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October 2018

Readers' Bidding Forum with Fraser Rew, October 2018

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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                Scroll down to see final scores
Hand One - West deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) K3
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 43
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KQT983
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 643

West North East South
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) ?


Call Award %
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 37 39
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 37 23
3images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 5 1
2NT 70 5 0
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60 11 9
3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 60 5 22
Pass 30 0 7

Let's start with the tactical bidders. Some of them wanted to pass throughout, some wanted to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) later to make, and some wanted to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as a sacrifice:

Roger Yandle: Pass. I'm not sure we've got any defence to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so letting the opps know we've got a big diamond fit might be counter productive and asking them to double 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) also doesn't appeal.

Henri de Jong: Pass. No point telling opps about all my diamonds at this stage.

Partner may be interested as well.

Michael Burt (with Brian Lawless similarly): Pass. It looks like the opposition can make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) but they don't know it. If we get competitive in diamonds, they may bid it.

There was one passer with a different plan in mind:

Christer: Pass. In order to buy 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) we must slowbid this hand.

Rune Jansson: Pass. To have them not find 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). If they do I will bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Maybe that's true. But allowing the opponents another round of bidding to exchange information will make it easier for them to choose between Pass, Double and 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The only expert panellist to mention Pass put it as his third choice behind 2NT and 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (neither of which any other experts mentioned either).

Speaking of 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) ...

Dean Pokorny: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Standard approach: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), letting opponents take the last guess at the 5 level. Though, in world-class partnerships the correct way is to bid 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) (correcting 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)), to get a low spade lead against 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (from, say Axxx-x-AJxxxx-Qx). Once advancer doesn't bid a FSJ 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), partner should get a clear idea what is going on in such a case.

It's entirely possible that Dean knows more about world-class partnerships than I do. But on my limited observations, I would think that 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) would be treated as natural, even after you pulled 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Certainly, none of the experts bid it.

Back to the more commonly-adopted plans - some of the 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders had plans similar to the above:

Dan Baker: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If partner has hearts stopped and a maximum, he may bid 3NT on his own anyway after this. 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is tempting, but it’s an overbid on values.

Tim Trahair: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). It seems we may have about the same HCP as EW in which case game seems unlikely.

Alex Kemeny: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). They can likely make 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I do not want to suggest a 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) sacrifice by bidding 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I will pass 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

A. K. Simon: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This is my approach to 'walking the dog'. I expect on my next turn I will have the opportunity to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and the opponents will not realize how extreme my hand is.

Nigel Guthrie: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This won't end the auction and leaves partner room to bid 3NT.

Let's try to work out the full layout, as best we can. (Whenever I do this, Brad always shows a full hand record with an entirely different layout. I think he's got it in for me). Partner has made a vulnerable two-level overall, which should show 9-16 HCP (in these days of heavy overcalls, more is possible, but it's unlikely, especially with both opponents bidding). Also, it should normally be a six-card suit, as otherwise the best it can be is AJ765, which in my books is too flimsy. So between us we've got 12 trumps and 17-24 HCP, giving the opponents 16-23 HCP. Also, as they have 25 cards outside diamonds, they must have either a big double fit or a ten-card fit somewhere, and maybe both. I was surprised that only one person, on either panel, raised this point:

Kees Schaafsma: 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Doubleton in hearts is nasty.

David Appleton: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Essentially, bidding higher means we might miss an easy 3NT. I can give up at 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), hopefully partner can figure it out, doubleton is not where I want to be unilateral.

Partner could easily have a singleton heart. If you're worried about two small hearts opposite each other, David's approach at least brings partner in on the decision making process.

Where does this leave us? While it's sometimes right to play for the opponents to have made a mistake already (e.g., I you shouldn't balance if you think they may have just missed a game), playing for them to pre-emptively miss a game doesn't seem like a winning proposition. Good opponents normally get it right without our help, and many will just blast game, and find later that it happens to be good. If we bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) at that point, will partner really play us for an almost-balanced 8-count?

There's really no right answer to a problem like this, as it's tactical as much as technical. On some days, 3NT is the only making game and 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) will get us there; on others, we're outgunned and need to get to 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as soon as possible.

So all in all, I think it's right to bid now. If we do want to keep them out of game, 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) shouldn't do too much harm: it only really shows about 5-9 points with diamond support, which could help partner later, and doesn't really tip the opponents off as to how good their diamond fit is. Both the player with the singleton and the one with the void will worry that partner has a wasted honour-third or -fourth.

However, it could easily be our hand, so most panellists give partner at least a chance to bid game when it's right. For the minority:

David Caprera: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) for us is mixed - 6 to 9 hcp, 4+ trump, offensively oriented.

Of the experts who bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), one was suggesting a save to partner and one was planning on bidding 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) later. It does take up space and give partner a good idea of what we've got. Against that, it takes us past 3NT - and there's also this:

John R Mayne: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is awful - it pushes them to 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and if you intend to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) over that, just do it now. Maximum pressure is good bridge.

A plurality of both the experts and readers were split between 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). The 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders were similar between the two panels: most were taking a two-way shot: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might make, or it might be a good save against 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) (or even 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)), or it might induce a bad 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bid.

However, the 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders commented differently. Although both panels were angling for 3NT, many of the readers were planning on playing in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) if that didn't pan out, but the experts were all planning to bid 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) - albeit not always with much enthusiasm. The exception amongst the readers was:

Cathy Hocking: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Fit showing cue-bid. Test the water first (I assume for 3NT - FR) then if not at least 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) should be on.

For the other 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) bidders:

Emil Battista: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). How much does partner need for 3NT? images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)A, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A. Not too much to ask. Opponents may let us play in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Patrice Fincias: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Asking for stopper. Could have nine quick tricks at notrump.

Neil Silverman: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). On a good day it goes 3NT by partner, all pass.

Christine Chandler: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Cue raise of diamonds; denies four spades and a heart stopper. Can play in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Forcing, implies diamonds. I will pass 3NT and correct to diamonds otherwise (at the lowest level). Unless partner has significant extra values we will not make game, but we have few defensive tricks

Damo Nair: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I don't feel like by-passing 3NT.

Ron Lel: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I guess you have two choices, showing a good raise with 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or raising to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) excludes 3NT. I realise we are not vulnerable and so 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) does not necessarily show the earth. But if partner has a heart stopper and the images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A we look good for 3NT.

Martyn Rew: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Stopper? Partner does not need a lot for a NT contract here, allowing for six diamond tricks.

Peter Vlas: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). To stop them from bidding it and hopefully to get us in a reasonable 3NT.

Phil Hocking: 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Fit showing cue bid making it harder for opps to settle in a partscore.

However, this group of panellists found a more certain way of stopping the opponents from playing in a partscore:

Tania Black: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Will it propel opponents to a making slam? (If they can make a slam, I'll be having a stern word to partner about the quality of his overcalls - FR.)

Steve Robinson: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Best chance to get the opponents to bid 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and not get doubled

David Matthews: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Unlikely to be more than two down with 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) probably making.

Leigh Blizzard: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Eleven-card fit. What else?

Ron Landgraff: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I doubt they will let us play 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) unless it makes 5!

Rainer Herrmann: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). This could be a disaster if partner mirrors our distribution. But I would never let them play below 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) and that way they will have a tough time to decide to double.

Julian Foster: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I'd surely do this over 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so far better to do it now and let them worry about whether they make 5images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or not. 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) might even be cold if partner happens to have images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)A, images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A and images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A.

Tony Treloar (with Peter Lipp and Robert Black similarly): 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). With only half a defensive trick opposite an overcall I'll concede that they are a fair chance of ten tricks in hearts. Let's put them to the guess now.

To my mind, the 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bidders do make a stronger argument - although, full disclosure, that was my choice before I got shoehorned into moderating this month. But as noted above, it's very close, and anything could be right.

The full deal, from Kings and Queens:

spades A106
hearts Q52
diamonds A7652
clubs K8
spades QJ98
hearts AK1076
diamonds J
clubs 975
spades 7542
hearts J98
diamonds 4
clubs AQJ102
spades K3
hearts 43
diamonds KQ10983
clubs 643

We can make 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), which is the last making spot for either side. In a 20-table game, ten pairs went down in 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and three went down in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Only two tables stopped at the correct level: Giselle Mundell - Helene Pitt defended 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), and Judy Perl - Jenny Rose defended 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled for an equal top (shared with the pairs who defended 4images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)).

Hand Two - North deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 974
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) J97
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 972
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) A932

West North East South
  1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass
3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) * dbl pass ?


Call Award %
Pass 100 58 28
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 70 21 30
4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 21 29
3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 50 0 8
4NT 20 0 1
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 10 0 1
Other 0 0 3

Bridge attracts a variety of personality types, and this problem is a perfect example of that.

For the pessimists:

Phil Hocking: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Chances of defeating 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) doubled are not high. Partner probably has at least five diamonds, four spades and few to no hearts, with something in clubs. If we are doubled in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) going off one for -200 better than 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x making I suppose.

Brian Lawless: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I didn't double 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) so partner knows that I don't have both Spades and values. This offers the best chance of playing undoubled.

Patrice Fincias: 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). First available bid. I am not in a hurry to be at the four-level.

The optimists, when most people are happy to find whatever plus score may be going:

Brad Johnston: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). MP is a frequency game. I don't see us making slam without partner having another kick, and I don't want to punish partner with a direct 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) which could easily be right.

And finally, the fatalist:

Robert Black: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If I bid 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I may have to be declarer with this load of rubbish.

The experts' choices were selected by 85% of readers, so to that extent there was agreement. However, while the experts were heavily weighted towards one option, the readers were more evenly split. Also, most of the experts who bid 4m considered passing before rejecting it, but only about half the readers did the same. Before we go any further, let's answer a reader's question:

Rainer Herrmann: The explanation for the double is missing.

For all those who are interested, AB Standard is available here. We play responsive doubles to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). As we're below that, this double is for takeout.

For those bidding 4 of a minor, let's see whose argument stacks up the best: Partner normally has a singleton heart, so he will be either 4-1-4-4 or he'll have a five-card suit - presumably, although not necessarily, the one he opened, although not necessarily. Two readers want to leave it to partner:

Tania Black: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). My only "honest" response, and happy to be dummy in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Hoping partner is 4144 or will correct to 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

However, against that:

Dan Baker: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We aren't setting this unless partner has four side-suit tricks, and that seems unlikely. A Moysian spade fit won’t play well ruffing on the long side. 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) caters to the possibility of 4-1-4-4, though if he’s 4-1-5-3 I’ll probably wish I had bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Indeed. As Dan notes, with a 4-1-5-3 shape, for example, he will pass 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), albeit reluctantly. From his point of view, we could be 2-3-2-6, or similar. However, double is also possible on 4-1-6-2 or 3-1-6-3, in which case he will correct. The intriguing question is what he would open on 3-1-4-5 hand. Admittedly that's less likely given our hand, but it's still possible. Opening 1images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on that hand gives you a rebid problem, which a lot of players resolve by opening 1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) instead.

John R Mayne: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Might be a 4-3 rather than a 5-3, but that's why we have bidding forums. Passing could be right, but I think the percentages are to run and hide.

A. K. Simon: 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Aiming for what may well be our only eight-card fit. I consider all other responses master-minding.

Dan Baker (cont'd): 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). We aren't setting this unless partner has four side-suit tricks, and that seems unlikely. A Moysian spade fit won’t play well ruffing with the long trumps.

Dean Pokorny: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would be an overbid with just three cards in diamonds. If 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is on, partner will know to raise, playing us to have 5-7 rather than 0-4.

I can only assume that Dean has some way of showing a 0-4 hand - possibly by bidding 4images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), though he may play that passing at the one-level shows values and there's a bid to show a weak hand. However, I've been racking my brains, and I can't recall any method to let us to that.

Nigel Guthrie: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Another 3-3 fit? Happily, you'll be in at least 4-3 fit.

David Matthews: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Assuming 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is preemptive, I have nothing to say and can only support my partner's suit.

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Can't bring myself to pass.

Alex Kemeny: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Ok so I have an ace in this 11-loser hand. Partner may not have four spades. Trying to apply the brakes.

Eugene Wichems: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner appears to have diamonds and spades, hence no defense against 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Julian Foster: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Pass might be right and if I needed a top I might try that hoping for +200 even though partner surely won't often have 4 tricks against Hs. It's not as if any of my suit bid options are attractive. I bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) as partner may well have 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and therefore a bit of protection against heart forces.

It was only after I'd been thinking about it for a while that another option occurred to me: 3NT. A lot of expert pairs have the agreement that when a NT bid can't be a suggestion of contract, it must be for takeout. This is fairly common when it's a 2NT or 4NT bid, but some players extend it to 3NT as well. The obvious question is, when is 3NT clearly not to play? Obviously not very often, but when we couldn't bid 1NT over 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), is that the time? None of the experts mentioned it, so while it's possible that it didn't occur to them either, I guess they think that you'd be catering to the partner holding eight tricks and just needing a heart stopper to get to nine.

And if we're keen for a plus score - any plus score, and to hell with the consequences - this group have found a better way.

Ron Landgraff: Pass. Best shot! 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3NT very dicey! Only one hand!

David Appleton: Pass. Desperate times... I think AB Standard means partner can be 4144. At least we can get two rounds of trumps in.

David Caprera: Pass. Glad it is matchpoints. Maybe my minus 730 will beat all the minus 800's who bid. I guess I lead a diamond.

Steve Robinson: Pass. I don't expect to make anything at the four-level and we could easily take five tricks

Rune Jansson: Pass. I dont think we have a contract.

Martyn Rew: Pass. If partner has enough to make 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) work, he has enough to take 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x off, and likely scoring more.

Peter Vlas: Pass. It should be a plus whereas other things will most likely result in a minus

Zbych Bednarek: Pass. Kiss of death? I didnt promise any trick, images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes)A for sure is worth pass. Lead a trump.

Emil Battista: Pass. Now, what is score for 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x making again?

Neil Silverman: Pass. Partners most like distribution is 4-1-5-3 so going with Larry Cohen here and passing. If he is 4-0-6-3 will have to get lucky.

Michael Burt: Pass. The bidding suggests that partner has a 4-4-1-4 or some sort of 5-4-0-4 hand. With my hand this suggests that the opposition may have reasonably well matched hands and fail to make their contract. If correct this should be a good score for us. I'll lead a trump.

Rainer Herrmann: Pass. I rather try for five tricks than ten.

Summarising for the Passers:

Roger Yandle: Pass. Yuk! Given pard could well be 4-1-5-3 nothing looks very appetising. I'm hoping we might have enough to take them down. I'll lead a heart and pray.

The passers aren't really a confident lot. While I often take that as a deciding factor, the 4 minor bidders weren't any more confident. And enough experts passed as well to make me think that it'll be a long-term winner.

Finally, someone with some low self esteem who needs cheering up:

Ron Lel: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am not good enough to bid at a higher level than this.

Don't despair, Ron. I'm sure you're a pretty good player, on your day.

This problem was from Andrew Robson's Pairs column, on page 25 of the October issue of Australian Bridge Magazine.

Hand Three - West deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AJ92
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) QJ74
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) KT54
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 2

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


Call Award %
4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 100 47 50
Pass 90 32 28
Dbl 80 21 14
5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) 30 0 4
3NT 20 0 2
Other 0 0 2

Firstly, some people trying to make sense of the layout:

Ron Lel: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I really detest this style of bidding. You have a 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) overcall or you do not.

Eugene Wichems: 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I am guessing my partner is 6-4 in diamonds and clubs. With hearts, partner might have doubled rather than bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Tania Black: Dbl. Pity! If I had bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) last time I might now be doubling 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Tim Trahair: The puzzle is why did North pass on the 1st round and then chip in with a preemptive bid. Our hand is worth 14 HCP played in diamonds.

Partner clearly doesn't have a hand suitable for an initial 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) or 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). An immediate 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) overcall shows a sound, constructive hand, and 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) would show a weak hand with seven diamonds - or maybe six, on a good day. So Tim's example hand seems unlikely. A balancing 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), however, can be any hand that would rather play 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) than defend 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Getting closer to partner's shape:

Tony Treloar: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Tempted to double (and I might depending on the overall situation). Partner has found a balance when they couldn't overcall or weak jump overcall. Makes me think they don't have the diamond ace, but some stuff outside, perhaps 1-3-6-3 with Qxxxxx in diamonds and an outside ace?

I also think he's likely to have a spade void. It's unlikely (though possible) that the opponents are bidding to the three-level in an eight-card fit, missing so many high honours. Also, on some hands with a singleton, partner might have made a takeout double - though admittedly this is less likely with a six-card suit.

So this gives us a six-card suit and probably 6-9 points (with more than nine HCP, a six-card suit and a void, partner would have overcalled initally; with less than 6 HCP, the opponents are likely to have at least invited). However, they don't need to be six very good diamonds - remember, partner is just trying to buy it in a partscore; also, he might have bid 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) on some (but, vulnerable, not all) hands with six-card suits, such as void-xxx-AQJ9xx-Jxxx.

Also, this being Matchpoints, if we bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and it's wrong, we're very likely to be writing down -200 for a very poor score.

Suppose it's something like void-Kxx-Qxxxxx-Jxxx. On defence against 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), we'll take two hearts and, probably, two spades, but nothing else. In 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), we'll lose a heart, a club and a diamond, so 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) is the winner.

Suppose it's void-xxx-QJxxxx-Kxxx. We've got probably a heart, a club and two spades against 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), and we lose at least two hearts, a club and a diamond in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), so pass is the winner.

Finally, suppose it's void-Axx-xxxxxx-Kxxx. We get two aces, two hearts, possibly a club and probably either a club or a club ruff against 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), but in 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), on the expected trump lead and continuation, we expect to lose two diamonds, a heart and a club.

And this is assuming I was right about the six diamonds, spade void and 6-9 points. I've been wrong before (in 2003, 2011 and 2014) and, as unlikely as it seems, I could be wrong again. Anyway, that's more than enough from me - let's see what our readers made of it - starting with the optimists:

Phil Hocking: Dbl. A shortage in each hand with partner's in spades? So if I double for penalties, potentially one spade trick (in spades), one heart trick, one diamond trick and three club tricks (two as ruffs) for two off doubled. This relies on partner having aces of hearts, diamonds and clubs. Is this why he delayed his bidding? Hope he sees 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on his ace as encouraging or he plays the other two first?

Tim Trahair (cont'd): 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If North has images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)Axxxxxx, a singleton spade and an honour card in hearts we are close to making 11 tricks.

Martyn Rew: 3NT. Partner will of course have the clubs covered.

And the realist:

Ron Lel (cont'd): 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We should make 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). 5images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may be pushing it a bit.

Third choice, amongst both readers and experts:

Julian Foster: Dbl. 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) surely rates to be making so we certainly can't pass this out at MPs. Only choice is double or 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Given all my major suit defensive values I reckon double. Has the added advantage of getting +200/+500 and a likely top when it's right.

I disagree with this first point. If 3images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) both make, pass is the winner. Even passing 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) might be OK, if we're +100 but every other North South is defending 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) for -110.

Emil Battista: Dbl. Down 1 doubled scores better than 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) making does it not?

Indeed it does, though it won't necessarily be relevant on this hand.

David Caprera: Dbl. I am about to find out how much of a madman my CHO is.

Patrice Fincias: Dbl. my partner has some value and we are all Vul.

Zbych Bednarek: Dbl. proposal (maybe kiss of death??)

Peter Vlas: Dbl. Kiss of death? Should be close enough.

For the uninitiated, -200 is the Matchpoints Kiss of Death.

One possibility not raised by the doublers is that a double may help declarer in the play:

Roger Yandle: Pass. In tempo. Don't want declarer to sense he might be in trouble.

My own preferred choice, Pass, was second amongst both readers and experts. I was thinking very much along the lines of:

David Matthews: Pass. Bearing in mind partner did not overcall with 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), let's not hang him for his balance by bidding 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). We have a pretty good chance of defeating 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Brad Johnston: Pass. My partner has bid my hand I presume. West bidding on with bad spades shows something. Neither hand could overcall and I haven't found any more points, why bid my hand again?

Larry Brose: Pass. I think partner was just trying to push them to 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Ron Landgraff: Pass. I won't hang partner for being enterprising when vul. If I double, I fear declarer will know or guess the spades.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. We should be very happy with defending 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) here, since partner will quite often protect the bidding with some air. Bidding further with such ranges and excellent defensive values in spades is a horrible strategy, distant from the GTO approach as much as possible.

I like my partners to balance quite freely, and they're less likely to if I get us a bottom every time they do.

Other passers:

Alex Kemeny: Pass. Don't worry, be happy. 4441s don't play well and 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)x -200 is too likely.

A. K. Simon: Pass. My partner heroically pushed them a level higher, don't punish her with a foolish double or (worse) 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Nigel Guthrie: Pass. Opponents hold the balance of cards and 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) is likely to play badly.

Christine Chandler: Pass. Hope to take 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) off at least one, preferably two.

Summarising for the passers:

Leigh Blizzard: Pass. Well done, partner!

However, the top choice went to this award. While it wasn't my choice, I admit it could work out well:

Ig Nieuwenhuis: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). About what the hand is worth. As I am bidding to make I will double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes).

Alan Boyce: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). And will double 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) by them.

Brian Lawless: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Close call. Double is just too risky but 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) may well be a make. Partner is very short in Spades but couldn't find a double on the first round.

Cathy Hocking: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). If we push ops into 4images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) I am in the perfect position to double for penalties.

Damo Nair: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Don't want to hang North (by doubling - FR)

Michael Burt: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). For partner to pass and then bid with this bidding sequence suggests about 8-9 points and 6+ diamonds (including images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes)A). There's a good chance their 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) will make and I only see two hearts and one club as being obvious losers in diamonds. A reasonable chance 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) will make.

Steve Robinson: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I expect to make 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) and who know what defense we have.

Rainer Herrmann: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I know I have not been invited to the party.

John R Mayne: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). I think they'll hit this and be very sorry they did. Partner will sit the double with her void, probably, and that might be right, or not.

Tom Moss: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). No idea why I didn’t bid 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) last round.

Because we might only be making nine tricks.

Neil Silverman: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Partner sounds like either 1-2-6-4 with weak clubs or 1-3-6-3 with a weak 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) bid. Hearts good chance to be 3 3 as no balance of 3images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Could be 5-5 in blacks but unlikely. Even with diamond lead hard to see us beating 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) and with many hands 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) laydown.

David Appleton: 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes). Since Mr Coles would balance with no more than ace sixth and out, I don't wish to other than settle.

David, I share your pain. Let's swap Brad Coles stories over a beer next time we meet.

I choose to ignore those last comments, and will move on to presenting the full deal, from the Chris Diment Pairs congress:

spades 3
hearts 98
diamonds AQ9863
clubs Q754
spades KQ765
hearts A2
diamonds J2
clubs KJ108
spades 1084
hearts K10653
diamonds 7
clubs A963
spades AJ92
hearts QJ74
diamonds K1054
clubs 2

The opponents can make an overtrick in 3images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), although most pairs in the final made eight tricks. We can make 4images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes), and one pair was doubled there for +710.

Hand Four - East deals, both vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) AQ98
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) A63
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) QT854

West North East South
    1images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) ?
Call Award %
Pass 100 47 30
1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 80 32 21
1NT 80 5 13
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 70 16 24
Dbl 30 0 12

Back to another problem based on judgment. The choices seem to be Pass, 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes), 1NT and 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). As seems to happen with one or two problems in every set, there were a couple of personalised gadgets that people wanted to employ:

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. with my regular partner I would double on this. I suspect the necessary agreements to support that are not in AB Standard. I don't like my diamond stop enough for 1NT. I hope to be able to come in later. The disparity in quality between clubs and spades dissuades me from bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

I suspect Ig is playing Minimum Equal Level Conversion (MinELC). With that agreement, a new suit by doubler at the same level doesn't show extra values. For example, on this hand, we could double and then bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) over 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), to show takeout of diamonds, with fewer than three hearts. By implication, we'd also have at least four clubs.

Ron Lel: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Yes, I know the vast majority will bid 1NT but this hand has two flaws - one diamond stopper only and the stiff images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K. You also don't really have a source of tricks. It is a pity we don't play the Polish 1NT overcall, which Americans incorrectly call Raptor.

Regardless of naming, in this situation, 1NT would show five clubs and an unspecified four-card major.

However, neither of these agreements is very widely played, and certainly neither is part of AB Standard. So we're stuck with naturaly bidding. But first, how good is this hand?

As you're no doubt all aware, High Card Points aren't the only way of evaluating a hand. A few people have come up with improvements, based on shape and honour location. The most influential of these are Edgar Kaplan and Jeff Rubens (the former and current editors of The Bridge World). Their modified point count evaluator, Kaplan-Rubens (we bridge players may not be original, but at least we're honest) is online. I plugged this hand in, and it came out at 14.6 - i.e., it's a bad 15-count - which doesn't surprise me greatly. When I changed it to AQ98-4-A63-KQ1085, it had increased to 18.05. This seems like a bit of an over-estimate, but I think the general point is valid: points in long suits are good; points in short suits, less so. With almost half our hand languishing in the red suits and only queen-ten in our five-card suit, this doesn't seem like the time to be bullish.

So we've got a bad 15-count, and partner is likely to transfer to our singleton. That's not necessarily the end of the world: if he bids 2NT or 3NT next we're OK (albeit probably a level too high); and a 5-1 fit may play well. Equally, though, it may not. Alternatively, partner may try Stayman, or may pass, and the singleton king my come as a surprise to the defence. Can the bidders convince us that we're missing something?

All up, that's why I think the following are being somewhat optimistic:

Robert Black: 1NT. 15 HCPs; diamonds stopped; expecting some help from partner in hearts!

Alex Kemeny: 1NT. 20% of the time partner transfers to hearts. Even then we might be ok. The other 80% of the time we will usually be ok.

Roger Yandle: 1NT. I'd do this without thinking too much if I had xx in hearts, so singleton K is almost as good.

True in a way ... but if we had xx, our king would be elsewhere, and pulling full weight, so the hand would be a full 15-count and not a bad one.

Emil Battista: 1NT. When partner transfers to Hearts, singleton king is OK. 1NT gets strength across and on a good day partner will Stayman.

Damo Nair: 1NT. Why not? If North transfers to hearts all is not lost.

Of the experts, only Matthew Thomson bid 1NT. He said he's counting the full three points for his images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K. An argument against it from the expert panel that not raised by any of our readers was this one:

Larry Cohen: No need for 1NT with A63 in diamonds.

Exactly. If partner has x or xx in diamonds in a NT contract, we'll wish we were playing a suit. Holdings like KQx and QJ9x are a lot more no trump suitable.

Next is a bid that I confess didn't occur to me, as I expect my partners to turn up with more than Q10xxx when overcalling vulnerable at the two-level. I guess if Paul Lavings (for the experts) bids it, it can't be too terrible. Can our panellists tell me what I'm missing?

Cathy Hocking (with Zbych Bednarek similarly): 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Six loser with five clubs. I can always double if opps bid hearts, to show four spades.

Julian Foster: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). I see no reason not to bid my longest suit. If they compete in hearts, I have an easy takeout double.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not ideal, but I dislike the alternatives even more.

Tony Treloar: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Too much stuff not to bid even with that suit and vulnerability.

Tania Black: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not happy to double with singleton images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)K, nor to promise a stopper for 1NT.

I realise that a lot of people would overcall on this, but these readers haven't done anything to convince me that passing is wrong.

Incorrect Prediction time:

John R Mayne: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). No one will double, but it's a solid three-way choice.

He's right about the expert panel - indeed, only two even mentioned it - but three readers did find that call:

David Matthews: Dbl. Ugly choice, but passing might well be worse. I will reconsider when partner bids 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

While you can't always account for every eventuality, 1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems by far the most likely advance. If you have a problem when the most likely thing happens, it's probably worth reconsidering your options.

Phil Hocking: Dbl. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) looks more obvious but if partner bids 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes), 3NT looks good.

Martyn Rew: Dbl. If West bids hearts partner is likely to need a push to enter the bidding with his 4-5 card spade suit here.

That's all well and good - but why not wait for them to bid hearts and double then? And if you're trying to get a response from him on his spade suit, there's another way:

Nigel Guthrie: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Best of bad choices. 1NT is attractive until parter transfers to hearts.

Steve Robinson: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Get in now at a low level.

Ron Landgraff: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I don't want to lose Spades offensively or as a lead director. 1NT is close. The bidding is not over and this is quite a decent hand for Spades, Clubs or NT.

Eugene Wichems: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). I think this bid helps me rebid. Whereas with a double there may be a problem. A 1NT overcall too risky and not constructive.

Michael Burt: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). Not strong enough/right distribution for a takeout double. The quality of the spade suit compensates for it only being a four-card suit and spades often score well at matchpoints. It might also help partner leading the best suit if the opposition win the contract.

Brad Johnston: 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes). If it goes pass-pass-double I'm bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes).

Either way, I don't normally make four-card overcalls when vulnerable, especially with so much in the side suits.

This time, those prepared to go quietly were the plurality amongst both experts and readers:

A. K. Simon: Pass. I don't usually have much luck with overcalling on four-card suits.

Neil Silverman: Pass. In my youth would bid 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) but now I just wait for the expected (1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes))-Pass-(2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)).

Peter Vlas: Pass. My time will come. If they find hearts we should have spades. If partner has hearts we may have NT.

David Appleton: Pass. Not bidding 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) on a bad suit or a below strength dodgy 1NT. I'll wait to make a take out double of hearts (most likely).

David Caprera: Pass. Nothing appeals. The auction isn't over.

Christine Chandler: Pass. Hoping for a double from partner. I can't double as I don't have the other three suits covered.

Dean Pokorny: Pass. Passing and doubling 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems perfect. No need to take initiative with such a defensive hand.

Patrice Fincias: Pass. Wait and see. Dbl is not appropriate, 1NT could be a suicide. 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) second option.

Brian Lawless: Pass. What else is there to say?

Summarising for the passers:

Dan Baker: Pass. Double is unrecoverable if partner bids hearts, I don’t like 1NT on a minimum with a singleton honor, and the clubs are pretty awful for a vulnerable two-level overcall.

Hand Five - North deals, nil vul, Matchpoints. You are South.
images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) 76543
images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) K2
images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) QJ
images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) K864
West North East South
1images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) pass 1images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)
1NT pass pass ?


Call Award %
2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) 100 42 30
Dbl 90 32 28
Pass 80 21 27
2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) 60 5 14

A three-part problem: 1) are we happy to defend 1NT at nil vul?; 2) if not, do we have enough for a penalty double?; 3) if we're not passing or doubling, which bid gets our hand across best? However, there's some overlap between 2) and 3). For example, we may make a non-optimal penalty double if we don't think that any suit bid describes our hand.

Those answering Yes to Question 1):

Eugene Wichems: Pass. No fit and nothing extra.

Ig Nieuwenhuis: Pass. partner is probably balanced. I'll take my chances with these defensive values. Hope he doesn't lead spades unless it's right.

Brian Lawless: Pass. Partner knows I have some values and could not find a bid. I would need to be stronger to double or bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Partner should make his standard lead rather than rely upon my suit.

That may help him in the defence, but it won't in the bidding.

Christine Chandler: Pass. would hope to take 1NT off especially if it's a weak bid in pass out seat.

You can always double, if that's your concern.

Tony Treloar: Pass. We might need the double to protect our equity-but it might actually help them find their better contract so I'll (hopefully) take it in 50s.

Dan Baker: Pass. Hands where the defense's points are split and dummy is broke don't play well in NT. If I double, I'm likely to spook them into 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes).

Firstly, it hasn't happened yet - partner could well have four, or even five, diamonds; even if they have a four-card fit, they may struggle to find it; finally, we can still make a takeout double or bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if they do.

There was disagreement from the doublers about what they were showing. A minority thought takeout:

Michael Burt: Dbl. Primarily for takeout hoping my partner will bid clubs. If partner bids diamonds, I'll convert to hearts.

Larry Brose: Dbl. This will make partner choose a major.

And another minority thought they were asking for a lead.

Alex Kemeny: Dbl. East is broke. West thinks he is sitting over my spade honours. Hope pard also reads this as a signal to not lead spades. That is worth a discussion later.

David Appleton: Dbl. Pass will reap a spade lead. Double ought to say, lead a heart, but I wonder if a partner who plays AB Standard is subtle enough. In any case, the distance in tricks is enough to double.

Peter Vlas: Dbl. Best way to keep partner from leading spades I guess.

Making a different call, but thinking along the same lines, was:

Tania Black: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Not happy to pass and get a Spade lead! And it is my second suit.

And just to totally confuse things, we had this:

Todd Holes: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Tempted to double, but that may draw a spade lead.

I'm not sure I understand why this requests the lead or non-lead of any particular suit. Isn't it just a penalty double? If we held, say, KQJxx-xx-Qxx-Qxx, what on earth can we do if not double for penalties and let partner work out the right lead? And if we held Jxxxx-xx-Qxx-Kxx, there's no sensible action other than pass, but how do we ask partner not to lead a spade? There's only one way to stop partner leading spades against no trump, and that is:

Leigh Blizzard (with A. K. Simon similarly): 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner, do not lead spades.

But most people play that a double of no trumps is for penalties:

Roger Yandle: Dbl. It looks like the cards are not well placed for declarer so I'm going for the jugular. I'd pass at IMPs but +200 at MPs is too tempting.

Patrice Fincias: Dbl. Unless West has got seven quick tricks he is going to play alone. Not so risky at Matchponts.

Yes and no. At IMPs turning -90 into -180 is 3 imps out, at worst. But if the room is scoring -100 or -110 (for going one off 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes)x or conceding 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) making three), we've just turned a top into a bottom.

David Matthews: Dbl. After the 1NT overcall 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes) must be wrong. Double is more flexible than 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes).

Steve Robinson: Dbl. We should have more than half the deck so dummy should be weak.

Phil Hocking: Dbl. We should have the balance of power so if partner has bid lightly she has the obligation to bid again.

Brad Johnston: Dbl. Who knows, if I do it confidently they may even assume I have something that more traditionally resemble a penalty double.

Cathy Hocking: Dbl. Hopefully we have the balance of points. Hopefully my partner hasn't opened light.

David Caprera: Dbl. If West makes 1NT with less than half the deck, we were never getting a good score.

On the expert panel, Nigel Kearney echoed this point. One reader gave a reason why we might not double:

Emil Battista: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). With some values in Spades I would double 1NT. Five to the seven calls for a more cautious bid.

Yes, it's a poor 9-count. As noted above, points in our short suits are generally worse than in our long suits. But we have a choice of poisons, and this particular poison is that we will play a likely seven-card fit - remember, partner didn't bid 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) over 1NT, when we could have a better fit in clubs; or, maybe nothing is making and double was our last chance for a plus. This isn't to say that 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is wrong, just that no bid is perfect.

If not Pass or Double, we need to choose a suit. A minority chose to pattern out, as best we can:

Tim Trahair: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). Shows North we have five (unfortunately pretty poor) spades, little interest in Hearts and about 10 or so HCP.

Hmmm ... with 10 HCP I think it's more normal to double. And we're actually fine with playing a heart contract.

Julian Foster: 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes). It's almost never right to defend 1NT at nil vul Matchpoints. 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) gives us three playing options (2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes), 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) or 2images/spadesm.gif (111 bytes)).

Julian raises a good point: defending undoubled partscores when nil vul at Matchpoints is poor bridge. We might be +100 instead of +140, or +50 instead of +90, or -90 instead of -50, or -140 instead of -100. This is something you'll notice experts do at this vulnerability at Matchpoints: take extreme measures to avoid defending a one- or two-level partscore.

However, even if we do accept that we have to act, is 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) best? Yes, it tells partner more about our shape; however, if he holds, say, a 1-5-4-3 hand, he will pass when 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) is probably better. Two readers raised a point that I hadn't considered:

Dean Pokorny: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Since getting a spade lead against 1NT is bad, fighting for the partscore with 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) seems slightly better. Balancing with 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) is possible too, but it looks bad - it sounds more like 4225 and it allows a 2images/diamondsm.gif (109 bytes) continuation from LHO.

Nigel Guthrie: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Partner might treat 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) as Canape (that is, our second suit is longer than our first - FR).

Even if he doesn't, we could well be 5-5 when we bid like this, which may make it harder for partner to judge.

That probably explains why the most popular vote, from both panels, was to put partner into our known seven-card fit:

Damo Nair: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). North is sitting over the NT bidder. So its probably worth the risk.

He's sitting over the NT bidder on defence as well.

Ron Landgraff: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Against my religion to yield to 1NT not vul by them.

John R Mayne: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Declarer's advantage? Maybe? Can passing be right? Is double more likely to get an undesirable spade lead than passing? I don't know the answers, but I'll aim for 110.

Neil Silverman: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Double will be right when partner has a diamond card 3rd but too likely 1NT bidder has a diamond suit or fit. 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) should have play.

Robert Black: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). Doubleton trump honour should help.

Rainer Herrmann: 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes). I do not like my chances defending 1NT on a spade lead.

Well, that's that for another month. You've all been wonderful, and it's been a pleasure, as always, and I ... oh hang on, there's one last response in here. Let's take a look:

Ron Lel: Pass. I could bid 2images/clubsm.gif (113 bytes) I guess as I can stand 2images/heartsm.gif (112 bytes) if partner bids that. At IMPs pass is absolutely clear; at Matchpoints I am taking a bit of a risk, but then Matchpoints is not real bridge, is it?

Not real bridge? The purest form of the game, where every decision is crucial and every hand counts equally, and you call it not real bridge? That's it, I'm leaving, and good riddance to you all!

The December questions are online now, here, and the October magazine should have arrived by the time you read this. This month's leaderboard will be published later this weekend.

Thanks for joining us again; our next issue will be in the first two weeks of December. – Brad

Top scores for October
1Neil Silverman USA500
2Vlad Dragalchuk 500
3Joe Lentz USA490
4David Appleton 490
5Fraser Rew NZL480
6Robb Gordon USA480
7Ron Landgraff USA470
8Peter Vlas NED470
9Cor Lof NED470
10Fredrik Jarlvik SWE470
11Andrew Macalister GBR470
12Steve Robinson USA470
13Rainer Herrmann GER470
14Murray Perrin Qld470
15Paul Sontag CAN460
16Dean Pokorny CRO460
17Emil Battista NSW460
18Artur Wasiak POL460
19Peter Heatherington 450
20Todd Holes USA450
21Damo Nair USA450
22David Woulds GBR450
23Gerald Koonce USA450
24Pat O'connor NSW450
25Ig Nieuwenhuis NED450
26John R Mayne USA450
28Robert Black SA450
29Leigh Blizzard Tas440
30Neil Ewart 440
31Kees Schaafsma NED440
32Geof Brod USA440
33Tom Moss NSW440
34Dominic Connolly NSW440
35Christine Chandler 440
36Andrew Spooner ACT440
37Brad Johnston NZL430
38John Shield 430
39Bjarne Andersen 430
40Barbara Hunter NSW430
41Cathy Hocking NSW430
42Arthur Porter SA430
43Bram Amsel 430
44Peter Nuoristo SWE430
45Ron Lel LAO430
46Steve Kipperman 430
47David Caprera USA430
48Par Ol-Mars 430
49Mark Laforge 420
50Tony Treloar Qld420
51A. K. Simon 420
52Mick Mcauliffe NSW420
53Patrice Fincias 420
54Peter Qvist SWE420
55Jack Lai 420
57Ian Patterson Qld410
58Dan Baker USA410
59Zbych Bednarek POL410
60Bastiaan Korner NED410

Leading scores for 2018
1Paul Sontag CAN1910
2David Appleton 1850
3Vlad Dragalchuk 1780
4Artur Wasiak POL1740
5Ron Landgraff USA1710
6Arthur Porter SA1710
7Fraser Rew NZL1700
8Rainer Herrmann GER1700
9David Woulds GBR1670
10Geof Brod USA1670
11Andrew Macalister GBR1670
12Gary Lane NSW1660
13Neil Silverman USA1660
14Dean Pokorny CRO1650
15Pat O'connor NSW1650
16Fredrik Jarlvik SWE1640
17Brian Lawless GBR1640
18Damo Nair USA1620
19Peter Qvist SWE1610
20Todd Holes USA1610
21John R Mayne USA1600
22Cor Lof NED1600
23Gerald Koonce USA1600
24Steve Kipperman 1600
25Ig Nieuwenhuis NED1590
26Neil Ewart 1590
27Bram Amsel 1580
28Patrice Fincias 1570
29Christine Chandler 1570
30Barbara Hunter NSW1560
31Ian Patterson Qld1560
32Joe Lentz USA1550
33Roger Yandle NSW1550
34Nigel Guthrie GBR1550
35Peter Nuoristo SWE1550
36Pravin Nahar NSW1550
37Dominic Connolly NSW1540
38Dan Baker USA1540
39Leigh Blizzard Tas1540
40Alexander Schennikov 1520
41Cathy Hocking NSW1510
42Julian Foster NSW1510
43Hans Van Vooren NED1500
44Rick Lu NSW1500
45David Johnson CAN1490
46Alex Kemeny NSW1480
47David Matthews WA1480
48Bruce Ballard NZL1480
49Peter Stride Qld1470
50Jack Lai 1470
51David Winter Vic1460
52Martyn Rew NZL1450
53Peter Vlas NED1450
54Peter Lipp 1440
55Robert Black SA1430
56Niek Van Vucht ACT1430
57Conny Wahlgren SWE1420
58Sam Arber Vic1420
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
October issue to see what the experts said about this month's hands.