October 2022 bidding contest: the results!

Bidding contest

This time two-suiters are in the spotlight in all bridge problems except #3. Being able to defend against two-suiter bids or to evaluate your hand when your partner has a two-suiter, that is precisely what our experts are going to help you with.


The Experts’ Answers
Deal 1: The love is risk
Deal 2: Empty Suits
Deal 3: One More Convention
Deal 4: Being Able to Adapt to Rare Situations
Deal 5: Lack of Space
Deal 6: A 22-Points Game
Share your opinion

Summary of the Experts’ Answers

Deal 1: The love is risk

2♠ : Weak, six cards.

A two-stage problem, as it often happens. First question: should you reopen? A vast majority answered yes, so let’s start with those who passed.

Adad: “Pass. Yes, game may be vulnerable. Yes, my partner holds four or five spades and you can make the juicy contract of 2 Spades doubled. But East, with a misfit, may have a lot of points.”

Saporta: “Pass. The penalty risk seems higher than the chances of making a game to me. The only thing that annoys me really is that they will think that I am a coward.”

Indeed, there are two major risks. First, your partner may pass and the opponent would get 470. Second, your partner may propel you into the game and East would get the red penalty double card out…

But since fear will not protect you from danger, twenty-one experts have decided to reopen.

Only five of them decided to make a reopening bid in a suit contract, including Pacault: “3♥. North has spades and an unknown strength that don’t allow him to come forward, though. Reopening with a double is reasonable in match-pointed pairs tournaments, when 2 Spades doubled made equals a zero. In duplicate, I choose 3♥ which provides the double benefit of avoiding the previous risk and offering trumps for the game. Passing is, of course, possible, but a cowardly option.”

He is supported by Justin Hackett: “3♥.  Good problem. Passing or doubling may be on, but the structure of my hand encourages me to bid higher. The most likely game is probably 4 Hearts” and Cronier: “3♥. By process of elimination: I don’t want to pass with an unbalanced hand and a spade singleton. There is no question of making a two-suiter bid. I find the protective double very dangerous as I would have trouble dealing with Partner’s bid in Clubs as well as in NT, knowing that my most likely game is in Hearts. So, I opt for the natural protective bid. I would do the same with a 1♠ opening bid, by the way.”

I have to admit that this is the option I would have gone for because of all the drawbacks previously mentioned that would come with a double. But the double bid won a large majority of the votes, even if many expressed reservations.

Zmudzinski: “Double. Passing would be more reasonable because Partner has fewer points than a 2NT overcall.” Rocafort: “Double. Really not exciting. I would easily be seduced into opting for something else like  3♥ or pass. I am aware that I am playing big – my partner in ambush will be pleased – and the risk of playing a trump contact at the 6-level is high.”

Duguet: “Double. I don’t let this part-score be played with 5-5 and the short spade suit. And I don’t have what is needed for a 4♦ two-suiter bid. If my partner passes the double, we will probably have to work hard in defence…”

Quantin: “Double. My distribution obliges me to bid, but there is no question of making a two-suiter bid with such a weak hand. All the more since Partner may be looking forward to this take-out double to convert eagerly.”

Toffier: “Double. Not enough points (far from it!) to bid 4♦ (red two-suiter). However, not balancing would be very cowardly…” (Again, I told you so.)

Jill Meyers: “Double. I find nothing attractive, but 3♥ seems to be unilateral, while the double gives more flexibility. If North bids 3♣, I will bid 3♦, showing hearts and diamonds only, but without promising a strong hand.”

Thomas Bessis: “Double. Very difficult! I think it would be much more obvious if I had passed straight away as I could reopen with a double without any risks and convert 3♣ into 3♦ or 3♥ without showing a strong hand. Here I try my luck anyway and play in 2 Spades doubled. If Partner doesn’t pass, he will probably bid 2NT (mini cue bid, from 10 HCP) and I will then bid 3♦ to show a not-so-strong protective bid with a clear preference for Diamonds. I know that I will miss the 5-3 fit in Hearts, but I can’t cover all cases anyway…”

This deal is more about how you feel it (you should do what seems to fit), but you should take this opportunity to define the meaning you assign to North’s 2NT bid in response to the balancing double. Also ask yourself: if North responds 3♣, is South’s 3♦ bid strong or does it only show a double based on diamonds and hearts?

Scores donne 1

Double: 100 points (16 votes)
3♥️: 30 points (5 votes)
Pass: 20 points (4 votes)

Deal 2: Empty Suits

Given Partner’s lack of enthusiasm for your two-suiter, should you bid again with these very nice 17 points despite fragile clubs which are the only potential trumps (Partner having denied three cards in Spades)? In fact, it is Kokish who sums up the problem: “Pass. If  3♣ guarantees at least 5-5, North could have made a more encouraging bid with a fit in Clubs. If North is 2-4-5-2 with 12-13 points, you can be in danger at a higher level. If 3♣ doesn’t promise five cards, there are more reasons to continue bidding.”

Several experts mentioned this crucial point. Has one ever bid a 5-5 two-suiter? Among them are:

Lévy: “4♣. South only made game bids with a two-suiter, five spades and four clubs. His game deserves a slam to be investigated, without putting yourself at risk. North can still apply the brakes with 4♠ or 5♣ (or 4NT) if he has a spade singleton with all his points in the red suits, but he can also respond positively with a hand as ordinary as ♠A4 ♥KJ5 ♦Q1094 ♣K1082.”

That is also what Quantin implicitly suggests: “4♣. The hand is too strong to stop there. So, I continue to describe my hand, while securing the possibility of stopping with 4 Spades or 4NT if North wants so.”

As opposed to Lhuissier: “Pass. Slam is likely to be more than uncertain and I already showed a 5-5 hand” and Kerlero: “Pass. I already described my nice 5-5 by jumping to 3♣ (if not, I need to switch to another system), so I have nothing to add facing North’s 2-4-5-2 distribution and 12 points.”

Most experts don’t insist on that point, but in rare circumstances, they agree to cut their losses, some saying it in a peremptory way, like Chemla: “4♣. Maybe optimistic. Reason says pass but, after all, with a good stop in Hearts, Partner can declare 3NT, even if he holds four cards in Clubs. In that case, slam seems to be quite far, but you never know…”.

Leenhardt: “Pass. Partner’s points are rather in Diamonds and Hearts. Problems with entries, slam is unlikely.”

Volcker: “Pass. All these bids don’t really reinforce my opinion about the quality of my partner’s black suits.”

Rombaut: “Pass. Partner seems to have good stops in the red suits, which doesn’t bode well for a slam in Clubs.”

Thuillez: “Pass. I described my distribution: certainly, there are many points, but clubs are too empty to make an effort.”

Toffier: “Pass. North has a minimum hand with all his points in the red suits, like ♠63 ♥KQJ5 ♦KQ106 ♣Q82. It is hard to imagine playing any other contract than 3NT.”

Cronier: “Pass. With no qualms.  I don’t know if I have already shown 5-5 (it depends on the relay used over 1NT), but only Opener’s hands with four good cards in Clubs can give me some hope. In that case, he should have chosen a less discouraging bid. And don’t tell me that you are not in danger with 4NT in case of a misfit. If Opener is 2-4-5-2 with 12 points, you haven’t found ten tricks yet…”

Bessis: “Pass. There is no way you can play a good slam when Partner couldn’t make an intermediary bid over 3♣. Partner would need to have the Ace-doubleton in Spades and the King-tripleton in Clubs to have a good slam, which is fairly unlikely when he bids 3NT. However, if I bid on, I am afraid that he might be a bit too excited with the Ace-doubleton in Spades and the Queen-tripleton in Clubs, for instance. No, really, it looks bad here…”

Partner held ♠64 ♥KQJ ♦K9872 ♣K32. You had to stop as soon as possible. Remember: make sure you know whether these jump bids after 1NT indicate 5-5 or not.

Scores deal 2

Pass: 100 points (16 votes)
4♣: 30 points (6 votes)
4NT: 10 points (2 votes)
4♦️: 5 points (1 votes)

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