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January 2021 - Solutions
What Would You Bid
 
January Solutions
 
January’s problems seem to have been the most problematic yet, if the division amongst the experts is a measure of the set’s complexity.
 
Only one panelist got the perfect 40 this Month - Joy Blakey. None of the competitors managed that feast this time, but Valerie Morgan and Mel Pelham got close with 38 followed by Victor Ridding on 35.
 
In the overall competition, Peter Foster is still in the lead with an impressive 149 out of 160! Peter still has to look over his shoulder as he is being chased by Victor Ridding (139) and Ian Pendlebury on 129.
 
As usual, I will give my more or less intelligent comments on the panelists’ explanations in italics.
 
Enjoy the experts’ answers and get ready for next month’s problems. If you have a hand that you think merits the experts’ judgment and thoughts, please drop me a line on Espen
 

Problem 1
 
Dealer: East
Vul: None
Pairs
 
West
North   
East    
South
1 
pass
1♠ 
pass
2♣ 
pass
2♠ (1)
pass
3♣ 
pass
?
(1) 8-11 NF

 

♠ KJ109865
 97
 K
♣ K65
 
Partner has an opening hand and a 5-5 or 6-5 two-suiter and you have good support for one of the suits. With your shapely 10 count, is it time to pack it all in?
 
Rodney Lighton: Pass. Partner has not shown a lot other than dislike of Spades, time to stop bidding before the opponents start doubling. The wisdom of many a doubled misfit. The rest of the panel wanted some more punishment. First those who are used to being in total control:
 

Michael Byrne: 4♠. I think this is pretty clear. 3♣ is constructive, as bad 5/5 hands should just pass 2♠, this is not a position for weak take outs. Although the kingleton (singleton king) is not likely to be useful we have a solid suit missing only the ace and queen, and a very good club holding in context. The doubleton heart will be more useful than a singleton, and I fancy my chances. I have just spotted than the problem setter changed it from teams to pairs, well I'm sticking with my answer. 

 

Jeffrey Smith: 4♠ . Partners 3♣ bid should show significant extras, the ♣ King looks a handy card.

Then we have the group who likes listening to partner's advice.

David Barton: 3. Partner's 3♣  should be constructive and 3  offers choice of contracts.

Raymond Semp: 3. Partner did not pass 2♠  therefore, he must have one or no spades or else a reasonable hand in his two suits. So we might have a choice of games - or just a part score in clubs. The games being in Spades, Hearts or even 3NT. The question is, which? The chance of game in spades means partner must have two spades or the stiff queen. If partner has six hearts and five clubs 4  is probably the best spot. Lastly, if partner has a diamond stop maybe 3NT will make. Say with x, AQxx, Ax, AQ10xx. (Even Q10x in diamonds might be enough). Better still; Void, AKxxx, QJx, AQ10xx. So I shall ask for more information and bid 3 . I will pass 3NT or 4♣ . I will bid 4  if partner bids 3. I will bid 4♠  if partner bids 3♠.

My problem with Fourth Suit Forcing is that it gives the auction a lot of momentum without adding much clarity. I also like to promise to bid again unless partner bids game after my Fourth Suit Forcing bids, but then I'm old hat! Now to the majority.

Royce Alexander: 3♠. Partner is likely to be 0-5-3-5, but could be 0-6-2-5 or maybe 1-5-2-5. Could 4  or 5♣  be making? 3NT is unlikely. How about 4♠ ? Am I strong enough to bid FSF 3? It’s Pairs and so I’m going to bid 3♠  with my 7 Spades.

Irving Blakey: 3♠. The best further try. The length and strength of the suit makes it worth another bash at game.

Joy Blakey: 3♠. For me 7 card suits have to be the trump suit - cannot guarantee game so hopefully partner will bid 4 if he's got it to bid.

Espen Lindqvist: 3♠. Partner is short in spades and pass may be right. But I'll take my chances with this suit.

Alan Jones: 3♠. I like to play that the 2♠  bid is a serious game try, about 10 hcps and 6 good spades. Does partner know that? Wish I knew. If no, I would probably bid 4♠ . Meanwhile +140 beats +130

Tom Slater: 3♠.I have no idea whether 3♣  or 3♠  is forcing, but these spades are somewhat playable opposite a void, and I don't believe 3♣  is the winning matchpoint contract. 

Alec Smalley: 3♠. First of all I think 3♣  is not a game try - but shows the shape with a very genuine distaste for ♠, probably void. So it appears I have 3 options - pass, 3♥ or 3♠. I rate 3♠ as best as you are going to make 5 ♠ tricks opposite the expected void as opposed to no ♠ tricks when playing in ♥ or ♣

The decision between passing and bidding is probably closer than we might think at first. The Match Point consideration is an important one - one to bear in mind! Michael Byrne suggested this hand and at the end of his reply he said:

This hand was originally from the Junior Channel Trophy, the player who held this hand bid 4, which was as barking mad now as it was then, although it was a lucky make on the wrong defence! Partner held void, A10xxx, Qxx, AJxxx and should have passed 2♠ , regardless 4♠  was the best game available.

 
Problem 1
Score
#Experts
#Competitors
3♠ 
10
7
11
4♠ 
7
2
7
3 
4
2
5
Pass
4
1
1
4♣ 
3
0
2
5♣ 
2
0
4
4 
1
0
2
 

Problem 2

 

Dealer: North
Vul: All 
Teams
 
West  
North  
East  
South
1♠ 
pass
2♠ 
?

 

♠ 3
 A10642
 Q9654
♣ A6
 
This time you are looking down on a nice 5-5 hand with a lot of potential. Of course, the opponents have been a nuisance as usual. Three of our panelists think it’s better to stay at home, not risking to get wet:
 
Royce Alexander: Pass. They have a Spade fit, so we have a fit somewhere. Can I bid 2NT showing any 2 suiter? Partner didn’t bid over 1♠. Can't argue with the observation, but is it the right conclusion?
 
Tom Slater: Pass. Playing equal level conversion I might stretch to a double, but without ELC there is no way to get this hand across safely. Life and bridge are both full of risks,  it is a question of whether or not they are worth while..
 

Alec Smalley: Paass. Not a problem? I wouldn't overcall 1♠ with this, the suits are horrendous, so why should I force a passed partner to bid at the 3 level vulnerable - and it is useless to fight the spade suit. Important to consider the importance of the Boss suit. Sticking your neck out might help the opponents more than you.

 

Now to the majority who want to stick their necks out. As always, we have the voice of the ones knowing where to go:

Jeffrey Smith: 3. With spade shortage, you have to come in now. There is no alternative other than Pass.
 
Now, let’s look at what the majority have to say for themselves:
 
David Barton: Dbl. Hopefully partner will realise I am pre-protecting and give me a bit of slack. She does not have to bid Clubs but it is panto season so all together now "Oh yes she does!!!" It's my prerogative to make the jokes!
 
Irving Blakey: Dbl. Not ashamed of the hand. The timorous souls will wait for the pre-emptive 3 spade bid to come round and wish they had bid the first time round.
 
Joy Blakey: Dbl. if partner bids 3♣  I'll have to bid 3  showing   and .
 
Michael Byrne: Dbl. The is the toughest problem of the set and I can think of no great answer. Whenever I bid 3  on these hands partner always bids 3NT (which won't make given my paucity of values) and whenever I pass we miss a part-score. A lot depends on what system the opponents are playing, but I think I shall double. (I've just remembered that Kieran and I play 2NT as hearts and a minor, that would solve this one nicely - shame I can't inflict my latest toys on the rest of the panel.) Double will work fine if partner bids hearts or diamonds (if only!) and should be ok if he passes (his spades lie over declarer at least) If he bids clubs that will be fine as he will have 5, with only 4 he can bid a scrambling 2NT and we can play in a red suit. (I will pass a response of 3♣ , double and then 3 shows a beter hand for me, something like 1462, or an off shape monster).
 
Rodney Lighton: Dbl. Dangerous, but so is passing, partner with the longer spades is unlikely to be able to protect, we could still make game.
 
Espen Lindqvist: Dbl. We might go for a number, but passing isn't without risk either.
 
Raymond Semp: Dbl. This one is simple, partner needs so very little to make game; xxx, KQ97, K2, xxxx will give us a sporting chance. It is teams and we cannot afford to miss a vulnerable game. So I will double and bid 3 over a 3♣ response. However, there is a danger - I would not be a happy bunny if I were to return to team mates with minus 670 on the card. But no gain is without risk. 
 
Finally, someone with a trick up their sleeves:
 
Alan Jones 2♠. Director!! 
 
Problem 2
Score
#Experts
#Competitors
Dbl
10
7
14
Pass
6
3
12
3 
4
1
1
3♠ 
3
0
5
2NT
1
0
3
2♠ 
0
1
0

 

 


Problem 3

 

Dealer: West
Vul: N/S
Team
West  
North  
East   
South
1♣ 
pass
1  
pass
?
 
♠ A
 AQ8
 Q963
♣ AQ943
 
How to proceed sensibly with this almost game forcing hand with a fit for partner? One would think that would be plain sailing, but the Experts found 5 bids and the competitors found 9 ways to proceed! We'll start with the lone wolfs.
 
Rodney Lighton: 2. Tricky, I could splinter with 3♠  but ace singleton is a poor holding for a splinter. If partner raises hearts I can go back to diamonds. I would be happier to bid 2  playing 2/1 game forcing where partner will only have four hearts with a game going hand. Inventing a fourth heart to create the needed force, but avoiding the risk of:
 
Raymond Semp: 1. I am a simple soul. 1  stands out as automatic for me. I need more information about partners hand. If MY partner supports hearts he will have 11 plus points and at least 9 red cards and most probably a 3-4-5-1 shape. (If he had less points he would have responded 1  on the first round). I will then bid 4NT followed by a confident 6 if I get a reply of two controls ( Ace &  King) otherwise pass a 5  response - (1 or 4). If he bids 1♠  (4th Suit) I shall bid 3 . If he bids 1NT I will raise it to 2NT. If he bids anything else I shall support diamonds heavily. If he passes I will look for another partner. As above, showing an extra heart and willing to go looking for a new partner. 
 
David Barton: 2NT Nothing is ideal here. In my system of choice I could bid 2♠  as splinter. Getting your point count across.
 
Now, the answers with more than one expert vote. First, the lot who are willing to risk missing a game (but will always end up in a makable contract)
 
Michael Byrne: 3. I think this is a tough problem because the hand is nearly strong enough to force to game, but the question remains, what game? A splinter bid of 3♠  looks tempting until you realise that partner is not going to bid 3NT when it is right to do so, and will surely expect more than 8 points in the minors. (x, Axx, AKJx, AQJxx looks more like a splinter and that is a much better hand). A bid of 2NT would be inaccurate and misleading with a singleton in an unbid suit and will make it harder to get to 6 when partner is flat (Qxx, Kxx, KJxx, Kxx will not consider a slam, and 7  has play!). 
 
Alec Smalley: 3. this is what the bid means isn't it? 1   seems tempting to save space but could lead to some horrible contracts and if partner has a decent hand I am going to have to go some to convince them I have more  than . Also "ou et les piques" the opps haven't been able to squeak 1♠ so it is likely partner has some and is a decent hand. I hate 3♠ as partner can't evaluate their K(Q). Will partner expect a 4 loser hand?
 
Jeffrey Smith: 3. You are a tad good for this but it is the best overall description. Partner knows its teams so will strain to bid with even the right 6 count i.e. King and King or ♣King. Willing to make what he knows is an underbid.
 
Now to the majority, those willing to splinter with a singleton Ace.
 
Royce Alexander: 3♠. Splinter. I don’t like it with stiff Ace, but what else can I do? If partner bids 3NT, it’s the right spot as partner’s Spade values are wasted in 6.If partner bids something else, his points are working. 
 
Irving Blakey: 3♠. Don't like to "splinter" with a stiff Ace, but seems the best way forward (an encouraging 4♣  response would be nice) We are all looking for miracles but they don't happen too often! 
 
Joy Blakey: 3♠. I hate to show a singleton Ace but it's too good for 3 . Old fashioned may bid 4 as strong but not these days. Playing with Irving I would bid 4♣  which is RKCB for The suggested 4♣ bid looks like a good tool to me...
 
Espen Lindqvist: 3♠. Splinter, agreeing diamonds. Still not wasting his words! 
 
Alan Jones: 3♠. This is splinter, of course, with the alternative call (for me) being 2NT. A long time ago I was told that you shouldn't splinter with a singleton Ace since partner fails to value KQx in the suit correctly. So for years I chose the no trump bid, only to find that MY partners always failed to value xxx in the suit correctly. Demoralized by this, and disappointed in my gurus, I splinter these days without regard to the strength of the singleton.
 
Tom Slater: 3♠. It is not ideal to splinter a singleton ace, but it is key to raise diamonds immediately if we're to get to a good diamond slam. 
 
Problem 3
Score
#Experts
#Competitors
3♠ 
10
6
5
3 
8
3
8
1 
5
1
3
2NT
4
1
10
2 
4
1
4
3NT
2
0
1
5 
1
0
2
4NT
1
0
1
4 
1
0
1
 
 
 
Problem 4
Dealer: East
Vul: None
Pairs

West  

North  

East   

South

1 
pass
1♠ 
pass
2  
pass
?
 
♠ AKQ653
 32
 1073
♣ Q2
 
In first hand, you would surely open this with 1♠, so it is an opening hand opposite an opening hand, so we should look for the right game, or maybe not? We always have some who have had enough bidding and are longing to get to the play of the cards:

David Barton: Pass. It does not pay to push for close games at pairs and we have at least an 8 card fit in Hearts. 
 
Raymond Semp: Pass. I know you could construct hands that make game but experience tells me when a misfit is suspected bale out ASAP. It sounds like game is unlikely and I know we have a 6-2 heart fit, to rebid spades (One possible alternative, 3  being the other) just might give us a minus score if partner is void in spades or even a singleton - and we have five minor suit losers. (Partner having something like; 4. AKQ1075, Q43, J107. Even if 2♠  makes, surely so will 2. 2 might even make 9 tricks.
 
Now to the bidders, all but one are hoggs, so let’s hear it from the anti-hog:
 
Alec Smalley: 3. First which suit are we playing in - clearly   as we have 8+ guaranteed and the most we can hope for in ♠ is 8. Now the level - I am very tempted to pass this as even 3 might be a step to far with the junky 11 count that partners invariably have. However I am going to lose out in the post mortem if game makes so put me down for a 3♥ invite. Planing past the play to the post mortem - always good to be on the right side of a bad discussion!
 
Now to the hogs, divided into part score hogs and the more kamikaze inspired variety.
 
Irving Blakey: 2♠. Good suit game interest - What else?
 
Espen Lindqvist: 2♠. Hoping we play same agreement as on board one (8-11 NF)
 
Alan Jones: 2♠. This is a constructive game try for me, not an attempt to improve the contract. It can be passed if partner has an unsuitable hand. I prefer it to a raise in hearts (we have eight hearts since partner has shown six in modern Acol, but a broken heart suit might create difficulties for partner). It could also be right to pass but this seems a bit pessimistic. Repeating the spades seems a better description of the hand.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 2♠ . Technically NF, but should still be a constructive effort in this context.
 
Sounds about right to me. Let’s see if the majority can convince us.
 
Royce Alexander: 3♠  
 
Joy Blakey: 3♠. Got to show the strong nature of the spade suit. 
 
Michael Byrne: 3♠.In my methods I would bid 2♠ , showing 8-11 and inviting game. However that is a system based on weak jump shifts, whereby hands of 5-8 are shown with 1  P 2♠ . Given that the system is standard English (which still uses 1  P 2♠  as strong) I shall have to bid 3♠  and invite game. 2  does show 6, but the hand will play better in spades (there are plenty of entries to partner's hearts but few to my spades).

Rodney Lighton: 3♠. This seems about right if 3♠  is a limit bid as it was when I used to play Acol. This doesn't match up with problem 1 though.
 
Tom Slater: 3♠. A definite overbid here but I cannot bring myself to bid only 2♠  with such crisp honours. If partner bids 3NT I would be minded to stand it rather than convert back to 4 , even if we are a pair that has guaranteed 6 hearts with this auction.
 
I'm afraid that the majority did not convince me, as I see much more merit in bidding 2♠ as a 8-11 non-forcing, but slightly constructive bid. I might of course be biased by the fact that that is how I play it. 
 
Problem 4
Score
#Experts
#Competitors
3♠ 
10
5
14
2♠ 
8
4
12
3 
5
1
4
Pass
4
2
1
4 
2
0
4
 

 

Summary 

Experts

 

Name
Problem 1
Problem 2
Problem 3
Problem 4
Total
Joy Blakey
3♠ 
Dbl
3♠ 
3♠ 
40
Irving Blakey
3♠ 
Dbl
3♠ 
2♠ 
38
Espen Lindqvist
3♠ 
Dbl
3♠ 
2♠ 
38
Royce Alexander
3♠ 
Pass
3♠ 
3♠ 
36
Tom Slater
3♠ 
Pass
3♠ 
3♠ 
36
Michael Byrne
4♠ 
Dbl
3 
3♠ 
35
Alec Smalley
3♠ 
Pass
3 
3 
29
Rodney Lighton
Pass
Dbl
2 
3♠ 
28
Alan Jones
3♠ 
2♠ 
3♠ 
2♠ 
28
Jeffrey Smith
4♠ 
3 
3 
2♠ 
27
Raymond Semp
3 
Dbl
1 
Pass
23
David Barton
3 
Dbl
2NT
Pass
22

 

Leaderboard January (Over 60% score)

 

Pos
Name
Score
1
Valerie Morgan
38
Mel Pelham
38
3
Victor Ridding
36
4
Peter Foster
34
5
Michael Greaney
32
David Fussell
32
Heather Saunders
32
Ian Pendlebury
32
9
Adam Wiseberg
30
10
Paul Beckwith
29
Karen Reissmann
29
12
Steven Mattinson
28
Dhun Daji
28
Millie Lang
28
Millie Lang
28
Tim Foster
28
17
Liz Ineson
25
Paul Worswick
25
Val Hempstock
25
Peter Jones
25
21
Richard Acaster
24
Joyce Jones
24
Rob Harris
24
 

 

Leaderboard Overall (Over 60% score)

 

Position
Competitor
October
November
December
January
Total
1
Peter Foster
38
40
37
34
149
2
Victor Ridding
37
32
35
36
140
3
Ian Pendlebury
40
27
31
32
130
4
Adam Wiseberg
32
28
36
30
126
5
Dhun Daji
30
28
34
28
120
6
Paul Worswick
35
27
29
25
116
7
Steven Mattinson
24
35
28
28
115
Liz Ineson
26
36
28
25
115
9
Mary Green
31
31
31
19
112
Heather Saunders
26
27
27
32
112
11
Ann Thornton
31
27
34
19
111
12
Barbara Lewis
24
30
36
20
110
Rob Harris
29
27
30
24
110
14
David Fussell
24
30
23
32
109
15
Eamonn Scott
20
35
31
22
108
16
Joyce Jones
27
34
21
24
106
17
Michael Greaney
27
25
21
32
105
18
Valerie Morgan
23
16
27
38
104
19
Richard Acaster
29
31
18
24
102
Andrea Knowles
34
24
25
19
102
21
Val Hempstock
24
30
19
25
98
Mel Pelham
0
32
28
38
98
23
Geoff Ashcroft
28
24
23
22
97