September Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 2022-9

Welcome to the ninth set of the 2022 competition. A number of congratulatory notes this month. First, to one of our ever-present panelists, Larry Cohen, on his much-deserved induction into the Bridge Hall of Fame. And also to our only gold medalist so far at the World Championships in Wroclaw, where Jill Meyers won the Women’s Pairs, more than 4% clear of second place, playing with Kerri Sanborn. Congratulations to them both.

Also, at the US Summer Nationals last month in Providence RI, the winning team in the prestigious Spingold included two members of our panel, Michal Klukowski and Sjoert Brink. At the World Championships in Wroclaw, our panelists have won a number of medals. Sally Brock and Jill Meyers both earned bronze medals from the Women’s Teams, whilst Jessica Larsson went one better, collecting silver, losing in the final by only 7 IMPs. In the Open Teams, we had three panelists collecting bronze medals, Zia Mahmood, Andrew McIntosh and Simon Hult, the latter two losing their semi-final against the Nickell team by just 3 IMPs, having previously knocked out the reigning Bermuda Bowl champions. In the Women’s Pairs, Janice Molson collected a bronze medal and we had three other panelists, Sally Brock, Cathy and Sophia Baldysz who made it to the 14-pair final. No medals for the panel in the Open Pairs, although Cedric Lorenzini, Ola Rimstedt and Zia Mahmood finished 9th/10th/11th respectively. Simon de Wijs, Simon Hult and Andrew Robson also made it into the 54-pair final. The Mixed and Seniors events are just beginning, so we will hopefully have more medals to report next month.

Our guest panelist this month is Murat Sensoy from Turkiye, who lives in the Aegean coast city of Izmir, He has been playing for about 11 years and represented Turkiye as a junior in a European Under-26 championship. He is now captain of the NEVADA team in the Open category in Turkiye and of the Bornova Bridge Sports Club team competing in the Interclub National Championship.

We have two new panelists this month. With “Le Bridgeur” now the official BBO magazine, it is only fitting that we should have a leading French player on our expert panel, so we are delighted to welcome one of that country’s biggest young stars, Cedric Lorenzini. In a glittering career as a junior, he won medals of all hues including three gold, winning The Youngsters Teams at the 2008 World Championships and the European Junior Teams twice (in 2009 and 2013). In 2016, he was a member of the French squad that won the Open Teams at the European Championship in Budapest. He is also an accomplished matchpoint player, finishing third in the 2014 World Pairs playing with Thomas Bessis and winning the Open Pairs at the 2019 European Transnational Championships in partnership with Baptiste Combescure. “Bienvenue, Cedric.”

From the other side of the world, we also welcome the much-travelled Ishmael Delmonte to the panel. Ish first represented New Zealand in 1993, and won a silver medal at the 1995 World Youth Team Championships. He played in the same event two years later, but representing Australia. He later won a silver medal as npc of the Australian Junior Team at the 2013 World Youth Championships. Ish first played in the Australian Open Team in 2000, and he was a member of the Aussie sextet that reached the quarter-finals of the 2003 Bermuda Bowl. After representing Australia at the 2011 Bermuda Bowl, Ish moved to the U.S.A. and he was part of the FLEISHER team that reached the quarter-final stage of the Rosenblum Cup at the 2014 World Series in Sanya, China.

A real mix this month, with some tricky deals that divided the panel and some (2, 3, 6 and 7) on which I was relieved to avoid the dreaded unanimous panel. One would think those hands should help to boost the average competitors’ score. However, although there was a large majority from the panel on four of this month’s hands, the largest group of competition entrants did not agree with any of their choices. Indeed, voting with the largest group of competitors on every hand this month would have scored only a measly 43/80. The average score is also down significantly this month, to 41.1, so there should be plenty to be learned from our experts’ comments, particularly with so many lop-sided votes from the panel.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.67

The vast majority of the panel investigate slam and/or alternative fits. There is little support for the competitors’ majority choice (3NT) and less than 1-in-13 competition entrants pick up top marks here. The basic premise for both competition entrants and panelists when choosing a bid is to assume that you are sitting opposite an unknown expert, having had no specific discussion other than to agree the basic system. There are a number of options on this hand, but some seem to make invalid assumptions about what partner is likely to make of those actions. For example…

BRINK: 2NT. Forcing. I am hoping to find out some more.
I think a majority of the panel would have chosen this option if it was clearly forcing. They didn’t, though, because opposite the proverbial unknown expert it surely risks playing a cold slam in a partscore. Then, what about…
DE WIJS: 4NT. Without a forcing 2NT available, I will try this.
LORENZINI: 4NT. Quantitative, showing no fit and an invitational hand.
David makes plenty of valid points.
BIRD: 4NT. This is a natural slam try, since I could agree spades first (with 3) if I wanted to Blackwood. If partner wishes to advance, he can show a four-card side suit on the way, so we can still get to slam in either hearts or clubs.
Again, I think many panelists would have chosen 4NT if they were sure that partner would take it as quantitative. The comments below, though, suggest that they do not. So, how about…
SENSOY: 3. Cue-bid, showing either a spade fit or a very good hand. This cue-bid does not promise a fit because partner has overcalled and this is my first opportunity to bid.
Really? Had the auction started (1)-1♠-(Pass)-2, almost everyone would have taken that as showing a constructive or better spade raise. So, why is it different because we are a level higher?
DELMONTE: 3. I might as well start with this. Maybe partner will bid 3 next, then we will be very well placed. Over 3♠, I think I will bid 3NT. If I was sure partner would take it as natural, I might have jumped to 4NT on the first round.
It seems that whether partner bids 3♠ or jumps to 4♠ after 3, 4NT from you would then certainly be Blackwood. I agree with Cathy’s observation.
C. BALDYSZ: 3. The follow-up to partner’s response is perhaps the better question.
Indeed, but particularly if partner thinks 3 agrees spades.
WANG: 3. Although we have not found a fit yet. We could still make slam.
I think P.O has it about right, and earns ‘Comment of the Month’ honours…
SUNDELIN: 3. There are many ways to disaster or success. Let's try one.
BOCCHI: 3. I play 2NT forcing without fit and 3 with a fit. Perfect in this case, so I bid 3.
In that case, did you not mean to bid 2NT, Norberto?
LARSSON: 3. I was considering 3♣, but eventually settled for 3. I am really hoping to find a heart fit.
Alan sums up perfectly for the largest faction on the panel.

MOULD: 3. A tough hand without methods. Some play 2NT as forcing which would be ideal, but that is unlikely to be part of the system. It is arguable that 4NT ought to be natural (go via 3 for RKCB) but again, without specific agreement, partner is likely to take it as RKCB. So, I will bumble along with this meaningless cue-bid. Partner is going to bid 3♠ for sure and then....? I shall probably end up having to punt 6NT. All very unsatisfactory.

The next group cannot be accused of misleading partner, but the other 19 panelists all think this is just not enough…
MEYERS: 3NT. I am not even going to invite slam. I have a lot of HCP but no fit, so I don't see running tricks.
MARSTON: 3NT. Lock it in.
COHEN: 3NT. Bad breaks expected, with spades behind partner. My diamonds are worth only one trick. If partner has a second suit, maybe 6♣ or 6 is on, but this is the practical choice.
With no majority on the panel, the top mark goes to those who I think clearly won the debate.
ROBSON: 3♣. Natural and forcing. I refuse to guess between 3NT and 6NT (and 4NT would surely be taken as RKCB). Maybe we belong in clubs or hearts too.
S. BALDYSZ: 3♣. I play 3♣ as forcing for one round. I am still not excluding a slam, so maybe we can find a 4-4 heart or club fit.
BROCK: 3♣. A change of suit should be natural and forcing. This hand is too good to just bid 3NT, and I am not sure that partner will think 4NT is natural.
HULT: 3♣. I start with 3♣ to get to know more about partner’s hand. We might make a slam.
COPE: 3♣. We are too good to just settle for 3NT, so we give ourselves a chance to explore an alternative fit in case slam is possible.
LAVEE: 3♣. Natural and forcing. This leaves the most bidding space and should extract the most natural rebid from partner.

Partner had AKxxxx/Qx/x/Kxxx, so 6♣ was an excellent contract and there were only 11 tricks in NT. Assuming partner accepts the invitation, the 4NT bidders should get to the top spot as East can bid 5♣ to show a four-card suit on the way to slam. (A jump to 6♣ should show acceptance with five clubs.) The 3 bidders catered to finding a heart fit but, with partner likely to think that spades are agreed, it seems likely they would end either in 3NT or 6NT. The 3♣ bidders are the only ones certain to have reached the top spot.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 3.46

This is the first of four big majorities from the panel this month, but it is also one of the lowest-scoring hands of the year for competitors. More than half of competition entrants score only 2/10 for a bid (4) deemed insufficient by every member of the panel, and only 1-in-15 agreed with the majority of panelists. Let’s find out what our experts have to say.

HULT: 5. A-K-Q in hearts is way too good for just 4.
BOCCHI: 5. Nothing to cue, and all the points in hearts. The perfect bid -:)
BROCK: 5. This seems to reflect what I have.
MOULD: 5. 4 just does not feel enough (though could be right) and 4NT will not tell me what I need to know. So, I shall try 5 and leave the last error to partner. I suspect I may have overbid this quacky hand.
BIRD: 5. This denies any black-suit control, so it seems to be ideal. (Not that I am remotely tempted to predict a unanimous vote...)
No, not unanimous, but a sizeable majority, which is better than many such predictions.
SAELENSMINDE: 5. Good hearts, no outside controls.
DELMONTE: 5. I have the A-K-Q of hearts and some extras, but nothing to cue-bid. Hopefully, partner is on the same page.
A number of panelists do not think partner’s 4 promises a control…
COHEN: 5. My hearts are too good for a sign-off. Yes, I see all the "junk", but some of that (especially the ♣Q) rates to be useful. Since 3 would have been non-forcing, partner has not promised a diamond control, just a strong heart raise (maybe something like A/J10xx/xx/AKJxxx).
ROBSON: 5. Two diamond losers - isn't that what this shows? For me, partner's 4 doesn't show a diamond control, so we'd better not drive to slam.

S. BALDYSZ: 5. I am looking for a diamond control from partner. This shows good trumps and I have some fillers on the side too.

SUNDELIN: 5. If we think alike, he should scrutinize his diamond holding.
LORENZINI: 5. I don’t think partner’s 4 shows anything specific, other than a good hand agreeing hearts. My jump is a good heart suit and no side-suit control.
A few disagree about what partner has shown…
COPE: 4NT. Partner must have a good hand with a diamond control to bid 4, so this is not a situation where we need to bid 5 asking for a diamond control.
MEYERS: 4NT. I am going to play partner for a diamond control and bid RKCB for hearts. How about something like Ax/Jxxx/x/AKxxxxx?
Others did not comment specifically on what partner has, but clearly expect a diamond control.
WANG: 4NT. Keycard in hearts.
SENSOY: 4NT. RKBC. I’ve no cue-bid in the side suits, but this is a comfortable bid to make. Lacking some key-cards, we can still stop in 5.
MARSTON: 4NT. Say goodbye to your friends - we are on our way to slam.
LAVEE: 4NT. Partner is showing a big hand and so we have slam.
BRINK: 4NT. Let's go for slam.

At the table, partner had a suitable minimum: Axxx/109xx/---/AKxxx, so 6 was an excellent spot and every panelist would get there. Having already raised to game via a cue-bid, he would probably pass a retreat to 4 and thus the good slam would be missed.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.00

With a huge majority from the panel, this is the closest we have ever come to a unanimous vote. However, the panel’s clear choice was only the fourth-most popular action amongst competition entrants, hence the low average score. Only 1-in-8 competition entrants scores top marks. This is evidently the month for accurate predictions, and Andrew joins the club…

ROBSON: 4. Two places to play, pulling 4♠ to 5♣. I expect a big majority here ...
MOULD: 4. At last, an easy one. I will table my dummy if he bids 4 and bid 5♣ over 4♠ which, for me, shows this (four hearts, longer clubs and an inability to play in 4♠).
BIRD: 4. I might as well try for a heart fit on the way to 5♣.
The explanation from many panelists was simple.
BOCCHI: 4. If my partner bid 4♠, I bid 5♣. Easy game.
COPE: 4. If partner bids 4♠ we can convert to 5♣.
WANG: 4. If partner bid 4♠, I will bid 5♣.
HULT: 4. Over 4♠, I bid 5♣.
LORENZINI: 4. Hoping to hear 4. Otherwise, I will correct 4♠ to 5♣.
MEYERS: 4. If partner bids 4 I will pass. If partner bids 4♠, I am going to convert to 5♣.
DELMONTE: 4. I will pass 4 and bid 5♣ over 4♠.
SAELENSMINDE: 4. I am going to pass 4 and bid 5♣ over 4♠.
S. BALDYSZ: 4. If partner picks spades, I will retreat to 5♣. If he chooses hearts, then we've found a fit.
DE WIJS: 4. Choice of games. Happy to bid 5♣ over 4♠.
BRINK: 4. Choice of games. If partner bids 4♠, I bid 5♣.
Our guest panelist sums up the case for the huge majority.

SENSOY: 4. We passed over South’s 2 opening, so we can’t have a huge hand. This is just a way of finding the best fit. If partner chooses hearts okay but, if he chooses spades, I’ll bid 5♣.

There were some slight reservations...
BROCK: 4. If partner bids 4♠ then I will bid 5♣. I know this can go wrong if partner is, say, 5-4-2-2 shape. I think Michael Courtney had a way around this, but I can’t remember what it was!
MARSTON: 4. We will play in either 4 or 5♣. Sorry about the slam that went begging.
SUNDELIN: 4. Slightly optimistic, I admit.
Larry explains exactly why the competitors’ most popular choice is flawed.
COHEN: 4. Partner will choose hearts with four. If not, we'll play in clubs. The 4 bidders need to picture something like KQJx/Axx/Qx/AJxx.
There were just a couple of dissenters.
LAVEE: 4. 5♣ could be best, but bridge is about Major-suit fits.
LARSSON: 4. I think this would be my bid at the table most of the time, even though it is unattractive, not showing my club suit and only having four hearts. The alternative is to bid 4 and then 5♣.

At the table, partner had something very close to Larry’s hand: KQxx/AJx/xx/AQxx. 5♣ was where you wanted to play and the huge majority of panelists would do just that.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.47

Not quite a majority on the panel, but a clear favorite nonetheless. The panel offer four choices, but the most popular action selected by competition entrants, with more than a quarter bidding 4♠, was not even mentioned by a single panelist. I awarded it a token 2/10 only because it was a more sensible choice than some of the other suggestions.

SENSOY: 2. This should be a one-round force.
DELMONTE: 2. I bid 2 for now, but I plan to do a lot more bidding. This should be forcing ...... I hope!! If partner passes, I’m leaving.
P.O thinks 2 is forcing to game.
SUNDELIN: 2. Assuming 2 is forcing to game, perhaps skies may clear up.
LORENZINI: 2. 2 is forcing one round, so I start with 2 in order to describe my hand.
I would have thought this was fairly standard, that in competition 2 is forcing but not game-forcing. If opener then rebids 2♠, 2NT or raises to 3, those would probably be considered non-forcing. After opener rebids 2, either 2♠, 2NT or 3 from responder would then be non-forcing. The rest of the 2 bidders all seem to be clear that it is forcing.
WANG: 2. Then rebid spades.
MOULD: 2. I see no need to take up all the room by bidding 3♠, or to deny a suit headed by A-K-Q. I can bid 3♠ next time. Problems will come later when I need to make slam tries.
BOCCHI: 2. Sometimes my partner is void in spades and has four hearts. I don’t like 3♠ without the ♠10.
COHEN: 2. Add me to the list of 2♣ openers. Anyway, let's go slowly here instead of jumping, as I can always rebid my spades next. This is surely forcing.
MARSTON: 2. It is going to be a big night, so let's get the party started.
Those who seem to be concerned that 2 may not be forcing choose alternatives.
ROBSON: 3. Natural and game-forcing. If all partner can do is bid 4, I'll retreat to 4♠.
S. BALDYSZ: 3♣. As 2 is only forcing for one round, I cue-bid to establish a game force. If partner has two aces, we can get to slam in spades.

BROCK: 3♣. At the moment, I’ll just make a random game force. I’d like to hear more from partner.

BRINK: 3♣. I create a game force and afterwards I will bid spades.
MEYERS: 3♣. I am going to explore a little before committing.
LAVEE: 3♣. I don’t like the 1♠ opening. This is a clear 2♣ opening for me.
HULT: 3♣. Most likely, we will play in 4♠.
The third group chooses to focus on their strong seven-card suit.
DE WIJS: 3♠. This makes for easier slam auctions. After the normal 2, we might be struggling to set a fit and make a slam try.
LARSSON: 3♠. Forcing, I hope. I give up the hearts to emphasize the quality of my spade suit.
BIRD: 3♠. Just in case partner is in any doubt whether 2 would be forcing, I will lean towards rebidding the seven-card suit.
Tim was not alone in feeling that we should have opened 2♣.
COPE: 3♠. I feel like abstaining from this question, as I can see no good reason why I did not open 2♣. I fulfil the requirements of a 2♣ opener, having a nine-trick hand and two defensive tricks outside of my long suit. How do you possibly expect me to develop this hand having opened 1♠? So, now I have to guess whether partner has, say A and a black-suit ace, which would be perfect cards for slam, or just a bunch of points in diamonds. At least if I bid 3♠, which is forcing since partner promised values for the 2 bid, I leave open the slender chance that partner will bid 4♣.

At the table, it probably would not have mattered what you bid. Partner will jump to 5 at his next turn and, assuming you pass, you will collect your +400 opposite ---/Jxx/AQJ10xxxx/Q10, losing just one trick in each minor.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.34

The panel appears to be split between two choices, but closer examination reveals that it is divided 14-8 between those who think a simple club raise is not enough, and those who opt for that choice. The panelists all score fairly well, but almost half of competition entrants earn an egg, many for bidding hearts at some level. One reason for posing this problem was to see how people coped when there was no apparent cue-bid raise available. Some improvise…

BROCK: 2. Tricky. I don’t suppose I have an UCB available. It feels too good for 3♣ but I don’t want to go past 3NT.
ROBSON: 2. Tough with no cue-bid, although probably 2 should be the cue. It feels like 2 ticks most of the boxes, including playability if partner passes, and economy so partner can bid a four-card major.
COHEN: 2. Hopefully forcing. It should be, as I have no cue-bid available. This also leaves room for partner to bid a four-card heart suit.
Some use 2 as the cue-bid in their methods, whilst others usually have transfer advances available, but most come to the same conclusion.
DE WIJS: 2. Cue-bid. Sorry, I don't feel like improvising or checking the system. I have faith in the wisdom of the creators, so I'll make a cue-bid to check for 4/3NT.
LORENZINI: 2. For me, 2 is a cue-bid in this auction, showing club support and at least an invitational hand.
Most just settle for a natural, forcing bid in the absence of any specific methods.
BOCCHI: 2. Over a natural 2♣, I advance with a forcing 2.

HULT: 2. I usually play transfers here but, if I’m not, then I guess 2 is forcing.

COPE: 2. Passing the time of day to see what happens next. We have a decent hand for clubs, but we may belong in 3NT if partner has a hand such as AKxx/x/xx/KQJxxx. The problem may be on the next round of bidding.
SAELENSMINDE: 2. I would like to have better diamonds, but I am trying to find a heart fit. I am bidding 3♣ over 2♠ or 2NT.
MARSTON: 2. Why not show my hand?
LAVEE: 2. This leaves room for partner to bid a cheap 2.
The other major group on the panel grumpily settled for a simple raise.
MEYERS: 3♣. I have the perfect hand to cue-bid showing club support, but there is no cue-bid available. I'll do the next best thing and raise.
WANG: 3♣. I have nothing to cue-bid.
DELMONTE: 3♣. There are not a lot of good-looking options, much like playing at the local club 🙂
BRINK: 3♣. My hand is good enough to cue, but I don’t think I have a 2♠ transfer to show a good raise available in this panel’s system.
S. BALDYSZ: 3♣. I usually play 2 as artificial, forcing for one round, but without agreements I’ll settle for 3♣. Partner still might have extras and bid on, and we might even be able to find a heart fit.
SENSOY: 3♣. I show my club fit immediately.
David remembers the hand from the recent European Championships.
BIRD: 3♣. North is probably strong with spades, but it's not certain. Helgemo's original jump to 5♣ reminds me of an all-in bet at poker. I would bid 2, if I wasn't so worried about an eventual diamond lead from partner.
There were a few mavericks who found different solutions to the ‘3♣ is not enough’ problem:
MOULD: 3♠. Splinter. This loses a 4-4 heart fit, but I can see no rational way to find that as I ain't bidding 2 or 2 on this. I owe partner a trump for this really, but 3♣ just isn't enough so I am forced into it.
SUNDELIN: 4♣. Who guesses best?
We should not be surprised by now to find Jessica getting more out of her 13 cards than anyone else. Indeed, North’s 1♣ opening is not a standard 2+♣ variety, but Polish, which includes any 18+ hand, and this bid really sticks it to North when he has that hand.
LARSSON: 5♣. With no specific agreements, this seems like a reasonable bid.

As David mentioned, Geir Helgemo bid 5♣ in the Euros and found North with a balanced 20-count including AKQxxx spades, but not quite enough to bid on his own at the five-level. 5♣-X cost 300 when partner had a motley Jxx/xx/xx/KQ10xxx. Curiously, East overcalled 2♣ (rather than pass or 3♣) at both tables in the match I watched. I think Jessica picks up 4 IMPs against every other panel member.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.67

The third big majority from the panel and, although more than a quarter of competition entrants agreed with their choice, it was only the third-most popular choice amongst competitors. One problem with this deal is that the defensive methods being used at the tables in the match where I saw it played varied, but I had to specify a system to make it a fair problem. By arming everyone with a penalty double, I suppose I should not be surprised that most panelists took advantage and wielded it. Even so, two large groups of competitors still chose to bid some number of diamonds.

BOCCHI: Dbl. I hope to hear three passes. -:))
BRINK: Dbl. When they make a mistake, I double.
ROBSON: Dbl. One can dream. All other actions are gross underbids.
MARSTON: Dbl. And good luck to you, sir.

DE WIJS: Dbl. You never know. We may get to defend this, but double and then bidding diamonds is fine too.

WANG: Dbl. I start by showing my points, and I will probably then bid 3 on the next round.
SENSOY: Dbl. For penalties. If partner removes my double, I can bid the diamonds.
LAVEE: Dbl. We could easily make game, and they could get crushed in 1NT-X if they stay there. I think it's important to start with double and then likely bid 3 next.
DELMONTE: Dbl. Let’s start with Double and see what happens. I will bid 3 if the opportunity arises later.
LORENZINI: Dbl. I start with Double and will then arrange my bidding depending on what happens by the time it gets back to me.
BIRD: Dbl. I have some defense and don't see the need for a big pre-empt at this moment. I can choose how many diamonds to bid in a few moments.
COHEN: Dbl. If they were vulnerable, I might pass and hope to collect lots of 100's against 1NT. Not wanting to accept 50's, let me show a strong hand and then bid diamonds.
Alan remembers the hand from watching the England match at the European Championships in Madeira.
MOULD: Dbl. I can bid diamonds later. I think I have seen this hand: as North, Tom Townsend cutely bid 2♣ on a 4-4-0-5 9-count or something like that, when this hand then bid 3 after two passes, he bid 4. I still cannot see any rational alternative to double.
The Polish partnership are on the same wavelength.
S. BALDYSZ: Pass. At the moment, I pass and hope for the first nine tricks. If they transfer to spades, I can come in with 3 on the next round.
C. BALDYSZ: Pass. I play pass followed by three of a minor is stronger than a direct 3m.
A couple opted to start at the three-level…
COPE: 3. A tad too strong for this bid but, with the opponents non-vulnerable, I cannot consider passing to collect a penalty. Nor do I fancy a Double, which opens the door to them finding a fit.
SUNDELIN: 3. Could I please have a peak at the other hands? I have abandoned penalty doubles of 1NT, as someone always runs. I use double to show either one minor or a very good overcall in a major.
Our final two might actually have found the only way to go plus.
MEYERS: 4. I have eight tricks in my own hand, so 3 does not seem like enough. Double is an alternative, but I don't love doubling 1NT for penalty with a one-suited hand.
HULT: 4. I have no idea what ‘natural’ means although, without system, surely 4 must be forcing.
Playing with an unknown expect with no discussion, I am far from sure about that. And, do you really want it to be?

In the European Championship match I watched, one West passed and then came in with 3 after 2♣-P-2. Partner had Jxxx/x98xx/Q10xx, so he saved for -100 over North’s raise to 4 (which would have made 11 tricks). At the other table, West overcalled with an imaginative 3NT at his first turn, and the defenders had to be careful to beat it for a 2-IMP loss. Most partnerships play takeout doubles of natural two- and three-level overcalls. However, are you sure what your regular partner would make of a double after 1NT-(4)-?


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.03

Another convincing majority from the panel, whereas the two largest groups of competition entrants are split between the panel’s second choice and a bid considered totally inadequate by every expert. More than 40% of competitors registered a zero and fewer than 1-in-5 hit the top spot, so let’s find out why it was such a popular choice with our experts.

BOCCHI: 5♠. This shows a serious slam try with no heart control.
SAELENSMINDE: 5♠. Bid slam with a heart control, partner.
WANG: 5♠. Asking for a heart control.
S. BALDYSZ: 5♠. Asking for a control, as we might be losing the first two tricks in hearts.
LORENZINI: 5♠. Asking for a heart control. Partner has to bid 6♠ if he has second-round control and 5NT with first-round.
SENSOY: 5♠. This asks partner to bid slam if he does not have two heart losers.
MEYERS: 5♠. Asking partner for a heart control.
LARSSON: 5♠. Asking for a heart control, I hope.
HULT: 5♠. Asking for heart control.
LAVEE: 5♠. I think for most top partnerships, 4NT = Blackwood of some kind, 5 = slam try+ with a heart control, and 5♠ = slam try without a heart control.
COHEN: 5♠. Surely looking for heart control. No need to blast into slam since partner could have, say, AJ10xxx/Qx/KQx/xx or the like.
BIRD: 5♠. Partner has a 90% chance of a shortage in hearts, but it seems civilized to enquire on the matter.
Ishmael sums up the case for the majority.

DELMONTE: 5♠. This is the classic 5♠ bid, worried about having two losers in the opponents’ suit. Playing against Finn and Kevin, there is no guarantee that they have more than a seven-card fit!

The other major faction evidently don’t play against as many juniors as Ish…
ROBSON: 4NT. Keycard for spades. Surely the vulnerable opponents will have ten hearts.
DE WIJS: 4NT. I'm not prepared to bid 5♠ non-forcing, so I'll gamble a bit and assume partner has a heart control.
COPE: 4NT. This is one auction where a 5♠ bid should just be value-showing, and I am prepared to have been hoodwinked by the opps, as I am sufficiently confident that partner has at most a singleton heart. At least via 4NT, partner can tell us if they have a heart void, but I am never going to play this hand in less than 6♠.
MARSTON: 4NT. A good start!
They all seem sure that 4NT is RKCB, but Alan raises a specter…
MOULD: 4NT. RKCB, not minors, for me. If they have two heart tricks off it, so be it!
Whilst it is initially minors for both P.O. and Sally
SUNDELIN: 4NT. Would he overcall with AJ10xxx/Ax/Qx/Jxx? 4NT primarily asks for a minor-suit preference, but following with 5♠ changes the meaning. In other words, no RKCB available.
It is unclear to me how this differs from a direct 5♠, the meaning of which is at least clear.
BROCK: 4NT. For me, this is either minors or a general spade slam try without a heart control (when I go back to spades next).
At least Sally specifies that this sequence denies a heart control, which I assume means she has an alternative use for an immediate jump to 5♠.
BRINK: 6♠. Who knows?
The majority, apparently 😊

Whilst the panel touched on the question of whether 4NT should be RKCB or minors, the answer remains inconclusive. The other question, which we will perhaps manage to address sometime in the future, is whether 5♣ should be natural or a cue-bid agreeing spades. At the table, partner had AJ10xxxx/Qx/Qxxx/--- and the jump to 5♠ kept the partnership out of the hopeless slam. In the replay, though, South raised to 5 rather than just 4, and thus West was understandably persuaded to bid slam. The majority of the panel managed to avoid undoing their teammate’s good work.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 8.45

Along with Hand 1, I thought this was the trickiest problem this month, but it turned out to be the highest-scoring of the year so far. The panel produced a clear favorite, if not quite a majority, and the largest group of competitors also brushed this one aside to collect maximum marks. Sjoert sums us the feelings of many of the panel:

BRINK: Dbl. Sometimes I’m lucky.

MOULD: Dbl. Maybe I will survive! I do not see how I can pass this hand. I have admiration for those bidding 3 or 3NT.
DE WIJS: Dbl. Good problem. I will go for double and hope we don't end up in a 4-2 spade fit.
LAVEE: Dbl. This could end poorly, but passing might result in a missed vulnerable game. Their bidding suggests that we have a fit somewhere and, if they double spades, I can run to clubs.
Sophia reveals the way the Baldysz partnership works….
S. BALDYSZ: Dbl. A difficult hand, but I would hate to see the opponents psyching me out of a potential partscore/game. Double seems to be the least harmful of the options.
BROCK: Dbl. I will worry what to do over a 3♠ response later. When the opponents have a fit (which they should do here at red) then we do too, and it most likely isn’t spades.
HULT: Dbl. Not ideal, with only two spades, but this seems to give us the most options.
DELMONTE: Dbl. I double .... or pass .... Lol. If it had gone 2-P-P to me, I would bid a natural 2NT, but I can’t bid NT when they have raised. I think I would double (partner could have a good hand without a bid and I don’t want to miss a vulnerable game), but I don’t have to like it.
LORENZINI: Dbl. I am not sure what to do, so I will start with a Double to keep 3NT in the picture.
MEYERS: Dbl. Anything could be right on this hand, including Pass, but I guess I would Double and then think about it if partner bids spades.
BIRD: Dbl. No good answer is available. (Director: "You didn't find many on the other problems, either.") South's 3 seems to imply that he, at least, thinks we have a game on somewhere. I hope he is right.
It looks as if Sophia bids them and then Cathy has to make them.
C. BALDYSZ: Pass. Very difficult – I wish I could pretend the previous hand was the last of this month's set.
WANG: Pass. The singleton K is not good. I hope partner re-opens.
SENSOY: Pass. My club spots are poor and the K is unlikely to be worth anything.
COPE: Pass. I am sure I am being talked out of something, as partner probably has some values. If partner is, say, 4-3-3-3, will we have enough for 5♣? Maybe partner can re-open if they are 4/4 in the Majors, as they will know about my diamond shortage. It is simply too dangerous to take unilateral action, though I commend the courage of those who find a 3 bid, which is what my gut is telling me to try.
A couple of panelists went for the spectacular…
ROBSON: 3. Cheeky, I know, but I hate to be stolen from.
And Larry reveals his inner junior 😊
COHEN: 3NT. With my eyes closed, but somebody's got to bid it!
And I confess this would have been my choice.
MARSTON: 4♣. This looks like 5-5.
BOCCHI: 4♣. I bid my six-card suit and then my four-card suit if possible -:))
LARSSON: 4♣. Not very convinced, but that would be my choice.
SUNDELIN: 4♣. I lied.

All of the bidders would have ended in the same place, as partner held Axx/Qxxxxx/xxx/x. 4 is not quite cold but will make most of the time. Whether partner will back in with 3 if 3 is passed back to him is questionable, so the passers may be the only ones to lose a game swing.

Every striker likes to score on their debut, and Cedric Lorenzini has managed the bridge equivalent by leading the panel at his first attempt, alongside another relative newcomer, Erik Saelensminde, both scoring an impressive 78/80. Norberto Bocchi completes an all-European podium this month with 76/80.

The Expert Panel

Cedric LORENZINI4NT5422Dbl5♠Dbl78
Erik SAELENSMINDE3♣5422Dbl5♠Pass78
Norberto BOCCHI35422Dbl5♠4♣76
Ishmael DELMONTE35423♣Dbl5♠Dbl75
Simon HULT3♣543♣245♠Dbl75
Sally BROCK3♣543♣2Dbl4NTDbl74
David BIRD4NT543♠3♣Dbl5♠Dbl73
Alan MOULD35423♠Dbl4NTDbl73
Larry COHEN3NT5422Dbl5♠3NT72
Simon de WIJS4NT543♠2Dbl4NTDbl72
Sophia BALDYSZ3♣543♣3♣Pass5♠Dbl70
Daniel LAVEE3♣4NT43♣2Dbl5♠Dbl70
Murat SENSOY34NT423♣Dbl5♠Pass70
Wen Fei WANG34NT423♣Dbl5♠Pass70
Jessica LARSSON3543♠5♣Dbl5♠4♣68
Andrew ROBSON3♣5432Dbl4NT368
Paul MARSTON3NT4NT422Dbl4NT4♣67
Cathy BALDYSZ3543♠3♣Pass5♠Pass66
P.O. SUNDELIN35424♣34NT4♣66
Tim COPE3♣4NT43♠234NTPass65
Jill MEYERS3NT4NT43♣3♣45♠Dbl65
Sjoert BRINK2NT4NT43♣3♣Dbl6♠Dbl61
TOP SCORE3♣5422Dbl5♠Dbl 


HAND 1: 3♣ 10, 3/4NT 8, 3NT/5NT 6, 2NT 5, 6NT 2

HAND 2: 5 10, 4NT 7, 6 4, 4 2

HAND 3: 4 10, 4 5, 5♣ 4, 3/4♣ 2

HAND 4: 2 10, 3♣/3♠ 8, 3 6, 4♠ 2

HAND 5: 2 10, 3♠/5♣ 9, 4♣ 8, 3♣ 7

HAND 6: Dbl 10, 3NT 8, 4 7, 3 6, Pass 5, 5 3, 2 2

HAND 7: 5♠ 10, 4NT 6, 5♣ 5, 6♠ 4

HAND 8: Dbl 10, Pass/4♣ 8, 3/3NT 6, 5♣ 2


HAND 1: 5.67

HAND 2: 3.46

HAND 3: 4.00

HAND 4: 5.47

HAND 5: 4.34

HAND 6: 5.67

HAND 7: 4.03

HAND 8: 8.45

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

6 comments on “September Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge”
  1. I agree these are fun quizzes - but the scoring is weird as someone else has pointed out - it surely should be based on what the experts say - so the 1st hand should award 10 points to the 3 diamond bid which got more votes than the 3 club bid.

  2. bizarre scoring !
    already in the first hand 3 clubs (10 points 6 votes?)
    is an obvious distortion of the hand, and what's next after this freak
    the only correct bid three diamonds (8 points 9 votes) it can also be 4NT or artificial 2NT (F)
    even worse on the 5, normal 3 clubs only 7 points (8 votes) and some freak 3S (splinter?) 9 point (1 vote)
    the splinter must have four+ trump cards, otherwise it's just shortness
    same nonsense 4 clubs (1vote & 9 points)
    like i shot 5 clubs ! at least he guessed what would happen next 🙂