August Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 2022-8

Welcome to the eighth set of the 2022 competition, and we would like to wish ‘Good Luck’ to all panellists heading to Poland for the World Championships later this month. We will be well represented in both the Open and the Womens’ events, so I hope to be able to report in due course that our the winning pairs and/or teams in multiple events include members of our panel.

We are delighted to welcome two European champions as new panelists this month, the Polish mother-daughter stars Cathy and Sophia Baldysz. Cathy won bronze medals in the Women’s Teams at World Championships in both 2012 and 2022. In European Championships, she collected a bronze medal in 2016 before winning gold in both 2018 and 2022. Sophia won a silver medal in the Girls Teams at the 2017 European Youth Championships and then gold in the same category in both 2018 and 2019. She also won silver in the Girls Pairs at the 2018 event. In 2022, she paired up with her mother as part of the Polish Women’s Team that won bronze medals in Salsomaggiore and then gold at the European Championships in Madeira.

Our guest panelist this month is Welshman Dave Williams, who made the podium for the annual competition in 2021, finishing in third place. He was part of a three-way tie for the win in November last year, but this is his first solo victory. Now in his mid-50s, Dave trained as a mathematician but he recently retired after 21 years as a Youth Information and Advice Worker. He learned to play bridge at school but at that time he preferred chess, often playing up to ten boards simultaneously. He took up duplicate in 1993 and soon ended up playing club bridge five nights a week. He joined BBO in 2006, plays online only now and just with robots. He used to have his own bridge library of over 650 books but after a sort out now has about 250 left – mostly advanced ones, quizzes, first editions and several written by Marc Smith, David Bird and a few other members of the BBO panel! Obviously, he is a man with excellent taste.

A bumper panel of 22 this month managed to produce a majority choice on only two of the eight deals, so we can expect some lively debate. If your choice matched the largest group of competitors on all eight hands this month, you would have scored 57/80. The average score was also the highest of the year, at 50.10. Even so, there were still large factions of competitors scoring poorly on some hands, including the largest group on Hands 1 and 5. Let’s investigate why.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)
2NT00 5.6
3♠00 0.5
3♣00 0.5
3NT00 0.3
200 0.2
400 0.1
300 <0.1
4♠00 <0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.81

Not quite a majority vote from the panel, and an exact tie (11-11) between those who bid 1NT and those who supported partner’s spades. The NT bidders get the top mark only because the spade supporters are split between a simple raise and a cue-bid. The largest group of competition entrants (more than 40%), though, score very poorly for choosing an action not even considered by the panel. This is by far the lowest-scoring hand this month, and one of only two with an average score below 6/10.

ZIA: 1NT. It couldn’t be easier. Imperfect, like moi.
LARSSON: 1NT. Nothing is perfect, but this is the most descriptive bid I believe.
FREDIN: 1NT. Not perfect, but I don’t like Pass or 2.
BOCCHI: 1NT. Sometimes Jxx in diamond is a good stopper.
MEYERS: 1NT. I would bid 1NT without the Q and I am considering my hand, based on the 1 overcall, as a balanced 9-count.
MOULD: 1NT. This is a classic flawed hand with no good bid. I am a spade short for 2 (though that is a close second choice), a suit short for 2 (even if played as forcing) and a stopper short for 1NT. I choose 1NT with no great enthusiasm and you could easily persuade me 2 is better. As Reese said, though, there is always some rubbish to throw away on the diamonds.
BIRD: 1NT. The alternative of 2 might result in us bidding to the wrong game when partner is good.
Does bidding no-trumps without a stop not carry a similar risk, though?
HULT: 1NT. I need to keep the bidding alive: we can easily have a game if partner has a good hand with six spades. 2 is the alternative. Even though my diamond stopper is not the best, I prefer 1NT rather than lying about my spade support.
ROBSON: 1NT. Doubtless some will mastermind with 2, while others will try 2. I see no reason to distort my spade length; 1NT is cheap, and later spade bids will tell the story.
The rest are quite happy to raise spades.
SUNDELIN: 2. At least a good raise. Hopefully, a solid partner...
MARSTON: 2. I intend to show this as a good raise of spades.
BROCK: 2. Very close between this and 1NT.
McINTOSH: 2. I owe partner a spade but I can't think of anything better.
DE WIJS: 2. 1NT is the obvious alternative. The lack of diamond stopper doesn't usually bother me but, as my doubleton spade is great, I will choose this little lie.
COHEN: 2. I would say that I "never" raise an overcall with only two-card support, but never say never. The honors are great and a 5-2 fit rates to play well here.
WILLIAMS: 2. Invitational or better spade raise. I have no diamond stopper for NT unless partner can help out, the clubs are anaemic, and I am too good for 2, even with only two-card support.
COPE: 2. This looks like a straightforward cue-bid raise, showing three trumps and 10 + points. If K-Q tight is not equivalent to three-card support, then maybe partner should not have overcalled.
The third group settle for a simple raise.
SHENKIN: 2. I would rather treat this as a raise in preference to 1NT, but it is not good enough for 2.

C. BALDYSZ: Two honors and an ace make up for the lack of a third trump.

WANG: 2♠. Although I don't like supporting with only two cards, this time it may be right.

Partner had J109xxx/Kxxx/A/KQ so, either 1NT or 2♦ are likely to get you to the decent 4♠. Whether 2♠ or (perish the thought) 2♣ will do so is less certain.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)
486 4.2
376 15.0
360 0.5

Competition Entrant Average Score: 7.24

No majority on the panel, but the most popular choice amongst panelists also attracted the largest group of competition entrants, although some less-popular choices also scored fairly well. A number of panelists raised the question of whether 3 was forcing. Let’s see what they had to say.

WILLIAMS: 3. Forcing. Partner has at most two hearts, so let’s see what he rebids.
DE WIJS: 3. Here's to hoping that the natural 2 bid includes lots of diamond values. I am driving to game and will bid out my shape. My next bid is probably 4.
That seems clear enough, or is it?
SAELENSMINDE: 3. I hope it’s forcing.
COHEN: 3. I play this as non-forcing, but without discussion it will be taken as forcing. Even though partner might be there salivating waiting for a double (since he couldn't double for penalty), I can't do it with such an offensive hand and a void in diamonds.
Larry raises the question of whether partner had a penalty double available.
MARSTON: 3. Simply showing my two suits. I am happy that partner did not double 2.
Paul clearly thinks East could have doubled for penalties, and Alan has strong feelings about this subject.
MOULD: 3. I am assuming partner could have doubled for penalties if they were so inclined (please, please, do not tell me it would be a !%!!?! support double), so I infer his diamonds are not that good. In that case we should have a good play for game and I shall get there via 3. If you tell me that isn't forcing, (Isn’t it your job to tell me? MS) put me down for 3. If you tell that isn't forcing, put me down a for a grumpy 3.
Whilst Tim and others clearly think a double from partner would have shown three hearts.
COPE: 3. We cannot afford to Double here, as we really don’t want partner to leave it in. We also cannot insist on hearts, as partner’s Pass will have denied holding three. Partner can always backtrack to hearts if they have doubleton support, but if we hit the jackpot and find partner with a 4-1-4-4 shape with good clubs and not too many wasted diamond values, the sky is the limit.
BIRD: 3. I won't risk a double, with a void diamond and such good playing strength. A reasonable alternative would be 3.
Norberto seems to think 3 would be non-forcing, hence…
BOCCHI: 4. This should show 6-5 and force to game. Probably, my partner will not have too many points wasted in diamonds.
The other half of the panel simply bid some number of hearts. The question was, though, how many? Sally is alone in thinking that 2 is enough.
BROCK: 2. I want to make an invitational bid in hearts. For me, this is it (no weak jump) and 3 would be forcing.
The rest all seem to think that 3 is the way to invite.
WANG: 3. 6+ hearts and invitational. If partner bids 3NT, I will continue with 4.
MEYERS: 3. I am not going to attempt to play in clubs. I am evaluating my hand to be invitational in hearts, but I also think 4 is a reasonable alternative.
McINTOSH: 3. Natural and invitational. I may regret not mentioning the clubs, but 3 loses the sixth heart.
ROBSON: 3. With partner likely to have little wastage in diamonds, I'll invite the most likely game. I doubt a 3 bid will get us to 4 facing the bare queen.
Part of the Swedish contingent have a different take on the meaning of 3.
HULT: 3. I don’t like to Double in case partner passes. 3 for me would show longer clubs than hearts and be non-forcing. 4 is our most likely game, so I bid 3 and hope for the best.
SUNDELIN: 3. A recent discussion clarified that 3 would be non-forcing and might contain a 2416 type hand. A double would initiate a force, but I am afraid that such a double might be passed, which I may not appreciate....
The final group of panelists take a pragmatic approach.
FREDIN: 4. I bid what I think I can make!
ZIA: 4. I hope this will make. The clubs are tempting, but the 10-9 are more so.
LARSSON: 4. This looks like the practical bid. I don’t have a forcing 3 available, as I normally play that as canapé and non-forcing.
Mother and daughter are in perfect agreement here.


SHENKIN: 4. I am gambling high, but partner is likely to have most of his high cards outside diamonds.

Partner had a weak no-trump, Kxx/Qx/K10xxx/AJx, and would presumably raise an invitational 3 to game. He would either pass or give preference to 3 over 3, depending on what he thinks it means. 4 and 4 obviously take the decision out of partner’s hands, which is often a good idea. He would surely pass a double, and defending 2-X would get +300/500 against our vulnerable game.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 7.24

I expected this to be a close three-way choice between competing to 4, bidding game with 5, and making a game try with double. If the feeling is that it is close between 4 and 5, then surely a game try looks like the best option – after all, only partner knows whether he has overcalled on KQxxxxx or on Qxxxxx. The competitors were almost evenly split between bidding game and competing to 4. However, the panel produced its largest majority of the month in favor of the optimistic view. Their comments, though, suggest not all of them were that happy with their choice…

ZIA: 5. This depends on our style. Playing with myself, 4 would be plenty.
LARSSON: 5. Not a bid I would make playing with a junior, perhaps.
MOULD: 5. This hand is completely impossible without going into partner's pre-emptive style. Opposite John Holland, I am close to a slam try; opposite Ollie Burgess I wouldn't bid at all. Partner clearly has very short clubs (probably a void) but do they have Jxx/xxx/KQJxxxx/--- or xxx/xxx/Jxxxxx/x? Without knowing who I am opposite, I cannot really answer the question.
Except, perhaps, by asking partner via a game try?
SHENKIN: 5. Who knows? I’d rather bid it now before one of the opponents thinks about bidding their hearts.
COPE: 5. How often in bridge have we said to partner “You may make it or go down”. Whatever happens here, it should not be expensive as partner definitely has short clubs and, with the heart suit having gone missing, he may well have xx/xxxx/KQxxxxx/--.
Some thought it was clear…
WANG: 5. I think it will be easy to make.
MEYERS: 5. Values in the unbid suits with a ruffing value and length in their suit, so I'll take my shot at game.
HULT: 5. It looks like we can take a lot of tricks in diamonds. Partner is obviously short in clubs, so I bid game.
Dave is clearly sure that his partner will not hold Qxxxxx.

WILLIAMS: 5. Hearts have not been mentioned, so there’s a good chance that partner has four of them and therefore only space for two black cards, which could be a spade and a club or, more likely, two spades. I can ruff hearts and maybe do something with the spades.

BOCCHI: 5. KQxxxx(x) in diamonds will probably be enough to make eleven tricks.
BIRD: 5. There is a good chance that partner has a void club. In that case we may make game opposite Kxxxxxx and a bust. 4 is a nothing bid.
The minority faction disagreed with David
SUNDELIN: 4. Cowardly, and refraining from hoping for Jxx/xxx/KQxxxxx/-- opposite.
FREDIN: 4. We might miss a game.
ROBSON: 4. A rare 4 over 4; maybe both are making.
Paul hopes that partner will make the decision for him…
MARSTON: 4. This should have some invitational context. I expect partner to bid again with a club void, and that suits me.
Whilst the hand Larry quotes seems likely to make 4+1.
COHEN: 4. This just feels right with ten trumps. With no negative double from South, there is a good chance my partner has 7-4 in the reds; in fact, if I had to guess, partner is likely 2-4-7-0, something like: xx/Qxxx/KQJxxxx/---. Maybe I should talk myself into bidding more. But, at these colors, I give partner some leeway.
Simon is clear about the meaning of double and I suspect this would have would have garnered much more support had panelists been sure what it meant.
DE WIJS: Dbl. In my partnership this double is invitational in diamonds, but I don't particularly mind a penalty double here also, so let's roll the dice and see how partner reacts. I can always blame him for misunderstanding my bid if things go wrong.
Sally perhaps thinks it is an attempt to keep spades in the picture?
:BROCK Dbl. And bid 5 over 4.
Although Andrew doesn’t offer an explanation for his choice, it seems clear that he plays with too many juni

Are you competing the partscore or bidding game to make? Is double penalties or a game try in diamonds? Knowing partner has short clubs is good news. At the table, he actually held Jxx/Kxx/K10xxxxx/--- so you could make 12 tricks on the 2-1 trump split. Is partner even going to raise 4 to game on that hand? Only Paul suggests that he would.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.77

Another deal that splits the panel into three main camps. One faction (and the largest group of readers) settles for the 3 underbid, whilst the largest group on the panel adopt a two-step strategy…

WANG: Dbl. If partner bid 2, I will continue with 3 to show extra values and a long club suit.
SUNDELIN: Dbl. I heard you, and I plan to continue with 3 over a possible 2 from partner.
COPE: Dbl. We are sometimes forced to lie a little, so we have to decide which lie is closest to the truth. If we start with a support double and then bid again, that will show extras. So, the white lie here is to pretend that we have three spades and, if partner just bids 2, we will bid 3 to show the extra values and length. That seems to be a more accurate description of our hand than any of the alternative lies.
FREDIN: Dbl. I am going to bid 3 over 2. We might make 4 on a 5-2 fit.
BOCCHI: Dbl. I don’t like playing support doubles, as it means I am left with only impossible bids on a hand like this. I start with a double anyway.
ZIA: Dbl. A-K is close to three-card support, and my alternative options are limited.
WILLIAMS: Dbl. 3 undercooks it and 3 is too pushy with the Q likely to be useless. Partner likely has less than 9 HCP and we have no stop for 3NT, so which game are we going to make? Maybe spades, if partner has more than four? I start with a Support Double and then show extra values by rebidding my clubs over 2. Partner can hopefully then decide what to do by evaluating how his points outside spades work with what we have shown.
So, what do the 3 bidders have to say?
ROBSON: 3. Flawed, but what else?
SAELENSMINDE: 3. I am a bit too good for this, but I am stuck for a bid.
BIRD: 3. This is not such an underbid if you discount the Q.
COHEN: 3. Very heavy, but I am discounting the Q, and my suit is poor (trying to justify the underbid).
SHENKIN: 3. This is not ideal on such a bad suit, but anything else is worse.
Jill rather sums up what many feel about their options on this hand.

MEYERS: 3♣. Aargh!! MPs are a little tricky, and it might be right to pass with both sides vulnerable, but I am bidding 3♣. Partner is not going to reopen with something like QJxx/xxx/Qxxx/Jx, and I want to be in 3♣ with that hand as dummy (or similar hands on which partner would not have enough to reopen).

The third group on the panel seem curiously happy with their choice.
MARSTON: 2NT. Almost perfect. Gotta start somewhere.
HULT: 2NT. This shows 18-19 balanced, which is about what I have. To bid no-trumps with Qx is often a good idea.
BROCK: 2NT. I can’t really think of an alternative. I’m not a fan of support doubles and maybe, after reading this article, everyone will give them up
Alan and Simon sum up the two sides of the ‘Support Double’ debate.
MOULD: 2NT. A wonderful example of taking a convention out of context and thinking you can craft it on to other systems without pain. Rodwell invented support doubles in the context of Precision, where hands like this are impossible. Playing them in a natural-based system is sub-optimal by a long way, as you too often get hands like these, where a double is automatic except it is ruddy support!! I want to bid double, but now I have flawed alternatives. I can either bid it and try to extract myself later or bid a flawed 2NT. If you tell me 2NT is good/bad then that is OK as well - I will still bid it and follow it with 3 or 3NT or something. This is a problem of our own making IMHO.
DE WIJS: 3. Ok, I am expecting a lot of hate for the support double, but I like the convention, so I will do my best and bid a 'natural' 3. This seems like the best way to explore the right game.
Like Simon, Sophia also opts to force gam e and hope to find a suitable landing spot.

At the table, partner held 10xxxx/xx/QJxx/K8, so you could make 2 or 3, but nothing higher (spades were 3-3 but clubs broke 5-0). The 3 bidders and probably the doublers will get that all-important matchpoint plus score.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 7.07

With only three realistic alternatives, almost everyone scored on this deal, but the largest group of competition entrants (more than 40%) opted for the bid that was least popular with the panel. Our experts explain why…

ZIA: Pass. Yes, I can underbid on occasion.
FREDIN: Pass. It is not my style to overbid in these situations.
If Jessica is passing, then taking positive action must surely be an overbid!
MARSTON: Pass. I am not willing to overbid by two tricks.
COPE: Pass. There is no guarantee that we have the values for a 4 contract unless partner can come again, and the holding of two small spades means that we may find partner with a similar holding. I feel sure that they have talked us out of a 3 contract, which would make, but a responsive double would be takeout for the minors, so we just have to take our medicine.
Sally makes a vital point.
BROCK: Pass. And quickly. The trouble is that I’ve probably taken so long to come to this opinion, that partner will need a 2 opener to bid again! In which case, I guess I’d double.
BOCCHI: Pass. Bidding 4 is too much on this hand.
Not so, say some.
MEYERS: 4. I have too many aces to pass.
SHENKIN: 4. Does a responsive double deny four hearts?
A good question, Barnet. Let’s see if we can find out.
MOULD: Dbl. I could bid 4, but double doesn't deny them in my book. Good things might happen if I double. I suspect I am swapping a plus score for a minus score, but the lure of the vulnerable game is too great.

DE WIJS: Dbl. I will probably end up in 4 anyway, but I will double just in case partner has a non-standard hand for double. Yes, 4 will probably be too high, but passing with this is not an option. By the way, I play this double as game-forcing, so I will bid 4 over 4m by partner.

HULT: Dbl. With two bullets, I feel like I have to take action, and Double gives our side the most options.
SAELENSMINDE: Dbl. As it’s matchpoints.
And if it were IMPs, the explanation would be ‘we’re vulnerable at IMPs’?
WANG: Dbl. Takeout, but I will be very happy if partner passes.
WILLIAMS: Dbl. Responsive. Not sure where to compete, but I have enough values to take some action, so over to you partner!
SUNDELIN: Dbl. Slightly optimistic.
ROBSON: Dbl. If partner is also 2-4 in the majors, we can get a small plus from 3-X. I don't think a 4 bid is Lawful.
BIRD: Dbl. Taking a couple of 50s at match-points will not be much good. I don't like 4 at all.
COHEN: Dbl. A big bid, but this time my justification is that I have two aces. This is so much better than having a bunch of quacks.

As Sally pointed out, one of the problems with passing is can you do it in tempo? A slow pass would potentially have hamstrung partner, who held Ax/Kxx/AQJ9x/KQx. Opener was 5-1-4-3 with the K, so Double gets you to 3NT+3 and an excellent score. 4 goes one down on the 5-1 trump break. It is a moot point whether partner bids again after a pass, or could ethically do so after a slow pass.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.91

A clear majority vote from the panel, and almost a third of competition entrants agree with their choice. Several panelists were also attracted by more aggressive options, but a number of competitors seem to have overlooked the fact that partner passed as the Dealer. Let’s start with those who take the lowest road.

BROCK: 2. OK, I’m a wimp, but my partners are quite aggressive and we could easily be in a 4-3 fit.
SHENKIN: 2. I won't punish partner for protecting.
WANG: 2. A little underbid, but partner is a passed hand.
ZIA: 2. This is not the time to punish partner for his enterprise.
Norberto again wins the ‘Comment of the Month’ award.
BOCCHI: 2. I suppose I have to bid only 2 as I cannot find the two-and-a-half-hearts card in my bidding box.
ROBSON: 2. We could miss a vulnerable game if partner is pure, but even 2 could be down facing some 4-3-5-1 eight-count.
BIRD: 2. Obviously, I would have to do more if partner was not a passed hand. 3 is the alternative, but I cannot be sure that he has four hearts.
FREDIN: 2. Passing is not my style. The bidding might not be over yet. Partner might raise to 3, in which case I will then bid 4.
Last word for the majority from the man who held the East cards at the table and, as we shall see, sometimes wishes do come true.

HULT: 2. Partner is a passed hand, so I will go low here. With the right cards, he might raise to 3, in which case we will still get to game.

Some started with what they intended as an invitational 3 although, in most versions of Lebensohl, would not 2NT and then 3 show the invite and a direct 3 be forcing?
DE WIJS: 3. Ugly, no doubt. Still, I think it's worth a try for game, and this seems to be the best way to do it. Going low with 2 is the alternative for me.
Jessica evaluates her hand the same as Norberto but, as is her style, chooses the more aggressive option.
LARSSON: 3. It’s a 2.5 heart bid, but I always round up.
WILLIAMS: 3. As partner has previously passed, he likely has 10/11 points and 4-4-4-1 shape. We haven’t enough for a 3 force, especially with South sitting over partner’s honours. 3NT seems unlikely, but we’ve eight losers, an ace-heavy hand and a 4-4 heart fit, so an invitational 3 it is.
I awarded the same marks to 2NT, to be fair to competitors who (assuming this is a Lebensohl situation) recognized that was the way to invite, although Tim has an interesting alternative way of playing these two sequences.
COPE: 2NT. This is Lebensohl so that, over the forced 3 from partner, I can bid 3 to show an invitational hand with only a four-card suit. This hand has too much potential opposite four-card heart support, so we have to make some form of invitational bid, but the hand may fall apart if partner only has three hearts. It’s a good thing we have a system in place that differentiates between four- and five-card holdings.
I’m glad to hear that we do. 😊
Then there are those who, presumably, force to game. The 3 cue-bid was slightly downgraded in the marking, as it seems to be farthest from the panel’s overall evaluation of the hand.

MARSTON: 3. Intending to play 4 or 3NT.
MEYERS: 3. If partner has four hearts, we will find our major-suit game. If he does not, then I will take my shot at 3NT. Regardless, I don't want to make a unilateral decision, so I am making an "investigation" 3 cue-bid.
McINTOSH: 3. Hating all the options.
SAELENSMINDE: 3. Then 3, hopefully.
Is 3 not now forcing, though?
Alan seems to think that 2NT would be natural, although should this situation not be treated the same as when the opponents open with a weak two?
MOULD: 3. This is a truly horrible hand to try and bid opposite a protective double. 2 is wet in the extreme, 3 seems rather weird, 2NT I would want better pips for, so I will overbid in the hope of arriving in the correct strain.
The few panelists who even mentioned passing ruled it our immediately, so Larry is plowing a lone furrow in choosing to defend.
COHEN: Pass. Opposite a passed partner, game is a stretch (even if partner has four hearts, a trump lead will hurt us too much). If partner has only three hearts, surely this is the right LOTT action. On the off-chance they make 180, no big deal, especially if we would be -100 or -200 playing in hearts.

Gunnar Hallberg bid 2 at the table in the Lederer. Simon Hult had Q9xx/AQ10x/Kxxx/x and raised to 3, so of course Hallberg then bid game. The spades lay well enough that 4 makes with good declarer play. 3NT has no chance and you would beat 2-X by one.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.19

This is perhaps the most contentious hand of the month, the 22 different options chosen by competition entrants tying the record established a couple of months ago. At first glance, it may look like the panel is split between three choices. However, it is really a question of whether 3 is enough on this hand. Although divided by the question of which option is the best alternative, the ‘no’ camp wins that debate by 12-9, hence the marking. More than two-thirds of competitors score relatively well.

McINTOSH: 3. Another pathetic-feeling effort, but 2 is too much opposite the rubbish I respond 1M on.
SHENKIN: 3. Maybe. 2 is a close second choice.
ZIA: 3. A simple underbid is better than a nebulous reverse.
MEYERS: 3. If partner has the K and a spade stopper, he should bid 3NT. If he has two spade stoppers and a decent hand with some club length, partner will bid again. I could cue 2, asking for a spade stopper, but my clubs are not good enough to support a no-trump game opposite only one spade stopper and weak clubs.
So, what do the ‘too strong for 3’ brigade have to say?
COPE: 2. This is what I would have bid with or without the 1 bid by the opposition, as I am too strong for a simple jump to 3. At least now partner also knows that I do not have three hearts.

BROCK: 2. This is surely preferable to 3♣, which seems to be only alternative. If partner raises, I can bid 3, which would presumably show a strong doubleton.

DE WIJS: 2. This is the same principle as the earlier board. For me, 2 is a game-forcing hand with either a heart fit or solid clubs. With this hand, I will make do with a fake 2 bid.
BOCCHI: 2. Again, I don’t play support doubles. Fortunately, I have a sensible alternative available this time.
MARSTON: 2. More Support Double pain. Let's fudge a reverse.
Two Davids combine to explain why they prefer 2 to 2.
BIRD: 2. 'When in doubt, bid the lowest of the alternatives.' How's that for a Bols Bridge Tip? This gives partner a chance to rebid his hearts cheaply.
WILLIAMS: 2. I am too strong for 3 and double would show support. I need to force and a 2 reverse leaves more space than 2. it is also more descriptive, showing 5+ clubs and shorter diamonds, no three-card support for partner’s suit and likely no stop in the opponents suit either.
So, what about 2?
HULT: : 2. This should show a strong hand with good clubs.
FREDIN: 2. It shows my hand.
WANG: 2. Game-forcing and any distribution.
COHEN: 2. Deja vu from Hand 4, but this time my hand is stronger and my suit is much better. I have too much to bid only 3. I don't want to lie with a double, so I cue-bid and hope partner doesn't think this shows four hearts (it shouldn't, since I have other strong heart raises available).
MOULD: 2. Is this set completely designed to show how stupid support doubles are in a natural system? Again, double sticks out like a sore thumb. I bid 2 now as I cannot think of anything more rational to do.
This time, Andrew is alone in opting for the support double on the strong doubleton.
ROBSON: Dbl. Lying about the lack of a third heart as nothing else appeals.

Partner held Kxx/QJ109xxx/xx/x, so 4 is where you want to be. Will East bid again over a 3 rebid, though? Perhaps, but is it clear to do so? Over any of the other options chosen by the panel, partner is likely to just jump to 4, avoiding any further problems.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.54

Assuming we are going to play in diamonds, 4 is the middle ground between passing and a jump to game, so it is perhaps not surprising that it was the majority choice. The more than 250 competition entrants who tried 3NT should perhaps consider how poorly the hand is likely to play opposite what you should expect from partner.

WANG: Pass. 5 looks far away, so I hope pass is a good choice.
Zia makes an excellent point, often overlooked at matchpoint scoring
ZIA: Pass. We’re going plus, and will get a 60% or better score, so why look further?
BROCK: Pass. I’d raise at IMPs, of course. But it’s easy to see a defense where they cash the top three tricks and a club through partner will promote a trump trick.
SUNDELIN: Pass. 4 is close.
So, let’s hear from those who opted for the gentle raise.
COPE: 4. Just in case partner is 6/5 with the two pointed-suit aces. I know it’s matchpoints, but 4 still seems to be safe and partner does not have to accept the invitation if he is only 5/5.
ROBSON: 4. I have great cards for partner's two-suiter. I must give him a little boost to cater to a 6-5.

BOCCHI: 4. Axxxxx/xx/Axxxx/-- may make 5, so I have to give him a chance to bid on.

WILLIAMS: 4. If we believe the opponents bids, then partner has fewer than 10 points and must be bidding on shape with 6-5 or maybe even 6-6. As we have the kings in his suits and the Q, he likely has the Aces vulnerable. Pass seems somewhat feeble, but 5 seems too pushy when there could easily be three losers. Hence, a 4 compromise.
BIRD: 4. Partner approximately knows my point-count. What he does not know is that I have eight points in his suits.
DE WIJS: 4. I will give partner one out in case he has a minimal, shapely hand.
And more family harmony...
FREDIN: 4. Because we are vulnerable.
Does that really matter at matchpoints?
HULT: 4. We have to show our support and some interest.
Alan raises in order to keep spades in the picture.
MOULD: 4. The pointed suits are obviously golden, whilst the rounded honors are a waste of space. Partner is probably 6-4, and I want to give them the chance of bidding 4, which I will happily pass. If partner passes 4, we are not making game when I am aceless.
A few think their hand worth bidding game.
SHENKIN: 5. My cards are working.
COHEN: 5. Partner sees the vulnerability; if he can contract for nine tricks when my three beautiful pointed cards could have been elsewhere, then I think I have enough for eleven tricks. Picture: AJxxxx/xx/AJxxx/--.
Whilst Paul goes for a different stack of marbles…
MARSTON: 4. Ten tricks in spades are surely as likely as eleven tricks in diamonds.
…And Jill tries to keep all options open.
MEYERS: 3. There is a lot of bidding going on. My 3 bid should show diamonds and, hopefully, draw some kind of map for partner. I have already bid 1NT, showing stoppers in the unbid suits, so I will be happy if partner can bid 3NT, otherwise I will pass 4, 5, 3 or 4.

Paul makes an interesting point, and one that no one else really considered. It is matchpoints and, opposite the 6-5 hands many of the panel quoted, are ten tricks in spades not more likely than eleven in diamonds? Partner held A10xxxx/xx/AJ10xx/--- but, with spades 4-2 and diamonds 3-1, he could make only ten tricks in diamonds (+130), but nine in spades for +140 and a huge MP score. Yes, a 3-3 spade break would have enabled you to make 4 and either suit splitting evenly would have produced game in diamonds but, as Zia pointed out, one of the prime objectives at matchpoints is to protect the plus score.

David Bird

The Women have dominated the top of the panel in recent months, but this must have been a particularly testosterone-driven set as there is not one in the top ten this month. David Bird leads the panel with an excellent score of 78/80. This is the third time he has topped the leader-board, although his first win of 2022. Just one point behind him, with 77/80, are Norberto Bocchi and this month’s guest panelist, Dave Williams. Well played, Sir.

The BBO Prime Expert Panel:

David BIRD1NT3♣53♣Dbl22478
Norberto BOCCHI1NT4♣5DblPass22477
Dave WILLIAMS23♣5DblDbl32477
Tim COPE23♣5DblPass2NT2475
Erik SAELENSMINDE1NT3♣53♣Dbl3♣3♣473
Simon HULT1NT352NTDbl22♠472
Zia MAHMOOD1NT45DblPass23♣Pass72
Alan MOULD1NT3♣52NTDbl3♣2♠472
Peter FREDIN1NT44DblPass22♠471
Simon de WIJS23♣Dbl3Dbl32470
Jessica LARSSON1NT45DblPass33♣Pass70
Wen Fei WANG2♠35DblDbl22♠Pass70
Sophia BALDYSZ1NT453Dbl3♣3♣468
P.O SUNDELIN234DblDbl22Pass68
Cathy BALDYSZ2♠45Dbl422467
Andrew ROBSON1NT343♣Dbl22466
 Sally BROCK 2 2 Dbl 2NT Pass 2 2Pass64
Larry COHEN23♣43♣DblPassPass562
Paul MARSTON23♣42NTPass3♣3♣4♠61
Barnet SHENKIN2♠453♣422561
Jill MEYERS1NT353♣43♣3♣360
Andrew McINTOSH23Pass3♣Pass3♣3♣Pass59


HAND 1: 1NT 10, 2 9, 2♠ 6, 2♣ 2

HAND 2: 3♣ 10, 4♣ 9, 4 8, 3 7, 3 6, 2 5

HAND 3: 5 10, DBL 8, 4 6

HAND 4: Dbl 10, 3♣ 8, 2NT 6, 3/ 5

HAND 5: Dbl 10, Pass 8, 4 5

HAND 6: 2 10, 2NT/3 7, Pass 4

HAND 7: 2 10, 2♠ 9, 3♣ 8, Dbl 5

HAND 8: 4 10, Pass 8, 3♠ 7, 56, 3/4♠ 5


HAND 1: 4.81

HAND 2: 7.24

HAND 3: 7.24

HAND 4: 5.77

HAND 5: 7.07

HAND 6: 6.91

HAND 7: 6.19

HAND 8: 6.54

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5 comments on “August Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge”

  1. I have a better result than the one given on the website (454 ?)
    missing eighth result (66) which is (520) pretty good/not bad
    I play poorly but I can count 🙂
    Capri Bucci, Rome Italy/Netherlands

  2. Hi,

    On board 10 - I bid 4C - yet I've scored nothing for it - it's surely forcing to 4D and let's partner decide if they want to bid game or not in 4S / 5D or just bid 4D. I feel this is the best bid - but nobody else seems to have even thought of bidding it?

  3. Bd 1 - marking and commentry seems unfairly harsh. With all my partners, 2c is forcing - 10 plus HCP (so that when spades are supported later - its clearly 2 card support), and over the 2h or 2s partner response we will definitely reach 4s. If 2c is not forcing, this really should have been in the problem info, as then a different bid would be chosen.

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