Thursday, September 10, 2009

Team trials bidding problems outcome

These 2 hands were previously presented as separate bidding problems (North post, South post):

Q J 6
Q 8
J 8 7 4 2
A 10 4

J 5 4
A K 6 5
K Q J 9 5 2

SouthWest North East

I think acting with the South cards is right, but now prefer 4N to double. I also think bidding over double is right with the North cards, though that was not a popular choice in comments. In fact, the opponents can make 4♠ if they double hook in trumps, which is probably marked if you pass. 5♣ is down one (you must lose a diamond).

In practice, the double took 20-30 seconds behind screens and that was enough to get the result rolled back to -790. For what it's worth, the committee concurred that 5♣ was the right call, but concluded it was also suggested by the hesitation.


  1. 4NT would seem to get better and better (relative to double) the longer you take to decide.

  2. I had no idea that behind screens 25 seconds would cause any problem.

    I probably also didn't appreciate that bidding would often be close-but-right. For example, I probably would have passed with my partner's actual hand before he convinced me that it was right to bid.

  3. All tempo considerations aside, I wonder if the fact that partner will consider bidding with a hand like he had should sway you away from the committal 4NT bid and towards the double you actually chose. Can't partner still have some 4x1 with a stiff club where passing will stand out to him and also represent our last possible plus (and non-disaster)? Doubling also keeps hearts in the picture in case that is the right suit for the save(make?). Just a thought...usually in these high-level guessing-type situations I like to "get another opinion" if at all possible. I'd tend to save the 4NT bid for a hand with more extreme shape (and it still would be wrong a fair amount of the time). Thanks for the post!

  4. After thinking about it more I think that it is right for North to bid, but that South's double can still be open for interpretation.

    First North. Partner did not make a takeout double to begin with, so must have really good clubs. The CA is most likely to be much more valuable on offense than defense. Your spade holding does not even guarantee a defensive trick. Partner could be reopening with a double IN CASE your values are concentrated in spades, which they are not.

    Now South. When I first read the problem, I envisioned things like partner having KJT of spades and two trump tricks. However, now that I think about it, the chances of him having two trump tricks are quite slim. However, you could make it so that this double asks partner to leave in only with really good trumps, which QJx does not constitute.

    As far as strain goes, I'm still not completely sold on 4NT. However, I've also come around to realize that 4NT should promise 4-6 (assuming with 4-5 in the minors you'd have a hand that would have made a takeout X at first opportunity). I still think the risks are high for running into unnecessary club ruffs playing diamonds, but I like what will happen if partner has 6 diamonds. Then again, perhaps it is on partner to know that with 5-3 he should choose clubs?

    As for keeping the hearts in play with a double, I'm not sure it's particularly useful unless he has 6+ of them. If you play in clubs even with the heart fit, the hearts can still be set up to discard two losing diamonds.

  5. Becker makes an excellent point

  6. I'm curious: what's the smallest change to the north hand that would move you thinking pass is right?

  7. Maybe a sure trump trick (add ST), or 4333 shape. I think a red Ace might be closer, but probably not enough.

    I guess a lot depends on how likely you think a spade singleton with partner is. Given that RHO is marked with a near-Yarborough, I'm expecting a spade void with partner and so have a lot of reason to bid. Partner is also a lock to have 6 clubs. So we have 19 total trumps, plus the possibility of double fits and voids. If the DQ had been stiff (instead of 3rd) both contracts would have made.

    Put differently: what's the South hand you fear where both contracts are down, one of them at least 2?

  8. Upon reflection, I agree with bidding 5C, and it's probably not particularly close. Thanks for posting the problem(s), it's good to have my mind changed.