November 2022 bidding contest: the results!

Bidding contest

During the auction, you often ask your partner questions or his view. But sometimes you must exercise your personal judgment and take your responsibilities. That is the case for the six problems of this month. Let us see how our experts have dealt with them.


The Experts’ answers
Deal #1: Making Up for A Wrong Bid
Deal #2: Back to The Wall
Deal #3: The Lesser Evil
Deal #4: You Must Lie
Deal #5: Game When in Doubt
Deal #6: The Best Way to Investigate
Share your view

Summary of the Experts’ Answers

Deal #1: Making Up for A Wrong Bid

It is hard to decide when you made the wrong bid on the previous round. That is the essence of the comments you are about to read. As expected, the experts’ votes were divided between two nearly equal groups: 5♠ overbid and double. In the absence of judgment elements, it is a bit like a guessing game. That is why you will be told that you should have done otherwise earlier to avoid ending up in this tricky situation.

The 5♠ people think that their pass would not be forcing and there is more to be gained by bidding higher than doubling.

Zmudzinski: “5♠. I don’t agree with the previous bid of 4♠. I would have preferred 4♣. The King-doubleton in Clubs and the King-fourth in Spades make twelve tricks. I can’t pass as I am not sure that I am in a forcing pass situation.”

Tessières:5♠. I would have bid 4♣ rather than 4♠, which would have allowed me to double 5♥ serenely without, however, promising any holding in the red suits. Now I have no idea of what I should do. When in doubt, both 5-level contracts being makeable, I bid on to 5♠, but I wouldn’t be astonished either if both contracts go two down.”

Pacault: “5♠. 4♠ seems insufficient to me. I would have chosen 4♣  to clarify the situation with North. Indeed, 6♠, and a fortiori 5♠, could make as well as 5♥. Anyway, there is much more to be gained by declaring 5♠ than doubling 5♥.”

Toffier: “5♠. North made the free 2♠ bid. I bid 5♠. First, to make it (hoping for a club support opposite). Second, because I fear that the opponents will quickly claim 11 tricks…”

Saporta: “5♠. I would have bid 4♣ on the previous round to enable North to assess his hand in the best conditions (he would know the value of ♠K102 ♥854 ♦8542 ♣KQ6 or a hand that is a bit worse).   Now I feel obliged to judge by myself and that may be a mistake.”

Thomas Bessis: “5♠. Very tricky… but I have to! If I find the right cards opposite, both 5-level contracts may make. There really is a lot to be gained by bidding higher. Certainly, West didn’t overbid alone over 4♠ after his partner bid diamonds, which suggests that he has some defensive values, but I think that I still have good chances of making 5♠. In fact, it would have probably been better, as always, to anticipate this problem on the previous round: even if it means bidding 4♠, best to clearly put our side in attack by telling my partner that I have distribution, so that he can then assess his cards. In the same spirit, 4♣ would already be better than 4♠ but wouldn’t trigger a forcing process at the 5-level. By contrast, a 4♦ cue bid seems totally appropriate: some points, a diamond shortage and by inference a few clubs.”

Kokish: “Double. This is not a penalty double. It means that I intended to make 4♠ with some points and not distribution only. It encourages North to bid 5♠. Maybe it will give North too much responsibility, but he will have to evaluate his black honours to decide whether to bid higher or pass. In fact, South should have bid 4♣ over 3♦ to clarify the situation.”

Quantin: “Double. The 4♠ bid was probably a bit clumsy (I would have bid 4♣). I have no idea of what I should do. My intuition is that 5♠ doesn’t make. My partner may have some holding in diamonds. West’s pass over 4♠ seems to indicate that he wasn’t interested in the suit bid by East. Hence my final double, to protect my score in 4♠.”

Rombaut: “Double. I wouldn’t have bid 4♠ on the previous round because now I have to decide by myself whether to bid higher or not. I would rather have bid my clubs and then doubled to show defensive tricks. Here, when in doubt, I double.”

Hackett: “Double. Not sure that I will make 5♠. I hope to beat 5♥!”

Marion Canonne:Double. Vulnerability encourages to bid higher, but it seems to me that it is more reasonable to double, hoping that my partner has some holding in the red suits and not too many clubs.”

Cronier: “Double. Will they make 5♥? Honestly, I don’t think so. My Ace of Spades may be ruffed but West’s pass over 4♠ indicates that he hasn’t got a very big fit in Diamonds. So, without pre-empting how many tricks we will take in Clubs, North is very likely to have a holding in Diamonds guaranteeing the defeat of the contract. We will score between 100 and 500. Do I make 5♠? For the same reasons, it is quite unlikely. I am not sure that I will avoid losing a spade and my clubs are far from being winners.”

Here North held ♠KQ4 ♥1052 ♦J72 ♣9762. Both 5-level contracts were going down. According to the law of total tricks that, much to my surprise, no-one mentioned. Has it become obsolete?

Remember from this problem: anticipate the next part of the sequence and provide elements, as far as possible, to help your partner make the right decision.

Scores deal #1

5♠: 100 points (11 votes)
Double: 80 points (9 votes)

Deal #2: Back to The Wall

Here again, the jury was very divided. Nine experts have chosen to bid at a high level straight away, speculating that the opponents probably had a major game to play in. The other eleven have preferred to wait patiently and see how the auction would move forward to determine if defence was essential or not.

Let us start with the offensive experts who have opted for many various bids. Here is the most reckless. Adad: “5♣. Honestly, I don’t think that I will bid again later and I don’t want the auction to be at the 4-level in a major suit when it is my turn to speak as it will probably happen.”

At a lower level (the one I chose on this deal from Mixed Pairs National Division) are Rombaut: “4♣. I think I recognise this deal. It comes from the Mixed National Division. I think I had opened 3♣ or 4♣ and then passed.  So, here I will do the same. 4♣,, then pass later” and Saporta: “4♣. A 1♣ or 3♣ opening bid should not prevent the opponents from finding their best fit. And as 5♣ is clearly too much green vs green, I am opting for an intermediate option that can be damaging on occasions. Of course, I don’t intend to bid again.”

In fact, all these bids are a bit like double or quits. They have the virtue of disturbing the opposing side, but you may face a backlash if Partner has a major two-suiter… Maybe will 3♣, followed by a possible overbid, be more tempting? That is the choice made by five experts including Kokish: “3♣. It seems to be the right tactical choice to me, but then I will have to decide whether to bid 3NT or 4NT if East-West reach a major contract at the 3- or 4-level. If I open 1♣, I will not be able to bid higher without lying about my strength” and Rocafort: “3♣. In the third seat, we have the sky pretty much to ourselves. A good option to avoid giving them too much space and having them too excited either. If they happily move forward to the game and Partner has no punitive desires, I will succumb to a surprise 4NT bid.”

After some thought, I like this bid that is likely to embarrass the opponent without putting all your eggs in one basket.

On the other side are all the tacticians who prefer to wait and see what happens. They take the risk of seeing the opposing side describe their hands but will have better chances of making the right decision in the end.

Tessières: “1♣. With a partner who immediately passed, a pre-empt in Clubs at the 3- or 4-level could be a good tactical choice. However, I prefer not to ignore the diamonds that I will bid more easily after an opening bid at the 1-level. You should clearly bid again if the auction is below the 3-level when it is your turn to speak. If 4♥ or 4♠ are reached, you will need some inspiration, but I like the 4NT overbid.”

Pacault: “1♣. The opening bid seems to be obvious, with no rebid problem (the repeat of the Clubs) if the opponents don’t overcall. Putting yourself in anticipated defence via a wild 4NT bid is not reasonable with a nice 6-card suit and a bad 5-card one: with 8 cards, it will be better to play in Clubs rather than Diamonds. Also, nothing prevents Partner from having enough holding in the majors to defeat a hypothetical game in the opposing side and you may risk a high penalty for nothing.”

Quantin: “1♣. At the table, I have hesitated between 1♣ and 5♣ for a long time. In the end, I have decided to open at the 1-level. It seemed to me that vulnerability was not favourable enough for such an action (it seemed clear to me that the bidding would end in 5 Clubs doubled).”

Hackett: “1♣. With the intention of making a NT bid later to show the minor two-suiter. It will depend on the sequence, of course.”

Marion Canonne: “1♣. Diamonds are too few for an advanced 4NT opening bid in the third seat and at equal vulnerability. If the bidding reaches the 4-level, I will opt for 4NT anyway, which will show a minor two-suiter with a longer club suit. If the sequence develops more slowly, I will have to think it over…”

Cronier: “1♣. I would like to open with a pre-empt but in addition to the fact that I hate 4NT, there is no very satisfactory level: I have way too many points and playing tricks for 3♣, and no control over the situation above that level.”

Kerlero: “Pass. Of course, it is not very aggressive, but 1♣ isn’t either. I think that I will be able to better describe my hand with an overcall. I am not considering opening 4NT:  why think that East-West have a cold game? North may be 5-5 in the majors!”

Chidiac: “Pass. The 1♣ opening bid would very likely pave the way for a 2♦ major two-suiter overcall by West, facilitating competitive bids made by the opposing side. With this minor two-suiter, I prefer to pass, collect information and overcall later with a NT pre-empt. If there was a second big honour in Diamonds, I would have opened 4NT in my system to describe a 6-5 or 6-6 minor two-suiter.”

Choose your side depending on your temperament but don’t copy me. I opened 4♣, my LHO bid 4♠. When it was my turn to speak again, I unilaterally bid higher with 4NT and ended up losing 500 in 5♣ doubled. The 4♠ contract was making but my partner had ♠653 ♥QJ1084 ♦1062 ♣95. A well-deserved bottom.

Scores deal #2

1♣: 100 points (8 votes)
3♣: 60 points (5 votes)
Pass: 30 points (3 votes)
4♣: 20 points (2 votes)
4NT: 10 points (1 vote)
5♣: 10 points (1 vote)

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