Main   Analyses 8W64 by Richard Pavlicek  

Fair Winds on the Plate

These six bidding problems were published on the Internet in November 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

Expectedly, Washington D.C. was the wrong guess of choice (mistaking the obelisk for our most famous monument). Others included New York City (misled by Miss Liberty); Paris (site of another obelisk and liberty statue) and Deauville, France; Rome, Italy; Berlin and Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; and Montevideo, Uruguay. The last seems strange, but it’s actually very close — just across the river!

The tournament was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pictured at the top is the Obelisco, a 220-foot monument built in 1936 at the site where the Argentine flag was first raised.

To the left is the Plaza de Mayo Liberty Statue, which is smaller and differently shaped (hmm… bigger breasts?) than our famous landmark; and to the right is the Argentine Parliament Building, curiously similar to the U.S. Capitol.

The emblem with a black eagle appears on the city flag of Buenos Aires.

My title was also a clue. No, not as pertinent to my bogus story of being hired by the National Weather Service to test plate glass against hurricane-force winds, but for its true meaning:

“Fair Winds” translates to “Buenos Aires” in Spanish. “On the Plate” refers to the River Plate, or Rio de la Plata, the huge estuary on which Buenos Aires sits. The river flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

“I’ve made a lot of stops… all over the world.”

The background song Travelin' Man by Ricky Nelson became a #1 hit in 1961, which was the year of the tournament. I was a big fan of Ricky Nelson, as I grew up watching Ozzie and Harriet, the only TV sitcom ever (I think) where cast members portrayed themselves. Ricky’s smooth voice, soft rock, and mastery of the guitar were a treat to anyone’s ears. Sadly, his life was cut short by a plane crash in 1985 on New Year’s Eve.

Out of about 80 people who offered a guess, 17 were right on Buenos Aires, but almost all thought the year was 1965 — no doubt because the year of the scandal made headlines around the world. No one seems to remember the quiet times. Only two persons gave the right year (1961). Congratulations to Bill Powell and Christian Osterman.

Doug Avery Wins!

This poll had 1491 participants from 126 locations, and the average score was 47.30. Congratulations to Doug Avery (Indiana), who was the first of five with perfect scores. Also scoring 60 were Erik Hoeksema (Netherlands); Susi Ross (Florida); Jonathan Goldberg (Missouri); and Arthur Laufer (New York). Look at that! My deceptive photos inspired a U.S. sweep, except for the dude with his finger in the dike. No less than 21 persons were close behind with 59.

Participation this month set a new high (previous high was 1450 in January 2005) which is always nice to see. The average score (47.30) was up considerably over recent polls but only the 10th highest (best was 49.37 in September 2002), and 769 persons scored 48 or higher to make the listing. Problem 2 turned out to be a dud from my perspective, but 1038 people should be pleased with their 10. The rest of the problems, however, were well contested.

In the overall leaderboard, Joshua Donn (California), aided by a 59 score this month, took over the top spot with a 56.75 average. Only a quarter point back at 56.50 is previously leader Jouko Paganus (Finland). Next in line is Brad Theurer (Maryland) with 56.00; followed by Jorge Castanheira (Portugal) and David Nolland (England), each with 55.75.

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 10th Bermuda Bowl was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 15-23, 1961 at the Alvear Palace Hotel. Four teams had earned the right to vie for the symbol of world bridge supremacy: France, winners of the 1960 Bridge Olympiad; Italy, representing Europe; Argentina, representing South America; and United States, representing North America.

Each team played 144 boards against each other in nine segments scored by IMPs.* Curiously, the segments were not 16 boards each — sigh, that would be too sensible — but the World Bridge Federation, in its efforts to confuse everyone, chose segments of 14, 14 and 20, repeated three times. What will they think of next? I guess the only way to find out is to speak to the moron in charge.

*IMP scale was slightly different from today. Ranges from 600 points (12 IMPs) upward were more narrow.

As usual for the times, the Blue Team was invincible, winning all its matches by wide margins. Italy defeated U.S. 382-262, France 370-261 and Argentina 422-283. United States (second) defeated France 262-236 and Argentina 411-284. France (third) defeated Argentina 339-287.

Playing for Italy were Walter Avarelli, Giorgio Belladonna, Eugenio Chiaradia, Massimo D’Alelio, Pietro Forquet and Benito Garozzo. I’ve pictured the Blue Team in four previous polls, so…

This time I’ll picture my second-place countrymen (L-R, top row first): Norman Kay, Paul Hodge, John Gerber, Sidney Silodor, Howard Schenken and Peter Leventritt.

Few people remember the 1961 Bermuda Bowl, because Buenos Aires drew its media acclaim four years later, when an alleged cheating scandal polarized the bridge world. This tournament might be called the calm before the storm. For the storm see Another Time, Another Place.

Fair winds or foul, now it’s your turn to match bids with the world’s best and second best of 1961.

TopMain

Problem 1

IMPsE-W VulYou, South, hold:
 
West
North
East
South
?
S K 10 7 4
H K J 10 7 6 4 3
D J 7
C

CallAwardVotesPercent
Pass1064843
4 H924316
1 H627018
2 H5654
3 H326518

Well, do you or don’t you? The consensus was to keep discipline and pass with the side four-card major — though a few cited the club void as a deterrent, which makes no sense to me. I love to have a void when I preempt, as it’s more likely to deal a sour blow to the opponents than to affect partner. Anyway, the consensus prevails for the top award. Sigh.

I wish all my opponents were so “disciplined,” as it means fewer awkward situations and greater reliance on their bids. In contrast, undisciplined opponents are dangerous and unpredictable, often creating obstacles with off-shape preempts. At the vulnerability, I firmly believe that opening 4 H is a big long-term winner. Even if you miss a spade fit, chances are that hearts will play just as well if not better. The big edge comes from the pressure it puts on the opponents, who will often judge wrong, sending IMPs your way.

Opening 1 H got a lot of votes, but it seems misguided. Many claimed it was “to find a spade fit”; but even if partner bids 1 S, it won’t be clear that spades will play better than hearts. The big downside is the lack of defense, which means you will usually pull partner’s penalty double and end up in 4 H anyway; so why not just bid it right away? At least then you’ll be happy to sit for his double.

Opening a weak two-bid may seem bizarre, but the likelihood of more bidding restores some sensibility, assuming you intend to bid again yourself. Unusual tactics like this sometimes wreak havoc against expert opponents, because they don’t expect it and will face uncharted territory. Mixing strategies, i.e., sometimes preempting, sometimes walking, can be a powerful diversion. I know from experience that the toughest opponent is the one who makes you wonder, “What is he up to this time?”

The only call I strongly dislike is 3 H, as the playing strength is far too great. A typical white-vs-red three-bid would contain five playing tricks (based on the “Rule of 2, 3 and 4”), and I would estimate this hand as 7.5 playing tricks. Since a three-bid will often end the auction, many good games will be missed because partner is misinformed.

Here’s what happened in 1961 in the match between United States and France:

Table 1
4 H S -1
EW +50
S 6 5
H A Q
D 5 4 2
C A Q J 10 8 3
Gerber
West

1 S
2 S
All Pass
Le Dentu
North

2 C
4 C
Hodge
East

2 D
Pass
Trezel
South
1 H
2 H
4 H
Bacherich
West

4 S
Leventritt
North

5 H
Ghestem
East

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

Table 2
5 H× S -2
EW +300
S K 10 7 4
H K J 10 7 6 4 3
D J 7
C

At the first table, Trezel opened 1 H, which allowed Gerber and Hodge to get their bids in cheaply, and ended in a peaceful 4 H. Gerber led the D K, overtaken by the ace for a spade through; then Hodge ruffed the second spade (Gerber led low to make it easy) to cash the D Q — down one.

At the second table, Schenken opened 4 H. This had the usual stampeding effect, causing Bacherich to overbid with 4 S; Leventritt competed to 5 H, and Ghestem judged well to double. The same four tricks were lost; 6 IMPs to France.

The second auction illustrates a downside of preempting with a side four-card major. If an opponent bids that suit, partner will expect the enemy fit to be greater and may take a phantom save. Those who passed as dealer were certainly right this time, as they’d probably buy it for 3 H. Oh well; as I learned long ago, you can’t win ‘em all.

Comments for Pass

Jonathan Goldberg: Nothing quite fits. Since I have the majors, I don’t need to worry as much about being outbid. A preempt, my only other reasonable choice, is mighty unilateral; this hand could play well in three strains.

Joshua Donn: What’s the rush? I can always bid later, so why would I want to preempt opponents out of spades?

David Goldstein: The four-card spade suit precludes a two- or three-bid, and the hand is wrong for 1 H or 4 H; so pass is best. It’s highly unlikely I will not have another chance to bid.

Janet Dugle: I do not like to preempt in first seat with nice spade support.

Don Kemp: Too many possibilities for game or slam in either major; I can always come in later.

Mark Raphaelson: Pretty standard fare; I won’t preempt ourselves out of the spade suit. Some won’t even preempt with three cards in the other major, but that’s a bit extreme.

Noble Shore: Too strong for a favorable three-bid, plus the obvious side-major issue. I have enough playing strength to bid later, pretty much regardless of what opponents do. Partner may even be able to read that I have spades from my failure to preempt.

Kevin Podsiadlik: Not enough defense for a one-bid, and the spades are way too good for a first-seat preempt.

Stephen McDevitt: … I feel very strongly that pass is correct. Preempting is not an option with the spade strain in play, and the vulnerability is correct to reenter the auction if appropriate.

Stephen Fischer: Nothing quite fits the hand — not enough defense to open one, and too strong to preempt. Four hearts is my second choice, but my spade holding should help ensure another chance to bid.

Sven Pride: This isn’t going to be passed out. I’ll have a much better idea of what do do at my next turn. Second choice is 4 H.

Simon Mostyn: … While I do not object to [preempting with] a side four-card spade suit, the suit quality concerns me; danger is that if I open 4 H and an opponent bids 4 S, partner may take a phantom sacrifice.

Simon Cheung: I can’t stomach the thought of opening a heart preempt and having partner pass with a heart void and four or five spades. I don’t mind giving opponents room to locate their spade fit; and I can always outbid their minor with hearts.

Steve Moese: The seventh heart and fourth spade make me hope partner can act. I’ll wait.

Kevin Costello: Too little defensive strength to be comfortable opening one, and too much offensive flexibility to bury the spade suit with a preempt. Switch either king to an ace (or make my spades K-J-10-x with a low doubleton diamond), and I’d probably open 1 H.

Pire Cusi: No need to hurry. If opponents have spades, they won’t go high; if partner has them, we [may have] a slam.

Carsten Kofoed: In the conditions I can’t read anything about being 65 IMPs behind; so with the amount of luck I’m [usually] supplied, I must wait. Partner might have S A-Q-x-x-x H A D A-x-x-x C x-x-x. Next time I’m prepared to bid at the five or even six level [if necessary].

Anastasios Chanalaris: Too strong for a weak two [or three-bid]; not enough quick tricks for a one-bid. I can always bid later…

Shuino Wong: I might [preempt] with four low spades, but this holding is good enough to support partner; I don’t want to miss a spade fit.

Jyrki Lahtonen: Nasty. I would open 1 H with S A-10-x-x H A-J-10-x-x-x-x D x-x C —, but this aceless wonder doesn’t have enough general strength. I’ll get another chance later.

Amnon Harel: Offensively, this is worth a 4 H opening at the vulnerability; but that makes finding a spade fit a bit hard. Passing often works in mysterious ways.

Tysen Streib: This is something I’ve been studying recently, and I’ve concluded that hands with 6-4 or 7-4 in the majors don’t need to be preempted. The reason isn’t necessarily that we might miss a fit in the other major, but rather that opponents’ chances to find and make a game are small. I would rather open 1 H (playing light openings) than preempt.

David Shelton: Not enough quick tricks for 1 H; too many spades for 2 H…, and 4 H is insane.

Thanks for the tip! I’ve been wondering why those guys in white coats are circling my house.

Ragnar Paulson: With a good four-card spade suit and a void, this hand has too much potential to support partner for a preempt. I’ll wait and see what develops.

Rajagopal Sunkara: This hand is worth a one-bid per Zar count, but that’s stretching too far. I don’t like to preempt with a side major and a void.

Rex Settle: With strong spades, either major [could be] the right strain, so I’ll wait and come in later.

Hendrik Sharples: … It’s not my style to play poker when holding the majors; nor do I want to open 1 H with this little in HCP.

Bruce Chen: Upside to preempting is the vulnerability and reasonable suit. Downside is the four-card major and void.

Marilyn Hemenway: I don’t like preempting partner…when I hold four decent spades, so I’ll pass and see what happens.

Larry Gifford: Why preempt? I own the majors. A one-bid is reasonable; but being aceless, I reject it.

Stuart Newberger: Negatives to bidding: four spades; a void; [too little defense] to open one, as partner will not expect weakness if I open 1 H and opponents jam in clubs. Negatives to passing: seven decent hearts.

Chris Gibson: I will surely be able to bid again, and I want to hear the rest of the table before I make a decision.

Dick Henry: Second choice would be to open 1 H; but why give partner a false view of my defensive strength? …

George Klemic: I have no problem bidding as high as 4 H later but see no rush now. Two hearts and 3 H are clearly out; 1 H and 4 H have some merit, but why stretch with a hand I can describe later?

Thijs Veugen: There is no need to preempt with such a spade holding; and a 1 H opening, possibly followed by 4 H, would promise too much. I’ll just wait and see what happens, so I can surprise my opponents.

Stan Dub: I have the values for a 4 H bid, but the risk of losing the spade suit is too high.

Nigel Guthrie: Two hearts and 3 H are underbids; 4 H is overcommitting, and there’s no hurry when I have spades; 1 H is OK, but partner may double opponents or try 3 NT, imagining I have more HCP. Pass is no panacea, but…it is consultative — when I later bid enthusiastically, partner will realize I have few points but lots of shape.

Michael Palitsch: Anything can turn out badly, but this is my best chance not to annoy partner. The only call I really dislike is 2 H.

Sandy McIlwain: Too strong for a preempt, [besides being] two-suited; and too weak to open 1 H. …

Jonathan Siegel: This is my choice, and I’m sticking to it! I don’t like to preempt with a four-card major on the side and see no reason to make an exception. Give me my 3 points!

John Brady: Definitely a square peg that doesn’t fit into any of the round heart holes. It’s not a 1 H opening by honor count, point count, or the Rule of 20; but it’s close. The four-card spade suit with a [high] honor makes it less urgent to preempt; the playing strength isn’t right for 2 H or 3 H; and the spade holding, minimum heart length, and club void make 4 H unattractive (we could be in the wrong suit or belong in slam). …

Bill Cubley: … With plenty of shape and both majors, I’ll back in later to make a doubled contract. :)

Manuel Paulo: My support for spades, if partner has them, is too good for a preemptive opening in hearts.

Damo Nair: I am in no hurry. I plan to bid hearts later, all the way to the four level, maybe even five. With four spades and a void, this is no hand to preempt — but I learn new things every day!

John Lusky: My major-suit holdings and overall strength don’t make any number of hearts quite right; so I’ll pass and judge what to do later.

Paul Flashenberg: With length in spades, there is no good reason to preempt; and this hand does not have the quick-trick structure or HCP to merit a 1 H opening.

Comments for 4 H

Jeff Miller: At least this way I have a good shot to keep opponents out of 3 NT. :)

Mike Doecke: Although 1 H could work well and is more likely to get us to the correct strain, it lets the opponents enter the auction easily; and if we have the balance [of strength], partner could easily push to an [unmakable] slam. This gets us to by far our most likely final contract immediately and leaves the last guess to the opponents.

Brad Theurer: Yes, the hand could belong in spades, but at these colors I need to put the opponents to a guess — or will it be partner’s guess?

Bill Daly: Risky, but I believe in the power of preemption. If I were ahead in the match, I’d probably pass; if behind, I might try one of the other actions.

Karen Walker: In first chair, white-vs-red, this hand screams for a preempt, but it has too much playing strength for 2 H or 3 H. Even if we have a spade fit, the hand will often play better in hearts.

Peg Kaplan: Frankly, all of the options except pass seem reasonable. When nonvul-vs-vul, however, I like to make the opponents guess; ergo, 4 H. It’s not a perfect world! Three hearts would show a worse hand; 2 H would [conceal] my seventh heart from partner; and I fear the consequences of 1 H with only 8 HCP and no ace.

Leonard Helfgott: Preempting seems better than passing; not enough defense for 1 H, and 2 H is just too bizarre. White-vs-red, [this] is enough for a four-bid.

Josh Sinnett: It is possible the hand could play better in spades, but this looks more like a preempt than a [one-bid] — and the vulnerability says to bid ‘em up.

Andrei Varlan: I pray never to hold this hand at IMPs; but we are nonvul, and I must do something. [Anything less than 4 H] leaves too much room for opponents.

Christian Vennerod: I have one spade more than partner expects, but the rest is precise. All other bids are less precise.

Joon Pahk: This might make; or be a good save against 3 NT; or keep opponents out of five or six of a minor. [Further], I have approximately what I’m supposed to have, both in terms of playing strength and high cards; so if slam is on, partner has a chance to get us there.

Rob Wijman: Only if we have a slam…would a 1 H opening work better. Otherwise, this creates maximum pressure for opponents, and it may even make on a sunny day — but not with all those hurricanes around lately. :)

Travis Crump: Spades are unlikely to play better than hearts, so I’ll make the opponents guess.

Andy Caranicas: There aren’t many hands for partner that make 4 S but not 4 H, and the favorable vulnerability [suggests action].

Mauri Saastamoinen: I feel strongly about this. If I preempt, I bid all I have (sometimes more) at once…

Michael Mayer: Seven-four; bid one more. The favorable vulnerability makes this an even easier choice.

Rosalind Hengeveld: I am generally convinced about the “rule of 11” with 7-4 (not with 6-5). Even when partner has four or five spades, 4 S may not be better than 4 H.

Krishna Chakravartula: … I believe in getting my bid in at the earliest opportunity, so holding four spades will not con me into passing at this vulnerability. If we have a spade fit, hearts will play fine, thank you. The hand is too good offensively for 3 H.

Lajos Linczmayer: We may miss a spade slam; but more likely, opponents will miss a minor-suit game or slam. …

Kieran Dyke: About four tricks too good for a favorable 3 H opening. With this heart texture, it is unlikely that spades will play better. Pass will miss games, as partner may pass my 1 H response, or not act opposite my passed-hand overcall with a moderate fit and some high cards. …

Matthew Mason: With a 7-4 hand at the vulnerability, I’ll put maximum pressure on the opponents.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Enough playing potential to preempt 4 H. Only rarely will spades play better; more often, I will preempt opponents out of their minor-suit contract.

John R. Mayne: I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I trust RP to give me 8 points despite matching only 14 percent of the voters. Seven-four hands [usually] play better in the seven than in the four, even when the fit is 7-1 versus 4-4. …

David Caprera: If partner’s hand starts out S A-x-x-x-x-x H x, I will have done a bad thing… but in the long run I think 4 H is a winner. “Bridge favors the bold.” My alternative is to pass, and…nothing else appeals. … There is a little-discussed advantage in preempting with four cards in an unbid major: Opponents have more difficulty doubling you, as it [implies] length in that major…

Barry Rigal: Passing will not make this hand easier to bid. … There are at least as many ways for 4 H to win as to lose, although partnership style is also an important [consideration].

David Wiltshire: By process of elimination: Not enough defense for 1 H; too much to pass; much too good for other preempts at the vulnerability.

Jim Munday: If I’m going to bury the spade suit with a preempt, I may as well exert maximum pressure.

Imre Csiszar: This would be a textbook 4 H bid if spades and either minor were exchanged. While less desirable with spades, right or wrong, it still looks like the percentage bid.

Chris Willenken: A bid after the moderator’s own heart. :) Seriously, 3 H could be so much weaker; and I won’t open 1 H with no defense. Pass is my second choice, but that seems all wet at favorable vulnerability.

Comments for 1 H

Greg Lawler: Too much potential playing strength to do anything else.

Geoff Morris: I won’t preempt holding four of the other major, and I can’t bring myself to pass with so much playing strength.

Marcel Panneton: Distribution makes this worth a one-bid; maybe partner has spades, too.

Robin Zigmond: In first seat, I think there’s more to be lost than gained from preempting with a good four-card major on the side. At these colors, I can get away with a one-bid…

Nicoleta Giura: Rule of 19. :) I would hate to pass (my second choice) and next round find the opponents at the five level; or to preempt in hearts with such good spades.

Dale Freeman: Showing my great defensive hand. :) Pass might work tactically (getting doubled later in 4 H); 2 H and 3 H seem inadequate; and 4 H puts pressure on everyone.

Winston Munn: … I can always rebid hearts forever, so this shouldn’t get me into trouble…

Curt Reeves: Not proud of it, but…I have a six-loser hand and a comfortable rebid over any bid by partner.

Jim Wiitala: It [may be] important to know if partner has a spade suit,…which he can easily show after an overcall. If I pass and an opponent opens, there is no way to show long hearts and four spades.

Darren Cotterell: Six losers just satisfies the Rule of 19, so it’s worth a 1 H bid. Second choice is to pass. I never like to preempt at any level holding four of the other major.

Sebastien Louveaux: This is clearly worth some opening, and I won’t preempt with such a good support for a spade contract…

TopMain

Problem 2

IMPsE-W VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
North
Pass
1 S
East
1 D
Pass
South
1 H
?
S A Q
H K 9 7 5 2
D 7 2
C A Q 6 4

CallAwardVotesPercent
2 C10103870
2 S7695
2 D623916
3 C41107
Pass2312
2 H140

I struck out big-time with this problem, as it recorded the highest percentage ever for the winning call. I thought it would be close between 2 C, 2 D and 2 S, as the situation is not analogous to opening 1 H. Here, the 1 S bid shows 5+ cards, so a spade raise seems more natural to me than introducing a mediocre club suit. I would bid 2 S.

Many 2 C bidders commented how they would be “well-placed” if partner bid again; more specifically, over a 2 H preference, 2 S would conveniently show secondary support and offer the proper amount of encouragement. All well and good, but I wonder how they will enjoy playing 2 C when partner is 5=1=5=2 — unlikely, they will claim; realistic, I say.

A third reasonable choice is to cue-bid 2 D, which will probably locate the best strain; alas, with a great risk of getting overboard. Cue-bids are forcing to game (or four of a raised minor), so it is optimistic at best to commit that high with a mediocre 15-count. Being nonvulnerable also dictates less need to push for a close game.

Other choices were added mainly as fillers. Pass is wildly conservative; 3 C is wildly aggressive and overemphasizes clubs; and 2 H is gross, violating basic principles of the game. Fritz? Oh, never mind; I heard he’s hiding out in the Black Forest.

Here’s what happened 44 years ago when United States faced Argentina:

Table 1
2 S N +2
NS +170
S K J 7 6 3
H 10
D Q 8
C K 10 5 3 2
Dibar
West

Pass
All Pass
Hodge
North
Pass
1 S
Bosco
East
1 D
Pass
Gerber
South
1 H
2 S
Leventritt
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Cramer
North
Pass
2 S
4 C
Schenken
East
1 D
Pass
Pass
Castro
South
Dbl
3 C
4 S
S 8 2
H Q J 8 6 3
D 10 6 4 3
C 8 7
TableS 10 9 5 4
H A 4
D A K J 9 5
C J 9

Table 2
4 S N =
NS +420
S A Q
H K 9 7 5 2
D 7 2
C A Q 6 4

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Bosco opened and Gerber overcalled (sounds like a grocery store to my twisted mind). Gerber then judged to raise spades, a step in the right direction, but Hodge didn’t feel he was worth another bid. Understandably, neither player elected to stretch at the vulnerability. Ten tricks were easily made; plus 170.

The auction at the second table defies explanation, not so much for the double but the 3 C rebid. Was this a canape sequence that Castro decided not to finish? Or could it be the origin of the Castro Convertible? Who knows, but the final contract struck gold, and Argentina gained 6 IMPs.

How would our majority vote for 2 C have fared? Not clear. North would surely raise to 3 C. If South now bids 3 S, North would expect S A-x or Q-x and may persist in clubs, fearing his spades are too weak to play in 4 S. It’s hard to picture S A-Q both, so perhaps South should jump to 4 S over 3 C.

Comments for 2 C

Jonathan Goldberg: If I am passed out here, it might even be the right spot; and if not, I have a good chance to get this deal right.

Jeff Miller: Points, schmoints. Nothing to get excited about yet.

Joshua Donn: If partner has S J-10-x-x-x H Q-x D K-Q-10 C K-x-x, an easy 3 NT. It’s not as though 2 C propels us to the stratosphere.

David Goldstein: … This invites notrump from partner if he has a diamond stopper. Spades are too short [to raise].

Mike Doecke: … Given that partner could easily have enough for game, I’m not afraid to bid again.

Janet Dugle: If partner can bid…spades again, my hand improves considerably.

Brad Theurer: Not clear where this hand is going yet, but I might as well show my other suit and see how partner reacts. He did not open 2 S, so his spades can’t be all that great…

Gerry Wildenberg: With 1 S defined as 8-11, pass is out. If partner bids 2 H, I will bid 2 S; if he bids 2 S, I will raise to three.

Noble Shore: Looks somewhat like a misfit. If partner rebids his spades, I will raise; if he shows any game interest, I will cooperate.

Neil Paddy: I don’t know where this hand is going yet — partscore, 3 NT or 4 S. If partner can’t find a bid over 2 C, we won’t have a game, and the deal could be a misfit.

Stephen McDevitt: Most descriptive, planning to show the [strong] doubleton spade next. Getting partner to value his clubs [highly] may be the key to a nice 4 S contract opposite S K-J-10-9-x H Q-x D x-x C J-10-9-x.

Karen Walker: Clubs might be our only eight-card fit, so there’s no reason to forgo showing my second suit. If partner retreats to 2 H, I’ll bid 2 S and hope he gets the idea that I’d rather play his 5-2 fit than mine. This also should imply a good hand, as I would pass 1 S with a doubleton and a minimum.

Stephen Fischer: Leaving all options open; I will bid spades if I get another chance.

Peg Kaplan: Very close between 2 S and 2 C. Silence from the opponents, however, makes me think partner has some diamond cards; if so, 3 NT should be easier than 4 S. Possibilities of game are too great to pass, so 2 C is the Al Roth plan: “I hope I make it past this call.”

Leonard Helfgott: If partner passes, we probably won’t miss anything. If he returns to 2 H, I’ll try 2 S as constructive.

Josh Sinnett: I’m strong enough hand to keep the bidding open, so I’ll show my pattern.

Gabriel Vivas: Partner has 8-11, so game is still possible; I show my second suit, hoping partner can bid notrump or rebid spades.

Arend Bayer: If partner bids again, I will show my hand by a delayed raise. If he doesn’t, I [doubt] we have missed game.

Greg Lawler: Forward-going, but I won’t overestimate my spade strength. If partner passes, I won’t feel bad. If he takes another call, I will [support] spades: 2 S over 2 H; 3 S over 2 S or 3 C.

Christian Vennerod: … If partner now bids 2 H, I will bid 2 S — reluctantly, as he did not open 2 S. …

Joon Pahk: … If partner passes this, we won’t miss much. Over 2 H, I will try 2 S,…which may be the [best] way to get to game when it’s right.

Simon Mostyn: Worth a game try; if partner passes, we are likely to be in the best spot. I will continue with 2 S over 2 H (partner denied three hearts with 1 S, so spades figures to be better). …

Rob Wijman: Unanimous panel for 2 C, I believe; nonforcing but constructive and descriptive. …

Travis Crump: Too good for pass, and 2 S is too committal with a doubleton. Over a 2 H correction, I plan to bid 2 S.

Steve Moese: Intending to bid spades next if I get a chance, [except] I will pass partner’s 2 NT. One spade is nonforcing,…so game is unlikely.

Mauri Saastamoinen: [Bidding only] 2 C, one might ask: How good a hand should I have to jump to 3 C? For that I would need either better suits or all prime values, e.g., the H A instead of the king. …

Sandy Barnes: I’m too good to pass (but it’s close), and it’s not clear that spades is our best contract.

Pire Cusi: Partner is a passed hand, and we have no fit so far, so I won’t heat up on a rather dull 15-count.

Carsten Kofoed: This keeps many possibilities open. Three clubs should show better suits because I must tolerate a preference. …

Anastasios Chanalaris: This hand might belong in a 5-2 spade fit, but 3 NT is not out of the equation if partner has something in diamonds. …

Ronald Michaels: If partner can’t do anything encouraging over 2 C, we’re not going anywhere. If he gives a preference to 2 H, I’ll risk a try with 2 S.

Scott Stearns: … Partner probably doesn’t have six spades, so why raise? I have extras and another suit I haven’t shown, so why not bid again? …

Michael Mayer: This sequence [implies] 12-16 HCP, as I could bid 2 NT with a weaker or stronger heart-club two-suiter.

Jyrki Lahtonen: A slight underbid, but it’s unlikely the bidding will end here. Two spades is an alternative, but I hate to do that with only doubleton support.

Amnon Harel: … Who can say that 2 C isn’t our best contract? If partner rebids spades, I’ll be happy to [raise].

David Shelton: Not enough suit texture for a jump to 3 C or a cue-bid.

Rajagopal Sunkara: Natural, showing [additional] strength and willingness to play game if partner has the right hand. I will raise spades if partner bids again.

Bill Powell: I’ll raise 2 NT to 3 NT, and pass anything else — except perhaps 2 D. :)

Rosalind Hengeveld: Had I opened 1 H, I would have no qualms about a wide-range 2 C rebid over 1 S. Why should I now?

Robin Zigmond: Presumably 1 S is nonforcing (given that pass is an option), but my hand is good enough to bid again anyway. The choice is between 2 C and 2 S, and I’m inclined to bid out my shape since opponents seem to be leaving the auction to us.

Rex Settle: If partner is maximum (10-11), 3 NT or 4 S might be on.

Bruce Chen: My first call was already a compromise on suit quality, and supporting spades is not ideal; but I do have another suit to bid.

Krishna Chakravartula: Close decision between 2 S and 2 C, but this will [probably] be kept open by someone, and I can support spades later to describe my hand completely.

Larry Gifford: I have extras, but my distribution is dull; I sure hope partner bids again.

Chris Vinall: Partner can pass with a total misfit, but otherwise I expect him to bid on. With tenaces over opener, and 8-11 points opposite, I will then push to game…

Dick Henry: The fact that I bid again over partner’s nonforcing 1 S indicates a pretty good hand; I’ll let him make the final decision.

Lajos Linczmayer: If partner has a good hand, we should play game: 3 NT, 4 S or 5 C. I’ll bid 2 S over 2 H.

George Klemic: I don’t have a problem with a 5-2 fit here, but…a descriptive 2 C [seems] better. I have no intention of driving to game but want to leave open the decision to partner.

Thijs Veugen: This shows a [good overcall] with four clubs; over 2 H, I will bid 2 S.

Frans Buijsen: A positive bid, describing my hand; I [will] support spades later. What’s not to like?

Kieran Dyke: I will follow with 2 S over 2 H; 3 NT over 2 NT; or 3 S over 3 C.

Nigel Guthrie: Two hearts is a gross distortion; 2 D and 3 C are brazen overbids; and pass is cowardly. Two spades is a good practical bid, but it may overexcite partner in competition. This risks a pass but is otherwise descriptive and forward-going…

Martin Bootsma: Game is still possible (even though partner is a passed hand), and this may allow partner to bid 2 NT (which I will raise to 3 NT). …

Michael Palitsch: I hope to get one more bid from partner, so I can show my good hand and the strong doubleton spade. Second choice is 2 D, but I don’t think my hand is good enough.

John R. Mayne: Pass has a lot of appeal opposite a hand limited to 11, but I’m barely worth 2 C. I hope partner will rebid 2 NT or cue-bid; but if not, we’ll stop low. …

David Caprera: I don’t see any reason not to bid what is in front of me. Partner is unlikely to hold S K-x-x-x-x-x (he would have opened 2 S); in fact, 1 S might have been creative with S K-J-10-x H x-x D x-x C K-x-x-x-x. Game is unlikely but possible, so I won’t pass; 2 D shows a better hand…; and 3 C shows a fifth club. If partner rebids 2 H, 2 NT or 3 C, I will bid spades.

John Hoffman: Showing where I live and leaving plenty of room for partner to clarify. I’ll rebid 2 S if I get a chance.

Sandy McIlwain: It’s hard to imagine that partner’s next bid (or pass) will not lead us to the right spot. A 2 D cue-bid seems too random with no trick source.

Carlos Dabezies: Good spades but only two of them; not good enough for 2 D or 3 C.

Chuck Lamprey: This is how I would bid as dealer, and I don’t see how the 1 D bid changes things all that much.

Barry Rigal: I’ll bite; describing my hand and keeping the auction open is obvious — unless I just stepped on a land mine.

David Harari: Partner is unlikely to have six spades (no weak two-bid), so clubs might be our best fit. Two diamonds is too nebulous.

Manuel Paulo: Showing my shape and strength. Game is possible if partner has, e.g., S K-x-x-x-x-x H x D Q-x-x C J-x-x (4 S) or S J-x-x-x-x H x D A-x C K-x-x-x-x (5 C).

Paul Flashenberg: No need to do anything drastic; I’ll let the auction unfold naturally.

Ron Landgraff: … Partner’s bid has to be at least constructive; else why did he bid?

Darren Cotterell: Partner will have real rubbish to pass this, maybe S K-x-x-x-x H x-x D x-x C K-x-x-x, in which case I won’t mind. If partner rebids 2 S, I’ll cue-bid 3 D

Comments for 2 S

Kevin Podsiadlik: Not a great hand but good enough for another try. I’m not much of a fan of the two-card raise; but with two high honors, I’ll give in.

Don Hinchey: Spade encouragement is in order.

John Brady: A little too promising for pass. Raising on a doubleton has some risk, especially since partner didn’t open 2 S, but it is A-Q doubleton, after all. If we have a game, it’s more likely in spades than clubs, so the reward for raising spades is greater than introducing clubs.

Comments for 2 D

Simon Cheung: … Maybe this will drag out some more useful information. If partner bids a noncommittal 2 H, then a 2 S correction seems an accurate description…

Matthew Mason: I might as well [imply] support for partner’s suit with S A-Q and high cards sitting behind opener.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Showing a maximum overcall… I will raise spades over 2 H or 2 S.

Jim Munday: With the defensive high cards lying in front of me, I’m playing for game. I’ll raise 2 NT to 3 NT, or bid 3 C over 2 H or 2 S. If we [end up] in spades, A-Q doubleton should be sufficient support.

John Lusky: Neither 2 C nor 3 C seems right on values, and I suspect that we want to play clubs only if partner bids them. If partner bids 2 H, I will bid 2 S

Imre Csiszar: Apparently, this is a test whether 2 D is natural or a cue-bid. Marshall Miles teaches the former, but I believe it is still nonstandard. Anyhow, no partner would dare to pass 2 D in absence of a firm agreement.

Tim DeLaney: Game is possible, and this seems like the best way to explore. … If partner rebids 2 S, I will raise. If he bids 2 H, I will try not to make faces. :)

Winston Munn: I have to show some life, and this allows partner to show doubleton heart support, after which I will bid 2 S. If he rebids spades, I will raise. …

Chris Willenken: … I like this cue-bid to show a strong hand of three types: (1) six weak hearts, (2) two spades with no diamond stopper, or (3) three spades. Partner should react for the moment as if I have Type 1, so he should bid 2 H on, e.g., S K-x-x-x-x H x D K-x-x C K-x-x-x. I’ll bid 2 S next with Type 2, or 3 S with Type 3. The main alternative to cue-bidding is 2 C, but that seems misdirected with S A-Q. …

Sebastien Louveaux: Showing values and no clear direction.

TopMain

Problem 3

IMPsE-W VulYou, South, hold:
 
West
1 S
North
2 D
East
4 S
South
?
S 8
H A 9 7 6 2
D J 7
C K Q 9 7 6

CallAwardVotesPercent
4 NT (takeout)1065844
Double843429
Pass625417
5 C4513
5 D2946

It’s time to put up or shut up, and the consensus was to take the push despite having no known fit. The enemy 4 S bid makes it almost certain that your side has a fit, but competing to the five level could be a sour venture if partner is 2=3=6=2, or some other minimal fitting shape.

Most of the time, it seems that bidding will trade a small plus for a small minus; i.e., both your contract and 4 S will be down one. Even so, bidding offers potential for substantial gain if either contract makes; and sometimes both contracts make, then failure to bid could result in a double game swing against you. Therefore, IMP odds suggest taking the push, and the indicated agreement that 4 NT is for takeout makes everything cozy.*

*In real life, many players would be reluctant to bid 4 NT because partner may answer aces. I recommend this rule: Over an enemy 4 H or 4 S, 4 NT is Blackwood if (1) our side has shown a fit, (2) partner has made a jump bid, or (3) partner has acted and less than two suits are unshown, not counting spades. Otherwise, 4 NT is for takeout. This agreement tends to give 4 NT the most useful meaning.

Double is a reasonable choice, as it doesn’t preclude partner from bidding if he has a second suit or extreme diamond length. The tone of the bidding makes it highly unlikely you are doubling on a spade stack, but just on high-card strength without a diamond fit. At matchpoints, double would be my choice, catering to the likely small plus score, while allowing partner the discretion to pull.

Pass might seem the safe way out, but it must be losing bridge in the long run. Two-level overcalls show opening-bid values, or nearly so with a strong suit or exciting shape; so remaining mute with 10 useful HCP is too conservative, if not cowardly.

Other options (5 C and 5 D) were included mainly as fillers rather than serious candidates. Five clubs has lead-directional merit if opponents compete to 5 S, but more likely you’ll be doubled and face an ugly decision whether to sit or run. Five diamonds seems totally out of line with a doubleton trump.

Here’s how the chips fell in the Franco-American match in 1961:

Table 1
5 C N +1
NS +420
S 3
H 8 3
D A K 9 6 3
C A 8 4 3 2
Kay
West
1 S
Pass
Trezel
North
2 D
5 C
Silodor
East
4 S
All Pass
Le Dentu
South
4 NT
Bacherich
West
1 S
Pass
Schenken
North
2 NT
Pass
Ghestem
East
4 S
Pass
Leventritt
South
5 C
S A Q 9 5 4 2
H Q 10 5
D Q 10 4
C J
TableS K J 10 7 6
H K J 4
D 8 5 2
C 10 5

Table 2
5 C S +1
NS +420
S 8
H A 9 7 6 2
D J 7
C K Q 9 7 6

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Le Dentu followed our consensus to bid 4 NT — right on the money, as Trezel had a hidden club suit. Twelve tricks were made when Silodor chose to lead a heart; plus 420.

At the second table, Schenken followed modern practice with an unusual notrump overcall, making Leventritt’s action easy. Bacherich also led a heart (from the opposite side) so diamonds were established after drawing trumps for a push.

On the actual deal, double would be the winning action, as routine defense takes five tricks (plus 500). No doubt, this reflects on West’s 1 S opening without two quick tricks and East’s game raise with a balanced hand — pick a villain.

Comments for 4 NT

Jonathan Goldberg: Most flexible. Nothing is perfect, but that’s why people preempt.

Jeff Miller: This will often convert a small plus to a small minus, but it should show a big gain often enough to be worthwhile at IMPs.

Joshua Donn: We could have game in any of three suits, so I go for it. With spades and diamonds reversed, I would double.

Skafti Jonsson: Not ideal. Hopefully, partner will bid 5 D if he doesn’t have at least three cards in either clubs or hearts.

Mike Doecke: Tough problem, especially without knowing anything about the opponents’ style… It does, however, raise the question of what a double should show, and I believe it should be negative (not significant spade length) but with an orientation toward penalty, e.g., something like a 2=5=2=4 10-count. … From overcaller’s point of view, a hand with 5-4-2-2 shape should pass a double, so I lean toward 4 NT.

Brad Theurer: Too good to pass; we may have a cheap save, or even a make. It’s possible we should defend 4 S, but that’s a deep position to take.

Mark Raphaelson: As long as you’re offering a takeout bid, how can I pass it up at this vulnerability? The risk-reward ratio seems good. Sure, we may beat 4 S, but I don’t want to go back to my teammates and [lose] a double game swing.

Noble Shore: I can’t tell who’s making what, and it’s not a huge loss if it’s a one-trick phantom. The 5-5 shape seems to make 4 NT clear…

Kevin Podsiadlik: I have a ready-made takeout bid on this auction? Then what am I we waiting for!

Neil Paddy: With a six-loser hand in a big-fit auction, I have to bid, and asking partner to choose an unbid suit seems best.

Stephen McDevitt: I fear my bid could Easley be misunderstood [at the table], but the takeout meaning has to be right. Chances of a nine-card fit in hearts or clubs are quite high, and insurance is worth taking at these colors.

Stephen Fischer: With longer spades, I’d be more likely to double; so partner should play me for something like this. I’m worried that nobody can make anything…

Leonard Helfgott: Five clubs as a lead-director with diamond tolerance has great appeal; but as long as 4 NT is specified as takeout, I’ll choose it.

Josh Sinnett: A terrific bid to have in our system! Partner should rebid diamonds only with a good six-bagger; else he’ll bid his three-card rounded suit.

Christian Vennerod: Too much distribution to pass or double. At this vulnerability, partner is under no obligation to have two defensive tricks.

Rob Wijman: Anything (pass, double or 4 NT) could work, but I favor the old, “When in doubt, bid one more.” This will also get us to 5 D if we belong there.

Simon Cheung: Maybe opponents can make 4 S, or maybe we can make a five-level contract. This will locate our best fit, at the cost of forgoing a chance to defend 4 S. Also, I don’t like to double at a high level when its meaning is unclear, as partner is quite likely to pass if unsure. Even if I’m wrong, opponents may come to the rescue by pushing to 5 S.

Travis Crump: Four spades probably isn’t making, but I’ll take the cheap insurance anyway. Who knows? We might just make five of something.

Steve Moese: I like my hand for offense, and even better if we fit in a rounded suit. I think this should indicate some tolerance for diamonds, else a hand [like 6-6, with which I wouldn’t pass 5 D].

Mauri Saastamoinen: Give partner, say, H K-Q-x-x or C A-x-x-x, and something good in diamonds, and we could [win] a double game swing if I bid. So I’ll close my eyes with this rosy view and step on it!

Pire Cusi: Attack? Defend? Who cares! I’ll apply some pressure.

Carsten Kofoed: [At this vulnerability], opponents aren’t kidding. This shows my distribution exactly, and 5 C, 5 D or 5 H could be a fine sacrifice, or push them to 5 S.

Amnon Harel: Why are opponents sacrificing at unfavorable vulnerability? … Against good IMP players, it’s probably right to bid on, as a fit is very likely, and I have no spade wastage.

Lawrence Cheetham: Trying to avoid minus 790.

Hendrik Sharples: Undisciplined,…but I have too much to pass, and no real reason to assume we can beat 4 S.

Chris Gibson: Versatile. We have a fit somewhere, and the vulnerability says I should try to find it.

Jordan Chodorow: Cheap insurance.

Lajos Linczmayer: I guess the opponents have 9-10 tricks in spades, and we have 10-11 tricks in our best fit. Bidding 4 NT is wrong only if they have nine and we have 10.

George Klemic: If 4 NT is takeout, it seems obvious. It’s very possible that we have a making contract; or if not, then a good sacrifice…

Martin Bootsma: I believe the opponents and hope to find a good spot at the five level. This could result in a disaster, but I feel that passing or doubling has a higher risk.

Don Hinchey: When in doubt, ask for partner’s help.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: With the singleton spade, a good save is probably available; maybe even a make.

John R. Mayne: I’ll try the toy. I expect to beat 4 S, but the positive vig in pushing opponents to five, and the possibility we might make something, makes 4 NT attractive. I wish double were value-showing rather than penalty, but I think partner will pass on some unsuitable hands. Very tough problem.

John Hoffman: Too risky to defend 4 S when opponents appear to have a big fit and a lot of shape. Our best fit might be only eight cards, but this hand has a lot of offensive potential.

Alan Kravetz: Since I have a six-loser hand and partner [suggests] a seven-loser hand, we can play at the five level in our fit — which must [exist] since opponents [appear to] have 10 spades.

Sandy McIlwain: Defending could be right, but I doubt it. This gives partner three suits to choose from, and it may edge the opponents up to 5 S.

Gerald Murphy: Partner [should] be short in spades, so I hope he has support for my suits; if not, he’ll have long diamonds, and I have tolerance there.

Roger Morton: I was just wondering about 4 NT when I saw it listed as a takeout bid. Ideal — if I believe 4 S has chances.

Barry Rigal: Clearly, the only other reasonable choice is to double, but partner will pass too often. (As a passed hand I might double.) Partner won’t thank me for this if he is 4=2=5=2.

John Brady: This hand and the vulnerability call for some kind of action, and 4 NT is most flexible if bidding on is best. Double can’t be based on trump tricks but suggests two spades and one diamond.

David Harari: I have to act, and I assume double would be penalty oriented. Nowadays, many play a double as “cards.”

David Wiltshire: I’d prefer to double, but I think it is penalty according to the system. This feels too unilateral,…but passing or bidding a suit at the five level does not appeal.

Bill Cubley: Just enough high cards to double and let opponents make 4 S, and just enough shape to bid and go down when they should go down. :)

Jim Munday: At the vulnerability, I can afford to take out insurance that 4 S is making; game may even make our way. …

Richard Morse: Whose hand is it? Whatever, it seems right to bid on, and this gives partner [three] options.

Alon Amsel: If opponents’ bids can be trusted, 4 S won’t go down much (if any), and partner may have [another suit].

Comments for Double

Bill Daly: This may work out badly, but I’m too strong to pass; and I don’t feel like forcing partner to bid a suit at the five level.

Karen Walker: Partner will know I have scattered high cards, not a trump stack. If he has a hand he thinks will make 5 D (or won’t defeat 4 S),…he’s free to bid on.

Peg Kaplan: Too much to pass. Very close between 4 NT and double; but 4 NT removes partner’s option to defend, while double does not.

Joon Pahk: Partner should have a good hand, and I expect opponents to be down…on a trump lead. Even if we have a 9-card fit and they have 10 spades, the Law suggests defending, as they’ll be down two when we make five. It certainly doesn’t look like a hand where I need to save over their making game.

Kevin Costello: I’m sure East knew the vulnerability when he bid, but I still have trouble seeing how they’re going to win 10 tricks.

Steve White: No reason to commit our side to declare. This shows values, so partner can decide.

Sandy Barnes: This is more of a negative decision than a positive one.

Jyrki Lahtonen: It looks like opponents are going down. I would bid if I could be sure we have a good fit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Double cannot be based on a spade stack, so partner will take it out with undisclosed distributional assets.

David Shelton: Take the plus; slam seems unlikely. Partner does not have [five] clubs, else he would bid 2 NT.

Nigel Marlow: Where are opponents’ tricks? We appear to have three suits covered, and there is no guarantee we can make 11 tricks anywhere.

Bill Powell: If opponents have a magical fit and can make 4 S, I’ll sympathize with partner for leaving my…double in.

Robin Zigmond: … I won’t pass at this vulnerability, and 5 C and 5 D are horribly unilateral. The advantage of double over 4 NT is that partner can pass with a defense-oriented hand.

Rex Settle: I expect partner to have a sound hand with some defense. As there is no obvious fit, I will double [to show] it is our hand. …

Bruce Chen: It is easy to imagine that partner has six diamonds, and our best fit is only eight cards. The Law is not on my side to compete, even at the vulnerability. On the other hand, even a crossruff is unlikely to yield 10 tricks [in spades].

Krishna Chakravartula: I have no clue whether par for this deal is a spade contract by opponents or some number of clubs, diamonds or hearts by us, so double is obvious to keep all options open. I love to pass the buck to partner. :) If partner passes and we have a five-level game, we may still collect enough from the vulnerable opponents. …

Larry Gifford: Flexible. It might be right to defend, and partner should pull with some distribution.

Chris Vinall: Four notrump could work, but this looks right at the colors with hard values and no known fit. Partner should remove the double with extra shape.

Frans Buijsen: Penalty oriented, but partner knows I won’t have a spade stack; he [should] run out with extreme [shape]…

Jack Brawner: A rule of good bidding: Involve partner in the decision whenever possible. Double must be a cooperative at this level.

Michael Palitsch: Sometimes, this will lead to a doppelkamin (minus 790), but I’m a man who can stand it.

David Caprera: Partner should not expect a trump stack, even though this is presumably penalty. The problem could come when partner has a two-suiter,…but if we are on the same wavelength, he will pull it. Otherwise, we’ll defend, and I expect 4 S to fail. …

Carlos Dabezies: A good hand for a penalty double, but partner should pull with a giant two-suiter.

Chuck Lamprey: I suppose I have to give partner the option to defend — he knows what he has in spades; I don’t.

Manuel Paulo: Any bid is too unilateral and risks taking a phantom sacrifice; pass looks shy. I hope partner bids with [extreme] shape, but otherwise accepts the penalty.

Damo Nair: What, me worry? I’ll have enough time to make up a reasonable-sounding excuse when I write down minus 790, or if we go for 500 against nothing. :)

Dale Freeman: This just shows high cards and no great diamond fit. With weird distribution, partner should bid again. (It might help to know partner’s tendencies for a favorable two-level overcall.)

Winston Munn: This must be card-showing; partner should pull with [extreme] shape.

Chris Willenken: Just showing points. Partner should bid with a spade void; or with a singleton and offensive orientation, e.g., S x H x-x D K-Q-10-x-x-x C A-J-10-x. Four notrump could be right, but sometimes partner has S A-Q-x

Sebastien Louveaux: This should be based on general values,…not a trump stack. If partner finds the obvious trump lead, opponents are [unlikely] to find 10 tricks.

Comments for Pass

Simon Mostyn: I would be inclined to double if it were takeout, as it has the upside of partner passing and our collecting 500. I have no reason, however, to suppose opponents are making 4 S, or that we can make anything at the five level.

Scott Stearns: We aren’t likely to make anything at the five level with bad breaks, so I’d rather defend. Depending on the state of the match, I [might] double.

Rosalind Hengeveld: With only an eight-card fit for all I know, nothing indicates we belong at the five level.

Nigel Guthrie: If 4 S makes, a profitable sacrifice is [likely] and rarely may make. Five clubs and 5 D are overcommittal; 4 NT allows more options but may still reach the wrong contract or result in a phantom sacrifice. … Double is too speculative, because vulnerable opponents don’t take foolhardy risks. Pass seems to have the least downside, as partner is still there. …

Nicoleta Giura: East’s bid is based on shape, not strength. I have no reason to believe 4 S will make, so why change a plus into a minus?

Imre Csiszar: After going for a number on Problem 1, I will not try to be a hero here. :)

Tim DeLaney: With reasonable defense, I am not inclined to sacrifice. It is very unlikely that a five-level contract can be made; and for all I know, our teammates are plus 140 at the other table. If I bid, we could easily go minus 500 — a small victory if opponents can make 4 S, but a disaster if they cannot.

Paul Flashenberg: East’s 4 S has done me in. Anything could be right, and partner still has another chance…

Curt Reeves: Color me chicken. Yes, we could lose a double game swing opposite…perfect cards; but I think it is more likely that partner is relatively balanced (2=3=6=2) and we can score four tricks on defense.

Ron Landgraff: Game is unlikely. If partner has D A-K, we [rate to] beat 4 S

Darren Cotterell: I like my defense (H A C K-Q) so I’ll let the opponents play — however, they probably make 4 S, or you wouldn’t have selected the problem, right?

TopMain

Problem 4

IMPsNone VulYou, South, hold:
 
West
Pass
Pass
Pass
North
1 D
2 D
3 NT
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
3 C
?
S A K J 8 7 6
H 10
D 10 6
C A K 7 4

CallAwardVotesPercent
Pass1057739
4 S951034
4 D724016
4 H5674
4 C3372
5 D1604

Should you try for slam? Partner could have the magic hand, e.g., S x-x H A-K-x D K-Q-J-9-8-x C x-x, where 6 D is excellent; but it’s odds-against. Clearly, most voters agreed and took the conservative view to settle for game.

But which game? The decision seems close, and partner’s heart and spade holdings are surely the key. Opposite a low singleton spade and a double heart stopper, 3 NT rates to be better; and so the consensus dictated. I would bid 4 S, as I might catch a doubleton or a blank honor (S Q or 10). Even opposite a low singleton or void, 4 S should have a good play; but 3 NT may need six running spade tricks opposite a single heart stopper.

Optimists who tried for slam were split among 4 C, 4 D and 4 H, but the straightforward diamond raise is most descriptive. Cue-bidding 4 H is ambiguous (partner won’t know you have diamond tolerance), and 4 C is misdescriptive. Four diamonds might also extract a belated spade preference, but then slam is less likely since partner would have the wrong heart holding if he turned up with, say, S Q-x. The main benefit of 4 D is to allow partner to show the H A, without which any slam is a pipe dream.

Last and surely least is 5 D, which was added as a filler; and when partner sees dummy, he will think your head needs a filler. Oops, with 60 votes maybe I should retract that. Nah, I’ll stand.

Then came Italy! As usual for the times, Americans could not contain the Blue Team, and this deal was no exception — and not too pretty either:

Table 1
7 D× N -1
EW +100
S 10
H A K J
D K Q 9 7 5 3 2
C Q 10
Belladonna
West
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Dbl
Schenken
North
1 D
3 D
4 D
7 D
All Pass
Avarelli
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Leventritt
South
2 S
3 S
6 D
Pass
Kay
West
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Forquet
North
1 D
3 D
3 NT
4 H
5 C
6 D
Silodor
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Garozzo
South
2 C
3 S
4 C
4 S
5 D
S 9 4 2
H 9 8 5 4
D A J 8 4
C J 9
TableS Q 5 3
H Q 7 6 3 2
D
C 8 6 5 3 2

Table 2
6 D N -1
EW +50
S A K J 8 7 6
H 10
D 10 6
C A K 7 4

At the first table, Leventritt started with a strong jump shift then took a shot at slam after hearing three diamond bids (North’s hand was limited to 15 HCP in their system). Schenken’s final bid was reasonable, expecting to catch three aces after Leventritt’s failure to use Blackwood — sorry, not this time, as Belladonna took a chance and doubled. Schenken guessed right to run the D 10 on the first round, limiting the debacle to down one; minus 100.

At the second table, Forquet and Garozzo bid well (canape style) to the good slam.* Alas, Forquet had no indication to make an abnormal diamond play and had to fail after leading to the D K. Still, down one undoubled meant 2 IMPs for Italy.

*Actually, 6 NT is better and should make (barring a spade lead from East) because declarer can capitalize on the fortunate spade lie after discovering the diamond break.

Well, our consensus to give up on 6 D was right in practice but for an unexpected reason: bad breaks. In presenting the problem I had South respond 1 S (few experts today would jump shift with a two-suiter), and North to rebid 2 D — arguably an underbid, but I think most experts would feel 3 D is more of an overbid. Anyway, food for thought.

Comments for Pass

Jonathan Goldberg: Partner [likely] has a minimum 6-4. If he had a spade piece and a suit-oriented hand, he would have bid 3 S. There is still some risk of missing slam, but bidding on risks a minus.

Jeff Miller: Partner would often rebid 1 NT with a doubleton spade, so I think a singleton is more likely. In view of that, my spade spots are not so good that I can safely take out insurance against a weak heart stopper. My H 10 may be just what partner needs to control the suit.

Mark Raphaelson: Partner smells like 1=4=6=2 or something very close, and he has already limited his hand. Three notrump is fine with me — and I even have an honor in each red suit.

Bill Daly: Where am I going with this? I don’t feel safe beyond 3 NT.

Gerry Wildenberg: Partner had an opportunity to show doubt about notrump by bidding 3 H (over 3 C).

Kevin Podsiadlik: Partner has successfully doused my slam aspirations, so the primary question is whether to pass 3 NT or correct to 4 S. It’s close, but I don’t have quite enough reason to overrule partner.

Karen Walker: Our auction has used up a lot of bidding space, so the pass-or-bid decision comes down to a guess about how much partner has in hearts. He might have rebid 3 D (or even 3 H) if he were unsure about hearts, so that talks me into settling for the notrump game.

Peg Kaplan: Am I supposed to pull this to 4 D? Or 4 S? Partner knows that I have at least nine black cards, and it shouldn’t be a huge issue that I have one more. Of course, it may be big that I have two diamonds and one heart, [not vice versa]; but with zero HCP in the suits partner showed, I’m going quietly…

Andrei Varlan: I have to trust partner… On this misfit, he [should] have points only in the red suits; I see something like 1=4=5=3 or 1=3=6=3 with a good heart stopper. … Finally, I passed on a problem. LOL

Ken Graebe: I have to assume partner has two or three heart stoppers; if not, it’s his fault; if so and I pull to 4 S, it’s my fault.

Greg Lawler: Partner could have bid 3 H to ask for my opinion.

Christian Vennerod: Why did partner not bid 1 NT? Because he has a black-suit deficiency. With skimpy hearts he might have bid 3 H. …

Simon Mostyn: Hamman’s Rule. Four diamonds (slam try) is a touch ambitious; 4 C suggests 5-5 in the blacks; and 4 S looks wrong without a self-sufficient suit opposite a likely 1=4=6=2 shape.

Simon Cheung: I don’t like the thought of missing a laydown slam, but I would feel very bad if I bid on and turned a making game into a minus. My spades aren’t good enough to play opposite a singleton or void; and if partner were spade-suitable (doubleton plus high red-suit honors), he would stall with 3 H or 3 S, rather than bid a space-consuming 3 NT.

Kevin Costello: In notrump, partner may be able to combine chances in both diamonds and spades; while game in either suit could be doomed by a horrific trump split.

Carsten Kofoed: It smells — partner could be equipped with S x H K-Q-x-x D A-Q-x-x-x C Q-x-x. At best, a slam may depend on 3-2 diamonds… Four hearts is tempting because it [suggests] my distribution, but 4 NT or 5 D could be too high.

Scott Stearns: Partner could easily be 1=3=6=3. I do have a 15-count and expect to make 3 NT. Four spades might be safer, but it might also go down with bad breaks when 3 NT makes. Slam is still possible, but I’d have to play partner for the magic hand. As Hamman says, “Whatever you need, I ain’t got it.”*

*No doubt many great players have said it, but my vivid recollection was my first game with Oswald Jacoby in the early 80s. Knowing I was a bold bidder, he sat me down before the game and issued the warning. What I think he meant was, “I’ll do all the overbidding, thank you.” -RP

Marcel Panneton: Partner should be 1=4=6=2, and my D 10 may be useful in 3 NT.

Robin Zigmond: Yes, there are layouts on which 4 S is much better; but there are equally many where 3 NT is at least as good. With two-card spade support and worries about hearts, partner might have bid 3 S rather than 3 NT.

Rex Settle: No assured fit, so I’ll take the cheapest game and hope.

Michael Byrne: … Don’t tell me partner has S Q-x H Q-4-3-2 D A-K-x-x-x C Q-x, where 3 NT goes off and 6 S is cold.

Charlotte Vine: Partner should have sufficient entries to set up spades if required.

Chris Gibson: Partner has at most a doubleton spade. I’ve bid my share, so let’s make the game.

Dick Henry: Except for the extra spade, my hand is about what partner expects; so I won’t overrule.

Lajos Linczmayer: If partner had the right hand for a diamond slam, e.g., S x H A-K-x D K-Q-J-x-x-x C x-x-x, or S x H A-x-x D A-K-Q-x-x-x C x-x-x, he would have bid 3 D. If he had S Q-x H A-K-x D A-x-x-x-x-x C x-x, he would have bid 3 S. If he had only one heart stopper, say, S x-x H A-x-x D A-K-x-x-x-x C x-x, he would have bid 3 H.

Jack Brawner: Whatever I do could be wrong, Mr. Murphy — but here’s hoping partner would mark time with 3 H if he had a soft stopper. Partner could easily be 1=4=6=2.

Nigel Guthrie: Five diamonds and 4 S are playable, but 3 NT is likely to be safer. If partner had doubts or extra power, he would have bid 3 H. I’ve described my hand well, so I’ll pay partner a compliment and respect his judgment, e.g., with S x H K-9-x-x D A-K-Q-x-x-x C x-x.

Martin Bootsma: Reluctantly, but I don’t have a reason to assume another game contract will play better, and I will not be able to investigate slam in a reasonable way…

David Caprera: Hardest problem of the set, and partly a matter of style. [In the default system] partner could hold S x H K-Q-9-8 D A-K-J-x-x C x-x-x, in which case 3 NT looks like a fine spot. If partner would open 1 H or rebid 1 NT with that hand, I would be more aggressive and hope for something like S x H A-x-x D A-K-x-x-x-x C Q-x-x. I’ll take the low road and the likely plus…

Roger Morton: Partner is minimum with heart values, and our hands do not fit too well; I’ll give up on slam.

Magnus Skaar: There is no guarantee 4 S or 5 D will play better than 3 NT. Partner likely has 1=4=5=3 shape with honors in the red suits.

Barry Rigal: … In a style where 2 D could be a five-card suit (e.g., 1=4=5=3) I see no reason why 4 S or 5 D would be easier than 3 NT. If I did bid on, 4 D would be best; make my diamonds J-x, and I would.

David Wiltshire: Four spades is unlikely to be better than 3 NT. Partner could have bid 3 S with doubleton support, or 3 H with no clear direction. Even with a spade fit, 3 NT could still be better. …

Jim Munday: Slam doesn’t look promising opposite wasted heart values and likely no S Q, so it’s a choice between 3 NT and 4 S — a close decision. Partner should have strong hearts… Three notrump will make when either spades or diamonds come in; but a bad spade split figures to doom 4 S.

Tim DeLaney: Partner could have bid 3 D or 3 H if he were unsure of the right contract… I will abandon slam hopes. Meanwhile, 4 S could be badly mauled; what would partner bid with S H K-Q-9-x D A-Q-J-x-x-x C J-x-x?

Paul Flashenberg: This might be the last makable contract. We could have slam in diamonds if partner has the right hand; but opposite many wrong hands, even 5 D could go down.

Richard Morse: Very awkward. There is an obvious risk that partner has long diamonds, and that 5 D (or even 6 D) will be better; but how can I discover? All bids above 3 NT have some demerit; so with reluctance, I’ll take the plus — assuming partner actually does have hearts stopped!

Curt Reeves: Most hands opposite will allow a good shot for nine tricks… Even if partner has only D K-J-x-x-x-x, he has to have two heart stoppers, or perhaps a stiff S Q. Four spades needs not only quick tricks opposite…but also good things to happen in the trump suit — too much of a parlay.

Chris Willenken: Close. If I could get to the right suit game by bidding on, e.g., 5 D opposite S x H A-Q-x D K-Q-J-x-x-x C x-x-x, or 4 S opposite S x H A-Q-x D A-J-x-x-x-x C Q-x-x, I’d definitely bid. This problem illustrates why, as opener, I like to raise responder’s 1 S response to 2 S on most hands with six diamonds and three spades; this way, I’m free to bid 3 S over 3 C on honor-doubleton without worry.

Sebastien Louveaux: With partner’s values [probably] all red, we will seldom have 12 tricks on power; and the misfit will not help to develop anything.

Comments for 4 S

Joshua Donn: A tough one. Four diamonds is reasonable, as we could have slam; but with no honors in suits partner has shown, I’ll take the low road. Four spades could easily be better than 3 NT, even opposite two heart stoppers and a stiff spade, e.g., S x H A-K-x-x D A-J-x-x-x-x C x-x.

David Goldstein: I’ve never shown the sixth spade, and my shape is bad for notrump. Partner [probably] has one spade and [may] have two.

Brad Theurer: I intended to rebid spades when I bid 3 C, and my thoughts haven’t changed. Partner may have only one heart stopper, and it’s not clear he can run nine tricks off the top in 3 NT.

Joon Pahk: I’m loaded with controls, and my spades are good enough to play opposite a stiff. This [rates] to be better than 3 NT, and there doesn’t seem to be an intelligent way to probe for slam.

Travis Crump: Transportation problems seem inevitable in notrump, and there is [concern] about the heart suit. I’ll give up on slam with the misfit.

Andy Caranicas: Bidding out my shape. This hand begs for suit play.

Mauri Saastamoinen: If partner has S x H K-Q-J-x D K-Q-J-x-x C Q-x-x, I could hear a nasty noise saying, “Suit you, sir!” after I’ve lost the contract; but I can live with that. Bridge isn’t always easy.

Amnon Harel: Both 3 NT and 4 S should make, but only 4 S [serves] as a slam probe… Knowing about my sixth spade might bring partner back to life (Frankenstein returns?), e.g., opposite S Q-x H A-J-9-x D A-K-x-x-x-x C x.

Stefan Jonsson: A nightmare! Partner could have the H A and D A-K-x-x-x-x, and we belong in 6 D; or S Q-x, and we belong in a spade game or slam; or 1=4=5=3 shape, and we belong in 3 NT. I don’t like the idea of 4 H, transferring the problem to partner. … I expect to make 4 S if partner passes; and if he continues, we will probably locate a winning slam.

Nigel Marlow: Partner rates to have something like S x-x H K-x-x D A-Q-J-x-x-x C J-x, so 4 S will have more playing chances [than 3 NT].

Rosalind Hengeveld: This may very well end the auction — but that may very well be right.

Jordan Chodorow: I have not yet conveyed the [full] nature of my suit lengths and HCP distribution.

George Klemic: On a good day, the spade suit will play for one loser, even opposite a void. In notrump, there are too many ways to lose control, so the safety of my strong [suit] should make 4 S a better contract. No, I am not slamming with this misfit.

Thijs Veugen: Anything could be right, but this shows a nice hand with six spades and four clubs, while keeping control of the bidding.

Peter Gill: I would rather have the S 10 or S 9; but bidding 4 D puts too much pressure on partner to find an inspired 4 S bid with a hand such as S 10 H K-Q-x-x D K-J-8-x-x-x C Q-x.

Frans Buijsen: It looks like a misfit, so I don’t fancy our chances for slam. Four spades can hardly be worse than 3 NT if partner’s bidding is sensible.

Gerald Murphy: This appears to state my values: a good 6-4 in the black suits. Partner should be able to judge what his hand is worth, and with S Q-x [he may bid again].

Carlos Dabezies: I can play spades opposite a singleton if necessary. Partner may have only a single heart stopper.

Damo Nair: Partner could have a single heart stopper. This shows my distribution and is suggestive of a slam, [not only in spades], as 6 D may be on if partner has a really good suit. …

Imre Csiszar: … A fancy 4 D is attractive, trying for the more likely diamond slam, but it could misfire spectacularly if D 10-x is unsatisfactory trump support. The honest 4 S allows a safe stop, and may still lead to [slam] if right… Perhaps partner will be able to bid 5 D or 5 S (invitational) or 5 NT (pick a slam)… Four hearts is best if it shows strong spades and diamond tolerance, but more likely it will just confuse partner.

Dale Freeman: I do not think I have good enough diamonds for 4 D; or that my hand is strong enough for 4 H (whatever it means). I am worried about 3 NT and think 4 S is more likely to make.

Comments for 4 D

Noble Shore: I owe partner one more try for slam.

A noble effort, maybe worth a Nobel Prize.

Stephen McDevitt: Partner could have a robust heart holding (without values to reverse), but I think 6 D is worth investigating at IMPs. Opposite a reasonable minimum, S x H A-K-x D K-Q-J-9-x-x C x-x-x, 6 D looks great…(even with a trump lead).

Leonard Helfgott: A huge variety of opening hands can produce a laydown diamond slam;…so I’m surely worth a try with this package, including a [diamond honor] and ruffing value.

Josh Sinnett: I can’t see 3 NT being our last plus score. If partner bids 5 D, I’ll let it go; but I’ll drive to slam opposite any encouragement.

Rob Wijman: Pass or 4 S may work [better]; but I think I’m worth one slam try, as partner may have the H A and a one-loser diamond suit [aided] by my D 10. If partner is not that rich, we shouldn’t be overboard (yet).

Lawrence Cheetham: Clearly forcing. If partner returns to 4 NT, he’s playing there; if he cue-bids 4 H, we’re off to the races. …

Krishna Chakravartula: … Slam in diamonds or spades is possible, and 4 S may be passed out. A 4 H cue-bid will tell partner nothing useful, nor will his next bid be of any help to me. Four clubs distorts my hand. This shows the [diamond fit] and allows partner to cue-bid the H A. …

Chris Vinall: Tough. Opposite a bad hand, 5 D could be in trouble. I think my hand is worth another call, as I envisage more hands that make 6 D than hands that go down in five.

Kieran Dyke: Showing a smidgen of support. I will raise 5 D to six; or pass 4 NT or 4 S.

Matthew Mason: I’m impressed by this hand enough to make a move over 3 NT (the D 10 made me do it). This bid also [implies] heart shortness.

Don Hinchey: Passing seems pessimistic, and 4 S is too unilateral. I see the need to invite partner to the party.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Slam try; 6 D is close if partner has a good diamond suit, or something like S x H A-x-x D A-K-x-x-x-x C x-x-x.

John R. Mayne: If we have a slam, it’s [probably] in diamonds. … Partner sounds like he may have S x H K-J-x D A-Q-J-x-x-x C Q-x-x, or so. If he has the H A, he’ll happily make a move on this sequence.

John Hoffman: Diamonds seems like the safest strain at IMPs. This gives partner a chance to cue-bid the H A…

Sandy McIlwain: We might make 6 D and go down in 3 NT (e.g., opposite S x H A-x-x D K-Q-J-x-x-x C Q-x-x) so bidding seems right.

Olle Morell: Ugh. Pass, 4 D or 4 S could be right. Partner may well be 1=4=5=3…, so diamonds will not always be a safe spot. Toss a coin? I’ll be optimistic, but I’ll pass if partner bids 4 S.

Glenn McIntyre: I’d rather bid 4 NT, but you didn’t let me*; then if partner bids over it, I should have a better idea which slam to play. Notrump is my preferred game.

*Yes, I probably should have included 4 NT — not that I would choose it, but it’s better than 5 D. -RP

John Brady: The doubleton diamond and no points in partner’s suits are discouraging; but some minimums may make slam, or play better in a suit than notrump. Bidding on preserves the option of playing 4 S, 5 D or 6 D.

Manuel Paulo: Slam is likely if partner has as little as S x-x H A-x-x D K-Q-J-x-x-x C Q-x.

John Lusky: Three notrump could be our best spot, but game or slam in spades or diamonds seems a better bet. This is the best way to bring diamonds into the picture, while leaving room for partner to show belated spade support.

Tolga Yuret: Later, I will bid a slam in spades and go down.

Joel Singer: Slam is certainly possible, and this forcing bid would describe my hand perfectly if the S 7 were the D 7.

Alon Amsel: … With one stopper in hearts, 3 NT may go down, and 6 D might make. … Partner can still bid 4 S to play.

TopMain

Problem 5

IMPsBoth VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
North

1 H
East
1 D
Pass
South
Dbl
?
S Q 5 4
H A K 4
D A 6
C A 10 7 4 3

CallAwardVotesPercent
2 H1042629
2 C835023
1 NT724817
2 D423716
Pass323015

Many objected to the conditions of the problem, claiming they would have overcalled 1 NT. Surely, 1 NT is a reasonable alternative, but so is double with only A-x in the enemy suit. I suspect an all-expert poll would be closely split on the issue, but any good player should appreciate either view. I would double because right-siding the contract could be a huge benefit, and I have no qualms about Moysian fits. Translation: Stuff it.

Back to the problem. Pass is seriously flawed since a vulnerable game is within reach (partner can have up to 9 points). Reasonable options are 1 NT, which suggests about a point more; 2 C, which suggests a better suit; and 2 H, which suggests four trumps. The last seems the best choice, as the tiptop values should compensate for the missing trump; thus, I agree with the consensus.

Between 1 NT and 2 C, I prefer the latter, as the hand could be barren in notrump with a diamond lead. Two clubs does not suggest a self-sufficient suit but merely a strong hand with 5+ clubs, so partner will usually correct with short clubs. Excellent controls make up for the minimal strength.*

*In my point count, this hand barely qualifies to double and bid a suit, showing 19+ points. For the record, my students add 17 HCP, 1 extra for four aces/10s, and 1 for the doubleton.

Cue-bidding 2 D might reach the best strain most often, but it exaggerates the strength; hence, you may end up in game with peanuts. For example, over 2 D, I would expect partner to jump to 3 NT with S x-x-x H Q-x-x-x D K-x-x C x-x-x, since he has shown nothing. Most experts would expect a double and cue-bid to show 21+ points.

Here’s how the dice rolled when United States faced Italy in 1961:

Table 1
2 H N +2
NS +170
S 10 6 3
H 10 8 6 5 2
D Q J 7 4
C K
Silodor
West

Pass
Pass
Chiaradia
North

1 H
2 H
Kay
East
1 D
Pass
All Pass
D'Alelio
South
Dbl
2 C
Forquet
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Schenken
North

1 H
2 D
Garozzo
East
1 D
Pass
Pass
Leventritt
South
Dbl
2 C
3 H
S 9 8 7 2
H J 7
D 8 5 2
C Q J 9 8
TableS A K J
H Q 9 3
D K 10 9 3
C 6 5 2

Table 2
3 H N +1
NS +170
S Q 5 4
H A K 4
D A 6
C A 10 7 4 3

The problem scenario arose at each table, and both D’Alelio and Leventritt chose to bid their club suit. Both Norths bid again, but neither partnership reached the reasonable 4 H game (only because East is marked with the great majority of high cards). I much prefer the second sequence, although Schenken was quite conservative not to chance the game. Ten tricks were easily made at each table for a push.

The actual deal also shows an advantage for doubling, as a 1 NT overcall would surely miss game — most modern bidders would transfer to 2 H and pass. If South doubles and raises to 2 H, should North bid again? It’s certainly close, but the vulnerability and the fifth heart suggest being optimistic.

Comments for 2 H

Jonathan Goldberg: Hardest problem so far! Pass is my other option, but I don’t dare risk missing a vulnerable game. All other calls show very different hands than this one.

Jeff Miller: I would have overcalled 1 NT initially. As I play, this hand is not strong enough for any bid except 2 H at this point. I’ll risk the raise, despite only three hearts, because we could still have a game… If we get too high, I’ll apologize.

Joshua Donn: I’ll give a little nudge instead of passing. One notrump is overbidding by a queen; 2 C makes me sick; and 2 D is overbidding by an ace.

David Goldstein: Not quite strong enough to double and bid my own suit (especially when it is anemic), and diamonds are too short for notrump. This is probably best, hoping H A-K makes up for the shortness.

Brad Theurer: I’m not sure I would have doubled (1 NT might be better to convey the general shape and strength in one bid). Now, 1 NT should show a hand too strong to overcall 1 NT initially; 2 C is OK on strength but should show a better suit; and pass is possible, but I hate to miss a vulnerable game at IMPs. I’ll raise hearts [despite] having only three-card support.

John Youdell: Because of the crisp values and IMP scoring, I’ll raise. I’d probably pass at matchpoints.

Mark Raphaelson: Too much to pass; not enough for 2 D. I could make a case for any other bid, but I’d like another diamond for 1 NT; a [better] club suit for 2 C; or another heart for 2 H. I can’t see partner complaining about 2 H with all these controls.

Bill Daly: I’ve boxed myself in by not overcalling 1 NT originally. Presumably, I was hoping for a 5-3 major fit — so I still am.

Noble Shore: Close between 1 NT and 2 H. Notrump may play better if partner is 4-4 in the red suits with good diamonds, or especially opposite 3=3=4=3… However, the hand probably belongs in hearts, so I’ll take my chances. … If we have a close game, 2 H will probably excite partner more [than 1 NT].

Kevin Podsiadlik: … I’m a bit too strong to pass…; and if I were going to bid notrump, I would have done so last round.

Neil Paddy: I don’t like to pass and let opponents find a spade fit at the one level. I doubt the hands are going anywhere, but 2 H looks best.

Stephen McDevitt: One notrump, 2 C and 2 D are overbids. Partner could have some remote bad hands that [make game], like a super-aggressive weak two-bid (S x-x H Q-x-x-x-x-x D x-x-x C K-x), so I’ll make one try at striking gold.

Karen Walker: I owe partner a heart, but the raise is about right on values, and a 4-3 fit could play well. If I rebid 1 NT, I’d owe partner a queen (and another diamond card).

Stephen Fischer: One notrump or 2 H? I like my controls and ruffing values enough to make up for the lack of a trump.

Peg Kaplan: I should have one more heart, but game is still possible (partner might have been just shy of a jump), and this gives partner another chance. My hand is not good enough for 1 NT now, plus it will potentially wrong-side the contract if notrump is our best shot for game.

Leonard Helfgott: If I were going to bid 1 NT, I should have done it on the first round; pass seems too conservative; and 2 D should be reserved for much better hands… So my choice is between…a short-trump raise, or bidding a weak five-card suit and leaving heart support ambiguous. When in doubt, I prefer to raise partner.

Josh Sinnett: I have enough for a gentle raise. Partner could have a maxi-mini hand where game is cold, so I can’t pass…

Joon Pahk: This hand should be a fine dummy, even if partner has only four hearts. It also looks right to have partner declare, as my 17-count is lacking in tenaces, and I’d rather have the lead coming up to partner’s hand.

Simon Mostyn: One notrump, 2 C and 2 D are overbids. Vulnerable at IMPs, I’ll make one try. (At matchpoints or nonvulnerable, I’d pass, as we could be in a 3-3 fit.) …

Rob Wijman: Worth one more effort, as partner may have some high-card values. My choice is between 2 C and 2 H, and the latter is [less likely] to get us to a silly…contract; 2 C overstates clubs.

Simon Cheung: This may be flawed (a raise should deliver four trumps); but A-K-4 is nearly good enough, and my hand is really suitable for hearts. Other calls are less palatable, either too wet or too aggressive — not to mention misdirected.

Steve White: Despite only three hearts, the raise is the most descriptive call.

Sandy Barnes: Partner always likes to hear support. :)

Pire Cusi: … In case partner has long hearts, I’ll tell him I have cards. Pass is understandable, but anything else is an overbid; my 17 points are not that nice facing a weak hand.

Carsten Kofoed: I’d prefer to bid 1 NT over 1 D. Now my clubs are too weak/short to bid 2 C, and my diamonds are too bad for 1 NT. Although this could put partner in a 3-3 fit, I’ll risk it — he’ll appreciate being declarer.

Shuino Wong: I’m short a trump, but with such good controls I have values to try for game.

Scott Stearns: … Since I’m pretending to have the majors (I would start with 1 NT), I’ll raise.

Jyrki Lahtonen: … My values are mostly pure, so I want to give partner one more chance.

Russell Haney: Partner may be broke, so my hand [should] play better in hearts. [In notrump] I have only one diamond stopper and may have to lose the lead.

Bill Powell: My trumps are probably good enough not to worry about a Moysian fit.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Partner will bid on only with a maximum 1 H bid — exactly what I want.

Robin Zigmond: Not ideal with only three-card support, but it’s a good three cards. I’m too strong to pass, and no other bid appeals (1 NT should show 18-19).

Rex Settle: … If partner has five hearts and a maximum, game may be there; so I’ll raise. Of course, partner will play me for four-card support…; but a 4-3 fit may work, and I might still be able to suggest 3 NT.

Bruce Chen: Even with only a 4-3 heart fit, it’s the best bet for game. [In notrump] there is likely to be just one diamond stopper, and playing in clubs is remote.

Michael Byrne: Why not? Would partner bid 2 H on S J-x H Q-x-x-x D J-10-x-x C Q-J-x, where game is scarcely worse than a club finesse? I hope not!

Marilyn Hemenway: I don’t much care for the original double shape-wise… I don’t like raising hearts either, but it seems to be the best of a bad lot.

My mother warned me about shape-wise girls. Hmm… Marilyn Hemenway… Mariel Hemingway… Close enough!

Krishna Chakravartula: The hand is too strong to pass, and hearts appears to offer the best chance for a vulnerable game — even if a Moysian fit. The D A will save my hand from getting punched early in the play,…and partner might bring home the game on a dummy reversal.

Larry Gifford: Good problem. A conservative pass could be right; 1 NT feels wrong with my diamond holding; 2 D is too much; 2 C is OK on values; but with three good hearts, a ruffing value and control-rich, 2 H seems the most promising…

Chris Vinall: Why didn’t I overcall 1 NT? OK, D A-x isn’t a dream stopper, but I’d rather describe my hand [immediately] than do something else because of [a tiny flaw]. Two hearts now is partly constructive, [and partly] to keep the opponents silent.

Nigel Guthrie: This overstates my support but seems OK on values. Pass is cowardly; 1 NT or 2 D is an overbid (I wish I’d overcalled 1 NT); and 2 C exaggerates my club quality.

Martin Bootsma: I would have bid 1 NT directly but agree it is not ideal with D A-x. The initial double is [even less] attractive without a four-card major. … Now, bidding 1 NT has the same disadvantage as before, and I’m not strong enough for 2 D. Passing is certainly an option, but I don’t want to throw away all game prospects; so I’ll lie with 2 H (showing four trumps).

Matthew Mason: Since I originally decided this was a takeout double, I won’t go bidding clubs or notrump now; and 2 D seems like it should [show] more. I like my heart support and diamond shortness enough for a direct raise.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Usually this shows four trumps, but 4 H may be the best game in 4-3 fit. I need better clubs for 2 C, and a better diamond stopper for 1 NT.

Alan Kravetz: … If partner has only four hearts, he will be able to ruff a diamond in the short hand.

Carlos Dabezies: My club suit lacks texture, and the playing strength does not justify a cue-bid.

Jonathan Siegel: Sometimes you gotta break the rules! [Despite] only three trumps, I have prime values and a useful doubleton.

Comments for 2 C

Arend Bayer: I only bid this if partner does not expect a very single-suited hand. With 3=1=2=7 shape, I would bid 2 C on the first round almost regardless of strength.

Richard Wimberley: I would have overcalled 1 NT, since I know this problem is coming (either in spades or hearts), and I’m not good enough to choose the right action. :)

Ronald Michaels: If I can survive this bid (partner won’t pass with a stiff), we’ll be able to find our best spot — which, of course, might have been 1 H.

Amnon Harel: If partner passes this, it’s probably the best spot. West’s silence [might be] because he has length in both majors, so a 4-3 heart fit is nothing to write home about — and a 3-3 fit is possible.

David Cohen: Showing a [strong] hand and a five-card suit. Hey, look at that!

Peter Gill: I would have overcalled 1 NT. When the two most likely responses to a double — 1 H and 1 S — make my rebid a problem, double is seriously flawed. Am I so obsessed that I am meant to double partner’sH bid for takeout? :)

Don Hinchey: This should be an automatic pass, but the wildly generous range for a one-level response (0-9) forces me to protect myself with a questionable raise or 2 C.

Chuck Lamprey: It could be right to pass, I suppose, but I’m going to be an optimist. I would not expect partner to jump with S x-x-x H J-x-x-x D K-x-x C K-Q-x, for example.

Glenn McIntyre: I’ll risk an inferior partscore to give partner room to bid again.

Olle Morell: I regret not entering with 1 NT, although I would probably have doubled myself. Pass could well be right, as partner should jump with 8-9 good points.*

*Bridge language is often ambiguous because “points” can mean either HCP or total points. Most experts jump on the same hands; e.g., S A-J-x H Q-J-9-x D x-x-x-x-x C x would be an automatic 2 H response. Some would call it “8 good points,” but I call it 10 points (adding 2 for the singleton). I also agree with Lamprey’s example not to jump. -RP

Bill Cubley: I could have bid 1 NT and let partner transfer, but 2 C now also makes sense with [at least] an ace more than [promised]. If partner rebids 2 H, I will raise to invite game.

Imre Csiszar: At IMPs there is no need to distort the hand with a three-card raise; 2 C passed out is no disaster.

Rita Redlich: I could just bid 2 H, but this shows [more] extra strength.

Comments for 1 NT

Andrei Varlan: I know, I know, I should have 19 points and a double stopper in diamonds; but it’s the least bad bid.

Christian Vennerod: With five hearts and 8-9 points, partner would have jumped. With four hearts, he may have 9 points (maybe even 10), so I must bid again. I should have bid 1 NT the first time, as it now shows a slightly stronger hand than I have.

Kevin Costello: The diamond stopper is a bit weak, but it seems foolish to emphasize the club suit over the rest of the hand. Partner might have only three hearts for his 1 H bid.

Andy Caranicas: Partner rates to have some values; if he takes it out of notrump, I’ll raise hearts. …

Mauri Saastamoinen: Why didn’t I bid 1 NT earlier? Perhaps because I thought this hand was [too good]. I think 1 NT now is better than 2 C because it tells partner that I surely have something in hearts.

Ahsan Qureshi: I disagree with the double (1 NT is better) as it [suggests] at least one major and tolerance for the other; I don’t have either major. …

Michael Mayer: This is only a half point off. I might have bid 1 NT the first time if I wasn’t so HCP-heavy.

Michael Dodson: Did I really think this hand was too good for a 1 NT overcall? Did I think this club suit was good enough to double and then bid? Did I fall asleep, and somebody off the street bid my hand last round?

Jordan Chodorow: This sequence describes the hand exactly right, as it’s too good for a…1 NT overcall.

Lajos Linczmayer: My second choice is 2 H, but partner may have only three hearts; and maybe seven tricks is our limit.

Frans Buijsen: I don’t understand why I didn’t overcall 1 NT right away, so I’m forced into a slight overbid now.

Jack Brawner: I guess this was the original plan, but somebody else was in my seat the first round. (One cannot score well for abstaining, I hear.)

Kieran Dyke: Abysmal problem. Why didn’t I just overcall 1 NT and show my hand? Now I have a choice of an underbid, two overbids and two misbids.

Winston Munn: I have to show the strength and stopper, and the lack of good heart support. Limiting my hand as soon as possible is usually a good idea.

Alon Amsel: Partner’s bid was forced, so he might have something awful like S x-x-x H Q-x-x D J-x-x-x C J-x-x. I don’t like playing in 3-3 fits! …

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Problem 6

IMPsNone VulYou, South, hold:
 
West
1 S
2 S
North
Pass
Pass
East
1 NT
Pass
South
?
?
S 4
H K 8 3
D Q J 6 4
C A K Q J 5

Two CallsAwardVotesPercent
G. 2 C then Double1060441
E. Double then 3 C833422
D. Double then Double619913
F. 2 C then Pass516311
C. Double then Pass4977
A. Pass then Double3584
B. Pass then 3 C2362

I have no strong feelings about the first action. Double tends to convey the strength best, with an off chance partner may have a spade stack and pass 1 NT doubled. Two clubs pinpoints your suit, ensuring the right lead from partner, and is clearly the hindsight favorite if you knew opener would bid 2 S.* On a strict basis, the hand is about a point short to double and bid clubs; but the solid clubs should compensate, so Option E is unlikely to cause any harm.

*In two-part problems, you are supposed to decide each call in turn, so your first call should not consider any subsequent call. Obviously, this is hard to do when viewing the bidding diagram, but the object is to simulate being at the table.

The majority (52 percent) preferred to start with 2 C, while 42 percent preferred to double. Of the 2 C bidders, the vast majority elected to balance with a double, which seems automatic*, as opposed to a conservative pass. Option G is undeniably sound and no doubt would be the expert consensus as well. Even renegades like me will admit it is best.

*A few respondent’s wrote they would have balanced with 2 NT (unusual) for minors, but this is hardly standard. I didn’t list the option because I would assume 2 NT to be natural, e.g., something like S K-10-x H x-x D K-x C A-K-Q-10-x-x.

A threw in the off-beat Options A and B (pass first) as it sometimes pays to keep quiet with a running suit while opponents are in notrump. Alas, with 16 HCP it’s a dreamworld tactic, as opponents are unlikely to bid further in notrump; and even if you can beat 1 NT, you’re likely to score more by bidding.

Here’s how the cards fell in 1961, as the Americans got the 2 IMPs back from Italy (lost on Problem 4). OK, OK, so it was dull year.

Table 1
2 S W -1
NS +50
S J 8 7 3 2
H Q 10 4
D K 5
C 8 6 2
Kay
West
1 S
2 S
D'Alelio
North
Pass
Pass
Silodor
East
1 NT
Pass
Chiaradia
South
Dbl
Pass
Garozzo
West
Pass
1 S
All Pass
Leventritt
North
Pass
Pass
Forquet
East
Pass
Pass
Schenken
South
1 D
2 C
S A Q 10 9 6 5
H A 5
D 9 8
C 10 7 4
TableS K
H J 9 7 6 2
D A 10 7 3 2
C 9 3

Table 2
2 C S +1
NS +110
S 4
H K 8 3
D Q J 6 4
C A K Q J 5

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Chiaradia chose to double then sell out (Option C). D’Alelio led the D K, won by the ace, and Kay had to lose six tricks; down one.*

*It appears the defense can do better with a trump promotion; but if North pitches when declarer ruffs with the S 10, declarer can recover the trick with an endplay.

At the second table, Garozzo chose to pass the West hand, which seems unfathomable, especially in the days where honor-trick evaluation was much in style. Schenken then downgraded his hand to a 1 D opening (1 C would be strong and artificial), leading to an easy club partial. After the H A lead, he won nine tricks, and 2 IMPs.

Comments for G. 2 C then Double

Jonathan Goldberg: I think I must start with clubs; but change one of my other cards to a fourth heart, and I change my mind. It’s hard to imagine getting rich selling out [to 2 S], and double leaves open the possibility of a penalty pass.

Joshua Donn: Tough one. Double looks normal at first, but I only have three hearts, and I’m much more comfortable getting A-K-Q-J-x off my chest. I hope partner passes the double of 2 S, but anything he does is OK.

Mike Doecke: I think bidding clubs first is right for two reasons: Lead-direction, and because the hand is strong enough to [act] again later. Double at the second turn seems clear. Partner could easily be sitting on S x-x-x-x H A-Q-x-x-x D x-x C x-x, and he will be happy to bid and make 4 H.

Brad Theurer: Without four hearts, and with an excellent club suit I want led, 2 C seems best the first time; then double does a good job of showing what I have.

Noble Shore: I have enough strength to show both my primary suit and my pieces in the red suits. With a weaker hand, I would double then pass. With weaker clubs but similar strength and shape, I would double twice.

Neil Paddy: I would prefer more tricks in the hand for a double then 3 C; and doubling twice doesn’t do the club suit justice.

Stephen McDevitt: The best description, because my failure to double originally suggests the lack of a four-card heart suit. Two clubs also gets the correct lead, then double shows extra values and gives partner the option to leave it in.

Karen Walker: I’ll give partner information about a safe landing spot first, then suggest mild interest in hearts. …

Stephen Fischer: If I double first, I’m too likely to have to take a committal action (3 C) or misrepresent my heart length (double) later. Partner is less likely to play me for four hearts if I bid clubs before doubling.

Peg Kaplan: This is more flexible than doubling then bidding clubs, as it portends an [extra] shot for our side. Partner now knows where I live, and he may choose to defend 2 S doubled.

Leonard Helfgott: Seems right to show a suit of this quality, then imply extras with 4-3 or 3-4 in the reds. If partner has three clubs and four hearts, he will then bid 3 C to preserve the plus score.

Josh Sinnett: I’ll bid where I live on the first round, then show the general nature of my hand.

Andrei Varlan: In fact, my choice is Option H: Pass then 2 NT — takeout for minors with a small acceptance for hearts. (If I were 5-5 in minors, I’d bid 2 NT directly over 1 NT.)

Ken Graebe: I’ve told partner what to lead, now he can he can convert my double to penalty or [pick] a suit.

Sven Pride: Lead-directional, and right on values.

Arend Bayer: This suggests 1=3=3=6, which is close enough to what my hand looks like.

Joon Pahk: This sequence describes my hand to a tee, and I expect to beat 2 S if partner floats it.

Rob Wijman: Worth another action. If partner bids a red suit, I assume (hope) it is five cards; and he may have a spade stack…

Simon Cheung: Two clubs seems better than double, for I don’t want to encourage partner to bid four small hearts. (I suspect opponents wouldn’t pass out 2 C, so even if partner doesn’t like clubs, I may get another bite at the cherry.) A reopening double is not without risk, for partner can be broke; but I don’t want to sell out, as it is likely that both 2 S and 3 C can be made.

Kevin Costello: The two level can’t be any more dangerous than the three level, so I’m going to get involved in the auction now, as opposed to later. I choose 2 C over an initial double due to the disparity in my suits.

Andy Caranicas: Two clubs is automatic. Doubling on the second round should show only three hearts, else I would double first. …Partner should take me for 1=3=4=5 with about a 16-count.

Mauri Saastamoinen: Keep it simple: (1) I have clubs, so I bid clubs, (2) I have a better hand than 2 C told, so I double…

Steve White: If I knew the auction would develop this way, 2 C then double is a standout. It’s likely enough that it will, and the initial 2 C is OK if it doesn’t; so this is the best plan.

Sandy Barnes: Partner will know what to lead if he elects to pass.

Ronald Michaels: Since I didn’t double 1 NT, partner should not assume I have four hearts. If partner has the H Q and D K (not unreasonable), West [probably] will make 2 S, while we make three of something. …

Shuino Wong: Double first is reasonable, but I think it’s safer to show the good suit then double. If partner holds four hearts and three (or even two) clubs, he may bid 3 C instead of 3 H.

Scott Stearns: Two clubs tells partner where my values are, then double [shows my] shape and extras. I wouldn’t be unhappy if he left it in with a singleton club; would I?

Jyrki Lahtonen: With only three hearts, and two-thirds of my values in clubs, I’ll begin with 2 C; then I have enough values to contest with a double. Opponents haven’t necessarily found a fit, so partner may convert. At least I have indicated a good lead!

Lawrence Cheetham: A first-round double should have four hearts; and what better clubs could I have?

Russell Haney: I don’t want to be shut out on round one, but I want to pinpoint my side length after the opponents have limited themselves. (Partner probably has heart or diamond length.)

Rosalind Hengeveld: Hundred honors, partner!

Marcel Panneton: Partner [probably] has four spades, so he might pass if his points are there, too.

Robin Zigmond: I much prefer 2 C to double on the first round, partly because I have only three hearts, but mainly because I really want clubs led if the opponents continue bidding. When 2 S is passed round, double looks fairly obligatory.

Hendrik Sharples: I’ll get my five-card suit in first. The double is a little bit of a stretch, but pass is too timid.

Krishna Chakravartula: Too strong to pass the first time; and to double with only three hearts and two-thirds of my values in clubs is not tempting. A double after 2 C highlights both my values and distribution.

Chris Vinall: Clubs are too good not to mention straightaway, and my shape is too good to allow West to buy it at 2 S.

Dick Henry: Partner probably has four spades, perhaps even Q-10-x-x. I hope to collect 300. At least partner will know I have five clubs and can pull [if appropriate].

George Klemic: Double-pass and double-double seem reasonable also; but I like this because it suggests the right lead, and my [actual] suit lengths and strength. (Double-double probably should show a shade more, or at least a fourth heart.)

Thijs Veugen: I have to show this club suit, and I’m not strong enough to start with a double.

Peter Gill: The main reason to bid 2 C (rather than double) is to get a club lead in the likely case of defending a spade contract.

Frans Buijsen: Two clubs initially shows where I live. The second-round double opens up the chance to find a partscore fit opposite as little as S x-x-x H Q-J-x-x-x D x-x-x C x-x; I’m not too worried about a large penalty.

Matthew Mason: I’d like to get clubs in the picture as soon as possible, and I’m not letting the auction die at 2 S. …

Don Hinchey: The trouble with doubling then bidding clubs is that partner will overestimate my heart holding. …

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Best description, as this [sequence] tends to deny four hearts; otherwise, I would double first.

David Caprera: My choices do not include options containing pass — and rarely do. :) The hand is too good…to defend 2 S. … I try not to make an initial double of a major without four of the other major if I have a reasonable alternative (2 C), and I am very happy to double after [opener rebids 2 S].

John Hoffman: Two clubs directs a good lead, and double on the next round…gives partner lots of good options.

Gerald Murphy: I think 2 C first is right, as it [directs] the lead… An original double followed by 3 C would overstate my [strength].

Roger Morton: Modern style is to bid and then double, rather than the other way round. This keeps penalties in the frame.

Magnus Skaar: Shows my strength, and gives partner the chance to defend 2 S doubled.

Chuck Lamprey: I’d usually have six clubs for this sequence, but maybe these five will be adequate.

John Brady: This hand isn’t perfect to act twice, but passing 2 S seems too timid in the long run, even at IMPs. … I’d prefer a sixth club or a fourth heart to double first then bid clubs. Double then double should promise four hearts. Two clubs then double suggests only three hearts, and it also [reveals] my suit in case partner can’t leave the double in and has no promising suit elsewhere. If we have a misfit and [end up] in clubs, it also may be harder for opponents to double with no club honor.

David Harari: Passing over 1 NT is not good anticipation. Once I bid 2 C, I have to double next, as 4 H, 3 NT, 5 C, 5 D and 2 S doubled are lively possibilities.

Manuel Paulo: I bid my solid suit; then I show some support for the red suits.

Jim Munday: It’s tempting to pass 1 NT and hope to defend 3 NT, but it’s too unlikely with my values. We’ll be on defense more often than not, so I’ll start with my suit, for the lead if nothing else. When 2 S comes back to me, I’ll reopen and hope to connect with partner in a red suit, or that he can sit for the double.

Damo Nair: [This sequence] says I’ve got good clubs and a good hand. Double first suggests four hearts and not as good clubs.

Nicoleta Giura: Two clubs first, just in case West is about to bid hearts and partner will be on lead; when this doesn’t happen, double feels perfect.

Jean-Christophe Clement: Two clubs shows a good lead to partner, then I double for takeout.

Dale Freeman: The distribution is fine for a double, however, having only three hearts is a negative. I do not like pass at all. Two clubs is a good lead-director, then I back in with a double.

Tim DeLaney: This stands out for several reasons: (1) It implies a strong hand with fewer than four hearts, (2) it shows some support or tolerance for the red suits, (3) it is [wise] to mention clubs if West decides to bid 3 S or 4 S, and (4) if I double and partner bids hearts, I have lost the opportunity to direct the lead if we defend.

Winston Munn: I’ll show the good club suit first to take the strain off partner, then he’ll be better placed to judge what to do over my double.

Curt Reeves: I like clubs; please lead clubs. I have extras with short spades; please do something to make me proud. What could be simpler than that?

Comments for E. Double then 3 C

Mark Raphaelson: I don’t like off-shape doubles without four of the unbid major,…but in this case, I’m just strong enough to double and bid clubs. If partner bids 2 H over the double, I’m sticking to my plan (unless 2 H is a free bid).

Amnon Harel: My first double is takeout of spades (defending 1 NT is not so tempting to avoid this constructive action). … Since my defensive values are low, [I won’t double twice], as partner may sit with an iffy hand (e.g., S K-J-x-x H x-x-x D x-x-x-x C x-x), which may be a catastrophe.

Charlotte Vine: I would pass 2 S if vulnerable.

Jordan Chodorow: I double the first time to show spade shortness. At matchpoints, I’d probably double again to cater to a penalty pass; but at IMPs, 3 C correctly shows a strong preference for clubs…

Lajos Linczmayer: One of my actions must be double, as we may have a good fit, e.g., opposite S x-x-x-x H Q-J-10-x-x-x D x C x-x, or S x-x-x-x H x D A-10-x-x-x-x C x-x; but to double 2 S is risky, as partner will pass with S K-Q-J-10-x H x-x-x D x-x C x-x-x, and West may make it! After 2 S, I balance because partner may have S x-x-x-x H A-J-x D x C x-x-x-x-x, or S x-x-x-x H x D A-10-x-x C x-x-x-x.

Jack Brawner: If I knew in advance how the bidding would go, I would choose Option G; but honesty forces me to [admit] I would double first, then 3 C wins by a nose over doubling twice.

Carlos Dabezies: Double seems the right way to start, then I’m not really strong enough for 3 C — but it’s only a balancing bid, and we’re nonvulnerable.

Barry Rigal: OK, I’m stretching here, but the first double gets all unbid suits involved… At my second turn, double might well get me to a better contract in diamonds — or more likely a worse one in hearts.

Imre Csiszar: In retrospect, Option G would be best; but… failure to double first might have missed game. After 2 S is passed around, a second double risks an unfortunate penalty pass, or partner bidding a four-card heart suit, which [may be] doubled. Three clubs may make if partner has a little something and is [unlikely] to be doubled. …

Comments for D. Double then Double

Pire Cusi: Hoping partner has enough to convert.

Rex Settle: Short hearts are a concern, but I have a king more than my first double — once more unto the breach!

Bruce Chen: Both doubles are takeout, but the bidding indicates a possible misfit, so partner may convert to penalty. Even playing in a 4-3 heart fit is not too bad with shortage in the three-trump hand.

Larry Gifford: Seems descriptive enough, and the best way to involve partner. Defending could be right, but no way am I selling out at the two level.

Nigel Guthrie: Over 1 NT, to pass on this powerhouse is pusillanimous; 2 C gives up on immediate penalty prospects and could lose a red-suit fit; and double then pass is cowardly because I could have a king less. …Double then double expresses this hand well. Of course, 2 C then double would work even better, but for that I need 20-20 hindsight. :)

David Wiltshire: In the above sequence, I wish I’d bid clubs first; but if went all pass, I’d wish I had doubled. Luckily, partner will have to play the awful 3 H contract. :)

Paul Flashenberg: … Bidding 2 C first and then doubling would imply 1=3=3=6 shape. I certainly have enough to contest 2 S, and doubling twice…allows partner to pass for penalty if appropriate.

Sebastien Louveaux: Most flexible. Partner may still have spades (why not five?) and want to pass.

Final Notes

Comments are selected from those scoring 54 or higher (top 262) or with an overall average of 50.00 or higher (top 226) prior to this poll, and on each problem only for calls awarded 6 or higher. About 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 return to Buenos Aires and the oft-forgotten 1961 Bermuda Bowl. (For the 1965 tournament and scandal mania, see “Another Time, Another Place.”) Thanks to all who participated, and especially those who offered kind remarks about my web site. Well, the hurricane season is over (famous last words) and the “fair winds” are gone. Well, not quite, as this man’s analysis blew me away:

Barry White: The city appears to be Paris (the Pantheon, Obelisk of Luxor, and their Statue of Liberty). I would say the year was 2001, and the Black Eagle refers to the German victory in the Venice Cup. Katrin Farwig was on the team; Farwig means “fair wind” in German, and her infamous first name refers to Hurricane Katrina, which broke a few plates this summer. And wasn’t there a fraulein in the “Travelin’ Man” song?

Wow! Spooky. He’s right about the song lyrics, too. Alas, not everyone likes my musical tastes:

Curt Reeves: I gotta ask, Richard: How many CDs of elevator music do you own?

Evidently too many. And to think your “brother” George was my childhood hero. It’s getting late, so I only have time for one last question:

Michael Byrne: What’s a two-by-four?

If I told you it’s a piece of lumber 1.5 inches thick and 3.5 inches wide (any length), you wouldn’t believe me; so I must confess it’s a misdealt bridge hand with 4-4-2-2 shape.

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© 2005 Richard Pavlicek