult for them to bid slam and will hopefully be a worthwhile sacrifice if EW only have game on. Let's hope we don't have mirror image hands which could prove very painful.

Robin Cross: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Let them guess the contract and level. Vulnerable the six level is a bit rich for my taste.

Rex Fox: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). May talk them out of the grand.

Willem Willemse: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Put the pressure on the ops.

If you really want to put pressure on them, let's not muck around:

Phil Houlton: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opps almost certainly will have 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on, if they can find it. An immediate jump to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may prevent them finding it.

Steve Hurley: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The opposition will deal with a baby psyche of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) so I won't even consider that. Assuming partner has a 8 loser and you a 7, the worse case scenario is 800 against 650. Otherwise, it is highly likely they will be void in hearts and some slam is on. Let them explore this at the 7 level!

Nigel Guthrie: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). With luck this may keep them out of the grand. A close second best is pass.

Adriano Voscilla: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Putting the opponents in front of a triple guess, with no space at all!

Terry Dunne: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 6+6=12. Of course we know that they will almost certainly make slam, most likely a grand, but they will have to choose whether to take the penalty or guess which slam to bid -- and two of their three choices will be wrong!

I'm not sure that the Law of Total Tricks has a proven track record at the six level. Still a good bid though.

Lastly, here's some support for the reverse approach to preemption.

Margaret Reid: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Let's hope they stop in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and don't find their slam.

Bill Bennett: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Do the opponents have game on or slam? Did we just give away 800 in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x against a possible 1430 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or a mere 650 or 620 in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)?

Patrick Huang: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Give them a chance to stop at 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If West tries 4NT, East may not know whether it's Blackwood or takeout. If I bid more the opponents maybe pushed into a makeable slam which they may not bid on their own strength.

Tim Andrews: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have plenty of hearts, but little strength. Raise to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) hoping that E/W will have difficulty finding their fit.

John Leenders: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). North should have some values in side suits. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be on anyway, so make it a bit harder to find a possible slam.

The full deal from the VCC:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J10984
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A10542
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J6
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQ98653
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 42
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K763
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J7
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ---
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AKQ10953
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQ9863
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J1072
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 87

The deal was originally reported on page 11 of the June magazine, with several pairs getting to the wrong grand slam.

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 August
1Henri de Jong490
1Josh Sher490
3Ian Patterson480
3Jon Walden480
3Kay O'Connor480
3Pietro Campanile480
7Alexander Cook470
7Ian Erratt470
7Judy Truman470
7Pauline Lane470
11Andrew MacAlister460
11David Hester460
11Harry v der Veeke460
11Robin Cross460
15Amiram Millet450
15Jameson Cole450
15John Leenders450
15Manuel Paulo450
15Peter Stride450
15Ross Best450
21Boris Richter440
21Pat O'Connor440
23Zbych Bednarek430
24Dean Eidler420
24John Furedy420
24Sam Arber420
24Tim Andrews420

Leading scores for 2006
1Henri de Jong1780
2Pietro Campanile1760
3Gary Lane1750
4Andrew MacAlister1730
5John Leenders1720
5Alexander Cook1710
5Robin Cross1680
8Steve Hurley1670
9Ian Patterson1660
10Leon Slonim1640
11Jameson Cole1610
12Joe Lentz1610
13Nigel Guthrie1610
14Sam Arber1600
14Tim Trahair1590
16Kay O'Connor1550
16Terry Dunne1550
16Trish Whitton1520
19Tim Andrews1510
20Bill Bennett1500
21Dean Eidler1500
22Ian Erratt1500
23Manuel Paulo1500
23Ivan Demeny1490
25Pat O'Connor1470
25Rex Fox1460
27Jeff Brokenshire1450

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