November Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 2022-11


Welcome to the penultimate set of the 2022 competition. With the top half dozen competitors on the annual competition leader-board separated by just a handful of points, that race will go right down to the wire next month. I am also delighted to tell you that last month’s record entry of 3,244 has been eclipsed, with more than 3,500 BBO members taking part in this month’s competition. Boy, am I glad that I am no longer scoring entries by hand!

We have two guest panelists this month, both of whom scored a perfect 80/80 in the September competition. Sasha Cooper from The Netherlands says, “I have been playing bridge since a cute girl asked me to come to her beginners' classes 16 years ago. Inspired by the noble art of chess boxing, I am attempting to pioneer bridge Brazilian jujitsu, in which I am currently ranked as the world's #2 (of two players - "curse you, Stefano!").” Afshar Majeed from Kerala, India was one of the very first BBO members: “Although I have still not completed 5000 logins,” he says. “I got the ‘star emblem’ for representing India at the World Youth Team Championship in Toronto in 1997. I later restricted my bridge activities to local events to focus on my family-run business, but I am trying to make up lost grounds and I am back actively playing my favorite game.”

Thanks to one of our regular panelists, Alan Mould, for Hands 3 & 4 this month. 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.

I nearly switched out three of this month’s problems because I thought there was a single action that would attract a large and potentially unanimous vote from the panel. Indeed, those were three of the four that did produce majorities on the panel, although one not with the bid I expected. Did those three problems result in a high percentage of competitors scoring 10s? Two of them did (Hands 1 and 5) but the other did not (Hand 6). Voting with the largest group of competition entrants on every hand would have scored 56/80 this month (up from 50 last month). The average score this month is 48.52 (up from 44.87 in October), so beat that total and you outscored more than 1700 other competitors. Note that all hands this month are IMPs scoring.

There will be plenty to be learned from our expert panel’s comments, so let’s find out what they have to say.


HAND 1.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
4102048.8
26326.5
Pass2013.5
3207.4
1♠002.1
1NT001.2
2NT000.1
2♣000.1
3♣000.1
3000.1
200<0.1
400<0.1
7NT00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.74

Comfortably the month’s largest majority from the panel, this hand was something of a non-contest, for which I apologize (although perhaps competitors will be glad of the easy start). I had intended to make EW vulnerable, when jumping to 4would perhaps be less attractive, and I should also have made a raise to 3 weak (rather than invitational) to make that a reasonable alternative. As it was, there were really only two (and, for most of the panel and nearly half of competitors, only one) viable options, although competition entrants still managed to come up with 13 choices.

ROBSON: 4. I am not going to get involved in daisy-picking. Make 'em guess.
LARSSON: 4. Let’s put maximum pressure on the opponents.
WANG: 4. This is the most I can do to give the opponents maximum difficulty.
MOULD: 4. Playing five-card Majors, and at this vulnerability in particular, I do not see the problem. 4 looks clear to me.
MEYERS: 4. We are favourable, and I will let them figure it out. 4 rates to cause them the most problems.
BROCK: 4. I always raise to the four-level with five trumps.
ZIA: 4. My spade length makes this more attractive.
It should be no surprise to hear some panellists referencing The Law of Total Tricks when discussing this type of problem.
BERGEN: 4. Imperfect but, since not 5332, I will follow THE LAW.
COPE: 4. This is always pre-emptive and, although our four-card spade holding makes it less likely that the opposition might want to play 4♠, what else can we do? THE LAW is the law.
BRINK: 4. Following the Law of Total Disaster 🙂

COHEN: 4. At these colors and, with two doubletons and no junk (queens/jacks), I see no reason not to go to the proper LOTT level. Yes, if one of the doubletons were in spades, I'd feel better (making 4♠ a more realistic N/S target). Still, why can't partner have something normal, like xx/AKJxx/xxx/Axx, where -50 beats par?


MARSTON: 4. A simple statement of value. I have no wish to run this project.
SUNDELIN: 4. This may not make.
SAELENSMINDE: 4.
MAJEED: 4.
SHENKIN: 4
De WIJS: 4. I would be reluctant to play a system where 3 is invitational. Anyway, 4 is an acceptable alternative. Anything below the three-level is not.
COOPER: 4. If I have to deal with their 3NT after a slower auction I'll regret my life choices.|
S. BALDYSZ: 4. I usually play 3 as pre-emptive, which I would bid here. If that’s not an option, though, then 4.
BIRD: 4. I would not venture this high when vulnerable. If 3 were weak, I would bid that instead.
Only a small minority chose to bid less than game.
DELMONTE: 2. I really would like to bid 3 weak.
HULT: 2. I would bid 3 if that showed a weak raise.
C. BALDYSZ: 2.

On this occasion you were actually bidding game to make, as partner held QJ10x/AKQxx/A/xxx. You will surely get to 4 if you do anything other than Pass or, even uglier, respond 1♠. It is a bit lucky, with the ♣A onside and the spade ruff hard to find, but 4 would have made unless South found an unlikely spade lead from xxx/x/QJ9xx/A10xx.

HAND 2.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
Pass101173.6
3♣888.4
2♠747.8
2NT206.0
3002.4
4001.4
3000.1
5♣000.1
7NT000.1
3♠00<0.1
500<0.1
500<0.1
5♠00<0.1
7♣00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 8.70

Not quite a majority on the panel, with support for all three of the reasonable options. Although they still managed to come up with votes for 14 different actions, the answer here was clear for most competitors (who have clearly not conceded enough -670s), with almost three-quarters opting to defend, and thus collecting top marks and making this easily the month’s highest-scoring deal. See what you make of the various arguments.

C. BALDYSZ: Pass. Pass and pray.
BRINK: Pass. Aiming for the magic 200.
MEYERS: Pass. I don't like this, but I don't like anything else either. I’d feel much better passing at matchpoints.
ROBSON: Pass. I'm sorry. I simply can't bring myself to bid 3♣ with zero cards for partner and decent chances my rubbish will score three tricks in defense.
SHENKIN: Pass
SAELENSMINDE: Pass.
BROCK: Pass. I never seem to take these penalties enough. I doubt partner is void. Remember he didn’t double the first time, so he is not going to be three-suited. In my agreements he is unlikely to have four spades (or he would bid 2♠).

COOPER: Pass. Partner has thrown me on the rack, so I'm expecting substantial extra values from him. With luck, declarer's never getting to dummy to play towards his J.

BIRD: Pass. If East held four spades, he would rebid 2♠, so I don't like bidding my three-card fragment. Many experts are willing to overcall 2♣ on only five cards, whatever the text-books say, so 3♣ is equally unattractive.
MARSTON: Pass. I expect partner has only three spades, and I do not see how we can be making 3♣.
WANG: Pass. Maybe 3♣ is better, but that is far from clear.
The other half of the panel refused to concede -670. But was that the right decision?
ZIA: 3♣. I would never pass. That’s for suicide merchants.
HULT: 3♣. 2-X could easily make.
De WIJS: 3♣. I passed too many times with this sort of hand already. Very stressful, and I now aim to live a more relaxed life
COPE: 3♣. Not expecting to make, but -300 is better than -670.
Well, I cannot argue with Tim’s arithmetic. However…
DELMONTE: 3♣. I am close to passing, but it looks like I’ll need partner to have four defensive tricks. He may, but dummy is likely to have a working card sitting over partner. I would pass at matchpoints.
LARSSON: 3♣.
MOULD: 3♣. Trumps under the bid are always disappointing in defense. I would expect 2-X to be cold. I ain't bidding 2♠ (partner might take another bid for a start!), so it’s 3♣ for me.
COHEN: 3♣. I am just trying to survive with a small minus score, and not -670. I am afraid declarer can score too many heart tricks and some side high cards in 2-X.
The smallest group on the panel find what would have been the winning bid.
BERGEN: 2♠. Economical.
SUNDELIN: 2♠.
MAJEED: 2♠.
S. BALDYSZ: 2♠. What a terrible hand in this auction. The lower, the better, so I’ll try 2♠ and see how quickly that gets doubled. At matchpoints I think I would pass, but that’s not so clear for me at IMPs.

This hand came from the Vanderbilt final, where partner held Axx/A/KJ9x/KQ10xx. Sometimes one has to aim for the least-bad result. Curiously, the cheapest action available here was to bid 2♠, even though it was a 3-3 fit. At the table, no one could find a double, so it cost only -150, but it would have been cheap at -500 too. At the other table, West chose to defend, which was -670. 3♣ would not have escaped undoubled, as South held all six of the missing clubs, so Tim’s estimate of the penalty was on the low side – it was an unfortunate -800.

HAND 3.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
4♣10114.2
47520.1
4♠6319.8
4513.1
Pass5350.7
5201.8
5♣000.1
5♠000.1
4NT00<0.1
500<0.1
6♣00<0.1
6♠00<0.1
7♠00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.74

A wide variety of choices offered by the panel, with some passers and all four suits being bid at the four-level, but there is a clear favorite. However, fewer than 1-in-20 competition entrants managed top marks on this tough one. With 20 of the 23 panelists thinking it is clear to bid something, the competitors’ most popular choice (with over half opting to pass 3NT) scores poorly. Let’s find out why.

ROBSON: 4♣. I expect a big majority of the expert panel will do this, and argue they've shown their hand precisely. They probably have.
Not quite a big majority, Andrew, but the largest group of panelists.
BRINK: 4♣. Choice of games. Hereafter, I'll bid 4♠ over 4, so partner should understand I have diamonds and spades.
De WIJS: 4♣. Ok, I'll experiment with 4♣ and pull 4 to 4♠. Partner will figure this out. In the long run, I don't believe in sitting for 3NT with this type of hand.
SHENKIN: 4♣. If partner bids 4, I will bid 4♠ to show a weak two-suiter.
SAELENSMINDE: 4♣. I’ll bid 4♠ over 4, and hopefully that shows diamonds as well.
WANG: 4♣. If partner bids 4, I will bid 4♠. Hopefully, he will then know that I have spades and diamonds.
BIRD: 4♣. This should show any two suits, not just the majors. Maybe the 4 card will make a glorious appearance from partner.

MAJEED: 4♣

.MARSTON: 4♣. Let's play in a suit.
Zia also highlights the danger of bidding a red suit.
ZIA: 4♣. Hopefully, he will bid 4 or 4♠. I might have preferred 4 if we were absolutely sure what it meant. I think it should be natural, but partner may not agree without discussion, so it is too dangerous.
Sophia sums up the case for the majority.
S. BALDYSZ: 4♣. Partner is likely to have some wasted points in clubs here, so passing is an option for me. However, my hand will be worthless to him in NT, but might be worth some tricks if one of my long suits is trump. I bid 4♣ and, if partner bids 4, I will correct to 4♠ to show the sharp suits. The worst case is that he has 2-4-2-5 shape with long hearts and clubs. As 3NT is surely going down, I'll be optimistic this time and hope to find a fit.
The rest all preferred to make their best guess.
BERGEN: 4. Putting my faith in my longest suit.
COHEN: 4. I suppose partner has 18-19 balanced and was hoping to collect 600 instead of 200-300. Let's hope this isn't a transfer.
COOPER: 4. To the sound of clucking. Partner is unlikely to have four diamonds, but he didn't double, so he's likely got a doubleton in one of the majors, and 4♠-X in our 5-2 fit isn't my idea of fun.
LARSSON: 4.
BROCK: 4. This could be mad, but I can’t leave him in 3NT when he has points and not tricks. If he had a close decision between double and 3NT, he might have preferred 3NT because of a spade shortness. So, I will go for diamonds. If it gets doubled loudly, I might change my mind.
A small group ignore the warnings heralded by various panelist above.
HULT: 4♠. 3NT is not making, but 4♠ might have a chance if partner has some support.
COPE: 4♠. I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. 3NT has no chance of success as we have no source of tricks (partner cannot have 4 to make my diamond suit a possible source of tricks). 4 might be a slightly safer contract, but there are hands that partner may have that give 4♠ a chance.
And from the man whose team benefitted in the Gold Cup from West’s decision in real life.
MOULD: 4♠. Ah - I sent this one in, and it is not a happy place to be. Partner must have 18-19 balanced: as they cannot have a long suit, 3NT clearly has no chance. I am sure at the table I would bid 4♠ and hope to find a fit opposite. The winning bid was 4, which hits AKQ10 in pard's hand. 5 was cold and, at the table, 4♠ went five down (not played to best advantage but I think four off is the best that can be done). At the other table, I was able to open a natural 1 on the East hand, so the fit did not get lost. I shall be interested what the panel bid.
We have one maverick who thought he would have discussed this situation with his ‘unknown expert’ partner.
SUNDELIN: 4. As we have, of course, discussed this situation, and we play transfers.
Only a few brave souls chose to let partner struggle in 3NT.
MEYERS: Pass. I cannot imagine what partner has, but I think he must have a strong hand with something like ♣AQ, to be declarer. But I am just guessing.
C. BALDYSZ: Pass.
DELMONTE: Pass. And hope for the best. I’ll run if doubled.

Partner had xx/AKxx/AKQ10/QJx, so 5 was playable. At the table in the Gold Cup, West tried 4♠, which cost -500 undoubled with teammates conceding -600 in 5 at the other table. The only remaining question is whether the 4♣ bidders are up to raising when partner bids 4.

HAND 4.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries
4♣10911.9
2♠855.1
3♣7767.8
5♣526.5
3203.0
Pass002.1
3♠001.1
3NT000.7
Dbl000.6
2NT000.4
4♠000.3
3000.1
4NT000.1
5♠000.1
6♣000.1
400<0.1
400<0.1
500<0.1
7♠00<0.1
7NT00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.73

Everyone raised clubs in some fashion, but 16 of the 23 panelists did not think a minimum raise to 3♣ was enough, although that was the choice of over two-thirds of competition entrants. In many bidding situations, it is important to consider what is likely to happen next, and I think the largest group on the panel win the debate, as most of them did exactly that. Let’s hear from them first.

SAELENSMINDE: 4♣. Now partner can judge what to do if North bids 4.
BERGEN: 4♣. This is my best attempt to help partner decide how to cope with North's potential 4 bid.
ROBSON: 4♣. Semi-pre-emptive. This may lead to a profitable save over 4 if partner wants to bid it.
BIRD: 4♣. No need to go to 5♣ yet, if at all. That decision is now up to partner.
De WIJS: 4♣. Let's give partner some idea of what I have for when North supports hearts.
COOPER: 4♣. They're surely bidding 4, but I've got enough defense to involve partner.
Those panelists all wanted to invite partner’s co-operation in the event that North bid 4, which is what this hand was all about.
MARSTON: 4♣. About the value of my hand.
C. BALDYSZ: 4♣. 2♣ does not show a strong hand, so perhaps I can discourage North from bidding 4.

Tim sums up for the largest faction of the panel.
COPE: 4♣. Bidding just 3♣ does not explain the nature of our hand, and also allows LHO to bid at a comfortable level. Bidding 5♣ is unilateral, but a 4♣ bid tells partner that we are willing to sacrifice with our long clubs.

A couple took the decision in front of partner…
BROCK: 5♣. Who knows? It sounds as if we have eleven clubs, and North has not yet been able to show his heart fit. By bidding 5♣, surely partner will be able to save in 6♣ if it looks right.
SHENKIN: 5♣
This group also decided they were too good for 3♣, but still found themselves having to make the decision without any more help from across the way.
MEYERS: 2♠. I have a good 3♣ bid.
BRINK: 2♠. A good raise to 3♣.
WANG: 2♠. This shows a better hand than would simply bidding 3♣.
MAJEED: 2♠.
And the man who held the hand at the table…
MOULD: 2♠. I also sent this one in. At the table, I bid 3♣, which I now think is fantastically wet (I was hoping it would go 3-P-P and I could gratefully fold my tent, but that seems a bit naive). I have a feeling that an immediate 5♣ is the right tactical action, but I will go with 2♠ for now.
And, the final group, who simply did not like their hand as much as everyone else.
HULT: 3♣. This is too weak for 2♠.
SUNDELIN: 3♣.
LARSSON: 3♣.
S. BALDYSZ: 3♣.
ZIA: 3♣. I expect 3 from North. I am not sure whether I should be pushing them to 4 by bidding 4♣ here. A semi-psychic 2♠ is another alternative, but I choose to go low.
I’m not sure why 2♠ is semi-psychic. It surely shows a hand too good for 3♣, which is what most considered this to be.
COHEN: 3♣. No reason for anything crazy. Partner could easily be 6-4 (with four hearts) and we could buy it here (hoping they don't find diamonds).
DELMONTE: 3♣. There is no need to do anything fancy here. I will prob bid 4♣ when 3 comes back to me.

Partner had xx/Jx/Kxx/AKJxxx, so 5♣ was a cheap save (-300). If you bid 2♠ or 3♣, North’s jump to 4 comes back to you and you then have to decide whether to sacrifice. If you bid 4♣, partner may well accept the invitation and take the save in front of you.

HAND 5.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
Dbl101430.4
1NT7712.8
2♣523.6
3404.6
22020.2
20010.6
2NT005.2
Pass004.8
3003.2
2♠003.1
3NT000.7
4000.5
3♣000.1
3♠000.1
4♣000.1
7000.1
500<0.1
6♣00<0.1
6♠00<0.1
7NT00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 4.70

When this hand occurred in the recent World Championships, West bid 1NT and played there with his teammates conceding -600 in the other room. When I set it as a problem, though, I was afraid that the answer was so obvious that it would produce a big majority. It was surprising to me, therefore, to discover that I was right (in that over two-thirds of the panel and one-third of competitors scored 10), but also that only two panelists made the bid I expected from most. It would appear that David and I are almost the only remaining dinosaurs who think that double show spades in this auction…

BIRD: 2♣. I have a maximum pass and decent support for both unbid suits. Yes, this is very difficult...to see what alternative the learned moderator can possibly have in mind.

MAJEED: 2♣.
For the majority, the answer was clear…
WANG: Dbl. Showing points.
DELMONTE: Dbl. This looks like a good bid, showing values. Let’s see what partner has to say.
BERGEN: Dbl. In my opinion, this flexible non-penalty double is 1000% clearcut.
ZIA: Dbl. I play a double here as just showing point, so that seems to be a perfect choice. If that’s not available, I supposed I’d have to bid 2.
COHEN: Dbl. Whatever it means, this must be the right start. More decisions upcoming. I'll risk looking silly by making the dreaded prediction that this is fairly unanimous.
A majority, at least, so you are closer than many panellists get with that prediction, Larry.
MARSTON: Dbl. Angling for partner to bid notrumps.
C. BALDYSZ: Dbl.
De WIJS: Dbl. I don't mind 1NT but, with so much of my values in hearts, I'll start with a takeout double instead
SUNDELIN: Dbl. Not penalty.
COOPER: Dbl. I don't know what I'm hoping for. Pass could be right, but I can't bring myself to roll over just yet.
A few panelists did mention the concept of double showing spades…
COPE: Dbl. 100 years ago, this would have been played as penalties. Current treatments would imply that double just shows a hand that wishes to compete with no clear strain. This collection seems to fit the bill.
ROBSON: Dbl. I'm not really sure if this promises a fourth spade, but it seems a sensible choice. No one can argue that it's not the most economical way of showing values.
S. BALDYSZ: Dbl. I play double as showing spades here, but I think it would still be the least of evils. The alternative is 2, which doesn't look at all appealing to me.
MOULD: Dbl. Very few people play this as showing four spades any more (because psyching is effectively illegal under current regulations). Hence, I will double.
Only a handful preferred the ‘value bid’…
BROCK: 1NT. I don’t know who plays double as penalty (i.e. showing four spades) these days. We only play penalty doubles after 1-X-1♠. For me, the typical double of 1♣ looks more like a weak NT, with at least 3-3 in the majors, than a hand with short clubs.
SAELENSMINDE: 1NT.
LARSSON: 1NT.
HULT: 1NT.
SHENKIN: 1NT.
BRINK: 1NT. I have to show that I have something.
MEYERS: 1NT. I am going low, particularly since I don't have a club stopper. This is a good hand for playing a double as showing four of the other minor.

Partner had Kxx/Jxxx/KQx/KQx, so 3NT was a reasonable proposition.

HAND 6.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
4♣101721.2
56111.7
4♠5348.9
5♣410.7
4207.2
6201.2
4NT003.5
3NT002.1
Pass001.7
4000.9
6♠000.8
5♠000.1
7000.1
6♣00<0.1
600<0.1
6NT00<0.1
7♣00<0.1
7NT00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 5.46

Another large majority from the panel, yet only just over a fifth of competition entrants pick up maximum marks. Almost half of competitors are perhaps fortunate to score as many as 5/10 for a choice (4♠) considered woefully inadequate by most of our experts. Let’s find out why.

BROCK: 4♣. It is easy to see a cold slam if partner has a heart control.
MEYERS: 4♣. If partner has AQJxxx of spades and a heart control, Voila!
WANG: 4♣. Showing a shortage and a slam try.
MOULD: 4♣. This seems clear to me.

BERGEN: 4♣. My next call might be difficult, but this one is not.


BIRD: 4♣. The difficulty posed by this problem matches that of the previous one.
DELMONTE: 4♣. A cue-bid agreeing spades or, at least, showing a good 4♠ bid.
MARSTON: 4♠. Showing spade support and a control in clubs.
SAELENSMINDE: 4♣.
SHENKIN: 4♣.
ROBSON: 4♣. Partner's 3♠ bid is forcing and unlimited. I want to show my club control and imply spade support, although we'll probably play slam in diamonds.
De WIJS: 4♣ This seems about right, as I normally can't have three spades.
HULT: 4♣. K-x support and a void in the opponents’ suit. Let’s try for slam.
COOPER: 4♣. I hope we play support doubles, so partner won't mistake this for three. Something tells me the next few bids will feature in future bidding challenges, though.
COPE: 4♣. I might be prepared to bid 5♣ with an extra spade, but this feels like enough with only a doubleton king.
COHEN: 4♣. I would have bid 2 last round. Anyway, 3♠ is forcing and I have too many attributes here to bid only 4♠. We could be cold for a grand slam opposite a 6-count like AQ10xxxx/--/xx/10xxx.
ZIA: 4♣. I don’t want to play in spades on a club lead, so I will remove 4♠ to 5
There were just a few mavericks, and those who bid 4♠ all did so without comment.
C. BALDYSZ: 4♠.
LARSSON: 4♠.
MAJEED: 4♠.
Tim mentioned cue-bidding 5♣ rather than 4♣ and Sophia chose that option. However, neither explains why it is better.
S. BALDYSZ: 5♣. If partner has a heart control, I wouldn't mind being in slam.
P.O. offers a sensible explanation for his solo effort.
SUNDELIN: 5. Opposite something like AQxxxx/Kxx/x/Jxx, 4♠ may be difficult to play on a club lead. Give East the A instead of K, and 6 is fine, but 4♣ might convince partner that spades are agreed.
Larry also mentioned bidding 2 rather than 3 on the previous round, and Sjoert obviously feels very strongly about it.
BRINK: Abstain. Bidding 3 instead of 2 is something I would never do.

I thought 4♣ would prove popular but, at the table in the OCBL July Cup, I saw a world-class player bid 5 in this situation. Partner had AQ109xx/AQx/x/xxx so 7 would make even some of the times when spades do not break, and twelve tricks are cold on just about any layout. However, if you were thinking you might want to play in 7♠ (or even 6♠), consider how those contracts will play if the opponents are mean enough to lead a diamond. Perhaps that 5 bid is not so outrageous after all.

HAND 7.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
Dbl10928.3
49834.2
3NT821.0
4♣612.5
4♠614.7
5624.6
Pass0023.6
4NT000.5
6♠000.2
5000.3
5♣000.1
5000.1
5♠000.1
6000.1
400<0.1
7♣00<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 6.70

Easily the closest decision for the panel this month, with two options garnering most of the support. More than 60% of competition entrants also voted for one of those top-scoring choices. However, nearly a quarter of competitors passed, scoring zero. (Is it "6-5 Come alive, but 7-5 go back to sleep"?) Let’s see what the experts have to say to support their choices.

BRINK: Dbl. This should show spades. Thereafter, I might bid 4/5.
DELMONTE: Dbl. And then bid diamonds if partner doesn’t bid 4♠.
SHENKIN: Dbl. I hope to bid diamonds later.
De WIJS: Dbl. I am bidding both suits, but I don't want to start with 4 and then bid 5♠, so I'll bid them the other way around
WANG: Dbl. I start by showing spades as I can do so cheaply, and then I will bid my diamond suit.
BIRD: Dbl. This shows spades, so it seems to be a good launching pad without committing us too far.
Three of this group mentioned one of the minority choices, but rejected it for various reasons.
COHEN: Dbl. I wish 4♣ showed these two suits, but partner would expect majors. I'll double now and boldly bid diamonds next, even at the five-level.
COOPER: Dbl. I am planning to bid diamonds at whatever level I have to. 4♣ puts too much pressure on partner to guess our major.
COPE: Dbl. What do we know about the hands around the table? Partner is weak, with at least five hearts, and RHO probably has six clubs or more. If I start with 4, the spade suit may be lost if LHO bids 5♣ but, if I start with a double, now partner gets a chance to support spades, failing which I will then be able to bid my diamonds. This therefore seems the right way round to bid our two-suiter, even though the diamonds are longer. The only other option would be to bid 4♣, showing a two-suiter, but this might encourage partner to bid 5 over 5♣ (thinking I have both majors).
Only one maverick tried this approach.
SUNDELIN: 4♣. This should show any two-suited hand, not necessarily majors. The alternative is to play 4 as non-leaping Michaels to show this hand type, which would mean you have to jump to 5 with a single-suited hand. I think that would require some level of discussion, which we obviously will not have had with the assumed ‘unknown expert’.
The other large faction of the panel bid their long suit.
BROCK: 4. If this gets passed out and we can make 4♠, I’m sorry. Not that I will be problem-free next time if they are in 5♣ as I don’t then have a convenient way to bid spades. But I have such a bad record when I don’t bid my longest suits first!
ZIA: 4. I hope they will double me, although I’m nervous of the bad spade break.
There was family unity, at least.
C. BALDYSZ: 4.
S. BALDYSZ: 4.
HULT: 4.
MAJEED: 4.
Both Marty and Paul seem to be intending to defend 5♣.
BERGEN: 4. Partner is marked with a very weak hand with 8+ cards in the majors. It's possible that N/S can make a club slam, or that 5 is a good save against 5♣. But, it's also quite possible that partner has 0-1 diamond and some strength in hearts and/or clubs. So, I'll content myself with 4.
MARSTON: 4. The opponents have told partner that we have a spade fit. Let us now show the diamonds, so we can leave it to partner over the inevitable 5♣.
A couple came up with what seem like a good idea, although whether one would try it on partner without discussion is perhaps questionable.
MEYERS: 3NT. This should show diamonds and another suit. 4♣ would show both majors.    Their 3♠ is presumably game-forcing, so I can't be offering 3NT to play.
SAELENSMINDE: 3NT. This shows a two-suited hand but not both majors.
Both Alan and Jessica take a pragmatic approach.
MOULD: 5d. A tactical problem as much as anything else. I cannot see a way of getting both suits in without mis-stating the relative lengths, so I will just blast 5 and give them the problem.
LARSSON: 5
Andrew fairly accurately describes his solo choice, although there is some compelling logic to his argument, so I doubled his predicted score.

ROBSON: 4♠. An eccentric choice, and three marks, but I'll follow with 5 over 5♣ to offer a choice. Bear in mind, we are 98% sure partner has at least three spades on this bidding. And, spades will play a whole lot better than diamonds if North has the ♠A, as he knows to give South spade ruffs if diamonds are trumps.

If you double to show spades now, you have the option of continuing with 5 when North’s likely 5♣ comes back to you. If you start with 4 and it goes 5♣-P-P-? you seem poorly placed. At the table, partner had 87xx/K10xxx/109x/A and 5♣, 5 and 5♠ were all one down, so bidding 4 and giving up thereafter (a la Bergen and Marston) was the winning action.

HAND 8.



ActionMarksPanel VotesCompetitors' Entries (%)
Dbl10139.6
3941.9
4♣835.6
36220.0
4♠5117.6
4402.5
3♠0038.6
Pass001.7
3NT000.7
4NT000.7
6♠000.4
5000.3
4000.1
5♣000.1
6♣000.1
5♠00<0.1
5NT00<0.1
600<0.1

Competition Entrant Average Score: 3.76

This proved to be by far the toughest hand of the month for competition entrants, with the largest group scoring zero and less than 1-in-10 hitting the top spot.
Although we have a majority choice from the panel, I am still convinced that they are wrong. To me, double is misguided as it has a high potential for disaster when there are sensible alternatives that do not. One thing that is clear is that the choice of more than a third of competitors’ (3♠) is not right. I’ll leave you to judge from the debate which of the alternatives you prefer.

WANG: Dbl. Takeout.
DELMONTE: Dbl. Just in case partner bids hearts. I’m always bidding to 4♠ here. Slam became very unlikely when South chose clubs and not diamonds.
BERGEN: Dbl. I hate to risk defending with a void but, at these colors, I will preserve all my options. I STRONGLY object to not opening 2♣ BTW.
BROCK: Dbl. I am happy to consult partner. Presumably, he will know that most of my hand is majors.
HULT: Dbl.
SHENKIN: Dbl.
LARSSON: Dbl.
SAELENSMINDE: Dbl.
MAJEED: Dbl.
A few members of the majority even seem quite happy if their double ends the auction:
MARSTON: Dbl. Suggesting four hearts, but keeping the option open to defend.
COPE: Dbl. Clearly for takeout but, on a good day, partner can convert to penalties. Partner already knows that I live in the spade suit, but this at least brings the hearts into play.
SUNDELIN: Dbl. Everything might be wrong.

S. BALDYSZ: Dbl. Some possible outcomes - either partner has a club stack (South didn't jump with clubs, so either few points or no big club fit), or we get to some major-suit game.


I confess that I agree completely with Sjoert.
BRINK: 3. Showing 6-4. I don’t see any sensible alternative.
ROBSON: 3. I think this probably shows 6-4 in the majors. I could make a take-out double with 5-4 and bid 3/4 with 5-5.
De WIJS: 3. This should show a good 6-4, so why not?
ZIA: 3. A kind of sexy psyche whilst suggesting hearts too.
The next group were on the same wavelength, but I cannot see how using up a whole level of bidding to say the same thing can be better.
MOULD: 4♣. I will drive this to game (something of an overbid I know). I don't fancy double and have partner pass it.
COHEN: 4♣. Double is more by the book, but my mantra is to "a-void" doubles with voids. There are too many hands where partner will disastrously leave it in. I don't think 3 is enough, as partner wouldn't move with, say, xx/Jxxxx/xx/xxxx.
COOPER: 4♣. Showing hearts, and hopefully suggesting this shape as I'd usually bid 3/4 with 5-5.
And the remaining mavericks…
MEYERS: 3. I hate it, but I also hate double with a void.
C. BALDYSZ: 3.
BIRD: 4♠. I would not be happy if I rebid 3 and this was raised (or even passed). If partner has good hearts, this will assist me in 4♠.

Partner had xx/J10xxxx/Ax/xxx, so you could make 13 tricks in hearts with trumps 2-1, even though spades split 4-1. If you either double or bid 3, partner will jump to 4, and you are then likely to get at least to a small slam. Whether you would move over 4 if you start with either 3 or 4♣ is less clear. 4♠ would clearly end the auction and, so too, would 3♠: rather embarrassing to play a cold grand slam in a partscore.

A fairly high-scoring month produces a first victory for our Australian expert, Paul Marston, with an impressive 79/80. Close behind him, China’s Wen Fei Wang (78/80) and The Netherlands’ Simon de Wijs (77/80) complete this month’s podium. A special mention for another Dutchman too, guest panelist Sasha Cooper, who finishes in a three-way tie for fourth spot with a highly creditable 75/80.  

The Expert Panel

12345678TOTAL
Paul MARSTON4Pass4♣4♣Dbl4♣4Dbl79
Wen Fei WANG4Pass4♣2♠Dbl4♣DblDbl78
Simon De WIJS43♣4♣4♣Dbl4♣Dbl377
Sasha COOPER4Pass44♣Dbl4♣Dbl4♣75
Andrew ROBSON4Pass4♣4♣Dbl4♣4♠375
Erik SAELENSMINDE4Pass4♣4♣1NT4♣3NTDbl75
Tim COPE43♣4♠4♣Dbl4♣DblDbl74
Marty BERGEN42♠44♣Dbl4♣4Dbl73
Zia MAHMOOD43♣4♣3♣Dbl4♣4373
Barnet SHENKIN4Pass4♣5♣1NT4♣DblDbl72
David BIRD4Pass4♣4♣2♣4♣Dbl4♠70
Larry COHEN43♣43♣Dbl4♣Dbl4♣70
Sally BROCK4Pass45♣1NT4♣4Dbl68
Sophia BALDYSZ42♠4♣3♣Dbl5♣4Dbl67
Ishmael DELMONTE23♣Pass3♣Dbl4♣DblDbl66
Alan MOULD43♣4♠2♠Dbl4♣54♣66
Sjoert BRINK4Pass4♣2♠1NTAbsDbl364
Afshar MAJEED42♠4♣2♠2♣4♠4Dbl64
Jill MEYERS4PassPass2♠1NT4♣3NT364
Simon HULT23♣4♠3♣1NT4♣4Dbl63
Cathy BALDYSZ2PassPass4♣Dbl4♠4361
P.O. SUNDELIN42♠43♣Dbl54♣Dbl61
Jessica LARSSON43♣43♣1NT4♠5Dbl60
TOP SCORE4Pass4♣4♣Dbl4♣DblDbl

MARKS

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

AVERAGE SCORE

HAND 1:                                6.74
HAND 2:                                8.70
HAND 3:                                5.74
HAND 4:                                6.73
HAND 5:                                4.70
HAND 6:                                5.46
HAND 7:                                6.70
HAND 8:                                3.76

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8 comments on “November Panel Comments: BBO Bidders Challenge”

  1. If you add them all up and divide, I got 6.5. I guess that's OK. But I got zero on hand one. Am I the only person who thought 3H was a reasonable bid?

  2. Regarding hand 2: I bid 2NT here because I expected that passing the double had a high likelihood of resulting in -670. 2NT should convey the following messages to partner: I have a bad hand, for with values I would pass the double, and I am unable to bid anything else. Partner can now bid 3C if not concerned with my lack of support. Also, 2NT seems likely to be the bid that the opponents will have the most difficulty doubling.

    1. Hello Fred, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. If you click on the highlighted bid, you'll see the explanation.

  3. My understanding is that any bid that would have been alerted is hoghlighted, and hovering over that bid shows an explanation

  4. Good stuff. But is it asking too much to have the opponents alerted bids explained together with the problems. We can guess, but wouldn't have to at the table 🙂

    1. Hello Jyrki, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. If you click on the highlighted bid, you'll see the explanation.

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