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October 2016

Readers' Bidding Forum with Brad Coles, October 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 December    

                Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - South deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQJ
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 65
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) AKQ4
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) KT42


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


Call Award %
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 100 60 31
2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 70 40 49
Other 0 0 20

Welcome to our October forum; once again delayed a bit, but not as badly as last time. Each issue from this point forward will get a little bit closer to being on time, and we should be back on track by February or April.

Our first problem this month has only two options, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (the obvious expert choice, 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), is not available in our methods because most Australians don't play two-over-one).

First, a quick reality-check for all the people who complained about 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) being non-forcing:

Kees Schaafsma: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Even if 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be forcing.

Par Ol-Mars: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). What I would have bid even if 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) was forcing.

John R Mayne: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is forcing and partner will show a heart control. Maybe 3NT is better, but I'm never stopping there anyway. Over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) by partner, I'll ask for keycards.

Nigel Kearney: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3NT would be horrible at matchpoints and is unthinkable at IMPs.

Bridge Baron: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Because of our weak heart doubleton, we give up on 3NT.

Roger Yandle: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner hasn't bid NT so is likely to be unbalanced. Hence its very unlikely she'd pass a non-forcing 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). However, if I do bid that then I'll never convince partner I've got the values that I have. Slam is certainly an option so I'm happy to bypass 3NT since its IMPs. I haven't splintered so hopefully partner will recognize I'm balanced and hence must have strong HCP.

Good point Roger. Even if 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) were forcing, you'd still have some catching up to do.

4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is a good way to quickly get into a cue bidding auction:

Kay O'Connor, Margaret Copland, Ig Nieuwenhuis, Tony Treloar: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I would like Partner to cue bid the ace of hearts.

Phil Hocking: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Looking for a solid heart stopper after a non-forcing bid could end in disaster.

Dennis Raymond: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Need to know about controls in hearts and maintain bidding room.

Michael Smart: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Requesting a cue (rather than RKCB) should identify the unlikely possibility that we lack a heart control.

Brad Johnston: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Set trumps, I'll cue 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), showing control of both pointies. Pard can move if they're excited.

Dean Pokorny: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Since I didn't bid a 3M splinter, it shows a balanced slam-going hand with club fit.

Niek Van Vucht: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Then cue bids.

Julian Foster: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This hand might be easier in a weak NT structure - then you could bid 2NT forcing which preserves space to get some more information from partner. I think that chances of 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (at least) are high. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) makes things clear to partner and allows him to cue a heart control in which case I'll try 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (please don't tell me 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is minorwood!) It's IMPs at least, so we can subside in 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if we do have two heart losers - no need to worry about going past 3NT.

There were actually quite a few comments wishing for Minorwood (I guess Kickback still has some ground to gain in terms of popularity).

Sam Arber, Arthur Porter: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Either minorwood or asking partner to start cueing.

Tania Black: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Would have preferred to play Minorwood.

Adrian Pang: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Which substitutes for RKCB and will not bypass 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) in case we are off two keycards.

Alex Kemeny: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). For me this is Minorwood leading to a club or NT slam unless we are missing an ace and the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)Q or missing 2 aces. I am not going to worry about the few odd times when partner lacks a high heart. Bidding good slams wins teams matches more than bidding the occasional bad one.

There were many other comments from people wanting 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as Minorwood. Subscribers to either of our magazines will have seen the series we just ran about slam bidding, which discusses how there is more to it than just asking for aces. Often you just want to bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) to say, "I'm willing to talk about a club slam if you're interested," and then have an intelligent exchange of information (especially important if you plan to bid a grand).

I've been playing Turbo (modified with Kickback) for a few years now, an excellent method that involves showing information rather than asking for it. In this auction, 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would simply set clubs, and partner's continuations combine cue-bidding and keycards (a direct 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would have asked for aces if I wanted to take unilateral control).

Moving on to the other of our two options, the majority of readers preferred to stay low and keep 3NT in the picture:

Timothy Wright: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Insert advertisement for 2/1 game-forcing here.

Charles Scholl: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might be right but 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a more accurate description of my hand (given 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is non-forcing). I want to know if partner can bid NT before I start raising clubs.

Tim Trahair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). A reverse showing the strength of our hand. it encourages North to bid 3NT with a heart cover and rightsides his images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K if he has it

Ian McCance: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Bidding where it is. Don't fancy leaping to 3NT with xx in hearts.

Bastiaan Korner: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Can't think of anything else.

Cathy Hocking: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing partner to rebid in the hope of finding a NT contract.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Forcing. Distorts my hand but I need information. With the lack of competitive bidding, 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is tempting.

Michael Burt: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I want to find out more about partner's hand whether partner has a heart stopper (by going to NT) and potential strength.

Peter Vlas: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I will raise 3NT to 4NT(Q) and will otherwise proceed to 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) if a heart cue can be found

Brian Lawless: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If North supports Spades, he will have five Clubs within a strong hand. With a five-loser hand, slam is very likely anyway.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner bids 2NT/3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), then 3NT/5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is as high as we want to be. If partner does something else, we're off to the races.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner raises spades, I will have to jump in clubs. This should show this hand type when an immediate club raise is played non-forcing.

Arie Meydan: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not the right shape for a reverse, but an immediate 3NT would close the lid on a slam investigation when 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is likely and a grand not out of the question. If playing Minorwood 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would be OK.

Ian Patterson: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Presumably forcing but also saving bidding room. Why didn't I open 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)?

There is a modern trend to open 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with all balanced hands, and have 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) promise an unbalanced hand. That's a fairly specific agreement though, and standard bidding has always opened 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) with 4-4 minors. Another alternative opening:

Toby Weinstein: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Would have opened 2NT.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Least lie. I can always retreat to clubs. I could have opened 2NT but small doubleton heart is a real danger sign!

On problem 3 we also had some people wanting a 2NT opening. To be fair, opening 2NT often brings its own set of limitations.

Jack Lai: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Show club fit in next around. Just find a forcing bid first.

Anne Paul: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). showing control and if north shows control in H would look for 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)

Robert Black: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Shows my strength and where it is; pity about the No trump shape. Partner does not have four spades so will not go overboard.

Mick McAuliffe: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). The question seems to be game in clubs or slam? However partner interprets this & whatever he bids, reversal values should be understood, and when I next support his clubs it should be clear as a first round control also, plus denying the H. Your move pard.

Damo Nair: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This seems to be the cheapest forcing bid. I can then support clubs. I can't imagine 2 or 3NT with my heart holding.

Dan Baker: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This would be easier in 2/1. Notrump (assuming it's possible) is better from partner's side. I'll raise NT to 4 if partner bids it.

Stephen Bartos: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). tricky; I need a forcing bid that will allow us to play in 3NT if ptnr is minimal, say 10-11 HCP and hearts covered, but low enough that we can explore for the best contract if partner has higher values. 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is a bit misleading but offers the best balance between these.

Herbert Wilton: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). What's the alternative? Not 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) eliminating a 3NT game.

Duncan Roe: 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). With 29+ HCP, we are certainly going to game and maybe slam. No-trumps or clubs? It depends whether partner has hearts stopped. Bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to deny a heart stop on my side.

Partner held enough to make 6images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)652-images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A10-images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)J32-images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)AQJ96).

Hand Two - North deals, EW vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) QT9752
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) T62
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) J97
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 9


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


Call Award %
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 100 47 38
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 70 27 31
Pass 40 13 27
1NT 30 7 2
Other 0 0 2

Our next question is about responding to an opening bid with a weak hand. This topic of sub-minimum bids has come up quite a lot this year, and there are some significant examples in the current magazine. On page 8, NS were talked out of 3NT by a "semi-psychic" response from the opponents (at nearly every table in the round of 16 of the world championships). On page 10, the Americans were brought into the spotlight for light 3rd-seat openings, and on page 11, the Italians caused some grief with a 3-point 3rd-seat opening. These hands have led to some debate about when an occasional light bid becomes an agreement (and, in the case of opening bids, does such an agreement fit in with system restrictions). With eighty percent of our panel finding a bid on this hand, I think we have a precedent to say that light bids (responses, at least) are a natural and expected part of standard bidding.

First off, we have an outright psyche:

Patrick Huang: 1NT. Making left hand opponent more difficult to double lacking spade length.

Niklas Andren: 1NT. Trying to confuse opps.

It works; in my brief partnership with Stephen Burgess, one of the first boards we played (against expert opponents) saw us bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-1NT and play there with a combined 13-count. If the partnership had continued, I'd be alerting all 1NT bids now...

Pysches aside, the two natural bids can also inconvenience the opponents. The obvious choice:

Artur Wasiak: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Making bidding harder for the opponents.

Ron Landgraff: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Interfere. It is likely their hand in the minors or NT. Non Vul I can retreat to Hearts. I do not bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (weak) because I plan to bid again.

Ian McCance: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Maybe 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is better, but I like my suit.

Nigel Guthrie: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Check for double-fit.

Emil Battista: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Surely not a flaccid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And I can still stop in a heart partscore.

Similar comment from Barbara Hunter, both Phil and Cathy Hocking, Arie Meydan, Tim Trahair, and Robert Black, although not everyone planned to rebid hearts:

Neil Silverman: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Going to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) at next opportunity if I can. This is will play better in spades if I can steal it.

Duncan Roe: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Hoping to find partner 5-4 in majors. RHO didn't overcall so either partner has a huge hand or LHO will compete. Either way, let partner know about my S suit

John R Mayne: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner jumps to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I'm not sick about that. Almost all auctions are survivable, and I think the risk of getting too high is low.

Bridge Baron: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Tests have shown with these junky hands that it's better to respond at a lower level than to raise to two of a major.

Ron Lel: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This problem surfaces frequently. Your choices are 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or Pass. For me they are in that order of priority. The problem with 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is that if partner bids 2 minor, 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) now will really only show a doubleton. This hand is really only worth one bid at best, you may as well get your bid off your chest immediately.

Ron's comment sounds like he meant to bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but he lucked out with a top score from accidentally typing 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tony Treloar: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). This hand will play quite well in spades (if partner has some support) but could be quite awkward in hearts

Timothy Wright: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Unless partner has the Rock of Gibraltar, any game will come from a double fit--and bidding 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is the easiest way to find out if we have one.

Barrie Pryor: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). West most likely has 15 + HCP ....2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) forces West to 3 level or 2NT if balanced

Roger Yandle: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). while I've got support for partner's hearts my 6 card suit will play much better even opposite a singleton.

The other alternative is 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), which really isn't that far from a textbook bid. If you're planning to support hearts, you're allowed to add a few points for distribution:

Tania Black: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Found a fit with six support points!

Alex Kemeny: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Showing 6 to 9 total points and 3 or 4 hearts.

Leigh Matheson: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If we buy it, this dummy won't be a disappointment, like a flat 6 count often is. Surely forcing West to mention his minor at the 3-level can't be a bad thing.

Nigel Kearney: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I've got heart support and enough to respond, and I want to say that immediately because the auction may be at five of a minor on my next turn.

Mick McAuliffe: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Could lead to an overbid, but also removes bidding room from West. I like most of my tens & nines, and both the long spades & singleton should assist.

John Lee: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). have a heart contract but weak. Could have passed; but forcing opponents to go higher if they are sronger

Hans van Vooren: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). My hand may well play better in spades, but that is assuming that we are going to play the hand. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) may help us finding a save, but 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) takes away the 2-level. Also, 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) sounds stronger than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). At green, I don't like passing.

Michael Burt: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Normally I would pass with 3 points but it's a 9 loser hand, I have reasonably good intermediates and favourable vulnerability and worth an upgrade to a 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid. If partner does have 18-20 points and we end up in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), we may well make.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The glass is half full! Two club ruffs and we are there.

Brad Johnston: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We have a fit, if I bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and then correct 1N or 2m to 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) it's likely to be preference.

Dean Pokorny: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). West lacks spade length, so I'm taking away a double from him, hopefully inducing a heavy 3m overcall which could lead to a missed game.

Wayne Somerville: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If we played weak jump shifts, 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would be a serious contender. I like the pre-emptive effect of 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as opposed to 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 1NT here.

A.K. Simon: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Prefer the raise to the selfish alternative of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

About seven readers actually chose 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) -- bidding problems would all be very easy if you could choose the system to fit the problem, but you can't. I've changed all their bids to Pass.

Charles Scholl: Pass. Anything else risks getting too high. Would bid if clubs and spades were reversed.

Dennis Raymond: Pass. bridge is a dangerous game

David Matthews: Pass. Dangerous to bid. Likely to get too high. I can always show some support later if the opponents bid.

Peter Vlas: Pass. I first want to limit my holdings. I have plenty to support later if the level remains low enough

Herbert Wilton: Pass. I need one more heart to respond.

Alan : Pass. If I later bid spades, partner will know I have shape and not strength.

Alan Jones: Pass. If I later bid spades, partner will know I have shape and not strength.

Martyn Rew: Pass. Mentioning spades here is likely to be the start of a hole being dug.

Bastiaan Korner: Pass. we get another chance.

Andrea Viscovich: Pass. What else?

"What else" is a common comment from people who choose the wrong answer. There's an even lower-scoring one coming up in Problem Three.

Dan Baker: Pass. When I raise on this kind of hand, partner inevitably ends up in game down 2. With a forcing 1NT available, that followed by 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would be tempting, but even that's probably pushy.

Michael Smart: Pass. NV, I'm not concerned about missing a big 2-suited major fit.

Julian Foster: Pass. Passing now and coming in later if they re-open is surely safer than responding now showing values I don't have (and causing partner to go overboard). Yes we might be making 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) occasionally but even then they may re-open and give us a 2nd chance.

Ian Patterson: Pass. Too weak for 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), too strong for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) so wait and see.

On the actual deal from the Ian McCance Swiss Pairs, the vulnerability was reversed and South had the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)J instead of the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q:

spades 8
hearts KJ743
diamonds Q1063
clubs KQ8
spades AK3
hearts 5
diamonds K852
clubs A10732
spades Q64
hearts AQ98
diamonds A4
clubs J654
spades J109752
hearts 1062
diamonds J97
clubs 9

At unfavourable vulnerability, and without the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)Q, many pairs still responded to 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Many went for 500 or more, but that's what you get for not checking the vulnerability before you bid.

Hand Three - South deals, nil vul, IMPs. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) Q82
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) AK84
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A75
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AQ3


West North East South
      1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)
2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) dbl 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?

   2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) = a weak jump overcall.

Call Award %
Dbl 100 53 29
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 80 27 21
4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 50 20 37
3NT 0 0 4
Other 0 0 9

Paul Lavings: Dbl. I play the double as both majors or diamond support (4+) and a major hence I double here and if partner bids 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I try 3NT.

Eric Kokish: Dbl. If North guaranteed both majors I'd focus on hearts, but if not, he could have several different hand types, including five spades, some club support, and not quite enough for 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); or four spades and 4+images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Charles Scholl: Dbl. 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems obvious, but double covers more scenarios: partner might have five or six spades and 7-9 points, in which case we'll end up in 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). And if partner has hearts or both majors, he'll bid hearts first.

I like this problem. Like many of our others, it was supplied by Paul Lavings, and it's a fairly common situation. One of the expert comments surprised me:

Frank Stewart: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I don't care for this problem since all we will learn is that most players will double and a few will cuebid directly. I don't think the choice matters much.

Frank may not have learned anything, but the 50% of readers who found neither of these bids probably learned a thing or two. Here are a couple of minorities:

John Lee: 3NT. North showing opening points and strong suits other then diamonds. South has a diamond stopper AD.

Dan Baker: 3NT. Partner's majors might be only 4-3. I don't like having only one stopper, but at least I can hold up for a few rounds.

Rainer Retzler: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). What else? 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)?

Adrian Pang: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner will not pass 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) as both opps rate to be weak and he has pts, if hearts do not fit no trump will have good play and we might even be able to make 6NT.

To paraphrase, I think he's saying that North knows we can make game because both opponents showed weak hands. I wonder if East knew his 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid was game-forcing (on us)?

The more common choice:

Sam Arber: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Would consider 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but partner might get shortened playing in spades.

Tim Trahair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Shows the strength of our hand and encourages North to go on with a strong hand

Michael Burt: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). The bidding suggests partner has, at most one diamond, and is very likely to have four hearts and something useful in spades. Game looks on.

Damo Nair: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If North can't stand hearts he can bid something else. We should be ok.

Peter Vlas: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Not sure if 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is forcing. If we end up in an 4-3 at least the short hand will ruff diamonds

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). He probably has both majors as he should be (very) short in diamonds.

Timothy Wright: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Opposite partner's likely 4414, we still need her to have a perfect hand for slam. Had East passed, we could try 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), but 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) could get us to the wrong strain here.

Bridge Baron: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner can still move toward slam with the right hand. On this auction, especially taking into consideration the opponents' bids, partner should almost always have four hearts.

Robert Black: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Must be in the slam zone, but how to decide? Diamonds need trumping by North, so playing in Spades is riskier

There were quite a few other comments about slam, usually along the lines of "I'll take the blame for missing slam". I think 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) expresses our values fairly adequately. Like on Question One, we had a couple of people who feel 19 points is too much for a one-opening:

Brad Johnston: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). This is what I get for not upgrading to 2NT with 3 aces and both majors. Even if I catch a moysian (pard would double here with 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)), I'd be ruffing a diamond with the short trump, which is why I don't bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - in case we get tapped in long hand.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Why didn't I open 2NT? 19 high, three aces, AK, AQ, stoppers in every suit. The only negative is 4333. Stayman would likely bring us to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If partner has only 3 hearts, 3NT may be better. If partner is strong we may reach 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Dean Pokorny: 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No room to check for a good slam, the 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) cue would usually lead just into a mess. Such scenarios are to be expected if I open a 18-19 balanced hand with a natural 1m opening.

I think if this problem came up at the table there would be even more 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bids, but it's smarter to cater for the likelihood that partner has only one major. There are two ways to do that, and here is the first one:

Andrea Viscovich: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is underbid, maybe we have 6.

Alan Jones: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). All purpose "tell me more" cue bid.

Derek Pocock: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). and over anticipated 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will bid 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) hoping this will enthuse partner to greater things.

Tony Treloar: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't enjoy cuing before suit agreement but I have to tell partner that I have slam ambitions.

A.K. Simon: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has both majors, he will bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If he bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), I hope he has five; in any case I will pass over a four-level bid, I feel the hand is too flat for slam.

Anne Paul: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). looking for a slam in a major. If partner bids hearts to 6h if he bids Spades bid 6NT

Zbych Bednarek: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). looking for M, for sure strong hand

Phil Hocking: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Need a forcing bid so can explore slam.

Mick McAuliffe: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pard probably has 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at most & slam is a possibility (in Hs at this point). Get partner to choose the suit, & then we can get another bid to investigate further.

Cathy Hocking: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner can pick a suit maybe slam is on wait and see

bastiaan korner: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). perhaps it is slam, perhaps it goes 3 down but my defence is always bad.

Ron Lel: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This hand has a lot of potential. I suspect the problem will come on the next round, especially if partner bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Emil Battista: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We are going places and I want partner to choose. Just in case we get it wrong!

John R Mayne: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We still haven't landed well, but if partner bids 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I intend to press the issue and aim for slam.

So quite a few of those comments were using 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as a slam try, and some were planning to bid again no matter what. Aside from the slam-bidders, no one really offered any comment to suggest why 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is better than Double, while more than one of its downsides are readily apparent:

Michael Smart: Dbl. Then 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). (If instead I chose to cue 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), we risk playing in the wrong major suit Moysian if partner has only three hearts and bids 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).)

Brian Lawless: Dbl. Probably showing only one major. With both, 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would be better. Not too many losers but where are the tricks for more than game?

David Matthews: Dbl. Let's see if partner has 4 hearts or not as we are close to slam. If not I am bidding 3NT next.

Leigh Matheson: Dbl. With not much to say, partner should lead the way. Or he might decide we don't need to declare.

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. Partner was under pressure and doesn't necessarily promise four hearts so a 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid or a jump to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems wrong. 3NT is too unilateral, missing the 4-4 heart fit. I'll bid 3NT over a 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) bid and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid.

Defending, playing in 3NT, avoiding a bad 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes); all good reasons not to bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Double was by far the more common expert choice, with a 2:1 ratio over 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Martyn Rew: Dbl. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) doubled is likely to be the best score option here. If partner bids hearts or spades, we can support from there.

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. After they find a fit this is for takeout showing extras. Partner may be 4-3 in the majors and if so I will play in 3NT.

Stephen Bartos: Dbl. Get partner to nominate their best suit, then bid to game in that suit.

Artur Wasiak: Dbl. I admit that I don't know what exactly it should mean. However, slowing down the bidding with double looks like the only way to suggest that we should think about slam (jump to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) now would show weaker unbalanced hand). If partner passes 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x, I hope that it would not be a disaster.

Ian McCance: Dbl. "I don't know either". Maybe giving up on 3NT but hate to leap there with only Axx.

Nigel Kearney: Dbl. I would normally just bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) with this hand type but the diamond holding makes it a bit too good for that.

Julian Foster: Dbl. I'll then raise 3M to 4. Easy over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), a bit murkier over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) - is partner 54xx or could he be 44 with better spades?

Aviv Shahaf: Dbl. It feels like the hands fit very well and slam is good opposite as little as AJxx-Qxxx-x-Kxxx. I start with a responsive Double which hopefully will get me more information. I plan to cuebid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), bid 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), bid 6images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), bid RKC over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) or 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Roger Yandle: Dbl. looks like partner might be 4414 or similar. Slam could well be on opposite even a minimum hand so lets see what else partner has to say.

Duncan Roe: Dbl. We want to play in partner's 5-card suit since I don't have one, so ask what it is.

Hans van Vooren: Dbl. Of all possible calls the most flexible.

The full deal, from the 2016 Coffs Coast:

spades AJ1065
hearts J76
diamonds 9
clubs 9876
spades 4
hearts Q92
diamonds KJ10643
clubs J105
spades K973
hearts 1053
diamonds Q82
clubs K42
spades Q82
hearts AK84
diamonds A75
clubs AQ3

A few pairs ended up in 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but they all managed to make it. Many of the North players just bid their spades.

For a play problem, try to make 3NT on a diamond lead (East will duck the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)K twice). We'll give you the answer in next month's issue of Australian Bridge Magazine.

Hand Four - North deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) A864
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 6543
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ---
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AK872


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

  Please also specify rebid after partner bids 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Call Award %
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-Pass 100 47 23
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)-2NT 50 7 24
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 60 33 19
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)-2NT 40 13 4
Other 0 0 30

Another problem from Paul Lavings, but I wasn't keen on his problem conditions (his bid of 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) on the first round). So I turned it into a two-part problem, and the panel comfortably supported his 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid:

Artur Wasiak: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is the only way not to lose any major fit if we have it. After 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid I take the pessimistic view. Maybe it would be better to play clubs (or NT) but it's too late to think about it if we don't want to try 3NT.

Ron Landgraff: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. A misfit is confirmed. If I pass in tempo, the opponents may come in and we may get 200.

Leigh Matheson: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. At Imps I'd bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) followed by 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to shape out accurately. At Matchpoints, it's not as important to bid game, especially not 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Charles Scholl: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. Even 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might be too high.

Hans van Vooren: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. I can see no good reason to suppress the heart suit (the spades aren't that much better). 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is quite ok with three top tricks, but I prefer to go a bit slower when partner opens in my void. After 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), I'll pass because (a) it may be the best contract and (b) I will be very nicely placed if the opponents choose to balance.

John R Mayne: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. I'd need another card - even a jack - to bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is terrible, but anything else is worse. Once you've bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), you've committed to passing 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and being happy with any other rebid. The 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) bidders, I think, are forced to try again lest partner hold KJT5 Q AQ8754 T9.

Roger Yandle: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. looks like partner has got 6+images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) in a minimum hand. Even if partners suit is solid it'll be difficult to bring it home in NT opposite my void. Maybe if I pass, opps will back in with spades or clubs!

Ron Lel: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. This is not good enough to force to game. 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) allows pd to raise or bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If partner bids 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) I will pass.

Alan Jones: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Michael Smart: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then Pass. Try for the major fit first then bail with 3 quick tricks.

That was easily the top expert choice, with about half of the panel playing in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The readers were evenly split between passing, and trying for game with their A-AK:

A.K. Simon: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. I prefer 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) because partner is too likely to rebid 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Of course I have a "wire" that he will rebid the dreaded 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) but I am not supposed to know that.

Martyn Rew: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. If partner can't bid spades over a heart bid, then I will not want to introduce the suit.

Phil Hocking: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Initially considered partner could be 4441 shape and now long diamonds with no other 4 card suit. A bid in clubs likely to convey wrong message about heart suit.

Bridge Baron: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. At the one-level, we bid four-card suits up the line. 2NT loses less than 3NT in a simulation, -55.45 to -115.7.

Hmm... if 2NT and 3NT both provide a negative return, maybe there's something to be said for not bidding either of them.

Peter Vlas: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Little scary with the misfit, but I love the Aces and King

Neil Silverman : 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Not going to force to game but can't pass 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Ugly but seems least of all evils.

Robert Black: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Partner has denied four spades, and bidding 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) would show five hearts.

Dean Pokorny: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Since I have a void in diamonds, I won't consider this hand a game-force, but rather invite with 2NT.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. that's what I'd do at the table, leaving room for a club fit if he has a weak 6-4.

Tania Black: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2NT. Useful 11 HCPs, if I can reach dummy!

That's it for the conservative 2NT bidders... next we have the game-forcers:

Wayne Somerville: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Are we good enough to force to game? I think we are so 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) it is. I'll follow up with 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) to allow partner to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if he has them (which we can raise).

Julian Foster: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I am strong enough to have another go over 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) so I see no reason not to bid my best & longest suit first. Nor do I see why I should then avoid bidding Hs. Why can't partner be something like 1462 and 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is our only game?

Brad Johnston: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I'm an optimist, maybe pard can bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) - but I'm angling towards 3NT.

Tony Treloar: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Maybe not quite strong enough for this but it is the best sequence to get us to suit agreement.

Aviv Shahaf: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). No one ever accuses me of underbidding.

Herbert Wilton: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Potentially a strong hand so bid it naturally.

Brian Lawless: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Too good in top cards for anything else. If partner follows up with 2NT, 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) looks best.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We might get too high on a misfit, but in finding our best strain I rather risk getting too high than staying low in the wrong one.

Nigel Kearney: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). We'd like to play 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) when partner is minimum with three clubs and no major and we don't have to give up anything to do that. If we are going to play NT, it looks better to have partner bid it.

Adrian Pang: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). which shows a game forcing hand with 5+ clubs and four hearts.

Mick McAuliffe: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). While I hate my Hs, as pard will bid again: Ss I can bid NT; simple rebid in a minor I will pass; Not sure what I will do if he raises my hearts. How good are my opps?

Alex Kemeny: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Yes we may get propelled too high sometimes but with 3 prime cards I have to try for game even at pairs.

Most of that group recognised that a reverse by responder is game forcing, but they were willing to live with that. A bit much I think.

Tim Trahair: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Needs to show our majors up the line. If North rebids his diamonds, show our Ss and then bid NT if he bids 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Duncan Roe: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Yes the H are dreadful. Hoping partner will respond 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Easy rebid after 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) to show 4/4 majors

Cathy Hocking: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Best to look for a major first.

Michael Burt: 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) then 3NT. Far from guaranteed but should score very well if it makes. Our weakest suit is likely to be hearts and the 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid might make it harder for the opposition to find. Partner only needs something like AKQxxx of diamonds and Qxx in clubs for 3NT to make on a non heart lead.

Ron Landgraff: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) then Pass. Best shot for a reasonable contract. Note the excellent defensive values if they come in.

Dan Baker: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2NT. Hands good enough for a 2/1 should bid the long suit first to show strength. The 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid isn't helping things, though playing a minor at Matchpoints is taking a big position.

Emil Battista: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2NT. Normally I would bid 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) in a thrice. Having been given a heads up about partner's predictable rebid this problem requires a little more thought. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) & then 2NT was too close to "Other" for comfort - so this choice not expected to take all the marbles!

"Other" encompassed eight different combinations on this problem, and yours wasn't one of them, so you're safe. We'll finish with a few words from one of the "Others":

Barrie Pryor: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is forcing ... If North has hearts stopped we could end up in 3 NT

Damo Nair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I am not going to suppress a 5-card suit headed by the AK. Dying to see what the top score is.

Andrea Viscovich: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think there is no game and we will be lucky if we stop in 3c.

Timothy Wright: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Starting with 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) puts us in a bad spot after the likely 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) rebid. Starting with 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is better because it caters to a 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) rebid. But 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) shows the right shape and shows where my points are.

David Matthews: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) then Pass. In my system North's next bid does not need to have reversing values so partner will introduce a Major (if he has one) with a minimum. 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) = I dont have a major so 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is likely to be 6+ which I am happy to pass.

In the actual deal, South held the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)J instead of the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)8:

spades QJ5
hearts 987
diamonds AQJ1085
clubs 10
spades 10732
hearts KQJ
diamonds 9743
clubs Q3
spades K9
hearts A102
diamonds K62
clubs 98654
spades A864
hearts 6543
clubs AKJ72

More than half of the 17 tables went heavily minus on the NS cards, with only two pairs able to stop in 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). (Of course, several comments did mention that the images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)J would be enough to make them bid more). North's opening bid bears most of the blame for any bad result on the deal.

Hand Five - North deals, EW vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K2
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QT9654
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) K5
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) AT6

West North East South
  3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ?


Call Award %
Pass 100 33 58
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 80 27 13
3NT 50 13 7
5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 40 20 6
Dbl 30 7 15

Our goofy problem of the month this month sees us with four trump tricks against the opponents' three-level overcall, with a few extra tricks on the side, and a partner showing some values. #FWP, as the kids say.

A handful of readers thought these riches were enough to beat 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes):

Anne Paul: Dbl. They are vul take the cash and go.

Barbara Hunter: Dbl. Can go back to clubs if West bids.

Cathy Hocking: Dbl. If partner pulls it I have support.

Robert Black: Dbl. Cannot envisage a non vulnerable game in 3NT or 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) with any confidence.

Wayne Somerville: Dbl. I expect this to go for at least 800 and we have no reason to think we have anything significant. I'm a little concerned about this being pulled to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but I can bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) (invitational, we do not double these auctions with weak hands and powerful trumps) depending on which hand pulled.

Bridge Baron: Dbl. Negative doubles do not apply after a preempt. Therefore, when the simulation shows that defending 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled is worth +695 on average, and none of our contracts are close (3NT is +89.5 and 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is +39.5), we go for it! It's silly, though, because we haven't done anything to stop the opponents from finding their spade fit.

Just an explanatory note about our robot friend: the Baron chooses his answers on his own, but his assistant Stephen provides the explanations. Sometimes Stephen picks up on an unusual detail that the Baron overlooked: in this case, the simulated cost of opponents bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Attempting to avoid that problem:

Par Ol-Mars: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Don't let West bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tim Trahair: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). No point doubling, this will just encourage East to look for another suit. So with good C support and a strong hand go to game.

A.K. Simon: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Should have a good play, and it makes things tough on West.

Rainer Herrmann: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shut out the spades. 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) might make on a good day.

Todd Holes : 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). There must be a spade fit. Enough for ten tricks? Let them guess at the five level.

Brian Lawless: 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Two-way shot. It may make and also prevents opponents bidding 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), which is likely to be on. Difficult for West to bid 5images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) comes with a couple of questions. Will it be too expensive? And, would 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) have been good enough to shut West out? On the actual deal, the answer is no to both questions... West will bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) if it is available, and 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is cheaper than that. That's a tough call to make facing a non-vulnerable preempt.

Stephen Bartos: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Extend the pre-empt, make it harder for opponents.

Neil Silverman : 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hoping they play in 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is unrealistic. Might as well make them guess a level higher.

Ron Landgraff: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I do not think West is Santa Claus! Anything that he bids will likely work.

John Newman: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner has pure trash. I'd rather defend hearts than spades. If I pass, LHO will probably bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), so I'll make a small noise and give up on beating 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Duncan Roe: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). The danger with this hand is that they will find their S fit. Pass would let them find it at the 3 level. Double will alert them to find it. 3NT is tempting but might get doubled and go down badly via S and/or D

Ron Lel: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). This is a stinker. I would love to double, but if the opps now bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I am not happy. The other problem is that a non vulnerable versus vulnerable 3 level bid does not promise much. I will try 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) here. If the opps bid a highly unlikely 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) I will double. If they bid 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I will pass and expect, (hope), to beat it. No doubt some will bid 3NT here but your chances of making are remote. To some extent your choice of actions are really dependent on the style of your pre empts.

Charles Scholl: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). What's the best way to keep EW out of their spade fit? 3NT? Passing is hoping for too much.

3NT did get a few votes, giving us our second psychic notrump this month:

Eric Kokish: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). 3NT is ridiculous opposite a first-seat favourable modern three-bid unless intended as a psych.

Dean Pokorny: 3NT. A semi-preemptive 3NT, taking away West's opportunity to bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Roger Yandle: Pass. if I could trust my partner to have an old fashioned pre-empt I'd seriously consider 3NT. But these days at fav vul there's no telling what partner might have. So I'm waiting to see what eventuates before letting on about my strength.

Zbych Bednarek: 3NT. for sure opps have Spades (maybe even on game level) - cheap save against possible makeable 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)

Aviv Shahaf: 3NT. in your dreams you might get to defend 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled but in reality when you double 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) you just make it easier for them to get to spades.

Mick McAuliffe: 3NT. Is double after a preempt still takeout? If not I would double. If so, 3NT (as matchpoints) & hope I can generate a 9th trick. Going forward, if I was doubled I could bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Is a double after a preempt still takeout? Given that the preemptor's most likely shape is 7321, and you'd want nine or ten trumps to compete this high, a normal takeout double should ideally be at least 8-7 in the unbid suits. Playing double as penalty probably has a higher utility.

The top vote, by the smallest of margins, went to keeping quiet and letting the opponents work it out. Although, when I say "top vote" that's a bit misleading... twice as many panellist chose to offer a disruptive bid instead, but those votes were split between 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and 3NT.

Michael Burt: Pass. The preempt has done its job, so pass.

Ian McCance: Pass. Like it. Why tell them to remove?

Nigel Kearney: Pass. I don't think 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) helps us. If LHO was going to bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) he will have enough to double 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and they still find spades. Either of them may double 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on a hand where 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) would have been passed out.

Herbert Wilton, Michael Smart: Pass. Rather defend a 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) contract than push them into spades.

Ian Patterson, Timothy Wright: Pass. Opponents have a better fit in Spades. No need to alert them to this.

Alex Kemeny: Pass. Happy to score a few hundred. I hope LHO does not bid spades. I do not double because then she will run to a pointed suit.

Brad Johnston: Pass. If I double they'll obviously run. Who knows, maybe pard is heavy for a favourable 3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) opener and West doesn't have the values to force with 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Automatic and nonchalant pass, just like if LHO passed.

Phil Hocking: Pass. Expect opposition has a spade fit so play a wait and see option rather than double and force West to pursue another suit.

Arie Meydan: Pass. A double would only help them to find a better spot. Take your money and run. Even if they find another game, keeping silent would likely to help more the defenders than the declarer.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) very doubtful. We will probably beat 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), but I wouldn't bet my life on it and double may easily push them to a making contract. Occasionally, Christmas comes early when West raises to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Vlad Dragalchuk: Pass. West doesn't have many points. He may well pass, as 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would be forcing in AB (which is weird but who cares). So, let's give him a chance to pass. If he doesn't, then I'll eventually bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) and probably not higher than that.

I wouldn't describe the forcing response as weird... finding the best game is more important than correcting the partscore. That's a fairly fundamental principle. Should West have to jump to 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to look for a spade game?

Of course, West's priorities will change quickly if we double 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)...

Julian Foster: Pass. Call me a wimp. Passing means West can't bid 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) non-forcing which may well be what he would like to do. Doubling changes that and also makes it more likely they will try to run. Do I want the auction going X 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) P P back to me? No because I have no idea what I would then do!

Tony Treloar: Pass. It looks like it will be difficult for west to have sufficient values to enter the auction unless I double.

John R Mayne: Pass. If it goes 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)-P-4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), we're gonna be sad, but LHO very short in hearts and not all that strong will probably quit here.

Peter Vlas: Pass. I expect with my values West has too little to bid, even with 0-2 hearts

Dan Baker, Martyn Rew: Pass. Never interrupt your opponents while they are making a mistake. If I double, I don't have much defense against a pointed-suit runout. Hope West leaves it.

The full deal:

spades 106
hearts 2
diamonds Q98
clubs QJ98543
spades AJ87543
hearts 3
diamonds 7432
clubs K
spades Q9
hearts AKJ87
diamonds AJ106
clubs 72
spades K2
hearts Q109654
diamonds K5
clubs A106

None of the 17 tables played in hearts. Several NS pairs took a profitable 5images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) save against 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but on any other action West has an easy bid.

Thanks for joining us again this month. Our next issue will be out fairly soon, as we are struggling to get the magazine back on schedule after our large delay in August, so don't delay getting your answers in. The December questions are already online, here.

Top scores for October
1Roger Yandle NSW500
2John R Mayne USA480
3Ian McCance Vic470
4Artur Wasiak POL470
5Nigel Guthrie GBR470
6Larry Brose USA470
7Kees Schaafsma NED470
8Ron Lel LAO460
9Dominic Connolly NSW450
10David Woulds GBR450
11Leigh Matheson NSW440
12Tony Treloar Qld440
13Michael Smart ACT440
14Alexander Shchennikov430
15Fredrik Jarlvik SWE430
16Nigel Kearney NZL430
17Phil Hocking NSW430
18Alex Kemeny NSW430
19Kajsa Fröjd SWE430
20Andrew Macalister GBR430
21Niklas Andrén 430
22Murray Perrin Qld420
23Geof Brod USA420
24Pat O'Connor NSW400
25Tom Estenson USA400
26Andrew Spooner ACT 400
27Cor Lof 400
28Neil Silverman 400
30Julian Foster NSW400
31Peter Nuoristo SWE400
32Par Ol-Mars 400
33Pravin Nahar NSW400
34Vlad Dragalchuk 390
35Paul Sontag CAN390
37Charles Scholl USA390
38David Caprera USA380
39Arie Meydan 380
40Brad Johnston NZL380
41Niek Van Vucht ACT380
42John Newman NSW380
43Peter Tarlinton NSW380
44Manuel Paulo POR380
45Margaret Copland Vic370
46Dean Sole NZL370
47Hans Van Vooren NED370
48Conny Wahlgren SWE370
49Arthur Porter SA370
50Peter Qvist SWE370
51Tom Moss NSW360
52Gary Lane NSW360
53Peter Stride Qld350
54Kevin O'Dea 350
55Peter Robinson Qld350
56Duncan Roe Vic350
57Mats Hedström SWE350
58Steve Myerson 350
60A.K. Simon CAN340
61David Matthews WA340
62Tania Black SA340
63Peter Lipp 340
65Bastiaan Korner NED340
66Kay O'Connor NSW340
67Bridge Baron USA330
68Mick McAuliffe NSW330
69Bram Amsel 330
70Ig Nieuwenhuis NED330
71Jack Lai 330
72Benjamin Kristensen 330

Leading scores for 2016
1Artur Wasiak POL2260
2Roger Yandle NSW2220
3Fredrik Jarlvik SWE2160
4Tom Estenson USA2130
5Alex Kemeny NSW2110
6David Woulds GBR2090
7Nigel Kearney NZL2090
8Roland Voigt GER2090
9Wayne Somerville IRL2090
10Kajsa Fröjd SWE2090
11Dean Pokorny CRO2050
12Andrew MacAlister GBR2040
13Julian Foster NSW2040
14Ian Patterson Qld2020
15Peter Nuoristo SWE2020
16Kees Schaafsma NED2020
17Rainer Herrmann GER2010
18Mick Mcauliffe NSW2000
19Gary Lane NSW2000
20Bastiaan Korner NED1990
21Pravin Nahar NSW1970
22Martyn Rew NZL1970
23Nigel Guthrie GBR1970
24Alexander Shchennikov1960
25Andrea Viscovich ITA1950
26Tania Black SA1950
27Dominic Connolly NSW1940
28Margaret Copland Vic1940
29Damo Nair USA1940
30Kay O'Connor NSW1940
31Hans Van Vooren NED1930
32Vlad Dragalchuk 1900
33Leigh Blizzard Tas1870
34Pat O'connor NSW1870
35Ig Nieuwenhuis NED1860
36Phil Hocking NSW1860
37Ian Spight NSW1850
38Bjarne Andersen DEN1840
39Bruce Ballard NZL1840
40Emil Battista NSW1840
41Dan Baker USA1830
42Duncan Roe Vic1820
43Brad Johnston NZL1810
44Jack Lai HKG1800
45Peter Vlas NED1790
46Tim Trahair NSW1780
47Geof Brod USA1740
48John R Mayne USA1720
49Robert Black SA1710
50Todd Holes USA1710
51Nancy Kent USA1680
52Charles Scholl USA1680
53Alexander Cook NSW1680
54Manuel Paulo POR1670
55Mark Laforge 1660
56Michael Smart ACT1660
57Ian McCance Vic1660
58Zbych Bednarek POL1650
59Tony Treloar Qld1650
60Michael Burt ACT1650
61Niek Van Vucht ACT1640
62Bridge Baron USA1630
63Jim Thatcher NSW1630
64John Shield NSW1620
65Jim Greer GBR1620
66Derek Pocock WA1600
67Peter Stride Qld1590
68Peter Robinson Qld1580
Thank you to all the readers and visitors who entered this month's forum.
Click here to try your luck at the next set of problems, to be answered in the
December issue of Australian Bridge. And don't forget to check out your
new-look October issue to see what the experts said about this month's hands.