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March 2021 - Solutions
What Would You Bid
 
March Solutions
 
This month’s problems were honestly stolen from the book “Bid Against The Masters - The Best of Bidding Forum” by Terence Reese and Keith McNeil.
 
They seemed to create huge problems for many of the competitors, and it is clear that bidding theory has moved on in the 25-45 years since the problems were first set.
 
None of our competitors managed a perfect 40. Three managed to score 36 points - Geoff Ashcroft, Mary Green and Steven Mattinson.
 
Peter Foster is still in pole position with 212, followed by Victor Ridding on 207 and Dhun Daji on 191.
Of the Panelists, only Espen Lindqvist achieved the perfect 40, followed by Rodney Lighton and Alec Smalley with 39. 
 
As usual, I will give my more or less intelligent comments on the panelists’ explanations in italics.
 
In addition to my comments, some of the comments from the original editor and commentator might be added in to provide some historic spice.
 
If you have a hand that you think merits the experts’ judgment and thoughts, please drop me a line on Espen.
 

Problem 1
 
Dealer: North
Vul: All
Team
 
South  
West   North    East 
 
1♣
pass
1♠ 
pass 2♣  pass
?
 
South
♠ AK62
 Q5
♦ J93
♣ KQ75
 
The main question is how to investigate 3 NT and show club support at the same time. The panelists found 3 bids, and it is a draw for the top spot. As usual, let’s start with the minority.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 4♣ . Although we bypass 3NT, it’s teams so we want to play in clubs at the 5 or 6 level. This looks the best bid to get partner’s opinion. The only other option would be 2  but that feels confusing here. You are in good company as both T.R and Hamman agrees with you.
 
The rest of our panel are divided by investigating and taking control. Let’s start with the players who know where to go.
 
Royce Alexander: 3NT. I have a balanced 15 count opposite 11-15 with probably a 6-4 Club fit. There have been no overcalls and partner is almost certain to have something in both red suits. Even QJ, Jxx, Qx, AJxxxx would be enough for 3NT.
 
Joy Blakey: 3NT. I don't think I'm strong enough to look for slam.
 
Michael Byrne: 3NT. Very tricky, a choice between the crude jump to 3NT and the scientists’ bid of 2 . Every single competitor will bid 3NT (except the ones trying to emulate the experts) and most experts will choose different bids, although most of us would bid 3NT in real life, especially towards the end of the night. 
I think I am going to bid 3NT, since playing Acol the rebid of 2♣  often shows short spades (it won't be a balanced hand) and the odds of partner having something in the red suits is quite good. Even if we bid 2 , what are we going to do on the next round? A bid of 3♣  surely suggests heart shortage which is also misleading. 
 
Raymond Semp: 3NT. I cannot honestly think of another bid. We certainly are not going to make a Grand Slam on partner’s bidding.
 
Alec Smalley: 3NT. Ugh - what else - too little for slam - looks like a NT so bid NT - I'm sure it will be wrong.
 
Convinced? Let’s see what the ‘scientists’ have to offer.
 
David Barton: 2. 6♣  5♣  3NT or even 4♠  may be the right contract here. I will make the cheapest forcing noise and hope to be in a more informed position later.
 
Irving Blakey: 2. Forcing - If partner bids 3, I'll bid the NT game - anything else we'll play 5♣.
 
Rodney Lighton: 2. 3NT, 5♣ and even 4♠ in a 4-3 fit are all possible contracts. 2 is a one round force, usually showing five spades. I predict a murky auction but hopefully we will get enough information to make a sensible decision as to the final contract.
 
Espen Lindqvist: 2. Do play 2 here as artificial GF.
 
Tom Slater: 2. 80%. Slam looks too far away most of the time. Keep the bidding semi-natural to find the best game. The only alternative is to bid 3NT and hope you are right but concealing your hand type may help.
 
It seems to me that the 2 bidders have the best arguments. My question to the 3NT bidders is: is 3NT on when 5♣ is off more likely than the other way around?
 
Problem 1
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
Yesteryear
3NT
10
5
15
7
2 
10
5
3
10
4♣ 
6
1
1
6
5♣ 
4
 
6
3♣ 
1
 
1
1
3 
1
 
1
4NT
1
 
1
 

Problem 2

 

Dealer: South
Vul: None
Teams
South West North East
1♠ 
pass 2♣  pass
2  pass 2 NT pass
?
 
South
♠ AQJ94
 8
 AJ1074
♣ KJ
 
Bidding problems can cause strong emotions, and this is one where players will have strong opinions, even though the opinions might change over time. In 1973, not a single expert thought of 3, whilst it was a front runner, to Terrence Reece’s displeasure in 1983. Let’s hear from our 3 bidder first:
 
Royce Alexander: 3. 4th suit forcing and asking partner to describe their hand (showing ♠ Kx, or confirming a heart stopper, or showing Diamond support) opposite my good 16 count. Could 3 be natural with a 5-4-4-0 shape? No, because such a hand would show the Major and bid 2 on the 2nd round, not 2In my book (which is, of course, Eric Crowhurst’s 1974 opus Precision Bidding In Acol Page 208), 3 is non-forcing and would be bid on AJ9xx 8 AJ1074 Jx . I was tempted by 3♣ which would intimate a 5-1-4-3 shape, but 3 seems better. As one who has read Eric Crowhurst’s book, I find Royce’s argument good, might be that it shows my age though!
 
We always have some opting for 3NT.
 
Irving Blakey: 3NT. The Heart stopper should be robust (otherwise pard would (should) employ fsf)
 
Tom Slater: 3NT. 70%. Most would play 3 non-forcing here. 3♣ would be forcing but should guarantee three with serious aspirations to play 5♣ or 6♣. 3 is reasonable if you intend to raise 3♠ to 4♠ but that is far from clear.
 
The next cohort comprises those panelists who want to force to game.
 
David Barton: 3♣ . Keeps game in ♣,  or NT in the picture and draws partner's (and opponents') attention to the weakness in !
 
Rodney Lighton: 3♣. Forcing and showing a shortage in , usually 5143 shape but we have enough strength and good enough spades to play in any of 3N, 4♠ or 5 of a minor.
 
Alec Smalley: 3♣. 3NT may have no play - 4♠/5/5♣ could all be better – let’s keep all balls in play.
 
Let’s now see the majority
 
Joy Blakey: 3. Forcing, bidding out the shape.
 
Michael Byrne: 3. This time I am going to bid the hand properly and bid 3 (which is definitely forcing). I fully expect a bad score, since most of the panel don't trust their partners enough to know that 3 is forcing, (or don't know it themselves). (Your bidding is better than your predictions about your co-panelists!) I remember years ago that BG told me that he played 3 in this sequence as nf with 5/5 and 3 as gf with 5/5 but that isn't mainstream. Raising to 3NT could be ridiculous facing say Kx, Jxxx, KQ, Q10xxx (where 3 games might make but 3NT won’t) or even Kx, Axxx, Kxx, 10xxx where 4♠ is hugely better than 3NT. 
 
Espen Lindqvist: 3. 2 NT is forcing for me, so I bid my distribution.
 
Raymond Semp: 3. Seems logical, partner can choose the final contact.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 3. Best to shape out to find the best game.
 
The forcing nature of 3 I can only assume is something the experts of yesteryear were less in agreement about.
 
Problem 2
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
Yesteryear
3 
10
5
7
5
3♣ 
9
3
1
10
3NT
6
2
13
4
3 
6
1
5
8
3♠ 
2
 
1
Pass
1
 
1

Problem 3

Dealer: South
Vul: N/S
Pairs
South West North East
1  1♠  2  pass
?  
 
South
♠ KQ94
 K9873
 AJ65
♣ -
 
West’s 1 was not too good for your hand, but you have a great fit for partner’s suit and have a lot you would like to get across. So much to do, and so little space!
 
This problem shows a significant change in thinking since the problem was posted some 30 years ago. We still have one Panelist agreeing with the majority from the past.
 
Michael Byrne: 3. I have to admit to being completely mystified as to why this hand is considered a problem. Are we supposed to bid 4♣  as a splinter? My hand has got significantly worse after the 1♠ overcall (only 1 spade trick rather than 2 or 3 when we started) and my heart suit is patchy and awkward. 3 is non forcing and does the job nicely, a minimum hand with 5 and 4
 
The rest of the panel is divided between two roads forward. We start with the low road.
 
Royce Alexander: 2♠. Cue-bid. A very difficult problem. This is a 13 count with 5 losers, a 5+-4 diamond fit and a club void, but with poor honours in the majors. Partner probably has 4 Clubs. Is partner or RHO short in Spades? Is 5 going off on spade to Ace, spade ruff, Ace Hearts? 3NT probably won’t play well. A very difficult problem.
The options are a 3 underbid, a 4♣ splinter overbid, a 4 forcing overbid, or a 2♠ cue bid.Where are all the clubs? Partner with 5 & 4♣ may have negative doubled, so maybe partner has 6 & 4♣. LHO with 5 & 5♣ may have used a Michael’s cue-bid, so perhaps LHO has 5♠ & 4♣, or 6♠ & 4♣. So, RHO has passed with perhaps 2♠, 3, 3, 5♣.
 
David Barton: 2♠. A good raise in . Showing signs of life but may still be possible to stop in 3 if partner has something horrible like xxx xx KQxxx KJx.
 
Joy Blakey: 2♠. Let's hear more.
 
Raymond Semp: 2♠. At least it won't be passed and maybe I can find out a little more about partner’s 2D bid.
 
Tom Slater: 2♠. 50%. A difficult choice between this and 4♣, but I judge 4♣  too committal at pairs.
 
Sounds sensible to me to make a noise a bit more than ‘Don’t call me, I’ll call you’ as well as preserving bidding space. Now to the other half wanting to force more out of partner.
 
Irving Blakey: 4♣. Not strong enough for exclusion Blackwood although it could be six on quite slender values. If I hear 4H, 5C shows the void and I must have at least second round Spade control - the Spade ruff might be our downfall but faint heart…..
 
Rodney Lighton: 4♣. Splinter agreeing diamonds. It would be difficult to show this much support if we start with 2♠.
 
Espen Lindqvist: 4. Splinter. You can say a lot about us Norwegians - wasting words is not one of our weaknesses!
 
Alec Smalley: 4♣. (I would prefer 5♣ but don't think it will score many) - and if Partner can find a 4 bid then 6 should be on.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 4♣. (splinter). With a void this looks the clearest description.
 
There’s no doubt that 4 gets the shape across, but it is at the cost of missing a possible 3NT and what would 4from partner be? It might also be a bit too much - there is a lot of truth in Michael Byrne’s answer, as well as in Alec’s 5.
 
Problem 3
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
Yesteryear
2♠ 
10
5
8
8
4♣ 
10
5
7
7
3 
8
1
6
10
4 
6
 
1
9
5 
5
 
1
8
3♣ 
2
 
2
2 
1
 
1
2NT
1
 
1
Pass
1
 
1
 

Problem 4
Dealer: West
Vul: All
Teams
South 
West North East
1♠ 
dbl pass
2♣  
pass
2  
pass
?
 
 
South
♠ K4
 653
 1094
♣ K10842

 

Partner has shown a strong hand and you have more than you could have had for your forced 2♣  bid. How to proceed? The top score from yesteryear again gets poor support.
 
Joy Blakey: 3♣. If partner has a red 2 suited he would have bid 2 over 2♣ and I want to protect the ♠King.
 
The next bid has managed to keep its stance throughout 3 decades.
 
Royce Alexander: 2NT. Other options are 3, or Pass. Another very difficult problem. Partner has a strong hand too strong for an overcall of 2Is ♠King worthless, worth a trick, or a stopper? Who has ♠Ace, partner or LHO? Is my hand worth 3 points or nearer 6. I don’t know, but if we end up in 3NT by me, I only need 9 tricks and I have a stopper at trick 1. If I raise Hearts and partner plays 4, he needs 10 tricks with the lead through ♠King.
 
David Barton: 2NT. ♠King more likely to have value if I am declarer and 9 tricks may be easier than 10.
 
Irving Blakey: 2NT. Shows willing.
 
Raymond Semp: 2NT. Partner has doubled for Take Out AND has made a second bid vulnerable when I could be 5432,5, 5432, 5432 shape so I think I am worth a game try.
 
Sounds like good reasons to me. Can the majority convince us?
 
Michael Byrne: 4. Again, another problem on which I expect to score badly, as most people will bid 3, and be shocked when partner passes and game is cold. Partner is showing a hand too strong to overcall (18-21) with 5+ hearts, and we have an 8 card fit, two kings and a ruffing value. Well, a score of 10 should come as a positive surprise!
 
Rodney Lighton: 4. A raise to 3would be non-forcing, a so-called courtesy raise in case partner has a very big hand, I am far too strong for that.
 
Espen Lindkvist: 4. Don’t know the value of my spade king. Trying a shot at game anyway.
 
Tom Slater: 4. 100%. Partner has a good hand. We don't have much, but you have to take a shot here. Nothing else is attractive.
 
Alec Smalley: 4H. 3.5 - It's teams so round it up to 4. ♠ King may be waste paper.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 4. Showing partner a good hand in context.
 
That’s it. In the end it will depend on whether or not the King is worth what it says on the tin. The 2 NT bidders are trying to protect it, whilst the 4 bidders put their faith in its value.
 
Problem 4
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
Yesteryear
4 
10
6
2
6
2NT
8
4
1
9
3NT
7
0
0
8
3 
6
0
12
10
2♠ 
6
 
 
7
3♣ 
4
1
 
Pass
1
 
12
4
3 
1
 
1
 
Summary 

Experts

Name
Problem 1
Problem 2
Problem 3
Problem 4
Total
Espen Lindqvist
2 
3 
4♣ 
4 
40
Rodney Lighton
2 
3♣ 
4♣ 
4 
39
Alec Smalley
3NT
3♣ 
4♣ 
4 
39
Michael Byrne
3NT
3 
3 
4 
38
Raymond Semp
3NT
3 
2♠ 
2NT
38
David Barton
2 
3♣ 
2♠ 
2NT
37
Tom Slater
2 
3NT
2♠ 
4 
36
Jeffrey Smith
4♣ 
3 
4♣ 
4 
36
Royce Alexander
3NT
3 
2♠ 
2NT
34
Irving Blakey
2 
3NT
4♣ 
2NT
34
Joy Blakey
3NT
3 
2♠ 
3♣ 
34

 

Leaderboard March (Over 60% score)

 

Place
Competitors
Sum
1
Steven Mattinson
36
Mary Green
36
Geoff Ashcroft
36
4
Dhun Daji
34
5
Victor Ridding
33
6
Michael Greaney
32
David Fussell
32
8
Frank Wetton
31
9
Barbara Lewis
30
Peter Foster
30
Ian Pendlebury
30
12
Joyce Jones
29
13
Gerard Keary
28
14
Richard Acaster
27
Heather Saunders
27
Paul Beckwith
27
17
Rob Harris
25
Mel Pelham
25
19
Millie Lang
23
Ann Thornton
23
Denise Pthyian
23

 

Leaderboard Overall (Over 100 points)

 

Pos
Competitor
Oct
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mar
Tot
1
Peter Foster
38
40
37
34
33
30
212
2
Victor Ridding
37
32
35
36
34
33
207
3
Dhun Daji
30
28
34
28
37
34
191
4
Ian Pendlebury
40
27
31
32
23
30
183
5
Adam Wiseberg
32
28
36
30
35
17
178
6
Mary Green
31
31
31
19
27
36
175
7
Steven Mattinson
24
35
28
28
21
36
172
8
David Fussell
24
30
23
32
30
32
171
9
Rob Harris
29
27
30
24
29
25
164
10
Barbara Lewis
24
30
36
20
23
30
163
Mel Pelham
0
32
28
38
40
25
163
12
Richard Acaster
29
31
18
24
29
27
158
13
Joyce Jones
27
34
21
24
21
29
156
14
Michael Greaney
27
25
21
32
14
32
151
15
Geoff Ashcroft
28
24
23
22
18
36
151
16
Andrea Knowles
34
24
25
19
26
21
149
17
Eamonn Scott
20
35
31
22
18
21
147
18
Valerie Morgan
23
16
27
38
20
21
145
19
Paul Beckwith
0
30
32
29
27
27
145
20
Liz Ineson
26
36
28
25
12
15
142
21
Heather Saunders
26
27
27
32
0
27
139
22
Ann Thornton
31
27
34
19
0
23
134
23
Millie Lang
22
25
18
28
17
23
133
24
Paul Worswick
35
27
29
25
0
0
116
25
Ian Hempstock
23
30
26
11
24
0
114