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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles – February-March 2007
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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Hand One - South deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J842
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A954
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AJ85

 


West North East South
      1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) * pass ?


3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a limit raise (invitational).

 

Call Award %
Panel
%
Readers
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1004524
Pass802532
3NT 701514
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60105
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 50010
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4059
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2005
4NT001

David Hester: Pass. Actually I bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is why we ought to be playing inverted minor raises, and I thought we were. There is no room to explore, and if we have a game we might well bid the wrong one.

OK, so our first problem this month is a little artificial -- obviously these days nobody plays limit raises. Still it's good to look back on history occasionally, if only to appreciate how good we have it today.

John Leenders: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Assuming this shows a stopper, I'd like to hear 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from partner before bidding 3NT.

Willem Willemse: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hoping partner can bid 3NT with a spade stopper.

Fred Altstock: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner bids spades then I'll be happy with 3NT.

Rex Fox: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Like a long suit trial, if pard can help with at most one loser in that suit then bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), else sign off in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Richard Fitzpatrick: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows major suit, asks partner to further describe. 3NT is the hoped-for destination.

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hope we don't end up one down in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Andrew Gumperz: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Vul at IMPs we need to try for game, even if game will often fail.

Ian Smith: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A forcing bid investigating a NT game -- inviting 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3NT from partner, otherwise happy to finish in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Monahan: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pass looks a bit wimpish at IMPs.

The (barely) descriptive 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid is a clear winner, but there was a bit of confusion surrounding a possible 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid.

Fran Edwards: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Short suit trial bid.

Eric Leong: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The aces and the club AJ8x holding could be useful in game. Partner could well have something like: xxx-xx-KQxxx-KQx or the equivalent.

Bruce Crossman: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asking for a spade stopper for NT.

Terry Dunne: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If nothing else, this might get the opps to lead spades rather than hearts. If partner bids 3NT, fine. Otherwise, I'll bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asks for a spade stopper. North has five diamonds and 3NT is on if he has spades stopped. Otherwise we play in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Boris Richter: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe the 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) game is a more playable contract than 3NT.

It's not clear to me at which point we decided that a new suit at the three-level is asking for a stopper. When there is only one unbid suit, a bid of that suit is often artificial (eg. 4th suit forcing), but I'm pretty sure this is unfeasible when there are three unbid suits!

Still, I've given the 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid a heavy (and probably unjustified) promotion, because to be honest, our spade stopper on this hand is better than our heart stopper. Actually, the club stopper is OK too -- has anyone considered notrumps?

Dean Sole: 3NT. Better chances than 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. You have enough to accept an invitation and 9 tricks may be easier than 11. eg Qxx-Qx-KQxx-QTxx.

Barry Noble: 3NT. I considered Pass but think that is too weak and I have a good shot at 3NT.

For those who haven't met Barry Noble, he is one of Australia's most successful players, and it's great to have him on the readers' panel. Welcome, Barry, thanks for joining us.

Manuel Paulo: 3NT. I am trying to win 10 imps, risking to lose 5; a good bet, if my chance is at least 1 in 3, as I suppose.

Alexander Cook: 3NT. A bit of a gamble, but partner has 10-12 HCP with diamond support and 3NT should have a play.

Vlastimil Lev: 3NT. Hard hand. With 24-25 points we have to do something. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows values there (which we don't have), and the spade suit is too short for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

That's why I originally chose 3NT, but on reflection I'm confidently changing my vote to join the readers' majority:

Chris Raisin: Pass. Using Losing Trick Count, North has 10-12 points and precisely 8 losers. Since South has 7 losers, a 3 level bid is high enough, thank you very much.

Steve Hurley: Pass. Invitational with 7 losers and no long suit. I pass!

Barbara Whitmee: Pass. Because I have seven losers. Wonder why the opponents have not mentioned spades?

Pietro Campanile: Pass. I don't know if the points-inflation has affected Australian limit raises as much as over here, but a common 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid could usually guarantee around 9 points with QJ10xx in the suit, so I am definitely settling for a quiet 130.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Unless partner has concentrated strength in the minors, 3NT is probably down one or two. Similarly, there are too many hands where partner has random values that have no play for 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) let alone 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Matthews: Pass. 3NT has no chance on a spade lead and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a contract too far.

Bastiaan Korrner: Pass. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems too far away.

Frank Campbell: Pass. If partner's 10 or 11 points included KQ in both minors I would bid and make 3NT. However my partner is rarely that obliging and they have at least nine spades so I am going for the likely plus with my minimum hand.

H C Wilton: Pass. I would bid 3NT if I could only know if partner had 6 card support, but failing that, it does seem a reach.

Richard Morse: Pass. Anything else seems a punt. We don't have the points or distribution for 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and I have no riskless way of finding out where partner's points lie.

Margaret Reid: Pass. A plus seems to be a good result.

All excellent arguments, and I'm so convinced I don't really need to see the rest of the answers. But since you all went to the trouble of sending them, I guess we should take a quick look:

John Furedy: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'd pass at matchpoints, but at imps give partner a chance to go 5 if he likes his limit raise.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Leon Slonim: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If you are maximum go to 5.

North: "Would you like to bid game, partner?"
South: "I don't know, partner, would you like to bid game?"
If you're going to answer partner's question with a question, the least you could do is include some new information! For example:

Sam Arber: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Make one more game try.

Paul Tranmer: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This will prohibit a back-in by EW, and if I hit a second fit in clubs 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will be very playable.

Exactly; you've already bid the diamonds once, so there's nothing to be gained by bidding them again. Much better to show a second suit and see if partner is impressed. Unless of course you've already decided on the final destination:

Helena Dawson: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Doesn't give anything away to the opps. Maybe should have just passed. Where are all the spades?

Sydney Frish: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I expect partner to have five diamonds and a 7-loser hand to invite a minor game. 3NT may be on but 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks safer.

Dean Eidler: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not enough tricks for 3NT.

Jeremy Kennard: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As partner has chosen to make a limit raise rather than bid 2NT, I would assume he has marginal major suit controls, and at best only 3-3 in the majors. I don't consider my spade a stop, nor my hearts.

This problem raises an interesting point of bidding forum theory: 25% of the panel pass, and 75% bid, but the 75% is split between seven different bids. So, given that the panel all agree on moving forward, even though they can't agree how to do it, then isn't 80 points for the pass a little over-generous?

Probably, but I happen to agree with the pass so I'm not going to make a fuss about it.

 


Hand Two - East deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J86
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AK
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKJ64
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQT

 


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


1. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows a weak two in a major.
2. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is pass-or-correct.

 

Call Award %
Panel
%
Readers
2NT100305
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90540
Dbl 802524
3NT 80256
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 601520
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 001
Pass 004

On the previous deal, most people were concerned about their images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A being too fragile a stopper for an unbid suit. Now let's see what happens when we give you Jxx and let the opponents bid the suit.

Dean Eidler: 2NT. With the quality of weak twos these days partner probably has at least 1.5 stoppers.

S Sashital: 3NT. No convenient way to invite game. I need as little as images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q and images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q for making my game.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Bridge Baron is apparently unconcerned about the lack of a spade stopper.

Eric Leong: 3NT. You are never going to get the right bid from partner as he is never going to read you for a 22 HCP hand. If you want to act you are assuming partner has something to make game so you should just bid the most likely game and take the pressure off of partner.

H C Wilton: 3NT. Why didn't I bid 3NT the previous round? 

That's what I said when I first saw the problem. We'll never be able to describe this hand accurately anyway, and maybe a direct 3NT bid might have kept West in the dark. But with our heart shortage, West was never really in the dark -- if East has spades, West must have enough hearts to be able to read the situation (unless North has enough hearts to be able to declare them).

So maybe our first round double isn't as bad as I first thought; I still would have bid 3NT though.

We had the pleasure this month of receiving two sets of answers from Nigel Guthrie. I love it when people do this, because they never agree with themselves. But rarely do we see a case of schizophrenia as severe as Nigel's. Here's exhibit A:

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The walrus counts his points and makes the sensible value bid. Although, in practice, double or 2NT could work better.

So basically anything other than 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), you say. Hang on...

Nigel Guthrie #2: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). RHO has primary heart support. You would rather that partner plays 3NT if he has Kxx or Ax.

Nigel #2 makes a good point, and he is supported by 40% of the readers' vote... but only one lone member of the expert panel. From the magazine:

Michael Ware: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Just blasting notrumps seems unnecessary; my failure to double again should keep us out of bad heart fits.

Every month Michael comes up with at least one bid that none of the other experts agree with, so we're always glad to have him on the panel. All these people are glad to have him on the panel too:

Fran Edwards, Helena Dawson, Emil Battista, Sydney Frish, Amiram Millet, Tim Trahair and Bastiaan Korrner: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner, can you stop spades?

Terry Dunne: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing my hand strength and letting partner bid 3NT with a stopper -- what a bid!

David Matthews, Paul Tranmer and Bruce Crossman: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). It's just possible partner has a half stop in spades for 3NT; alternatively we may be able to play in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if he has five. Otherwise we will end up in a minor.

Dean Sole: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner is marked with two spades -- let's try for the nine-trick game.

Jeremy Kennard: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) in my partnership's defence to multi following first round double, showing 20+ with a diamond suit.

Sam Arber: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Must be ongoing -- asking for stopper, denying four hearts (since I didn't double again).

Tim Andrews: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Need to force a bid from partner to find the best game.

Ken Berry: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner will know what to do!!

Rex Fox: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pard has at least 12 cards outside spades -- even with no points a four level contract should be OK.

David Hester: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Primarily a try for 3NT. Other destinations are possible.

This next group, the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders, all seem to believe that if we have a game on, partner will move. Maybe they're right, but I don't think so.

Alexander Cook: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). You don't have a stopper for 3NT and double should show at least three hearts with this strength.

Steve Hurley: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner will move with anything and if he does, I move.

Richard Morse: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Another double now surely implies hearts, and they could run the first six tricks in NT. Pass is surely too feeble.

Barry Noble: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I could double and bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over partner's probable 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid but prefer to see if he can support diamonds.

Jameson Cole: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner needs very little for game, eg 4-9543-Q652-J974. With 4-9543-Q652-K974, slam is likely.

Boris Richter: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner is probably short in spades, maybe we can find some playable game somewhere else.

I was quite surprised (and pleased) to see such a low turnout for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As Eric Leong said earlier, there is no way partner will read us for such a strong hand, so 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is just forcing partner to make a decision armed with no information. Both 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3NT need some help, so why make 110 our goal?

A more effective way to enlist (enforce?) partner's cooperation:

Elizabeth Gilbert: Dbl. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems too weak with 22 HCP but if partner bids hearts I'll have to rebid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Willem Willemse: Dbl. Take out. Partner must have a void in spades. If he bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I have a natural inviting bid of 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Peter Smulders: Dbl. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might make so we will lift them one higher. 

Vlastimil Lev: Dbl. Most flexible bid -- partner would pass with Qxx-xxx-xxx-xxxx or bid 3NT with Qxx-xxx-Qxx-Kxxx.

Manuel Paulo: Dbl. After West's response, partner may bid hearts, but that is not likely.

John Leenders and Margaret Reid: Dbl. Too much strength for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner bids 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Andrew Gumperz: Dbl. This hand is a question of methods. Pass-then-dbl should be takeout of spades, while dbl-then-dbl shows a big balanced hand. This would be a harder problem against a weak 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening.

Privately I have a lot of admiration for this next group, although publicly I can't find an excuse to overrule the panel and award any points to this wild choice:

Chris Raisin: Pass. Likely opponents will go down, with strength on South's left play will be around to strength. NT unlikely with weak spades, and any finesses are bound to fail. A double for penalty may be misinterpreted by partner as takeout with a liking for hearts!

Richard Fitzpatrick: Pass. As lovely as the hand is, there is nothing to be gained from bidding. Five solid tricks (perhaps) not enough to double at two level.

No full details of this deal, but I was prompted to run a simulation (because one of my colleagues laughed at me when I bid 2NT). The simulation showed diamonds to have a marginally higher success rate than notrump (with a smaller return of course).


Hand Three - North deals, nil vul, Board-a-match. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KJ876
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A6
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) J762

 


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


1. Natural and limited. Five or more spades, 9-14 HCP.
2. Both minors.
3. Splinter (heart support with club shortage). Still 9-14 HCP.

 

Call Award %
Panel
%
Readers
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 3517
Pass 100 309
6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 151
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 51
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 70 1547
Dbl 20 025

Jameson Cole: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'd like to pass then pull partner's double to invite 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but I don't think this is a clear forcing pass situation, so I can't afford to pass and discuss the hand afterwards. On a bad day, I have three losers, on a good day, only one. Is the 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid really part of the AB bidding system?

Not part of the system (yet) but hey, Moscito players have bidding problems too, and they need your assistance to solve these problems just as much as Standard players (some would say even more so).

Terry Dunne: Pass. Even with partner holding a minimum, this is still a forcing pass situation. The hand is good enough to pass and pull even though we have a certain plus on defence after a club lead.

Steve Johnston: Pass. Forcing. Followed by 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = slam try.

David Hester: Pass. I assume this is forcing. In spite of the double fit, my hand is reasonable in defence.

Vlastimil Lev: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good slam opposite AQxxx-Axxx-xx-x. I would prefer a forcing pass and correct any bid to 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), as partner could have huge hand AQJxx-Axxxx-xx-x.

Clearly there was some uncertainty about the forcingness of the pass (yes, forcingness is a real word); but the panel showed strong support for both the direct route and the delayed route, so it's 100 points for everybody. Except the 47% of readers who managed to reach a making contract -- sorry guys, the panel just wasn't on your side today and you only get 70.

Boris Richter: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Should make, hopefully not 6 though :-)

Pietro Campanile: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). East-West has a nice double fit, while on our side spades will probably break atrociously. Still I have this excited 9-14 chappie in the North seat jumping about with a likely 5-5 in the majors. Best to make him happy with 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). You never know, on a good day he might have his bid.

Alexander Cook: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Except for the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)J, all your points should be working. 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems an automatic bid here.

Sam Arber: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). May be able to give partner two club ruffs for 500 but stick with 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid.

Nice defence Sam, picked it perfectly. But that's only 300.

Helena Dawson: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled is the alternative but has to go three off to gain. Decision would be a lot easier if they were vulnerable vs non vul.

Richard Fitzpatrick: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Doubling is attractive, but putting EW down three might be tricky.

Jeremy Kennard: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opponents have clear double fit, I have good secondary fit in spades, and no wasted club values. Don't think we are getting enough from 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled.

David Monahan: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is short in both minors -- double may only yield 100 and 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) has a very good chance especially with the doubleton spade king.

Eric Leong: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The bidding sounds like either the opponents can almost make 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or we can almost make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Barry Noble: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I could double but my hand is too strong.

Steve Hurley: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding suggests partner has two diamonds and one club, so that likely means two minor suit losers. Such strong bidding likely means the two major aces so I bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Sydney Frish and Tim Trahair: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). It should play well, with excellent chance for a cross-ruff.

While 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was the last making spot at the table, 85% of the panel are looking at slams and grand slam tries. I initially didn't include 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on the drop down list, but I added them in as soon as it became apparent that the panel were all on steroids. So anyone who answered in the first few days wouldn't have had those bids as an option, and would have had to select "Other". Like this guy:

Andrew Gumperz: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't need much to make 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is possible if partner has a club void.

John Leenders: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) suggests to me that it is at the upper end of 9-14. Require images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A and images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A for 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

John Furedy: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not sure, but they've gone up too high to investigate. Shortage in clubs is a positive feature, as is North's bid (assume he is closer to 14 than 9).

Paul Tranmer: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I should be able to assemble 12 tricks somehow, probably by ruffing two or three clubs in dummy and/or establishing the spades.

Zbych Bednarek: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Need only both aces, and for sure he has more when he bid splinter. I can't see chances for reach grand slam, it would be wishful thinking.

H C Wilton: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If it's not cold (with info from the bidding useful in the play), they still might well take the save.

Amiram Millet: 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Give up on a possible 7images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Finally, a quarter of the readers went for the penalty double, expecting to take a trick with the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and... well, I don't really know what other tricks they were expecting. But with so many votes I felt obliged to award some points, so double has been promoted to 20.

Bastiaan Korrner: Dbl. A bit of a guess, lead a spade.

Emil Battista: Dbl. The five level belongs to the opponents. 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may make, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is not likely. Club lead should give partner a club ruff.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Double may be second best if partner has say Axxxx-AQxx-xxx-void. Your 800 (on a club lead) may provide a measure of compensation.

Frank Campbell: Dbl. We would most probably not make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but this is likely to collect 500 or more and is now our best chance to win the board.

Pat O'Connor: Dbl. Will lead a club.

Ian Erratt: Dbl. Could be a good lead question for us amateurs.

Tim Andrews: Dbl. Partner has 5-4 in majors -- but we probably go down in 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double may get us the best score.

Ken Berry: Dbl. I think they are too high, and partner has a club ruff coming.

Margaret Reid: Dbl. Hope to get 300 here, I don't think we have more than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

300 is there on perfect defence (North has to underlead the heart at trick two -- will he read your clubs2 as suit preference?). But even that would rarely win the board against a cold game. 

Being board-a-match scoring, our only goal here is to improve on the score from the other table. As it happens, NS at the other table weren't smart enough to be playing Moscito, and they didn't even get into the auction -- and here we are making grand slam tries! Our teammates played uncontested in 4clubs, making an overtrick -- so we will win this board as long as we stay out of 7NT.
  
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QJ7643
hearts AQ1043
diamonds 92
clubs ---
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
hearts 52
diamonds KJ854
clubs AQ8543
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A10985
hearts 9 
diamonds Q1073
clubs K109
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K2
hearts KJ876
diamonds A6
clubs J762
West North East South
Nunn   Hans  
pass 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass
3clubs pass 4clubs all pass
  Making five, NS -150  

West North East South
Marston Prescott
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 2hearts
2NT 4clubs 5diamonds 6hearts
all pass
  One down, NS -50  


Hand Four - West deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A763
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 9
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q9643
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K63

 


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

 

Call Award %
Panel
%
Readers
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1005043
Pass 701033
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60258
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60151
2NT 0012
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 002
3NT001

Paul Tranmer: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The hand doesn’t rate to play well in what might be a 5-3 diamond fit and despite the complementary major suit shortages I cannot see us being able to garner 11 tricks. Any thoughts of passing the double for penalties should be discarded quickly as the spades are nowhere near good enough.

There's really not much to add to that answer. Other variations on the same comment:

Terry Dunne: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It's too risky at imps to leave the double in given that the reward is so small.

David Matthews: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It's too risky to leave 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled. Remember partner did not double on the first round.

H C Wilton: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game is unlikely and I would only gamble a pass in a pairs event.

Bridge Baron: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bridge Baron shows the eight-card fit in response to partner's takeout double.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I quote Edgar Kaplan's 'I take out partner's takeout double'.

Down here we thought Chadwick owned that phrase -- I guess he pinched it.

Andrew Gumperz: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This hand is very good on the auction. Unfortunately, no game contract will play well unless we catch a 4th diamond in dummy. If they compete to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I will hit it.

David Hester: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It seems one round early to try for a penalty.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The auction marks you with some values so 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is quite enough. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) doubled probably goes down but the auction is not over yet.

For those people who feel we are too strong for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), the choice is between 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 2NT. The readers favoured 2NT:

Richard Fitzpatrick: 2NT. Some coverage in the other suits; 2NT makes it clear hearts are not on.

Elizabeth Gilbert: 2NT. I don't think I am strong enough to pass -- if I didn't bid 2NT I would bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Monahan: 2NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be bid with no values -- this hand is a max passed hand.

It's true that this is a maximum hand for our bidding, but the partnership still needs 25 points for game (more on a likely misfit). Is partner's bidding really consistent with a 17-count?

Frank Campbell: 2NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3NT could be right but I assume partner is strong with no second suit so will show the stoppers and await developments.

Helena Dawson: 2NT. Tempted to leave double in but quality of spades not good enough. Double them into game? No thank you.

Ken Berry: 2NT. I think that I must try this rather than 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and partner isn't finished yet.

Partner was finished on the previous round -- when he doubled 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) he was just being polite. (At the table North wasn't polite enough to find the double, and 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was the final contract).

Chris Raisin: 2NT. Prefer to be in NT, with North having good hearts. West has 12-15 HCP, East has at most 5 HCP (since no initial support for partner) so point distribution is probably in our favour. Notrump scores better than diamonds.

The expert panel unanimously rejected 2NT with barely a mention. Personally, my rule (which I learned from my days playing relay systems) is to never play notrumps when I have an unsupported ace opposite a singleton. 

The safer way to show a good hand (if you really feel you have to) is 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes):

Richard Morse: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm so-o-o-o much better than partner would expect for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Passing is suicide, IMHO.

Ian Smith: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner obviously wants me to compete. I'm expecting a spade shortage and diamond support and with my short hearts and 12 TP I'm happy to invite game in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Boris Richter: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner should be holding at least 3 cards in support for diamonds and I have a good hand despite the singleton in partner's suit.

John Leenders: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Invitational to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), Partner has 544 hand with max for the double.

Vlastimil Lev: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game try. Give parner eg x-AQxxx-AKx-QJxx.

Sam Arber: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner did not double initially, probably 1534 shape too good to bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) only.

Lastly we have the penalty pass, which was supported by just two of the experts (Michael Ware and Ron Klinger). Klinger cites the majority of points and the misfit with partner as sufficient reasons for defending, and John Furedy echoes his comments:

John Furedy: Pass. Singleton heart should be useful in defence, and partner should have values to overcall vul at 2 level. On the other hand, we don't have game.

Eric Leong: Pass. Given partner's delayed double and our hand, dummy must be pretty feeble. Also, dummy could well have a doubleton spade. Further, our side seems to have a couple of tricks in each minor and partner owns the heart suit. Where are declarer's tricks coming from? There should be a good chance to set 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) down at least a couple.

Jeremy Kennard: Pass. Either East is weak or has only doubleton spade. Hand looks misfitting, I have shortage in partner's suit and partner should have at least an opening hand now.

Jameson Cole: Pass. Since partner didn't redouble, he can't have a monster hand, but now his double shows a willingness to compete. Since I have a better than average hand, East must hold very little and he is trying to force us one higher (holding nothing). Hopefully we'll have the last laugh, not East!

Sydney Frish: Pass. I'd be very surprised if we couldn't take at least six tricks.

Fran Edwards: Pass. Not a double or Michaels from partner with the first bid. So it should be penalty this time.

This deal is from the 2006 Dick Cummings Pairs. Defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would be a heart-stopping affair, while our highest scoring contract is 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (11 tricks are there if we pick every card, not impossible on the auction).
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 8
hearts AK1076
diamonds AJ52
clubs 1097
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQJ42
hearts J3
diamonds K7
clubs AJ84
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1095
hearts Q8542 
diamonds 108
clubs Q52
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A763
hearts 9
diamonds Q9643
clubs K63


Hand Five - East deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
 
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q8
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A2
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQT642
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A5

 


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

 

Call Award %
Panel
%
Readers
3NT1006022
Dbl902540
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 801520
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 20017
Pass 001

The fourth problem in this month's "spade stopper" trilogy. The ace of spades wasn't good enough on hands 1 and 4, but jack-third was fine on hand 2. Now let's look at a doubleton queen.

Nigel Guthrie: 3NT. Whatever panellists claim, 3NT would be the unanimous bid in real life.

Nigel may think that 3NT is the unanimous answer, but what does Nigel think?

Nigel Guthrie #2: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A practical shot. Double is likely to get 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) which won't help much. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may result in a missed game opposite say xx-xxx-Jxx-Kxxxx.

Sounds like Nigel needs to sit down and have a long talk with himself. Speaking of unanimous panels, our newest guest expert receives 80 points for this contribution, supported by just a quarter of the panel:

Pietro Campanile: Dbl. Trumpets, drumrolls... "Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time in the history of Australian Bridge we have a unanimous panel".

So, that sums up all the possible unanimous answers. Before looking at the arguments for each choice, let's hear a few words from the minority:

Bridge Baron: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Bridge Baron is quite heavy for this bid. We need to teach it that it can bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with this hand, which is at least a little closer to the true strength.

Andrew Gumperz: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Most likely route to a plus score. It goes against my grain to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with nine tricks, but I suspect I will need more than two kings to make 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and assuming sane preemption, 3NT will go down more than half the time.

Boris Richter: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). OK, 3NT is maybe the best contract but I'm afraid not only of going down a lot but also of missing some cold slam, and since the double is I guess for takeout, bidding 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the only logical alternative.

Chris Raisin: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Assuming East's bid is preempt, highly likely North has at least one diamond in hand. With only 4 losers in South's hand and since East is 6-9 HCP, partner is likely to have fewer than 10 losers. Even with 9 losers (6-9TP) game is likely. Being IMPs, caution is required.

H C Wilton: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Why be down in 3NT when 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might well be on?

Barry Noble: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Only interested in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if partner responds.

Could be right, but I don't think the maths is on your side. I'm sure you didn't get to where you are by playing this kind of hand in a partscore, Barry.

Back to the three main choices, starting with the obvious:

Dean Eidler: 3NT. Same as problem 2 -- no one has a solid suit for preempts these days.

Eric Leong: 3NT. I am guessing but 3NT could be the only game that makes opposite very little from partner. Other bids are guesses too but pray for more HCP from partner to succeed.

Paul Tranmer: 3NT. Assuming East has seven spades, I need North to hold images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A or images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, or Jxx(x) or xxxx. Even xxx will be enough if West holds singleton A or K. Also if West holds something like x-KQJ10x-Jxx-KQJx he might be tempted to lead a heart!

David Hester: 3NT. This tells the men from the boys, and I am 72 with a reputation for caution. Let's hope it survives this hand.

I accused David last month of bidding like a youth player. At 72, he's the equivalent of a whole table of youth players!

Steve Hurley: 3NT. On the assumption that diamonds run, partner either has something in spades or both images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K. Less to hope for in 3NT than 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Willem Willemse: 3NT. If partner has king or jack-third in spades, it will be a reasonable safe road to 3NT. There is no way of finding that out.

Richard Morse: 3NT. And run if I'm doubled.

Amiram Millet: 3NT. If they double I run to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

OK, that was less convincing than I thought it would be. How about the double? With a 40% vote from the readers, there must be some good reason for the bid.

Bruce Crossman: Dbl. If partner bids 3NT look for 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Alexander Cook: Dbl. 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would show fewer points, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a guess and 3NT is a little too hair raising for my liking. If partner bids hearts or clubs as expected, I will bid diamonds.

Sam Arber: Dbl. If partner bids 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Could gamble on 3NT.

David Matthews: Dbl. I think 3NT is out. Over 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I will bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I'm still thinking about it.

Emil Battista: Dbl. Hoping partner can bid 3NT. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will be more welcome than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Fran Edwards and Barbara Whitmee: Dbl. Give partner a chance to 3NT first, before resorting to the diamonds. (And yes, even if partner says 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I'd still say 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)).

John Leenders: Dbl. A bid of 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is too weak, a double might extract a 3NT bid from partner, If not, a rebid of 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is all that is left.

Fred Altstock: Dbl. Double first to show a big hand then bid diamonds and maybe we might get to 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Frank Campbell: Dbl. In a perfect world partner would bid 3NT! Can't see it happening so it is quite probable my next bid will be 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Peter Smulders, Elizabeth Gilbert and Ian Patterson: Dbl. If partner says anything other than 3NT I will bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

The doublers seem to be presenting a confident and united front, hoping to play 3NT but with 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as a backup plan. A couple of mild dissenters: David hasn't decided on his 2nd bid yet, and Bruce is planning to reject notrumps if partner is kind enough to bid them. But basically, a solid group of arguments for a bid that I hadn't really considered.

Finally, the 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid:

Tim Trahair: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If double, we will find ourselves correcting North's response to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). So let's get there now and perhaps North will be able to bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or NT.

Terry Dunne: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Assuming we get an average eight points from partner, this is a good contract. Any two of the three missing kings, and nothing else, is laydown of course. There is no safe way to get to 3NT.

Jameson Cole: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). What I think I can make if partner has a random 7-count. With the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A or images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K, partner should bid 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

John Furedy: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't dare to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) in case it's passed, and with two possible losers in spades, can't contemplate a slam (though I suppose pard with images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A may go on). Especially at imps, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems the best.

Looks like Jameson and John are on the same wavelength in their slam bidding, although it should be fun watching them try to find 12 tricks.

Sydney Frish: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Promising nine tricks -- expect partner to bid six with three winners in hand.

Jeremy Kennard: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Will bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with worse hands than this so can't expect partner to raise with 6-count.

Ian Smith: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't need much from partner here and expect to make 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ken Berry: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can't stand to hear hearts from partner, refuse to pass, and will not bid notrumps. A wonderful problem -- is there a right answer?

Yes. 3NT. Final word goes to the man who submitted the problem:

Eric Kokish: 3NT. Double and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) are just different gambles.

This problem is from last year's OzOne training session with Eric Kokish. There are no details of the full deal, but the surprisingly diverse auctions from the six OzOne pairs are listed in the magazine.  

 

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 February
RankNameScore
1David Hester470
1Arthur Hoffman470
3Steve Johnston460
4Ian Patterson450
4Paul Tranmer450
6Fred Altstock440
6Ivan Demeny440
6Linda Lubeck440
6Rex Fox440
10David Matthews430
10John Leenders430
10Lindsay Coker430
10Peter vab Casteren430
14Arthur Porter420
14Pietro Campanile420
14Terry Dunne420
14Willem Willemse420
18Birol Guvenc 410
18Dean Eidler410
18Henri de Jong410
18James Freston410
18Toby Weinstein410
18Tom Wykoff410
18Vlastimil Lev410
25Bruce Crossman400
25Fran Edwards400
25Jeff Brokenshire400
25Mike Freeman400
25Paul Sherman400
25Richard Morse400
31Alexander Cook390
31Amiram Millet390
31Dean Sole390
31Peter Smulders390
31Roger Yandle390
31Tim Trahair390
31Trish Whitton390
38Andrew Gumperz380
38Bridge Baron380
38David Johnson380
38Ding Wei380
38Emil Battista380
38H C Wilton380
38Pat O'Connor380
38Peter Nolan380
38Rick Lu380
38S Sashital380
38Steve Hurley380
38T L Goodwin380
38Tania Black380
51Bastiaan Korrner370
51Eric Leong370
51John R Mayne370
51Manuel Paulo370
51Margaret Reid370
51Paul Gipson370
51Sam Arber370
58Jameson Cole360
58Nigel Guthrie360
60David Monahan350
60Gary Lane350
60Jeremy Kennard350
60Peter Tarlinton350
60Sydney Frish350

Progress scores for 2007
RankNameScore
1David Hester470
1Arthur Hoffman470
3Steve Johnston460
4Ian Patterson450
4Paul Tranmer450
6Fred Altstock440
6Ivan Demeny440
6Linda Lubeck440
6Rex Fox440
10David Matthews430
10John Leenders430
10Lindsay Coker430
10Peter vab Casteren430
14Arthur Porter420
14Pietro Campanile420
14Terry Dunne420
14Willem Willemse420
18Birol Guvenc 410
18Dean Eidler410
18Henri de Jong410
18James Freston410
18Toby Weinstein410
18Tom Wykoff410
18Vlastimil Lev410
25Bruce Crossman400
25Fran Edwards400
25Jeff Brokenshire400
25Mike Freeman400
25Paul Sherman400
25Richard Morse400
31Alexander Cook390
31Amiram Millet390
31Dean Sole390
31Peter Smulders390
31Roger Yandle390
31Tim Trahair390
31Trish Whitton390
38Andrew Gumperz380
38Bridge Baron380
38David Johnson380
38Ding Wei380
38Emil Battista380
38H C Wilton380
38Pat O'Connor380
38Peter Nolan380
38Rick Lu380
38S Sashital380
38Steve Hurley380
38T L Goodwin380
38Tania Black380
51Bastiaan Korrner370
51Eric Leong370
51John R Mayne370
51Manuel Paulo370
51Margaret Reid370
51Paul Gipson370
51Sam Arber370
58Jameson Cole360
58Nigel Guthrie360
60David Monahan350
60Gary Lane350
60Jeremy Kennard350
60Peter Tarlinton350
60Sydney Frish350

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 April issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your February issue to see what the experts had to say about this month's hands.