Bidding Challenge #1 from Gryphons II -- June 8, 2001
            Kevin Wilson, with an afterword by Jim Plank

To review, here was the problem:

            All Vul
            Here is your hand:
               S KQx
               H 9xx
               D K8xx
               C AJx
              Partner   You
                1H       2D
                4NT      5D
                6D       ?
            Enemy passes throughout.
            You may assume that you are playing Standard American
            bidding (not 2/1), and regular Blackwood.  

Kevin's analysis:

I think there are several important inferences on this
hand.  One problem with playing Standard is that there is
no convienent way to show a raise of responder's suit and a
very strong hand.  After 1H - 2D - now what?

      - 3D is not forcing.
      - 4D takes up a lot of space and leaves only a tiny
        bit of room for cuebidding.
      - Sure, 2S and 3C are forcing but then partner will
        never believe that you have diamonds with him.

I think that 4NT says that partner believes that there are
12 tricks present if he doesn't have 2 immediate losers
first.  He is choosing to be captain.

The next point is about the Aces.  On this auction, we are
definitely missing an Ace.  Since 2D shows an unlimited
hand, partner can't jump to Blackwood and then not
guarantee all the Aces if we have them.  He doesn't know if
I am looking at a solid side suit that can take many
tricks, so when he does choose to captain while I am still
unlimited, then he is obligated to guarantee all the aces
if we have them.  So we are missing an Ace.  Also, he has
no voids because otherwise he would not jump to Blackwwod.

Next, the only other thing that I suspect partner thinks
about my hand is that I probably have 5 diamonds.  So part
of his 12 tricks are 5 diamonds.  This, I think is
critical.  Almost everybody that answered thinks that
partner has 10 red cards and most everybody thought he was
probably 5-5. They also think his hearts are solid because
its hard to imagine a hand that partner didn't open 2C but
that he was strong enough to bid Blackwood over a 2D
response.  In my experience, when partner jumps like this,
he is usually gambling a little because he visualizes 12
tricks, not because he has some massive high card count.  I
would also think that partner has 10 or 11 red cards, but
if its only 10 then I think I should consider the
possibility that he is 6-4 in hearts and diamonds with
solid hearts.  Almost everyone seems to agree that he has
solid hearts.

This is what he needs to be able to visualize 12 tricks: 6
hearts, 5 diamonds, and the ace that I showed.  If he was
looking at a King then he might consider 6H himself to
protect it.  He knows that by bidding 6D, if he had a king,
it would not be protected.  So I think that if he wre
5-5-2-1 with a Kx, that he would not immediately try for a
slam, and that if he were 6-4-2-1 with a Kx then he would
try 6H himself to protect it.  By his bidding this way, he
thinks we have 12 tricks or that he can't get enough
information at a low enough level to make this

This brings me to the most important point.  I only have 4
diamonds!  So we have 6 hearts, 4 diamonds, and my ace of
clubs.  That is only 11 tricks.  Our 12th trick must come
from either spades or diamonds.  If I were sure that the
enemy would lead a spade, then I would bid 6NT. But since
they might lead a club, then we may not have enough time to
develop a 12th trick in notrump.  What about hearts or
diamonds?  In hearts then there can be no 5th trick in
diamonds if pard is 6-4. But in diamonds, then I can draw 3
rounds of trump and then run all the hearts and have 3
pitches for whichever black suit we have a loser in, and
score a ruff in my hand.  So then we would have our 12th

All this leads me to believe that pass is the best action,
with 6H and 6N being very close.  6H would win if pard was
2-6-4-1 and they led clubs but 6N would win whenever they
led spades, or it couldn't be worse if pard was 1-6-4-2.
6nt also wins whenever pard is 1-6-5-1, so I score it
slightly higher then 6H. I expect partner to be 6-4 in
hearts and diamonds and have solid hearts and very good

The scoring:

 - 6D    90 + any good reasoning like above will get up to 100
 - 6N    60 + up to another 10
 - 6H    50 + up to another 10
 - 7D    10
 - anything else scores 0

In actuality, I had the other hand...


Argue that I didn't have my bid if you want, but I thought
I could see 12 tricks, and I could never have room for pard
to cuebid a second round club control if he had the ace of
spades.  Also, I thought 6D might protect his K of clubs.  

Jim's comments:

     I was in the 6H camp, figuring partner needed either
     two bullets in the black suits, or the SA and a stuff
     club to bid Blackwood.  Maybe a stiff spade and KQ
     tight of clubs.  Given all that, it seemed to me that
     we won't have to worry about a black suit loser, so
     we'll be getting the same tricks in diamonds and
     hearts.  6N seemed like courting disaster after a club
     lead.  So it goes -- all I can say is that when I make
     a bid like that, partner has the ace of spades and
     after the opponents cash two club tricks, I get to
     listen to one or both of them dissert on why they
     never bid Blackwood with a dead doubleton......

Of those who answered, here are the breakdowns:

     6h   : 9
     6n   : 7
     Pass : 6
     7d   : 1
Here are some of the comments -- if you would like me to omit
your comments in the future, let me know.

From the passers.  Most didn't like the 2D bid to begin with:

From Bill Eddy: 

     I would PASS!!!   I do not have much beyond the
     11 points I would need to respond at the two level and
     do not have a 5 card suit in Diamonds which I would
     normally have wanted in order to make the two diamond
     response.  I WOULD TRUST MY PARTNER.

From Mike Cappelletti Jr: 

     Pass.  Wouldn't have made the 2D bid and would've
     answered Key Card.  However, if I can bid 2D with this
     hand, partner must be 5-5 in hearts and diamonds.
     Therefore, why correct to hearts on 3 little?  As an
     afterthought, a simpler answer is "who invited me..."
     Partner is captain, partner asked for aces and set the
     contract.  Obviously hearts and NT could be better
     contracts, but since partner didn't ask my opinion, I
     am not allowed to correct.

From Dave Jerviss:
     Pass.  You have already distorted your hand by bidding 2
     Diamonds instead of 3 no trump.  No extras that
     partner is not aware of.

From Geoff Greene:

     Is it a correct answer to say I wouldn't play (twice,
     anyway) with someone who bid this way?  The 4 NT is
     irresponsible.  I subscribe to the theory that my
     partner is all seeing and all knowing.  I'll trust him
     and pass.

Brooks gives a detailed analysis, and like most everyone 
     except Kevin, is giving declarer 5-5 in the red suits.
     However, Brooks sees where diamonds may play better
     than hearts:

     I cannot think of anything to do but pass.  Partner
     controlled the auction, and I don't possess anything
     sufficiently surprising to overrule him.  Assuming
     he's not a total idiot, he has a singleton spade and
     we're missing the A or we're missing the HA.

     Most possible hands will look like:

     x AKxxx AQxxx Kx as a minimum
     A KQxxx AQxxx KQ as a max

     The key will always be how good his hearts are.
     Obviously if theu're headed by AKQ, we have reasonable
     play for 6H or 6N. If they are AKQJx(x) with good
     diamonds, then both alternative contracts are probably
     preferable to 6D. If he has the CQ or a red card, the
     spade loser goes away in a suit contract.  If the
     spade singleton is the SJ or the A is onside, I can
     generate two heart discards and maybe another in

     I guess my analysis should include deciding what the
     likely contracts will be at the other tables, but in
     general, I find this analysis highly error-prone and a
     waste of time.

     6D will still have some play opposite AKxxx in hearts
     and the CK (eg, x AKxxx AQxxx Kx; and may be cold
     opposite J AKxxx AQxxx KQ) since I may be able to get
     rid of dummy's heart losers.  If another contract
     turns out to be preferable, discuss the auction in
     detail at some later date.  Maybe partner took control
     too early.

Mike Waters has declarer with longer hearts than diamonds, but 
like many others, corrected to 6H:

     I bid 6H, if partner has broken heart suit, the
     contract will likely hinge on a finesse in either
     hearts or diamonds, so play in top scoring strain.
     Partner didn't splinter, but likely has singleton (or
     two) and shouldn't have a void (used Blackwood) and
     partner didn't investigate grand, so off an ace or
     hearts or diamonds aren't "solid." Would have jumped
     to 3H with solid hearts and either has diamond
     length/strength or playing you for doubleton heart.
     Possible hands:
     S Ax                         S x
     H AQJ1098                    H AK8764
     D A10876                     D AQJ9
     C x                          C Kx

In fact, pretty much all of the 6H bidders said similar things.
From Connie Anderson:

     I believe I would "correct" to 6H. I do not have 5
     diamonds, I have a king more than partner may expect,
     and I do have 3 card heart support.  I'd assume
     partner is at least 5-5. He may have more hearts than
     diamonds (otherwise we'd open our longest suit first).
     If we have heart losers, we have them in diamonds as
     well and at matchpoints, hearts score better.  I'm not
     bidding NT since partner knows more about my hand than
     his and he may be VERY distributional, but he should
     not have a void since he used Blackwood to ask for
     aces.  By the same token, he should not have two quick
     losers in the black suits either; but a club lead
     through me since he bid nt first might not be good.
     Anyway, right or wrong, that's my reasoning.

Most of the 6N bidders are more flippant, going for a top:

Jerry Vaughan:

    I hate my partner!  I'm bidding 6NT, and going for the
    gold, I give pard this hand: x,AKQJxx,AQTxx,x, nothing
    else justifies his actions, I'm a K better than he has
    a right to expect playing in for a
    penny in for a pound.........

Bill Wilson (Kevin's Brother):

    6nt, what the hell, feels right.