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Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles – August-September 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, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A76
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ8
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J32
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ53


West North East South
pass 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) pass 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) * pass ?

* 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is natural and forcing.
Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1006423
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 90142
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)70912
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60140
3NT 40962
4NT 1001

It took us a long time to indoctrinate all the readers with the "3NT always scores top marks" rule. Now it's time to spring the trap.

Vic Liersch: 3NT. Flat hand described perfectly.

Cathy Hui: 3NT. I don't have a suit to bid.

Boris Richter: 3NT. Despite my aces 3NT is probably best.

Dean Sole: 3NT. Don't have four diamonds, have good stops in the other suits.

Terry Dunne: 3NT. Poor spots, flat hand, two jacks...partner will need to do more to get me interested in any other contract.

Duncan Roe: 3NT. I have stops in all suits except diamonds, so 3NT looks to be on. Should we go slamming? I've shown my strength so that's up to partner.

Bruce Minchinton: 3NT. Play it conservative. Partner knows I must have at least three diamonds because I denied having a four card major.

3325 anyone?

John Furedy: 3NT. there may be a slam here which I should investigate in imps, but I have a minimum hand, and if the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)K is off, I want to play the hand.

Barbara Hunter: 3NT. Have I missed slam in diamonds?

No, just a game. Several people have expressed the view that the decision to go past 3NT belongs to partner:

Fraser Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Highlighting potential spade issues in 3NT (images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)10x gives us a double stopper). I wouldn't be surprised if 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) were the top spot but it's ultimately partner's decision whether or not we go past 3NT.

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). To keep 3NT as an option for partner.

Fred Altstock: 3NT. Will let partner decide where to go.

Martin Eggins: 3NT. Showing club length and NT preference... so far. Partner has knowledge to act beyond if desired.

Frank Campbell: 3NT. Presumably 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is Stayman and partner has at least one major and diamonds. My clubs are fine and any move beyond 3NT is up to partner.

John Leenders: 4NT. 3NT is obvious but why did he bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)? At least one four card major and 5+images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'll cooperate with 4NT, showing slam interest.

Does partner actually have 5+ diamonds? We haven't yet considered the implications of partner's failure to transfer:

Jeremy Rosen and Martin Wardle: 3NT. With 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), a major, and slam interest, partner would transfer to diamonds then bid the major; therefore partner must have only four diamonds and 3NT looks like the best spot.

Erin Tewes: 3NT. No support for diamonds, and stoppers elsewhere. Pards is probably 4-4-4-1. If he rebids them, raise him to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Denis Haynes: 3NT. Partner has 8-10 points and a 4 card major plus it seems at least four diamonds. A tight game in no-trumps seems appropriate.

Tim Trahair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). North at best has two 4-card majors and his 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be looking for a stopper. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows 3-card hearts and values in that suit. If North has a diamond stopper he can go to 3NT.

Tim wasn't the only one expecting both majors:

Sydney Frish: 3NT. North promised enough values in majors and diamonds for a game -- and has shown shortness in clubs. 3NT seems the safest contract. With top of the NT range would try for more.

Barbara Whitmee: 3NT. Partner is short in clubs, so I'm hoping my double stopper is enough. Should get a club lead.

Roger Yandle: 3NT. Good club stoppers -- I'll support pard's diamonds if he pushes on.

I don't think it's accurate to say partner has shown shortness in clubs specifically. You don't have to hold both majors to use Stayman -- can't partner be 1453?

Rex Fox: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard's hand likely to be 1453, 4153 or similar, 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should encourage slam aspirations.

Manuel Paulo: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has, e.g. x-KQxx-AQxxx-Kxx, slam is a good bet.

Eric Leong: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner can always find out about your aces but he can't find out about your clubs unless you tell him. For example, give partner Kxxx-void-AKQxx-KJxx and 7images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) makes but 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doesn't. So I take the free shot to find 7images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Leigh Matheson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner is looking for slam and ALL of my 16 points are working. My aces are now worth a bit more and the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)J is no longer wasted. Unless partner is (40)54 shape, there is no club fit.

Compare Leigh's comment with Sydney's and John's earlier comments. They suggested that they would try for more with a maximum NT, but how often do you hold a hand where every one of your points is valuable? If the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A were actually images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)KQ, you'd have your maximum 1NT opening, but a less useful hand.

Paul Tranmer: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The diamond fit and outside aces makes the hand too good to bid 3NT. Assuming pard has a 4 card major on the side 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or possibly 6NT may be good. I await pard's next bid with interest.

Brandon Conway: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Having declared your hand with 1NT and showing no 4 card major, partner can assume your distribution. It would be helpful to support his suit as he must have extra values not disclosed at this point. Otherwise he could have made an alternate bid over 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Sam Arber: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner is 6-4 with good controls. Don't want to miss 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let partner Blackwood, it may be more useful to him than me.

Top award went to the feature showing bid:

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is not as simple as it first looks. I think I will show my better major so that partner can judge whether 3NT is the correct contract or whether we need to go on in diamonds.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At IMPs, with diamond support and three bullets, should co-operate. At pairs, this would be a harder problem.

Paul Gipson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I have an excellent hand for diamonds so why not start showing this at the lowest level. I will continue with 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 3NT.

David Hester: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner is presumably looking for a slam. With three bullets I must cooperate by showing the cheapest.

Richard Morse: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What on earth is Spam? I assume 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is forcing to game, not just for one round. In that case, surely I want to show my good hearts, in case partner has extra red cards.

I received several emails about my offer of Spam on Problem One, so I probably should explain. There are a lot of nasty robots out there on the internet, who go around searching the web for forms to fill in. Having very little knowledge of bridge, instead of real answers they submit advertisements, usually for something called Viagra (some kind of vitamin pill I think). When choosing their bid, they most often go for the first one they see -- in this case, SPAM. This allows me to easily differentiate the humans from the scum robots.

No offence intended to any robots who happen to actually be on the panel; we know not all robots are evil:

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Bridge Baron likes its stoppers in clubs, hearts, and spades. It doesn't really consider a diamond raise.

At the table North held 52-K943-AK865-K7. No singleton, but still 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) was the best spot.


Hand Two - East deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKQ95
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) A6
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K7
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 7654


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


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1004118
2NT 902715
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 7053
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)6096
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)60938
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)4055
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)1002

We know we have a tough problem when all the comments begin with "Not ideal, but...".

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not ideal, but better than the other options.

Paul Tranmer: 3NT. Not mad keen on this, but the hand is too strong for a below game bid and unsuitable for a heart cuebid.

Terry Dunne: 3NT. It would be nice to be more scientific, but partner might well pass any other bid, or bid past 3NT over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Yes, 2NT might be the best spot, especially at Matchpoints, but even if partner has a minimum (8ish points for his bid) 3NT might be laydown.

The beautiful 4-card straight in clubs proved too strong a temptation for many:

John Leenders: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Lousy clubs but shows at least the shape.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Anaemic as it is, I should bid a minor suit.

Vic Liersch: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Very poor suit, but four of them. Partner has shown both minors by the negative double.

Tim Trahair: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The clubs are pathetic but North has tolerance for them. If North can bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) we may be able to chance 3NT.

Frank Campbell: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Tempted to go 3NT but partner could have a good hand with both minors so will bid my poor club suit then 3NT over 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Note how almost all of those comments include the word "but". But bidding such a fine suit does have some advantages:

Martin Eggins: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner bids spades or 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) asking for heart cover, I'm less likely to get a club lead now!

Bruce Minchinton: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Showing the extra strength. Aiming to play in 3NT.

Dean Sole: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Enough of a hand to bid at the three level.

Isabel Michie: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). North should bid again. 2NT is dangerous at this stage.

Richard Morse: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is surely an underbid on this hand, tempting as it is with the suit quality. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) isn't perfect either, but it is not a lie and it keeps us moving.

Roger Yandle: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looks like West has long hearts (since East hasn't supported) and all missing values so need help from pard to make NT. If he asks for stopper I'll oblige.

The Matchpoint conditions were enough to steer many people away from the clubs:

Duncan Roe: 3NT. This is pairs, so if 3NT is even half-reasonable then bid it.

Alexander Cook: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). At IMPs I would bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Denis Haynes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The strength of the spades warrants a two-level bid. How else to get more info from partner?

Leigh Matheson: 2NT. Only because it’s Matchpoints. Playing IMPs I’d probably bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 2NT. Partner has points but probably not three spades.

Cathy Hui: 2NT. I have a heart stopper.

Paul Gipson: 2NT. Partner's double is wide ranging. I think 2NT should imply reasonable values but I'm not good enough to force to game.

Sydney Frish: 2NT. Appears more accurate than 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) -- promising heart stopper, 16-17 HCP with five spades but not suitable for 1NT opening.

Bridge Baron: 3NT. Again, Bridge Baron, happy with its stopper in hearts, doesn't really consider a club raise.

Murray Perrin: 3NT. The double shows 10 plus points so jump to show strength.

Another mark of a tough problem is when the cuebid gets the top vote:

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too wimpish to show my second suit!

Ken Berry: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't know this system well enough. This for me is asking partner to get 3NT from the best side if they have some values in hearts as well as a minor. (Also it has the benefit that a 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) response could show 2-card support and then it would be my turn again to think!)

Eric Leong: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We belong in game or better somewhere. I am not sure where so I cuebid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to make sure we get to some game. I expect partner to probably bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on a doubleton and I will then bid 3NT showing a single heart stopper. Now partner is in a position to decide whether to let 3NT sit.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A double by partner in our system shows 8+ with the other two suits. It's still possible that we could play in 3NT (if partner has Qxx in hearts), 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems flawed because it may wrongside 3NT when partner has images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)Qx or images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)Jxx. 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) seems obvious.

Finally, the jumpers:

Jeremy Rosen and Martin Wardle: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good suit, Ace-y hand. North is unlikely to have a heard stops and realistically has a hand like xx-xx-Axxx-AJ10xx in 3NT you are unlikely to make nine tricks before the hearts set up. Though in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) you are likely to only lose a trump a heart and a club.

David Monahan: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Four card suit with very good outside controls, good chance for game if partner is better then minimum. NT with only doubleton heartsA could have major problems.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Worth a forcing bid with five losers.

Boris Richter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I don't like 3NT, that's for sure! Hope I am right.

Erin Tewes: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pard will have at least nine points. My points are not wasted: solid spades, king in his suit, ace in theirs. If he has 11-12 points he will raise to game. Hope that we aren't missing too many top club honours.

The full deal, from Larry Cohen's The Real Deal column:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 83
hearts 92
diamonds A6432
clubs KJ83
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) J107
hearts KQJ7543
diamonds 10
clubs AQ
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 642
hearts 108 
diamonds QJ985
clubs 1092
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKQ95
hearts A6
diamonds K7
clubs 7654

3NT fails despite the favourable spade break. The winning bids are 3hearts, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 4clubs, all of which lead to a making game.

Hand Three - South deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ93
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AJ4
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQ
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K953


West North East South
      1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
pass pass dbl ?


Call Award %
Pass 100 5033
Rdbl 90 2728
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 913
1NT 40 1426

Sometimes bidding problems come up in the most unlikely places. Here we have four possible choices, all at the one-level! 

Boris Richter: 1NT. Clear cut!

Ian Smith: 1NT. Strong balanced hand.

Margaret Reid: 1NT. Showing just that sort of hand.

David Monahan: 1NT. Giving partner a chance to enter the auction with shape.

David Hester: 1NT. Presumably redouble is for rescue, so it is a choice between this and pass. This is the partnership bid.

Yep, I love partnership bids. When partner goes for 800 it always makes me feel better about my -500 on the previous hand.

Isabel Michie: 1NT. 18 points is a good reason to bid this. Partner can do Stayman and transfers if necessary.

Ken Berry: 1NT. With hopefully transfers to a weak five card major still available to partner.

There were a huge number of votes for 1NT as a preempt. Yes, a vulnerable preempt in notrumps...

Nigel Guthrie: 1NT. Shows strength and makes it harder for opponents to compete in diamonds. IMO redouble would just show poor clubs.

Paul Tranmer: 1NT. Seems about right on values and takes the one level away from the opponents.

Bruce Minchinton: 1NT. Looking for the best partscore. Redouble allows opponents a cheap bid.

Sam Arber: 1NT. Probably should pass but opponents then too low. If doubled in 1NT partner may still pull to better spot.

David Matthews: 1NT. Shows 18-19 flat. Game is not possible but 1NT makes it more difficult for East to compete and I will be very happy to pass if East bids 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Fred Altstock: 1NT. See where they go from here.

Duncan Roe: 1NT. Do we have an agreement as to what redouble would mean here? In general, I like to play it to mean business.

Let's find out:

Erin Tewes: 1NT. Would redouble with four of each major.

Eric Leong: Rdbl. I show partner I have some cards and let partner escape with a red length in case he has shortness in the black suits.

John Furedy: Rdbl. Seems an obvious way to show strength.

Murray Perrin: Rdbl. If partner bids 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) then I'll bid 1NT if there is no interference.

Barbara Hunter: Rdbl. Rely on partner to rescue if necessary.

Fraser Rew: Rdbl. Like a man. Just like a man. (Ahem).

Next option -- bidding our suits:

Leigh Matheson: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner had responded say 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), you would rebid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in preference to 1NT. The same principle applies here, and with good reason. If partner has as little as Q10xxx-109x-xxx-xx, you probably want to be in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (IMPs), however 3NT is out of the question opposite any hand partner could have. Finally, passing is not the best option as it gives up on playing in a nice spade partscore (the likely outcome).

Bastiaan Korner: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Perhaps we have to compete.

Alexander Cook: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 1NT will not play well if partner has very few points and therefore no entries.

Tim Trahair: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pity we didn't start with 1NT. Need to show we have more than opening values. Not quite strong enough for 1NT. North hopefully will deduce we have four spades and four clubs and can decide where to go next.

Vic Liersch: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Showing both four card suits. Partner may have a preference or better still, opps will bid allowing us to defend.

Martin Eggins: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). My diamond cover is too thin for 1NT and 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is mildly pre-emptive as the next EW bid is 1NT or a 2 level bid. This also helps to clear the waters as to whether West has anything. Maybe it's 18-2-2-18!

The top scorers are led by one of the few people who have gone for even more large penalties than I have (by the way, am I the only one who gets unnerved at the way BB always refers to himself in the third person? -- even Chthonic never does that):

Bridge Baron: Pass. Bridge Baron thinks it's just slightly too weak to bid 1NT.

Terry Dunne: Pass. Yes, it would be nice to tell everyone that we have a good hand, but to what purpose? Let's see where the opponents go.

Dean Sole: Pass. Might double later over 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ron Lel: Pass. Partner must be broke not to venture any action over 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is passed back to me I will reopen with a double.

Frank Campbell: Pass. So I have 18 points but I also have 7 losers. I will see what the opponents do but if there is no squeak from pard I am inclined to defend.

Sydney Frish: Pass. I know where most of the missing points are.

Pauline Lane and Manuel Paulo: Pass. See what opposition will do.

Roger Yandle: Pass. Lots of points but I need a fair bit help from pard to make anything. I'll give him a chance to show what he's got before I make another move.

John Leenders: Pass. I want to see what West says. I can bid 1NT later or double if opponents bid diamonds.

Jeremy Rosen and Martin Wardle: Pass. West might have a penalty pass for clubs. By bidding 1NT you may be setting yourself up for an even bigger penalty as you only have 4 tricks and with a maximum of one entry to the north hand its unlikely to play well. Pass and trust partner to escape if necessary.

Ian Erratt: Pass. This is all because I did not open 1NT. It won't end here and I postpone the problem for a round!

Paul Gipson: Pass. I hope partner will pull if this wrong.

Rex Fox: Pass. To make any contract pard needs three tricks.

Richard Morse: Pass. If partner can't stand clubs he can redouble, or try a five card suit. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be suicide.

The full deal, provided by Sartaj Hans:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1062
hearts 863
diamonds 1074
clubs 10764
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q8
hearts K102
diamonds J9865
clubs AJ2
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K754
hearts Q975 
diamonds A32
clubs Q8
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ93
hearts AJ4
diamonds KQ
clubs K953

Any further action by South can go for 500, maybe 800, although as long as South avoids 1NT it may be hard for EW to find the penalty double.

Hand Four - West deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ---
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T84
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A653
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQT764


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


Call Award %
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1004546
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80325
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 6097
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 6050
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5053
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4050
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 10024
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1005
4NT 1002
Dbl 1006
Other 001

On each of the next two problems, the vote was evenly split. Half the voters went for the top scoring bid, and the other half went for one of the TEN alternatives. Let's start with the minorities:

Leon Slonim: 4NT. Choose your minor.

Ian Erratt: 4NT. Minors -- I hope! Pass is tempting.

Bruce Minchinton: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asking partner to choose better minor. If partner bids diamonds, then bid the clubs. If partner bids clubs, raise to five.

Erin Tewes: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Good hand, spade shortage, better to play in the 4-4 diamond fit. (Would not pick this if Leigh were East, would then be natural!)

Actually, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is natural even if Leigh isn't sitting East, so I'm not sure where the 50 point award came from -- Phil must have been in a really good mood this month. Let's hear from someone who doesn't need to consider the possibility of Leigh sitting East:

Leigh Matheson: Dbl. If partner has as little as xxxx-Ax-KQxx-Axx, then 7images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the best contract (ruff out two spades, draw trumps and run the clubs). We should describe our hand as accurately as possible with emphasis on shape. To do this we should double first (showing 4+/4+ minors) and then bid clubs later if partner passes. This should put partner in the best position to be able to make the right choice… well that’s how it works in theory anyway…

Roger Yandle: Dbl. looks like EW have a fit in both majors. Let pard know we've got both minors. If pard has four clubs then 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) could well be on.

Ian Smith: Dbl. Partner pick an unbid suit.

These guys will certainly have the last laugh when they rake in their 13 tricks. But many people just didn't see that much potential in the hand:

Denis Haynes: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Show partner your long suit and some points.

David Monahan: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hand looks good enough to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but the void in spades (partner has a spade suit) suggests some caution needs to be taken, therefore the free bid of 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is more appropriate.

Martin Eggins: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). While partner may read a double correctly, I don't want to see 1NT as its reply. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows length and sound club values. My 9 HCP+ void is close enough for an informative yet free 2 level bid.

Duncan Roe: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I could double to show the spade shortage, but with six clubs I think it's more helpful to show them straight off. 

Sam Arber: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Close to bidding 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Vic Liersch: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Prefer clubs but have a tolerance for diamonds. Glad East bid my void so partner will not be expecting any from me.

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Values and at least five clubs. Possibly 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is on.

At first glance this seems like a massive underbid; but it does leave plenty of room to bid both suits, so it must be better than the Double:

Margaret Reid: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Show diamonds later if necessary.

John Furedy: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It's a free bid, and leaves more room than 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to find the right contract.

Dean Sole: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd prefer this suit to be led... allows a double later if desired to show diamonds too.

Sydney Frish: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Pass appears too timid -- so showing what I've got. Double may work, but there are probably more than five spades sitting over North's four.

Yeah, pass is definitely more timid than 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Let's continue our way up the club ladder:

Paul Tranmer: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). An easy one, at last! As I play it this bid is almost perfect -- a few values plus a good suit. Whilst not forcing pard should move with any non-minimum.

Fraser Rew: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Then 4NT over their inevitable 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Paul Gipson: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Preparing the way for 4NT if partner fails to double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Of course, he may bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) himself if East has psyched.

Frank Campbell: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Double for both minors might be right but presumably East's spades are better than North's and with his heart shortage and my spade void I prefer to bid my clubs at the three level. That should encourage partner with good support and make it more difficult for the opponents to sort out their spot.

Ken Berry: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Just a bit more pressure. Even if partner does have a spade stack, this might be a good place. I suppose a nice partner would double for take out.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Nearly worth a cue bid but 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is descriptive. Over opp's major game, you might even try 4NT, unless partner doubles.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Jumping to show my partner that I have at least nine points.

Manuel Paulo: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A free jump bid should show a hand like this.

David Matthews: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Double would be responsive but I need to show my very good suit as 3NT may well be on.

Bastiaan Korner: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Maybe I am too strong for this; hope partner can bid 3NT.

Bridge Baron: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bridge Baron thinks it's just slightly too weak to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Richard Morse: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I'd like to bid an unusual no-trump, but I think I can only do that at the four level which is too high, so I'll settle for showing my excellent clubs and good hand quality.

Next step, four-level:

Jeremy Rosen and Martin Wardle: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would show 8-9 HCP; 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would show 10-12; and this hand (after the club fit) has a little more than that but needs some help from partner to work. Partner has a legitimate takeout double not a 16+ hand (count the points in the deck) and with minimal values in spades 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should be ice.

Murray Perrin: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Jump to show strength as Partner has support, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be shut out 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a slam offer.

Still climbing:

Terry Dunne: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). They have fits in both majors, so it's best to bid my hand now. Given that we have probably only 1 loser in the majors between us, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) will have good chances. The hand isn't strong enough for a heart bid, and a spade bid would be natural.

Ron Lel: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should be a weaker hand with clubs only on this auction. I was thinking of 4NT which my partners would understand as 'pick a minor', but there is too great a disparity in the minor suits for this.

Isabel Michie: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). North has an opening hand with possibly a heart singleton. I have 14 distributional points enough for non vulnerable game try.

And the final stop on our tour of clubland: slam, of course. Well, no, there were no takers for an actual 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid, but it is the spot they are looking for:

Eric Leong: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Give partner as little as xxxx-x-KQxx-Axxx and 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a wonderful contract. So I cuebid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to show partner I am serious so we can conduct a leisurely auction.

Boris Richter: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I would have bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but maybe this should be natural nowadays. Anyway bidding just 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with this beauty is too pessimistic, better 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).  But partner may have some wasted honors in spades, therefore maybe we should start by cue-bidding hearts first. What the hell, 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Unfortunately no 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid is available this time, ok then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Thanks to Peter Gill for supplying this problem. If anyone remembers the full deal (from the Trumps Autumn Teams) please let me know and I'll edit it in.

Hand Five - North deals, both vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KJ94
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QJ62
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K75
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) Q4


West North East South
  1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) dbl
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 1005049
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 1001422
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)803215
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)8040
6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)2001
6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)2001
6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)2001
6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)2001

The second of this month's problems to feature 11 different answers! In fact just about every bid from 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to 6NT is covered, the only exceptions being 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). But the majority choice was clear, with half the readers and half the panellists demonstrating that they have absolutely no courage at all:

Fred Altstock: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has probably hearts and spades and singleton diamond. He can pick heart or spade game.

Isabel Michie: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner has a void or singleton diamond, and is not trying for 3NT. Therefore he has good majors, maybe 4-4. He can pass or correct.

Denis Haynes: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Allows partner to either pass, correct to spades or bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Why didn't South bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in the first place! How many diamonds are there in the pack? I don't like what I see!

Ron Lel: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). One word on the auction. I think the double sucks. Why not just bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) here?

I wish Ron and Denis had elaborated on this point. Why would they want to deny four spades? It's not like the suit is terrible or anything. Obviously the downside of showing both majors is that partner could end up as declarer -- I've never met their partners so I don't know if that is their concern.

Dean Sole: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Doesn't rule out spades.

Cathy Hui: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pass or correct. Slam is unlikely.

Jeremy Rosen and Martin Wardle: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). As North has jumped rather than bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) he probably has a diamond shortage so either 4405 or 4414. He also wants be in game opposite a possible 7 count so he probably has 18-19 points. The images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K is worthless therefore we have about a 9 count. Without controls in any suit and with only a combined 28 count slam doesn't look promising. 

I have a lot of respect for point counters -- I attribute some of my biggest disasters to my failure to count points. But let's check the maths here. 18-19 points and a 4405, you say:
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A532
hearts K1043
diamonds ---
clubs AK532

images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KJ94
hearts QJ62
diamonds K75
clubs Q4

That's 14 HCP and a void -- not a laydown slam I admit, but with a finesse through the overcaller, I've seen worse. (Yes, I know I threw in a bonus tenspot -- but there are four in the pack, we deserve to get at least one!) 

Rex Fox: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Pard is is likely 4405, but should be bad breaks in a slam.

Bruce Minchinton: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Am discounting the diamond values in my hand as partner is void or singleton. Partner has strong hand, but with my 10 HCP (outside of diamonds) not enough for slam.

I bet you'll become even more timid once you realise you actually have 9 HCP, not ten!

Duncan Roe: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think partner read my double to indicate strength in both majors and is now asking me to pick one. I have no real preference so bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) leaving him free to try 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if he really prefers them.

Bridge Baron: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner forced Bridge Baron to bid something, so it's bidding its cheapest four-card suit. If Bridge Baron had had the option of bidding a certain processed meat product from the Hormel Foods Corporation on this hand, it might have done so, but apparently that option is only available on Hand One.

Everybody's making fun of my SPAM filter! Maybe I'll think of something different to put in next month.

Barbara Hunter: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Perhaps a bit wimpish, but no first round controls and images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K probably wasted.

Ian Smith: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Assuming partner has majors.

John Furedy: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I assume pard has at least one four-card major, so I'll bid my cheaper one first. If I had 5-4 in spades and hearts, I'd bid spades first.

There's a fair bit of disagreement over whether partner has one major or two. This next lot are betting all their money on two: 

Martin Eggins: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Believing partner is asking me to bid my preferred major, I have. The images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)9 looks more appealing than the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)6.

Vic Liersch: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Slam is only a remote possibility and partner has taken away the bidding room. Bid the preferred major.

Tim Trahair: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North seems to be saying pick a game. Presumably he has a 4414 or perhaps 4405 distribution. In the unlikely event that East goes to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) we will then have the options of double or 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Terry Dunne: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The wasted images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K stops me getting too excited. Partner would need 3 aces and 2 kings for slam to be a chance given that we're likely to have a diamond loser. Even then we'd need to be able to pick up the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q.

Fraser Rew: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Doesn't look like a diamond void as West appears to have at most 3 and East at most 6 -- though if so there must be some reason for the lack of a jump overcall. (How long did East think for over 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)?) But whatever's going on I have a nice hand, but I also have only one useful control and nine working points. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rather than 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) because my spades are stronger and because I do have vague extras and if partner has just made a slam try in hearts we can probably afford to be at the five level.

Ken Berry: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is my stronger major. It looks like partner is quite strong.

Sydney Frish: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). North gave me a choice and it may be marginally safer sitting with the stronger major over East.

Bastiaan Korner: 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I agree not very courageous but 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) seems exaggerated.

For those who are willing to offer partner some cooperation, there are two primary ways forward: as usual, it's the multi-4NT or the all-purpose cue.

Roger Yandle: 4NT. I'm hoping this is natural, with slam interest in NT or majors, showing possible wasted values in diamonds.

Margaret Reid: 4NT. Partner has a good hand lets look for slam in a major.

Richard Morse: 4NT. I don't think this can be Blackwood since we have not agreed a suit, so I hope it shows what I have, a balanced hand with a bit extra for partner.

We haven't agreed a suit, but one of our younger, more adventurous panellists has an answer for that:

Leigh Matheson: 4NT. If partner has something like AQxx-Axxx-void-AKxxx, then 7images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is an even money chance of making. In situations like these where there are two possible trump suits, both major suit kings are considered keycards, making 6 in total, and the responses are: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) = 0/3 keycards, 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) = 1/4 keycards, 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) = 2 keycards no queen, 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) = 2 keycards + lower ranked queen (hearts), 5NT = 2 keycards + higher ranked queen (spades), 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) = 2 keycards + both queens. (See Polish club system notes.)

You uni students spend waaay too much time thinking.

Here's an unexpected problem with 4NT:

Boris Richter: 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 4NT is asking for trouble, partner might bid 6NT (you never know). Probably bidding 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is best but I am afraid he will interpret this as showing an ace. Therefore 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hope I am playing with the right partner :-)

Eric Leong: 5NT. I should probably strangle partner for ambushing me with an undiscussed conventional bid. However, whatever partner has my hand has to be magic for him. I would have bid the same way without the spade king and the club queen, and my jacks are excellent fillers. So I bid 5NT telling partner to pick a slam. Perhaps partner with Axx-AKx-void-AKJ10xxx can gather some courage and bid 7images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

It's always been my philosophy that in every session with a new partner, you should make at least one undiscussed bid. It stops them from becoming complacent. But it's important to know how to react appropriately:

David Hester: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This is a revenge bid. I cannot imagine why 'partner' has used so much space to tell me he is short in diamonds, which I already knew, so I will use more space to make him tell me what are trumps. It will be a close race who sacks whom first. A slam may not be on, as I have no ace, but I hope he has at least 4 of the 5 or 6.

Frank Campbell: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). North is good enough to play in 4 of either major over my 1st level double so slam is a possibility but how do I find out preferably with him as declarer. If I bid game he will pass and Blackwood is of little help to me. Hopefully 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows an invitational hand in either major allowing him to bid it or pick a slam.

David Monahan: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Cue bid suggesting slam interest for a partner who was prepared to force game opposite a minimum double and my hand is far from a minimum, especially with our double fit.

David Matthews: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a distinct possibility as partner may well have AQxx-AKxx-void-KJxxx. My images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)C is a big card so am happy to make a forward move.

John Leenders: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner shows both majors and must be strong. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) says I have got both majors and points. He can go 6 with three aces and a singleton diamond.

Sam Arber: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner seems 4414 or 4405 strong. soft values but do not want to miss out on slam with 12 points. Tell partner willing to play at slam level, if he bids at 5 level pass.

Paul Tranmer: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) in case pard is 4306 rather than 4405. I will then raise 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 6.

Nigel Guthrie: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). You can hardly refuse partner's invitation with nine prime points, even without any aces. 

Paul Gipson: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Although control challenged, how can I do less?


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
1Joe Lentz500
2Fraser Rew490
3Paul Gipson470
4Gary Lane460
4Ozcan Agabay460
6Bastiaan Korner440
6Henri de Jong440
6Kay O'Connor440
6Ken Berry440
10larissa cowlishaw430
10Manuel Paulo430
10Peter Nolan430
10Rex Fox430
14George Czubala420
14David Matthews420
14Rick Giles420
14Sid Kanter420
14Steve Johnston420
19Pat O'Connor410
20Alexander Cook400
20Dean Eidler400
20Emil Battista400
20Jeff Brokenshire400
20Michael Davy400
20Pauline Lane400
20Ron Lel400
27Gerry Oehm390
27Ivan Demeny390
27Leon Slonim390
27Mike Freeman390
27Richard Morse390
27Rick Lu390
27Robert Black390
34Andrew MacAlister380
34Andrew Thompson380
34David Hester380
34Eric Leong380
34Frank Campbell380
34Nigel Guthrie380
34Peter Klarie380
41Arthur Porter370
41Bridge Baron370
41Cathy Hui370
41Derek Pocock370
41Fred Altstock370
46Barbara Whitmee350
46John Leenders350
48Dennis Lee340
48Kai Röhlk340
48Ian Tengbom340
48Martyn Rew340
48Sydney Frish340
48Tim Trahair340
54Barbara Hunter330
54Peter Stride330
54Terry Dunne330

Progress scores for 2007
1Bastiaan Korner1690
2Rex Fox1680
3David Hester1670
3Paul Gipson1670
5Henri de Jong1660
5John Leenders1660
7Joe Lentz1640
8Gary Lane1630
9Mike Freeman1610
9Terry Dunne1610
11Nigel Guthrie1600
12Alexander Cook1570
13David Matthews1560
13Steve Johnston1560
15Eric Leong1540
16Emil Battista1530
17Manuel Paulo1520
18Andrew MacAlister1510
18Kay O'Connor1510
18Tim Trahair1510
21Bridge Baron1500
22Pat O'Connor1490
23Ivan Demeny1470
23Sam Arber1470
25Tania Black1460
26Arthur Porter1450
26Barbara Whitmee1450
26Ken Berry1450
29Jeff Brokenshire1440
29Leon Slonim1440
29Peter Nolan1440
32Sydney Frish1420
32Trish Whitton1420
34Fred Altstock1370
34Peter Stride1370
34Roger Yandle1370
37Richard Morse1350
38Michael Davy1340
38Sid Kanter1340
40Dean Sole1320
40Ian Erratt1320
40Martin Eggins1320
43Ian Spight1310
44Ian Smith1300
44Paul Tranmer1300
46Dean Eidler1280
46Julian Gauld1280
48Rick Lu1240
49Ian Patterson1230
49Martyn Rew1230
51David Monahan1220
52Duncan Roe1200
52Margaret Reid1200
54Boris Richter1190
54Frank Campbell1190
54Ron Lel1190


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