August 2022 Bidding Contest: the Results!

Bidding contest


The Experts’ Answers
Deal 1: The Dangers of the 5-level
Deal 2: Faulty Braking System
Deal 3: Off on an Adventure?
Deal 4: Keep it Simple
Deal 5: Anglo-American Influences
Deal 6: Through the Looking-Glass
Share your Opinion

This bidding contest is an opportunity to emphasise some of the finer points of the system, such as support doubles by Opener or protective bidding. Try to really make the most of the experts’ advice! And my thanks to the Lille Bridge Club, who were really up for playing along.

The Experts’ Answers

Deal 1: The Dangers of the 5-level

Reminder: you are sitting South.
*Bicolour Heart-Club.

This first problem brings to light the fuzziness surrounding responding to a two-suited bid: fuzziness caused by the large area covered by a two-suiter. Here are two contributions to this topic.

Chemla: “Pass. Among the array of Partner’s possible hands, those where you go down in 5 Hearts are far more likely than those where you make a good slam. Broadly speaking, whenever Partner does not hold Ace-fifth or Ace-Queen-fourth, you will most often find yourself in danger.”

Kokish: “Pass. It is always dangerous to make a two-suited bid with an intermediate hand, as one then never knows whether to bid 4♥ if Partner only bid 3. If in doubt, you should therefore bow out, especially since North can hold Q10xxx in Hearts and nothing else, in which case you will go down in 5.”

Because of that last hand mentioned by Kokish, most experts opted for prudence and chose to pass. The main argument put forward is the risk of going down at the 5-level which, aside from in competitive auctions, constitutes one of the worst results you can get in bridge.

Cronier: “Pass. Although the minimum requirement for a two-suited bid has, oddly, gone down over the last few years, I think that my partner is allowed to say 4♥ with Ace-to-four Hearts and the King of Diamonds. In which case, I will be in big trouble at the 5-level, won’t I?”

Kerlero: “Pass. I do not tend to make light two-suited bids and the 4♥ bid is not very strong. Even four hearts to the Ace-Queen is not enough to make slam and I don’t want to go down in 5 opposite Queen-third in Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds on the side: a hand which would amply justify the raise to 4♥.”

Hackett: “Pass. Not far off bidding 4♠. But I am worried about the trump holding and there is a chance that we might go down at the 5-level.”

Quantin: “Pass. Neither extra distribution nor any particular strength compared to what I’ve already shown. Sure, slam is possible; so is going down at the 5-level.”

Rocafort: “Pass. Firstly, in telling ourselves that 4♥ could just be pre-emptive, it is obvious to pass. Then, we look more closely and see that with just Ace-fifth in Hearts… Finally, even opposite the Ace of Hearts, we are not sure to be able to discard enough spades and, without the Ace, we risk not being able to make more than ten tricks.”

The other group of experts emphasise the fact that North has a whole host of bids other than 4♥ available if he has a strong hand.

Such as Pacault and Thuillez: “Pass. 4♥ only requires three trumps and the quality of my hearts is not encouraging me to continue on, risking going down at a higher level. With enough goodies for slam, North is supposed to make a bid other than 4♥ (3♠, for example).”

Lévy: “Pass. North is hoping to make this contract, as is South. With slam interest, North will start with a 3♠ cue bid or a 2NT relay.”

Zmudzinski: “Pass. The hearts are too poor-quality. North can bid 3♠ or 2NT rather than 4♥ with a good hand.”

Though most of the experts therefore opted for caution, eight decided to show more daring. For them, the best way of looking for a slam is to cue-bid Spades to allow North to show more. Let us examine their arguments.

Combescure: “4♠. Five hearts to the Ace will suffice for making a slam.”

Even though Rocafort does not agree with this statement, it will no doubt be true in 90% of cases. But what should North do with ♠63 ♥A9632 ♦️654 ♣️543? 6♥? Very difficult…

Saporta: “4♠. Pass would be a bit timid and 4NT will not solve my problem if North shows a key card.”

Fortunately, Chidiac anticipated the problems that could arise: “4♠. Should you pass or investigate slam? North can bid 4♥ with QJxxx in Hearts and nothing else! And North-South are therefore at risk of going down at the 5-level. But the possibility of slam cannot be ruled out. I opt for investigating by bidding 4♠. Demanding control-showing cues by continuing with 4♠ has the advantage of detecting if North has no diamond control, which will comfort South as to the likely presence of values in Hearts, and South would presumably be able to take a chance and bid slam! But how do you continue if North bids 5♦️? After a spade lead, if North does not have the Ace of Hearts, slam is dead on arrival! So, South will then continue on with 5♥, which implies that he is still looking for help in Trumps rather than Clubs (having embarked upon an investigation into slam, he has implicitly suggested having a good club suit).”

Remember from this problem: discussion about the meaning of 2NT, 3♦️, 3♠, 4♣️, 4♦️ and 4♥ bids in response to this two-suited bid will be inevitable. Get to work! For both the situation here and the post-mortem, many will have guessed to move on to Problem No. 6…

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