Analyses 8W56 MainChallenge


The Legend of King Arthur


Scores by Richard Pavlicek

These six bidding problems were published on the Internet in September 2005, and all bridge players were invited to submit their answers. The problems are from actual deals played in a past tournament. In the poll I did not reveal the year or location, and participants were invited to guess from the clues on the page.

Problem 123456Final Notes

I received many guesses for New York City and surrounding areas, as implied by the satellite photo. Playing on “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” were Bridgeport (how fitting), Greenwich, Hartford, New Haven and Stamford. Way off the map were New Orleans; Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia; across the pond to Stockholm; Edinburgh; Greenwich, England; and even Germany.

The tournament site was Port Chester, New York, although the original billing as I remember was Rye, New York. Strange. Perhaps Rye was used to improve the image, as Port Chester sounds industrial, which might be a turnoff; or maybe they were hoping Bob Hamman would be a competitor so they could work “Ham on Rye” into the headlines. Who knows.

Pictured at top is the lofty spire of the Summerfield Methodist Church in Port Chester, reminiscent of medieval times.

The satellite photo shows the lower end of Long Island (bottom), and the New York mainland (top) with a bit of Connecticut (top right). The river in the upper left is the Hudson, and X marks the location of the tournament. New York City is out of view but would be to the left if the map were extended.

The statue is a Civil War Monument in Port Chester. I wish I could say it is Chester A. Arthur to fit my theme; but it’s a lesser known, Nelson B. Bartram, commander of troops in the battles of Antietam and Bull Run.

“If you get caught between the Moon and New York City…”

The background song Arthur's Theme was a clue to the year, though the lyrics led many only to New York City. Well, if the Moon is over Connecticut, the lyrics fit perfectly. The song was written by Burt Bacharach for the 1981 movie Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. Christopher Cross was the singer. Hmm. I wonder if this was before or after he invented the crisscross squeeze.

So what is Arthur all about? Some felt it might be a team on which Arthur Robinson played. Right idea, but the throne belonged to Arthur “Bud” Reinhold, who assembled his “knights of the bridge table” to win the 1981 Bermuda Bowl. To accomplish this they defeated Poland (“Land of the Goths,” at least in part) in the semifinal, and Pakistan (“east to the Punjab”) in the final — and I’m sure Bud rewarded his noble knights with a big bonus for winning.

Out of about 70 people who ventured a guess, only three were correct on both the year and location (Port Chester or Rye). Congratulations to Barry White, Jim Munday and Richard Morse.

Tim DeLaney Wins!

This poll had 1403 participants from 122 locations, and the average score was 44.89. Congratulations to Tim DeLaney (Indiana), who was the first of four with perfect scores. Tim has been a strong participant for three years and currently has the distinction of being the only person in the Overall Top 20 for both bidding polls (13th) and play contests (14th). Also scoring 60 were Jorge Cruzeiro (Portugal); Jeff Ziemer (South Carolina); and Jyrki Lahtonen (Finland). Just behind at 59 were Andy Chan (Australia); Gordon Parnes (Michigan); and Jeff Callaghan (England).

Participation was up from the last poll but still short of January 2005 with 1453. Average score (44.89) was better than the last poll but remains on the low side (sixth lowest), but this mostly reflects the voting diversity and my scoring decisions. No less than 754 people scored above average (45 or higher) to make the listing. My problem selection turned out well, with no majority vote (highest was 44 percent) and some were extremely close.

In the overall leaderboard, Jouko Paganus (Finland) held onto his lead and upped his average to a seething 57.25. Only a half-point back in second place is Jean-Christophe Clement (France) with 56.75. David Nolland (England) is third with 55.75; Brad Theurer (Maryland) is fourth with 55.00; and six players are tied for fifth with 44.75.

For the poll, it is assumed you play a Standard American system, including 15-17 notrumps, five-card majors and weak two-bids. The objective is to determine the best calls based on judgment, so no specialized conventions are allowed. For a summary of the default methods, see my outline of Standard American Bridge.

Each problem is scored on a 1-to-10 scale. The call receiving the top award of 10 is determined by the voting consensus. Other awards are determined partly by this but mostly by my judgment. What actually happened is included for interest sake but does not affect the scoring.

The 25th Bermuda Bowl was held in Port Chester, New York, October 19-30, 1981 at the Rye Town Hilton. Seven teams had earned the right to represent their zones: Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, Indonesia, Pakistan, Poland and United States.

The first stage was a double round-robin of 32-board matches, from which the top four teams would advance. Each team met each other twice, with IMP results converted to Victory Points (20-point scale). One team drew a bye each round, receiving 12 VPs. Neat, a bye in Rye! After 14 rounds, standings by VPs were: United States 160.5, Pakistan 151, Poland 146, Argentina 145, Great Britain 142.5, Australia 131, and Indonesia 129.

Representing the United States (pictured L-R, top row first) were Arthur “Bud” Reinhold, Eric Rodwell, Bobby Levin, Jeff Meckstroth, Russ Arnold, John Solodar, and non-playing captain Tom Sanders.

Representing Pakistan were Masood Salim, Munir Ata-Ullah, Jan-e-Alam Fazli, Nishat Abedi, Nisar Ahmed, and the one and only Zia! (Mahmood, his surname, is becoming redundant.)

Conditions of contest let the Victory Point leader choose its semifinal opponent, which included a carryover of one-half the IMP difference of their two matches. Therefore, USA was quick to choose Poland, as it meant a 29-IMP lead to start the 64-board match. Consequently, Pakistan would face Argentina, with Argentina ahead 4.67 IMPs.*

*Since Argentina finished below Pakistan in the VP standings, only a third of its 14-IMP lead carried over.

In the semifinals, USA defeated Poland 178-119, and Pakistan defeated Argentina 174 to 114.67. The final would pit USA against Pakistan, the latter starting with a lead of 5.33 IMPs. Geez, here we go again! The 96-board final was close for the first half, but USA gained heavily thereafter to win 271 to 181.33 — and don’t forget the one-third.

Hello-o-o. Does anyone else find this ridiculous? Isn’t bridge complicated enough without confusing spectators with silly scoring gimmicks? Do we really need fractional IMPs? Does it really promote bridge when a team is up 29 IMPs before the match starts? In baseball, imagine a World Series game where one team starts with a 3-run lead. Not smart. Some people say bridge is dying, which may be true, but it’s mainly because our organizations are killing it.

In the eyes of the bridge world, professionalism hit an all-time low at this tournament. USA sponsor Bud Reinhold sat out the entire final and played only 16 boards in the semifinal, and even then losing back half his team’s 103-IMP lead — yet he’s officially a World Champion. Reinhold is certainly not to blame, as line-ups were decided by captain Tom Sanders; nor is Sanders to blame, as his only objective was to win. The fault lies solely with the WBF for its conditions allowing a championship to be bought. Reinhold was a true gentleman and brilliant in many fields, but as anyone who knew him would confirm: Bridge was not one of them.

Two players on the USA team (Levin and Arnold) were occasional partners of mine, and Levin has been a good friend since my son Rich was a baby — speaking of which, I’ll share an amusing incident: Bobby Levin was riding with us to a local tournament, and because of the full car (six people) he was designated to hold Rich on his lap to allow more room. When we arrived a half-hour later, we noticed that Bobby’s pants were all wet. Yep, you guessed it.

OK, it’s time to draw swords and prepare for battle. Match your bids with the world’s best of 1981.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 1

IMPsNone VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
North

1 S
EAST
Pass
Pass
South
1 H
?
S
H A K Q J 10 9 6 5 4
D K
C K 6 5

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 C1062244
5 H91037
4 NT (regular BW)628120
4 H536626
6 H2312

September is the ninth month, so a nine-bagger is a good way to start. Perhaps the only thing experts will agree on is that there’s no right way to bid this hand — at least within the confines of standard bidding. Whatever works is “right” for the moment.

Many felt the hand should be opened 2 C; certainly, the tricks are there, and it might ease the subsequent bidding. (I would open 2 C in my system because jump rebids ask for specific aces.) Nonetheless, with so little defensive strength, I think most experts would open 1 H. Surely, with a spade void there’s no danger of being passed out. In fact, I know some people who would pass originally as a tactical maneuver.

Given the 1 H opening, it seems you can’t avoid the eventual decision whether to overbid or underbid, but you can postpone it. No doubt, 3 C won exactly for this reason. Why commit now when you can freeze the ball? Whatever the best contract is, you can claim you were headed there after the masterful jump shift. I must confess I’d fall into this camp, too.

Probably the best single shot for glory is to bid 5 H, and I upgraded it accordingly; I appreciate enterprise. Surely, this can’t ask for good trumps. Oh, Fritz? Never mind, that’s October. Logically, it should show about what you have: no ace in either minor suit, and a spade void that inhibits Blackwood. If partner has a minor-suit ace, he should bid 6 H (with both, 7 H); and it’s unlikely you will be able to improve on this with any delaying tactics.

Blackwood with a void is hardly an expert solution, but it’s not so bad considering the alternatives. If partner shows zero or three aces, it’s great (unless you’re overboard in 5 H); and if partner shows two aces, it is odds-on that one is the S A and to bid 6 H. Opposite one ace, it’s less clear what to do; but a guess was likely after most choices anyway.

Other bids are just blind guesses. Four hearts hopes for the wrong hand opposite, and 6 H hopes for the right hand. Going short with 4 H must be the favorite, since some slams will still be reached when partner is able to bid.

This deal arose in the qualifying matches, and was played by a variety of teams. Some of the auctions were amusing:

Table 1
5 H S +1
NS +480
S A Q 10 4
H
D A J 8 6 2
C 10 8 4 2
Rodwell
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Rose
North

3 D
4 S
5 H
Meckstroth
EAST
Pass
Pass
Dbl
All Pass
Sheehan
South
2 H
4 H
Rdbl
Collings
West

Pass
Levin
North

4 H
Hackett
EAST
Pass
All Pass
Arnold
South
4 C
S 9 6 5 3 2
H 7 3 2
D Q 5
C J 9 7
TableS K J 8 7
H 8
D 10 9 7 4 3
C A Q 3

Table 2
4 H N +2
NS +480
S
H A K Q J 10 9 6 5 4
D K
C K 6 5

Table 3
6 H S -1
EW +50
 
Aguw
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Masood
North

3 D
4 S
Rdbl
5 H
Lasut
EAST
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass
Zia
South
2 C
4 H
Pass
4 NT
6 H
Fazli
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Waluyan
North

2 D
3 S
5 H
Munir
EAST
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Sacul
South
1 H
3 H
4 S
6 H
Table 4
6 H S -1
EW +50

At the first table, Sheehan (Great Britain) opened an Acol two-bid, then jumped to game after a forward-going 3 D response. Rose continued with a control-bid, doubled by Meckstroth. Sheehan redoubled with his void to show further control, and Rose ran to his heart void — all probably quite sensible, but worth a chuckle nonetheless.

At the second table, Arnold chose Namyats — 4 C showed a good 4 H opening — and Levin didn’t think his two aces warranted a move with a heart void. Reasonable enough, but either would surely want to bid more if he knew partner’s hand. Both Souths easily made 12 tricks for a push board.

In the Pakistan-Indonesia match, Zia opened 2 C. He then followed Sheehan’s route in jumping to game but later passedS instead of redoubling. This clever tactic allowed Masood to redouble to show the S A, then Zia could use Blackwood confidently. Alas, the operation succeeded, but the patient died. Zia finessed the S 10 (jack, ruff) then ran trumps but misguessed the ending, playing for a stepping-stone squeeze.

In the fourth auction, the jump to 3 H evidently set trumps to start control-bidding (else the raise to 4 S is scary), but the final bid still seems like guesswork. Couldn’t North have S A-K-x-x H D Q-J-x-x-x-x C Q-x-x or similar? All’s well that ends well — oops, maybe not, as Sacul also misguessed the play for a push board.

There you have it, folks: four auctions, and four different opening bids. For the poll, I felt it would be most interesting after a 1 H opening and 1 S response — and I think most experts would prefer 1 S, since 2 D followed by 2 S effectively forces to game on a misfit.

Comments for 3 C

Tim DeLaney: The best way to find out if partner might have the cards I need for slam.

Jyrki Lahtonen: Slam will need help from partner, and I want him to concentrate on his club holding. … Kudos to any pair who manages to diagnose S Q-J-x-x-x-x H D Q-x-x C A-x-x-x (or similar) and confidently bid six.

David Leavitt: Four, five or six hearts are all too unilateral. Blackwood is unwise with a void in partner’s suit. Partner is unlimited, and we still aren’t sure of the strain (could be hearts, spades or notrump). …

Spades? Oh, I get it; the old saying, “Never put down an eight-bagger in dummy,” doesn’t apply here.

Jean-Christophe Clement: The contract will be somewhere from 4 H to 7 H, so I’ll take the slow road and [hope] to make the right decision later.

Alon Amsel: Not in a hurry; jumping beyond game might be an overkill.

Kent Feiler: Well, I’m certainly not going to bid any of those other things.

Ron Zucker: Too good for 4 H, and 5 H won’t tell me what I need to know. I need to start a cue-bidding sequence, and 3 C seems to be the only way.

Catalin Doras: … If partner has values in clubs, it is a lot easier to find the slam. Second option would be 4 H

John Lesmeister: I should have opened with 2 C. Now there is no appropriate rebid, but 3 C is the most flexible.

Mark Kornmann: Only way to find out how good or bad partner’s hand is, even thought it’s a bit of a lie.

George Klemic: Seems like a reasonable way to force to game; no need to rush to slam just yet.

Joshua Donn: Why is 6 H included since it can’t possibly be better than Blackwood (at least you know what to do if partner has zero or three aces)? Four hearts is simply not enough; I would bid that with S x H K-Q-J-10-9-x-x-x D K C K-x-x. Three clubs then 4 H over most bids by partner shows a full-valued 4 H bid with a club fragment. Maybe I’m too good for even that, but since partner bid my void and nothing else is satisfactory anyway, close enough!

Dave Seagull: Why did I open 1 H? I must have had a plan; but since I don’t know what that plan was, I must guess now. This sets a game force and leaves room for investigation.

Brad Theurer: Too good for 4 H, and 6 H is a complete shot in the dark. Five hearts is possible, but partner probably won’t know what is the right hand to raise. So I’ll force and see what I can learn from the subsequent auction.

Gary Collins: Too good for 4 H; too weak for six. At least partner will appreciate club cards, and this may (rarely) allow cue-bids.

Damo Nair: I hope to get a cue-bid (or two) out of partner to indicate aces. With these “natural methods,” I have to hunt for aces at the four and five levels. :)

Winston Munn: The only way to get partner excited about club cards.

Jean-Luc Lachance: I’ll see what else partner has to say before I blast to slam.

Leonard Helfgott: Followed by hearts indefinitely. This will get partner to focus on club values opposite my fragment.

Jim Munday: This hand is far too strong to give up on slam, but not good enough to insist. Blackwood will leave me on uncertain (or dangerous) ground regardless of the response, unless partner is kind enough to have the remaining three aces. It’s tempting to blast (a la Dr. McKenna last month), but I’ll settle for the off-kilter jump shift.

Sheng Li: I plan to bid 4 H if partner rebids spades; otherwise, I’ll bid 4 NT next.

Manuel Paulo: I need help from partner, so I’ll bid as slow as possible to a heart contract from four to seven.

Andrei Varlan: Even a grand slam can make. In the French system this would be simpler, as the Albarran 2 C opening asks for [specific] aces.

Pietro Campanile: A little more exploration can’t cost — said Livingstone before his last trip. :) Seriously, I can always punt later if I need to…

Mark Roderick: This way, at least I get to know more about partner’s hand…

Mark Reeve: Yuck; 4 H is a huge underbid (partner will pass the vast majority of the time); 4 NT won’t tell me which ace is useful; 5 H could mean anything…; and 6 H (second choice) is a punt. I would have opened this hand 4 NT.

Jelmer Hasper: I dislike this bid intensely, but it seems about the only way I can find out if partner has a minor-suit ace or two.

Carsten Kofoed: I’ll postpone the guess by keeping the bidding low. My coming heart bid(s) will give partner a chance to upgrade C A-Q. In any case, none of the other possibilities would make me wiser.

John Lusky: If partner can raise clubs, it will encourage me to try for slam.

Jordan Chodorow: We have not established safety above 4 H, but this hand is [too good] to rebid 4 H… Three clubs provides maximum flexibility to get useful information…

Josh Sinnett: I guess this hand wasn’t worth a 2 C opener. I don’t know how I can coax the information I need out of partner, so I’ll force the bidding and keep it as low as possible to try to find out something useful.

Hendrik Sharples: Too strong for 4 H, and nothing else makes sense, as the five level is hardly safe. So I’ll make up this jump shift and hope partner gets the message when I bid 4 H next.

Jon Greiman: I need to induce cue-bidding…

Joel Singer: I might as well see if partner has a bit of club help.

Gordon Bower: This might help partner evaluate his side cards; I know he won’t support hearts. Doesn’t your version of Standard allow a 2 C opening with 9 1/2 tricks? I learned that 2 C followed by a jump to game showed this type of hand (too many tricks to preempt).

Geoff Bridges: This does not seem ideal, but it creates a force and may enable me to [find out] about key cards at some point.

Ronald Michaels: Isn’t this a 2 C opening? Yes, I agree that it wasn’t going to be passed out in 1 H; but after the likely 1 S response, I now have to jump shift in a three-card suit to catch up. There are occasions where [manufacturing] a jump shift is appropriate, but here there was a good alternative. I’m always going to game on a hand requiring only the C Q or J-10 to make — and I know, a la Kantar, that I should not expect partner to have specific cards — but 2 C might also stop the opponents from finding their minor-suit slam! …

Rob Wijman: I think I was too good to open 1 H. If I do not want to be fixed and stay fixed (by bidding 4 H), I have to…bid a non-existent suit, which has the merit of creating a game force. Over any unlucky answer (e.g., 3 S) I will simply bid 4 H.

Hans Uijting: The least stupid continuation of an already ridiculous opening bid.

Andy Caranicas: Partner can have many [mediocre] hands that make a slam, so I hate to rebid hearts and miss it. Now I’ll bid hearts forevermore.

Jack Brawner: Any number of hearts seems to require partnership telepathy.

Razvan Tablet: Partner could have 15 HCP with no slam [or safety in 5 H], e.g., S A-K-Q-J H x D Q-J-x-x C Q-x-x-x; and opposite [weaker clubs] we may not have 4 H. … Bidding 3 C may [encourage] partner with C A-Q.

Ron Landgraff: Still worth a slam try. If partner supports clubs, I’ll try 6 H. The downside is that I may have to go to 5 H with no club fit, which could easily go down.

Thijs Veugen: I can always bid 6 H later, and asking for aces with a void doesn’t seem to be the solution. Let’s see how the bidding evolves.

Geoff Morris: Four hearts is pusillanimous; 4 NT is unhelpful with a void; 5 H and 6 H are reckless. This gives partner a chance to cooperate. If he gets overexcited about a club fit, I can always outbid him. :)

Julian Wightwick: This will encourage partner to value the C Q. Over 3 NT, I’ll rebid just 4 H.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Placing the final contract may remain a gamble, but this will at least make partner appreciate that club values are crucial.

Paul Flashenberg: Having opened 1 H, partner is never going to dream my hand is so rich in trick-taking ability. This might elicit some bid from him that will allow me to guess how many hearts to bid.

Mark Abraham: This gives partner a chance to bid cooperatively; anything else is either wet, manic or wrong.

Ted Ying: There is no good bid to describe this hand, so I’ll make a forcing call… If partner raises clubs, I will cue-bid 4 D

David Wiltshire: I don’t want to commit to the five level by myself, but it might be hard to get the strength of the hand across — especially the heart suit. This looks to be heading in the right direction (game forcing), and partner raising clubs will let me bid a heart slam with some (misguided?) confidence.

Frans Buijsen: Since this is the only option to try to find out something below 4 H, it’s an easy choice. I can see no other reason to start with 1 H.

Stefan Jonsson: I must bid slowly to force as much information as possible out of partner. It does not bother me at all if he thinks we are heading for a club contract.

Kevin Podsiadlik: This seems the only way to start soliciting the proper information. If I bid 4 H, partner will never guess that the two minor-suit aces will be enough for a grand.

John R. Mayne: I would have opened 2 C and triggered a control-bidding sequence over any positive noise from partner. As it is, this may fetch a club raise, which gives a chance for the cue-bidding I want. All the other calls could lead to outright silly results.

Robin Zigmond: Who knows what this will lead to, but at least it gives me a chance of finding out something about partner’s hand. Bidding 4 NT will lead to a complete guess if partner’s response is 5 D, and it can always be bid later; 4 H and 6 H are just guesses; and 5 H looks like a trump-quality ask to me.

K. Scott Kimball: Isn’t there some sort of exclusion Blackwood for the suit partner just bid? :)

Scott Stearns: This is the hand for a fake jump shift,… as I want partner to evaluate club cards positively.

Geraint Harker: I can probably control the auction after this. Things might be a bit unclear [for partner], but it’s less unilateral than other actions.

Steve White: Slam prospects are too good for just 4 H; partner might be deterred by a heart misfit.

Comments for 5 H

Jorge Castanheira: I want to open an Albarran 2 C, but it’s too late. Maybe partner will get the message I am interested in aces outside the spade suit… I haven’t had this kind of hand for years, and I am not mature enough to bid only game; I am prepared to send my apologies at the end.

Roger Morton: Opening 1 H with a three-loser hand seems quite obscene. The bid reminds me of last month’s crazy auctions! It’s impossible now to catch up. I hope partner will look at his ace(s) and bid accordingly. If he just has the S A, opponents might lead one for a diamond pitch.

Martin Bootsma: This hand is too freaky for a bidding poll in my opinion. Many people would not agree with the 1 H opening (4 NT as a specific ace ask, for instance). Although 5 H could be too high, I think it is at least as effective as Blackwood.

Amiram Millet: Four hearts isn’t a shutout, but this is a better description of my hand.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Showing slam interest and super-solid hearts. Partner may/should be able to deduce I lack side aces (otherwise I would have opened 2 C) and deduce the spade void (else 4 NT). Thus, he can bid 6 H with one minor-suit ace, and 6 C (or something else) with both.

Imre Csiszar: Not an easy one at all! This shows the solid heart suit, a spade void, and second- but not first-round controls in each minor, enabling an expert partner to place the contract accurately — but risking 5 H down one. … I expect partner to bid 7 H with both minor aces and nothing else.

Barry Rigal: No idea what to do, so I’ll pick a number and guess. At least this way, I can blame partner if he guesses wrong.

Tysen Streib: This can’t ask for trump quality, so it has to ask for control in the unbid suits.

Comments for 4 NT

Mauri Saastamoinen: Just how many aces more should I have to open 2 C? Now it seems like nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, and nobody is coming to save me. Opponents both passed, so I hope partner has at least one ace. If he has two, I’ll bid 6 H; and if he has three, 7 NT. A jump shift to 3 C won’t help; e.g., after partner’s 3 NT, my 4 NT would be natural…

Lajos Linczmayer: As the opponents have not acted, I hope partner has some useful cards in the minors. If he has two or more aces, I bid a slam (6 H or 7 NT).

Justin Lall: Sickening. I’m sure I won’t get many points for this, but it seems practical. I’ll assume partner has the S A if he shows one or two. A bid like 3 C just delays the problem; at some point, you will have to commit.

Sebastien Louveaux: Did I really open 1 H? Now, all I need to know is partner’s aces, and I don’t see a scientific method to force him to show aces only in the minors.

Carlos Dabezies: Three clubs is tempting, but partner may just raise with, say, Q-10-x-x. If partner has two aces, I will bid 6 H.

Rainer Herrmann: Even with a void, Blackwood looks best with this freak, as no alternative in sight will uncover better information. Opposite zero or one ace, I’ll bid 5 H; two aces, best bet seems 6 H; and three aces, 7 NT.

Alan Kravetz: How high we go depends on how many aces partner has, with the expectation that one of them is the S A. Why haven’t the opponents bid? Partner must have some decent cards.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 2

IMPsN-S VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
NORTH
1 D
2 C
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
?
S A J 8 3 2
H 8 5 3
D 7 5
C K J 6

CallAwardVotesPercent
2 D1039128
Pass829221
3 C726419
2 S533224
2 H3735
2 NT2514

How far should you go with a false preference? Correcting to partner’s first suit would be painless in a major, but a diamond preference doesn’t feel right. Opener might even have four good diamonds and five clubs, so 2 D could be a silly contract. If you knew partner were minimum, pass is routine; but he could have up to 18 points. Being vulnerable at IMPs is the best justification for 2 D — game is a huge upside, compared to a small downside of playing the wrong partial. I agree with the consensus.

Another way to keep the bidding open is to raise to 3 C, which is aggressive with only three trumps and minimal strength. While this could be the magic bullet to reach a viable game, it seems more likely to incite partner to push as well, resulting in a no-play 3 NT — been there, done that. Two points in jacks also warns against optimism. In the long run, pass is likely to get better IMP results.

What about rebidding spades? No, the intermediates are too weak for such a unilateral action. (Make the suit S K-Q-10-8-x, and I like 2 S.) Further, the enemy silence suggests partner won’t be short in hearts, so the odds of catching a singleton spade are increased.

Other choices are aggressive (2 H) if not obnoxious (2 NT), but that’s little deterrent in the vast bridge zoo. I suppose a fourth-suit 2 H could right-side a notrump contract, which might give partner some training as declarer — that is, if he likes hunting elephants with a B-B gun.

Here’s what happened in 1981:

Table 1
3 NT N =
NS +600
S 5
H K Q
D K Q J 4 2
C A Q 9 5 2
Munir
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Rodwell
NORTH
1 C
2 D
3 C
3 NT
Fazli
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Meckstroth
South
1 S
2 H
3 D
Solodar
West

Pass
Zia
NORTH
1 D
2 C
Arnold
East
Pass
All Pass
Masood
South
1 S
S Q 7 6 4
H J 10 7 6
D 8 3
C 7 4 3
TableS K 10 9
H A 9 4 2
D A 10 9 6
C 10 8

Table 2
2 C N +3
NS +150
S A J 8 3 2
H 8 5 3
D 7 5
C K J 6

The problem scenario occurred at the second table, and Masood chose to check out immediately in 2 C. Unlucky. This time Zia had a maximum, and 5 C (the best game) was unbeatable.

At the first table, the strong club created a different spin. The positive 1 S response was a game force; 2 D was natural, asking; and 2 H (artificial) showed minimum values without a diamond fit. The rest was natural, with Rodwell finally showing his heart stopper with 3 NT. Nine tricks were made after a heart lead; 10 IMPs to USA.

Three notrump is not a good contract, probably requiring a 4-4 heart break — and even then, a spade lead could be devastating (not on this layout) — but as results usually demonstrate, conservatism is not a winning style. Translation: 26 points, bid game.

Comments for 2 D

Tim DeLaney: With no reason to think we can make game, I’ll choose a contract that rates to go plus. If partner makes a forward-going move, I can cooperate intelligently.

Jyrki Lahtonen: A nasty, in-between hand. Two clubs may be quite strong (up to 18 HCP), so pass is out. However, I’m not quite strong enough to invite (both 2 NT and 3 C should promise about 10-11), let alone force (so 2 H is out). Two spades overstates my spade suit, so that leaves 2 D. If partner is maximum,…he will bid again. …

Alon Amsel: I have too much strength to pass, which could cost a vulnerable game. Partner might make this even in a 4-2 fit. …

Kent Feiler: I’m way too strong to pass; not strong enough for 2 H or 2 NT; and not weird enough for 2 S or 3 C.

Ron Zucker: Marking time. I’m too good to pass, as 2 C covers a multitude of hands not good enough to force to game. I can’t bid 2 NT with those hearts. A courtesy raise to 3 C might be right, but I’m not willing to give up on spades.

Catalin Doras: One needs better spades for 2 S.

Curt Reeves: Gee, where are we going? With apologies to Maxwell Smart, don’t tell me that partner opens 1 D with 4-5 in the minors. I asked you not to tell me that.*

*Sadly, we must bid farewell to actor Don Adams, who died September 25 (after Curt sent the above comment). Don was an avid bridge player, as many know. I met him once in a Los Angeles club, where he claimed to have won 100 Regionals. When questioned about this, he replied in his Smart voice, “OK, would you believe one.” -RP

Nigel Guthrie: Sufficient unto the day.

Joon Pahk: My club honors will help partner in either strain; I expect that his diamonds will be longer, so enemy taps won’t [be a problem]. This also keeps the bidding alive, so we can reach game if partner has significant extras.

Joshua Donn: Routine. Two spades will play terribly opposite a stiff; I don’t want to go a level higher to 3 C for what may still be just a seven-card fit; and I can hardly pass with game still in the picture… This hand shows why people shouldn’t usually open 1 D with 4-5 in the minors.

Dave Seagull: Automatic. Partner should not expect better diamonds for a simple preference. Any other bid will mislead partner about my strength or shape. Pass might produce a better partscore but could lead to a missed game.

Brad Theurer: Not strong enough to bid the fourth suit or 2 NT; and 2 S is bad on a mediocre five-card suit. So it’s best to make a cheap false preference to keep the bidding alive, and see what (if anything) partner has to say next.

Damo Nair: I can’t think what possible good could come out of the other choices. If partner has three spades, this hand will come to life. Barring that, partner needs to have [maximum strength] or more minor-suit distribution to be going anywhere.

Winston Munn: Most flexible, allowing partner to bid out his hand [with extra values].

Lothar Kuijper: If partner passes, I don’t expect to miss a game.

Leonard Helfgott: With only three trumps, I’m a bit light for 3 C; and even with two jacks, it seems heavy for a pass. The false preference could backfire, especially opposite 1=3=4=5, but partner will usually be longer in diamonds. If partner next bids 3 C, I will raise to 5 C. …

Jim Munday: Game is still possible, but I need partner to move again [on his own]. This makes it convenient for partner to show three-card spade support (unlikely), a fifth club, or heart concentration. …

Cres Cole: Keeps the bidding open and allows partner to correct to 2 S [with three]. I would like another club to bid 3 C.

Roger Morton: With something to spare, if partner makes another move. I hope he’s not 1=4=4=4. Bidding the fourth suit seems a bit rich with only 9 points, and the pips are not good enough to repeat spades.

David Caprera: Keeping options open. I had originally chosen to pass,…but I think there are too many chances for game to let it die. If partner has a minimum, he rates to have a fifth diamond.

Pietro Campanile: Too strong not to offer a courtesy preference.

Mark Reeve: Hoping partner might bid 2 S, 3 C or 2 NT; if he passes, I doubt we’ll miss a game.

Bernard Schneider: Vulnerable at IMPs, I must give partner [another] chance.

Jelmer Hasper: Most flexible. This should lead to a playable partscore or game.

Carsten Kofoed: What else? If partner finds additional values, he will announce them.

John Lusky: The false preference keeps our options open.

Jordan Chodorow: This may put us in the wrong partial, but I should have enough strength to be OK. More importantly, it keeps things open to get to a good game, without the gross misrepresentation of 2 H, 2 S or 2 NT…

Josh Sinnett: What a disgusting hand! I can’t rule out game (pass); nor force (2 H); nor stop hearts (2 NT); and we have no known eight-card fit… This leaves the most room, so it wins by default.

Martin Bootsma: It’s always nasty to bid 2 D on this sequence; but I have only five spades (no reason to assume 2 S will be better), and I am too weak for 2 H or 2 NT. Pass could be better if partner is 5-5 [or 4-5] in the minors, but bidding allows partner to bid again if he has 16+ points.

Ron Sperber: If partner is dead minimum, this [may] be as good a place to play as any; if he has a bit more, this gives him a chance to bid again.

Jon Greiman: I need to give partner another chance, just in case he has 16 or more points.

Joel Singer: Every call has flaws. The false preference is easier for me, because I always open 1 C with 4-5 in the minors.

Ronald Michaels: As Al Roth would say: What’s the problem? Except, of course, if partner happens to be avoiding a rebid problem by opening 1 D with four diamonds and five clubs. Especially at IMPs, we won’t miss a game this way if partner has extra values. My bid doesn’t preclude a hand like this, so we can still get to spades, clubs or notrump [if appropriate].

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: … This gives partner the opportunity to bid on if he has extras; and if not, the contract stays at a playable level.

Ron Landgraff: … Game is unlikely unless partner can bid again. With partner likely short in spades, where are we going? If an opponent balances (at last?) in hearts, I might try 2 S.

John Brady: A little light for an invitational fourth suit forcing; not good enough (and no heart stopper) for 2 NT; no fourth club for 3 C; and spades not long enough to rebid. …

Stephen Fischer: I’ll be well-placed if partner can bid again. Any other call is either too weak (pass), too strong (2 H or 2 NT), or too definitive about trumps (2 S or 3 C).

Julian Wightwick: Standard, ugly, false preference. Three clubs is a distant second choice, but it’s really just as much of a misdescription as 2 D — and more likely to go off.

Imre Csiszar: At IMPs, vulnerable, it is mandatory to keep the bidding open. The false preference appears a less dangerous lie than a three-card raise of partner’s second suit…

Rosalind Hengeveld: A false preference on x-x is aesthetically unattractive, but usually effective when partner does bid further, and playable when he does not — unless he had a rebid problem with four diamonds and five bad clubs.

Paul Flashenberg: Too much to pass; too little for 2 H; too few clubs to raise. That leaves the false preference, keeping all possibilities alive.

Lajos Linczmayer: If partner has extras, we may reach a game. I’ll bid 2 S over 2 H; 3 NT over 2 NT; or 5 C over 3 C

Mark Abraham: I’m missing something for any other bid, and I may soon be missing a partner if I pass. …

Nicoleta Giura: Too good to pass…; not good enough to bid 2 H.

David Wiltshire: I’ll wait and see if partner wants to make a move towards game. (I’d think this was automatic and would be surprised by other choices.) This could be tough if partner is apt to bid 1=3=4=5 hands in this manor, but that’s not my style.

Ed Barnes: There are many systemic solutions to this problem floating around; [but lacking that], 2 D solves it just as well. I will raise 2 S to 4 S.

Barry Rigal: This keeps the auction open without showing real invitational values (as 3 C would do). Though clubs figures to play better than diamonds, I will be better placed if the auction continues.

Justin Lall: Automatic. I won’t pass when partner can have up to a bad 18, and I won’t bid 3 C with only three clubs and 9 points. This gives partner a chance to act again with extras, or stay low with a minimum.

Chuck Lamprey: Partner has to be prepared for a doubleton preference on this auction. Obviously, I’ll cooperate with any further efforts.

Kevin Podsiadlik: Even though the bidding guide seems to mandate a pass, I will keep the bidding open with a false preference to see if partner can make another move.

John R. Mayne: If partner takes another call, great. If not, we’re probably high enough; three small hearts is an awful holding on this sequence.

Robin Zigmond: This looks like the kind of hand the false preference was designed for. If partner passes, we’re not in a terrible spot; and if he makes an effort, I can look towards game.

Rainer Herrmann: Seems rather obvious to keep the bidding low without overstating or misrepresenting my hand. It is unlikely that 2 C is our last plus score, and pass would give up all game chances.

Geraint Harker: I don’t want to be too encouraging, but this at least gives opener the chance to make another prod with a good hand — unlike pass.

Matthew Mason: Tough situation. I’ll just try to keep the bidding low. If partner can make a try, I’ll investigate further.

Mark LaForge: I feel quite strongly about this. If partner passes, there is no game.

Steve White: Even vulnerable at IMPs, this is not worth an invitation, since partner would stretch to accept.

Comments for Pass

Mark Kornmann: Let the opponents compete in hearts, and trust partner. Three notrump is a long shot, unless partner has the magic cards.

George Klemic: I’m sure everybody is thinking “vulnerable game at IMPs,” but it would take perfect cards for this to be right. I considered a 2 D preference; but with such disparity in the suits, it risks too much — especially if opener might bid this way with 1=3=4=5.

Jorge Castanheira: Two diamonds is reasonable, too, but I have wrong values to choose [diamonds over clubs]. Also, if opponents compete in hearts, I want partner to know I prefer a club lead.

Jean-Luc Lachance: This is going nowhere.

Sheng Li: Game is unlikely. It’s better to play in 4-3 club fit than a 5-2 diamond fit.

Gordon Bower: I am sorely tempted to take the false preference to 2 D in hopes of hearing 2 S from partner; but game is very likely out of reach, and partner is more likely to be 1=3=5=4 than 3=1=5=4 since opponents didn’t bid hearts. Let’s go plus.

Geoff Bridges: … Two diamonds is tempting, in case partner has extras; but 3 NT seems a long way away. If game seems sketchy, I should put on the brakes to stop in a safe partscore.

Vic Sartor: I hope partner would have raised to 2 S with 3=1=5=4.

Frans Buijsen: The odds for game are very small, and at least we’re in a good spot now. I will balance with 2 S if West comes in with 2 H.

Kevin Conway: Game is certainly possible because 2 C does not necessarily show a [minimum]. I would like to raise to 3 C — and vulnerable, perhaps should — but I’ll take the low road.

Carlos Dabezies: … My alternative is 3 C, but raising with three-card support is unappealing. I’ll compete if an opponent bids 2 H.

Alan Kravetz: Vulnerable at IMPs, I’d like to stretch with 3 C; but where are we going with no [known] eight-card fit?

Comments for 3 C

Jason Flinn: If nonvulnerable, or in a month that ends with “y” I’d pass.

Hendrik Sharples: If partner has a good hand, he will mention spades on the way. If not, we may miss a 5-3 spade fit; but other bids are badly flawed.

Dick Yuen: Notrump is better played from partner’s side.

Charles Blair: The only thing wrong with this bid is going down in 3 C.

Nigel Marlow: Seems like a close call between pass and a try for game; but game in spades or clubs is a possibility. This seems the right way forward; 2 H may get us too high.

Sebastien Louveaux: This is obviously ugly, but I need to keep the ball rolling in case partner is stronger. The choice is clearly between 2 D and 3 C, and I slightly prefer the latter to show where my values are. The worst thing [likely] to happen is to play a 4-3 club fit instead of 5-2 diamond fit.

Gerald Murphy: Even though I have only three clubs, I will still raise;…pass doesn’t seem right with 9 points.

Dale Freeman: Partner could have many 16-18 point hands, so game is possible.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 3

IMPsN-S VulYou, South, hold:
 
WEST
1 H
Pass
North
Pass
2 D
East
Pass
2 H
South
Dbl
?
S A K 10
H 9 6
D A K 9
C Q 7 6 4 3

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 D1054639
Double836226
Pass628821
3 C513910
3 H3564
2 NT1121

Keep it simple, and I agree. The consensus to raise partner’s suit is the practical way to show extra values. The lack of a fourth trump is a concern, but the enemy raise increases the chance that partner has 5+ cards. Further, A-K-9 is strong enough for Moysian appeal. If partner has some disgusting hand like S x-x-x H x-x-x D J-x-x-x C x-x-x, it’s just too bad.

A second double seems like the normal approach, conveying the strength about right; but partner will expect four spades. Hence, his most likely action will be to bid a three-card spade suit, which will solve nothing. If you then correct to 3 D, he will expect you to have even greater strength.

Three clubs also describes your strength, but the club suit seems too weak to introduce. Give partner a typical hand like S Q-x-x H x-x-x D Q-10-x-x-x C J-x, and you’ll be piling losers like Deucy Lucy; while 3 D has good play. Make the clubs Q-10-9-x-x, and 3 C would be reasonable; but here I’d rather pass and lose an occasional partscore swing.

Three hearts is extremely aggressive (a cue-bid should show about an ace more), but on a lucky day it could reap a bonanza, e.g., give partner S x-x-x H K-x D J-x-x-x-x-x C x-x (with the D Q falling) and you’re in the clover. Most of the time, however, you’ll be going minus; and on a bad day, you’ll have to explain minus 400.

Two notrump seems absurd with no semblance of a heart stopper; even if you catch partner with S x-x-x H x-x-x D Q-J-x-x-x C A-x (eight tricks after the hearts stop), he has an automatic raise to 3 NT, so you’ll still go minus.

Here’s what happened in Port Chester:

Table 1
3 D N =
NS +110
S 8 6
H A 10 8
D Q 7 6 5 4 3
C 10 8
Zia
WEST
1 H
Pass
All Pass
Arnold
North
Pass
2 D
Masood
East
Pass
2 H
Levin
South
Dbl
3 D
Rodwell
WEST
1 H
3 S
Nishat
North
Pass
Pass
Meckstroth
East
1 S
Pass
Nisar
South
2 C
Pass
S Q J 7 5
H K J 5 4 2
D 10
C A K 2
TableS 9 4 3 2
H Q 7 3
D J 8 2
C J 9 5

Table 2
3 S E =
EW +140
S A K 10
H 9 6
D A K 9
C Q 7 6 4 3

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Levin chose the practical raise. This should have worked fine to reach the laydown 3 NT, but Arnold chose to be conservative (also in the play eschewing an overtrick). Making 3 D looked like a 10-IMP loss, but…

Having Meckwell at the other table often produces magic. Meckstroth used sleight of hand to respond with such a “slight hand,” obviously for tactical reasons since Rodwell’s opening was limited to 15 HCP (and rarely that). Nisar chose a simple 2 C overcall (seems reasonable), and Rodwell’s jump raise stole the show. Down one would be an excellent result, but a little more magic (misdefense) produced nine tricks for a 6-IMP gain.

Comments for 3 D

Tim DeLaney: Partner is likely to have a five-card suit, since he passed over every other strain to bid diamonds. The raise is about right on values; and if opponents bid further, I have a comfortable double.

Jyrki Lahtonen: A [slight] underbid, but that may be needed to compensate for lack of a fourth trump. Three clubs would be about right on strength but should show a better suit. … Double would be my second choice…

David Leavitt: My hand is worth one more call, and raising partner’s suit seems most likely to yield a plus score. Bidding the anemic club suit asks for trouble (it would be different with S A-K-10 H 9-6 D Q-9-7 C A-K-5-4-3). …

Mark Kornmann: Least of evils. If partner has 9-10 points, I trust him to bid 3 NT with a heart stopper, or 5 D with a long suit…

Jeff Goldsmith: Yeah, I have extras; but where are we going? Five diamonds is way too far; partner needs at least S x-x-x H x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C A-J-10 (on a hook that rates to win), but playing partner for four specific cards is not winning bridge.

Jorge Castanheira: This shows a non-minimum double, and I hope partner will [bid 3 NT] with a heart stopper. I don’t have enough distribution and strength to double again…

Manuel Paulo: With opponents’ passes, partner can’t have a Yarborough; so I compete.

Pietro Campanile: This seems the least of evils. Three clubs on that moth-eaten suit sounds as attractive as Haggis on a hot summer day; 2 NT is equally repulsive; double can easily lead to a nice 2 S on a 3-3 fit; and I’m too strong to pass.

Carsten Kofoed: My doubleton heart minimizes the risk of a forcing attack, and this shows my hand rather well; so what’s the problem? Partner might have S Q-x-x H K-x D Q-x-x-x-x C x-x-x, or S J-x-x H J-x-x D J-x-x-x C J-x-x.

Martin Bootsma: Reluctantly, but partner can still have 8-9 HCP with a heart stopper.

Jon Greiman: Cue-bidding seems a little aggressive with two small hearts, but I certainly can’t pass.

Gordon Bower: I hope partner has five diamonds. With 16 HCP in balancing seat (partner might only expect 8), I have to take action. There’s no point in introducing a new suit, and 3 H to look for 3 NT is going to require a perfect maximum hand from partner to succeed. …

Geoff Bridges: Can partner have enough for game? Unlikely, so the choice is to pass or push to 3 D. This is risky, vulnerable, but still reasonable.

Dick Yuen: If partner has a six-card diamond suit and a heart stopper, he can try 3 NT…

Andy Caranicas: I could double with a good 9-count, so I have extras. Three hearts is a little too much, and 2 NT is insane.

Charles Blair: “I never get a good score when the opponents play two hearts.” -D. Michael Thomas

Peter Gill: If opponents are playing five-card majors, partner has a good chance of having 5+ diamonds…

Nicoleta Giura: Since my double only promised 10 HCP, it’s time to say I have more.

Bill Powell: What Law?

Alan Kravetz: Partner probably has five diamonds, while opponents have at least eight hearts between them.

Comments for Double

Jean-Christophe Clement: This is not for penalty. Any bid from partner is OK, so I won’t pass.

Alon Amsel: Six diamonds to the queen and the H K might be enough for a cold game.

Kent Feiler: What can this be but extra values and less than four diamonds?

Ron Zucker: Showing values on a [likely] partscore deal. Partner should get the idea that I don’t have four diamonds, that I can’t bid notrump, and that I don’t have a self-sufficient suit. … Pass is a close second choice.

Catalin Doras: I have more then I promised for a reopening double, so I will double again. Three clubs seems a poor bid on this particular holding.

Nigel Guthrie: If at first you don’t succeed.

Joon Pahk: I will convert 2 S to 3 C, and thereby offer a choice of minors.

Joshua Donn: I have extras and no convenient way to show them. Isn’t that how all ambiguous low-level doubles are taken these days? If the 1 H bid came on my right, it’s standard for a second double to show something along these lines, though perhaps a slightly better hand.

Brad Theurer: I have significant extras, so I don’t want to pass; 3 C should show a better club suit; and I’m not strong enough to cue-bid. This is flexible and shows (probably) three-card support.

Damo Nair: I have enough fire power, and partner can place the contract after this reasonable description.

Winston Munn: This is still takeout but with a twist that partner can do something intelligent now. :)

Lothar Kuijper: If partner responds 2 S, I try 3 C, which can show nothing else but an overweight hand with three diamonds and five or more clubs.

Leonard Helfgott: This cannot be penalty after a raise, and should show less than four diamonds in a good hand. Pass and 3 D are reasonable alternatives.

Jim Munday: Having made only a balancing double, I need to take further action. This seems most flexible, allowing partner to convert to penalty among other options.

Sheng Li: This shows [additional] points. My club suit quality doesn’t warrant a 3 C bid.

Cres Cole: I know East has very little. Partner may also have very little, and we’re vulnerable, so I avoid raising. [If partner passes], West is going to have to lead out of his hand, thereby making some of my and partner’s lesser cards good.

Mark Roderick: After this, I am happy whatever partner does; I will pass 2 NT, 3 C or 3 D. Should partner bid a three-card spade suit (he denied four already), I simply bid 3 C, which will place me with diamond tolerance…

Mark Reeve: Takeout again. I’ll correct 2 S to 3 D, showing this sort of hand.

Jelmer Hasper: I guess I have to show my strength at some time. Partner [is likely] to have some strength, so I’m not too worried about getting too high.

John Lusky: Showing extra values without great diamonds. Game is still possible if partner has something like S x-x H x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C A-J-10-x.

Jordan Chodorow: Surely, there is no harm in a [second] double. Partner may be dying to penalty-pass, and a follow-up of 3 C over 2 S will better represent my hand.

Hendrik Sharples: I hate all of my choices, but this conveys my extra values without emphasizing the club suit.

Ronald Michaels: Since my original double could have been made on a lot less, I must compete further even though partner bid only 2 D. Showing [extra] values will greatly help partner to evaluate his hand.

Rob Wijman: This is flexible and expresses that I am better than minimum [for my first double]. If partner has the dreaded 3=3=4=3 shape, I hope he has a few honor cards and can pass the double (hopefully 2 H won’t make then). …

Jon Sorkin: Showing extras. Partner should have five diamonds (unless 3=3=4=3 shape) and some values. I will raise 2 NT to 3 NT, or 2 S to 3 D

Jing Liu: Pass is too pessimistic. If partner has 5-4 minors, e.g., S x H x-x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C A-J-10-x, game in 5 C or 5 D is possible. …

Mauri Saastamoinen: … If partner bids 2 S, I am going to bid 3 C, though it might be showing a bit stronger hand (one more spade, one less heart) than this one.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Again takeout. My extra points and short hearts persuade me to compete further. I prefer to have four diamonds for 3 D; and more points for 3 C (also better clubs), 2 NT (also a heart stopper) and 3 H.

Thijs Veugen: Too much to pass. I don’t mind if partner passes my second double. I will correct a 2 S to 3 D.

Stephen Fischer: Still takeout but showing additional values. I will convert 2 S to 3 C, giving partner a good idea about my distribution.

Julian Wightwick: Takeout again; I’m worth another move since my first effort was just protective. I’ll convert 2 S to 3 C, suggesting this shape.

Nigel Marlow: Partner must have something (West has not shown much, and East has very little) so it seems right to move on, and this covers the possibilities best. …

Rinus Balkenende: Risky — but passing is also risky.

Imre Csiszar: This shows about opening notrump strength, I suppose, as a balancing 1 NT would have been weaker. Surely, no experienced player would take this as penalty. …

Rosalind Hengeveld: Flexible. Partner may even be happy to leave it in — and remain happy after the board is over. :)

Lajos Linczmayer: I guess partner has seven or more cards in the minors. If his shape is 3=3=4=3, he bids 2 S, and I’ll bid 3 C. If he has, say, S x-x H K-x-x D Q-x-x-x-x-x C x-x, or S Q-x-x H K-x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C x-x, we should play 3 NT; and I [hope he is inspired] to bid it.

Mark Abraham: Partner is likely to have a fifth diamond to freely choose the highest unbid strain, but raising diamonds is premature and potentially costly at this vulnerability. I can’t pass partner’s 2 S response (e.g., S Q-x-x H x-x-x D Q-x-x-x C J-x-x); and my 3 C correction must show tolerance for a further correction to diamonds. …

Martins Egle: Strong takeout action, hoping to bid 3 C or 3 D next round. Three clubs needs a better suit.

Frans Buijsen: The 2 H bid surprisingly made it easier to show my extra values without distortion.

Justin Lall: Extra values; flexible hand; no clear direction. This can’t be penalty after I made a takeout double of 1 H.

Stefan Jonsson: Telling partner that my balancing takeout was sound, that I have defensive values, and not four-card diamond support.

Sebastien Louveaux: This should show my extra values without emphasizing a suit.

Kevin Conway: My balancing double could have been made on less. Partner might have two very slow heart tricks (and another trick) and not want to double if I pass.

Rainer Herrmann: What else should double show than extra strength? I have a flexible hand with at least an ace more than required for the initial balancing double.

Sandy McIlwain: Good hand; still not sure where to play. Defending 2 H doubled is possibly our best spot after the delayed raise.

Matthew Mason: Still for takeout; 3 C is gross with a queen-empty suit.

Mark LaForge: Thank you, East, for making my second call easier.

Comments for Pass

David Caprera: Not enough to double; nothing else appeals.

Josh Sinnett: I don’t want to compete further unless partner can do so.

Owen Cotton-Barratt: If partner bids, I’m happy to hear it; if he can’t, [defending 2 H] seems fine.

Ron Landgraff: East-West are marked with limited values; partner knows this too, so I’ll trust him to get it right. I’d like to bid 3 C, but the suit is way too poor.

Ted Ying: I have extras, but I won’t force partner to bid and then penalty-raise. My shape suggests defending [versus declaring]. If partner has an offensive oriented hand, he can take another bid and solve the problem. …

John R. Mayne: Sure, we could have a game, and I’ve got an ace and a king more than I might; but the doubleton heart is unattractive, and there’s no clear view to a makable game. A values double is just too likely to give partner more losing options; West may have passed on the second round with a strong hand.

Carlos Dabezies: … It looks like opponents have a seven-card spade fit, and West figures to have a hand about as good as mine. We may set 2 H and be unable to make 3 D.

Dale Freeman: I do not like double at IMPs with D A-K-x. I probably should compete to 3 D, but the vulnerability scares me. Hopefully, partner will compete if appropriate.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 4

IMPsBoth VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
North

1 S
2 C
3 D
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
SOUTH
Pass
1 NT
2 S
?
S J 10
H A 10 9 6 2
D Q 10 8 5 3
C 2

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 NT1036826
3 H934425
5 D820515
4 D534625
4 S4937
3 S2322
4 NT (regular BW)1151

Partner seems to be finding a lot of suits. Maybe next time around he’ll bid hearts, and you’ll really be off to the races. Seriously, he must be describing 5=1=3=4 shape (possibly 5=0=4=4) with values warranting a game try. Your hand is greatly improved by the diamond fit, so the main question is which game (3 NT, 4 S or 5 D) to play. I suppose there’s an outside chance for slam, but it seems quite a stretch after partner could rebid only 2 C.

On a close vote, I guess it’s no surprise that 3 NT came out on top; no doubt, the infamous Hamman’s Rule was a factor. While I definitely disagree, I see no justification to overrule. Surely, 3 NT will have good chances with potential trick sources in spades and diamonds, and stoppers galore in hearts, the suit likely to be led. A club lead, of course, could be devastating; but it could also be painless if partner has decent clubs.

I would bid 3 H. Surely, this can’t be natural, as you could hardly wish to play in hearts opposite a known singleton or void when you made no attempt to do so over 2 C when partner could have three hearts. This should be a control-bid, implying a diamond fit, and leaving room to find the best game. If partner shows good spades (3 S), 4 S seems right; if he bids 3 NT, pass; otherwise, 5 D. I suspect many rejected 3 H because they feared it might be misinterpreted, but this is unwarranted opposite an expert.

A direct 5 D is also reasonable, as it rates to be a good contract; and trying to be too delicate may be a waste of time, helping only the defense. “Support with support” comes to mind. In contrast, I was harsh in scoring 4 D because it is nonforcing* by accepted theory, so it grossly understates your hand. The fact that partner is likely to bid again does not forgive the misstatement.

*Many thought 4 D was forcing, hence the large vote; but with both partners limited and no established fit (a doubleton preference does not set trumps), raises are also limited. Partner should not have to stretch to 5 D if he has bid his all.

A few people suggested I should have included 4 H as an option. I suppose one could argue that it shows exactly this hand, which it should if fit-jumps are part of the system (which they’re not). Nonetheless, it feels a bit torturous to me.

Other bids are inferior. Three spades is a distinct underbid (or more aptly an it-stinks underbid); 4 S offers no flexibility as to strain and should show better trumps; and 4 NT Blackwood is a gross overbid.

Here’s how the apples fell 24 years ago:

Table 1
5 D N -1
EW +100
S A K Q 8 3
H 5
D K J 9
C K J 7 6
Masood
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Levin
North

1 S
2 C
3 D
Zia
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
Arnold
SOUTH
Pass
1 NT
2 S
5 D
Meckstroth
West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Nisar
North

1 S
2 C
4 S
Rodwell
East

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Nishat
SOUTH
Pass
1 NT
2 S
S 7 4
H Q 8
D 7 4 2
C Q 10 9 8 5 3
TableS 9 6 5 2
H K J 7 4 3
D A 6
C A 4

Table 2
4 S N -2
EW +200
S J 10
H A 10 9 6 2
D Q 10 8 5 3
C 2

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Arnold chose the straightforward raise to game. Five diamonds was a tenuous contract that could have been made (arguably double-dummy). Levin won the H A, led a club to the jack, ace, and ruffed the heart return; then the C K (pitching a heart); S A; S J; heart ruff; club, uppercut by Zia with the D 6 and overruffed; heart ruff, and a club. Zia now ruffed with the D A, and the spade return promoted the D 7 for the setting trick. Levin’s play was sound, but fate was cruel or Zia was too smart (pick one); down one.

At the second table, Nisar abandoned delicacy and used a “Wolff game try” (bid it and try to make it). This should have succeeded (declarer can establish diamonds or crossruff according to the defense), but Nisar abandoned delicacy in the play as well, ending down two — an unexpected 3 IMPs to USA.

Looking at the North-South hands alone, either 4 S or 5 D is a better contract than 3 NT; yet both failed. I wonder how our Hamman’s Rule fanatics would stroke 3 NT with the C 10 lead. Finessing the jack works in practice, but putting up the king seems right. If East has the C A, you’re destined to fail on most layouts; but if the C K wins, you’re in great shape.

Comments for 3 NT

Tim DeLaney: Partner’s game try has struck pay dirt, so I bid the game most likely to make. Partner will not be 5=0=4=4 (then he would prefer to rebid 2 D), so raising diamonds is unwise. Partner is free to correct to spades.

Jyrki Lahtonen: A lot hinges on partner’s club holding. Hopefully, he will correct to 4 S with relatively weak clubs, as I have already indicated tolerance for spades. My prime motive now is to show that I have hearts under control.

Jean-Christophe Clement: Partner is 5=0=4=4 or 5=1=3=4 with [extra strength]. A slam is possible but unlikely, and my heart stopper is a real.

Mark Kornmann: Trusting partner to bid 4 D with 5=0=4=4 shape, after which I’ll ask for aces and bid 6 D if he shows two…

Sheng Li: Partner has…around 17 HCP and is likely to have 5=1=3=4 shape. This looks promising on a heart lead, as spades or diamonds can be established.

Mark Roderick: Pretty obvious. My hearts are likely to be wasted in 5 D, where we could have two top losers;…but it’s important to show I have heart [stoppers].

Mark Reeve: Partner seems to have a good hand; but if he has 5=0=4=4 shape, 5 D looks a long way off with my soft values. So Hamman’s Rule comes in again.

Jordan Chodorow: We have seven spades, five clubs, eight diamonds and six hearts. My intermediate hearts call for notrump (give partner the stiff H J). … Nine tricks are all I want to try for, but partner can take it out if appropriate.

Jack Brawner: I expect 5=1=3=4 shape with about 17 HCP. With H 10-9 and S J-10, this seems easy; take away those pushers, and I would still bid 3 NT.

Ron Landgraff: What else? We have potential sources of tricks in spades, diamonds and clubs, and I have multiple stoppers in hearts. Four spades may depend on two club ruffs…

John Brady: With only one jack and only three cards in partner’s [primary] suits, I apply Hamman’s Rule.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Three diamonds on 5=1=3=4 seems more intelligent than reserving it for 5=0=4=4 and having to bid 2 NT on any residue. But even opposite 5=0=4=4, I’m not sure 5 D is better than 3 NT. Slam is far away after the nonforcing 2 C bid.

Paul Flashenberg: Partner should have a very good 5=1=3=4 hand, just short of the values for a jump shift. With my intermediate cards in hearts, diamonds and spades, 3 NT should have a reasonable play.

Ted Ying: With partner’s 5=1=3=4 good hand (probably 15-16 HCP), I have enough to play 3 NT, especially with the heart lead coming up to hand. I like my chances of [developing] spades and diamonds.

Bill Powell: My hearts are good enough, even opposite a void.

Comments for 3 H

David Leavitt: … My main task is to determine if partner is cue-bidding the D A or showing shape… I think the cue-bid is more likely, so I’ll cue-bid in return. If partner is 6=1=2=4, my ace and ruffing value in clubs might be all he needs for slam.

Alon Amsel: I have a very nice hand opposite partner’s strong 5=1=3=4. Question is whether I have enough to take the initiative, or should go on describing my hand. I think the latter, so this followed by 4 D (over a probable 3 S rebid) shows the H A and long diamonds. Unless partner bids Blackwood or 5 D, I will cue-bid clubs next, and he will know each card I hold. Isn’t bridge a beautiful game?

Ron Zucker: When I pull 3 NT to 4 D, partner will get the idea and can ask about aces if necessary; my 5 D response will not get us too high.

Catalin Doras: Partner may have slam interest and need to know if I control hearts. Apparently I do. :)

Jouko Paganus: I will then pass 4 S, or bid 4 D over 3 S. Four hearts was not listed as an alternative; but what could it be on this bidding but the H A, five-card diamond support and good distribution, e.g., 2=5=5=1?

Bzzt! Sorry. On page 2177 of PavCo Bridge Complete this shows 2=4=6=1 with the D K (not D Q).

Curt Reeves: Too much slam potential opposite a 5=1=3=4 (or 5=0=4=4) 17-count with prime cards. A jump to 5 D after partner’s next bid will imply the H A and five diamonds. I hope partner divines my stiff club.

Joshua Donn: Slam is very unlikely; if I try, how can partner stop with S A-K-x-x-x H x D A-K-x C K-x-x-x? I’m worried about a club weakness for notrump, so I’ll try to express that. If partner bids 3 NT, I’m done; otherwise, I’ll bid 5 D.

Dave Seagull: Close to automatic. Whatever you think 3 H should be (heart cue-bid or good diamond raise), this hand fits the bill. In general, it should show a hand that was improved by the last bid.

Brad Theurer: Stalling for now… Partner may have only three diamonds (with 5=0=4=4 he may have bid 2 D over 1 NT, planning to bid clubs later); still, his 3 D call improved my hand enough to make game a sure thing, and slam not out of the question.

Gary Collins: Can I afford to get cute? I’ll torture partner by bidding his short suit. :) If he bids 3 NT, I’ll pass; but 4 S and 5 D are real possibilities.

Damo Nair: I hope this says that I like diamonds. Plenty of ambition here! Game should be odds-on, even with the apparent wastage in hearts.

Jorge Castanheira: Ringing the bell. Partner, your last bid just touched my heart. :)

Winston Munn: If this doesn’t show extras with a diamond fit, I don’t know what else it could be.

Leonard Helfgott: This must be a cue-bid, else I would have bid 2 H over 2 C. I will follow with 4 D over 3 NT, or 4 S over 3 S.

Jim Munday: Partner figures to be 5=1=3=4 with extras. I don’t see slam (partner failed to jump shift), so the question is which game to play. Opposite S K-Q-x-x-x H x D A-K-x C K-Q-10-x, 3 NT is very playable; but opposite S A-Q-x-x-x H K D K-J-x C A-x-x-x, 5 D is better. I certainly don’t want to bypass 3 NT, and we’ll never get there if I bid 3 S, so the choice is between 3 H and 3 NT. This allows partner to decide…

Bernard Schneider: Partner will read this as a waiting bid with uncertainty, but perhaps forward-going. Hopefully, I will get a chance to bid 4 D next turn…

Carsten Kofoed: This delayed heart bid, followed by a diamond raise (4 D over 3 S), shows my hand perfectly. Clubs could be sensitive in 3 NT.

John Lusky: This can’t be an offer to play, since I didn’t bid hearts last time. Game in spades, diamonds or notrump is likely; but I would like to hear one more natural bid from partner.

Rob Wijman: This can’t be a heart suit (I would have introduced such at my second turn) so must be positive, accepting diamonds. Facing S A-Q-x-x-x H D A-K-x-x C A-x-x-x, or similar, we have an easy slam.

Jon Sorkin: This cue-bid then 5 D next round should show the H A plus five-card support.

Jing Liu: This implies a diamond fit and asks partner to pick a game. I will bid 3 NT over 3 S

Mauri Saastamoinen: … Best contract could be 3 NT if partner has S Q-x-x-x-x H K D K-J-x C A-K-J-x; 5 D if he has S A-x-x-x-x H x D A-K-x C A-x-x-x; 4 S or 5 D if he has S K-Q-9-8-x-x H D K-J-x C A-Q-10-x; and so on. I will pass 3 NT or 4 S; bid 4 D over 3 S or 4 C; or 5 D over 4 D. Did I mention partner’s 4 H? Then I don’t know what to do. :)

Bill Cubley: Partner hit my suit, so I cue-bid; he must have a strong hand.

Hans Uijting: I would prefer to bid 4 H, which can hardly be misunderstood — H A control with 5+ diamonds…

Julian Lim: Giving partner one more chance to describe his hand as either 5=1=3=4 or 5=0=4=4; then I will choose 4 S or 5 D [respectively].

Stephen Fischer: I’ll bid diamonds next, hopefully showing five-card support, opposite a likely 5=1=3=4 hand.

Nigel Marlow: … This seems right to tell partner where my values are (including the H A)…

Lajos Linczmayer: Partner has a strong hand with short hearts. If he has made a spade game try, say, S A-Q-9-8-x H x D A-K-x C A-x-x-x, he bids 3 S, and I bid 4 S. If he has four diamonds, say, S A-Q-9-8-x H D A-K-x-x C A-x-x-x, I hope he bids 4 D; then I bid 4 H to invite 6 D.

Mark Abraham: Failing to bid 2 H earlier means this is artificial and forcing, and it will become an advance control-bid when I correct to 4 D. Further slam pushing will be up to partner. …Three notrump (over 3 D) is also reasonable.

Ed Barnes: Five diamonds will be my next bid, but I’m far to good to go straight there.

John Reardon: On the way to 4 D (forcing).

Barry Rigal: Keeps options open. I will raise 3 S to 4 S; otherwise, looking for 3 NT or 5 D.

Justin Lall: Wow, I have a great hand now. I’ll give up on 3 NT and make an advance cue-bid; next I’ll bid diamonds.

Chuck Lamprey: I much prefer 4 H, which you didn’t list. Oh well, maybe I’ll bid it next round.

Sebastien Louveaux: Since partner is probably 5=1=3=4 (maybe 5=0=4=4), I need to decide between 4 S and 5 D (3 NT will probably not play very well). This leaves room for partner to rebid a strong spade suit.

Kevin Conway: … This should be a cue-bid for diamonds… Over 3 NT, I will bid 4 D (forcing), which partner can convert to 4 S or bid 5 D.

Gerald Murphy: … This sets diamonds as trumps, giving partner the option to play 4 S as well…

Carlos Dabezies: Partner is unlikely to have a three-suited hand, as he bid clubs [before diamonds]. This is forcing…and shows my feature.

Rainer Herrmann: An advance cue-bid on the way to at least 5 D.

Scott Stearns: I want to be flexible; 3 NT is probably right opposite a stiff heart honor; 5 D might not have 11 tricks opposite 5=1=3=4; and 4 S might be best with my two honors. …

Comments for 5 D

Eugene Dille: Unlikely to make slam; if partner had a forcing hand, he would have bid 3 C.

George Klemic: The practical bid. Partner has extras, but it’s tough to diagnose exactly where his honors are.

Joon Pahk: I have enough to bid game, but slam requires very specific cards, e.g., S K-Q D A-K C A. Since my first choice of slam-try bids (4 H) isn’t an option, I’ll settle for game.

Jeff Goldsmith: I thought 4 D was right until I started constructing hands for partner. Even opposite C K-Q-x-x, I don’t see game being worse than on a finesse.

Lothar Kuijper: I don’t want to give partner the impression that I am [looking for slam].

Jelmer Hasper: A difficult choice…; H A-10-9 speaks for 3 NT, while the singleton club suggests 5 D. …

Josh Sinnett: This hand suddenly became a monster, so I’ll let partner know.

Martin Bootsma: Partner can have 5=0=4=4 with better clubs than diamonds, or [any] 5=1=3=4. With either shape, a diamond contract will play quite well.

Hendrik Sharples: Sounds like partner has 16-18 HCP and 5=1=3=4 pattern (or thereabouts). Game values are probably marginal, but I’d feel like a complete wimp not to try… Four spades might be beaten on a tap, so I’ll try 5 D — though it remains to be seen whether we have the stuff for 11 tricks.

Jon Greiman: Partner has a rock-crusher, but my H A may be useless.

Dick Yuen: Partner is 5=0=4=4, so my H A does not carry much weight.

David Colbert: In 4 S, my diamond suit may be cut off by a heart lead.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Partner probably has 5=1=3=4 distribution (he would have bid 2 D then 3 C with 5=0=4=4) or maybe 6=0=3=4, and extras (15-17 HCP)… This will have good chances, but 6 D will often be too high with my [meager] support for his black suits.

Thijs Veugen: Partner has a strong hand with 5=0=4=4 (or maybe 5=1=4=3) so this should have a chance.

Peter Gill: Are you suggesting that I need six trumps before I can support partner?

Kevin Podsiadlik: Thank you, partner! I don’t believe 4 D would be forcing, so this gives partner leeway to move on to slam if he wishes.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 5

IMPsN-S VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
Pass
NORTH
1 D
1 NT
3 H
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 D1
?
S A K 6 3
H 7
D K Q 7 4 2
C K 10 2

1. game force

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 S1044932
4 C9896
4 NT816412
3 NT651337
4 D5796
5 D2957
4 H1141

To slam, or to slam the door? As on the previous problem, it looks like 3 NT (most votes) should be the winner; but here the picture is different. A clear majority (56 percent) wished to try for slam (all bids but 3 NT and 5 D), so the top award will go to 3 S, the true consensus.

I take a rosy view of this hand, particularly because of what did not happen. Over 3 D, partner would routinely bid 3 S with three spades; so he should have a doubleton, which matches perfectly for no spade losers. Thus, if partner has two aces, slam is probably at worst on finding the C A onside; and even if offside, partner may have the C J and need only the C Q onside (assuming a club lead and no trickiness). Further, partner could have the C Q to make it easy. Thus, it is reasonable to use Blackwood to find out what you need to know most.

I intend to do just that, but I would first bid 4 C. There is a chance that West will double with C A-Q*, warning me a slam is doomed in time to stop. Showing club control may also increase our chances in a subtle way. If East suspects a singleton club in dummy, he might lead a heart, or at least be steered away from a potentially devastating underlead of the C A.

*Yes, some might double with less. If West doubles with C Q-J, partner will redouble with the ace. Few players would double with just the C A and nothing to back it up.

I have no serious quarrel with 3 S, but many of those bidders intend to pass 3 NT; not me. Further, if partner bids 3 NT, it suggests a club stopper, so your concern about clubs is diminished, and Blackwood looks better. Alas, this opens a can of worms: Despite the diamond raise, it is arguable that 3 NT cancels the agreement, so 4 NT is natural; it certainly sounds natural over 3 NT. (See “Second Place Rose Garden” Problem 5 for more on this.) Thus, to avoid ambiguity, you may have to bid 4 C (control-bid) and then call out the Ol’ Black.

I do not care for the waiting bid of 4 D because it restricts partner’s options. Chances are, he’ll continue on to 5 D, then you can only guess whether he has S x-x H A-K-x-x D A-x-x-x C Q-x-x (great slam) or S x-x H K-Q-J-x D A-J-x-x C Q-x-x (hopeless). Blackwood is a crucial tool, so if you’re going to create an auction that may lose it, you might as well bid 3 NT.

Much worse is to sign off in 5 D, a terrible choice because even five will be in jeopardy when 6 D is failing. For instance, if C A-Q are offside, you may suffer a club ruff as well. Thus, you’re committing your partnership to a tiny target — not to mention the likely 1-IMP donation versus 3 NT.

The oddball 4 H strikes me as sadistic, but I suppose it’s perfect if your partner is Fritz. Many would argue that it can’t be natural; but others would say it shows 4=3=4=2 (or 5=3=4=1) with good hearts and offers a choice of games. Before anyone laughs too hard about playing in 4 H, I’ll let history speak for itself. This deal arose in the round-robin stage when USA met Australia:

Table 1
3 NT N +1
NS +630
S 9 8
H A K 10 6
D A J 10 6 5
C Q 6
Lorentz
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Solodar
NORTH
1 D
1 NT
3 H
Lavings
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Reinhold
South
1 S
3 D
3 NT
Arnold
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Cummings
NORTH
1 D
3 H
4 D
Levin
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Seres
South
3 D
3 S
4 H
S 10 7 5 2
H J 4 3 2
D 9
C J 5 4 3
TableS Q J 4
H Q 9 8 5
D 8 3
C A 9 8 7

Table 2
4 H N -2
EW +200
S A K 6 3
H 7
D K Q 7 4 2
C K 10 2

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Reinhold judged to end proceedings in 3 NT. Solodar easily won 10 tricks but surely expected a 12-IMP loss with 6 D laydown. Surprise! A funny thing happened en route to the diamond mine down under…

At the second table, Cummings and Seres had an accident. Despite the abominable 4-1 fit, Cummings had a chance to make it — with an overtrick, no less. Levin underled his C A, ducked to the queen, then a trump was ducked. Levin switched to a spade, won by the king, and Cummings crossed to the D A to clear trumps. Talk about desperately needing an even trump break! Levin won and went for his only chance now* to underlead the C A again; Cummings naturally finessed the 10; down two. Had he put up the king, he would have won 11 tricks.

*A club continuation earlier (ace and another, or underlead) would seal declarer’s fate no matter how he played.

Comments for 3 S

Tim DeLaney: If partner rebids 3 NT, I will slow down; but at IMPs, diamonds must be the correct strain.

David Leavitt: Cue-bidding up the line.

Jean-Christophe Clement: Showing the S A. The diamond fit is certain (9+ cards), so 6 D is very tempting.

Eugene Dille: Cue-bidding in spades…will be my first slam try. We might even have a grand, e.g., S Q-x H A-x-x D A-x-x-x-x C A-x-x.

Alon Amsel: Too early to decide. Is partner bidding hearts on A-x-x-x or K-Q-10-x? I hope he will go past 3 NT if he has aces.

Ron Zucker: If partner bids [beyond] 3 NT now…, I’m driving to slam [if he has 2+ aces]. If not, 5 D is probably our limit.

Catalin Doras: Even if 3 H is a [stopper probe], 6 D is still possible; and 5 D may be better then 3 NT…

John Lesmeister: It look’s as though partner has a 2=4=4=3 distribution with heart values. If he bids 3 NT, I’ll continue with 4 C; if he bids 4 D, I’ll bid 5 D.

Mark Kornmann: [Best] way to find the C A; if partner bids 4 C, then 6 D should be a lock.

Curt Reeves: Many hand shapes and honors opposite will offer a good shot at 6 D. Partner could bid 3 NT to slow down the auction with H K-10-x-x, so I take 3 H as forward-going, e.g., S Q-x H A-K-x-x D J-x-x-x C A-x-x.

George Klemic: It seems wrong to bypass 3 NT. If partner tries 4 S, I will bid 5 D

Joshua Donn: Three hearts should not be a cue-bid but express where partner’s values lie (H K-Q-x-x would be completely normal) mostly so we can avoid 3 NT with club weakness. Even so, slam is still possible, especially opposite a doubleton spade, e.g., S x-x H K-Q-J-x D A-x-x-x C A-x-x or S Q-x H A-J-x-x D A-J-x-x C Q-x-x… I think partner will always bid 3 NT next if his hand is not slammish, expecting me to pull with weak clubs. [In contrast], if I bid 3 NT over 3 H, partner will never pull, since he will think I just had heart weakness for notrump.

Brad Theurer: I have a fine hand with extras, so I’ll cooperate with a cheap cue-bid. Slam is quite possible, e.g., opposite S Q-x H A-x-x-x D A-J-x-x C Q-J-x.

Jorge Castanheira: A diamond slam will probably be played from the wrong side, so I am prepared to give up if partner cannot bid 4 C.

Lothar Kuijper: Difficult, but I don’t want to rule out slam by bidding 3 NT right away.

Tim McKay: I will use Blackwood later if needed.

Sheng Li: Partner’s 3 H either shows doubt about 3 NT (worried about clubs) or interest in slam. This tells him I don’t want to play 3 NT if he has doubt, and leaves plenty of room to explore slam.

Manuel Paulo: Showing a spade control…, as S x-x H A-x-x D A-x-x-x-x C A-x-x is enough for slam.

Cres Cole: Cue-bid. Partner’s 3 H might also be a cue-bid, and I’ll find out if he has the C A; if so, I’m going to slam. If 3 H was just a heart suit [or stopper], partner will probably bid 3 NT next…

David Caprera: Three hearts should show a concentration of values, as does this; 3 NT is too unilateral. …

Pietro Campanile: … Partner may be looking for a club stopper for 3 NT, but he doesn’t need an awful lot for slam (H A, D A and a club honor should give 6 D good play). Over 3 NT, I will bid 4 D.

Mark Reeve: Was 3 H a cue-bid, or just showing heart values? This looks sensible for now, but I’ll pass 3 NT. If partner cue-bids 4 C, I’ll use Blackwood.

Josh Sinnett: If partner bids 3 NT, my removal will show that this was a cue-bid in search of a diamond slam (possibly a grand).

Joel Singer: Cue-bidding the ace. I’ll continue bidding over 3 NT.

Gordon Bower: This should be a cue-bid, as I [did not pursue a spade contract earlier], and partner passed up a chance to bid 3 S at his third turn. It would be nice to have an agreement that 4 C or 4 D is ace-asking after we have a minor fit; but since we don’t, I’ll see if partner comes up with another bid besides 3 NT.

Geoff Bridges: Cue-bidding my S A. Partner seems enthused with my diamond raise, and I have extra values and no reason to try to sign off in 3 NT.

Ronald Michaels: Three hearts is either a control-bid for diamonds, or a stopper…(asking for a club stopper). Three notrump may be the limit…, but 5 D should be OK at IMPs… This doesn’t show five spades, just a control… If partner bids 3 NT, I will pass.

Rob Wijman: Partner may be introducing hearts to express worry about clubs for 3 NT. This is cooperative, and a cue-bid for diamonds. Over 3 NT, I will make one further try for a diamond slam.

Jon Sorkin: Showing my ace. We’ve either agreed on diamonds (no 3 S preference), or partner is showing doubt about 3 NT. If partner bids 3 NT, I will make another try for slam.

Vic Sartor: I’ll take one shot toward 6 D but pass 3 NT.

Isolde Knaap: To find out if partner has the C A.

Stephen Fischer: Only partner knows if he has perfect cards for a grand, so I’ll try to show all my outside cards below 5 NT. I’ll bid 4 C over 3 NT; 5 C over 4 C; or 4 NT if partner denies the C A.

Geoff Morris: My C K is vulnerable in a high diamond contract, so I will give partner a chance to offer help.

Paul Flashenberg: I am definitely worth a slam try, with the option of playing 3 NT if partner bids it. Slam is cold opposite S x-x H A-x-x D A-x-x-x-x C A-x-x, or even S x-x H A-x-x D A-x-x-x-x C Q-J-x.

Frans Buijsen: I’ll cue-bid just in case partner can cue-bid the C A, which makes 6 D promising.

Stefan Jonsson: Clubs might be dangerous in slam, as partner could have three small (probably 2=4=4=3 shape) — too bad diamonds will be played from partner’s side. A good East will lead a small club from the ace or the queen. … I hope to hear 4 C from partner, then I’ll investigate a diamond slam [with Blackwood]. Otherwise, we’ll probably play 5 D — and then, of course, the C A is onside and we make six.

Alan Kravetz: If three hearts is a cue-bid, I’ll cooperate; partner could have three aces…, which would make 6 D a heavy favorite. If partner bids 4 S, I’ll correct to 5 D.

Geraint Harker: If partner has an acey hand, he will bid past 3 NT. I don’t want to hang him when 3 H was just a notrump probe with a stopper; but 3 NT by me kills any slam chances.

Sandy McIlwain: This seems straightforward, which usually means I’m missing something. :) I would like to hear partner cue-bid 4 C. I don’t think Blackwood will get the whole story when I really want to know about the C Q.

Comments for 4 C

Nigel Guthrie: The confusing 3 S bid is tempting, but for once I’ll let partner off the hook with an unambiguous cue-bid. Six diamonds will [sometimes] be better than 3 NT, e.g., opposite S x-x H A-10-x D J-x-x-x-x C A-Q-x.

Gary Collins: Partner has at least two clubs, so my C K is of value. Whatever 3 H is, it’s positive, and I have strong trumps and good controls. I need two aces and a couple of side cards…, but I’m not pushing to slam.

Mike Cassel: … Showing club control. This ought to promise spade control, since I could have signed off [in 3 NT] without it.

Winston Munn: Partner may well need to know about club control before he can get too active, so showing it now may smooth out the auction.

Leonard Helfgott: Still trying for slam, and showing my club fragment seems best… I will cue-bid 4 H over 4 D.

Jim Munday: With third-round issues in both black suits, Blackwood is premature. I plan to follow up with 4 S, then partner should be able to evaluate his black-suit holdings properly.

Julian Wightwick: Worth another try, hoping for two aces and a doubleton spade.

Lajos Linczmayer: Although 3 H shows heart strength, I won’t give up, as partner has only two spades, and he may have five diamonds. Some super hands for slam: S x-x H A-x-x-x D A-x-x-x-x C A-x; S Q-x H A-x-x-x D A-x-x-x C A-x-x; or S x-x H A-K-x-x D A-x-x-x C Q-x-x.

John Reardon: I’m worth another attempt towards a diamond slam, but I don’t want to offer partner a chance to play in spades.

Kevin Conway: If partner is looking at H A-K-Q-x, too much of his hand is in hearts; but H A-x-x-x is great for slam purposes. … If partner punts next with 4 D, I will cue-bid 4 H

Carlos Dabezies: Assuming 3 H is a cue-bid, partner needs as little as S x-x H A-x-x-x D J-x-x-x C A-Q-x, or S x-x H A-x-x-x D A-x-x-x C Q-J-x, for a slam to be worth bidding. The problem with cue-bidding 3 S is that it may get raised.

Comments for 4 NT

Jeff Goldsmith: I’d have started with 2 S and rebid 3 H [a la Soloway jump shifts]. If partner then signed off in 3 NT, I could respect it.

Roger Morton: I hope partner’s cue-bid was the H A and not just values for 3 NT. There should be good play for 6 D opposite two aces, and 5 D should be safe opposite only one. At IMPs, I’m not too worried about missing 3 NT.

Jelmer Hasper: On the way to 6 D, which just depends on the number of aces. I like ambitious bidding.

John Lusky: Assuming 3 H showed some interest in a diamond contract, slam seems a fair bet if partner has at least two aces.

Jon Greiman: Opposite as little as C Q-J and both red aces, 6 D should have [good] play, assuming partner is 2=4=4=3.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Six diamonds should have good chances if partner has two aces. With one ace, 5 D is enough. … If I bid 3 S and partner bids 3 NT, he will take 4 NT as quantitative.

Peter Gill: I hope East isn’t stereophonic enough to underlead the C A at trick one. My expert partner may have S Q-x H K-Q-10-x D A-x-x-x C J-x-x and be highlighting the weak club suit for notrump. If so, should I bid 3 NT? I think not, as partner’s doubleton spade means that hands ideal for 6 D, such as S x-x H A-K-x-x D A-x-x-x C Q-x-x, are too likely. …

John R. Mayne: Why mess around? I will bid 6 D opposite two aces, and it’s virtually certain to have a play (maybe not good, but some play). Further mucking about with control-bids seems unhelpful.

Dale Freeman: Assuming 3 H is a positive move for diamonds, I’ll simplify the auction with Blackwood.

Bogdan Vulcan: Partner is either 2=4=4=3 or 2=4=5=2, so I see no reason not to ask for aces.

Comments for 3 NT

Carsten Kofoed: It looks like partner has wasted heart values for a diamond slam. Anyway, this implies shortness in hearts.

Jordan Chodorow: Three hearts does not excite me.

Martin Bootsma: Partner can still be 3=4=3=3, so I won’t be too eager for slam, especially now that he has values in hearts.

Jack Brawner: Since we established a few months back that there is no firm agreement about 3 H, I’ll hope for the best. Partner [probably] needs to make a move if a good diamond slam [is available].

Ron Landgraff: Even if partner is cue-bidding, 6 D is far from sure. …

Charles Blair: Partner could have S Q-x H K-Q-x-x D A-J-x-x C J-x-x, and slam is unattractive against good opponents.

Just how “good” do your opponents have to be to take their two aces?

Imre Csiszar: The hardest of all! Partner showing heart strength does not appeal for slam; he may hold a terrible hand as S Q-x H K-Q-J-x D A-J-x-x C x-x-x; or an excellent one as S x-x H A-K-x-x D A-J-x-x C Q-x-x. …

Rosalind Hengeveld: I have done enough for the moment. Three hearts may be meant as a stopper, rather than a slam try. If I bid 3 S now, it may come across as a longer suit…

Mark Abraham: If partner bids on, I then know his heart suit is A-x-x-(x). …

David Wiltshire: Opposite heart values, 3 NT looks to be the best game. Slam is [remote] now that partner has advertised wastage opposite my singleton.

Barry Rigal: Three hearts…shows wasted values in hearts, and 3 NT may be the limit. If partner was cue-bidding for diamonds, he will move on…

Justin Lall: Three hearts is not the bid I wanted to hear; sounds like partner has heart values and is worried about clubs for 3 NT.

David Harari: This implies shortness in hearts. Bypassing 3 NT might be dangerous, e.g., picture partner with S J-x-x H A-K-x D A-J-x-x C x-x-x.

Chuck Lamprey: Primarily, we are looking for the best game; so 3 H should show a concentration of strength, not necessarily the ace. I have to allow for S x-x H A-K-x-x D A-J-x-x C x-x-x, and I expect partner to bid [again] with S x-x H A-x-x-x D A-x-x-x C A-x-x.

Sebastien Louveaux: Partner shows heart values. As I’ve already told my story with 3 D, and have club values, it’s time to slow things down a bit. If partner’s 3 H was intended as an advance cue-bid, he will go on.

Rainer Herrmann: This is still a slam invitation in diamonds, but partner needs a fitting hand with aces and some distribution [not 3=3=4=3]. Even opposite a maximum like S x-x-x H A-J-x D A-J-x-x C A-x-x, 3 NT is preferable.

Scott Stearns: I’ve already suggested a slam-suitable hand by bidding 3 D,…but I don’t have enough extras to go further opposite partner’s limited hand. …

Steve White: If partner has strength in hearts rather than clubs, that’s bad for our slam chances.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

Problem 6

IMPsE-W VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

2 H
NORTH
Pass
Pass
East
1 H
3 H1
South
?
?
S K J 9 5
H 4
D K J 10 8 5 2
C A Q

1. not a game try

Two CallsAwardVotesPercent
E. 2 D then Double1035425
F. 2 D then 3 S934525
D. 2 D then Pass716812
C. Double then 4 D624718
A. Double then Pass416912
B. Double then Double31209

The voting was intriguing. It was no surprise that 62 percent chose to start with 2 D instead of double, but the choice to double next was unexpected. It just feels much more natural to bid with 6-4 shape, rather than invite complications with an off-shape double. But maybe I’m too old-fashioned.

The main contention of those preferring Choice E is that it offers partner an additional option — to pass for penalty — but this seems a mixed blessing. It is easy to see how defensive prospects could backfire, so some of partner’s passes will be wrong. And even when partner takes it out, will he always bid a four-card spade suit? An overcall followed by a double will usually contain three spades, so partner may look for other pastures with a weak four-card suit.

In contrast, bidding 3 S (Choice F) seems pretty safe at the vulnerability and will surely get you to your best contract (aside from a rare 3 H doubled). This might also allow a cheap escape if partner is 3=4=1=5, where a double would bring trouble.

Of course, you can avoid any pain by just passing next (Choice D); but as the cliche goes: No pain, no gain. Letting East steal in 3 H could be worse, as it rates to be a lost partscore swing, and you might still have a game in spades. This is not the time to go quietly, as the overwhelming majority agreed.

Those who doubled first preferred 4 D next, which certainly makes sense; you have to show your suit sometime. The trouble is that partner will expect about an ace more, so he may continue to 5 D with no play. It seems the only time an original double will be comfortable is if partner bids spades or diamonds; otherwise, you’ll be grasping at straws.

Here’s how the sparks flew in Port Chester:

Table 1
4 D× S -2
EW +300
S Q 4 2
H K 10 8 6 5
D 7
C J 8 4 3
Nishat
West

2 H
Pass
Meckstroth
NORTH
Pass
Pass
Pass
Nisar
East
1 H
3 H
Dbl
Rodwell
South
Dbl
4 D
All Pass
Arnold
West

1 S
Pass
Pass
Masood
NORTH
Pass
1 NT
Pass
Pass
Levin
East
1 D
Dbl
Dbl
Dbl
Zia
South
Pass
2 C
2 D
All Pass
S A 10 8 7 3
H Q 3 2
D 9 6
C 6 5 2
TableS 6
H A J 9 7
D A Q 4 3
C K 10 9 7

Table 2
2 D× S -1
EW +100
S K J 9 5
H 4
D K J 10 8 5 2
C A Q

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Rodwell took Choice C. Trouble in River City! Give Nisar due credit for his cagey 3 H bid (great anticipation in view of a stiff spade) as well as his final double to extract the toll; down two.

The second table was a whole different ball game, as Levin bid Zia’s suit in front of him. Masood’s 1 NT was a light takeout (we all agree there) for the unbid suits, and Zia obliged momentarily with 2 C. When this was doubled, he ran to an unbeatable contract in his real suit. Levin could hardly put up with this clown act, so he doubled again. A Paki coup? Alas, not quite. After a friendly club lead, Zia crossed to the S Q to lead a trump to the eight — a reasonable play, but not this time. When the smoke cleared, he was down one; still, a 5-IMP pickup for stopping low.

Comments for E. 2 D then Double

Tim DeLaney: The only problem with 2 D is that it might end the auction when we are a favorite to make 4 S. In every other respect, the overcall followed by double seems appropriate.

Jean-Christophe Clement: A tough one, as Options A, B, D and E are reasonable. I like to show a six-card suit at my first bid.

Eugene Dille: If partner has four spades and as little as two pointed queens, we can make 4 S.

Alon Amsel: I guess the bidding is predictable. Doubling first is dangerous because we may miss a cold 5 D, or be doubled in 4 D for minus 500… I’ll just bid my suit then double to show spades. … My regular partner will use this hand as proof that the Polish 1 NT overcall (showing four spades and 5+ in a minor) is really the greatest convention ever, but I still won’t buy it. :)

Kent Feiler: I think you have to be a masochist to start with a double on hands like this.

Ron Zucker: The second call explains the first — showing diamonds lets partner in on the joke. … Now I can respect his decision on strain and level…

Catalin Doras: The auction is the best example of what could happen if you begin with a double; you simply have no rebid. …

Curt Reeves: This shows my hand nicely. My spades aren’t quite good enough to bid freely at the three level. Partner will bid 3 S with four spades; 4 D with three diamonds; or 4 C with six clubs.

George Klemic: … Close between this and pass on the second round (I would definitely double at the two level). Only question is whether to pass 4 C, or bid 4 D.

Joon Pahk: The second decision here is the least comfortable of this set. I can’t find responsive doubles in the Bidding Guide, so I’ll assume we’re not playing them, else a pass would be easy.

Correct, but I’m reminded of the advice of Benny Hill: Never ASSUME ‘cuz it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Gary Collins: I like my hand, and I’m willing to settle in our club fit if partner bids 4 C; a penalty pass doesn’t scare me either. I’ve been wrong before!

Manuel Paulo: First I bid my long suit; now I show my short suit.

Roger Morton: Then revert to diamonds after partner chooses clubs. Option F would surely show a fifth spade.

Mark Roderick: I am happy to play at the four level with this powerful hand; if partner bids 4 C, I simply bid 4 D. Bidding 2 D followed by 3 S should show five spades.

Hendrik Sharples: Two diamonds seems normal, but I might be falling for the “No one steals from me” syndrome with the double — but, hey, no one steals from me!

Martin Bootsma: Quite aggressive, but I am sitting behind opener and still have game prospects.

Joel Singer: I have enough to compete but not to bid 3 S. This gives partner an opportunity to defend if he wishes.

Gordon Bower: … Strength-showing, asking partner to “do something sensible.” … When will the world realize that 4-5 and 4-6 hands are hard to bid and worth a special convention, while 5-5 hands are easy to bid naturally?

Geoff Bridges: I like 2 D better than double first, as I don’t want to hear partner bid clubs. On the second round, I show my support for the other suits. Partner may still bid clubs, but at least he will do so knowing I have diamonds…

Jon Sorkin: Partner having S Q-x-x-x-x H x-x-x D Q-x C x-x-x is enough for game.

Jack Brawner: Where are equal-level-conversion doubles when I want them?

Ron Landgraff: Showing diamonds then the strength offers big potential. If partner bids 4 C, I’ll correct to 4 D. If it goes 2 D swoosh, so be it; it’s only 14 HCP.

Charles Blair: Minus 730. Been there, done that — will be there again next week.

Thijs Veugen: It seems wrong to double first with such a diamond suit. [Close between] this and 3 S on the second round.

Stephen Fischer: The hand’s worth more than one bid, so I’ll start by showing my long suit. An initial double runs the risk of having to overstate my values.

Julian Wightwick: This gives us a chance for a penalty if partner has a couple of heart honors (or opponents are messing around). The hand is not good enough to double and bid diamonds; and indeed, the tempo of this auction was bad for that plan.

Martins Egle: Points are approximately 20-20, and opponents (probably) have nine hearts. This leaves options for 3 S and 4 D contracts, or for partner to pass (very rare).

David Wiltshire: Automatic. Doubling first will lead to accidents when partner bids clubs (correcting to diamonds will show a better hand). [Bidding 2 D] then 3 S is too unilateral.

Ed Barnes: It’s much better to overcall first with these hands, as partner then knows when to pass a subsequent double.

Robin Zigmond: I can’t see any modern player not choosing 2 D as the first bid, so the choice lies in the second. Tempting as it is to wimp out and pass, I’ll take a view — and no doubt get dirty looks from partner when he ends up playing 4 C.

Scott Stearns: The modern style — or at least my modern style.

Comments for F. 2 D then 3 S

David Leavitt: My distribution makes up for the lack of high cards, and partner is marked with some values from the opponents’ bidding, so a positive move is indicated. Bidding both suits seems most [descriptive] and avoids [inviting] partner to bid clubs.

Joshua Donn: I refuse to double first in an attempt to miss an 11-card diamond fit, and introducing spades later shouldn’t be tough after overcalling. I won’t double the second time, because I have no clue what to lead if partner passes, or what to do if he bids 4 C, other than hope he isn’t 3=3=2=5. This suggests 4-6 since I didn’t use Michaels last time.

Brad Theurer: … With a reasonable six-card suit, I’ll bid it, intending to bid spades later. My hand is decent, though my suits need help.

Mike Cassel: I would have used Michaels with longer spades.

Damo Nair: … This has to show 4-6, since I would double with [most] 4-5 shapes.

Winston Munn: I like bidding my suits; then if partner does bid clubs, I know they are real.

Lothar Kuijper: I don’t know, but this is my style and it sometimes works. :)

Leonard Helfgott: At these colors, I can afford to fully describe my hand.

Jim Munday: Difficult problem; close to an initial double, but not quite strong enough, so I’ll just bid my suit. …Offensively, I need very little for game, so I will bid again. Double feels more like 3=1=6=3, and probably more high cards…

Sheng Li: I have no answer if I double and partner bids 2 C. At this vulnerability, and considering the heart shortness, the hand is worth another bid.

Cres Cole: Showing both of my suits in the right order…

David Caprera: … I don’t want to defend 3 H, and double may lead to minus 730 too frequently.

Pietro Campanile: If one must overbid, one might as well make sure to play the contract!

Carsten Kofoed: Too weak for either a primary double or a second-round double — high-risk projects with [doubtful] defensive potential. I will not yet give up the game chance, and opponents’ bidding gives me hope for [partner] to have some values; but will they be useful to my hand?

John Lusky: East’s bidding seems to invite aggression on my part, and I am happy to oblige with these cards.

Josh Sinnett: Since equal-level conversion doesn’t apply, I must bid 2 D first (double followed by 2 D over 2 C is a big overbid). Bidding spades next is obvious; game is likely opposite ace-fifth in spades…

Vic Sartor: I was hoping to be able to bid 2 S at my second turn, but I’m willing to risk 3 S nonvulnerable.

Mauri Saastamoinen: Didn’t we have this theme last month? Who is now “The Man Who Bid Too Much?” I hope it isn’t me.

Bill Cubley: … This looks like a hand for bidding suits, showing 4-6…

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: My singleton heart and playing strength persuade me to bid on. This is a slight overbid but the best description, as I would usually double first with 4-5 shape. After 2 D, a double will often not have four spades. Doubling first may bury the diamond suit. …

Rinus Balkenende: I may be a little bit light for this action, but letting East play 3 H is [timid].

Imre Csiszar: At this vulnerability, I can afford to bid out my distribution. Vulnerable, I’d prefer Choice A.

Lajos Linczmayer: An original double would be better if West bids 4 H and partner has five spades, but I prefer to describe my hand naturally. … If partner has the right cards, e.g., S A-Q-x H x-x-x D Q-x C x-x-x-x-x, or S Q-x-x H A-x-x D Q-x C x-x-x-x-x, or S Q-x-x-x-x H A-x-x D x-x C x-x-x, we will reach a decent game.

John Reardon: If I act again, I don’t want to offer partner the chance to defend.

Barry Rigal: I hate an original double [on these hands]; I bid my long suit and take it from there. Close between double and 3 S on the second round; the fourth spade tips me.

Justin Lall: Definitely 2 D first; bidding the long suit is always a good idea with 6-4. I’m not selling out, as game could be on very easily; and I choose 3 S…so partner knows about my shape… A second-round double is [more often] 3=1=6=3…

David Harari: Let’s keep it simple!

Sebastien Louveaux: Doubling first to hear partner bid clubs is out of the question. I have two natural bids available, and enough strength to make them.

Matthew Mason: Sitting over opener with these tenaces makes my hand stronger that it appears.

Dale Freeman: To double first and bid 2 D over partner’s 2 C would show about an ace better; therefore, 2 D first. Over 3 H, a double seems most flexible, but I do not know what to lead against 3 H doubled. We [should] have some fit, and with five spades I might have used Michaels.

Comments for D. 2 D then Pass

Jon Greiman: I bid where I live. Beyond that, I have little more than I said the first time.

Craig Zastera: In real life I would double 1 H because I play equal-level conversion…, but that’s unavailable. Regardless of my action over 1 H, I would not compete further over 3 H.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Broken suits, only slight extras, modest defense and no attractive lead [suggest giving up]. If we have a game on, East’s well-timed preempt has talked me out of it. …

Mark Abraham: My work is done (East did it for me). Partner not opening 2 S has ruled out a lot of hands that might make 4 S.

John R. Mayne: Two diamonds on round one is normal and proper with the six-carder, but the next call is close. Despite a hand close in high cards to a [typical] 2 D bid, I’m strongly tempted to walk back into the auction — though the risk of dramatic disaster is too high.

Comments for C. Double then 4 D

Mark Reeve: I think I have enough to double first then bid 2 D over partner’s 2 C. Having decided that, I’m pretty much forced to bid 4 D over 3 H.

Rob Wijman: The first double implies four spades, so partner can always correct… Option E should bring across the same message, but I’m afraid it would show more defense.

Julian Lim: I must double first, as otherwise West might jump to 4 H, and we will be badly placed. Though it’s aggressive, I will bid 4 D since partner [rates to] have some minor-suit cards (no 2 S bid, 9+ hearts with opponents). If I knew the auction was going to develop this way, I would choose Option F. :)

Kevin Conway: Primary diamonds, with spades. My spade suit will likely play like it is three-long, unless partner can bid spades…

Gerald Murphy: My original double implies spades, so partner will bid 4 S if he has four of them.

Carlos Dabezies: I must double because the spade suit is too good to suppress. Opponents are likely to have 18-21 HCP, and any heart finesse will be on. I’m a bit light for this bid, but it’s unlikely to get doubled; and it might make if 3 H is going down.

Bogdan Vulcan: First I double so I don’t lose the spade suit; then I bid 4 D so partner raises with the S Q and D Q. :)

Final Notes

Comments are selected from those scoring 52 or higher (top 210) or with an overall average of 50.25 or higher (top 208) prior to this poll, and on each problem only for calls awarded 6 or higher. Over 70 percent of the eligible comments were included. If you supplied comments that were not used, I thank you for the input.

Use of a comment does not necessarily mean I agree with it, but just that it expressed something relevant, unique or amusing. Comments are quoted exactly except for corrections in spelling and grammar. Where I have included only part of a comment, an ellipsis (…) indicates where text was cut. Text in [brackets] was supplied by me to summarize a cut portion or fix an omission. Comments for each call are listed in order of respondents’ rank, which is my only basis for sequencing.

I hope you enjoyed this flashback to 1981, and the Port Chester/Rye (pick one) Bermuda Bowl, an event that showcased the youngest ever world champion in my friend Bobby Levin. Thanks to everyone who participated, and especially those who offered kind remarks about my web site. Gotta run! Queen Mabel is after me to take out the trash.

I’ll leave you with these knights of the square table:

Curt Reeves: I hope I didn’t fall on my sword. If so, there’s always canasta!

Jelmer Hasper: All my knights seem to have deserted me.

Bill Powell: Another good joust — but no sight of Tintagel!

Edward Levy: Is this the Land of the Overbidders? The X on your useful map says to double them all!

John R. Mayne: These problems seemed easier than usual. Perhaps when I get my score of 28, I’ll think differently — or at least stop consulting HAL.

Analyses 8W56 MainChallengeScoresTop The Legend of King Arthur

© 2005 Richard Pavlicek