October Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 2022-10

Welcome to the tenth set of 2022, and a new record entry this month, with more than 3,200 BBO members taking part in the competition. That is an increase of more than 50% on the previous record, established back in May this year. Welcome, everyone!

I am pleased to report that members of our expert panel continued to collect medals during the second week of the World Championships in Wroclaw, Poland. Three of those medals were gold: Sjoert Brink and Simon de Wijs, who had played on opposing teams in the Bermuda Bowl final earlier in the year, became World Mixed Teams champions as teammates. Michal Klukowski, another member of the Bermuda Bowl champions, won the World Mixed Pairs, more than 3% clear of the field, playing with his wife Justyna Zmuda.

Simon de Wijs, Sjoert Brink and Michal Klukowski
Other panelists in the medals were Jessica Larsson (silver in the Mixed Teams), Cedric Lorenzini (bronze in the Mixed Teams), Sally Brock (bronze in the Mixed Pairs) and Alan Mould (bronze in the Seniors Teams). Alan Mould also reached the final of the Seniors Pairs, whilst Cathy Baldysz, Erik Saelensminde, Cedric Lorenzini, Ola Rimstedt and Andrew McIntosh all reached the Mixed Pairs final. Congratulations to all members of our panel on their achievements in Wroclaw.

Our guest panelist this month is Englishman Peter Law. Peter’s perfect 80/80 in the August competition earned him his third win, having previously led the field in both May and June last year. In June 2021, he became the first contestant to score a perfect 80/80. One other (Hanoi Rondon) later matched that achievement and two more did so last month, so there have now been five perfect scores and Peter has two of them. It is also worth noting that, up to this point, no panelist has yet scored more than 79/80. Peter has played bridge for over 50 years in congresses and national knockouts, also representing his county (Kent) regularly. He discovered online bridge during lockdown. He is the co-pioneer of the strong club system that he plays with Patrick Collins, where a 1dx opening promises a four-card major.

We are delighted to welcome another new panelist this month. and he is a man who will need no introduction as you probably all play some convention or other that he invented. If not, you will certainly all follow bidding principles that he pioneered, as he is one of the most innovative bidding theorists of the last 40 years. The winner of multiple North American titles, many in partnership with one of our long-time panelists, please welcome to the panel the one and only Marty Bergen.

Hand 4 this month comes from one of our regular panelists, Barnet Shenkin. If you have a hand that you think would produce an interesting panel discussion, please send me details. Remember that the best problems offer three or more sensible actions rather than being a straight choice between two.

We have a majority choice from the panel on five deals and bids with at least 10 supporters on the other three, so that should mean that it’s an easy set and everyone will score well, yes? Well, the competition readers are in agreement too this month, at least with themselves. We have had a couple of hands this year where a single action attracted more than 50% of the competitors’ votes, but not many. This month we have two around 50%, one over 60% and one with a whopping 75%. The bad news, though, is that only one of those four bids was also the most popular choice with the panelists. And, no, that wasn’t the one with a 75% vote from competitors.

Voting with the majority of competition entrants on all eight deals this month would have scored only 50/80, although the average score was 44.87, up from 41.1 last month. Clearly, there is plenty to learned from our expert panel, so let’s find out what they have to say.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.22

This is the other half of the deal from Hand 3 in Set 2022-5, when the panel voted strongly for 3 on partner’s hand. Having previous promised no values at all with your 2♠ response, you clearly have a good hand in context, but that doesn’t mean it is obvious what to bid now. Although this was the lowest-scoring hand of the month, more than a quarter of competitors agree with the majority of the panel and pick up top marks. Slightly more, though, choose a bid that most of the panel agree is definitely not right. Perhaps even more amazing is that over 10% pass partner’s cue-bid of the opponents’ suit, and if I could award Pass less than zero that would clearly be justified.

ZIA: 4♣. Nothing complicated needed here.
MOULD: 4♣. I cannot think of anything more intelligent to do....
BROCK: 4♣. This seems the natural thing to do.
MARSTON: 4♣. No clear destination. I must have something for this bid.
COHEN: 4♣. I have too much (7 HCP all "working") to retreat to 3♠. I can't bid 3NT without a diamond stopper, so that leaves this natural bid.
HULT: 4♣. I have nothing to be ashamed of here. I show my other suit.
BIRD: 4♣. I don't see that 3 necessarily agrees spades. Perhaps clubs will suit partner better.
BOCCHI: 4♣. In my opinion, a change of suit is forcing to game after partner’s cue-bid.
COPE: 4♣. I have already limited my hand with the 2♠ bid, and now partner is showing a strong hand without four spades and without a five-card heart suit. I am worth a forward-going bid and will leave the final decision to partner.
MEYERS: 4♣. I think partner is first and foremost asking if I happen to have a diamond stopper, or at least somewhere exploratory. Whatever partner is asking for, I cannot bid 3NT, but I have values that he does not know about so I am bidding my other four-card suit.

Sophia, Cathy and Daniel all offer concise summaries of why 4♣ is the most popular choice.
S. BALDYSZ: 4♣. I think 3♠ would be an absolute minimum, but I have 7 HCP so I am showing partner what I have.
LAVEE: 4♣. 3 typically shows a strong hand without four spades. Rebidding 3♠ would be the weakest action. 4♣ is forward going and natural.

C. BALDYSZ: 4♣. I promised zero points, although partner will usually expect 3-4, but I have 7. This is natural and shows only four spades, while promising a maximum for my 2♠ bid. Perfect!

The largest minority choose to show their values with a return cue-bid.
FREDIN: 4. I have much extra. Hopefully partner will understand that I don’t have extra length in the majors.

Some even have a plan for the next round too.
ROBSON: 4. I have a good hand in context. 4 is choice of games. I'll pass any game bid.
LAW: 4. For a hand that has so far promised nothing, there is now an "embarrass de richesses". 4 conveys this as well as asking partner to choose the final destination.
McINTOSH: 4. I'm expecting a big balanced hand without four spades or a diamond stop opposite. I could have held nothing, so must make a positive move, but I will pass partner's next bid. Hoping for something like KQx/AQJx/Jx/AKxx, when we can play 4♠, or Kxx/AKJxx/Qx/AKxx when 4 will be fine.

But P.O. points out that we may be endplaying partner…
SUNDELIN: 4. To let him guess. Easy if he has spade support, but what does he do with something like Kx/AKQx/xxx/AKJT?
We may just survive playing game in the Moysian heart fit opposite that.

The next group want to keep all options open…
BERGEN: 3. I'm too strong for 3♠, and we might belong in 3NT, so will make this economical lie.
DE WIJS: 3. Waiting. I am sure to not have 4-4 in the majors, so partner won't be misled. With four hearts and a diamond stopper, I expect 3NT from partner now.
WANG: 3. All weak hands bid 3♠, so this shows values and should be forcing to game. This keeps open the option of all game contracts.

Only one panelist settled for rebidding spades, and he did so without explanation.

Partner’s hand from the May competition was KQx/Ax/Ax/AK10xxx. The panel voted strongly for 3, most deeming the hand too strong for a non-forcing 3♣. 6♣, 6NT and probably 6♠ all make, but who will get there? Almost certainly, the 4♣ bidders will reach slam. As for the rest: what will the 3bidders do when partner bids 4♣ next? Will partner jump to 6♣ with no certainty of a fit opposite those who bid 4 intending to pass partner’s next bid? Only Erik’ 3♠ bid seems certain to miss slam.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.91

This is quite a complex question. Firstly, do we show our long suit or support partner’s suit? Is there a way to do both? Secondly, if we do support partner, how should we do so? Not quite a majority on the panel, but a clear favorite nonetheless, and almost a third of competitors agree with them and collect 10s. There are plenty of marks to go around here, but two significant groups of competitors (almost 40% in all) get no support from the panel (and no marks), either for raising clubs without forcing to game or for passing. We start with those panelists who bid their suit.

SUNDELIN: 4. Let’s hope this won't end the auction...
MOULD: 4. What on earth has happened to the spades? I cannot believe the bidding is going to end here, even if a new suit at the four-level isn't forcing!!?! Next, I will support clubs, and that at least gives partner some idea of my hand.

Some are actively looking for slam with various degrees of enthusiasm.
ZIA: 4. Somebody will bid and I'll probably claw my way to six of a minor.
ROBSON: 4♦. It’s where I live. I am hoping for a diamond-agreeing 4, over which I'll try a void-showing 5♠!
BOCCHI: 4. Hopefully, partner bids 4 and I can then bid 5♣ -:))
HULT: 4. I like my hand. If partner has something in diamonds, we might make a lot.
COPE: 4. The spade suit seems to have gone missing in action, so maybe partner is 4-1-2-6 shape or similar, in which case I would expect the hand to play better in diamonds than in clubs. If partner tries 4♠ we can revert to 5♣, which would still have excellent play. Again, if there is a slam available, diamonds look like the better strain, and if anyone is going to bid them it has to be me.
LAVEE: 4. Partner knows we have a fit somewhere, as the opponents have advertised a nine-card or bigger heart fit.

Only Marty chooses game in diamonds without consulting partner.
BERGEN: 5. Partner has 0-1 heart and fewer than five spades, so he doesn't rate to be too short in diamonds.

Some decide to show both suits at the same time.
BIRD: 4NT. Choose a minor, partner, and allow me a brief snooze as dummy.

LAW: 4NT. I'm hoping this shows club support with a diamond suit, which should help partner make the correct decision over 5 if it comes.

S. BALDYSZ: 4NT. I want to show diamonds and a club fit. This seems better than a direct jump to 5♣.

The rest all choose to support clubs, with some settling just for game…
MARSTON: 5♣. Trying to lock in a game. Happy to gamble on horses, but not on slam.
BROCK: 5♣. I’m not sure what 4NT would mean here. If South had bid 4, I think it would be this hand-type.
DE WIJS: 5♣. It's going to be impossible for partner to know when to bid slam if I bid 4 now, so I won't tell the opponents how strong I am. Who knows, they might double me. 4 wouldn't be forcing for me, so that's not an option.
WANG: 5♣. Support is always important. Maybe we can make 6♣.

While others are more ambitious…
FREDIN: 4. A good club raise.
COHEN: 4. It is easy to envision a club slam, so I need to show a strong raise. Just ♣AQxxxx and the K gives me play (assuming the likely heart shortage).
MEYERS: 4. I have a fit with partner, so I am not going to be interjecting my own suit. And where are the spades? I think partner is something like 4-1-2-6, so I am going to show interest.
McINTOSH: 4. My first thought was 5♣, but I feel I'm too slam suitable. I don’t think 4 would be forcing, and 4NT is RKC rather than both minors, so I'm just trying to show a good raise. The hand may not play brilliantly in clubs if partner is 4-1-2-6, but I'm not going to worry about that.

None of the panel and few competitors were looking to defend on this hand. And quite rightly too: unless partner finds an unlikely spade lead, you can get only two aces against a heart contract. You are, however, cold for slam in either minor, as partner had xxx/x/Kxx/AQJxxx. Those who start with 4 will surely hear a heart cue from partner and will then be off to the races. Over 4NT, partner bids 5 and you will surely raise, knowing he has short hearts. Things are a bit trickier if you start with 4: how does partner show interest with three low spades? Those who just bid game are likely to play there.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.41

Easily the biggest majority from the panel this month, and not far from unanimity. Whilst nearly a third of competitors agree with the panel, they were not the largest group. That group broke one of the golden rules of Blackwood, advancing with 4NT despite having an uncontrolled suit, and are perhaps fortunate to score even 3/10.

WANG: Pass. The five-level is not safe.
ROBSON: Pass. We could be down in 4♠, including three fast heart losers.
BOCCHI: Pass. 4♠ shows a bad hand and bad controls. Opposite something like KQxxx/xxx/Q/KJxx we could go down in 4♠,
S. BALDYSZ: Pass. It seems a shame to pass, but if partner has something like KQxxx/xxx/xx/KQJ then our plus score may be in jeopardy even at the four-level. On the other hand, if partner has Kxxxx/AKx/Qxx/xx we can make slam.
BIRD: Pass. Partner can have KQxxx/9xx/Qx/KQx, when we will have four top losers. My hand is not that good.
FREDIN: Pass. Hopefully it makes.

A number of panelists were not happy with the original Jacoby bid…
ZIA: Pass. I'm not sure if this is worse than the 2NT bid, but that may take the cake. Don’t we play splinters?
KLUKOWSKI: Pass. This is an easy pass, although I would have much preferred to start with a splinter on this hand.
MEYERS: Pass. This is not really a fair problem, as I would not bid 2NT with this hand. I would tell partner right off that I have a stiff club. I have no idea what partner has other than a balanced minimum, and partner has no idea what I have other than a four-card FG spade raise. I can't see not having bid 4♣ over 1♠.
BROCK: Pass. And change my methods. I can’t guarantee the five-level, and I can’t bid the hand properly now without pinpointing a heart lead if that is the killer.
HULT: Pass. I prefer to play in a way where I can show short clubs below the five-level. Here we have to pass.

I am surprised as I thought most pairs these days played splinters as limited to just game values, and thus this hand would be too strong.
LAVEE: Pass. The 4♠ rebid in standard Jacoby 2NT is horrible - the bid should not exist. Partner has advertised a bad opening hand, but now there is no room to find out more info thanks to the 4♠ rebid. Why can't Opener have KQxxx/xxx/Qx/KQx?
MOULD: Pass. A complete guess. I guess Pass.
DE WIJS: Pass. This is a complete guess. I'll go low and trust partner not to bid 4♠ too often in this auction.
McINTOSH: Pass. This is not a great hand for the method, as Kxxxx/AKx/Qx/xxx is an easy slam, whereas KQxxx/Jxx/Qx/KQx is off at the five-level.
COHEN: Pass. If you start with three low or Jxx diamonds and then assign partner the ♠KQ, slam is unlikely. Also, there is no good way to find out, so why risk reaching the five-level, which could easily fail.
COPE: Pass. True, partner may have a perfect hand and yet still a minimum, but I am not safe at the five-level opposite imperfect hands such as KQxxx/Jxx/Qx/KQx. If anyone is thinking of bidding on, they should complain about using Jacoby if uncertain what to do when they get a minimum response.

Marty highlights another problem with moving…
BERGEN: Pass. This definitely might be wrong, but all alternatives have flaws.

So, what about the various alternatives?
If partner then cue-bids 5, do you then bid slam? Might he not have KQxxx/Kx/Qxx/Kxx, when you are off two aces, or KQxxx/Axx/xxx/Qx, when you will need to find the K onside just to make 11 tricks? Yes, says Paul.
MARSTON: 5♣. Will bid slam if partner can make a control bid in hearts.

Or, what about…
LAW: 5. There is a slight risk that the five-level is too high, but lots of minimum hands opposite will make a small slam in spades.
Does 5 not deny a club control, though, so that partner will sign off in 5♠ with something like KQxxx/AKx/Qx/xxx expecting there to be two fast club losers?

4NT is no better, as what will you do when partner bids 5♠, showing two keys plus the ♠Q? Can he not still have KQxxx/xxx/Qx/Axx, when you are off two top hearts? At the table, he had KQxxx/Ax/xxx/QJx, so you had a loser in each side suit, and thus only the passers would have gone plus on the deal.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 7.69

This turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, with three-quarters of the panel and more than half of competitors simply shrugging their shoulders and bidding game. Of course, the reason that Barnet originally sent it to me as a problem is because the apparently-obvious 4♠ bid was not the winning action when the deal arose.

FREDIN: 4♠. Weird.
BOCCHI: 4♠. What else?
BERGEN: 4♠. I would have overcalled 1NT. At this point, how can I not bid game?
ROBSON: 4♠. Partner surely can't have less than AT9xxx of spades and out, or possibly JT9xxx and a queen. Looks like three losers.
Your counting is obviously more optimistic than mine, Andrew
HULT: 4♠. I think there is a good chance of this making.

A couple take the Little Red Riding Hood approach…
COHEN: 4♠. I give partner lots of leeway to "pre-balance", but I can't do less than bid game. Nor can I do more, since he didn't overcall the first time.
BIRD: 4♠. I'm not looking for a slam, since I expect him to overcall with ♠Jxxxx and two aces. What use will 3 be, facing a passed hand? (Except that it collects 10 points here...)
SUNDELIN: 4♠. As he is apparently recommending a spade lead, but he didn't overcall 1♠, he is very unlikely to have a side ace.

Some admit they have given up trying to work out what partner is doing…
MOULD: 4♠. I have absolutely no idea what partner is trying to show. The only vaguely rational thing I can come up with is 4♠ and 5+♣. That feels like game to me, so I bid it.
BROCK: 4♠. I have no idea what to expect, but he surely can’t have a Yarborough and can’t have more than one heart. Just two minor suit queens give game decent play, so there is no point at all in inviting.
ZIA: 4♠. If it's a dream sequence it will make, but if it's a nightmare then partner just bid to go for 1100 with xx/x/xxxxx/xxxxx. I expect something like Axxxx/---/xxxxx/Jxx
Those are some wild nightmares, but your partners clearly play the dummy better than mine!

LAVEE: 4♠. This feels like a cross-ruff hand. Declarer might have trouble getting nine tricks in no-trumps.

Some do try to work out what is going on.
MEYERS: 4♠. I think partner has something like Jxxxxx of spades (not good enough to overcall) and four of one of the minors. Or, maybe ♠J10xxx and Axxxx in a minor, something that partner did not feel comfortable overcalling on his first turn.
McINTOSH: 4♠. Sorry partner! I am not sure what the delayed overcall shows, but I will disregard both the scoring system and partner’s long-term feelings and blast a game. Is something like xxxxxx/---/Qxxx/Qxx too much to hope for? Probably.
COPE: 4♠. Depending on whether we play OBAR bids, partner can have just a pre-balancing hand (with OBAR in play), or a real hand which elected not to bid over 1♣ because of their strength in that suit. Even opposite a real hand, slam may be no good thing, and I would not be looking for a bottom at MPs, but game must have good play even opposite a minimum hand.
DE WIJS: 4♠. I remember this hand... Still, I think bidding less than 4♠ is too tough.

Some did settle for an invitational raise (and as I cannot see a difference between 3♣, 3 and 3♠ I gave them all the same mark).
LAW: 3♠. I would have preferred to get this hand off my chest earlier with a 1NT overcall, so I now have to work out what partner is up to. No 1♠ overcall, and yet apparently worth a vulnerable 2♠, so a possibility therefore is a distributional hand with weak spades and some minor points eg something like xxxxx/--/Qxx/AQxxx. I feel I'm just so good in context that I'm worth an invitational raise, and hope this doesn't punish partner for their enterprise.

While some thought even that was too much.
WANG: Pass. It’s matchpoints. Let’s make sure of our plus score and not undo partner’s good work to get us into the auction.
SHENKIN: Pass. I know partner is pre-balancing.

S. BALDYSZ: Pass. Awfully conservative perhaps, but I think I'll pass. Partner needs a really shapely hand, in which case he could have bid on the first round. Even if he has two aces, partner will be a trick short in 4♠ on a trump lead.

And Paul is all alone in making a slam try.
MARSTON: 4♣. Partner must surely have the ♠A. Why bid on nothing?

At the table, partner had J10xxxx/x/Qxx/xxx, so there were four losers when South led his partner’s suit. Scoring +140 was worth more than 80% of the matchpoints. Should we really be too surprised? Curiously, a number of the hands quoted by 4♠ bidders also seemed to have four likely losers.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.86

This hand produced the largest vote we have ever had for a single action, with more than three-quarters of competition entrants choosing 3NT. That means that only about 1-in-19 competitors scored top marks by agreeing with two-thirds of the panel. Let’s find out why so many of our experts think it is too early to shut up shop.

ZIA: 3♣. Looking to hear 3 from partner. This is a big hand with the right fit.
HULT: 3♣. KQ is a strong holding, I need to show that clubs might be an option.
ROBSON: 3♣. This is cheap and allows for the likely continuation of 3-3♠, which adequately expresses my collection.
BERGEN: 3♣. I love economical bids and strong suits.
C. BALDYSZ: 3♣. Saving as much space as possible in the bidding.
BROCK: 3♣. I want to keep things low as this strong doubleton could be key. I would have opened 1NT, BTW.
FREDIN: 3♣. The KQ of clubs are nice cards.

MEYERS: 3♣. I may only have two clubs, but they are mighty and I want to hear what partner bids next.

WANG: 3♣. Partner could have ♣AJxxxx. He’s not going to rebid a broken six-card suit, so it’s up to me to show some support.
S. BALDYSZ: 3♣. I could be a lot worse for my 2 bid, and partner may be looking for something more than 3NT. My diamond suit isn't very good (unless partner has KJ or J10), but if he has Axxxxx in clubs he will not repeat them unless I show some support.
LAVEE: 3♣. Slam is possible but I’ll need cooperation from partner and for them to have the right hand.
COPE: 3♣. There is no need to rush into 3NT in case partner has a heart stopper such as Qxx. Opposite Ax/Qxx/Kx/AJxxx, we would be happy to play 5♣. Replace the Q with the A, and now 6♣ looks like the top spot.
DE WIJS: 3♣. And 3NT next. I don't see a big downside to trying a bit for slam
McINTOSH: 3♣. I would have opened a strong NT with this, and now I'm not sure how to develop it having not done so. I will bid 3♣ now, just in case the fillers are useful for higher things, but shut up shop with 3NT next.
KLUKOWSKI: 3♣. Perhaps?

Pete sums up for the majority and earns ‘Comment of the Month’ honors.
LAW: 3♣. Bert at the garage can't see a problem and bids 3NT. He may well be right but let's investigate the possibility of a minor-suit slam as we have the space afforded by the system. After all, that’s what it's for, isn't it?

A few settle for highlighting potential heart weakness for 3NT.
COHEN: 3♠. Worth one little noise to say which Major I have cards in. Who is to say partner wasn't stuck with something like: A10x/Jxx/KJ/AJxxx? Let's focus on the heart problem to steer this away from 3NT when it is right to do so.

Only a handful decided they have already heard enough.
MOULD: 3NT. Particularly at matchpoints, nothing else would occur to me. BTW, I wouldn't have started from here: this is a 1NT opening for me.
BIRD: 3NT. My main reason for bidding 3NT is that it is totally obvious.
…said The Abbot
BOCCHI: 3NT. On this hand, we would be better playing a conventional method to show whether we are minimum or have extra values.
MARSTON: 3NT. Many things are possible. At least this is practical.

P.O is happy with the strain, but doesn’t think 3NT is quite enough.
SUNDELIN: 4NT. Not RKCB, if anyone thought so. Just a hand too strong for 3NT.

David was right in that the correct bid was ‘obvious’. At least, it was to two-thirds of the panel. At the table, partner had Axx/Axx/Kxx/AJxx so there were 13 tricks in diamonds or NT. Continuing 3♣-3-3♠ looks like a good way to start the journey to a high-scoring contract. Maybe partner will have one more go over 3NT, but it surely risks stopping embarrassingly in game.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.74

What sort of deal is this? If it is a slam hand, then we probably want to agree diamonds now and start investigation. If it is a game hand, though, do we not want to keep the possibility of playing in spades alive? There is not quite a majority for any single action from the panel and competition entrants suggest a record-tying 24 alternatives, with less than 10% picking up maximum marks. Let’s start with the handful of panelists who choose to keep all options open:

ROBSON: 2. Classic third suit forcing. I am keen to hear if partner has any cheap spade preference.
S. BALDYSZ: 2. This is a one-round force and allows us to investigate whether 4♠ or 5 is the better game. If partner has extra values, we can still get to slam.
BROCK: 2. The alternative would be 4♣, but I think that locks us into diamonds too much. If I then bid spades, it will be a cue-bid. 2 can always be less than four here, so I don’t think I can get into trouble.
COHEN: 2. I have to start with some forcing bid. Yes, there are many modern methods to cope with this problem, but in plain old standard let's just keep the ball moving.

Andrew had an alternative route to a similar end.
McINTOSH: 3♣. Forcing to game without four hearts. This is hardly ideal, but don't want to lock into diamonds with a 4♣ splinter in case 4♠ is best: something like Qx/QJx/KJxxxx/QJx. Will I now miss a slam oppo x/Kxx/KJxxxx/Axx? I hope not.

Whilst David was alone in concentrating primarily on spades.
BIRD: 3♠. When Alan Mould was conductor of the ‘Bridge Magazine’ bidding panel, he expressed hurtful amazement that I regarded 3♠ as non-forcing. 'Not nowadays!' he said. Well, I'll risk it.

The rest all agreed diamonds in one way or another.
HULT: 4♣. I give up spades and make a slam try in diamonds. I don’t need much for slam to be good.
WANG: 4♣. Splinter.
FREDIN: 4♣. Splinter. Looking for a diamond slam.
C. BALDYSZ: 4♣. I play 3 forcing with most partners but, absent that option, splintering seems the most practical way forward.
MEYERS: 4♣. If 4 is RKCB I would bid it, otherwise I’d splinter with 4♣.
COPE: 4♣. I am prepared to carry this hand past 3NT, and perhaps also rule out a spade contract with a splinter agreeing diamonds. Tougher at MP if there is no slam available.
DE WIJS: 4♣. A jump to 4 should be forcing, but I'm not risking it.
LAVEE: 4♣. Jumping to 4NT should be quantitative. I think the options are 3♣ (art, GF) or 4♣ (Splinter). I'm a big fan of splinters. Bidding 3♣ might make things difficult to bid blackwood for diamonds later.
LAW: 4♣. In principle, I don't like to splinter with a kingleton, but this looks the best way forward to agree diamonds and make a slam try.

A few also agree diamonds but without showing their shortage:
MOULD: 4. Forcing in my world.
BOCCHI: 4NT. Asking for aces, old style.
MARSTON: 4NT. If partner has two key cards, I can bid 6.
BERGEN: 4NT. If I can keycard with 4NT or 4, that's my choice. If not, I'd bid 2, which I believe should be third-suit game forcing.
ZIA: 4NT. If this is RKC for diamonds. Otherwise, I would start with 2, forcing, then Blackwood later. I don't make a 4♣ splinter as I don’t want to give away the heart lead on the way to slam.

At the table, partner had Qx/KQx/KJxxxx/Jx, so you wanted to stop in 4♠, as a singleton spade lead holds you to ten tricks in diamonds. You would have made 11 tricks in spades even though diamonds split 3-0, as South has no entry to deliver a ruff. David’s 3♠ certainly goes plus, and the 2 and 3♣ bidders probably do too. Everyone else can bemoan their luck.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.89

Another big majority from the panel, and whilst over a fifth of competition entrants agreed with them, more than twice that number preferred the panelists’ minority choice.

ZIA: 4. I suppose I need to bid this suit sometime.
WANG: 4. I hope partner has some hearts.
COHEN: 4. A good partner will produce three of them.
LAW: 4. We don't need much from partner to make this a reasonable shot.

A number of panellists highlighted the flexibility suggested by our sequence…
LAVEE: 4. 4 could make when 5♣ goes down, but 5♣ could also make when 4 goes down. Hopefully, East knows to bid again when it's right, as I did not bid 4 over 3♠.
ROBSON: 4. Partner's 3NT would have been to play, I presume, so he could easily have absolute rubbish with four small clubs. Even so, passing is too defeatist. 4 can't be a command or I'd have done it earlier, so I am hoping partner will pull when it's right.
MEYERS: 4. I cannot have a heart one-suiter, so I think I am giving partner a choice of games showing five hearts.
KLUKOWSKI: 4. This now shows hearts and some other place to play.
BROCK: 4. Surely a flexible hand by now. 5♣ played by partner doesn’t sound like that good an idea, but I don’t expect partner to pass 4 with a singleton.
DE WIJS: 4. Interesting. Either game could be right. Partner will remove with a singleton heart here, but he will pass with two small. Anyway, let's hope he has better hearts than that.
McINTOSH: 4. This right-sides it and must, by now, show that other strains are possible. Not that this ever proves as useful to partner in practice as it should in theory.
MARSTON: 4. Surely only a suggestion, having not bid the suit earlier. We cannot avoid a deep heart loser in clubs, so we may as well play in 4 if he has three of them.
BERGEN: 4. I would have imperfectly bid 3NT over 3♠. My delayed 4 bid clearly denies a great suit.

A couple seem to have considered passing.
BIRD: 4. Should I pass, assuming that partner has an 8-high hand? No, I can hardly risk having three players laughing at me.
SUNDELIN: 4. It’s a guess whether he has xx/xxx/xxx/10xxxx or Qx/xx/Axxx/10xxxx.

Tim sums up the case for the majority.
COPE: 4. I think partner still has rights to pull this with a heart shortage, as I did not bid 4 over 3♠, but this could be the best game contract opposite one of the pointed queens and three low hearts.

Some preferred to simply raise partner’ suit.
BOCCHI: 5♣. I should probably have bid 3NT last time, rather than doubling again. Now bidding 4 would be too dangerous.
C. BALDYSZ: 5♣. Partner can pass with a flat yarborough, so I'm playing him for a yucky club hand without Jxxxxx and an ace, or else he would have bid 5♣ himself.
Would partner really pass 3♠-X with a balanced zero count? Scary!

HULT: 5♣. This could be a disaster, but I take my chances.

And two headed for the club game but still optimistically wanted to keep slam in the picture.
MOULD: 4♠. Yes, 4 could be right, but it just looks so deep. If partner actually has the magic A and six low clubs, they will know what to do. If they do, and the ♠A is wrong, so be it! I am sure I have seen this hand somewhere before.
S. BALDYSZ: 4♠. If partner has anything useful (a queen and an ace plus a doubleton heart) then we can make 6♣. On the other hand, if North has ♠AQ, even game might be going down. I'll be optimistic though, and still make room for a possible slam. Opponents could be bidding with very few points.

At the table, partner had xxx/xx/Qxx/J10xxx. With North holding the ♠A, ten tricks was your limit in clubs and you could make eight tricks in hearts or NT (South has the A). You could have gone plus (+100) by defending 3♠ or by passing 4♣ (+130). Don’t worry about going minus on this layout, though, as you will have plenty of company.


ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.17

The days when an opening bid facing an opening bid meant you should always bid game seem to have long gone. On this deal, we have a 13-count, but the largest group of panelists are happy to give up right here, and a number of others make one more try intending to pass 4♣ if that’s all partner can bid. Only a handful of panelists committed to game, hence the marking, which means that the 60%+ competitors who essayed 3NT, a contract ruled out by most of our experts, collect only 5/10.

BIRD: Pass. Good luck, partner!
COHEN: Pass. …and hope we make it. I can't imagine that any game is sensible opposite a weak hand with a lot of clubs.

ROBSON: Pass. I can't really see a game facing a minimum hand with clubs, clubs and more clubs. In particular, 3NT is surely misguided with just the ace and three rags in spades.

DE WIJS: Pass. For 3NT to be right, I would need a small miracle, and 11 tricks is always a lot. Let's try to go plus here.
WANG: Pass. Because it’s matchpoints.
LAW: Pass. It looks like 3NT would need clubs to run, which is odds against, so I will pass and hope for a plus score from 3♣.
McINTOSH: Pass. Pitiful, I know, but it feels like our last chance for a plus score a lot of the time. Opposite something like x/Kxx/Kxx/KQJTxx, 5♣ is great, but I will not shoot for that at pairs and, even if he has that, we can hope to score well against those going down in 3NT.
KLUKOWSKI: Pass. Perhaps only at matchpoints. The alternative is 4♣.

A couple objected to the 1 response, and perhaps that is a regional thing. To the English bidder, 1 just looks wrong as we see no reason not to bid your suits naturally when you have the strength to bid on facing a 1NT rebid. Not that it greatly affected the later auction here.
BERGEN: Pass. I VERY, VERY strongly disagree with 1. Now, since I'm a BIG believer in light initial action, and with no weak-two in clubs, partner's minimum here is VERY low, so Pass is clear.
LAVEE: Pass. Who Responds 1 in 2022? 3♣ seems like the last making contract and that might not even make if partner has one of my openers.

Some decided, in one way or another, to make at least one more try for game.
BROCK: 3. I’ll have one more go at encouraging him. If he bids 4♣, I’ll put the dummy down.
BOCCHI: 3♠. Partner’ shape is likely to be 1-3-2-7. We are worth one more try. Let’s see what he does next. I’ll pass if all he can do is bid 4♣.
COPE: 4♣. There is a premium on getting a plus score at matchpoints. Partner cannot have solid clubs, else they could have bid 3♠, so 3NT looks out of the question. With the bidding round the table, it would suggest that partner has a stiff spade, and not much diamond support, so probably a 1-3-2-7 shape, which makes the club game the only possibility. Opposite x/Axx/xx/KQJxxxx, would one not want to be in 5♣?

Others intend to bid game whatever partner does.
HULT: 3. I am not sure where to go here. Over partner’s 3♠ I will bid 3NT.
MARSTON: 3. Partner does not have solid clubs, so 3NT is out. We are on our way to 5♣ but, if partner raises to 4, that will do at matchpoints.
MOULD: 3♠. It won't get me anywhere, and I will raise clubs when partner bids them again, but it passes the time of day.
MEYERS: 3♠. I would not have bid 1, but I am not sure that makes a difference here. I don’t want to unilaterally bid 3NT so I will probe with 3♠.

The rest simply bid game.
ZIA: 5♣. This seems to be the most likely game.
FREDIN: 5♣. A pure guess.

And the Polish family are united in heading for a different target.
S. BALDYSZ: 3NT. Let’s hope partner has running clubs. I can't see myself in a different game.

Unsurprisingly, partner had x/Kxx/KJ/AJ9xxxx, so you could make nothing more than nine or ten tricks in clubs. An opening bid facing an opening bid does not always mean you have to bid game, particularly in these days of lighter and lighter opening bids, and certainly not at matchpoints.

Finally, after 22 months and with competition entrants having achieved the feat five times, we have a panelist with a perfect 80/80 score. Congratulations to our young Canadian star, Daniel Lavee.

The podium this month is completed by South Africa’s Tim Cope, with 77/80, and the USA’s Jill Meyers, with 76/80.

The Expert Panel

Daniel LAVEE4♣4Pass4♠3♣4♣4Pass80
Tim COPE4♣4Pass4♠3♣4♣44♣77
Jill MEYERS4♣4Pass4♠3♣4♣43♠76
Andrew ROBSON44Pass4♠3♣24Pass75
Zia MAHMOOD4♣4Pass4♠3♣4NT45♣75
Simon HULT4♣4Pass4♠3♣4♣5♣374
Sally BROCK4♣5♣Pass4♠3♣24373
Simon de WIJS35♣Pass4♠3♣4♣4Pass73
Michal KLUKOWSKI44Pass3♠3♣4NT4Pass73
Larry COHEN4♣4Pass4♠3♠24Pass72
Andrew McINTOSH44Pass4♠3♣3♣4Pass72
Peter FREDIN44Pass4♠3♣4♣45♣71
Marty BERGEN35Pass4♠3♣4NT4Pass70
David BIRD4♣4NTPass4♠3NT3♠4Pass69
Wen Fei WANG35♣PassPass3♣4♣4Pass69
Cathy BALDYSZ4♣5♣Pass4♠3♣4♣5♣3NT68
Norberto BOCCHI4♣4Pass4♠3NT4NT5♣3♠68
Pete LAW44NT53♠3♣4♣4Pass68
Alan MOULD4♣4Pass4♠3NT4♦4♠3♠65
P.O. SUNDELIN44Pass4♠4NT245♣65
Barnet SHENKIN4♣4PassPass3NT4♣5♣5♣63
Sophia BALDYSZ4♣4NTPassPass3♣24♠3NT63
Erik SAELENSMINDE3♠45♣4♠3♠4♣45♣59
Paul MARSTON4♣5♣5♣4♣3NT4NT4358
TOP SCORE4♣4Pass4♠3♣4♣4Pass


HAND 1 - 4♣ 10, 4 7, 3 6, 4♠ 3, 3♠ 2
HAND 2 - 4 10, 4NT 9, 4 8, 5♣ 7, 5 5, 6♣ 3
HAND 3 - Pass 10, 5♣/5 5, 4NT 3
HAND 4 - 4♠ 10, 3♣/3/3♠ 7, Pass 6, 4♣ 4
HAND 5 - 3♣ 10, 3♠ 6, 3NT 5, 4NT 4
HAND 6 - 4♣ 10, 4NT 9, 2 8, 4/3♣ 7, 3♠ 5, 4♠/5 2
HAND 7 - 4 10, 5♣ 6, 4♠ 5, Pass 4
HAND 8 - Pass 10, 3/3♠ 8, 4♣ 7, 5♣ 6, 3NT 5


HAND 1 - 4.22
HAND 2 - 4.91
HAND 3 - 5.41
HAND 4 - 7.69
HAND 5 - 4.86
HAND 6 - 5.74
HAND 7 - 5.89
HAND 8 - 6.17

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28 comments on “October Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge”

  1. The point here is we want to gamble on 4H instead of 5 of a minor. Chances for partner to pull is rare, only when he has really short hearts.

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

  2. Hello All,

    i got your mail and i noticed now that u putted answer 2 in board 3 and answer 3 in board 2 the two biddings in board 2 and 3 must be changed with each other, in hand 3 opponents bided 4 spades so no way i can say 4 diamond as u sent to me my answers in previous mail the 4 diamond bid was for board 2 which u sent to me my answer as i passed while this pass was for board 3 , and because of that mistake u gave me zero in each board while i should take 10 in each board and my final score should be 82 not 62 , so is there any way to correct it and publish the correction ?

    Mostafa Riad

    bbo nickname Tofty

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

  3. My score is 60. Not bad. Will try again this month.
    Remember, no three people at the same table ever agree.

  4. On hand 7 I'd be interested to know what the 4H bidders would bid with the reversed minors. If it is still 4H how will partner know when to pull?

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

    1. Your answers are emailed through to you once you submit your bids and scores are emailed through to all players, a day or two after the bidding closes.

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