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June 2016

Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles, June 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.

Click here to submit     
answers for August     

                Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - West deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ32
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AT643
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K6


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


Call Award %
1NT 100 50 35
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 80 33 45
Pass 50 17 17
Other 0 0 3

Welcome to Forum number three of 2016. Fraser is off travelling the world this month, so this is Brad, back again. I've enjoyed having Fraser moderate this forum over the past year -- my favourite part is that people are finally starting to appreciate how nice I am (by comparison). Just last week one of my opponents said to me, "That guy who's doing the bidding forum now can be a bit mean sometimes, can't he!"

Before we begin, I'd like to welcome all the new readers joining us for the first time after hearing about us via the recent Australia-Wide Novice Pairs. Apologies that I have not included all your comments, but we're very pleased to have you here and I hope you find much to think about after reading the analysis from the more experienced regulars.

It will be a short column this month, because I'm running very late with the July issue of Australian Bridge Novice Edition, and also need to start organising the next Australia-Wide event, which will be held in clubs all around Australia in the week of 25-31 August. The Australia-Wide Open Pairs is Australia's biggest annual event, with over 1000 tables in play (scored across the field) -- contact your club's event organiser and make sure you are a part of it.

On to the problems: in last month's column Fraser spent a good deal of time discussing reasons not to overcall 1NT, summarising with "I'll overcall 1NT on a hand with one or even two strikes against it" but not three strikes. This hand only has two strikes against it, so I assume he'd be with the majority here: 

Robert Black: 1NT. 15 HCP; (semi) balanced, and Spades well stopped.

Tania Black: 1NT. 15 HCPs and spades stopped. Might regret not finding a Heart fit, but also might regret looking for one.

Gary Hyett : 1NT. Could work out badly but it's a bidders game.

Neil Silverman: 1NT. Hate it but it is get in now or maybe never and it won't be the last zero I get if they start doubling.

Artur Wasiak: 1NT. Plus for well-located images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)J, plus for 5-card suit, minus for QJ in doubleton - ultimately it looks like a minimal 1NT overcall. My second choice would be pass, third 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). One more important thing: even if partner doesn't have a few points, it will be hard to double 1NT, because West has to remember that his partner opened in 3rd seat.

That's a good point; we had a similar problem in this forum last year, where partner opened in third seat and RHO overcalled 1NT. We held a good hand, but only one person suggested doubling (I think he didn't notice the 3rd seat opening).

Roger Yandle: 1NT. Slightly off-shape but it gets my point range and spade stoppers across in one go. It also makes life easier for partner if he wants to progress things.

Bridge Baron: 1NT. My spade holding over East boosts me into the 16-18 HCP range for a 1NT overcall. In that range and with a stopper in opener's suit, even with hands like this that are only semi-balanced, I'll overcall 1NT in preference to 2 of any suit.

Leigh Matheson: 1NT. This is the only way to describe the hand in one bid. But it may not describe the hand accurately enough if partner has exactly three hearts. I'll take that chance.

I think most of us agree that 1NT isn't the perfect bid for this hand, but it does seem  safer than the alternative:

John R. Mayne: 1NT. This is both safer and more descriptive than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and 1N overcalls work out better than they should.

Ron Lel: 1NT. The least lie. The heart suit is too weak for a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) overcall.

Julian Foster: 1NT. Seems most descriptive. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is sticking my neck out with a relatively poor suit.

Damo Nair: 1NT. Barely a 1NT bid. I wish I had even the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)9 for a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid.

David Kalnins: 1NT. Hearts might play better, but I reckon 1NT is the value bid.

Rainer Herrmann: 1NT. IT is tough to escape from 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) into 1NT, and if both are no good maybe partner can escape into a minor.

True, we have more options this way.

Dean Pokorny: 1NT. Showing my range quickly, hoping to find a thin vulnerable game. Another good thing of this bid is - if I get doubled in 1NT, I'm not committed to play a misfitting 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x, but we can find 2m too.

Charles Scholl: 1NT. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is probably best if partner has exactly 3 hearts and some shape. Otherwise 1NT gives us the most flexibility -- we should get to the right strain and level. Passing would be pusillanimous.

One reader points out that suppressing the hearts won't necessarily stop us from finding a 5-5 heart fit:

Ian Patterson: 1NT. Partner may still Stayman or Transfer to hearts.

Nigel Kearney: 1NT. It can be right to avoid a marginal 1NT overcall opposite a passed partner, but a possible nine card heart fit gives us an extra way to gain by bidding.

Dan Baker: 1NT. The hearts are not good enough for a vulnerable 2-level overcall. Points in the short suits argue for the off-shape NT. If partner has a good hand, we might still find the heart fit if there is one.

Yeah, ok, maybe we can still find the 5-4 fits too -- partner may be able to bid Stayman, but I think it's unlikely.

Martyn Rew: 1NT. Every chance that we have the balance of points here. If partner picks up the bidding, I can tell him about my poor 5-card heart suit.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 1NT. Least of evils. Double promises (a lot) more in the minors. This is right on values (as I don't have a lot of defensive tricks) and if we get doubled I can still run to my, admittedly, bad hearts

I wasn't going to mention this, but since Ig brought up the topic of doubling... the "Other" in the above scoring table, with 3% of the reader vote and a zero score, was actually Double. I usually list minority bids as "Other" if I can't bring myself to write the actual bid. All the doublers' names and comments have been withheld to protect the guilty.

While 1NT got the top expert vote, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) was close behind, and it was the top choice by the readers:

Tim Munro: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). +650 to -800, the world is your oyster on this hand, but I'm all in.

Par Ol-Mars: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Dangerous to bid but it is equally so to pass. Spade length increases chance partner has a heart fit.

Barbara Whitmee: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Describes my hand. Will rebid NT if partners responds in a minor.

James Logan: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). East could have opened light in 3rd seat, especially with a spade suit. I'm not proud of my suit, but can one overcall 1NT with this collection?

Brad Johnston: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't overly like this bid. A hand full of soft values and an empty suit, but it'd be awkward if it goes 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) p p ? or a form of Drury back to me.

Wayne Somerville: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I would like a better suit, but the hand is too strong to pass. A 1NT overcall is likely to bury the heart suit.

Andrea Viscovich: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). In the April forum hand two south passed a similar hand as Fraser claimed hearts are not solid, but I don't want to pass, maybe we can have 3NT or 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No sense doubling here and I don't like images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)QJ so 1NT is a little bit overestimated.

Cathy Hocking: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No other option with insufficient points to bid 1NT.

Dave Caprera : 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Now or never. Hoping to catch spade shortness and heart length. I'd open the hand 1NT (the new Flannery) but after 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) on my right, I think our more likely game is in hearts.

Tim Trahair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempting to bid 1NT which gives a better indication of our strength but deterred by 2 doubletons which may not yield a trick.

Mick McAuliffe: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too many HCPs to just pass, even when you wipe the diamonds from the count. Of course the heart suit quality is poor. You have at least immediate control of spades as that will be the likely lead, and 2 can be setup. If they break 2:2 with West and North, then North can hopefully overruff. This will be a battle of the partscores and if West now raises spades, then that is OK too.

While this problem was intended as a choice between 1NT and 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), there were many who saw it as a choice between bidding and passing. Passers on the expert panel included Ron Klinger (didn't like having length and strength in the opponents' suit) and Andrew Robson (worried about a large penalty).

Emil Battista: Pass. 1NT a big overbid. Double and 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) have no appeal at red versus green so wimping out.

Herbert Wilton: Pass. Any bid now is premature. Do you want to defend? If to play, which strain?

Alexander Cook: Pass. I need a better suit to overcall at the two level with a five card suit. I also am downgrading my images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)QJ.

Ian McCance: Pass. I very much wanted to bid 1NT. 1NT could be a big + or a big -. No good case for flip of coin

Margaret Copland: Pass. The vulnerability scares me and I'm not sure I have a source of tricks.

Alex Kemeny: Pass. It is very unlikely we have game. Too much chance of a big minus opposite a passed hand. Deal may be a misfit.

Hans van Vooren: Pass. Very dangerous to bid here. Chances for game are slender, especially when compared with the chances for disaster. What's more, if partner has the hand with which we can make game, he'll probably balance.

A.K. Simon: Pass. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 1NT are worse distortions. Perhaps my course of action will become clearer on the next round.

Brian Lawless: Pass. Even tho' my spade honours are working, I might as well have a small doubleton diamond. Looks like a defensive hand to me. Partner is still there if West also passes.

Peter Vlas: Pass. I don't like my heart suit and I don't like my minors. Let's see what develops.

David Matthews: Pass. Too dangerous at IMPS to overcall in Hearts. Awful lot of soft points. Asking to lose 800. Don't like the offshape 1NT option. Will have to apologise if game is on.

Timothy Wright: Pass. While partner could have the perfect hand (x-KQxx-xxxx-Qxxx), we have neither the shape nor the suit quality to do well if partner does not have a good fit in hearts.

John Newman: Pass. Made easier by the fact that most partners open rank 11-counts.

Not only that, but if he is in the 9-10 range, he may still get another chance to bid over 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (he may even have enough to bid over a raise to 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)). On reflection, I feel that the award of 30 points for passing was inadequate, and I've upgraded it to 50.

Unfortunately we do not have the full deal for any of this month's problems. (Actually that's a lie -- we have the full deal for a few of them, but in each case the previous bidding is so dramatically out of step with the actual hands, I've decided not to show them). 

Hand Two - South deals, NS vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AT54
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AT43
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQ973
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) ---


West North East South
      1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)
pass 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass ?


Call Award %
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 56 31
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 90 33 43
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 50 6 1
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 20 6 16
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 10 0 4
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 5
Other 0 0 1

Now for something a little different, we have a counting problem: we need to count up our points, add them to partner's points, and decide how high to play.

Todd Holes: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too much for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not enough for the splinter. If I rebid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to hear more, I'll never convince partner I have 4 hearts later. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems just right.

Par Ol-Mars: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too weak for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but LTC says too strong for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Barbara Whitmee: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am able to jump to four. If partner has extra he can move towards slam.

Robert Black: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 16 total points in support of Hearts.

David Matthews: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a little bit too far for this hand as game is not certain opposite a 6-count.

David Kalnins: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Forcing to game on this hand is a mistake, as partner will expect more and might take us too high.

Peter Vlas: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Good heart support, unbalanced and not strong enough for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)/4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I would prefer the splinter to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) though.

Charles Scholl: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is too pushy and promises a stronger, more balanced hand. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), also too pushy, suggests a singleton and might help opponents find a killing heart lead. Partner can see the vulnerability, too, and will not pass unless his hand is pretty bad. Meanwhile, with a strong hand, partner has more room to explore for slam after 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opposite the right points six is easy, but needs a positive move from partner.

Neil Silverman: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Can't imagine that this won't be the overwhelming choice.

Not overwhelming at all (in fact the readers voted against it by more than two to one). But it is the top scorer.

The alternative is 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), which is a bit stronger than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes):

Alexander Cook: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not quite enough high card points for a splinter.

Toby Weinstein: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not strong enough to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too weak for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Although I would like an undisciplined 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) too, I'm not afraid very much to lose a game, because partner should pass 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) here only with 4 trumps and garbage.

Wayne Somerville: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). A mild underbid, but leaves partner room to investigate. I would want more points for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

A.K. Simon: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My first inclination was 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), but partner will expect a singleton, and it robs us of bidding room. If partner bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) next, I will be hard to restrain. And if partner must pass 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with junk like Qxx Jxxx xx Kxxx, we are high enough in 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Nigel Kearney: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Missing a good slam after 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is less likely than reaching a bad one after 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not enough HCP for a 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) splinter, besides it is a club void.

Aside from the lack of strength, the void club is a problem for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), because partner may overvalue his images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A if he decides to look for slam (and we are already pushing our values to the limit). We'll come back to the void issue a bit later.

In matters of simple evaluation, there is one player whose level of experience eclipses that of all other players combined, and we are very fortunate to have him on our panel:

Bridge Baron: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Simulation says that on average even 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), at -97.63, isn't a favorite to make. So I don't try 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), at -234.75, and certainly not a splinter. But I'm far too strong for just 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

So, in short, all the answers below this line are wrong. I'm going to publish a handful of them anyway; there might be some hidden wisdom in there, or a funny anecdote or something.

Julian Foster: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A bit light on HCP but splinters help partner evaluate their hand so much, and our hand is so pure, that I think it's worth it.

James Logan: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If partner has an ill-fitting hand, 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will not do well. However, on good fitting hands, especially ones where partner will think of slam, my values are solid.

Dan Baker: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I have a 5-loser hand, it's IMPs, and we're vulnerable. If I've caught partner with xxx Qxxx xx KJxx, it won't be my first -200.

Andrea Viscovich: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). On a bad day I will go down in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), in a good day I will make 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Leigh Matheson: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Without the two Tens, this would be an overbid.

Actually Leigh, South didn't hold those tens at the table. I added the tens to try to tempt people to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Timothy Wright: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). A splinter raise is a bit of a stretch, but I need very little from partner to make game and only a moderate hand to get to a decent slam.

Tim Trahair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). While North is not showing anything more than four hearts and 6HCP, that seems enough for game in hearts and if North is much stronger, slam could be on.

Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looks like a good hand, good controls and a source of tricks.

Ron Lel: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The bid really depends on agreements. There are some players who never splinter on a void; with those I would bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), which I play as forcing. If partner is not one of those, I bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Playing with one of my favourite partners I would bid 2NT game force gadget, which can have 4 card support obviously.

Mick McAuliffe: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This hand punches much harder than its weight. Small slam is possible with 27 HCP here with no wasted values in images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)s, and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should have chances against a minimum partner.

That's a brief summary of the 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders, but there were dozens more who made comments along the lines of, "Splinter, so partner will know when to move on." There was also one reader who splintered and planned to bid on over partner's signoff (I've withheld his name, but I can tell you he's a regular respondent who has a reputation for being lawless).

We'll finish with an odd-looking choice which some readers might find a bit puzzling:

Peter Horan: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). EW are not competing. Go slowly. The 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid could be as low as 6 HCP, or up to 19, so seek more information at the one-level before showing the fit.

Ian McCance: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). To find out what's happening.

Michael Burt: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Trying to get more information about partner's hand. Game in hearts is on, with slam a possibility.

All those comments suggest that the goal is to "find out more" about partner's hand, and the following comments (from those who rejected 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)) follow the same lines:

Hans van Vooren: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Maybe partner will now expect more HCP, but I surely want to play in game here, even opposite a minimum. Another way would be to bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (asking for information, rather than showing), but after such a bid, it is often difficult to get the heart fit across.

Ian Patterson: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is tempting, allows partner to show Clubs cheaply.

In fact the actual upside in bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) comes not from asking, but from describing our own hand. After opening 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), rebidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and closing with 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), partner will be in a better position to see our void club (assuming we get a chance to clearly show primary heart support). An immediate 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) splinter would sound more like a singleton, causing partner to over-value his images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A, but a failure to splinter might help him to diagnose the void. Still, 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was not a hit with the expert panel, and has been awarded accordingly.

John R. Mayne: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is for masterminds - which may well be right on this one.

Hand Three - North deals, NS vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 5
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 954
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AQ543
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KQJ4


West North East South
  1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) pass 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) *
pass 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) pass ?

* 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is natural and game forcing, usually 5+images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)
       (balanced hands are allowed to bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)).

Call Award %
3NT 100 39 30
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 90 39 20
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 22 22
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 40 0 18
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 40 0 5
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 30 0 3
Pass 30 0 1

This next problem proved to be quite difficult for some readers, and I attribute this partly to the special conditions (2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) being game forcing). For example, I think the 18% who chose 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may have found something different if they'd had more familiarity with the 2/1 concept.

Accordingly I've upgraded the scores for many of the minority bids -- even the pass, which frankly is a bizarre choice no matter how confusing the term "game forcing" is!

I have a strong preference for taking problems from real life (and preferably from expert play) but it's tricky when there are so few experts still playing 20th century Standard (particularly in the US where much of our expert panel is based). But I'll make a greater effort to keep the problems to the familiar system in the future (or at least to provide more guidance when we deviate from that).

Let's start by looking at the votes for 3NT (after deleting all the comments that say "Hamman's Rule"): 

David Kalnins: 3NT. What else? I don't like the idea of committing to diamonds with potentially 3 heart losers off the top.

Anne Paul: 3NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is not a very strong bid from partner so considering 3 small hearts and no fit for partner's opening I am happy to settle in 3NT

Dean Pokorny: 3NT. Close, but I think it is better to show a minimal (misfitting) hand with 3NT, than overbid with 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or make a blind guess by bidding diamonds with a minimum, where a heart lead through dummy will come for sure.

Andrea Viscovich: 3NT. Maybe at Imps I'm better to play in diamonds, at Matchpoints I think most people will land in 3NT and if we haven't any stops in Hearts someone will join my low score.

That's actually fairly important. A bad score isn't necessarily so bad if it's likely that you'll have a lot of company.

Charles Scholl: 3NT. My hand is an absolute minimum for a game-forcing action, so 3NT here is almost automatic. Why contract for more than 9 tricks?

Rainer Herrmann: 3NT. This could be ridiculous, but it could also be the only game contract with any reasonable chances of making.

Ian Patterson: 3NT. Trusting Partner to have a Heart stopper.

Gary Hyett : 3NT. Hearts are a worry, but nothing else appeals.

The main source of difficulty here is the lack of a heart stopper, and the inability to ask for one (when only two suits have been bid, a third suit tends to be natural, or at least naturalish):

Par Ol-Mars: 3NT. Would bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if we had agreed third suit is asking. If 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is minimum I'm not strong enough for 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Wayne Somerville: 3NT. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows a heart stop and concern in clubs. We don't have an alternative for the reverse, so we just take a chance on it.

Neil Silverman: 3NT. Would love to have heart stopper but not going past 3nt as that is most likely game and we play 3h would show not ask.

Peter Vlas: 3NT. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) from P suggests interest in 3NT. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in my view would promise images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-values, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would suggest spade support. With 3NT I limit my hand in strength as well

Dave Caprera : 3NT. Matchpoints is a sick game. At imps I would bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is asking for club cards.

Dan Baker: 3NT. I don't see a way to get partner to bid 3NT - 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would show, not ask for, a stopper without prior discussion. But he could have bid 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as a splinter, so it's likely he has at least two. Even if he doesn't have a stopper, they might split. Matchpoints made me do it.

Nigel proposes that we change the traditional meaning of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), adopting a sort of "last train" approach:

Nigel Kearney: 3NT. It's Matchpoints so 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is less desirable and there's a risk partner will try 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if given any encouragement. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) really ought to be asking not showing since there is only one new suit that can be bid below 3NT. I would be happy to try 3NT if the hearts and clubs were reversed in exchange for avoiding being fixed on the actual hand. But I assume we are not playing that or there would be no problem.

In other words, he's proposing a major-based asking bid, where the sole available asking bid asks about the major (and if we're worried about the minor then we just blast it). That would solve a lot of real-life problems, but I'm not sure that the major is necessarily worthy of focus. In many auctions (and to some extent in this one) it is easier for an opponent to bid a major than a minor, suggesting that a concealed minor threat is a higher risk.

There were a few people unhappy with the previous auction (in terms of judgement, not choice of system):

Robert Black: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). If my 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (accidentally) forced to game I did not wish to play in 3NT; and partner does not seem to want to either.

Ron Lel: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Again this depends on deep agreements. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) shows a heart stopper for me so I am forced into 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). By the way, I wouldn't force to game on this hand with a 12 count and a stiff Spade unless I was playing with Al Roth.

Dean Eidler: 3NT. Someone has to bid it. Object to 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) it is an overbid.

Roger Yandle: 3NT. Ugly. I'm not sure if we really have the values for game, and if we do what strain is best, and there isn't much room to investigate. I'm shooting for NT as even if pard doesn't have a heart stopper 3NT might still make.

Aviv Shahaf: 3NT. For some reason I forgot what my plan was when I chose to bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at my previous turn. Oh well, I guess 3NT is as reasonable as any other choice.

Kees Schaafsma: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Forcing NT anyone?

I agree -- 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) looks like an overbid to me. To a large extent, this problem was caused by the 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid, although on the actual deal a 1NT response would have led to its own set of difficulties (and playing 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as non-GF wouldn't have helped much either).  

Despite the overwhelming precedent for 3rd-suit natural, there are a quite a few votes for bidding 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) anyway (with a few believing it is asking for a stopper):

Alan Jones: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Asking for a stop for NT.

Tim Trahair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Looking for a stopper in hearts and for North to play in 3NT if he has one.

Tony Treloar: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Really tough hand especially without knowing some of the agreement regarding continuations. Is 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) a show or an ask? This looks like the only bid which will get partner declaring 3NT which looks like the best spot at MPs.

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Reluctant to bypass 3NT.

Mick McAuliffe: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). To make a try at 3NT here with the ability to lose 4 tricks could well be a better chance than 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)s. It will probably play better if N bids it. There certainly does not seem to be any advantage in South wanting to declare NT. Transports between the 2 hands is looking to be the biggest issue if the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)s are all cashed, which is probably what you will do unless P shows with a pretty solid spade suit but missing say the ace. If P does not have a H stopper, then 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) likely has no future unless he is a singleton.

Todd Holes, Jacco Hop: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Waiting. Keeping 3NT in the picture. I will pass partner's 3NT and go to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) otherwise.

I have a little bit of admiration for this next answer:

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bidding 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would show a heart fragment, asking partner to bid 3NT with a club stopper. Ideally we would bid clubs to ask for a heart stopper; since this is impossible, bidding 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is the only way to do this. If partner doesn't bid 3NT, we can always bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) next.

Typically I would expect 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to show a hand with spade support, maybe along the lines of Kxxx-xx-AKQxx-xx. Your plan hinges on your ability to stop partner from insisting on spades as trumps. Apart from that, I like it, and it's easy to construct deals that make it a winner. Another fan:

Artur Wasiak: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Maybe 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) should show that I worry about heart stopper but I don't risk a misunderstanding if I didn't talk with partner about similar sequences.

With 3NT as uncertain as it is, it's not surprising there was a lot of support for this very natural-looking choice:

Herbert Wilton: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). And now I'm finished cooperating.

Julian Foster: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We have no easy route to 3NT other than by guessing. This at least shows where my values are and might allow us to reach a perfect 6images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) opposite a 5143 shape or similar. Would be nice to be able to do this and still stop in 4NT at MPs but I doubt our methods allow that.

Phil Hocking: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Cue bid showing a 1st/2nd round control. Can't splinter bid.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hate to pass by 3NT, but 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) completely misrepresent the hand.

Brian Lawless: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I do have a little to spare and this highlights the lack of a control in hearts.

Damo Nair: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not sure. If North comes up with the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)K, images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A & a heart stopper 3NT could be a winner.

Cathy Hocking: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Showing stopper in clubs giving partner chance to look for slam.

john newman: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Trusting that partner knows 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) made it difficult.

Zbych Bednarek: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Values (usually 2nd suit) - hand oriented for play in suit

Not a lot of consensus there on the exact meaning of 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Values, cue, stopper, natural; it's not completely obvious, probably doesn't matter much, and most pairs probably haven't discussed it in great detail. I'll can tell you what it isn't though: it's not Gerber, and I've deleted the comment that said it was.

The remaining votes are for 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't really see how 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could be a better choice than 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes):

John R. Mayne: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'd bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to show the nice fragment if partner could convert to 3N, but as that won't work, I make the terrible-looking value bid.

Brad Johnston: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Norths 2nd bid should already be angling towards thrump if that looked like a spot from their hand. When they raise diamonds it's likely that 3N isn't our spot, and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) here should show a slammish hand. I can cue 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if pard cues 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but otherwise I'll just be playing in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (in most cases) was intended as a fast-arrival type bid, showing a weaker hand than 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) (which would have been forcing):

Hans van Vooren: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Funny. Doesn't happen all that often, that the one bid we don't want to hear, is partner supporting our suit. Lacking explicit agreements, I am not going to take one of the smart-ass options, thus keeping partner happy at the cost of a potentially poor Matchpoint score. Now that doesn't happen all that often, either!

James Logan: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Since partner did not bid NT or a heart stopper, I am assuming I am missing a real heart stopper, or partner has higher aspirations. I do not think I have anything more than my original bid, so fast arrival dictates I bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rather than 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

David Matthews: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looks like I will have to take a punt and bid 3NT myself, hoping for a stopper or two, as partner will assume 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is natural. So I will just bid a more likely making game even though the score might not be as good.

Bridge Baron: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner could have bid notrump, but didn't, so we prefer the suit contract.

Stephen Bartos: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). partner has 12-14 HCP, 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 3+images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), no other 4-card suit. Bidding clubs would give opponents information, and we can't play in NT. Choice is therefore between an invitational 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or jump straight to game. The latter gives opponents more chances to fail and us to pick up a good score.

As I said earlier, I suspect some of the 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bids may have been influenced by unfamiliarity with the specified system (with Stephen suggesting that 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would have been invitational). Given that you thought it was invitational, I think 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would have been an excellent choice; no one else was happy with having to bid game, but you were the only one who had a way to stay out of it!

Hand Four - East deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) KQ76532
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K8
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) Q
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 754


West North East South
    pass ?


Call Award %
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 50 61
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 90 39 26
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 30 11 5
Pass! 0 0 5
4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 3

We don't put a lot of Opening Bid problems in this column, because usually it's pretty easy to choose an opening bid. This problem was provided by Paul Lavings, and it gives us a chance to discuss what makes a good (or bad) preempt.

Nigel Guthrie: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Less need to pre-empt with spades.

Margaret Copland: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). In second seat I don't want to preempt my partner.

Julian Foster: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Because we hold spades we can outbid opps at the same level so it matters less to take up space (reverse the majors and I would probably open 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)). I would like better quality Ss to venture 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) vulnerable. Not close to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and I have had a spate of bad results recently when partners have opened 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) with a 7-card suit so I don't like that!

Andrea Viscovich, Dean Sole: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Only because East passed, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) otherwise.

Brad Johnston: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With a passed opp, there's less need to try pre-empt them, and the value of the images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K8 has gone down slightly. If I was 2-2 in the minors I'd open 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but with 2nd round control of 2 offsuits I'm too strong for that, else partner will misjudge when to investigate slams.

Most of the other 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) comments were fairly repetitive. Too strong for 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), suit not good enough, etc. Many people quoted the rule of 20 (ten cards in our two longest suits + 10 HCP) and some quoted the Losing Trick Count (we have six, which is better than what is normally required for a one-opening).

The suit quality led a few people to an unusual choice:

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Both at Matchpoints and being in second position argue for restraint.

Ian McCance: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not worth 3 because no texture

Emil Battista: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Sure I have 7 spades, but hand and suit and hand are full of losers. Not to mention vulnerable

I've always believed weak twos on a 7-card suit are not acceptable, but I admit I've seen a few good players do it over the last few years (on this deal, it was Matthew Thomson and Frank Stewart):

Frank Stewart: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I wouldn't criticize 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). In second seat, vulnerable, I don't mind my weak two-bids being quite sound.

Matthew Thomson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). In second seat solid citizen. In first seat open 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and in third seat open 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Position, position, position.

It's not a good way to win a bidding forum though. And seriously, if LHO bids 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), passed back to you, are you going to be happy?

While I normally withhold the names and comments of the severe minority choices, there are so many votes for passing I've decided to make an exception here (safety in numbers):

Peter Paton: Pass. Bad hand, bad distribution.

Bridge Baron: Pass. It all depends on the program's aggressiveness settings, of course. "Average" is our best guess for Australian Bridge Standard, and at that setting, with a King and a Queen outside our long suit, we pass. Otherwise, we'd bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Herbert Wilton: Pass. Prefer to listen to a round of bidding first.

John R. Mayne: Pass. A preempt is straight wrong - second seat is not the time to do it on a ratty suit and a bunch of outside stuff. If this gets passed out, I'll be sick, but it's a half-point short of opening. Kaplan count is 11.3, and I expect I'll have another shot at this.

For those unfamiliar with Kaplan Count (I suspect that will be everybody), Edgar Kaplan was an American expert whose bidding judgement was considered to be very reliable. "Kaplan Count" is a wildly impractical attempt to mathematically quantify all the factors that he (and other experts) instinctively considered when evaluating a hand. In short: high cards are good, especially in long suits; king-doubleton is a lot better than king-singleton; honour cards are a bit stronger when they sit with a ten-nine or nine-eight; voids and singletons are good. 

There are 25 factors, each contributing between 0.25 and 4.00 points to your total (for example, ten-nine in a suit with one higher honour starts at 0.25 points, but loses value if you have so many higher honours that the nine becomes redundant). Each of the 25 factors applies to an individual suit, so your total has to be calculated separately for each suit (Step 12 involves multiplying by the length of your suit, to give greater weight to attractive features in long suits, eg. Axxxxx is better than Axx). Then all four suit totals are added together, with some final additions and subtractions, and then optionally add ice cream and put in a blender.

The rest of the comments (an overwhelming reader majority, but just half of the expert panellists) are voting for a 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening. I'll skip most of the comments, as most follow the same general pattern.

Mick McAuliffe: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Even ignoring the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q the hand has 8 HCP & a singleton & most of its points in the bid suit. It would be nice if the pips were higher, say ten-nine.

That would have added 0.6 to the Kaplan Count, making it a borderline opening bid! Well judged, Mick, clearly you are a future Edgar Kaplan!

Roger Yandle: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A toss up between 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The dubious value of images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q and the paucity of fillers in the spade suit makes me lean towards the latter.

Dan Baker: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not enough defense for a 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) opening, devaluing the images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q. Put the Q in one of the other suits instead and you might tempt me.

Aviv Shahaf: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Wouldn't the whole universe open 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if that images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Q was a small singleton?

Leigh Matheson: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Certainly no higher. If partner has the big hand, it's worth saying I have 7 spades. If West has the big hand it's worth making his life difficult.

Dave Caprera : 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hope the opponents don't uppercut the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)4.

Yeah, suit quality is important in a preempt, and every key pip we're missing adds to the danger.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I see no reason not to. Yes it feels like a max in points, but you have to have that sometimes too. 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a different type of hand.

Timothy Wright: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I would like better spots here, but 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is right in terms of shape and strength. It could be difficult to catch up later if I pass.

Dean Pokorny: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). In 2nd seat 3M should be disciplined and solid - showing 8-11 and a 7-carder suit, exactly what I have.

James Logan: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe a bit reckless, but I am not going to let my opponents free wheel into their contract. I will admit that I would have liked to have the jack.

Nigel Kearney: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No reason to avoid a normal preempt just because one opponent has passed. It could still be their hand and partner will have a pretty good idea of what I hold.

David Kalnins: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Seems spot on - I would love to have better spade intermediates but unfortunately I wasn't dealt them.

Artur Wasiak: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Somewhere on the path from Culbertson's Rule of 2 and 3 to the Rule of 11.

The rule of 2 and 3 I know: to open 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (vulnerable) we should have a reasonable expectation of taking seven tricks (also known as the rule of 500). The rule of 11 has me totally stumped; if someone fills me in, I'll add an edit here later! 

Hand Five - East deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AKJ
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) KT6
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 9632
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 874

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


Call Award %
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 39 6
Rdbl 80 33 21
Pass 60 22 66
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 20 6 1
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 0 0 3
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 0 0 3

For our final problem, we have an auction that already has nine bidding cards on the table, yet is still at the one-level. We are currently doubled in 1NT, with no stopper in the opponents' suit.  

We'll begin with the passers, none of whom are happy, but some of whom think partner will make everything ok:

Cathy Hocking: Pass. Balanced hand with no biddable suit. North can bid dependent on West's bid.

Duncan Roe: Pass. Not confident enough to redouble (assuming that would be penalty). East might be looking at 6 diamond tricks and an ace somewhere. I have nowhere to run in any case - if the double gets round to partner he can leave it in with lots of HCP or take it out to his longest suit.

Robert Black: Pass. Slowly, and after asking the meaning of the double. Partner might have a good idea!

Robert is joking of course. It's kind of sad that I feel the need to explain that, but unfortunately I know a few players who will be nodding their heads right now saying, "Yes, that's what I'd do".

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. Difficult to come to a conclusion in tempo. Hopefully the bidding is not over yet.

Nigel Kearney: Pass. I doubt we belong in 1NT but redouble is unclear and 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might bypass our best spot. Partner has also seen the auction and has another turn.

Anne Paul: Pass. no suit to bid so whatever will be will be partner can take it out if need be

Phil Hocking: Pass. We aren't vul and I don't have any suit to rebid whilst my partner still has a bid.

Herbert Wilton: Pass. I made my bed and I'll stay there. Partner is still there.

Jack Lai: Pass. Let partner decide.

I think partner decided when he made the takeout double. He decided to let you make the decision.

There are also some people suggesting that 1NT was a mistake in the first place:

Kees Schaafsma: Pass. I wouldn't have bid 1NT. Would 1NT really be better than 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)? I don't think so but if it does it will surely be better than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The stakes are a bit higher but that is no reason to change my opinion.

Bridge Baron: Pass. I've said my piece. Note that if I had been the one saying my piece last round, I wouldn't have bid 1NT with my four low diamonds and more than 10 HCP; I'd have scrambled a 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid instead.

A few people are confused about why East passed on the previous round:

Neil Silverman: Pass. Doesn't sound like East has a hand with long diamonds as he might have redoubled to show that before. So taking chance here as it might be as good as anything.

Gary Hyett : Pass. East did not redouble 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) so I'm hoping he doesn't have 7 solid diamonds.

Dave Caprera : Pass. If East had long diamonds, he would have bid over the double. This is likely just random.

John R. Mayne: Pass. East would have bid diamonds on seven solid, so it's time to suck it up. We could run to the 4-3, but the wrong hand will get tapped. Come get me.

Charles Scholl: Pass. I'm having trouble picturing what East might have to pass my partner's double but now crack my 1NT, maybe 5 diamond tricks and 2 other aces? With at least half the high cards I'll take my chances. Either West or North might pull the double.

I don't think East's 2nd-round pass is anything to get too confused over. When you are vulnerable against not, it's sensible to just shut up as soon as you realise you are outgunned. Gratuitous bids will just convince partner to come into the auction, and East probably doesn't want that (given that partner couldn't find a bid over 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)).

The majority of the passers (wrongly) think that we are already in our best contract; even if it fails, they fear the alternatives would be worse:

Timothy Wright: Pass. 1NT doubled is not a lock, but I have no alternative that looks better, and partner can always run to a long suit if she sees fit.

Martyn Rew: Pass. East's double is more for his partner here I think, and may get them in to a wee spot of bother. And, I don't have anywhere to go.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. I am more tempted to raise to 2NT than to run to a 3-card. If righty has 7 diamonds so be it

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Other denominations are probably no better.

Tim Trahair: Pass. If North is able to double, it suggests he has a near opening hand but no 5-card suit. Probably he is short in diamonds, but if we XX we are likely to end up in a 2-level contract with a 7 card fit. Playing in 1NT doubled may turn out OK as we seem likely to have the majority of the HCP.

Par Ol-Mars: Pass. Redouble is to play, and anyhow there isn't anything saying we have a better spot anywhere if partner doesn't bid.

Julian Foster: Pass. Pretty random to run at this point. Besides, why should 1NT be going off even if we don't have a true images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) stopper?

Wayne Somerville: Pass. I can't really think of any alternatives. Redouble should probably be doubt showing, but I'm strong enough that this contract likely has chances even if they do run five diamonds.

Roger Yandle: Pass. I haven't got anywhere to run to so I'm standing my ground. Let's see who blinks first!

Ron Lel: Pass. There is no reason to think I won't make this. If they do run 5 or 6 Diamonds I can get rid of a lot of dross. If they cash 6 Diamonds and an Ace, well there is no guarantee that 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will be better in our almost certain 4-3 fit with the long trump hand copping the force. Anyway the auction is not over yet.

Since the parameters in Ron's answer are so specific, I decided to run a simulation: East images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)AKQxxx and an ace, North 4414 10-13 HCP (admittedly North could be a bit weaker than this). Results:
     (a) we make at least two of a major on 92% of hands
          (and on the other 8% we are only one off).
     (b) We make four of a major 24% of the time.
     (c) 1NT will sometimes be two off (2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) never are).
     (d) If East bids on over 2-major, we get 500 more than half the time.

So it looks like Fraser's tales of Kiwi optimism are exaggerated:

Brad Johnston: Pass. We're not vul, it's a possibility we do go light, but if we do it probably shan't be more than 300, which I'm happy to pay out here.

You'll never get rich settling for -300 per hand. Hoping for that +500 against 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes):

Dean Pokorny: Rdbl. Since a SOS redouble doesn't have much sense here, I'm redoubling 1NTx intending to double later, showing that way a supermax hand that might still have unrealized game equity.

David Kalnins: Rdbl. Passing 1NT without a stopper is dangerous and leaves west with an easy pass. 1NT could go down but I think E/W are in serious trouble if they bid, and XX is worth the risk - think of the potential upside.

Alex Kemeny: Rdbl. Quickly and with confidence. If I'm allowed to play there and make the contract won't it be wonderful. And if I go off I'll tell partner that the redouble was for rescue!

Barbara Hunter: Rdbl. Put a cat among the pigeons

Peter Vlas: Pass. I considered redouble, but discarded it due to the lack of diamond-stop. I expect to make it most of the time, but if partner is really weak he can get out now.

James Logan: Pass. I am not about to suggest penalizing the opponents with a redouble. Partner cannot have a great hand here so my guess is the points are split about even with a slight bias to our side.

Margaret Copland: Rdbl. I have had more partnership "accidents" after a redouble than any other bid. So would only like to bid it after recently discussing it with partner. If I was going to respond 1NT, I'd want it to be on the understanding I have points but not the length to make a jump bid. Their double must be for penalty, so my XX would be an SOS to bid a four card.

Margaret's condition about recently having discussed it, is an essential element of this bid. Anyone who thinks that a solid expert partnership will agree on every possible auction, is kidding themselves. From my own experience, my first-ever board representing Australia (after months of intensive system practice) saw my partner passing my rescue redouble and going for 3400 (after the opponents dropped a trick in defence). In last year's NOT final a top pair disagreed about whether a jump was a suit or a shortage. In this year's NOT semi final one of Australia's most experienced pairs didn't know if a double was for takeout. In last week's ACT State Teams final, almost our entire winning margin came from experienced opponents disagreeing about whether 1NT-2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was forcing. Every pair has a gap in their system agreements somewhere.     

Tim Munro: Pass. If I knew my mate would take redouble as suggestion to run, I'd do that as his diamond shortage will play well opposite my hand, however I think Murphy's law would apply if I redouble.

Dan Baker: Pass. I've told my story. Having limited my hand, I wonder if redouble should mean "I'm having second thoughts about this, pull it unless you have help in diamonds", but I don't want to spring that on partner undiscussed and have to explain -600 the hard way to teammates.

Here are some more redoublers looking to be rescued:

David Matthews: Rdbl. If Redouble = choose another suit then this is the move as East may be able to rattle off 6 Diamond tricks. East's Pass over the Double looks like that.

Andrea Viscovich: Rdbl. Pick what you want.

Stephen Bartos: Rdbl. Partner must have some suit better than any of mine! I'd like him to bid it.

Leigh Matheson: Rdbl. For rescue. As my wife has taught me, it usually pays to shop around.

(I think he means that like in the sense of actual shopping, not like in the song...)

Ian McCance: Rdbl. Provided this is for rescue. Not prepared to play against a solid 6-suit, despite good cards. Felicity Beale would say BIAS - better in a suit

Mick McAuliffe: Rdbl. So long as we are playing rescue redoubles else I will pass. We look to have the majority of points (just) & should normally make 1NT, but East just might be able to count say six diamonds off the top & a club or two. I am OK with a Moysian fit, especially in the majors, if necessary, and P just could be 4405 if I am lucky.

For the record, there were five Redoubles on the expert panel, and they all intended it as the beginning of a bloodbath (shedding the opponents' blood, not ours -- some people even dreamed of defending two of a major). In addition, Ron Klinger said he would have liked to have redoubled to show doubt, but was afraid that partner would pass it.

One reason for not playing Redouble as rescue, is that we have a perfectly unambiguous rescue bid elsewhere, and that's where the expert panel are voting:

Todd Holes: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I worry a Redouble could be misconstrued and that partner could pass. So, 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should ask for partner's best major. Yes, it gives up on 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) but it is less murky. I'm probably jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Artur Wasiak: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looking for a major 4-3 fit.

Zbych Bednarek: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Looking for Majors, it can't be natural.

Bastiaan Korner: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Trust the opponents.

Dean Eidler: 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I would have bid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) last time, and passed partner's response.

There were also a few reader votes for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (possibly having not thought of bidding 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)). The 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bids slightly outnumber the 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bids, but my simulation indicated that 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) was the better spot (making 93% of the time, and making game 26%).

That's it for this issue; Fraser should be back in Australia in time for the next forum, and it will be my turn to hop on a plane (Erin and I are off to Washington for the NABC Nationals). The questions for the August issue are online, here.

Top scores for June
1Peder Linder SWE490
2Ian Patterson Qld480
3Dean Pokorny CRO480
4Barbara Hunter NSW470
5Todd Holes USA470
6Jeff Fust Vic470
7H A De Jong Vic 460
8Tom Estenson USA460
9Bastiaan Korner NED460
10Mark Jappe SA460
11Nigel Kearney NZL460
12Charles Scholl USA460
13Roland Voigt GER460
14Neil Silverman USA460
15Gary Hyett 460
16Roger Yandle NSW450
17Onno Eskes NED450
18Dan Baker USA450
19Peter Stride Qld450
20George Hashimoto 450
21Murat Azizoglu USA450
22Dave Caprera 440
23David Woulds GBR440
24Gerald Koonce USA440
25Geof Brod USA440
26Wayne Somerville IRL440
27Mark Laforge 440
28Mick Mcauliffe NSW440
29Anne Paul Vic440
30Bjarne Andersen DEN440
31Andrea Viscovich ITA440
32Rainer Retzler CRO440
33Artur Wasiak POL440
34Rick Lu NSW440
35Niklas Andrén SWE440
36Niek Van Vucht ACT440
37Jim Greer GBR430
38Benjamin Kristensen 430
39Kevin O'Dea 430
40Tony Treloar Qld420
41Kajsa Fröjd SWE420
42Ig Nieuwenhuis NED420
43Gary Lane NSW420
44Andrew Spooner ACT410
45Peter Vlas NED410
46Leigh Blizzard Tas410
47Aviv Shahaf 410
48Ron Lel LAO410
49James Lawrence ENG410
50Tim Trahair NSW410
51James Mates 410
52A.K. Simon CAN410
53Robert Black SA410
54Peter Havlicek Vic410
55Julian Foster NSW400
56Martyn Rew NZL400
57Patrick Schenkhuizen 400
58Leigh Matheson NSW400
59Nancy Kent USA400
60Peter Lipp 400
61Ian Spight NSW400
62Alan Boyce Qld400
63Andrew MacAlister GBR400
64Duncan Roe Vic400
65Zbych Bednarek POL400
66Dean Eidler NZL390
67Kay O'Connor NSW390
68Sonny Schultz 390
69Pat O'Connor NSW390
70Alexander Shchennikov390

Leading scores for 2016
1Wayne Somerville IRL1360
2Onno Eskes NED1350
3Andrea Viscovich ITA1330
4Geof Brod USA1320
5Dean Pokorny CRO1320
6Todd Holes USA1320
7Artur Wasiak POL1320
8Tom Estenson USA1310
9Roland Voigt GER1310
10Ian Patterson Qld1310
11Charles Scholl USA1290
12Fredrik Jarlvik SWE1290
13Peder Linder SWE1280
14Roger Yandle NSW1280
15Mark Jappe SA1280
16Martyn Rew NZL1260
17Sonny Schultz 1260
18Bastiaan Korner NED1250
19Alex Kemeny NSW1240
20Rainer Herrmann GER1240
21Gerald Koonce USA1230
22Kajsa Fröjd SWE1220
23Gary Lane NSW1220
24Nigel Kearney NZL1220
25Peter Lipp 1200
26Mick Mcauliffe NSW1200
27Rainer Retzler CRO1190
28Damo Nair USA1190
29Leigh Blizzard Tas1190
30Ian Spight NSW1190
31Tim Trahair NSW1190
32Julian Foster NSW1190
33Ian Mccance Vic1190
34Andrew Macalister GBR1180
35Jacco Hop NED1180
36Kay O'Connor NSW1180
37David Woulds GBR1170
38Ig Nieuwenhuis NED1170
39Peter Nuoristo SWE1160
40Neil Silverman USA1150
41Charles Page Qld1150
42Hans Van Vooren NED1150
43Margaret Copland Vic1150
44Kees Schaafsma NED1140
45Bjarne Andersen DEN1130
46Dan Baker USA1130
47Peter Vlas NED1130
48Anne Paul Vic1120
49Robb Gordon USA1120
50Bram Amsel 1120
51Bruce Ballard NZL1120
52David Matthews WA1120
53Tom Moss NSW1110
54John Newman NSW1110
55Jim Greer GBR1100
56Dominic Connolly NSW1100
57Tania Black SA1090
58Pravin Nahar NSW1090
59Zbych Bednarek POL1090
60David Winter Vic1090
61Ron Lel LAO1080
62Brad Johnston NZL1080
63Nigel Guthrie GBR1070
64Alan Boyce Qld1070
65Peter Havlicek Vic1060
66Pat O'Connor NSW1060
67Nancy Kent USA1060
68Alexander Shchennikov1060
69Jack Lai 1050
70Stephen Bartos ACT1050
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
August issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your
new-look June issue to see what the experts said about this month's hands.