January 2023 bidding contest: the results!

Bridge bidding contest


The Experts’ answers
Deal #1: Let us remain sensible
Deal #2: By process of elimination
Deal #3: Another sequence to work on
Deal #4: The difficulties of a double fit
Deal #5: The nightmare
Deal #6: Too easy?
Share your view

Summary of the Experts’ Answers

Experts' answer January 2023 bidding contest

Deal #1: Let us remain sensible

Almost unanimous; only one disagreement:

Rombaut: “2NT. Mild invitation to game; pass would be the defeatist alternative and 3♦ too optimistic.”

I did indeed expect to get a large majority of passes when I posed this problem but I wanted to see whether some experts were playing different systems from the French Standard, which recommends passing with this hand, as explained by Hackett:

“Pass. My diamonds are not good enough for doubling and then bidding them. Despite my points, if I double, my partner will surely bid Hearts and we could end up in a precarious contract.”,

Kerlero: “Pass. Really unfortunate but 3♦ is forcing (to game) and I think I’m a bit short for a 2NT bid!” and Adad: “Pass. I neither play 3♦ as non-forcing, nor 2NT as artificial and allowing me, over the relay to 3♣, to mention my diamonds. And my hand does not lend itself to doubling.”

Kokish summarises the situation by listing the different possibilities: “Pass. If the Jack of Spades were the Queen, I would risk a natural 2NT. Or if 2NT were artificial, showing Diamonds with three-card support in Clubs; or if we could bid a 3♣ transfer to Diamonds without promising much strength… But, in reality, nothing can justify a bid.”

This use of transfers, which has not yet caught on in France, is mentioned in some other contributions with varying levels of regret:

Lorenzini: “Pass. Having, to my regret, not yet integrated transfers into these types of situations, I am obliged to pass, not having a sensible bid available.”

Rocafort: “Pass. I have nothing against skydiving, as long as I have a parachute. With no strength, no suit, no plan for continuations, no way of controlling what happens next, why look for trouble? Even if I had a tool such as transfers available, I would not be a huge fan of setting off on an adventure.”

Cronier: “Pass. You could play transfers, starting with Double, an idea proposed since the 1970s by Pierre Ghestem. But that is not the case for me…”

Another idea which is a departure from French Standard is a  3♦ bid being non-forcing. Two experts tell us about that:

Chidiac: “Pass. A Sputnik Double promises Hearts and 3♦ is a game-forcing bid. Therefore, all that remains is just one option: passing! Those who play NFBs (“Negative Free Bids”) can bid a non-forcing 3♦ without a problem” is contradicted by Zmudzinski: “Pass. I even play that free bids can be weak but, even then, 3♦ is not clear (bad suit, 5 points in the opponents’ suit).” To finish, Jill Meyers’ response, which anticipates the rest of the sequence: “Pass. I like to play Lebensohl in this situation if Partner reopens with a double. I would then be very happy to be able to bid a positive 3♦ in that potential scenario. But I am far from having enough to make a free 3♦ bid.”

Remember: transfers and non-forcing bids are not yet fashionable in France in this sequence but use it to discuss the follow-up if Partner reopens with a double…

Scores deal #1

Pass: 100 points (23 votes)
2NT: 5 points (1 vote)

Deal #2: By process of elimination

Like in the previous problem, the hand hardly lends itself to a Sputnik Double with only two cards in Spades. That, however, is the option chosen by several experts, including

Duguet: “Double. If my partner mentions Spades, there will still be time to correct to Clubs.” Sure, it would be awkward to stay in 2♠ in a 4-2 fit but what would Double followed by 3♣ show; a stronger hand than a direct 3♣ but with not enough to make a 3♥ cue bid? This is all rather murky and as Lévy says: “3♣.

Not great with four cards in Clubs but doubling with two cards in Spades goes back to you preparing to bid your clubs over the top of the level Partner has bid his spades at. Therefore, we are giving ourselves more of a run-up in order to jump higher.”

If it means bidding 3♣ on the next round, you may as well mention them straightaway; this will provoke less interrogation from your partner about why you initially doubled.

That is the reason why the great majority of the experts resolved to bid 3♣, for lack of a better option, as it transpired from lots of comments…

Kokish: “3♣. 3♥ and 3♦ are overbids and a double too dangerous with only two cards in Spades. The fact that North might only have three clubs does not stop him from having more.”

Lorenzini: “3♣. Not enough strength to my name for bidding 3♦. It is out of the question for me to pass with 10 points. 3♣ seems to me to be the right compromise.”

Quantin: “3♣. Again, it is out of the question to double, for the same reasons as before. It would be ideal to have a fifth club but for lack of anything better… It does not seem reasonable to me to pass, either, with 10 HCP and a fit in Partner’s suit.”

Rocafort: “3♣. This is a case of getting into position for possible continuations without throwing oneself in blindly. I have a weakness for thinking that Partner has Clubs when he opens 1♣. Moreover, I have at some point simulated these cases, where it emerged that we intuitively underestimate the length of a 1♣ or 1♦ opener’s suit.”Jill Meyers: “3♣. No sensible alternative. This would be better with a fifth club but my points compensate for that.”

Franceschetti: “3♣. Sure: 10 HCP and only four cards in Clubs. I will probably stifle our game on occasion but any other bid seems optimistic to me.”

Chemla: “3♣. The hand is a bit too strong and a bit too short in Clubs; but (most often) nothing is perfect, alas!”

Thomas Bessis: “3♣. I will not pass with 10 HCP; nor will I double with two cards in Spades or make a game-forcing bid either, will I? So, let us go for 3♣,  with a club fewer than expected but a King extra…”

Scores deal #2

3♣️: 100 points (19 votes)
Double: 20 points (4 votes)
Pass: 5 points (1 votes)

Deal #3: Another sequence to work on

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