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February 2016

Readers' Bidding Forum with Fraser Rew, February 2016

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, Bob Jones, Frank Stewart,
Eddie Kantar, and Zia Mahmood, as well as many top Australian players.

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answers for April     

                Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - North deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJT976
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ---
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 62
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KT984


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


Call Award %
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 40 47
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 30 19
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 50 15 4
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 30 15 20
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 0 6
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 10 0 5

Welcome back, everyone, to the first forum of 2016, a year that is 0.3% longer than average. I'm going to use my extra 16 waking hours sitting in the grass and staring at the sky, and I hope everyone else does something just as uselessly fulfilling.

Apologies for my absence last month. Surprisingly, it seems that Brad's return as moderator didn't put too many of you off entering this time. And welcome to our many new overseas entrants.

First of all, and apologies if you've come across this one before, which movie does this describe? "Stranger in a strange land kills the first person she meets, then teams up with three strangers to kill again"? Answer below.


There's a perception that 6-5 hands are difficult to bid. I always seem to get good results when these hands come up, and the secret is this: bid them once more often than the room, and you'll do fine. I've gained more imps than I can count by opening sub-minimum 6-5 hands (tempered, admittedly, by the occasional big loss); and as responder, bidding game on a fit seems almost reflexive. So I find the following to be a bit conservative:

Dan Israeli: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If this gets passed out then I will probably play the same contract as a substantial percentage of the field, and I hope to do well in the play phase. If partner raises I will bid game, if he bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I will make a slam try.

You won't be playing the same contract as anyone else in the room, at least if our panellists are a good sample. While it's true that 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) could be the last making spot, we could be cold for game, or even slam, and the rest of the panel at least made some move - one of whom directly contradicted Dan:

Steve Robinson: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I expect there will be many spade bidders so any plus score in clubs will beat any minus score in spades.

Only one person thought that 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was the normal bid ...

David Caprera: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Just because it is Matchpoints doesn't mean you should stop playing bridge.

... but most 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders seem aware that they're underbidding ...

Ron Lel: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is an underbid which I think is worth while perpetrating due to the heart void. Of course I would love to hear 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), though this is unlikely. If pd bids 3NT I will bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - choose a game.

Deftboy: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) seems to give us the most options. If North bids again (especially a red suit) I can now bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not sure though what I would do if partner bids 3NT.

Richard Baker: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Can't judge yet value of combined hands

H.C.Wilton: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Downgrade with the likely diamond lead.

Jeannie Fitzgerald: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Gazzilli might help here.

Gazzilli is an artifical 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bid after 1M-1NT - and, in some systems, 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) - that shows either clubs or any 16+ hand. As much as it would be nice to know partner's point-count, I think I'd be driving to game regardless.

Andrea Viscovich: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Maybe we will end in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but I still have some chances on spades.

Ian McCance: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Prepared to start the new year with a zero. I think 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is wrong, forcing partner to 3NT with a single stopper. I can remove 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), perhaps, to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and begin to show shape. 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is also a possibility but I'll show club fit for now.

Alan Jones: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The first priority is to agree a suit.

Dan Baker: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Yes, it's Matchpoints, but 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) making 4 outscores 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) making 2 (or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) going down) and the fact that neither opponent bid diamonds means partner's likely to be short in spades. If he does have a couple spades, he's got another chance to show them.

It's true that we'd like to stay low for now, and that, as game may not make, we don't want to force there. But 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) doesn't show a great hand, and partner may not have much in the way of extras - the opponents' silence may be because of lack of shape, rather than lack of values.

The next most encouraging bid is the invitational one: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is pretty close on values, but has the obvious drawback that it conceals the Club fit. At matchpoints, it's often right to play in a major; against that, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on a 6-1 fit won't be a barrel of laughs. One 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bidder was pretty optimistic:

Ian Patterson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Then 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 3NT and 4NT (Key Card) over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

If partner can't do any more than bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'd be quite happy with 10 tricks, let alone 12.

Barbara Whitmee: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner can't support spades then I will bid five clubs.

Artur Wasiak: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Invitational. I think that 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is the most likely game, so I hide my club support.

Bridge Baron: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Majors before minors. Six-card suit, highly invitational hand: easy bid.

Roger Yandle: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). tough question for the first of the year. There are lots of possibilities here. I'm opting to show the 6th spade with invitational values. There's always the fall back of a club game if all else fails.

The rest all commit to game. As ever, it's a decision as to how much we bring partner in on the decision. Some know exactly where they want to play:

Duncan Roe: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Great shape but low on points. Needs a minor ace from partner to make, but can't see how to inquire about that without getting him over-excited

Bar: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Is this enough?

These are two interesting pairs of answers: Bridge Baron thinks 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is easy, Roger thinks it's tough; Duncan is worried that 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is too encouraging and Bar is worried that it's too discouraging.

Those 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders should also heed the words of ...

Arno Weber: 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Natural and constructive. If partner has a good hand with real clubs, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (not 3NT) is the place to be. Having 'agreed' clubs below 3NT/4M, we can still bid naturally to explore 3NT/4M as alternative/best games, if partners hand is good enought to bid on.

Arno was the only person to raise the possibility that partmer may have fewer than four clubs. But what would you bid with, for example, Kx-AKJxxx-xx-AQJ? It's a bit too good for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), so a lot of experts would temporise with 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Of course, you could rebid 2NT, but that has its own flaws.

So that leaves two possibilities: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (Fourth Suit Forcing - i.e., a bid of the 4th suit that is artifical and game forcing) and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). About 70% of both panels opted for one or the other. For the optimists ...

Alex Kemeny: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). There is no need to rush. I will use the 4th suit to hear one more bid from partner. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) later is nice as Minorwood but I do not want to rush past 3NT now, especially as spades may be better.

Anne Paul: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Minorwood - 6 losers plus 5 + 4 fit in clubs it is worth investigating for slam in clubs

For those unfamiliar, Minorwood is a bid of 4 of the agreed minor as RKCB. I'm not a fan of the method, as you sometimes just want to show a good hand with support for partner's minor, but it is reasonably popular. Also, and more importantly for these purposes, it's not part of AB Standard.

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). One round force. Even if it GF I'm ok with it.

It is.

Peter Karlsson: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A guessing game. Give partner a basic 1-5-3-4 distribution and we will make game in clubs decently often. Give partner some spades and we will make 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) very often. Exceptions are hands where partner has very good hearts. Unfortunately, those are the hands that probably will make partner happy if we invite game.

Emil Battista: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). AB Standard allows fsf so let's see what this elicits from partner. Simply bidding 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) all too unilateral.

John R Mayne: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). ABimages/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is that fourth suit is forcing to game, and I'm forcing to game; we have play for two games opposite the grungy misfitting 8 QJ943 KJ83 A632. Insisting on spades now is loopy. If this isn't the top answer, I'm turning in my bidding forum card.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don’t want to bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) just yet.

Patrice Fincias: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). FSF. I want to get further information, such as a spade fit or some key card in diamonds, before showing my fit in club.

Mike van Gulik: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Game or slam in S and C possible, or maybe just 3N. Tells partner to keep describing her hand.

Murray Perrin: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Great hand so it may end up in 4 spades or 5/6 clubs so force with FSF

A K Simon: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I need to establish a game force. Then I can probe for a 6-2 spade fit, or possibly 3NT, or most likely 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Wayne Somerville: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I suspect I'm just bidding 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on the next round, but it can't hurt to check if we belong in spades.

Aviv Shahf: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to be in either 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or maybe even 6images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Starting by forcing to game with 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) leaves the most room to investigate. I plan to follow up with 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and later rebid spades to complete the description of my hand.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Better to overbid and have a controlled auction and select the proper strain.

Hans van Vooren: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Lots of advantages: forcing, leaving open all options, and cheap.

Tony Treloar: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With such a good club fit it seems right to force-will bid spades at the next round.

I'm struggling to see the logic. If there's only one reason you're forcing, shouldn't you tell partner straight away?

Jacco Hop: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To find out more. Opposite 2524 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely the best spot and therefore I am not blasting 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) just yet. Maybe we have no game at all but that seems to be to pessimistic even in Matchpoints.

Dima Nikolenkov: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Too many things to say so I'd start low hoping to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) + 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) + 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) otherwise.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). torn between 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (FS-not game-F) and 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). In my own agreements I can bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as a constructive raise (even though partner may have less than 4) and then mention my extra spades if he tries for game. But 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will get me a better description of partners hand and I can still raise clubs if appropriate. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) seems most likely to score best in mp's if partner has 2 (or 3; it can happen)

I get that we want to force to game, because this hand just got a lot nicer. But not all of these readers have in mind a specific plan for the auction, or have decided which contracts they're interested in playing. The following group see it as a choice between 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes):

Dean Pokorny: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I will play a game - 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), we will see.

Michael Burt: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With a 6 loser hand in clubs, 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) looks a good chance and 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) a possibility. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will give me an idea of whether diamonds are covered (Kx or A) and also gives partner a chance to show a 3 card spade suit which leaves open the option of playing in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Julian Foster: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It's MPs so if partner is 3514 or something we may still want to play in spades. Otherwise this will allow me to set clubs and explore whether we play 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No immediate raise of clubs seems to do justice to this hand anyway!

Rainer: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam might be on, game might be gowing down. But give P something like x Jxxxx xx AQxxx, which ain't an 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) opener, and game is great.

Interestingly, one reader thought that there was a better way to reach 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but unfortunately he didn't elaborate on his planned auction:

Peter Vlas: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner really makes me happy and I tell him so. 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) looks inches away

The following readers all see this as a straight choice between 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ...

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Attempt to establish a game-force in case contracts are playable in both black-suits, when spades might score more than clubs.

Henri de Jong: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Need more info from pard so we can check which contract will be better;S or images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Christer Enkvist: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Slam is not impossible!

Ron Landgraff: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). A plethora of possible contracts! I force and await more information. Any Club bid now is either an under bid, an overbid or possibly a misdirection. Slam in Clubs is easily possible, but so is slam in Spades.

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Need to know more about partners hand. Will push to game in either spades or clubs.

Nigel Kearney: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The only way to ensure we find the right strain. There may be no game but that is a lesser risk and I am close to being too good to invite anyway.

Normally, when we don't know which strain we should be playing in, it's right to keep the bidding low. And while I agree that 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the right bid if 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is still in the picture, if it's not, then it's a straight choice between 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). That being so, why not just bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), and then 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) next time? Partner needs to know that we're 6-5, and starting with 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could, perversely, cramp the auction, as we may not be able to bid the hand often enough to get our shape across - e.g., 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-2NT-3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-3NT-? Or 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)-2NT-3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-3NT-4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), which doesn't sound anything like a 6-5 hand. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is superficially such an attractive bid, but not many of the 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders have thought the auction all the way through. Let's hear from the 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders, starting with someone who seems to be the same wavelength as me ...

Robb Gordon: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Since 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is constructive 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) should be forcing and shapely. But of course I have been passed in forcing bids before. I fear that if I trot out 4th suit I cannot catch up.

Mike Jackson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I expect partner to offer 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) as a contract if he has reasonable tolerance for spades.

Richard Morse: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Seems about right on values and playing strength. The heart misfit is not encouraging, but surely a jump is merited, particularly since 3N does not appear to be an option

Neil Silverman: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Anything could easily be right, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) invitational, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) staying low or even 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which I assume is forcing to game. I chose what might be middle of the road and I might get back to spades if partner has 3 of them.

Ben Kristensen: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Have an extra S for this action, but still seems like a good description while keeping 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) in the picture.

Yehudit Hasin: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). In my preferred methods 2!d would not be forcing to game, just one round, but this is not an option here. 4!c still leaves the opportunity to play 4!s.

Phil Hocking: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner is showing at least 9 of their 13 cards in Heart and Clubs. Looking for a good stopping in Diamonds has warts on it for 3NT's as insufficient strength. Equally, expecting 2-3 Spades could be in the same bucket. Chances of game in Clubs but difficult to show void in Hearts. Strong suit agreement looks best chance and over to partner.

Peter Robinson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Play jump to 4 of a minor as forcing - often a surprising winner when the field struggles to settle in their minor suit contract.

The more I see it, the more sense it makes. But the plurality opted for Fourth Suit Forcing, and who am I to disagree?

Our first two problems this year are a flashback to 30 years ago: they were also the first two problems in our 1986 issue. In 1986 the top two awards were reversed, with more than 60% of panelists voting for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 25% for 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).    

Hand Two - South deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K7
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KQT763
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQJ3
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 2


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


Call Award %
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 65 31
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 30 20
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 30 5 45
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 10 0 1
Dbl 0 0 2
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 2

Problem 2 is more about tactics than science. We're all in agreement that we'd like to play this hand in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). However, experience tells us that on this auction opponents love bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With so much distribution, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will either make or be a good save, so then we'll have a decision. So our main goal is to stop them from bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); failing that, we need to be in a position to judge whether we should Pass, Double or bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Two people opted for the low road, while others were looking for slam:

Jeannie Fitzgerald: Dbl. Game try.

Ian Patterson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Long Suit Trial. If 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is just competing, 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) may be the limit of the hand.

Mike van Gulik: Dbl. Invitational raise in H, but bidding 4 anyway to suggest slam

George Hashimoto: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Courtesy cue bid

Murray Perrin: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Splinter, as you may have more than game on

Emil Battista: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K nicely placed! Slam somewhat unlikely, but we have another gimmick so let's deploy it.How much do we need from North? CA and a spade void or CA and images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A. Surely not too much to ask of a good partner! If we do not get to slam, partner will know what to lead should we be outbid

Bridge Baron: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Yes, give full value to the spade king, at least for now, and bid the splinter.

Duncan Roe: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows interest in slam - with their S fit partner needs to know it's fine to keep competing

A lot of panellists realised that they have enough for game but not enough for slam, so stopped there ...

Phil Hocking: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My guess is a pretty even distribution of points in our favour. I think I would like a spade lead so I think jump to game as slam isn't a strong option.

David Matthews: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bid immediately to what I think is the best spot and hope for a Spade lead.

Richard Morse: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Bidding what I think I can make.... It may be stone age tactics but...

Tony Treloar: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Can't see slam here even giving partner the best hand possible.

Dan Baker: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Even counting two spade losers with the ace presumed offside due to the overcall, this is a 5-loser hand worth a game bid. But for slam, I need two aces and either the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K, or a singleton, and partner wouldn't just bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with all of that.

Arno Weber: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I bid what I expect to make, a splinter would be an overbid in my view.

Yehudit Hasin: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I do not think slam is a likely prospect at all. Will be happy if 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) makes.

Robb Gordon: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't see any reason to be delicate.

Margaret Copland: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). partner has less than 10 TP so probably going nowhere higher

A K Simon: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What the hand is worth. I don't care for 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which is more likely to help opponents, or for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) which establishes a force over their putative 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tania Black: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cannot envisage a slam.

Steven Myerson: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm missing 4 keycards. For the simple raise, North can't have more than 2.

Mike Jackson: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not looking for slam with potentially wasted spade K. Give as little information away as possible.

And even amongst those who saw potential problems, not all strove to avoid them:

Deftboy: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Hard to imagine a hand where 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) does not have decent play so I just make the pragmatic bid. Too much required to make slam a viable option. My next problem will occur when W bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not inclined to give too much info away.

Dean Pokorny: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner cannot have enough for slam. Splinter in clubs would be wrong, since it could induce a good 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) sacrifice.

Dean's goals are admirable, but he doesn't seem to have a Plan B. He may be the only player in the room to prevent an adverse 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid, but against that he may also be the only player whose partner doesn't know what to do over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And even if he's successful, he may write down the same +450 as those who get a 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid.

Jacco Hop: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Don't tell them anything more than needed. We might need to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over their 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but opposite a single raise I better take the shortest route. If I bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), West might double with some length in clubs and East will bid more accurately.

Ron Lel: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This won't win many bidding forum points, but it has the advantage of not disclosing the good D suit. Scientifically 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is a superior bid, but I bid what I would do at the table.

However, although a plurality of readers voted for an immediate 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), a very slim majority voted for the slow, descriptive route - backed up by 95% of the experts. Two panellists complained about the methods ...

Jeff Jacob: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I think 4 diamonds should be lead directing if on defense

Kieran Dyke: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Very inexpert to be playing 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as splinters instead of natural.

... but I'm curious about what's wrong with bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)?

Let's hear from those who chose the slow route:

Martyn Rew: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) looks like our most likely contract, but partner may end up having to decide whether to leave 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x in or go to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A bit light but might help partner decide what to do over an opponent's 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Nigel Kearney: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A splinter is perfect here. We want to defend 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if partner has club values and not otherwise.

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Helps partner decide what to do should after opponents bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Charles Scholl: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I won't be surprised to hear 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) from the opponents, so I want to help partner with the next round of bidding, or defense.

Leigh Matheson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If our agreement is that this shows a shortage with slam interest, this seems the perfect hand for it.

Aviv Shahf: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It's clear to get to game. The issues to consider are: What to do if the opponents compete to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? How to get to slam opposite a "perfecto"? The 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) splinter will help partner evaluate in either of these scenarios.

Brad Johnston: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). With the lack of cue raise I don't want to go looking for slam, but I want to know if I can push them to 5 before I think about doubling them.

If you want to see more of Brad (Brad the Kiwi, not Brad the editor), go to this video from ABC News. And before anyone gets annoyed at the producers for not editing out the controversial bits, knowing Brad, I'm pretty sure that they already have.

Hans van Vooren: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Lot of maybes here. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) allows partner to make a decent decision over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but maybe the opponents can double 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and judge their own fit as well. Maybe they will now lead a club instead of a spade against 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Maybe they will bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but partner has the club ace. Maybe I'm bidding 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) just because the comment suggests it.

Robert Black: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Splinter. It may not help Partner much, and we still might have 4 losers in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dima Nikolenkov: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This bid is made primarily made to help partner to make a decision over possible 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) by opponents. I think it is better used that way than a salutary, especially if we have hearts and they spades.

None of those bidders seemed to give serious thought to the alternative, but some of the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders did:

Julian Foster: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We will probably later have to decide what to do over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If we do end up defending a diamond lead might also be valuable. Going slower could also fool some oppo into thinking we are just trying for 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and make them less likely to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over it - a 4 level splinter is almost asking to hear 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)!

Damo Nair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Why not show where my HCP lie in case we wind up defending. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) may be more popular.

Ian McCance: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Always going to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but partner needs info if they proceed to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (inevitable). Maybe 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) delivers the same message.

Ron Landgraff: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think the target is 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) only encourages them to bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or double 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If I thought slam was reasonably possible, then I might bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Indeed. I really don't think there's much to choose between them. Disappointingly, only Matthew Thomson amongst the experts discussed the differences - and he bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Matthew Thomson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Bidding 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be only a game try hand, so put me down for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (splinter), then I'll leave it to partner. By splintering with 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) partner will be able to place me with at least two spades.

Michael Burt: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). At nil vulnerability, there is a good chance that we will be outbid in spades. If so, I would like partner to lead a diamond.

Neil Silverman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Get partner in the game, a 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid will get you 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but West very often won't have a great idea whether to save or not when it comes back around to me. At least letting partner know your other suit could be helpful and a slow route to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on a rare day might buy the hand.

Zbych Bednarek: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). GF, if opps bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), it will be easier for Partner to find the opening lead

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Given the bidding so far partner is very unlikely to hold the hand that makes slam possible 1-4-3-5 with both rounded Aces and the D king in its place. so I am going "tactical". I want to play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but don't want to hear 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is forcing (a trial) and after that I can act irresponsibly by bidding 4 anyway. If he bids Four he probably has the DK, which makes it even more unlikely we can make 12 tricks

John Newman: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Hopefully this helps partner if I have to double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

I think John means that he's always planning to double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and wants partner to know whether to pass or pull the double.

Kees Schaafsma: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I need a stronger hand to splinter, on a bad day even 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) might be in danger. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is lead-directing should opps bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Dan Israeli: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to be in game but I might have a problem if they bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over me, so I'm directing the lead. I need two key cards and extras for slam, partner can't have that so I'm not splintering.

Artur Wasiak: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes); showing diamond suit might be useful after opponents' 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Peter Vlas: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I want to play 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) at least, but prefer to bid my D as lead indicator in case we end in a S-contract.

Wayne Somerville: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm always going to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but I'm afraid of a 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid appearing at some point, so letting partner know about my 2nd biggest feature.

Roger Yandle: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'm pretty sure the opps are heading for 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) so I'm giving pard notice of where my strength lies then he will be better able to decide what to do when the time comes to bid on or lead. Splintering in clubs might give the opps information that isn't useful to pard.

Jarek Wyganowski: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Just in case - lead directing.

Jeff Goldsmith: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let partner know I have the reds to prepare for when they bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over our 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Rainer Herrmann: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Not so much because slam is very likely, but to help North to judge what to do over spade bids and to suggest an opening lead in case we will end up defending a spade contract.

Ben Kristensen: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). To help partner judge over a 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) save, I want him to bid to the 5-level with long D. Bidding 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) wouldn't help him see that images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)xxxxx is a very good holding...

Patrice Fincias: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is my second choice

Par Ol-Mars: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Will of course bid game but prefer to show side suit when expecting a competitive bidding.

Peter Karlsson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With spades instead of hearts it might be clever to just jump to game. Here there is a clear risk opps will sacrifice in spades. If we simply jump to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (very reasonable) partner will not know what to do. Now partner will double with good clubs.

We'll end with a few different plans ...

Peter Robinson: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 3NT here would be an interesting diversion, but I doubt that it scores too many points in a bidding forum.

John R Mayne: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). While 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is an opponent-transfer to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'd rather not show my whole hand. I intend to crack 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and lead a club; I've been -690 the hard way before.

Anne Paul: 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A bid preventing opps bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and showing 4/5 losers in Hearts.

My last thought on this is what everyone would bid at the table. When something is given to you as a problem, you tend to think about it properly. But I suspect that, at the table, many of us would just bid what we expect to make without even thinking about it. So the moral of the story, for me, is: keep your brain switched on at all times.

Another rerun from our February 1986 issue. It originally appeared in The Finer Arts Of Bridge by Victor Mollo, and was submitted to the magazine by young Sydney player Peter Gill. The votes in 1986 were similar to today, with just 3 out of 36 panelists bidding a direct 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and the majority bidding diamonds.

Hand Three - North deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 9542
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QT3
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KJ53
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A9


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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 60 31
1NT 60 15 46
2diamonds 50 5 6
Pass 40 20 17

Ah, this is more like it! After having to choose the most accurate of three bids that all describe our hand well, we now have to choose which one of four bids doesn't describe the hand well at all: we can pass, showing fewer than 10 HCP, bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), which suggests better Diamonds, we can Double, which shows four hearts, or we can bid 1NT, which shows better Spades.

A minority bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - let's hear from them:

Robert Black: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 1NT is tempting, but partner might expect a bit more from me in Spades.

Rao Zvorovski: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't like my spade holding, tho might have length stop. I should be better placed after openers rebid.

Duncan Roe: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Let partner know I have 10 HCP. My 4 little spades are likely useless in NT so bypass 1NT

Mike van Gulik: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have the balance of points so its the least mis-descriptive bid. P will read more into what wasn't bid.

2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shows 4-plus Diamonds and 10-plus points. It's clearly most honest bid, and yet it fared poorly, being selected by just 6% readers and one of the twenty experts. Why is that?

I'm going to go back to my movie description above. For anyone struggling, it was The Wizard of Oz. And the reason that this is relevant is that the description that I gave (but can't claim credit for) while factually correct, doesn't help you much if you want to know what the movie's about. Or, as Lisa Simpson once put it: As usual, the playground has the facts right, but misses the point entirely.

It's the same with this 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid. It's technically the most accurate bid, but it fails entirely to tell partner what we've got. If I had told you the auction and said 'you've got a balanced 10-count with scattered values and no Spade stopper, what do you bid?', I doubt any of these panellists would have said, 'that sounds like a 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid!'. It doesn't seem right to me that a natural 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the right bid on both this hand and Kx-Axx-KQJxxxx-x.

The next most honest bid is Pass. Naturally, that wasn't so popular either - especially amongst the readers. Most people passed because everything else felt worse.

Mike Jackson: Pass. No spade stop so not 1NT, no heart suit so not X.

Margaret Copland: Pass. Don't like a X, NT or 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - so will wait and see

John Newman: Pass. 1NT feels right but doesn't seem logical

Well, at least he's being honest.

Kees Schaafsma: Pass. Everything is flawed here. At least I can lead the Ace of Clubs against 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Murray Perrin: Pass. No clear bid wait and see what partner does most likely double

Ron Lel: Pass. You have 3 choices - 1NT, double and pass. On any given day any of these could work out well. My first instinct was 1NT, however I have an agreement with partners that this does show a stopper. Double could be problematic with only 3 pieces of hearts, so pass it is for the moment.

H.C.Wilton: Pass. See what happens. Could possily be your best spot. Any call you make is a lie.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Pass isn't the absence of a call, it *is* a call. And with 10 points, and playability in three strains, we really ought to do something. Otherwise, we'll never catch up properly.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. If we belong in notrumps it will have to be played from partner's side. To double without the unbid major is asking for trouble.

Hans van Vooren: 1NT. 9 of spades... nice card, nice card. I could double, of course, but the 4-3 (3-3?) heart fit won't play well and I cannot really see how to get partner to declare notrumps. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would commit me to things I cannot back up.

On the expert panel, Peter Fordham and Matthew Thomson both made the same point about playing no trumps from partner's side. But they both opted for a Double. Which makes sense - partner won't re-open with a NT bid if he has 12-14 balanced; and if he has 18-19 balanced, we'll wish we'd doubled.

These next two seem to be hoping to write down -470:

Derek Pocock: Pass. Too good for 1NT and haven't got 4 hearts to allow a double so hope partner re-enters the bidding or West come in say with 2 spades and then I can double or raise partner.

Brad Johnston: Pass. When it goes 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-Pass-Pass? I hope my double shows something like this. Too many points to sell out at Matchpoints to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), no 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but a good fragment, and C tolerance.

Look, you can play Double as Takeout or as Penalties, but you can't have it both ways. In practice, partner will look at the singleton Spade, decide that it's a penalty double, and pass. And there's a good reason: when we have this hand, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may well make when we've got no fit, and everything at the 3-level is bad for us (give partner a 1435 hand, for example).

The most well-reasoned passer:

Kieran Dyke: Pass. If he doesn't reopen, we're in our best suit now. Offensive prospects are poor unless he's short in spades.

He makes a good point: if it goes All Pass, partner will have two or three Spades and probably a weak No Trump, in which case we may already be too high. However, the opponents often have a fit, and if West raises to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), we'll struggle to convince partner that we have this much. This is similar to Dean's answer in Problem 2 - you're very well placed this round, but Pass doesn't leave you well prepared for next round, when you're going to need your partner to appreciate that you have a good hand. However, rejecting the pass were ...

Patrice Fincias: Dbl. limit bid. I would prefer to have 4 cards in Heart, but can't be mute.

Robb Gordon: Dbl. Just too much to pass. Not enough to try 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

So then we move on to the bids that are technically flawed in some way, but which do at least get the general tenor of the hand across - 1NT and Double. Personally, I don't mind bidding 1NT on hands like this, but this problem and a similar one last year on which 1NT received very few votes from the expert panel make me realise that the experts aren't quite as good as me. But to be fair, a few doublers expressed sympathy for 1NT.

Julian Foster: 1NT. Nothing's nice but this feels least bad. And it gets 1NT in first at nil vul matchpoints.

David Caprera: 1NT. Grab the notrump first. Stoppers are for children.

Tony Treloar: 1NT. Don't think all that much of my stopper but we should be trying to declare at this vul-good chance this bid will end the auction.

Aviv Shahf: 1NT. Winning the Nil Vul race to 1NT at matchpoints by bidding it first. The fact that it's also the best description of our hand is a bonus.

Thorvald Aagaard: 1NT. First to 1NT wins.

Declaring the hand is often an advantage, which these readers seem keen to make the most of. Also, if we can make 6 or 7 tricks, this is the best spot: if we make 6, they make 7, for -50 vs -90; conversely, if we make 7 tricks, it's +90 vs +50. At matchpoints, that can make a huge difference. That's why nil vul is the best vulnerability to compete at on partscore hands. At favourable, the opponents don't get a bonus for making, but they do suffer an extra penalty if they go down.

Michael Smart: 1NT. 8-10. Partner should check back on my spade stopper if interested in game.

... or maybe you could just have a Spade stopper instead?

Ron Landgraff: 1NT. "Stoppers Schmoppers". Bid to get the best result!

Tania Black: 1NT. 9xxx is close to a spade stopper, and I only need 7 tricks.

Of the experts, Andrew Robson made a similar comment. If it goes all pass, we're probably in a decent spot, and can take seven tricks once they've cashed their five spades.

Ben Kristensen: 1NT. All white [Americans use White, not Green, to indicate non-vulnerability - FR] at matchpoints: win the race to 1NT... images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)9xxx is a decent enough stopper right?

Martyn Rew: 1NT. An ugly 10 points. Don't want partner to presume that I have 4 hearts here

Charles Scholl: 1NT. Best describes this good, balanced hand.

Roger Yandle: 1NT. Double suggests 4 hearts and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) suggests a 5 card suit so I'm going for the best lie (i.e. I've got a stopper - my extra strength makes up for this).

Peter Vlas: 1NT. Easy, what else? Dbl is out (no 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)), 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is way over the top

Bridge Baron: 1NT. Even with 9xxx in overcaller's suit, we can't go quietly with ten high-card points.

Leigh Matheson: 1NT. Genuine stopper not needed when you’re at the top of the range.

Richard Morse: 1NT. Good problem. I cannot pass, and refuse to double without four hearts. At least this gives partner a good impression of shape and point count, even if the spade stop is somewhat undercooked.

Nigel Kearney: 1NT. I assume double promises hearts or that is the obvious call. Pass could work but is more likely to lead to a guess on the next round.

Michael Burt: 1NT. I don't like this bid but it seems to be better than the other options at matchpoints. It looks like we don't have a decent fit in any suit (4-3 heart fit looks the best hope of a fit but north might well have to use hearts to rough spades). We'll probably just scrape home in 1NT.

Nigel Guthrie: 1NT. Pass could work better although it might be hard to catch up later.

Mick McAuliffe: 1NT. Pass looks wimpy & double looks scary, as does 2NT. 1NT looks like the closest to a truthful bid I would be prepared to make at this point. Too many things to dislike about the hand. If pard rebids he should be happy.

Emil Battista: 1NT. The extra HCP making up for the spade suit quality. Double really needs another card in hearts suit. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may take the top marks but I am shooting for different answers to ones submitted by Roger Yandle!

A.K. Simon: 1NT. The extra point or so atones for the lack of a spade stopper.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 1NT. yeah I know, I don't have a spade stop, but this is right on values and we win the race to NT. If partner bids again he shows extra values and a spade-cuebid will show this type of hand. I refuse to double as it shows 4 Hearts in my agreements

And now from the doublers:

David Matthews: Dbl. A slight lie but I have too much to pass.

Richard Baker : Dbl. Best chance is for N to declare

steve robinson: Dbl. I have to make some noise. If I pass, I won't be happy over partner's double or if he passes 1spade out.

Deftboy: Dbl. I know I should have 4 hearts to double but everything else but pass kind of sucks. And if I pass and partner reopens with a double (as she should), now what do I bid? 1N on 4 spades to the 9 is not a comfort zone for me either.

Dima Nikolenkov: Dbl. I pass if partner does not jump anywhere, if he does I hope he'll be able to keep control in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. I would rather see my partner play 1NT, plus I don't mind being in a 4-3 heart fit. If partner takes stronger actions, I can try and wiggle it into 3NT.

John R Mayne: Dbl. Ideally, partner has 86-AK8-Q92-KT832 and decides to play in the 4-3. We may scramble 8 tricks even then. At least we'll have a story. We're just not better placed by passing - partner doubles back in, then what? The 1N bidders will lose the first five spades, but still could be right.

Neil Silverman: Dbl. Least of all evils. If I pass and partner balances with a double will I have any better idea what to bid?

Jacco Hop: Dbl. Might lead to silly hearth contracts however passing or bidding 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will have at least the same danger if not bigger.

Tim Trahair: Dbl. Need to show we have reasonable HCP and prepared to play in a Moysian fit if needs be.

Dan Israeli: Dbl. Not ideal with only a 3 card Heart suit, but nothing else is acceptable.

Andrea Viscovich: Dbl. Not really nice, but I don't want to pass.

Ian McCance: Dbl. Owing partner a heart but values about right.

Arno Weber: Dbl. Points with no clear direction. I will raise a 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 2NT bid by partner, pass any heart bid.

Peter Karlsson: Dbl. The "impossible hand". Moving a spade to club changes it a little, but the same basic problem. Moving a heart to clubs makes it very difficult indeed. I am voting for double based on my good 3card hearts. Holding similar but with only 2card hearts I see no other option than 1N.

Dan Baker: Dbl. Too much to pass, no stopper for NT. This isn't the ideal hand for a Moysian if partner bids hearts, but every other option is worse (and we're well placed if he does anything other than bid hearts).

Damo Nair: Dbl. What else to bid? 1NT without a spade stopper?

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. What else? If I find a Moysian in hearts, great, it is matchpoints!

Par Ol-Mars: Dbl. Will not lie about spade stopper so no other alternative.

That's fine most of the time: if he has fewer than four hearts, this maximises our chances of getting to the right spot. If he has four hearts, though, we need him to be minimum and the auction to be uncontested, in which case we'll play 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), which may be the best spot that we can plausibly reach. The problem hand is four hearts and either extras or a contested auction, when he'll bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (or even 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)) and it'll be hard to put the brakes on. How likely is this? Well ... the more hearts partner has, the fewer spades he'll have, so the more likely it is that LHO will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The experts have spoken, but I'm not convinced by their logic.

The full deal (not yet available, will be added in the next few days):



Hand Four - East deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 854
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K7
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQT
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQJT


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


Call Award %
Dbl 100 60 63
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 90 30 11
2NT 40 5 8
Pass 30 5 9
1NT 10 0 2
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 0 0 4
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 2

Another problem on which there is no satisfactory answer. I have to confess that I'd just double without thinking about it too much. A majority of both readers and experts agreed. Let's see if the minority voices can convince us that we should try something else, starting with those who go low. Some of these optimistically expect a second chance ...

Derek Pocock: Pass. And see what happens

Dan Israeli: Pass. Anything could be right, I am hoping partner is broke and the opponents will get too high. Leading a trump against a spade contract.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. I won't hang partner in a 4(+)-2-fit by doubling. Against a 5-card major 1NT is too dangerous and I can pick up tricks in the minors while promoting partners spades. If it goes 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass-pass I may have 5 tricks and I can double for penalty (spade-lead) If 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - pass- pass I can bid 2NT for the minors where the best fit should make on sheer power or lose less than 110

Mike van Gulik: Pass. This won't be my last opportunity and I want to know who has the weakest hand between W and N

A.K. Simon: Pass. I hope I will get another chance, perhaps after 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on my left, pass, pass. Then I plan to bid 2NT.

As I said, this seems optimistic. We have 20 points, RHO (nominally) has 12. That leaves 4 each for partner and LHO, in which case All Pass is the most likely. This could work out well for us, but I still don't like the reasoning. Some Passers did so for want of an accurate description ...

David Caprera: Pass. 4 card overcalls never work for me. Double needs a third heart.

Neil Silverman: Pass. At MP's it's easy to pass in my opinion as all other calls are awful.

As on Problem 3, Pass isn't just an absence of a call, it IS a call.

Rao Zvorovski: 1NT. Hoping that my extra values compensate for the lack of stop; I wouldn't be better off after double.

Peter Karlsson: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Matchpoints... Doubling will go wrong very often, and passing just gives up to a 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) contract. At IMPs the double is better, because there is a big upside if we make game. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) looks a better guess than 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if I am allowed to play my bid. It also gets the right lead if LHO ends up as declarer.

Michael Bodell: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Yuck, gross, every call is terrible

Brad Johnston: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) -> 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and let pard see what's happening. Tempted to downgrade due to no stopper and bid 1N, but we could miss all sorts of good minor games/slams.

John Newman: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). All possible bids induce feelings of shame. Well done AB.

Damo Nair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). All the perfumes of Arabia will not erase the fact that I have 3 spades & 2 hearts.

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Dbl is stupid and will only create problems next round. Hand is not as strong as the Point Count indicates, so only alternative is actually pass.

Jack Lai: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Likely will have rebid issue if we Double and partner responds 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Peter Vlas: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). My first reflex was Double. But I'm afraid that will lead to disasters when P bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I considered passing as a safe out, but I have too much for that. So I tucked a spade in with the diamonds

Ron Landgraff: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). On average pard has maybe 4-5 points, game is unlikely. Over 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I'll risk 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If pard has 5-6H, I should have Doubled!

Richard Morse: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Similar problems to hand three, albeit in a quite different context. Double withy nothing in hearts seems perverse, as does pass, which leaves this as the least of evils

Alan Jones: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The best of a bad lot. Double will most likely see partner bidding hearts, and 1NT looks to lose 5 tricks immediately. If partner now introduces hearts, we can ask for a spade stopper.

Christer Enkvist: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The goal is to get the auction ging and hopefully be able to get a plus score.

Yehudit Hasin: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The hand is good, but not good enough for the "big double" -- it does not have clear direction. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is also good for lead direction if partner will be on lead.

Roger Yandle: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tough to get across my shape and strength and lack of spade stopper all in one bid and there's a chance that's all I'll get unless I double. But if I do and pard next bids hearts, I'm no better off. So I'm opting to show my diamonds - pard might think I've got 5 diamonds but these are almost that good. Also its the suit I want led if pard ends up on lead. If pard has got some values and a spade stopper we'll end up in 3NT

Michael Smart: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Unlike 1 INT response (hand 3), I would expect a stopper from a 1NT overcall.

Tim Trahair: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We probably have the best hand but difficult to find a suitable bid to describe it. Can't expect too much from partner so am ready to bid 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if forced or the opportunity arises.

Alan Boyce: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Why is bridge so cruel?

H.C.Wilton: 2NT. Followed by 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if able.

Arthur Porter: 2NT. Minors

Martyn Rew: 2NT. The least lie? Can still work with any bid from partner.

Duncan Roe: 2NT. Unusual NT showing 5-5 in the minors which I don't have, but with 19HCP I have to do something. Will bid again to show it's strong

steve robinson: 2NT. Usually partner has length in a minor. I know that 2nt shows 10 cards in the minors.

But most went for the all-purpose double. Though there was, obviously, some concern about what to do over a Heart bid - most opting for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but some genuinely uncertain:

Mick McAuliffe (with Hans van Vooren): Dbl. Expecting my next bid will be a spade raise

Mick's tongue is in his cheek, and he's going to make a cue raise of whatever partner bids. At least I hope so ...

Julian Foster: Dbl. Only H calls from partner give us a problem (Emil Battista echoed this), and we can try bidding Ss to ask for a stopper over those perhaps. Too strong to risk passing initially I think (which seems the only other remotely plausible bid). Give partner xx Axxx Jxxxx xx and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is on a C hook through an opening bidder but he won't be bidding with that.

Arno Weber: Dbl. Points with no clear direction. I will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if partner bids 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)/2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), showing A LOT of points with no clear direction.

Robert Black (with Ben Kristensen and Pat O'Connor): Dbl. And 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over partners 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Jeff Goldsmith: Dbl. Glad you didn't ask about my rebid.

Aviv Shahf: Dbl. the hand is too strong to pass or for a simple overcall. Starting with a double followed by a cue-bid should give a near perfect description of this hand.

Jacco Hop: Dbl. It is hard to do anything else with my 19 count. Over a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) advance I will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If the opps were red passing might be lucrative; now, just try to land somehwere sensible

The one dissenting opinion on what to do next came from ...

Tony Treloar: Dbl. Problem comes next. Will bid diamonds if they bid hearts.

But a lot of people were just happy to get past this round:

Nigel Kearney: Dbl. Ugly, but I don't want to defend when nil vul at matchpoints.

Andrea Viscovich: Dbl. I don't like 1NT with no stopper.

Kees Schaafsma: Dbl. There's no law against pard bidding notrumps or a minor.

Peter Robinson: Dbl. Systemic, when too strong to overcall and no NT bid.

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Take away a queen, and we still double.

Artur Wasiak: Dbl. The hand is strong enough to double with not perfect shape.

Thorvald Aagaard: Dbl. Just dreaming of the 1NT response from partner

Henri de Jong: Dbl. Leaves all options open

Michael Burt: Dbl. A pass could well end up being passed out with a bad board. So south needs to bid. There is a risk of ending up in a 4-2 heart fit but partner might also bid 1NT with spade cover when 3NT looks on or clubs or diamonds.

Anne Paul: Dbl. Difficult hand to bid with those 19 points if partner bids hearts next can than ask partner for stoppers in spades to finish in 3NT

Dean Pokorny: Dbl. Double is better than pass, because if I pass, I could lose a cold 3NT. If I double, I can still have a heart fit, or eventually avoid playing hearts.

Michael Davy: Dbl. Double is the least awful, although Mike Lawrence might bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Mike Lawrence is on the Expert panel, and he bid 2NT. (I think he did mention to me that he was considering 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as an alternative. - Brad)

Dima Nikolenkov: Dbl. I hate it but can't bring myself to pass with a good 19 count.

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. I suspect partner is going to bid hearts, in which case I will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show a big hand that's difficult to bid.

Kieran Dyke: Dbl. Just a guess. Maybe if we land in an inadequate heart fit my high cards will see us through.

Charles Scholl: Dbl. Not ideal, but too strong to pass. Ideally, partner will bid no trump or a minor, or West will bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and I can bid 2NT to show minors and a good hand.

Ian McCance: Dbl. Owing partner two hearts but extra values.

Nigel Guthrie: Dbl. Perhaps a delayed double is better, after opponents bid both majors.

I agree that double now is better - not least because it's hard to double if the next two hands pass.

Dan Baker: Dbl. This much seems obvious. The bigger problem is what to do next round (probably 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)). 2NT now would emphasize the right suits but too much so; that would often land you in a 4-3 minor fit instead of 5-2 hearts, a disaster at matchpoints.

Patrice Fincias: Dbl. I'd prefer more than two cards in Hearts, but this is a forum problem.

And now for something completely different ...

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Where possible, bid your hand in one call.

Bar: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Asks, will NT work?

I guess they have a point, but this bid normally shows a solid minor. Partner may not bid 3NT with a stopper; even if he does, he'll have so little else that he'll run at the speed of light if we get doubled. Still, at least they're aiming for game and they have a firm plan in mind. Last word goes to two of the doublers:

Tania Black: Dbl. My next bid may be trickier.

Rainer Herrmann: Dbl. The problem will come on the next round.

That seems to sum it up well.

The full deal, from Kings and Queens:

spades Q107
hearts 43
diamonds J9854
clubs K54
spades J9
hearts A1092
diamonds 7
clubs 987532
spades AK632
hearts QJ865
diamonds 632
clubs ---
spades 854
hearts K7
diamonds AKQ10
clubs AQJ10

Our opponents have 11 tricks in hearts, so passing out 1spades is our best result. At the table South overcalled 2diamonds, raised, and ended in 3NT three down.

Hand Five - South deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q98642
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T5
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) T952

West North East South
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) dbl 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 100 55 51
5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 60 40 35
Dbl 20 5 14

Firstly let's work out what everything means - starting with the first call of the auction:

Leigh Matheson: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Sorry partner, one of my spades was mixed in with the club suit so I didn’t open 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). But I’ve found it now.

Jacco Hop: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Was I sleeping in the first round? This is a clearcut weak 2 in spades for me. If the preemptor bids more I see it as a forcing pass and my very limited defense 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) makes sense. I feel bad about being in this situation and not just showing my hand when I could.

I understand their objections, but I'm fine with pass. Only half our points are in our suit, and it could be right to play in any of three different suits. (I hope everyone would bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if it started, uncontested, 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-?). And it would be nice to have better Spades than this. However, Jacco does raise a good point that when you open a weak two, you've got your hand off your chest.

Next, what does the 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid show? One panellist was particularly scathing ...

Kieran Dyke: Dbl. Who bids like this? Have I stumbled into a supervised session?

That's an interesting question. The idea of pre-empting is that we're telling partner that he's got most of the points, so we should The normal agreement amongst experts (I think) is that, after partner raises, the Weak 2 opener can Double to say that it's wrong to defend 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) undoubled. Then, if opener has bid game on a strong, balanced hand, he'll pass for penalties; if he's bid it on a distributional hand with support, he'll pull to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). However, these readers made a good educated guess:

Alex Kemeny: Pass. If I respect West, assume that hand has something like 6-5, 7-4 or 7-5 in the reds. These are the facts: Partner did not double 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). They may go off anyway. They may have missed a slam. We may go off in spades. At matchpoints, dare I say this seems like a clear action?

Peter Karlsson: Pass. An unpleasant guess. It all boils down to what diamonds partner has, and if we can score any major tricks at all. In my experience LHO will have 7-4 or a spade void and RHO will have a nice hand with some length (3-3 or so) in the majors. So clubs are likely to work well for opps. On the other hand there might be a diamond guess or a real spade winner for us, in which case I think 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is going down. I do not think we are making 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) when partner could not double once more or bid it himself (heart void and extras).

Dean Pokorny: Pass. From my experience, they make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) way too often if I double here. LHO most often will have 07(42), that's why pass is best.

And finally, what does Partner's Pass mean? Does bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on the previous round oblige us to keep going?

Steve Robinson: Dbl. Partner's bid is forcing. Since I don't expect to make 5spades, I'll hope my queen of diamonds is enough to beat 5hearts

Zbych Bednarek: Dbl. Partner created a forcing pass, I must bid

George Hashimoto: Dbl. Partner's pass should be forcing.

Peter Robinson: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Have to take partner's pass as forcing, and he's catering for a hand less shapely than mine. West's 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is quite odd, but if partner can't double it, neither can I.

Mike van Gulik: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No defense means don't defend, Partner's pass means she wants me to choose

Derek Pocock: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner has left it to me and my hand is not a double! Trust partner can double if they go to slam.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Unclear who can make what. Accordingly this should not be a forcing pass scenario.

Michael Smart: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What does North's second pass say? I would imagine it is usually suggestive of bidding on.

Robert Black: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Pass by partner was forcing, and I have no defence to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

For those of you not familiar with the concept of a forcing pass, sometimes our side bids so confidently to game that we're highly likely to be making. In this case, we can't let the opponents play an undoubled contract, as we won't score enough to compensate us four our game. Say the auction starts:

1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass 2NT (Jacoby) dbl
3NT (extras) pass 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) dbl
pass 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)    

We've shown a lot of points and have clearly bid game expecting that we'll make, so this would be treated as forcing pass situation. This means that responder can pass if he wishes to, and doesn't have to worry that his partner will pass it out.

However, the actual hand is a very different situation - to my mind at least. When we bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), we had no idea which contract was making, and it's surprisingly frequent that neither one does. It's also reasonably likely that 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is making while 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was 2 away (so -300 in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)X, or -500 in 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)X) - if that's the case, we've done well to push them to 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but can't double in case 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) makes. Or both 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) might be one away, in which case we're already ahead of the pairs playing 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), or defending 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

However, although most of the experts believe that the pass is non-forcing, a significant minority - The Shepards, Phil Gue, Mike Lawrence and Michael Ware - either state or imply that it's forcing. I've said it before, but what do these 'experts' know about bridge?

Now that we've sorted all that out, let's start with the minority:

Jim Greer: Dbl. Don't lead a spade; fingers crossed, the ace of diamonds.

Henri de Jong: Dbl. If pards pass is forcing, then X. Don't believe we can make 11 tricks in images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If he leads the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A play the Q to ask for a D switch

Ron Landgraff: Dbl. Partner did not bid again! 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) feels far off. Take the plus? (You hope!)

Emil Battista: Dbl. Partner will lead images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A - surely! (Still in festive season mode!)

Arno Weber: Dbl. Partners pass is forcing, 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was the offensive limit of our hand, so now we defend doubled.

Nobody seems thrilled about the prospects of doubling, and nobody seems quite sure of where three defensive tricks are going to come from. Let's look at those who are willing to bid their hand again - some of them frustrated that West's undisciplined bid has forced them into this:

Brad Johnston: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Did West just rebid their pre-empt? Pard's liable to get defence wrong by not finding the D ruffs, and I'm not fussed on our defence. Tempted to double anyway to spite the rebidder, but my clubs are probably too slow, and I'm not on lead for the D.

David Caprera: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I hate it. West deserves to be doubled, but if partner can't hit, neither can I. We are not in a force.

For the remaining 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bidders:

Tony Treloar: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) looks like a good save providing they are making 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner had a chance to double 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to show a good defensive hand so I think I'll take the push.

Dan Baker: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I have a really lousy defensive hand, and if partner wanted to insist on defending he could have doubled. West should have extra shape to bid on (quite possibly a spade void), so I expect someone can make 5.

Nigel Kearney: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would not bid at IMPs but most likely they are making and we are down no more than two (this last point echoed by Damo Nair). At the table it might depend on who LHO is.

Peter Vlas: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) goes down seriously, 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will probably make. And maybe we are saving against 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) that makes. My 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was based on distribution, nothing else and that remains

Andrea Viscovich: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Law TT. Maybe 20 tricks, so is just a bet that aren't 10-10 hopefully 11-9. I hate to pass here, but maybe 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) are on the table.

There was one other LAWyer ...

Michael Davy: Pass. although the LAW suggests 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be right

Partner could easily be 3-2-4-4, when there are only 18 trumps (9 hearts for them, 9 spades for us). We need at least 20 total tricks, and even then they have to be exactly 11 for one side and 9 for the other, so Andrea's 'maybe' doesn't fill me with enough confidence

Toby Weinstein: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Might make 6 or go down in 5

Tania Black: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner cannot double; nor can I.

David Matthews: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner did not Double 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) for penalties and my hand is worthless in defence.

Patrice Fincias: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). partner giving me the decision. Even with diamond ace, he is not obliged to find the lead.

Tim Trahair: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner was prepared to double 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but not 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so may not have much defence against 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have little defence against 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but could do well playing in Ss.

Nigel Guthrie: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Partner's pass is invitational, even if not forcing.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). pass is forcing (we freely bid game) and I have no defense to speak of. What would induce West to bid again?

Wayne Somerville: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is an unusual auction. My shape however suggests that the opponents are making this, and even if they weren't, perhaps some would not have faced the same problem and can recoup some Matchpoints with our -100 vs -140.

Ben Kristensen: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This is DEFINITELY not a forcing pass auction. If pard thinks we can't beat 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should be a good save if not a make...

Hans van Vooren: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Unusual for West to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Club void?! Hard to read West's mind, but partner is leaving it up to me and my hand says 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Kees Schaafsma: 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Who knows? I know I don't have any defense against 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), I've been wrong before.

But a narrow majority of people on both panels were happy to go quietly. I agree. The five level belongs to the opponents, after all, and at this height, there's little margin for error. The 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid, while eminently correct, will go badly wrong on some occasions. If we get doubled, it will be nervous wait while dummy comes down. Now that we've pushed them to the five level, it seems to me that we've done our job. RHO may want nothing more than a chance to take at 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - why give him the pleasure?

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Already shown interest with my limited values. Happy they are in no man's land.

Neil Silverman: Pass. Doesn't sound like a forcing pass to me, so I am happy I pushed them to the 5 level.

Bridge Baron: Pass. Expected score of -57.65 for defending 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) undoubled (doubled is worse); expected score of -82.10 for declaring 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Richard Morse: Pass. Happy to leave the five level to the opponents.

Anne Paul: Pass. Have to respect partner's pass of 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and go no further

A.K. Simon: Pass. I can't imagine that we can make 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but partner may well have AKx in diamonds or some other cards that will beat 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

DIma Nikolenkov: Pass. I take a middle road, I think 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is down but I will try to win it on another board UNLESS we have an explicit agreement that this pass is forcing.

Artur Wasiak: Pass. I think that partner's pass is not forcing. Five level belongs...

Roger Yandle: Pass. I'm assuming this isn't a forcing pass situation. Pard is obviously short in hearts and hasn't moved over 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so I'm guessing his initial double was a minimum based on shape. Hence it's likely that both 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) are failing. Hence the pass. I'd be a lot happier with this decision if I knew the opps, especially West, who has bid again after pre-empting.

Ian McCance: Pass. I've already entered at the 4 level and partner isn't shy. We have opps at the 5 level surely defending is best option.

Duncan Roe: Pass. If it's not going off, they're quite possibly missing a slam so don't tempt them to bid it

H.C.Wilton: Pass. Let the opponents play a the 5 level.

Charles Scholl: Pass. No reason to think anyone can make a 5-level contract and I'd rather be +50 than -50 or worse. Partner's pass was not forcing -- she might have something like Kxxx-x-AKxx-KJxx.

Deftboy: Pass. Nope, not being goaded into bidding again regardless of west's violation. I suspect east might be a little peeved at not getting a chance to double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and not giving them another chance.

Phil Hocking: Pass. Partner has passed so not real interested in agreeing spades at the 5 level. Will a bidding war end up giving them a slam in hearts? 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)x could also end up worse than 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) not vul.

Dan Israeli: Pass. Partner's pass is not forcing. I don't think I have enough for 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or for double, so I am passing.

Martyn Rew: Pass. Opponents are at the 5 level - mission accomplished.

Mike Jackson: Pass. Pass and hope.

Julian Foster: Pass. Pushed them to the 5 level with no guarantees 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was making. 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is taking the last guess and is only right if it's making (unlikely) or goes for -300 or less with 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) making (possible certainly but I reckon 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will go off a fair proportion of the time).

Ron Lel: Pass. To some extent this depends on agreements that I have with partner. Is the pass of 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) forcing? In regular partnerships it is, so I would bid 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Australian Bridge Standard does not have an agreement on this. I bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) not knowing who could make what. I pass 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with the same level of ignorance.

Michael Burt: Pass. We've forced the opposition to the 5 level, let them play there.

Last word goes to someone who really couldn't see the problem ...

Jeff Goldsmith: Pass. Huh? I saved, and they took the push. I'm supposed to bid again?

The full deal:

spades AKJ10
hearts J6
diamonds J109732
clubs A
spades 5
hearts AQ87432
diamonds 654
clubs K4
spades 73
hearts K9
diamonds AK8
clubs QJ8763
spades Q98642
hearts T5
diamonds Q
clubs T952

As it happens, the undisciplined 5hearts is a good sacrifice against our 4spades, and we can't make 5spades. 

Thanks for your time everyone, and make sure that you do spend that extra day on yourself. Brad (the editor of this magazine, not the optimistic young Kiwi) and I have just come from the Australian Playoffs (we did well, thanks for asking -- we made the semis). But there's no rest for the wicked, next weekend the Gold Coast Congress gets under way. If you see us, come up and say hi.

The questions for the April issue are online, here.

Top scores for February
1Bud Hinckley USA500
1Ugur Tas TUR500
1Joris Van Lankveld NED500
1Geof Brod USA500
5Par Ol-Mars 490
6Julian Foster NSW460
6Fredrik Jarlvik SWE460
6Michael Low USA460
6Wayne Somerville IRL460
6Michael Burt ACT460
6Patrice Fincias 460
6Dima Nikolenkov 460
6Tom Estenson USA460
6Jeff Goldsmith USA460
15Louis Dekker NED450
15Artur Wasiak POL450
15Damo Nair USA450
18Rainer Herrmann GER440
18Paul Grünke GER440
20Kajsa Fröjd SWE430
20Peder Linder SWE430
20Dean Pokorny CRO430
20Ian McCance Vic430
20Harald Berre Skjaeran430
20Peter Qvist DEN430
20Roland Voigt GER430
27Kay O'Connor NSW420
27Hendrik Sharples USA420
27Gerald Koonce USA420
27Paul Sontag 420
27Charles Scholl USA420
27Aviv Shahf USA420
27Alex Kemeny NSW420
27Andrew Macalister GBR420
27Rainer Herrmann420
36Roger Yandle NSW400
36Peter Karlsson SWE400
36Kees Schaafsma NED400
36Onno Eskes NED400
40Michael Davy Vic390
40Todd Holes USA390
40Trish Whitton 390
40Neil Silverman USA390
40Jordan Cohen CAN390
40Johan Hasselgren SWE390
40John Adams USA390
40Jacco Hop NED390
40Kevin O'Dea 390
40David Matthews WA390
40David Winter Vic390
40Andrea Viscovich ITA390
40David Johnson CAN390
40Bruce Ballard NZL390
54Alan Jones Qld380
54Hans Van Vooren NED380
54 William Jenner O'Shea 380
54Ben Kristensen USA380
54Nigel Guthrie GBR380
54Nigel Kearney NZL380
54Peter Robinson Qld380
54Gary Lane NSW380
62Robert Black SA370
62Peter Vlas NED370
62Leigh Blizzard Tas370
62Sonny Schultz 370
62Bridge Baron USA370
62Michael Smart ACT370
62Michael Whibley NZL370
62Geeske Joel USA370
62Ron Landgraff USA370
62Pravin Nahar NSW370
62Ian Patterson Qld370

Leading scores for 2016
1Bud Hinckley USA500
1Ugur Tas TUR500
1Joris Van Lankveld NED500
1Geof Brod USA500
5Par Ol-Mars 490
6Julian Foster NSW460
6Fredrik Jarlvik SWE460
6Michael Low USA460
6Wayne Somerville IRL460
6Michael Burt ACT460
6Patrice Fincias 460
6Dima Nikolenkov 460
6Tom Estenson USA460
6Jeff Goldsmith USA460
15Louis Dekker NED450
15Artur Wasiak POL450
15Damo Nair USA450
18Rainer Herrmann GER440
18Paul Grünke GER440
20Kajsa Fröjd SWE430
20Peder Linder SWE430
20Dean Pokorny CRO430
20Ian McCance Vic430
20Harald Berre Skjaeran430
20Peter Qvist DEN430
20Roland Voigt GER430
27Kay O'Connor NSW420
27Hendrik Sharples USA420
27Gerald Koonce USA420
27Paul Sontag 420
27Charles Scholl USA420
27Aviv Shahf USA420
27Alex Kemeny NSW420
27Andrew Macalister GBR420
27Rainer Herrmann420
36Roger Yandle NSW400
36Peter Karlsson SWE400
36Kees Schaafsma NED400
36Onno Eskes NED400
40Michael Davy Vic390
40Todd Holes USA390
40Trish Whitton 390
40Neil Silverman USA390
40Jordan Cohen CAN390
40Johan Hasselgren SWE390
40John Adams USA390
40Jacco Hop NED390
40Kevin O'Dea 390
40David Matthews WA390
40David Winter Vic390
40Andrea Viscovich ITA390
40David Johnson CAN390
40Bruce Ballard NZL390
54Alan Jones Qld380
54Hans Van Vooren NED380
54 William Jenner O'Shea 380
54Ben Kristensen USA380
54Nigel Guthrie GBR380
54Nigel Kearney NZL380
54Peter Robinson Qld380
54Gary Lane NSW380
62Robert Black SA370
62Peter Vlas NED370
62Leigh Blizzard Tas370
62Sonny Schultz 370
62Bridge Baron USA370
62Michael Smart ACT370
62Michael Whibley NZL370
62Geeske Joel USA370
62Ron Landgraff USA370
62Pravin Nahar NSW370
62Ian Patterson Qld370
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 said about this month's hands.