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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles October-November 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, Eric Kokish and Zia Mahmood, as well as many top Australian players.
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Submit answers for the December forum
Hand One - East deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
spades AT98
hearts ---
diamonds KT86432
clubs J5


West North East South
    3hearts ?


Call Award %
Pass 1005564
4diamonds 702210
Dbl 401721

This month we have two special guests joining the readers' panel. One is a talented, if not quite human, bridge professional who goes by the name Bridge Baron 17. I couldn't read most of his answers (they mostly consisted of ones and zeros), so they are being translated into English by the Baron's associate, lead programmer Stephen Smith.

The other new reader is Richard Pavlicek, who for six years has been the moderator of one of the web's most popular bidding forum columns. The forum is in hiatus at the moment, but there is a wealth of other interesting material on his site, 

On our first problem, we provide you with 8 points and invite you to make a high level overcall. One in three players are happy to oblige.

Adriano Voscilla: 4diamonds. Since I would open this hand, why not overcall? As for bypassing 3NT, I am sure the odds are for a suit contract.

David Hester: 4diamonds. I have hesitated too long, so I can't pass. If I double, I cannot cope with a reply in clubs. 4diamonds even offers a hope of 4spades, if partner bids 4hearts.

Willem Willemse: Dbl. 6 loser hand, showing spades. If partner rejects spades there is still a good second suit.

That's the first time in the history of bridge that K1086432 has been described as a good second suit.

Tim Andrews: Dbl. A bit light, but opens possibility of a spade fit.

Steve Hurley: Dbl. Showing four spades, our best chance at game (as partner likely has values).

Martyn Rew: Dbl. Partner could have up to six hearts and leave the double in. Otherwise, I'll support partner's spades or bid diamonds.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Should do something, but if I bid 4diamonds we may miss a spade game.

These comments represent only a fraction of the bidders, as most of them included no comment. The passers included lots of comments (or at least one comment, repeated many times):

Margaret Reid, John Leenders, Zbych Bednarek and John Furedy: Pass. Never preempt over a preempt.

Helena Dawson: Pass. Should be strong to overcall over a weak bid just as it is good to preempt with a weak hand over a strong bid.

Terry Dunne: Pass. Even with more strength, I wouldn't want to double and have partner sit when I have a trump void. What else? 4diamonds? East has already preempted so there is no need for me to do so.

Sydney Frish: Pass. Id rather forgo a doubtful chance of being a hero than take a more likely one of losing a partner.

Josh Sher: Pass. I want to bid, but if I bid partner will bid too much and we will go minus anyway.

Alexander Cook: Pass. Bidding here is very dangerous, even at matchpoints. Not enough points for a takeout double, and an overcall of 4diamonds with a flimsy diamond suit and a four card major on the side is a recipe for disaster. Let's hope that partner can bid 3spades or double.

David Matthews: Pass. Whilst tempting to bid, it would mislead partner as to strength. If 4hearts comes round to me I can consider competing.

Richard Pavlicek: Pass. Unfortunately, my Mighty Mouse suit is at the cleaners. You have to draw the line somewhere, and any action here seems to cross it.

There is a fine line between a bid and a pass in these situations, and a problem like this gives us a good opportunity to locate that line. The Baron wants the diamondsJ instead of the diamonds10.

Bridge Baron: Pass. On this deal, Bridge Baron would need to be about a point stronger to bid.

Andrew MacAlister: Pass. I am about a king short of a bid. It makes partner's job too difficult if you bid with a weak hand over a preempt.

Paul Tranmer: Pass. About a king short of what Id need to take immediate action here. Extreme vulnerability is evident and unilateral action leads to disaster more often than triumph. 

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. They say you should be sound in 2nd seat although this hand may be taking good principles too far.

A pass at this turn does not mean we have to give up. Several people expect to make a bid on the next round.

Sam Arber, Manuel Paulo and Ian Smith: Pass. too dangerous to enter auction, if something is on partner will bid.

Henri de Jong and Ken Berry: Pass. More bidding to come.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Awaiting developments. Let partner double if he can. I have one defensive trick and no guarantee it's our hand.

Pietro Campanile: Pass. Nice shapely hand but no real option apart from a reluctant pass, waiting for developments (while my paranoid other self is muttering: 'last famous words, buster, it will go pass-pass and we are cold for 5diamonds!)

It won't go pass-pass, but you are cold for 5diamonds (if you drop a trick in the play). As you would expect, North has an easy reopening if 3hearts is passed to him.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQ64
hearts 974
diamonds AJ9
clubs KQ9
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 732
hearts Q2
diamonds Q75
clubs A8432
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J5
hearts AKJ108653 
diamonds ---
clubs 1076
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A1098
hearts ---
diamonds K1086432
clubs J5

The full deal was provided by Eva Saul on the Grand Slam Bridge Centre's online discussion forum. East's 3hearts bid isn't exactly routine, but it is the bid that was made at the table.

Hand Two - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q7
hearts 852
diamonds K842
clubs QJ42


West North East South
  1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 1NT
pass 2hearts pass 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
pass 3clubs pass ?


Call Award %
3spades 902211
3hearts 801710
3diamonds 70616
3NT 60 1730
4clubs 10017

Next is a more complicated problem. On the surface we have enough points for game, but no fit. On most days, this would mean a 3NT bid, and that's where the readers are placing their bets.

Josh Sher: 3NT. Tough hand. We have 25 or 26 points, but the hands fit terribly and it's unclear if we even belong in game. My choices with this hand are a conservative 3M (I think 3spades is better than 3hearts), bidding 3diamonds to try to offer a choice of strains (3NT or 4spades) or just go for nine tricks in 3NT. Since my diamondsK is wasted in suit play, I will try 3NT.

Boris Richter: 3NT. We are in a misfit obviously and the only contract I can think of is 3NT. I don't like 4spades because my diamondsK is worthless in 4spades.

Ross Best: 3NT. Must be some chance to make it.

Bill Bennett: 3NT. North still looks for game after my weak bidding and my strength is in the minors.

Pauline Haldane: 3NT. A bit risky but partner shows strength in three suits and I have a cover in diamonds.

Aware of the fragility of the diamond stopper, a few brave souls are willing to go right past 3NT.

Helena Dawson: 4clubs. Presumably some sort of trial bid or maybe even natural. I am happy to show some help here but 3NT is not suitable. I presume he will bid 4spades next.

Alexander Cook: 4clubs. Partner appears to have a very strong hand with five spades, four hearts, a diamond void and four clubs. 5clubs is the likely final contract with an outside possibility for six.

Terry Dunne: 4clubs. Partner has 5404 and 17-20 HCP. At least he better have! Even discounting the diamondsK, we are a shot at 5clubs if partner is anywhere near maximum.

Willem Willemse: 4clubs. Partner is 5404 with a maximum weak opening (12-16). First reaction was to pass, but 3clubs is forcing. My feeling says the club suit will play better than a major.

Sydney Frish and John Leenders: 4clubs. Partner could be 5404, so 3NT would ignore his bidding.

Sam Arber: 4clubs. Is partner 5404 or is he just fishing? Maybe 3hearts would be better, showing two spades and three hearts.

Frank Campbell: 4clubs. Partner must have game ambitions to bid on past my 2spades preference so I will show my club support.

Manuel Paulo: 4spades. I have good support in partner's black suits.

For those who are unwilling to rule out 3NT just yet, we can use a 3diamonds cuebid to express doubt.

Andrew MacAlister: 3diamonds. I have maximum values but we have no fit. My stopper is not good enough by itself so I will consult partner.

Paul Tranmer: 3diamonds. As I play this, 3diamonds promises a single guard in diamonds, as with one and a half or two diamond guards Id bid 3NT. I think I made a rod for my own back with my 2spades bid. Surely with a better than minimum 1NT and 23 in the majors 2NT would have been more descriptive?

More descriptive yes, but at too steep a price. There was no reason for you to think 2spades would fail, and if partner was minimum it may have been the last making contract.

Zbych Bednarek: 3diamonds. diamondsK is bad value, but partner doesn't need much from me, my blacks queens are golden. I don't know whether to play in spades or clubs.

Tim Trahair: 3diamonds. North must have a strong hand and there may be game somewhere. Doubt if he has diamonds stopped but his next bid may lead us to game.

Tim Andrews: 3diamonds. North must have 18 points to keep bidding when I have limited my hand. 3NT is likely to fail with only one diamond stopper. 3diamonds is 4th suit forcing asking partner to decide.

We've heard a few different estimates of partner's high card strength, but 18 seems about right to me. 16 certainly isn't enough to be pressing for game on a known misfit, and with 19 he probably wouldn't have bid 2hearts.

Given that the diamondsK has no value in a suit contract, and provides little protection in a NT contract, is our hand really good enough for game?

Pietro Campanile: 3hearts. Cooperative. This should let partner know more or less the extent of my assets and the 2-3 holding in the majors. My diamondsK seems to have a little value so I am not going to bid more than I have to.

Jameson Cole: 3hearts. My hand has now gone down in value. Partner will know I'm 2-3 in the majors and chose not to bid game.

Denis Haynes: 3hearts. Three rags and a king don't count as a 'stopper' in diamonds. I am assuming partner is void or only a singleton in diamonds.

Bridge Baron: 3hearts. Bridge Baron intends this bid as showing exactly three hearts.

Ken Berry: 3hearts. I'm a little lost... wish I was playing something simpler like Moscito.

When I play Standard I often yearn for the simplicity of a good relay system. Of course on this hand, playing a strong club with a 1clubs-1diamonds start, the auction would be much the same (unless we were already in game by now).

3hearts will work out well if partner has five hearts, but I don't think that's very likely. The most likely result of 3hearts is that we will play a 4-3 fit (with the long hand being forced) instead of a 5-2 fit.

Richard Pavlicek: 3spades. Black-suit honors are encouraging, but the wasted diamondsK and miserable heart holding suggest caution toward a suit contract; nor do I like chances in 3NT.

Dean Eidler: 3spades. Would bid 4spades with a doubleton heart.

David Matthews: 3spades. What is partner up to? 2hearts is passable. Maybe this is a game try in spades but I still don't have my points in the right suits.

Ian Smith: 3spades. We may have a club fit but I prefer the lower 3spades bid.

As often happens when the bidders are divided between six different options, the top score ends up going to the pass.

Margaret Reid: Pass. This will be our best spot. My 1NT limits my hand anyway.

Steve Hurley: Pass. If partner bid 2hearts which is droppable but still kicks with 3clubs, he has a good hand but not that good. My diamondsK is useless which means five points to assist partner -- 5clubs is unlikely so I pass.

Adriano Voscilla: Pass. I could protect the king of diamonds, but not all of them!

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Partner has maximum HCPs and a shortage in diamonds. 3NT not a good bet with only one diamond stopper. Could bid 4clubs inviting game but we will probably only make nine tricks.

As only 32% of the panel and 14% of readers found the "majority" bid, the rest of the bids have been promoted in the awards.

Hand Three - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 85
hearts 9
diamonds KJT542
clubs QJ86


West North East South
  1clubs 1hearts ?

1clubs promises at least three clubs.
2diamonds would be natural and forcing.
2hearts would be a cue raise.


Call Award %
2clubs 100 4526
2diamonds 40830
3diamonds 40 89
Dbl 30 113
2hearts 2068
Pass 10 616
4clubs 10 01
Other 0 01

This deal caused a bit of confusion amongst some readers, because of the 1clubs opening (better minor).

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Have no heart stopper and not enough points to change suit at the two level. Will bid diamonds when partner doubles.

Tim Andrews: Pass. Dbl would show spades and I do not have enough strength for 2diamonds.

Denis Haynes: 1NT. Shows 6-9 points and says no four card spade suit. Keeps the bidding at the 1 level.

Helena Dawson: Dbl. If he bids 1spades I can revert to 2clubs. He will know my other suit.

Alexander Cook: Pass. I will bid 3diamonds after partner's compulsory reopening takeout double or any other bid by the opposition.

Margaret Reid: Pass. May get a chance to bid later.

Ken Berry: Pass. Waiting... hoping for a better bid?

John Leenders: Pass. If West bids 2hearts I come in with 3diamonds unless North shows clubs again.

It's actually not necessary to wait for partner to bid clubs again. There is a common misconception surrounding the 1clubs opening -- that you have to assume it is always only three. In fact it is perfectly safe to treat 1clubs as a four-card opening.

If partner has only three clubs, he will have a weak notrump, and will take no further part in the auction; if we are left in 2clubs, the worst case scenario is partner has a weak 4423 and we go one off against a heart partscore.

But if partner has real clubs, our hand is huge and we will never recover from a first-round pass.

Frank Campbell: 2clubs. No bid is perfect but I don't expect the bidding to end here. If it does we are probably in the right place.

David Matthews: 2clubs. This may be wrong but I do have some points and support for clubs.

Pietro Campanile: 2clubs. Either that or pass: I expect some heart raise from West so 2clubs might give us the best chance to find a good spot or a sac after that.

Jameson Cole: 2clubs. Shows where my values are. Our best spot unless partner has extra strength.

Exactly. If partner does bid again, he will be 18+ balanced (2NT) or distributional with long clubs. In either case, he certainly won't be disappointed with this dummy.

Steve Hurley: 2clubs. There are a lot of major cards out and they will likely outbid you in a major. If I show forcing values by bidding 2diamonds, the auction will end with a penalty double from partner.

Fred Altstock: 2clubs. I have a weak hand and don't want to get carried away in diamonds yet.

David Hester: 2clubs. The short club strikes again; without it I might chance 4clubs. Surely 2diamonds and 2hearts are gross overbids?

Josh Sher: 2clubs. If the opps raise hearts, I will bid 2NT next to introduce the diamonds.

That sounds like a great auction to me. The diamonds could be the key to the hand, and the higher club raises give us no chance to show the diamonds. 

Ross Best: 3clubs. They seem to have good fit in the majors. Preemptive raise to make it a bit more difficult for them.

Terry Dunne: 2hearts. Taking the high road seems to be the best bet here. We have very little defense and it's fairly likely that diamonds can be set up in a club contract. It's also possible that the cuebid will get in their way a little as well.

The other option is to forget the clubs and go straight for the diamonds:

Nigel Guthrie: 2diamonds. 2hearts is an insane overbid and 3clubs is too committal opposite a three card suit.

Ian Smith: 2diamonds. A little light but I can rebid diamonds or show club support later.

Paul Tranmer: 2diamonds. Slightly light on values, but at this vulnerability my hand screams offence rather than defence. If North is strong then we should alight in a sensible game contract whilst if EW get it together in hearts I can bid 5clubs to suggest two places to play.

Notice the contrast between Paul's unilateral plan to bid at the 5-level, and those who wouldn't bid at the 2-level!

Sydney Frish: 2diamonds. We could have a minor game -- may still have a chance to support clubs next.

Martyn Rew: 2diamonds. If partner comes in with spades, then a 3clubs rebid looks a good option.

Andrew MacAlister: 2diamonds. My length will compensate for the lack of high cards. I am possibly too good for a simple raise to 2clubs.

Amiram Millet: 2diamonds. Preparing also for the best defence.

John Furedy: 2diamonds. Not strong enough or enough clubs for a cue raise, and can afford one more round of bidding.

Bridge Baron: 2diamonds. With a slightly weaker hand, Bridge Baron would bid 2clubs.

Several people wanted to bid 3diamonds but were worried that we weren't playing fit showing jumps. Leave it to an experienced bidding forum moderator to find his way around:

Richard Pavlicek: 3diamonds. Ordinarily I play this weak, but I see AB Standard says 'Fit showing' -- alas with no strength range given. I can live with that. In any case, it should be a long diamond suit with side clubs, since I have 2clubs, 2hearts and 3clubs available to raise clubs. Even if not, partner should understand at the vulnerability.

Sam Arber and Henri de Jong: 3diamonds. Should be fit showing.

Boris Richter: I would play 3diamonds here as a fit-bid but since I am not sure of the meaning of the bid in AB Standard I think 4clubs will do the job.

Zbych Bednarek: 3diamonds. Better to overbid on low level than guess over 4hearts. Who knows if 5m will be a make or a save. 


Hand Four - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
hearts KT
diamonds AT643
clubs 87652


West North East South
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 4hearts 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ?


Call Award %
5hearts 1005047
5diamonds 2005

Another "support with support" problem. Despite the length in the minors, most people looked no further than the heart support.

Ian Smith: 5hearts. I think partner will like my singleton spade and heartsK.

Margaret Reid: 5hearts. My heartsK and diamondsA should be huge.

Sydney Frish: 5hearts. My hand should fill partner's holes well.

Richard Pavlicek: 5hearts. Initial reaction was to bid 4NT, but it might be misinterpreted, and two honors in partner's suit strongly suggest not probing for other strains. It could be right to pass or double, but experience says to bid. Give partner xx-AQJxxx-KQxx-x, and both 4spades and 5hearts are likely to make.

Rex Fox: 5hearts. Pard should have nine playing tricks and I have two. Could be double game swing.

Barbara Whitmee: 5hearts. Have three tricks for partner -- heartsK, spade ruff and diamondsA. If 5hearts is not making, then maybe 4spades is.

Several 5hearts bidders intended it as a sacrifice:

Sam Arber and Willem Willemse: 5hearts. Not much defence, so bid on.

Bill Bennett: 5hearts. I have only one defensive trick against 4spades.

Nigel Guthrie: 5hearts. 100 marks J Even if it's a phantom L

Yes, and it is.

Bridge Baron: 5hearts. Bridge Baron uses simulation to choose this bid.

Ken Berry: 5hearts. At least there is only one spade loser, and partner will have a second suit. As I've typed this I have changed my mind... but it's too late.

Paul Tranmer: 5diamonds. As North has advertised a markedly single suited hand, my 5diamonds bid is a cue agreeing hearts which will allow North to get off to a good lead if EW persevere in spades.

Pietro Campanile: 5hearts. The hand overall and my diamonds are not good enough for a 5diamonds bid, which I play as showing concentration of values and slammish in this sequence. Nevertheless, partner has probably a doubleton spade so I owe him a raise even if he might have stretched to bid 4hearts.

David Matthews: 5hearts. Partner must have a very good hand to bid vul in front of an unlimited opponent. Double might be taken as penalties.

Speaking of penalty doubles, the next highest score is shared between four bids: the penalty double, the takeout double, the card-showing double and the "I don't know what to do" double.

Helena Dawson: Dbl. I like making my partner make all the decisions.

John Furedy: Dbl. Too short in hearts to raise to 5hearts, and diamondsA looks like at least one defensive trick. North must have some strength to go to 4hearts vulnerable.

Amiram Millet: Dbl. Partner must have a good hand. I have nothing to suggest a five-level contract at this vulnerability.

Robin Cross: Dbl. Card showing. Let partner decide to play for penalty or bid at the five level.

Terry Dunne: Dbl. Double describes our hand perfectly -- tolerance for partner's suit, and length in the unbid suits. Better still, it allows partner to sit should he choose.

Tim Andrews: Dbl. My hand should be useful to partner in 5clubs, 5diamonds or 5hearts. I'm hoping he won't pass without some defence against 4spades (such as AQx of spades!)

Adriano Voscilla: Dbl. 4NT is ambiguous (could be Blackwood), but Double is surely negative. If pard has his bid (not as in Hand One!) there will be plenty of ways to make a five level contract.

Even if partner does hold Hand One (with minor adjustments to match the bidding) it's not so bad, as there will be no defence to 4spades

Ross Best: Pass. Hope 4spades goes down.

Fred Altstock: Pass. Five level a bit high for us vulnerable. Maybe we can get them down.

Steve Hurley: Pass. I was toying with 5hearts as it might be a good save over 4spades or might even make. It could also go for a large number if partner stretched his bid. Another heart and I bid 5hearts.

Pauline Haldane: Pass. Too many losers and too few trumps to trump spades.

Denis Haynes: Pass. Partner could be weak and long in hearts. I count a large number of losers in my hand.

Frank Campbell: Pass. I doubt if either game will make but I probably only have one defensive trick so will take the chance this is a likely plus.

Lastly, there is a small amount of support for the multi-4NT.

Boris Richter: 4NT. This should be intended as Roman Keycard Blackwood.

Zbych Bednarek: 4NT. Certainly not Blackwood -- should be for minors. Don't mind if partner bids 5hearts.

David Hester: 5hearts. My hearts are good enough to dodge the question of whether 4NT is for minors (it should be) or Blackwood.

Tim Trahair: 4NT. Shows the minors and asks North to pick a game to play in. He must have few if any spades.

Jameson Cole: 4NT. Offers partner a choice of contracts. Best chance for a plus.

Andrew MacAlister: 4NT. My singleton spade makes it likely that I should compete. 4NT gives us a chance of finding our best fit.

Josh Sher: Dbl. I think 4NT is a bit too committal with pretty bad minors and only a 7 count, but you do have an ace and a king so you have to bid something.

On the full deal, contributed by Fraser Rew, the winning bid was in fact 4NT. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is two down, 5hearts is one down, but we can make game in either minor:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 7
hearts AJ9732
diamonds K75
clubs AK4
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQJ9843
hearts 6
diamonds J82
clubs Q3
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K1062
hearts Q854 
diamonds Q9
clubs J109
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
hearts K10
diamonds A10643
clubs 87652

Hand Five - East deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A
hearts KJ8
diamonds J965
clubs AKT86


West North East South
    pass 1clubs
2diamonds dbl pass ?

2diamonds is a weak jump overcall.


Call Award %
2hearts 50178
3clubs 20513
3diamonds 10014

Andrew MacAlister: 2hearts. I do not have enough to force to game as my diamond stop is tenuous and we may not have an eight card fit. A plus score may be a good result.

Alexander Cook: 2hearts. 2NT does not appeal with the unbalanced shape and the weak diamond stoppers. 3clubs would not get you a good matchpoint score. I may well have bid 3clubs at IMPs.

Terry Dunne: 2hearts. Preferring the major at one level lower is best if the hand is a partscore. Only has problems if partner pushes on, admittedly quite possible given the opponents' bidding. On defense, I can't imagine how we take more than six tricks unless we have enough for game.

Bridge Baron: 2hearts. In desperation.

That's the robot's new GPP module in action (Genuine People Personality). Not only is he feeling desperation (a typically human quality), he is also bidding three card suits (another trait mostly associated with humans).

Looking for a longer suit:

Ian Smith: 3clubs. Showing a good club suit and denying spade or heart length. Not happy to leave 2diamondsx in.

Tim Andrews: 3clubs. Limited support for partner's major suits, but I do have 16 points and a five card suit.

Leon Slonim: 3clubs. A 4-3 fit in hearts would face five hearts with East.

Helena Dawson: 3clubs. No perfect bid here. 2hearts will be a problem if my partner only has three too. 3diamonds an overbid so I will go for an underbid and hope partner can bid again.

Ian Erratt: 3clubs. I am assuming this is forcing.

With the heart suit, the club suit, and the diamond stopper all slightly inadequate, there were a few votes for the "waiting" bid. 

Paul Tranmer: 3diamonds. I play this as asking for half a diamond guard or better from North. If North bids 3hearts/spades Ill bid 3NT to express doubt.

Josh Sher: 3diamonds. This problem sucks. I think this sequence does not promise a major, just a hand that isn't sure that 3NT is right -- but does partner know that? In situations where you have a choice between getting strain correct or getting level correct, aim for the correct strain even if a slight overbid is required.

Pauline Haldane: 3diamonds. Shows 16 high card points and allows partner to reassess her hand.

John Leenders: 3diamonds. If partner bids 3spades I bid 3NT. If he bids hearts I will raise on a possible 4-3 fit.

Pietro Campanile: 3diamonds. Planning to rebid 3NT (yuk!) over 3spades and 4hearts over 3hearts.

The majority of the readers opted for a confident NT bid, although the 2NT bidders were divided on whether the bid was forcing.

David Matthews: 2NT. Not quite enough to bid game straight away.

Martyn Rew: 2NT. Shows points for game.

John Furedy: 2NT. Torn between 2NT and 3NT, but choose 2NT in case North has only about 7 points.

Fred Altstock: 2NT. Partner has some points and I'll let him make the final call of 3NT?

David Hester: 2NT. Partner can bid 3diamonds to insist on a major, and I will reply 4hearts.

Zbych Bednarek: 2NT. Penalty pass too risky. Possible 300 against any our game -- big loss at matchpoint scoring.

Denis Haynes: 2NT. The points are there and indicates stoppers in diamonds (sort of).

Jameson Cole: 2NT. Bad feeling about this hand. Choose caution, but 3NT is still possible. Will pass 3clubs. If partner bids 3diamonds, I'll bid 3hearts.

Tim Trahair: 2NT. Our hand is strong and East presumably doesn't have much so game may be on somewhere for us. Hope 2NT is forcing!

On one hand, a minimum NT rebid typically shows 12-14 playing Standard. On the other hand, many people play 2NT as always forcing in competition. There are arguments both ways, and I have no clear answer. Presumably all the 3NT bidders felt that 2NT was droppable.

Adriano Voscilla: 3NT. On this sequence, you cannot be sure that West is really weak, so bidding 3NT implies extras, and partner can continue with a strong hand.

Bill Bennett: 3NT. 2diamonds is likely to fail but maybe not by much. We have the points but no likely major game -- 3NT seems a reasonable punt.

Richard Pavlicek: 3NT. Anything's a gamble, so I'll go high and hope partner has a couple of diamonds (or a blank honour) as well as likely spade values. Not pretty -- but neither is matchpoints.

Henri de Jong: 3NT. Getting nine tricks in NT may be easier than eight tricks defending 2diamondsx.

Amiram Millet, Frank Campbell and Steve Hurley: 3NT. Quickest way to where we belong.

While the readers' vote was split between 2NT and 3NT, the experts (who defend more accurately) chose to go for the penalty.

Robin Cross: Pass. Some non vul jump overcalls get hammered, this might well be one of them.

Manuel Paulo: Pass. If we can make nine tricks in notrump, I bet they'd win only five tricks in diamonds.

Margaret Reid: Pass. Should rack up a nice score here -- at least 500?

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Take the money J Unless partner is a loony who doubles with club support and short diamonds L 


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 October
1Robin Cross470
2David Matthews460
2Dean Eidler460
4Marek Malowidzki450
5Manuel Paulo440
6David Hester420
6Nigel Guthrie420
8Margaret Reid410
9Jameson Cole400
9John Niven400
9Steve Johnston400
12Bill Bennett390
12Pietro Campanile390
12Peter Schwartz390
15Adriano Voscilla380
15Arthur Porter380
15Dawei Chen380
15Isabel Tchilinguirian380
19Bridge Baron370
20Fred Altstock370
20Kevin Lawrence370
22Chris Raisin360
22Joe Lentz360
22Richard Pavlicek360
25Anatoli Asenov350
25Bill March350
25Faizan Mansoor350
25Ian Smith350
25John Furedy350
25Josh Sher350
25Martin Eggins350
25Rex Fox350
25Rick Lu350

Leading scores for 2006
1Pietro Campanile2150
1Robin Cross2150
3Gary Lane2100
4Henri de Jong2060
5Andrew MacAlister2040
6Nigel Guthrie2030
7Jameson Cole2010
8Ian Patterson1990
9Steve Hurley1980
10Joe Lentz1970
11Dean Eidler1960
12John Leenders1950
13Manuel Paulo1940
14Alexander Cook1930
15Bill Bennett1890
16Sam Arber1880
17Tim Trahair1860
18Kay O'Connor1850
18Leon Slonim1850
20Ivan Demeny1830
21Rex Fox1810
21Terry Dunne1810
23Sydney Frish1760
24Pat O'Connor1750
24Trish Whitton1750
26Roger Yandle1730
26Tim Andrews1730
28Denis Haynes1720
28Martin Eggins1720
29Derek Pocock1690
29Fred Altstock1690
29Jeff Brokenshire1690
32Barbara Whitmee1680

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