Analyses 8W72 MainChallenge


Island of the Coconuts


Scores by Richard Pavlicek

These six bidding problems were published on the Internet in January 2006, 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

My tropical island theme drew sensible guesses for Hawaii (Honolulu, Maui and Kauii); San Juan, Puerto Rico; Las Palmas, Spain (Canary Islands); Hamilton, Bermuda; and Cozumel, Mexico. A bit less believable were Grenada; Solomon Islands; Virgin Islands; San Diego North Island; and Acapulco, Mexico. There were also the usual humorous guesses like Lincoln, Nebraska; and Pine Knob, Michigan — I should live so long to cover those tournaments!

The tournament was held in Miami Beach, Florida. Yes, it is an island (trust me, I live only 30 miles north) separated from Miami by Biscayne Bay, although the multiple causeways make it like part of the mainland. Miami Beach originated (circa 1870) as a coconut plantation, hence my title and top picture. Actually, the location is Bal Harbour, a separate township on the island. Pictured is the Americana Hotel, now called the Sheraton Bal Harbour, the tournament site, to which my “slice of Americana” phrase hinted. The blue marlin has at least three implications: the popular sport fishing in South Florida, the Florida Marlins baseball team, and the color of the winning team in this tournament.

The bird image is a mockingbird, the official state bird of Florida — appropriate I’d say, considering the election fiasco of 2000. Kevin Podsiadlik was the only person to identify it.

“Song sung blue, everybody knows one…”

The background song was a clue to the year — as well as the winning team’s color. Song Sung Blue was written and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1972, when it also became a #1 hit.

Out of some 70 people who offered a guess, 12 were right on the location (I accepted Miami, Miami Beach or Bal Harbour), but only two gave the correct year. Congratulations to Barry White and Len Vishnevsky.

Karl Barth Wins!

This poll had 1603 participants from 126 locations, and the average score was 45.92. Congratulations to Karl Barth (Pennsylvania), who was first of three with perfect scores. Also scoring 60 were Rick Knight (Wyoming) and Jocelyn Krug (British Columbia). But of course! My “slice of Americana” remark inspired an American sweep. No less than 16 persons were just a point back with 59.

Participation this month was a new high (previous high was 1491 in November 2005). The average score (45.92) was down a bit from the last poll but well above the lowest (43.95 in May 2005). The fortunate cutoff (high fraction) allowed a record 902 persons to score above average (46 or higher) to make the listing. None of the problems drew a majority, but Problem 4 came close with 49 percent for 3 C. Three problems turned out exceptionally good, with the winning call receiving 35 percent or less of the vote.

In the overall leaderboard, Joshua Donn (California) held his lead with a 56.75 average despite a mediocre 46 in this poll, which he noted was submitted after a New Year’s Eve party. Jouko Paganus (Finland) held on to second place with 56.50. Moving into third was Jean-Christophe Clement (France) with 56.25, followed by Mike Bukala (Texas) and Brad Theurer (Maryland), each with 55.50.

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 fourth World Bridge Team Olympiad was held in Miami Beach, June 9-24, 1972 at the Americana Hotel. One team from each of 39 countries comprised the field, which was reduced from the planned 40 by the last-minute withdrawal of Indonesia.

The first stage was a marathon round-robin for 13 days, each day consisting of three 20-board matches. Each team met each of the 38 other teams (drawing a bye when scheduled to play Indonesia). The cream rose to the top like an Italian creme cake, and after 39 rounds the standings by VPs were: Italy 631, United States 599, Canada 535, France 534, China 531, Great Britain 509, Turkey 506, Israel 491, Switzerland 490, Denmark 487, Australia 481, and Ireland 473.

The top four teams advanced, and the leader could select its semifinal opponent. Italy naturally eschewed archrival U.S. and diplomatically drew randomly between Canada and France, the latter getting the short straw to be mopped up 178-88. United States took out Canada by an even wider margin, 203-85. As almost everyone predicted from the start, Italy would face United States in the final.

Playing for Italy was the Blue Team (pictured L-R, top row first): Walter Avarelli, Giorgio Belladonna, Pietro Forquet, Benito Garozzo, Massimo D’Alelio and Massimo Pabis-Ticci.

Playing for United States were the Dallas Aces, existing world champions from the 1971 Bermuda Bowl in Taiwan (see Aces and Plum Blossoms) and the pride of business magnate and sponsor, Ira Corn. Current team members were Bobby Goldman, Mike Lawrence, Bob Hamman, Bobby Wolff, Jim Jacoby and Paul Soloway (who replaced Billy Eisenberg from the previous year).

In the final, Italy jumped off to a quick start and led 124-64 at halftime — well, slightly past halftime, as the World Bridge Federation (or maybe that should be Fumigation) managed to impose yet another inane condition, to play 88 boards.* United States surged in the next segment to cut the deficit to 28 IMPs, but Italy cruised through the final two segments to win comfortably, 203-138.

*Four segments of 16, and two segments of 12. Common sense would be 96 boards (six segments of 16) not only to equalize vulnerability conditions but to allow each partnership to play the same number of boards. Trust me, the WBF is clueless.

I experienced this event first-hand, as Mabel and I drove down to kibitz a few times (after getting my parents to keep Rich, then two years old, for a few days). I remember how difficult it was to watch the Blue Team, especially Belladonna, whose table was packed six rows deep. Besides being an amazing player, he was so personable and friendly that everyone wanted to watch him.

Most remarkable, and unlikely ever to be equaled, was the run of the Blue Team. Since their first world championship in 1957, the team was never defeated in a major championship. Apparently, the itch to compete was rekindled with this event, as the Blue Team emerged from a two-year retirement (1970-71 championships won by the U.S. in Italy’s absence were widely considered non-events). The unbeaten streak would continue until 1976.

Now it’s time to count your coconuts — or at least your HCP. Pull up a chair, get comfortable, and see if you can match bids with the world’s best (or second best) of 1972.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 1

IMPsBoth VulYou, South, hold:
 
WEST
Pass
North
Pass
East
1 C
South
?
S 9 5 4
H A K J 9
D Q 5 3
C K J 8

CallAwardVotesPercent
1 H1055134
Pass828017
Double747930
1 NT229418

Only four choices on this first problem, as I couldn’t think of another option short of the loony bin. I agree with the consensus to bid where you live. If there’s any future opposite a passed partner, it probably lies in finding a good heart fit; and you surely want a heart lead on defense. Even if partner were not passed, 1 H feels like the percentage call.

The only frightening thing about overcalling 1 H is seeing the auction continue: pass, pass, double. If West has a penalty pass, it could be bloody. Oh well; been there, done that. Odds against this are high enough to justify the bid at IMPs, while a discreet pass is probably wise at rubber bridge.

The second most popular choice was to double, but I find it unappealing. Imagine partner’s dismay when he competes in spades and you put this disgusting hand down in dummy. “Sorry, partner, I had my black suits switched,” may not bring much sympathy. Also, a double could be anti-lead-directional, as partner may lead a spade when he otherwise would not. I’d rather pass, and I’ve used my moderator’s privilege to rank pass second.

Last and surely least is to overcall 1 NT. The shape may be ideal, but the strength is severely lacking. Most experts would balk at a vulnerable 1 NT overcall with 15 HCP, so dropping to 14 is almost like a disease. Another consideration is that partner will stretch to bid a vulnerable game, so minus 200 is predictable.

By the shores of Gitchie Gumee, or at least Miami Beach, here’s the actual deal from 1972:

Italy
vs USA
S A 10
H 10 8 7 5 4
D 10 9 6 4
C Q 9
S J 8 7 6
H Q 6
D K J 2
C 7 6 4 2
TableS K Q 3 2
H 3 2
D A 8 7
C A 10 5 3
Both VulS 9 5 4
H A K J 9
D Q 5 3
C K J 8

Jacoby
WEST
Pass
2 S
Avarelli
North
Pass
3 H
Wolff
East
1 S
All Pass
Belladonna
South
Dbl
3 H North
Down 1 -100

Garozzo
WEST
Pass
Pass
1 S
Lawrence
North
Pass
1 H
2 H
Forquet
East
1 D
Pass
2 S
Goldman
South
Dbl
Pass
All Pass
2 S West
Made 2 +110
No swing

Due to system requirements, the East hand was opened 1 S by Wolff (four-card majors), and 1 D by Forquet because 1 C would be strong. (For the poll, I had East open a standard 1 C, which also seemed to improve the problem.) Belladonna chose to double 1 S, which seems right since the values are well-placed (not in spades). Goldman chose to double 1 D, which is dubious with the wasted D Q and seems to be a step out of style.

In any case, no coconuts changed hands this time. Avarelli was down one in 3 H, and Garozzo made 2 S for a push.

Comments for 1 H

Karl Barth: Put a couple of 10s in there, and I’d be inclined to say 1 NT. Pass seems misguided.

John Hall: The lead-directing aspect makes me prefer 1 H to the plausible alternatives, pass and 1 NT.

Julian Pottage: The chunky four-card suit is worth bidding. One notrump is an overbid.

Geoff Bridges: This lets me get in my best suit. One notrump is a serious overbid.

Dan Goldfein: A 4-3-3-3, 10-less 14-count doesn’t normally qualify as a 1 NT bid for me. I don’t like double with such a disparity between majors. I would like to have more shape to bid 1 H, but I have too much to pass.

Paul Redvers: Strong four-bagger; lead-directional.

Carolyn Ahlert: Partner may easily be on lead, and this is probably my only chance to make a lead-directing bid.

Rosalind Hengeveld: A fairly typical overcall on a four-card suit:…sound opening values and a bulky suit. One notrump is for suicide coconut bombers.

George Klemic: It’s frequently right to [reject] a vulnerable 1 NT overcall with 15 HCP; and this is a bad 14, so that’s out. One heart gets partner off to the right lead if West bids spades, and it may make it difficult [for opponents] to get to diamonds.

Alon Amsel: Lead-directing. Partner passed, so we won’t end up too high.

Pire Cusi: Way too weak for 1 NT; too many points in clubs for double. I’ll give partner a sound lead.

Ciaran Coyne: Poor shape for double; too weak for 1 NT. It seems better to get in now rather than guess whether to get involved on the next round. This will help our defense if partner is on lead.

Boris Richter: Bad shape,…but clubs seem to lie well for us. If opponents have a spade fit, my three little spades [suggest] good offense, as partner will have a singleton or small doubleton. The flaw of having only four hearts [is compensated] by the strong suit, and 1 H is lead-directing.

Rainer Herrmann: Looks like a five-card suit to me. :)

Leonard Helfgott: With sound values, action is better than inaction. Hand is too weak for 1 NT. This shows my length, most of my values, and directs the lead. In a pinch, I can always bid notrump next.

Dima Nikolenkov: The only chance for game is to find partner with a massive heart fit. Should we lose the auction, I am happy about a heart lead.

Greg Lawler: Strong suits in 4-3-3-3 distributions are good candidates for a Moysian fit.

John R. Mayne: Not strong enough for 1 NT, and I hate doubling on this shape and orientation. This has a lot going for it — even if I’m short a heart.

Chris Maclauchlan: I do not think 1 NT is worth the risk at the vulnerability. I could be convinced that 1 H is not worth the risk either, but it could help partner, who is likely to be on the lead…

Michael Bodell: This seems the best lie, giving a [good] chance to find a partscore, or to suggest a lead to partner on defense. Hand is too weak for 1 NT; I don’t like double with three weak spades and three strong clubs; pass is horrible.

Roland Watzdorf: Distribution says pass or 1 NT, but I’m much too young to pass. I am old enough to tell partner I had a diamond among my hearts, but too old to count 16 HCP out of this 14. So, how old am I?

No idea, but if you really like this hand should we guess in dog years?

Stephen Fischer: Lead-directional; good suit; good hand. I don’t like my spot cards enough to upgrade to 1 NT, so it’s either pass or 1 H.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Lead-directing… 14 HCP and a chunky four-card suit are enough to overcall (hopefully).

Michael Gill: Too strong to pass; too weak for 1 NT; and the shape and spade holding are bad for double. …

Chris Mulley: I play 15-18 1 NT overcalls,…so I can’t upgrade a…14-count (playing 15-17, I might be tempted). Hopefully, we’ll be defending this hand, so 1 H suggests a lead.

Jonathan Steinberg: Last week I held S K-Q-10-3 H 7-5-2 D A-J-5 C K-7-3 and overcalled 1 S over 1 D and got a great result when partner bid 3 S, down one; but that was matchpoints at favorable vulnerability. At IMPs, vulnerable, it’s tougher with flat shape; but 1 H has more upside than downside.

David Shelton: Old-fashioned. Modern style is to bid 1 NT, go down, and say you were fixed. :)

Paul Meerschaert: Too much chance for game not to bid. One notrump is a close second, but I prefer to keep my hand type to myself and see what happens.

David Stewart: Hand is too good to pass, and no action is [ideal]; so I’ll tell the least lie with 1 H.

Pierre Boes: Game is out of the question, so double will bring nothing. If partner has some points and no heart fit, he can always go to 1 NT.

Mauri Saastamoinen: If the deal belongs to us, partner will certainly bid something, so we still have chances to play in spades, diamonds or notrump. If the deal belongs to opponents, however, I may escape a penalty double by not bidding 1 NT; and at least partner knows what to lead…

Jonathan Goldberg: I don’t want to hear spades unless partner really wants to bid them.

Joel Singer: This might be more a question of style than [judgment]. Pass can’t be wrong, but at least 1 H provides some lead direction and a [chance] to compete. I don’t like double with such square shape. Only 1 NT is clearly wrong, possibly running into a buzz saw.

Kieran Dyke: A 4-3 heart fit should play well, as might notrump. I don’t want to play spades or diamonds unless partner can volunteer it.

John England: Close to a pass, but pointing partner to a safe lead should compensate for the missing heart.

Mark LaForge: This will leave me better off than passing. I don’t like to double with flat hands that are not strong.

Kevin Podsiadlik: My ideal for a four-card overcall: great suit quality and no short suit for opponents to force me.

Frans Buijsen: I have the shape for a notrump overcall; but with partner a passed hand, it’s unlikely we can make game unless we find a very good fit — so I’ll try to find that fit.

Charles Blair: I don’t want to suggest club shortness with a double.

John Hoffman: Good enough HCP and suit quality to compensate for the missing fifth trump.

Jim Munday: If nothing else, I’ll get partner off to (hopefully) the best lead; and 1 H does not preclude reaching game (though unlikely) should partner have a maximum pass. While I have the values to double, hearts is where I live; 1 NT is too risky.

David Caprera: A perfect description of my unbalanced hand…and 5+ card suit. :)

Josh Sinnett: I don’t shade my notrump overcalls, and double is sick with this shape and point layout. I’m tempted to pass, but the heart suit is strong enough to overcall.

Sandy McIlwain: I was going to pass, but it’s hard to let a suit like this go by. I want better texture for 1 NT.

Hendrik Sharples: Too much not to take some action, although a slow pass may show this best. :) Most continuations over 1 H should be OK.

Manuel Paulo: I have to admit that this overcall does not conform to my standards, but it is possible that our side has enough to compete for a partscore — and it may prevent West from bidding 1 NT, owing to the lack of a heart guard.

Thijs Veugen: Bad club holding for double; too little HCP for 1 NT.

Barry Rigal: Double is also fine, but getting the lead direction may be important.

Scott Stearns: I’ve found that four-card overcalls work well on these hands. I have ample high cards for whatever the final contract is, and partner can provide the distribution. I could bid 1 NT; but since I do that on powerhouse 18-counts vulnerable, I’d rather not be understrength. Double isn’t bad either, but as Marshall Miles notes, “If we have a game, it’s probably hearts.”

Curt Reeves: Right on values; right for lead direction.

Ron Sperber: Close between this and pass, but the suit is good enough for a four-card overcall.

Joon Pahk: Descriptive enough. I’m not too worried about missing 3 NT, so there’s no real need to stick my neck out in 1 NT. Double is too gross for words.

Dan Mytelka: Get partner off to right lead if West bids spades.

Mark Kornmann: Too flat to double; not enough good intermediates for 1 NT; so pass and 1 H are the options. If West buys the contract, I want a heart lead; if partner has 9-12 HCP, there are many hands on which we can make game somewhere. … If I pass, I may have a worse problem later…

Comments for Pass

Simon Cheung: Both my shape and high-card holdings argue for defense, so I’ll go quietly — albeit, against my own grain.

Tim Dickinson: I might try 1 H or 1 NT if behind in a match, but most of the time I’d leave well enough alone.

Jacob Grabowski: Other calls are viable, but the hand seems to lack shape for any action. …

Stefan Jonsson: The best chance for a big plus is on defense. Maybe the auction will continue 1 S P 1 NT; then I will double.

Mike Bell: Partner is a passed hand, which makes game less likely… If partner had not passed, this would be very close.

Rich Johnson: Dear me. Clearly I’ve grown old with the new year. :(

Anthony Golding: Only 14 points and no source of tricks; any action could be costly.

Travis Crump: The only thing I really feel strongly against is double. Other options are very close (I usually play slightly lighter 1 NT overcalls than the Bidding Guide).

Jean-Christophe Clement: A 1 H bid is reasonable (lead-directing), but the vulnerability warns to be careful.

Owen Cotton-Barratt: Double has no appeal; 1 H and 1 NT both work out well on a good day (positional club honors make 1 NT tempting). I’m not too worried about things getting out of hand if I pass.

Rik ter Veen: Alternative would be 1 H; I don’t like to double without decent shape (or distribution of high cards).

Ian Murray: Not quite enough to act, either in length or strength. If West passes, partner will act if anything is on [for our side].

Bjarni Einarsson: No good action; game is unlikely after partner’s pass. With 4-3-3-3 shape, it’s usually better to defend.

Gerald Murphy: Awaiting developments. Hand is slightly short of a 1 NT overcall, [especially] vulnerable, lacking intermediates.

Lajos Linczmayer: I prefer to defend with this flat hand. If West passes, partner will balance with 10-12 HCP; then we may reach a game.

Martin Bootsma: Only other option is 1 H, but the hand looks good for defense.

Jan Andersson: Too many points in opener’s suit.

Jonathan Siegel: With totally flat distribution and 4 of my 14 HCP in East’s suit, this is clear.

Andrew Robson: Most unlikely to have a game, so this defensive collection suggests pass.

Jyrki Lahtonen: Nonvulnerable, I might hazard 1 H or 1 NT; but not at these colors. If this is a partscore battle, I will get another chance.

Comments for Double

Tim DeLaney: Too good to pass; not good enough for 1 NT. A four-card overcall at IMPs courts disaster for the sake of directing the lead. If we belong in 4 H, a double will probably get us there.

Omar Olgeirsson: I feel better to double and leave it to partner, than to pass and guess what to do next round.

Imre Csiszar: Ugly, but safer than to pass and double later (as after 1 NT P P, or 1 S P 2 S). Not acting at all looks cowardly.

John Lusky: Safest and most flexible way to enter the auction. Opposite a passed partner, [any action] could turn out badly, but we still could have game.

Steve White: Suitable values; tolerance for whatever partner bids…

Carsten Kofoed: … In a competitive auction, showing my assets will make it easier for partner to make a wise decision. The risk of intervening now is less than waiting…

Brad Theurer: I don’t mind four-card suit overcalls (suit quality is fine), but double is more flexible with adequate support for all suits. One notrump is possible, since the well-placed club honors promote the hand, but it’s still a bit short.

Jorge Castanheira: One notrump is dangerous, as partner will [expect] a better hand and may [stretch] for game. … One heart is possible, but I will probably be on lead and don’t want partner to compete at an inadequate level.

Carlos Dabezies: I don’t want to miss a heart fit, and I can deal with any response. Not enough to bid 1 NT; unattractive to bid a four-card suit with a flat hand; and hard to get in later with a flat hand if I pass.

Arend Bayer: I can’t keep quiet, but I don’t like the upgrade to 1 NT with sterile shape.

Joshua Donn: There is no safer time to get in than the present. I particularly dislike 1 H, even though it could work out well to get a heart lead, as any raise by partner would probably be too high.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 2

IMPsE-W VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

2 H
NORTH
Pass
Pass
East
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
?
S A K J 9 6
H A J 7
D 10
C Q J 8 3

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 C1056135
Pass952533
2 S626216
2 NT4704
Double318612

An annoying predicament. Normal practice is to reopen with a double (takeout), which does not show extras but merely allows for the possibility that partner made a trap pass. Alas, partner could hardly have a heart stack in view of your hand, so his pass must be due to weakness, probably with no spade fit. It’s tempting just to pass 2 H and hope West will find the play miserable after continued spade leads. At matchpoints, pass is surely the best chance for a good score (hopefully plus 200).

The consensus narrowly preferred to reopen with 3 C, and I agree. Game is remote, but the extra values make it likely you’ll find a safe haven in clubs. Good things often happen to those with enterprise: Maybe you’ll get to defend 3 H; maybe you’ll hit partner with a spectacular club fit and reach game. But then, I’m an optimist and try to get full value for my entry fees. Others will argue, “Maybe you’ll go set instead of West,” and they have a good case.

Another reasonable option is rebid 2 S. Ostensibly, this shows 6+ cards, but the strong suit quality and extra values may suffice. Give partner a bland collection like S 10-x H x-x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C K-x-x, and you may scramble eight tricks when West would have made 2 H. Nonetheless, it’s odds-against, so 2 S only gets a distant third.

Bidding 2 NT is not only off-shape but off-strength (systemically it should show 18-19 HCP), so two wrongs are unlikely to make a right. The good news: Partner may have a smattering of values to let you make 2 NT. The bad news: If he does, he’ll bid 3 NT, and you’ll go minus anyway.

Worst of all must be to reopen with a double, which is arguably suicide. Partner is a big favorite to bid 3 D; and where will you go from there? Crawl under the table and count your coconuts! At least you don’t have to play it.

This deal arose in the round-robin when Italy met Panama, not a real contender, but they beat the Blue Team on this board:

Panama
vs Italy
S Q 5 4
H 3 2
D K J 9 8 5
C 5 4 2
S 10 8
H K Q 10 8 5 4
D 7 4 3
C A 6
TableS 7 3 2
H 9 6
D A Q 6 2
C K 10 9 7
E-W VulS A K J 9 6
H A J 7
D 10
C Q J 8 3

Avarelli
West

2 H
Pass
Maduro
NORTH
Pass
Pass
Pass
Belladonna
East
Pass
Pass
3 H
Calvo
South
1 S
2 S
All Pass
3 H West
Down 2 -200

Abadi
West

2 H
Pass
Forquet
NORTH
Pass
Pass
3 S
Cortina
East
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Garozzo
South
1 C
2 S
3 S South
Down 1 -50
Panama +6 IMPs

The problem scenario arose at the first table, where Calvo chose to reopen with 2 S. Evidently, Calvo-Maduro played four-card majors, as otherwise it’s hard to explain Maduro’s pass of 2 H and his failure to compete over 3 H — well-judged, though, as any three-level contract can be defeated. Avarelli misguessed the play and went down two.

At the second table, Garozzo was obliged to bid 2 S (1 C was strong and artificial), and Forquet had an automatic raise. The misfitting diamond values were useless, and Garozzo was down one. Neither this result nor the first was extraordinary, but it had to be satisfying to set the Blue Team twice on the same board.

A personal sidelight: Carlos Cortina (East) was a friend of mine and one of my wife’s regular bridge partners. We were disappointed when business reasons obliged him to move from South Florida to Panama. Boy, were we surprised — and jealous — when he showed up at the Olympiad representing his country! I joked with Mabel at the time: Let’s move to Nicaragua.

Comments for 3 C

Paul Redvers: This shows extra values. Two notrump is not a good option with a singleton.

Pire Cusi: Really tough! This is an…overbid, but the other choices are even more disturbing.

Simon Cheung: If game is possible, we need a club fit; so this is the best path to 3 NT or 5 C… Though I may be dancing at the three level on a misfit, I can’t resist the temptation, as partner could have S Q H x-x D x-x-x-x C A-10-x-x-x-x, odds-on for 6 C, while defeating 2 H may be tough (or impossible).

Bas Tammens: Maybe partner has a penalty pass, but that’s not very believable…

Boris Richter: A dangerous choice, but partner may have been dealt four or five clubs and [was unable] to enter the auction.

Ian Totman: I had a heart in with my clubs.

Tim Dickinson: A clear double if the red suits were swapped, but here it will attract a 3 D response; and then what? I hate pass and 2 NT, so it’s between 2 S and 3 C, neither of which is totally satisfactory. Ugh.

Michael Bodell: I have the points to bid again and should let partner know my 5-4 shape.

Pierre Boes: If partner has C K-x-x-x-x-x, we are very close to game.

Dale Stewart: Spades are not quite solid enough to rebid; but the hand is worth another bid, especially at favorable.

Carsten Kofoed: No choice is perfect, but this shows nine of my cards. On a fine day we could have a game in clubs, e.g., S x-x H 10-x-x D x-x-x C A-10-x-x-x. The risk of being banged by a coconut is low.

Scott Stearns: Partner doesn’t have a penalty pass, so I [won’t double] to hear the inevitable 3 D; yet I have too much strength to go quietly. Five clubs is still possible without too much from partner’s hand — other than lots of clubs.

Jyrki Lahtonen: If we have a fit somewhere, I should compete. I can’t stand a diamond response to a double, and 2 S overstates my spades. …

Bill Cubley: Odds do not favor a double that will be left in, and the vulnerability favors action…

Comments for Pass

Julian Pottage: Trickiest problem of the set, but it would be tougher still at other vulnerabilities, or if partner had not already passed. I am happy to try for a small penalty, rather than risk playing something silly.

Shuino Wong: If partner cannot make a negative double, I’d rather defend.

Geoff Bridges: If partner has values, he probably has diamonds (no negative double, no spade raise), and he is unlikely to have a penalty pass, given my heart stuff. … Game is extremely unlikely, so let’s just defend the partscore.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Any bid may turn a likely plus score into a minus, and double may yield a most unwelcome diamond bid…

George Klemic: Partner doesn’t have a penalty double; so why rescue West? Chance of game is exceedingly remote.

Ciaran Coyne: Seems unlikely partner has a trap pass, so he’s broke. The danger then is that balancing could push opponents into a making diamond contract. I have good defense against hearts, as partner is a favorite to be short in spades…

Tim DeLaney: The auction and vulnerability convince me that partner is not trapping; and since I can’t cope with a diamond response, double is out of the question. Game is unlikely, and I have good defensive values.

Leonard Helfgott: Partner couldn’t act, and I have heart values without the shape for double. Too weak to risk 3 C at IMPs.

Dima Nikolenkov: The most likely way to go plus is to defend 2 H, promoting [a trump trick] in partner’s hand.

John Haslegrave: I have a worse than average hand for competing, and partner would expect more strength for 3 C.

John R. Mayne: Do I have no faith in partner? If partner is short in hearts, he would have acted. It looks like West is in a 5-1 or 5-2 fit, and it isn’t making. I’ll take our plus; game looks very unlikely. Even if guaranteed that one action would do better than passing, I wouldn’t take it, because it’s not clear which will succeed.

Jacob Grabowski: Double could result in 3 D from partner, then I am left guessing. Partner couldn’t find a negative double or a spade raise, so a cautious pass will avoid stretching the truth.

Roland Watzdorf: If one side is missing a game, it is East-West (though unlikely). This is my safest way for a plus; we may win two spades, a spade ruff, two hearts, and one minor-suit trick from partner.

Chuck Arthur: Where is that silly diamond suit? If partner has it, he is quite weak; and we are in trouble if I take further action. If opponents have it, it [may] be a more playable strain than hearts. Game our way is quite unlikely.

Stephen Fischer: I’d like to bid 3 C competitively, but partner will go on far too often for my liking. If we have enough to make a contract, 2 H is unlikely to be a bargain [for West].

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: This usually won’t miss a game, as partner didn’t double or support spades. We will set 2 H most of the time after a likely spade lead.

Michael Gill: I think I’m beating 2 H on a crossruff. I’m not making game, so I’ll take my plus.

Chris Mulley: Partner is highly unlikely to have three spades, and 3 NT looks a long way off (and if it makes, we should get much of it back defending 2 H at the vulnerability). A natural 2 NT on this auction is such lunacy that my regular partner and I play it as a distributional takeout, so bids like 3 C are strong two-suiters.

Noble Shore: Probably nobody can make anything; or we can make a partscore and West goes down in 2 H. Since we’re white, I’m not worried too much about missing a game.

Anthony Golding: Partner couldn’t double or raise spades, so defending may well be my best option; I fancy our chances on a spade lead and diamond switch.

Bill Jacobs: Please get the names of anyone who takes a bid.

Travis Crump: Cowardly, but I don’t want to turn plus 100 into minus 50. At matchpoints, I’d be more willing to act.

Jean-Christophe Clement: The deal looks like a misfit. Three clubs is too high; 2 S is a possibility, but I prefer to pass. If I double, I’ll hear 3 D about 120 percent of the time. :)

David Shelton: Partner passed as dealer and passed over 2 H. Maybe he’s trying to say something.

Paul Meerschaert: This looks like the best place to try for a plus score, as we unlikely have a game…

Sandy Barnes: Not much chance for game, and not much of a chance that partner has a penalty double. It looks more like we will go plus on defense than on offense.

Robin Zigmond: At pairs, I’d find some other bid (probably 2 S), but there’s no feature of my hand that seems to justify sticking my neck out.

Mauri Saastamoinen: Wow! Did I hear partner pass? Have I lost my faith in bidding? Possibly so,…but trying to get plus 100, or even minus 110, is better than writing down 300 or 500 for the bad guys.

Jonathan Goldberg: I may miss a big penalty — it’s happened to Meckwell and it can happen to me — but my hearts are not full value, and I have no fast source of tricks at notrump.

Bjarni Einarsson: I have good defense, and partner is unlikely to have good cards after two passes.

David Wiltshire: Three notrump could be making; but there are no guarantees,…and 2 H might be two or three off for adequate compensation. I’ll take our plus score (if it is our hand)…

Kieran Dyke: Very clear. Partner doesn’t have a trap pass, so he has heart length or a very bad hand.

Richard Stein: I usually avoid passing when better than minimum, but our expected equity rates to be higher on defense. Game for us is unlikely; and opponents are vulnerable (if not I would bid 3 C).

Roger Morton: Looking at my hearts, partner can hardly be lurking; and he won’t have three spades unless very weak. Double will elicit some number of diamonds; 3 C is a bit rich; and I’d like a bit more stuffing for 2 NT.

Imre Csiszar: Unhappily, I’ll be a coward. After the overcall, most partners would raise on subminimum values, or double with both minors. In rare cases, this may miss game; but it’s more likely that neither side can make anything, and little will be lost if we make a partial and 2 H goes down.

John Lusky: Balancing is more likely to get opponents into a better strain (diamonds) than to accomplish anything useful for our side.

Steve White: If partner couldn’t raise spades or make a negative double, we aren’t making a game. Partner is very unlikely to have three spades, so prospects for defending are much better than for declaring.

Kevin Podsiadlik: Yes, partner could have something S Q-x H x-x-x D Q-J-x-x-x C K-10-x, and a nonvulnerable game goes by the boards. More likely, opponents belong in diamonds, and any action on my part gets them there.

Frans Buijsen: Partner has no values for a negative double and can’t support spades, so it’s unlikely we’re missing anything.

Damo Nair: The question is whether or not partner has four respectable hearts, in which case I should double. It’s a guess, but I’ll pass hoping to get 100 to 300, rather than try 3 C. Two notrump is bit out of my league.

Martin Bootsma: Given my heart suit, partner does not have a penalty pass. Opponents may have a better contract available (3 D), and it’s doubtful we have a spot where declaring is more profitable than defending.

Jim Munday: Partner does not have three spades or both minors, unless totally broke, so I don’t think we’re missing much. It’s possible that we have a magic 5 C; but more often than not, bidding will turn a plus into a minus. …

David Caprera: Partner is more likely to have king-sixth of diamonds than king-sixth of clubs. I don’t expect to make game, and partner knows what to lead.

Brad Theurer: Partner couldn’t raise spades, bid notrump or make a negative double — he’s either busted or might have a limited diamond one-suiter. Is it possible that 2 H makes and we can make a partscore? Yes, but it’s more likely that 2 H can be set and/or we go minus. …

Hendrik Sharples: Too much in hearts, and not enough length in clubs, to venture to the three level — not to mention a lack of defense should opponents have a big diamond fit.

Manuel Paulo: My heart suit is a warning sign that partner does not have a penalty pass; and otherwise he would have bid or made a negative double if he had values — so he has a poor hand.

Nicoleta Giura: Alternatives are obscure. Yes, I did count 16 HCP, but partner is not short in hearts and I’m not keen to hear about his diamonds.

Thijs Veugen: Partner is unlikely to have a penalty pass, and I don’t want to hear 3 D from him.

Barry Rigal: While we could miss a club fit, my heart length suggests defending is sensible; and bidding could turn a plus score into a minus. Partner does not fit spades unless very weak; and with short hearts, he would struggle to act.

Joshua Donn: I don’t see where I’m going on this hand. Partner is quite likely to be weak, and I expect to set 2 H on a spade lead. There is no justification to force to the three level when we may have a misfit. Double and 2 NT are psychs as far as I’m concerned.

Joon Pahk: Quite likely, we have no fit, and partner couldn’t scrounge up a negative double; so chances for game aren’t impressive.

Mike Doecke: Without values for game or a good way to continue the auction, defending 2 H looks like our best chance for a positive score.

Mark Reeve: Partner doesn’t have a penalty pass; so where are we going? I have plenty of defense, and not much offense.

Andrew Robson: I expect to go plus in 2 H, so why risk a minus in the search for an unlikely club game (there can be no other).

Jack Brawner: What am I realistically hoping for if I reopen? Plus 110 in 3 D? This hand has nice defense, and plus 200 is a real possibility.

Mark Kornmann: … I want a sixth spade for 2 S, or a fifth club for 3 C. Partner didn’t [act], so I’ll leave this alone; if he has a few scattered points and three hearts, we’re odds-on to go plus. Taking another action runs the risk of disaster — or waking up the sleeping giant on my left.

Stan Dub: Three clubs could work out, but the risk of disaster is too great when game is unlikely. On a bad day, partner will have S x H 10-x-x D K-9-x-x-x-x C x-x-x, and West will lead a trump against 3 C doubled. Also, if partner does have something along with short spades, we’ll probably beat 2 H.

Julian Wightwick: If partner has only two hearts and enough for game, he would probably have bid or doubled. If he has three hearts and a good hand, West is going off in hundreds.

Comments for 2 S

Joel Singer: Just good enough to do this, although I’d like another spade. Anyone who doubles deserves a long, tortured 3 D bid from partner.

Ian Murray: Partner probably has at least one minor, but there’s not much chance of game; and [bidding 3 C] could easily head for a penalty.

Gerald Murphy: After partner passes, I won’t attempt 3 C (suit should be better with only four). This bid is only slightly [flawed].

Lajos Linczmayer: Probably neither side has a fit, but maybe both 2 S and 2 H are makable. Though unlikely, we may have a club fit (e.g., S x H x-x D x-x-x-x C A-10-9-x-x-x) and should play 5 C.

Josh Sinnett: Enough to compete; not enough to go past the two level.

Carlos Dabezies: I don’t want to double or bid 2 NT with a singleton diamond, and the club suit is not good enough to bid at the three level.

Olle Morell: Yuck. If I double, I can’t handle 3 D from partner (not enough to double and then bid).

Glenn McIntyre: I’ve got nearly six tricks opposite anything; how bad can that be?

Bill Powell: I just can’t bring myself to pass.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 3

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

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 NT1076047
3 S8252
4 H725416
3 H534121
3 D41278
Pass2976

So what else is new? Three notrump is listed as an option, and it wins easily. I think I should be allowed a 25-percent reduction in vote totals for all 3 NT bids, as some people apply no other bridge logic than a mindless quotation of Hamman’s Rule. Oh well; even with a discount, the heavy vote would have 3 NT win anyway. So I’ll bite the bullet.

Some respondents felt partner’s 3 C promised heart tolerance. Not really. Partner’s marked shortness in spades and failure to open 3 C make a doubleton heart more likely than usual; but his bid only shows clubs. For example, few experts would open 3 C with S x-x H x D K-Q-x-x C Q-J-x-x-x-x; yet all would want to compete against 2 S. Also, since the 1 S opening was in third seat, it could be a four-card lead-director (e.g., S K-J-10-9), so partner might even turn up with three spades.

I don’t like 3 NT because it rates to have no play opposite a misfit; and if partner has two hearts, e.g., S x-x H x-x D Q-x-x C A-J-10-x-x-x, 4 H should have much better chances. Even opposite S x-x H x D K-x-x-x C A-J-10-x-x-x, 4 H has decent chances (especially with the likely spade lead). Rather than commit, however, I would cue-bid 3 S and then bid 4 H (barring an unexpected 3 NT) to imply less certainty; e.g., allowing partner to correct to 5 C with S x-x H x D K-Q-x-x C Q-J-10-8-x-x.

Next best and a close third goes to the jump to 4 H, which feels like a 75-percent shot at the best contract. For one thing, it avoids complications, such as the misinterpretation of a cue-bid; so it’s hard to criticize bidding what you think you can make.

Other choices seem off track. Three hearts is ultraconservative; surely, you’d bid 3 H with S A-x-x H K-Q-J-10-9-x D Q-x-x C x, so the acey, multistrain potential of this hand is lost. Three diamonds would be great if it were forcing; but alas, you will play there too many times to be a happy camper. Last and surely least, pass seems not only cowardly but sadistic; imagine partner going down in 3 C with 4 H cold.

Here’s how the coconuts fell in the 1972 Olympiad final:

USA vs
Italy
S 10 7
H K 2
D 10 9 4
C Q 10 8 7 3 2
S 8 5 3 2
H 10 8 5
D 6 2
C A K 6 4
TableS K J 9 4
H Q 3
D K Q 7 5 3
C J 5
E-W VulS A Q 6
H A J 9 7 6 4
D A J 8
C 9

Avarelli
WEST
Pass
1 S
Pass
Hamman
North
Pass
2 C
4 H
Belladonna
East
1 D
2 S
All Pass
Soloway
South
Dbl
3 H
4 H South
Made 5 +450

Jacoby
WEST
Pass
2 S
All Pass
Forquet
North
Pass
3 C
Wolff
East
1 S
Pass
Garozzo
South
Dbl
4 H
4 H South
Made 5 +450
No swing

The problem was derived from the auction at the second table, but I adjusted South’s initial action to fit American bidding style.* Indeed, I was shocked to see Garozzo’s unilateral decision; but as usual, his judgment was right on the money. No doubt, the fact that Forquet was a passed hand was a significant factor, suggesting he would catch scattered values rather than just clubs.

*I’m sure most experts would overcall 1 S with 2 H, rather than double. Over 1 D, however, the decision is closer; I would still overcall, but I’m probably in the minority, as Soloway’s decision at the first table would suggest.

Both teams did well to reach 4 H, and the friendly layout made 11 tricks routine for a push. Three notrump would also make with the H Q falling, but probably only nine tricks for a 2-IMP loss. Alas, we’ll never know whether Hamman would have applied his rule, as he sat the wrong way.

Comments for 3 NT

Karl Barth: I’m not sure what partner is up to; but opposite a random [expert], I’d expect a game somewhere, so I’ll show I have spades stopped. (In my partnerships, I’d expect a string of clubs and not much else.)

Nigel Guthrie: Partner did not preempt, nor double 2 S; so 3 C is constructive, likely with heart tolerance. Three notrump is a sensible suggestion, because he can’t have less than S x H K-x D Q-x-x-x C K-x-x-x-x-x.

Julian Pottage: Showing extra values and a good spade stopper.

Shuino Wong: Even as a passed hand, partner should have about 10 HCP. I hope he has a stiff H Q or better support.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Bidding the most likely game now may be the only way to get there.

Simon Cheung: Opponents may be bidding on very slight values, plus I don’t fancy tabling my hand in a club contract. …

Ciaran Coyne: … Partner is likely to have heart tolerance, given the initial pass. Second choice is 3 D, but I don’t see what that will accomplish except to land us in [diamonds] when we belong in 3 NT.

Bas Tammens: A gamble, [hoping to catch] H K-x or Q-x, which might be enough for nine tricks. …

Tim DeLaney: Partner rates to have a good club suit and something on the side (he didn’t preempt). If he has two hearts, perhaps hearts will run. …

Boris Richter: Having a singleton in partner’s suit is a major flaw for slam purposes… I would bid 3 S if it showed strength, but I guess this asks for a stopper for notrump. So, if I don’t want to live a bidding horror, I might as well bid 3 NT.

Rainer Herrmann: As partner did not preempt at favorable vulnerability, he presumably has scattered values and [hopefully] a doubleton heart.

Leonard Helfgott: … With clubs covered, nine tricks might be easier than 10.

Omar Olgeirsson: Our most likely game. Partner will often have H K-x or Q-x, and 3 NT [may] be easier than 4 H. With slightly less strength, I would bid 3 H.

Tim Dickinson: Well, if anyone is going to bid 3 NT, it’s me. If partner has the dreaded singleton heart, at least he should be 2=1=4=6, and clubs might run. Three diamonds is also attractive; but what if partner raises with that 2=1=4=6 hand?

John R. Mayne: There’s no clear source of tricks; but partner likely has a partial heart fit, and I have two rock-solid spade stoppers. My heart suit is about what partner will expect.

Michael Bodell: Partner’s free bid, which I take for 10+ points, makes me think 3 NT…is the best chance for game. If my hand can take two spades, four or five hearts and a diamond, and partner has a trick or two, we are good. …

Mike Bell: This doesn’t feel like a hand to be playing a 6-2 heart fit. Hopefully, partner is bidding now based on honor-small in hearts.

Roland Watzdorf: If 4 H is right, partner [has a chance] to bid it. If 3 NT is right, this is the last chance.

Rich Johnson: … I’m happy to play a nine-trick game if that’s cool with partner.

Michael Gill: I’m bidding game for sure, and 4 H seems too likely to have four losers. …

Jonathan Steinberg: I have the values for game, and my spade holding tells me to bid notrump.

Anthony Golding: Partner will have either good clubs or heart tolerance for his free bid, so this should have a play.

Jean-Christophe Clement: With two good spade stoppers, this should be the easiest game.

Paul Meerschaert: There’s a reason why 3 NT is everybody’s favorite contract. If partner bids 4 H, I will seriously consider a slam. If he bids 4 C, I will bid 5 C.

David Stewart: Partner took a free bid at the three level, and I have spades well stopped.

Rik ter Veen: If we need to play 3 NT, I have to bid it.

Jonathan Goldberg: If partner has heart tolerance, I should try game, and this is the shortest road.

Joel Singer: Seems the most likely game, and partner may still correct to 4 H.

Ian Murray: West on lead should give me enough time to develop clubs, diamonds or hearts.

Dale Stewart: I have already shown…hearts. All I need from partner is 10 points and club stoppers.

David Wiltshire: This could be ugly if partner doesn’t have two hearts — and might be ugly even when he does. Four hearts is my other option; anything else risks missing a good game.

Roger Morton: When in doubt! Maybe I can get hearts or clubs going for only one loser.

Steve White: Four hearts could be better, but it could also be much, much worse. At this vulnerability, there may be no game; but there is no sensible way to explore.

Frans Buijsen: The ever-favorite bid, showing spade values. Three diamonds looks attractive, but in reality partner won’t bid 3 H with lots of hands I want him to — and he may [pass] or bid an unwelcome 4 C [or 4 D].

Jorge Castanheira: If partner can bid at the three level, I won’t pass. If I temporize with 3 D, I’ll be in the same position over 3 H; but if partner bids 4 D or 5 D, I will regret it. Three hearts could be much weaker, so I bid the obvious…

Hendrik Sharples: When faced with several unpalatable choices, go for the one that pays the best if you’re right.

Mike Doecke: In this sequence, I think 3 C should show some fit for hearts — especially at favorable vulnerability where most shapely hands with six clubs are opened 3 C. Without that agreement, however, I’ll try 3 NT.

Mark Reeve: Does partner’s 3 C show some heart tolerance? [No, but it’s likely] he’ll have H K-x or Q-x, and I’ll have an excellent play for nine tricks.

Jack Brawner: I hope you didn’t put that 3 NT bid in just to sucker me, ‘cuz I’m not following Hamman’s Rule but one of my own: He who has the stopper bids the notrump.

Stan Dub: Partner does not need much for me to make this, and he can always pull to 4 H with secondary support. Three clubs must show something besides clubs (I hope). Even if his club suit is weak, it may stretch; e.g., S x H K-x D 10-x-x C K-Q-x-x-x-x-x, or S x H Q-x D Q-x-x C A-10-x-x-x-x-x.

Comments for 3 S

Pire Cusi: Three notrump seems too risky. I’ll push partner towards hearts and see how he reacts.

Lajos Linczmayer: Partner must have a good six-card suit, and he cannot have more than 7-8 HCP (opponents are red against white). If partner has S x-x H x-x D x-x-x C A-K-J-10-x-x, I hope he bids 4 H; and if he has S x-x H x D Q-10-x-x C K-Q-J-10-x-x, he’ll bid 5 C. Over 4 C, I’ll pass.

Bill Cubley: Showing strength and allowing partner to decide the [best game].

Comments for 4 H

Dima Nikolenkov: If partner didn’t have too many coco- or other nuts, he [is likely to] have tolerance for hearts to bid 3 C as a passed hand. Also, West [rates to] lead a spade.

Stephen Fischer: No initial preempt suggests that 3 C contains some sort of heart support.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Partner [is likely to] have secondary heart support. With the S K onside (usually), I can ruff a spade in dummy. …

Bill Jacobs: This problem is all about partner’s failure to open at favorable vulnerability. I expect him to have a decent hand with honor-doubleton in hearts, say, S x-x H Q-x D x-x-x C A-J-10-x-x-x. Second choice is 3 NT.

Travis Crump: Partner should have something useful; and if he really misfits hearts, notrump isn’t playing well either.

Owen Cotton-Barratt: Three clubs looks like a fit nonjump. Partner likely has at least one of the missing heart honors…

Sandy Barnes: Partner [likely] has some sort of heart fit in reserve for his 3 C bid.

Robin Zigmond: I don’t really know what 3 C means, but in context it seems to be some kind of fit-showing bid, in which case I’m probably worth 4 H but no more. I’m also more than happy to push East-West into 4 S. :)

Mauri Saastamoinen: Big question: should partner have at least a tolerance for my suit? If so, I simply have to bid a game. If not, why on earth did he bid 3 C now but not earlier? Could he really have something like S x-x H x D K-Q-x-x C K-Q-10-9-x-x? I think not,…but even opposite that collection I have a slim chance to succeed…

Paul Fauvet: Despite the double stopper in spades, this hand will play better in hearts than notrump; so I might as well bid 4 H at once. … Partner is marked with spade shortage, and could easily have a diamond honor. …

Bjarni Einarsson: Likely I can make this after a spade lead. Partner is likely to have two hearts because he has few spades.

Imre Csiszar: Partner, who did not open 3 C, would hardly bid now with nothing but long clubs. …

John Lusky: As partner didn’t start with a preempt, he should have some values outside clubs. Since S x-x H x-x D Q-x-x C A-x-x-x-x-x gives me a good play for 4 H, I should make one of the stronger bids. Three notrump could be right, but I think 4 H will make more often. Also, 3 NT could deflect West from a [helpful] spade lead.

Carsten Kofoed: North passed first (no preempt), so he [likely] has some heart support — and against 4 H, West will often lead a spade.

Kevin Podsiadlik: It seems hard to believe that partner would bid this way with [club values only]; therefore, given my maximum, a game bid is indicated.

Gerald Murphy: Partner’s 3 C should imply some heart tolerance. With good spades, I will bid 4 H.

Martin Bootsma: Given his initial pass, partner does not have clubs alone but has some heart support, even [without special agreement]. Although I am not very enthusiastic about his club suit, my hand is far too strong to bid 3 H. Three notrump might be better, but my aces and singleton [suggest] 4 H

John Hoffman: I’m expecting…two hearts in partner’s hand, so this could play very well.

Brad Theurer: Partner didn’t open 3 C, so his suit probably wasn’t long enough or good enough. Bidding at the three level as a passed hand, he probably has heart tolerance; but if it’s a small doubleton with most of his strength in clubs, game is not a sure thing. Still, I’ll be aggressive with my sixth heart, aces, and a likely spade lead. Three diamonds would be perfect if it were forcing, but it’s [not]. Even with two spade stoppers, 3 NT could have problems.

Nicoleta Giura: I think partner is 2=2=4=5, as he would have opened 3 C with 2=1=4=6. That’s good enough for me.

Thijs Veugen: This seems more profitable than 3 NT. After a spade lead, I probably can ruff the third round in dummy.

Barry Rigal: In my book, 3 C shows heart tolerance; with just clubs, you open the suit, or on this auction wait to bid them later… That being so, despite my singleton club, I have so much extra that I must go all the way.

Arend Bayer: For me, 3 C implied a heart fit; and I’m curious whether this [interpretation] will be the consensus.

Joshua Donn: I don’t like pass, since we could have a game; 3 D shows a suit; 3 S sounds like club support; and 3 NT has no source of tricks in sight. … Incidentally, people who say partner’s 3 C bid promises heart tolerance are simply wrong. He might not have opened 3 C because the suit wasn’t good enough; or because he has a decent four-card [diamond] suit. …

Andy Caranicas: I can’t think of many hands where 3 NT makes and 4 H doesn’t — though it would be nice to find partner with two hearts in either contract.

Andrew Robson: I like to play that as a passed hand a three-level bid of a new suit by partner carries some assurance of a fit. As such, 4 H is surely indicated with such good controls and a promising-looking spade holding.

Andrei Varlan: I would bid 3 H with an ace less. The [likely] spade lead will give me a trick [or tempo] — and give me two more points because I’ll play the hand. :)

Comments for 3 H

Bob Klein: Partner should have heart tolerance to bid 3 C, but he can’t have much in high cards; so game is unlikely.

Richard Stein: My first thought was to bash 3 NT;…but give partner at least H 10-x, and 4 H could be an easy winner. Partner [may] toss it back to me with 3 S, over which I’ll bid 3 NT.

Damo Nair: Three notrump without a club fit is unpalatable, as it will require a heart fit from partner. …

David Caprera: Game is still possible. If partner has C K-Q-J-x-x-x and out, I would rather have passed. But partner can still have S x-x H 10-x D Q-x-x C A-J-x-x-x-x (or better), and I hope he can find a raise.

Josh Sinnett: I’ll bid 3 NT, if partner bids 3 S; but if this is a misfit, there’s no way I can take nine tricks before the spade stoppers are gone.

Sandy McIlwain: I take partner’s 3 C as mildly encouraging, and he should take 3 H the same way. Three notrump may make, of course, but only if hearts play for lots of tricks.

Carlos Dabezies: I’m tempted to bid 4 H because partner should have at least two hearts, but he could have a hand with no entries, say, S x-x H x-x D Q-x-x C K-Q-10-x-x-x.

Scott Stearns: I think I can make 3 NT if partner has the H K (maybe even just the H 10); but realistically, my hand has not improved by the auction. So I’ll just bid 3 H and [hope] partner can bid again; it’s a nonvulnerable game anyway.

Ron Sperber: While both 3 NT and 4 H may be makable, our hands might just be a misfit. This slows things down a bit, while keeping all game options alive.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 4

IMPsNone VulYou, South, hold:
 
WEST
Pass
1 NT
North
Pass
Dbl
East
1 S1
2 H
South
Pass
?
S K 9 8 6 4 3
H
D Q 6 3
C A K J 8
1. 4+ cards

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 C1078449
4 C915310
2 S728017
3 H516610
Pass315710
3 S1644

A bizarre auction, to say the least. East first bids your long suit, then he bids the suit partner showed with the takeout double. One thing seems clear: East stumbled into a heart fit whether he deserved it or not. It can’t be right to defend 2 H, so the obvious question is which black suit to bid and how many.

The consensus was simply to compete in clubs — conservative but sensible opposite a passed hand. Partner rates to have wasted honors in hearts; and your S K isn’t pulling much weight opposite a singleton, and partner may be void. I can accept this, but it always makes me nervous to underbid, especially if partner knows my style is to be aggressive.

I would bid 4 C (invitational) which expresses my values well and leaves two reasonable scenarios for a handsome gain: (1) West may be stampeded to bid 4 H, which partner is likely to double, or (2) partner may have the hand to continue to 5 C. In view of the enemy heart fit, 3 C probably won’t buy the contract anyway, so this venture avoids a subsequent decision over 3 H, giving opponents the last guess.

Bidding spades does not appeal to me. Even though East may have only four spades (I tried to lure you with my note), his next bid of 2 H makes this unlikely. Most four-card-majorites open 1 H with 4-4, so this sequence suggests at least 5-4, and probably 5-5 to bid into the teeth of North’s double. Bidding 2 S may work well if there’s more bidding*, but the idea of playing in spades seems deranged with such a weak suit (hence, my scoring of 3 S).

*Virtually all experts would agree that 2 S is natural, but there is little agreement on whether it is forcing. I would assume nonforcing, analogous to other natural responses.

The only other call I can tolerate is 3 H, though it’s an overbid. While it suggests the void, partner will expect 5=0=4=4 (change a low spade to a diamond and it’s perfect). When partner bids 4 D, you may end up with coconut cream pie on your face.

This deal arose in the round-robin when United States met China, a strong team that finished fifth, narrowly missing the semifinal:

China
vs USA
S
H J 10 9 8 2
D A K 7
C Q 10 9 7 3
S Q 10
H A 6 5
D J 10 9 8 5 2
C 4 2
TableS A J 7 5 2
H K Q 7 4 3
D 4
C 6 5
None VulS K 9 8 6 4 3
H
D Q 6 3
C A K J 8

Wolff
WEST
Pass
1 NT
All Pass
Shen
North
Pass
Dbl
Jacoby
East
1 S
2 H
F. Huang
South
Pass
2 S
2 S South
Made 2 +110

P. Huang
WEST
Pass
1 NT
3 D
All Pass
Lawrence
North
Pass
Dbl
4 C
Tai
East
1 S
2 H
Pass
Goldman
South
Pass
3 C
5 C
5 C South
Made 5 +400
USA +7 IMPs

The unusual problem sequence arose at both tables. Frank Huang chose to show his spade suit, and the auction came to a screeching halt. Two spades was easily made; but when your only losers are five trump tricks, the contract loses credibility. Perhaps this is an appropriate time for a reminder of what Confucius say: Two side bid same suit; one side kwazy.

At the second table, Goldman followed our consensus to bid 3 C. Game was duly reached, albeit with help from West, as Lawrence probably would have passed otherwise. Even with the annoying trump lead, Goldman won in dummy and easily ruffed three hearts to ensure 11 tricks for a 7-IMP gain.

Comments for 3 C

Karl Barth: Partner’s double certainly suggests he can stand to hear about clubs.

Nigel Guthrie: If West promises not to make the obvious trump lead, even 5 C is possible.

Julian Pottage: I would bid more if partner were vulnerable or had not passed originally. Making 11 tricks in a 4-4 fit is hard work.

Shuino Wong: Partner has passed, so 5 C seems unmakable.

Geoff Bridges: Partner’s double is takeout of spades, so I’m giving up on that suit permanently. I’ll get clubs in before West raises hearts and blocks me out of the auction.

Rosalind Hengeveld: If West leads a trump, I won’t make all that many clubs. If West bids 4 H, I’ll lead a coconut (for lack of a trump).

George Klemic: The “4+ cards” note is irrelevant after the 2 H bid; East shouldn’t be 4-4 (and if he is, I may lose four trump tricks to S A-Q-J-10). Partner has a light distributional takeout, so game is most likely out of reach; but it should play well in clubs. …

Alon Amsel: Is East making a canape bid? Or does he show five spades now? Either way, I’m bidding clubs and doubling opponents later.

Pire Cusi: East has five spades (else he opens 1 H), so I don’t plan to bid very high; 3 C is enough for now. I will double for penalty if West raises hearts.

Tim DeLaney: Partner will have a shapely hand for a passed-hand double, but not great high-card strength. Opponents, with eight or nine hearts between them, might find the auction too tempting and bid 4 H, which I will double.

Boris Richter: I have a good hand for competitive purposes, and we’re nonvulnerable.

Omar Olgeirsson: I would bid 4 C if partner weren’t a passed hand; he has something like 1=4=4=4 and 9-10 HCP.

Dima Nikolenkov: Call me chicken. I will let East play in 3 H.

Tim Dickinson: No way will you get anyone to bid 3 S. Really! Does Fritz participate in these?

Would you believe 64 votes? Trust me I could get votes for six spades.

Greg Lawler: If West leads a club, I won’t have a lot of winners, so I’ll be conservative. It doesn’t make sense to introduce spades, since partner likely has a stiff.

John R. Mayne: I have the best hand at the table, and everyone is bidding but me. I can’t let them have all the fun! Looking for 5 C is greedy; partner may have S x H A-J-x-x D K-J-x-x C Q-10-9-x — not so many losers, but not enough winners. Three notrump will have no play. If opponents compete to 3 H, I’ll smack it, even with my void; they’re in trouble.

Jacob Grabowski: … Well, 3 H would get my strength across, but I’m not sure where this is all heading. I’ll start the new year cautiously.

Stefan Jonsson: We’re not missing game, because my S K and partner’s heart values are wasted. The real problem arises if West bids 3 H and partner doesn’t double.

Mike Bell: I have to compete; the question is, am I looking for game? I suspect I won’t have enough tricks on a trump lead.

Michael Gill: I can’t let East play 2 H, and I don’t think I’m strong enough to cue-bid, given the [spade] misfit. A free bid seems like enough.

Jonathan Steinberg: If partner weren’t a passed hand, I’d bid more. On a trump lead, I might have a lot of difficulty making more than nine tricks.

Anthony Golding: I must show some enthusiasm, so partner can double 3 H.

Bill Jacobs: … I don’t want to defend 2 H with a void — even if partner has five of them — and this is not a game hand opposite partner’s original pass. A competitive 3 C is clear.

Travis Crump: … Conservative, as partner’s heart strength [is likely useless]. Give partner S x H K-J-x-x D A-x-x-x C Q-x-x-x, and 5 C is no bargain, especially on a club lead; and he can’t really have much more as a passed hand. Further, partner could have [only three clubs].

Owen Cotton-Barratt: Pass doesn’t appeal with a void, and bidding spades doesn’t appeal with advertised shortage opposite. Having to ruff with strong clubs also doesn’t appeal, so I’ll stick with 3 C for the moment.

Sandy Barnes: Partner’s double is takeout of spades. Hearts are breaking poorly for opponents, so I’ll double if they bid again.

Rik ter Veen: Partner will now know where I live, as opponents are going to bid more hearts.

Mauri Saastamoinen: What should partner have? How about a 0=4=5=4 9-count, something like SH K-x-x-x D A-10-9-x-x C Q-x-x-x? [This has] chances for a game in clubs, but odds are against it. East might easily win eight or nine tricks in hearts, so I intend to bid 4 C over 3 H — unless partner doubles it.

Joel Singer: I’m happy to make a partscore on what seems to be a misfitting deal. If opponents compete any more, I might double.

Bjarni Einarsson: I think I can make this. I don’t like to pass, because East has surely found a heart fit.

David Wiltshire: With every suit breaking badly, it’s probably best to take the low road. Even if partner has a good heart stopper, it’s hard to imagine where tricks would come from in notrump.

Kieran Dyke: Softly for now; this won’t play well unless I catch a good fit (if improbably raised, I’ll bid game). I have no desire to play spades opposite certain shortness.

Richard Stein: Opponents have a heart fit… As a general rule, when opponents have found a fit, I try to find ours. With North’s expected spade [shortness], I won’t bother with that suit.

John Lusky: Game is still a dubious bet opposite a passed partner. I will rethink this if West bids 3 H and partner raises clubs.

Steve White: Game is remote opposite a passed hand, but I certainly won’t sell out to 2 H.

Carsten Kofoed: Well done, partner! This must be playable, even if clubs are 4-1; and it may push East-West too high.

Kevin Podsiadlik: Going slow for now, hoping to buy the hand cheaply. Four clubs would likely get 4 H from West and a double from partner, leaving me with a nasty guess.

Gerald Murphy: With terrible breaks looming, only four clubs, and a passed partner, I’ll [be conservative].

Lajos Linczmayer: I don’t think we have a game. If West bids 3 H, I will bid 3 S.

Martin Bootsma: Game is far away… Partner probably has four clubs; and if he has only three, I’m unlikely to be doubled, given my good suit. Bidding has the advantage that opponents may compete to 3 H, which partner may be able to double.

John Hoffman: Planning to double 3 H.

Jim Munday: It would be nice to know if opponents open 1 H or 1 S with 4-4 in the majors. (I play a four-card-major system with one partner, but this sequence shows 5-4.) West figures to have a big heart fit regardless and will bid some number of hearts next. I don’t think I can make 5 C, and I don’t think East can make 4 H; so I’ll tread slowly.

David Caprera: The “4+ cards” note notwithstanding, I don’t believe East is coming back in over a passed-hand takeout double (which pretty much guarantees four hearts) without nine or 10 major-suit cards. Giving partner a 1=4=4=4 [near opener], this hand isn’t going to play as well as it looks. If opponents compete to 3 H, I will try 3 S en route to 4 C.

Brad Theurer: For his passed-hand takeout, partner probably has a singleton spade or void; so I’m not tempted to bid my poor-quality suit. A club contract will have trouble making game on repeated trump leads, which opponents should find; so I’ll settle for a competitive move and see what happens.

Josh Sinnett: Planning to follow this with 3 S if an opponent bids 3 H — and planning to follow that with a nice dinner while partner thinks about what I might have.

Sandy McIlwain: A void opposite partner’s heart [strength] is not much help, and the S K is not much use either.

Carlos Dabezies: Too much to pass, especially as opponents may have a nine-card heart fit. My spade suit is not good enough to bid when partner has at most two. Three hearts may push the bidding too high.

Manuel Paulo: Despite my overwhelming strength, a soft free bid should be enough, as breaks will not be friendly.

Nicoleta Giura: Opposite a passed hand, I’m looking for the best partscore. I expect partner to have something like S x H A-J-x-x D K-J-x-x C x-x-x-x.

Thijs Veugen: East seems to have five spades, so I don’t like bidding 2 S.

Alan Kravetz: Time to get in the auction, as opponents may have a 5-4 heart fit.

Joshua Donn: Fun problem. Game is unlikely with wasted values in both majors, and partner a passed hand. I expect West to raise to 3 H, which I’ll double. Partner will know I’m short in hearts, and hopefully make an intelligent decision; if he passes, we should kill them.

Curt Reeves: East is 5-4 or 5-5 in the majors; best to tread lightly. My extra values for this bid are offset by having only four clubs. If partner has an [exceptional club fit], he will bid again, and we can still get to game.

Shantanu Rastogi: Partner reckons to have 1=4=4=4 distribution, which means 17 combined trumps [per LOTT theory]. … If we can score nine tricks, opponents can score eight; so it pays to bid.

Eugene Dille: Partner is short in spades, so it’s likely I can make 3 C on a crossruff.

Joon Pahk: I won’t hang partner out to dry. This hand won’t play well in notrump; my spades are too shabby to suggest that strain; and even clubs could go poorly if partner’s trumps are weak, since my strong ones will be tapped.

Mike Doecke: An interesting tactical situation. Without game values, 3 C seems reasonable. I plan to double 4 H if opponents get that high.

Comments for 4 C

Simon Cheung: A club fit is very likely on this auction, and 3 C is too timid. Spades would play badly opposite a singleton with East likely holding five spades.

Ciaran Coyne: I want to encourage West to bid 4 H, and also describe my playing strength to partner. Lack of a fifth club is compensated for by working values and void.

Michael Bodell: Even as a passed hand, partner may have enough to make 5 C with my five-loser hand. My previous pass was deceptive, so four is the right level to bid clubs. Spades could be the right suit, but 4 S is remote with East’s 4+ spades.

Stephen Fischer: Showing good values… West is likely to bid 4 H next, which I’d like partner to double with good trumps.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Partner will have 10-11 HCP and short spades (typically 1=4=4=4). Five clubs has good chances if partner doesn’t have too much in hearts — otherwise he can whack the likely 4 H bid.

Paul Fauvet: … I can’t see any point in bidding spades, partner’s [short] suit… If 3 H means “choose a minor,” it seems reasonable, except that my clubs are so much better than my diamonds. This puts pressure on the opponents, who might be pushed into a disastrous [4 H].

Jonathan Goldberg: Close between this and 3 C. If partner doesn’t have too much wasted in hearts, I could take a lot of tricks…and partner won’t raise if I don’t show some life. I am swayed by my top cards in clubs, which means opponents can’t lead too many rounds of trumps early…

Frans Buijsen: I need to show strength, so partner can judge what to do if opponents bid 4 H next.

Damo Nair: My spades are too weak to try to play 4 S. I think I should bid at least this much after North stuck his head out.

Barry Rigal: … I’m too good for just 3 C, and I’m not going to defend. Two spades sounds natural, so that’s out.

Jack Brawner: From a constructive standpoint, I hate this hand; but it could be fun tactically. [This] may be the best way to stampede opponents into 4 H, which I will double. (They certainly can’t double 4 C with confidence.)

Comments for 2 S

John Haslegrave: Showing strength and something in spades.

Chris Mulley: I bid this as a general force, not as natural. Partner has made a takeout of spades, so I can’t bid spades naturally at this stage of the auction. I don’t think my problems are over.

Noble Shore: I hope this means: Bid your five-card minor if you have one, or 2 NT otherwise. I doubt partner will bid game as a passed hand; but if he does, it’s probably right. Hopefully, he’s not 1=5=4=3.

David Shelton: Game or slam is possible, so I’ll let partner know about my strength. Three clubs is competitive; 4 C is preemptive; 3 H might be for partner to bid 3 NT; and 3 S would show better suit texture.

Paul Meerschaert: Trying to find the best game: 3 NT or five of a minor (even six is possible); but there are no guarantees, as partner may have S H A-x-x-x D K-10-x-x-x C Q-10-x-x.

Alex Cameron: Telling partner about my spade stopper.

Hendrik Sharples: I assume partner will read this as natural; but even if he doesn’t, with the surprisingly high number of HCP to my name, a cue-bid seems OK too.

Andrew Robson: I like to play that we can never play in an opponent’s suit unless specifically discussed; so this shows a good hand in one or both minors and awaits developments. Second choice is 4 C, but we may need a ninth trump.

Stan Dub: … Partner has a shapely hand with about 9-10 HCP. This should show about six spades. Making 4 S would require a perfecta from partner, and no other game seems likely.

Julian Wightwick: Natural, showing my values, though I’d prefer to have better spades. If partner pulls, I’ll bid 3 C over 2 NT; raise 3 C to four; or pass 3 D.

Andrei Varlan: This must show spades. If I pass right now, it’s over…

Comments for 3 H

Pierre Boes: Slam is possible, so it is essential for partner to know I have first-round heart control.

Roger Morton: North has a shapely, weak takeout of spades, so I don’t really want to play in a 6-1 fit with trumps breaking 4-2 or worse. I’ll show some values and hear what partner has to say…

Jorge Castanheira: Opposite a [perfect] minimum, we can make a slam,…so I’ll start with a cue-bid; and I prefer 3 H since 2 S could be misinterpreted. If West bids 4 H and partner passes, I’ll bid 5 C

Andy Caranicas: An effort to right-side 3 NT…

Don Hinchey: Opposite partner’s presumed 1=4=4=4, my hand has intriguing possibilities. This announces enthusiasm and warns of heart duplication.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 5

IMPsN-S VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
2 D
2 H
North

1 S
Dbl
Pass
East

Dbl
Pass
Pass
SOUTH
Pass
Rdbl
Pass
?
S A K 9
H Q 9 2
D 9 8 7
C K 8 3 2

CallAwardVotesPercent
3 S1064240
3 H915610
2 S741126
3 D5231
3 NT418311
2 NT3745
Double21157

This problem drew a number of complaints. Many did not like the original pass with 12 HCP, but I can’t help that; we’ll just have to build a bigger cage to house them. I consider myself a light opener, but I draw the line with 4-3-3-3 shape; experience has proved it pays to go low, especially when vulnerable. Some didn’t like the redouble, claiming it denied a fit; but even if this agreement existed (which it doesn’t), most experts would still redouble.* Finally, a few complained about the pass of 2 D doubled, for which I have sympathy; certainly, it’s close.

*Only alternative is 2 NT, which is logically a limit raise (even without specific agreement); but most experts require four-card support for this.

West seems to have escaped into a 4-4 heart fit, so a penalty double is unattractive. Indeed, it could be a total disaster, as there’s no assurance you can defeat 2 H. Double would be reasonable at matchpoints with opponents vulnerable, but not here.

The consensus was to show the spade fit, jumping to 3 S to indicate maximum values. At first, I felt this might be aiming in the wrong direction; flat hands are notorious for producing nine tricks (3 NT) but not 10. After further consideration, however, I tend to agree. Bidding 3 S does not preclude reaching 3 NT; and showing the fit might aid getting there, since your previous actions (particularly sitting for 2 D doubled) denied a great spade fit.

A close second goes to my original choice, 3 H. Cue-bidding hearts (as opposed to diamonds) follows accepted practice to show the better holding and prepares the way to right-side 3 NT. The only drawback (versus a simple 3 S) is that partner can’t pass — not so bad with a vulnerable game on the line.

Third place goes to the conservative 2 S, which is arguably enough considering the dubious H Q. But is the H Q really dubious? It looks like a great card for notrump, so soft-peddling now will make 3 NT tough to reach.

Cue-bidding 3 D is not only misinformative but dangerous, as it should be natural. How would you discover your diamond fit if West were clowning and psyched 2 D? The tactic of bidding a non-suit prior to a real suit when the deal belongs to the opponents is well known (a Paki coup of Zia fame), so there should be a way to recover your stolen suit. Food for thought, anyway.

Bidding notrump (2 NT or 3 NT) is poor because it wrong-sides the contract. Any non-spade lead through dummy could be fatal.

This deal occurred in the semifinal match between United States and Canada. I was impressed with my countrymen:

USA vs
Canada
S Q J 10 8 4
H K 3
D A Q 5
C J 9 5
S 7 6 2
H 8 7 6 5
D J 4 3 2
C 10 4
TableS 5 3
H A J 10 4
D K 10 6
C A Q 7 6
N-S VulS A K 9
H Q 9 2
D 9 8 7
C K 8 3 2

Charney
West

Pass
Pass
2 D
2 H
Pass
Goldman
North

1 S
Pass
Dbl
Pass
3 NT
Crissey
East

Dbl
1 NT
Pass
Pass
All Pass
Lawrence
SOUTH
Pass
Rdbl
Dbl
Pass
3 H
3 NT North
Made 4 +630

Soloway
West

Pass
Pass
2 H
Pass
All Pass
Murray
North

1 S
Pass
Pass
3 S
Hamman
East

Dbl
1 NT
Pass
Pass
Kehela
SOUTH
Pass
Rdbl
Dbl
3 H
4 S
4 S North
Down 2 -200
USA +13 IMPs

Both of the actual auctions were tedious and confusing, so I created a simpler version for the poll, trying to retain the essence of the first table. Lawrence was right on the money with his 3 H cue-bid, allowing Goldman to grab the notrump. The H 10 lead (zero or two higher) made 3 NT easy, and Goldman wound up with 10 tricks on an unavoidable endplay. Even after a passive spade lead, Goldman would have won nine tricks with similar play.

Kehela found the same cue-bid at the second table, but Murray fell from grace and rebid his suit. Hamman smartly led a trump against 4 S, and Murray eventually finished down two (best he could do is down one); minus 200, 13 IMPs to United States.

Comments for 3 S

Nigel Guthrie: An easy 10 points?

Julian Pottage: Time to show spade support; I could not have more than this, so I must jump.

Shuino Wong: This hand should be enough for game; 2 S would be nonforcing.

Geoff Bridges: Hardest problem of the set! Partner’s double of 2 D should promise real opening values, which puts us in game range; so I gave serious thought to 4 S — but I was saved because it’s not an option. This is my next best bet.

Dan Goldfein: I have an absolute maximum, and partner probably doesn’t have a joke opening since he acted again. Let’s hope we can make a game.

Dale Freeman: I would have opened this hand, so 3 S seems correct; 2 S is just a preference, and [could be] a doubleton.

Rosalind Hengeveld: Should partner pass this, 2 S would surely have felt more comfortable; but partner will not expect a hand that some might open. Double is nuts, losing up to about a hundred of them.

Bill Schramm: Forcing. I would not have redoubled with A-K-x in partner’s suit.

George Klemic: My H Q is marked on this auction, so I don’t want to risk a double. I like my hand more, and would almost choose 4 S if it were listed. I agree with the initial pass.

Alon Amsel: … No idea where we’re going, but I have too much for 2 S. I guess it serves me right for not opening.

Simon Cheung: Having already implied the balanced nature of my hand by passing 2 D doubled, it is time to show my nice spade support. This allows a choice-of-games 3 NT by partner, which I will pass with clear conscience… Contrast this with a 2 NT 3 NT sequence, where I’d have to make the last guess with hidden spade support and an overstated heart stopper.

Bas Tammens: I want to play at least [game]. If partner doesn’t have a penalty double of 2 H, I surely don’t.

Tim DeLaney: The obvious value bid; H Q-9-2 is not a holding to penalize 2 H.

Dima Nikolenkov: Partner confirmed a full opening by doubling 2 D. This jump should picture my excellent trumps.

Tim Dickinson: … West is surely messing around. Is it Adam Meredith, by any chance? …Partner rates to be 5=1=4=3 or similar, so 2 NT and 3 NT are out of the question; 3 D only serves to confuse; double and 2 S are wimpy; and 3 H won’t gain any extra information, since partner is [likely] to bid 3 S.

John Haslegrave: I wouldn’t have made any of the three previous calls. :)

Michael Bodell: Showing strong spade support.

Mike Bell: An encouraging noise towards game. I’ve already [implied] a misfit when we have a fit (unless partner frequently opens four-card majors), so it can’t be right to double 2 H.

Roland Watzdorf: Even Culbertson opened this hand, so why didn’t I? This should get my hand across [as best I can].

Stephen Fischer: Only 13 diamonds in the pack? Looks like West is aiming for plus 470, but I’m not biting. If partner has more than S Q-J-x-x-x H x D K-Q-x-x C A-x-x, we’ll be in game. I suspect my original pass would not be a popular choice today.

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: Inviting partner to bid 4 S. Curious, why West ran from 2 D;…four good diamonds and four bad hearts? Partner should have three good diamonds (unlikely four, else East doubled with only two).

Chris Mulley: I passed this hand? Am I playing Goren? My hearts are not good enough to hit 2 H; and 2 S understates my spade support.

Jonathan Steinberg: Despite the flat shape, I feel obliged to make a strong game try with A-K-x of trumps.

Noble Shore: Since partner doubled 2 D, I am playing him for a full opener, something like: S Q-J-x-x-x H K-x D A-Q-J-x C x-x. I hope partner has good spades, as they’ll probably split 4-1. I don’t think 2 S does justice to my hand,…since I could have just a doubleton…

Anthony Golding: So much easier if I’d opened! Who gets dealt enough points to pass these hands?

Bill Jacobs: Paying homage to the vulnerability.

Travis Crump: Two hearts is probably going down — but not enough.

Gillian Paty: Stretching toward the vulnerable game with my very maximum passed hand.

Owen Cotton-Barratt: My decision depends on partner’s propensity to open four-card majors in third seat. If it’s common, I’d chance a double instead. I would have opened this hand.

Paul Meerschaert: At these colors, I would not have passed 2 D doubled. Be that as it may, I’d better try to let partner in on the nature of my hand. Partner can still bid 3 NT, which may be the right game.

Bjarni Einarsson: I would prefer to show a good spade raise earlier. Double is not an option.

David Wiltshire: Unsure how to catch up after the original pass, which will rightly get shot down. Sure, it’s 4-3-3-3 shape; but there are 2 1/2 quick tricks (Culbertson would open) and no jacks.

Richard Stein: West seems to have landed in a decent place, and meanwhile there’s this A-K-x in partner’s suit that he doesn’t know about. We could easily have a vulnerable game, as I’m heavy for the initial pass. Time to tell partner what’s really going on!

Roger Morton: The Law says West is in a good contract, assuming partner…has a doubleton heart (or worse). In addition to my [fine] trumps, the C K looks like a good card; so 2 S may not be enough…

Gerald Murphy: Why not? I have…good spades, and diamonds seem to be [covered]. This shows a three-card limit raise and around 11-12 HCP…

Lajos Linczmayer: Maybe West’s shape is 4=4=4=1, and partner has three strong diamonds; but I suspect 2 D was a tactical bid, and West hopes to play 2 H doubled. I must show that I have support and nearly an opening hand.

Damo Nair: An original pass? This must be a ‘50s or ‘60s Roth auction. :) With S A-K and the C K, I have to jump.

Carlos Dabezies: Too good to bid just 2 S; and hearts could be a problem in notrump. Despite the poor shape, I could hardly have more as a passed hand.

Nicoleta Giura: It looks like we belong in game, as partner showed a [full opening]. I hope partner will bid 3 NT with red-suit stoppers, or 4 S otherwise.

Comments for 3 H

Albert Feasley: Trying to right-side 3 NT if partner has a heart card, like K-x.

Pire Cusi: Partner has full opening values, and we’re vulnerable. I want a game!

Ciaran Coyne: Glad 4 S wasn’t listed as an option! Passing the buck; once partner doubles 2 D, he must have a solid opener, so I’m driving to game. I will pass 3 NT, or raise 3 S to four.

Omar Olgeirsson: This should show three spades in a balanced hand,…offering 3 NT if partner [wishes].

Greg Lawler: West could be playing around with a long heart suit, so it’s not safe to double. Since I have to guess, I’ll commit to game;…and partner may offer 3 NT, which I will pass. …

Gudni Einarsson: Three clubs should be an option; then if partner bids 3 D, I can bid 3 H to show something in hearts — but not enough to bid 3 NT myself.

Chuck Arthur: A good idea is to use the redouble (two rounds ago) as Drury, especially if partner has a propensity to open light in third position.

David Stewart: I think we should be getting to game. I really want to bid 4 S, which isn’t available, so I’ll just have to let partner in on the joke…

Ian Murray: Looking for 3 NT or 4 S.

Imre Csiszar: This is a huge passed hand (I would have opened); so a mere redouble followed by 2 S is not enough — whatever the strange bidding may mean. I prefer 3 H to 3 S because 3 NT may be better than 4 S if partner has a heart stopper.

John Lusky: I am going to drive to game, since even subminimums like S Q-10-x-x-x H K-x D A-10-x-x C Q-x, or S Q-10-x-x-x H x-x D K-J-10-x C A-x, offer a reasonable play. If partner bids 3 NT, I’ll pass…

Carsten Kofoed: Seems like West is 5=3=3=2 or 3=4=4=2, but double wouldn’t compensate a game. Nine tricks in notrump (partner declaring) are probably easier than 10 in spades. …

Jorge Castanheira: Opponents have favorable vulnerability, so I’ll go for our game bonus; the only issue is which game. Since partner doubled 3 D, I suppose 3 NT is safer…, but I am worried about my heart stopper. This allows both chances…

Manuel Paulo: Opponents have found their best strain, and our prospects on defense are poor; so red-vs-white at IMPs, we should bid game. This asks partner which one.

Scott Stearns: Even if everyone has their bid,…I think we’ll profit more by bidding our vulnerable game. I hope this elicits 3 NT; else we’ll play 4 S. Even though hearts are 4-4, I won’t insist on 3 NT, because I may lose four hearts and another trick in the wash.

Ron Sperber: I wish I could have shown this spade raise the first time. Red-vs-white, I don’t think we’re going to get the value of our game by doubling.

Don Kemp: I’m concerned about a diamond ruff if we play in spades. This tells partner I’m interested in game, and asks him to bid 3 NT with a heart stopper.

Comments for 2 S

Boris Richter: Having shown my points, now is the time to show my support; but I don’t have good enough shape to bid 3 S, nor good enough stoppers to bid notrump. …

Rainer Herrmann: Conservative, but not by much. The H Q is probably not worth much, unless partner can suggest notrump himself.

Leonard Helfgott: I’ll go with the quiet underbid. My hand is worth a 2 NT bid at least, but notrump could be very wrong with this much in spades unshown. …

John R. Mayne: I am sure many other comments will cover the hate for the redouble. Partner sounds 5=2=3=3 or so; but he could be 5=1=3=4, so I won’t double 2 H. I’ve already shown a hand about this good, so I’ll let partner know I have some spades, too; if he passes, we’re high enough.

Chris Maclauchlan: Game in spades seems unlikely unless partner has six. Game in notrump is unlikely unless partner has help in hearts. By keeping the bidding low, partner [may] be able to show either of these features as a game try…

Stefan Jonsson: Support with support. …

Not very convincing, considering that it took three rounds to drag it out of you.

Michael Gill: My hearts are too weak to try notrump, and I don’t want to get too high if partner has a [bare minimum].

Sandy Barnes: The H Q is not worth all that much, so I’ll content myself with a simple raise.

Robin Zigmond: If partner doesn’t have enough to double 2 H, we’re not going to get rich there. Plus, game in spades might still be on. …Having a completely flat hand, I’m not really worth a push to 3 S.

Jonathan Goldberg: This shows what I have. Now partner can think of his spades as a source of tricks, and has a good idea of our combined assets to reach the right spot. If I’ve let West off the hook again (as on Problem 2), too bad. …

Steve White: This is enough with flat pattern and no helping honor in diamonds.

Kevin Podsiadlik: Interesting decisions I’ve made: Pass with 2 1/2 tricks, and then redouble with no special interest in playing for penalty. Be that as it may, it’s high time to let partner in on the fact that I really have good spade support.

Martin Bootsma: Slightly conservative, but my point range is already in a narrow box, and I don’t have good distribution. If partner passes, we’re unlikely to miss a good game.

Jim Munday: It’s tempting to double, but I won’t risk it at the two level when opponents may have an eight-card fit, while we have a vulnerable game. Also, West might be being cagey, i.e., trying to get us into a doubling rhythm with S x-x-x H K-J-10-x-x D x-x-x C x-x. Three notrump looks to be our best chance at game, but I want to clue partner in on the spade fit first. …

David Caprera: Put me in the camp that would have opened; but if partnership agreement makes this is a non-opener, nothing has improved it…(flat pattern, wasted H Q)…

Brad Theurer: Since nonvulnerable opponents seem to have found a decent spot to play, it’s time to show my spade support; question is how many to bid. Some might have opened this hand, though the flat shape and possibly wasted H Q make it less valuable than it first appears.

Sandy McIlwain: Three spades is too rich with this flat collection. Always a good idea to show support for partners — keeps ‘em happy. :)

Joshua Donn: I object to the pass of 2 D doubled. It was obvious West was about to run, since we [may] have more diamonds than they do; now partner will never believe I have good support. With my H Q looking wasted and the fear of a diamond ruff, I’ll bid just 2 S

Matthew Mason: Who knows how much my H Q is worth?

Mark Reeve: The call I would have made on the previous round! Surely, the [main] reason I redoubled was to show a three-card limit raise…

Tim McKay: With East having most of the enemy points, game looks very unlikely.

Don Hinchey: A slight underbid, but the pattern suggests caution.

Bill Powell: Showing a near-opening hand with three spades. (Redoubling with support for partner never seems to lead to a successful penalty.)

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

Problem 6

IMPsNone VulYou, South, hold:
 
West

Pass
North

1 S
East

Pass
SOUTH
?
?
S
H K Q 5 4 3
D 5
C A 10 9 7 6 4 3

Two CallsAwardVotesPercent
C. 1 C then 2 C1034622
E. 1 H then 2 C946829
A. Pass then 2 C (natural)837523
D. 1 C then 2 H629819
B. Pass then 2 H21177

Two-suited hands typically offer several alternatives, and the first decision is whether to open. Well, do ya, punk? The hand easily qualifies with 14 points* and two defensive tricks, but awkward shapes are often easier to describe after passing. For example, you may get to use Michaels (over spades) or an unusual notrump (over diamonds).

*For the point-challenged, the default system adds 3 for the void and 2 for the singleton. Other methods also qualify it to open, e.g., 13 points by the long-suit count; 21 by the Rule of 20; and probably enough Zar points to open 2 C (kidding).

This was an awkward problem to score. The top vote-getter was to open 1 H and rebid 2 C, but it does not warrant the top score. The true consensus was to open 1 C (41 percent) but then split according to rebid (2 C or 2 H). Therefore, Option C gets the gold. I find it difficult to accept a reverse (perverse?) with 9 HCP, so Option D is demoted. Option E gets second.

Many people consider it cowardly to pass — or just not macho — but it’s really a matter of tactics. I would pass because the hand is hard to describe by opening. I plan to bid a lot later, hopefully beginning with a two-suited takeout. Even if the bidding comes back at 4 S, I will bid 5 C, and partner may deduce a club-heart two-suiter (not minors, else 4 NT) since I’d hardly take this route with clubs alone. Lying in wait sometimes reaps rewards, such as being doubled in a laydown contract. After passing and hearing 1 S from partner, I’d bid 2 C if natural; but with most partners I’d be obliged to bid 2 H.*

*Many play some form of Drury, so 2 C would be artificial as a passed hand. Default methods do not include this, so I noted 2 C as natural to clarify.

Those who reversed (Option D) were obsessed with playing strength. This strategy will work fine on some occasions; but I see horrible consequences on misfits — let alone that partner will never trust your bidding again. Sure, you have only four losers; but if you reverse on this hand, next time you’ll do it on a good 8 or a great 7. You have to draw the line somewhere, and I say it’s already drawn. Devout reversers should take another look at my strategy to pass.

Option B (pass and bid 2 H) makes little sense, unless forced by Drury. Having passed, you can certainly enjoy the freedom to bid your suits naturally (clubs, hearts, hearts) since your strength is limited. If the deal turns out to be a misfit, you surely want partner to know your longer suit is clubs.

Speaking of misfits, this was a real doozy when it occurred in 1972:

Italy
vs USA
S Q 10 8 7 5 4
H 9
D A J 10 8 2
C J
S K 9 6 3
H A 10
D K 7 6 4 3
C 8 5
TableS A J 2
H J 8 7 6 2
D Q 9
C K Q 2
None VulS
H K Q 5 4 3
D 5
C A 10 9 7 6 4 3

Soloway
West

Pass
All Pass
Forquet
North

2 S
Hamman
East

Pass
Garozzo
SOUTH
2 C
3 C
3 C South
Made 4 +130

Avarelli
West

Pass
Pass
All Pass
Goldman
North

1 S
2 D
Belladonna
East

Pass
Pass
Lawrence
SOUTH
1 C
2 C
3 C
3 C South
Down 1 -50
Italy +5 IMPs

Impressive! Both teams stopped safely in 3 C. Garozzo could not open 1 C (strong), so he bid 2 C (natural) and simply rebid his club suit over the nonforcing 2 S. Lawrence just clubbed away until Goldman got the message. Curiously, hearts were never bid at either table.

A push board? No, 5 IMPs to Italy, as the play diverged greatly. Soloway led the H A — not his Olympic moment — and shifted to a trump. Garozzo finished with an overtrick when Hamman let go a heart on the run of trumps. Wow. Finding a deal where Soloway and Hamman each drop a trick must be rarer than a 1933 Double Eagle.

At the second table, Avarelli led a spade; ruffed. Lawrence then crossed to the D A and led a heart to the king*, ace; now a trump shift and routine defense (no heart pitch) put Lawrence down one.

*Running the H 9 may be better, as a trump shift will resolve clubs for six tricks; then a second low heart can be led without risk to cater to ace-doubleton.

Comments for C. 1 C then 2 C

Karl Barth: First I’ll limit the hand, showing the seven-bagger; then I’ll show hearts.

Julian Pottage: Far too good to pass as dealer (HLQT* of 23), but not good enough to reverse.

*HCP plus length plus quick tricks. An extension of the Rule of 20, requiring 22 to open after adding the number of quick tricks, advocated by Ron Klinger and others. -RP

Geoff Bridges: I think this is an opening hand, and both bids should emphasize its best feature: long clubs. Bidding hearts will come later if partner can make a forward-going noise.

Dan Goldfein: Too much to pass; and with 7-5 shape, I have to go with the longer suit. What if I open 1 H and partner responds 2 D? …

Dale Freeman: Pass does not solve this hand — unless there’s a way to show both suits later without partner passing. A reverse bid of 2 H is too rich for me. Hopefully, another bid will be made — then I can show my hearts.

Pire Cusi: If partner makes another move, I’ll bid hearts twice.

After that, show your diamond fragment and line the street with coconuts.

Ciaran Coyne: This hand seems too strong to pass in any system, and opening 1 H seems very wrong to me (although it often works). One club is clear-cut, but a 2 H rebid seems too much.

Tim DeLaney: I might lose a 5-3 heart fit, but my hand is mostly clubs; and with marginal high-card values, I will not reverse.

Rainer Herrmann: Hearts will play well only if partner can introduce the suit himself (we need a nine-card fit).

Leonard Helfgott: I don’t mind bidding hearts first with 5-6 shape, but 5-7 is too much disparity. …

Dima Nikolenkov: With regular partners I’d reverse (Option D), but it’s tough to recover here. If partner moves with 2 D, I’ll bid hearts till the cows come home. If partner bids 2 S, I’ll have another tough decision; but I’d still risk 3 H.

John R. Mayne: Evil problem. If I knew partner would both open and respond 1 S, I’d pass to start; but there are lots of other sequences where I want to get in the first punch… Once I open 1 C, 2 C is forced (2 H is a good way to get partner to brag how he held it to minus 1100 with good play). Sure, when partner lays down S J-x-x-x-x H A-x-x-x D x-x-x-x C, this will go poorly; but I still think it’s the percentage bid. … Opening 1 H is a [likely] way to play a 5-2 fit…

Stefan Jonsson: I hope I’ll be able to introduce hearts later; bidding will not end in 2 C, that’s for sure.

Stephen Fischer: I don’t like the way play will go [in hearts] if opponents have a tap suit, so I’ll keep that suit quiet for now. There still may be time to bid hearts twice later…

Daniel de Lind van Wijngaarden: I have enough playing strength to open, and a safe rebid; and there are still (small) chances to find a heart fit… If partner raises to 3 C, I will bid 4 D (splinter) and may reach a thin slam. I don’t have enough to reverse… Second choice is to open 1 H

Travis Crump: The paucity of options saved me from crazier ideas, such as opening 3 C. I’d be tempted to open 1 H at the table, but my head says its wrong. Someone has spades, either partner or opponents — and I’m not sure which is worse. :)

Jean-Christophe Clement: This hand must be opened, as honors are concentrated in the two long suits. I like Options C and E (Option D is a huge overbid). Opening 1 H has the great advantage to show five hearts directly; but 1 C is more natural, and a heart fit might still be found.

Owen Cotton-Barratt: The presence of a bullet justifies an opening, and offensively it’s clear. After that, this is the only choice. Opening a suit that is two cards shorter than my longest suit is repulsive; and it doesn’t come close to reverse strength.

Robin Zigmond: While I don’t like to conceal a five-card major, [suppressing] a seven-card suit, albeit a minor,…doesn’t appeal either; so I’ll open with my length… Reversing with a 9-count doesn’t bear thinking about, shapely or not. An initial pass would certainly leave me more comfortable as the auction turned out, but it can’t be the winning option in the long run.

Mauri Saastamoinen: If we have a good fit in either hearts or clubs, we can make almost anything; if not, I should go quietly. Since I can’t have my cake and eat it, too, I have to decide;…and I think I should bid.

Paul Fauvet: The shape certainly makes this hand worth opening, and the seven-card suit should be bid and rebid. Only if North bids again should hearts be shown.

Joel Singer: I bid and rebid my longest suit. Majors? Who needs ‘em!

Ian Murray: I hope for a four-card red suit with partner, and a chance to show hearts; else I’ll get out cheaply.

Roger Morton: I don’t like reversing on only 9 HCP; partner will expect 15+, and may do nasty things like bid 6 NT. So I’ll grit my teeth and bid 2 C for the moment, at the risk of losing the heart suit. With hindsight, Option A now looks attractive; but when I pass these hands in practice, the bidding is at 4 S or 5 D when it comes around again.

Imre Csiszar: I hate to conceal a heart suit like this; but seeing no way to tell the full truth, I’ll tell at least part of it: minimum opening, long clubs. I will bid hearts next if I get the chance — but a partner of my choice would bid 2 H himself.

John Lusky: I don’t think I should pass originally, as we might then play a slam in 2 C if partner has something like S Q-J-x-x-x H J-x D A-x-x C K-x-x. Opening 1 C seems right, since partner might bid 1 D rather than 1 S. Rebidding 2 C should keep partner from getting too excited, and will not necessarily bury the heart suit if partner can bid [again].

Charles Blair: Sufficient defensive strength for an opening bid, and a rebiddable suit.

Jim Munday: … At my second turn, [a reverse] to 2 H will get me into trouble more often than 2 C will lose the heart suit.

Carlos Dabezies: I must open — losing trick count, Rule of 20, or whatever. No danger on these cards that 2 C will be passed out, and a subsequent heart bid will give a reasonable description.

Nicoleta Giura: Minimum with a six-card suit. That’s me! :)

Scott Stearns: I won’t pass 7-5, nor bury a seven-card suit to open a five-carder (sorry Mr. Robinson), nor reverse; so this seemingly unappealing choice is left. I still think I’ll land on my feet — call me an optimist, not an optometrist.

Curt Reeves: To pass this hand invites responding problems if partner bids spades. Lo and behold!

Mark Reeve: I find I need to get into the bidding early on hands with very good playing strength; however, I need to try to slow partner down after a misfit, so I won’t reverse. With 7-5, I always bid my longest suit.

Comments for E. 1 H then 2 C

Rosalind Hengeveld: The actual development is also the most likely and shows that passing or opening 1 C does not come close to getting both suits across. Catching H A-x-x and C K-x is enough for a pina colada party!

Bill Schramm: Anyone who passes in first seat with five losers and a five-card major is asking for trouble. Lucas anyone?

Michael Gill: Better to land the first punch on hands like this. One heart is more preemptive and lead-directional; I would open 1 C with S H Q-x-x-x-x D x C A-K-x-x-x-x-x.

Noble Shore: I believe in opening these hands. Without the H Q, I’d pass and respond 2 C.

David Stewart: This will give partner a mistaken idea of my distribution, but I’m not strong enough to bid clubs [then hearts].

Frans Buijsen: I hate bidding my shorter suit first, but it’s the only way to bid both without grossly overstating my strength.

Lajos Linczmayer: It would be a shame to pass out this hand and [find] partner with S x-x-x-x H A-x-x-x D A-x-x C K-x.

Martin Bootsma: My hearts are too good to take the risk of not being able to introduce them.

Brad Theurer: With two quick tricks, I believe it’s better to open before too many spades get bid by the opponents. Whether I open or not, the problem is whether to bid the longer but weaker club suit, or the major… I’ll go with Robinson’s Rule: Holding a five-card major and a longer minor, always bid the major. With Steve’s record, who am I to argue?

Jorge Castanheira: Pass is dangerous and doesn’t avoid the bidding problems of this hand. I have few points, but I increase my chances of playing in the best denomination by starting early.

Eugene Dille: At least I have two quick tricks! If partner persists in spades, I will bid 3 C.

Comments for A. Pass then 2 C

George Klemic: I like to pass with this kind of shape; if opponents start bidding, I will be able to answer with some form of [takeout] bid. [After 1 S by partner], I see no reason to distort my shape; then I’ll bid hearts at any level up to 4 H.

Alon Amsel: Opening with less than 11 HCP can lead to awful contracts. I am still able to show great shape later.

Tim Dickinson: I’m a passer, awaiting developments. This could lose a bundle if partner passes 2 C and turns up with H A-x-x C K-x.

Greg Lawler: With only 9 HCP, I will pass then bid my best suit. I guess I’m rather dull.

Jacob Grabowski: This hand could grow substantially during the bidding. Its potential, however, is mirrored by the equal chance of disaster.

Mike Bell: I passed hoping an opponent would open so I could back in with an unusual notrump bid… Now I’ll bid my longest suit and hope that, if partner passes, East will rescue me.

Rich Johnson: Beef up the H 5-4-3 and you’d tempt me to open 1 H (Option E).

Bill Jacobs: No idea, but I’ll try to bid naturally. Hopelessly old-fashioned, no doubt.

Gillian Paty: Then I’ll bid 4 H next round — if there is a next round.

Paul Meerschaert: I would like better heart spots to open 1 H. No reason why I can’t get to a good contract after this start — fingers crossed!

Jonathan Goldberg: I hate to pass this hand, but I can’t find a sequence that doesn’t end in complications. Backing into the bidding at least implies shape, which is what I have.

Richard Stein: It’s usually easier to describe this kind of hand by passing initially, as the opportunity for a…two-suited overcall often presents itself. Opening 1 H is sick, and 1 C doesn’t block anything. I’m surprised you didn’t list “Pass then 1 NT” as it would have drawn a few monkeys.

Steve White: Not quite an opening, then I bid my longest suit…

Peter Gill: Over 2 D, I’ll bid 2 H (then 3 H next); over 2 S or 2 NT (denying four hearts), I’ll bid 3 H. Occasionally partner will pass 2 C with 4 H on, but overall this will frequently lead to the best contract.

Carsten Kofoed: My time will come, and I’ll take it easy until we find a fit. Then perhaps partner can imagine my distribution without overestimating my HCP.

Kevin Podsiadlik: If forced to open, I would choose 1 H; but don’t ask what I’d do over a 2 D response. As it is, pass is simpler, hoping to make a two-suited bid next round. [Over 1 S by partner], I’ll just bid my seven-card suit — and let the 2 H bidders cope with 3 D from partner.

Damo Nair: Next round I’ll trot out hearts and see what happens. Difficult for me to suppress a seven-card suit to bid a five-card heart suit.

David Caprera: I feel fortunate to have a natural 2 C bid available as a passed hand. If given the opportunity (I bet I am), I’ll bid [hearts next].

Hendrik Sharples: I’d much rather pass and bid my fool head off, than open and have to backpedal.

Manuel Paulo: I count only four losers, but I’m in no hurry to bid; then I respond in my longest suit.

Thijs Veugen: I don’t know how to open this hand, so I’ll wait. [When I later] bid my suits, partner will know I have [great] distribution but [limited strength]. I can always safely rebid clubs.

Barry Rigal: Not the right hand for a canape sequence! I’m glad 2 C is natural — not quite enough spades for Drury. :)

Jan Andersson: Lucky! Normally, if I make a clever pass, the bidding is at the five level next turn.

Andy Caranicas: Why open this and see partner double 4 S later? [After 2 C], I’ll bid hearts next; then clubs again.

Mike Doecke: Opening 1 C risks missing a heart fit. Passing first gives me the best chance to show both suits without overstating my values.

Mark Kornmann: Really too good to pass, but this is unlikely to cause any problems. (Drury players have to open 1 C and hope for the best.) If partner bids 2 D, I’ll bid 2 H (then 3 C over 2 S or 2 NT, or pass 3 D); if he bids 2 S, I’ll pass and hope for the best. If partner bids 2 H, bingo — slam time!

Andrei Varlan: I’d prefer Option F: 1 C then 3 H, conventional to show six clubs and five hearts with four losers.

Comments for D. 1 C then 2 H

Michael Bodell: With just four losing tricks, I’m reversing (if I’m not opening 2 C). I plan to rebid hearts again if partner bids diamonds, spades, or notrump.

Jonathan Steinberg: I’m glad I’m nonvulnerable when I reverse on 9 HCP, but 7-5 shape is awesome. Please Lord, may we find a fit somewhere. :)

Philippe Westreich: I may misrepresent my strength, but I’ll get my distribution across. I plan to bid 3 H next.

David Wiltshire: To pass is bordering on madness — it may take four calls to describe 7-5 shape, and starting with pass will make it five. I plan only to bid out a 6-5 shape, and hope the seventh club makes up for my lack of high cards. Opening 1 H and showing this hand as 5-5 is unappealing — distorting shape by two cards is too much (I can live with bidding 5-6 shape in this manner).

Kieran Dyke: I will bid out my shape; showing 6-5 next will make my reverse suspect in terms of HCP. An initial pass is just stupid — so much to show, so little time.

Alan Kravetz: If there’s a fit, I have a four-loser hand. Bidding 3 H next will show 6-5, very close to my actual distribution.

Joshua Donn: I don’t expect this choice to be popular, but I don’t care. I refuse to open a five-card suit ahead of a seven-card suit, but a five-card major has to be mentioned at all costs. Passing first makes absolutely no progress; partner might pass my 2 C response to his opening bid with slam on. This is the sort of overbid that is necessary to find the right strain, and this hand could play spectacularly well if a fit is found in either suit; e.g., S x-x-x-x-x H A-x D x-x-x C K-x-x is a slam. If partner goes crazy in notrump, I’ll go crazier in my suits.

Joon Pahk: More than enough to open. I’m not quite as sure about the reverse, but IMPs rewards finding the right strain and bidding aggressive games. We could get too high, but with my clubs I’m not terribly worried about a misfit.

Andrew Robson: I hate to miss safe bidding opportunities — and also to withhold my shape.

Jack Brawner: I have an agreement with most partners that a reverse followed by a rebid of the second suit shows 6-5 (or better) but not necessarily extra strength. Alas, I probably won’t score well for this answer.

Stan Dub: Points, schmoints. The hand has such great playing strength that we could make slam in one of my suits if a fit is found. This way, I get to show both suits and maximize my chances of playing in one of them. …

Julian Wightwick: A serious overbid. But hey; 7-5 shapes don’t come up every day, and I might catch a fit.

Final Notes

Comments are selected from those scoring 53 or higher (top 239) or with an overall average of 50.75 or higher (top 202) prior to this poll, and on each problem only for calls awarded 5 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 your winter vacation in Miami Beach! If you got too much sun, stop by the lifeguard tent for some coconut oil. Thanks to all who participated, and especially those who offered kind remarks about my web site.

As the sun sets over Biscayne Bay, I can still hear the words of the Great One, “And a-way we go!”

Gabrielle Uz: This poll is far from paradise, with lots of close calls. Are we splitting coconuts, or hairs?

Mark Kornmann: Did Chico Marx create these hands porpoisely for one of the Miami Nationals?

Curt Reeves: I’m pretty sure the year was 1929. I don’t recall the event, but one team consisted of Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, with Margaret Dumont as non-playing captain.

Jim Munday: Now that my bidding has shown I’m nuts, can I go to this island?

Richard Morse: No idea on the location, but it looks better for a holiday than bridge — though the marlin looks like it’s doing a jump shift.

Analyses 8W72 MainChallengeScoresTop Island of the Coconuts

© 2006 Richard Pavlicek