Bidding Challenge #2 from Gryphons II -- September 19, 2001
            Kevin Wilson & Jim Plank, with random comments from 
                           the entrants.

To review, here was the problem:

    You're playing a pairs game (Matchpoints) at a nearby sectional.
    You've had a good game, and unbeknownst to you, you are in first with
    three boards to go.
    Your opponents play some convoluted big club system, and their convention
    card looks like chicken scratch.
    On board 1, they fix you, closing their eyes and bidding 6n+6 on a board
    where everyone else is in 4s+6.
    On board 2, their mini-roman 2c opener lands them in a poor 3s contract,
    and partner's obligatory spade lead sets them one.
    It's board 3 -- this one likely decides your fate.
    Both sides are vulnerable.
    You pick up:
       S xx
       H xx
       D Axxxxx
       C Axx
    The bidding:
          RHO     You     LHO    Pard
          1S      P       2N     3H
          4D      X       4S     5D
          P       P       5S     P
    Comments on the bidding:
        - 1S is limited to 15 points.
        - 2N is a game-forcing spade raise.  It makes no promises about
        - LHO can't explain the 4D bid.  He says they haven't discussed
          what it means over competition.  He can say pretty safely that
          partner does not have a heart stiff or void, because partner
          would make a different bid with that.  Otherise, it's anyone's
        - LHO tanked a bit before pulling out 5S.
    What is your call, and why?

Kevin's Comments:

When in competitive situations, I always look at the vulnerability
and at the law of total tricks to aid in my decision making.  First,
the vulnerability: it's Red vs.  Red and partner has bid freely twice
over their game forcing auction.  Partner is minimum 6-5 and may be
7-5.  I don't think she has equal suit length because she would have
tried an unusual bid (3nt, 4nt or 4d if you play it as two suited)
with equal distribution.  Why is she bidding so much? 

Second, lets look at the law of total tricks.  Our side has 11
diamonds and their side has what?  If partner has two spades and no
clubs then its 10 in clubs, and if she is 1-1 then its 10 in spades.
If she's 0-2 then its 11 in spades.  So you are looking at 21-22

Next, lets think about our offensive and our defensive potentials.
On offense, I think we have 5 hearts, 6 diamonds, and 1 club.  Now
they may have two ( or as some responders have suggested, even three)
tricks that they can cash before we can collect our winners but we
definitely have plenty of tricks.  On defense we have my ace of clubs
for sure it seems, but probably not my ace of diamonds since my RHO
cuebid them (without a void wouldn't he bid blackwood, or only 4S
with zero aces?) Partner is likely to have a heart trick also but not
definitely.  Partner may be able to ruff a club if she is 1-1, but if
she's 0-2 then that plan won't work, and I've just helped declarer
get discards for some hearts by cashing my A of clubs.  So I'd have
to lead a heart unless she is 1-1 and then a club is right...  What
about the hands where partner is 0-7-5-1?  On these hands, if we have
a heart trick against 5S then we are ice cold for 6 diamonds.  

I think partner's hand is something like

a)          x                              b)        -
            KQ10xxx                            QJxxxxx
            KJxxx                                KQxxx
            x                                       xx

Both of these hands I have given partner have 5 losers.  It's NOT
clear to me that she would bid on the 5 level with 5+ losers.  So
these hands are minimums.  Maybe she is as good as 


It seems clear to me that the ONLY hand I gain by passing or doubling
is when partner is 1-1 in the blacks.  Basically, partner has to have
a stiff club AND a trump AND a heart trick to beat 5S.  Or she has 2
heart tricks and my club but anytime she has 2 heart tricks, we are
cold for 6 or 7 diamonds. 

Back to the law.  If we are going 2 down in 6 diamonds, then they
have 11 or 12 in spades.  We aren't going 3 down!  There are just not
4 losers out there.  If we are going one down then they are one down
or making 5.  Everything points to bidding so I give the most to

Kevin's point allocations:

                         6d = 100 points
    passing, leading a club = 60
   passing, leading a heart = 50
   doubling, leading a club = 40
  doubling, leading a heart = 30


Jim: On the actual hand, partner had -, QJxxxx, Kxxxx, xx.  Responder
     had six spades, and declarer had the AK of hearts, and a stiff
     diamonds.  5S makes on the nose, and 6d is down two (AK of
     hearts and a club).  Everyone else in the room (without
     exception) was plus 650, so bidding 6d was worth a top, and
     doubling a zero.  I won't say what happened, except to say I
     didn't pass, and we didn't come in first......

     (I envisioned losing a heart, winning the CA, cashing the DA and
     letting partner cash a heart.  Needless to say, I was majorly
     bummed when the KH came out of declarer's hand.....)  Had I 
     thought about it more, the chance of declarer being void
     in diamonds would have led me to bid 6d or pass.


Score distribution:

    4 - 6D
    1 - Pass and lead a club
    2 - Pass and lead a heart
    6 - Pass, no lead specified (I gave that a 55).
    1 - Double, no lead specified
    1 - Double and lead a heart

Your comments:

It's fun to see what everyone gives partner:

  x,KQJxxx,Jxxxx,x          Mike Waters' hand
  x,KQJxxx,Kxxxx,x          BigBen's best hand
  x,KQJxxx,KQJx,xx          Mark Wilson's worst hand
  -,AQxxxx,JTxxx,xx         Brooks' best hand
  -,AKQJxx,KJxxx,xx         Mark Wilson's best
  x,AKxxxxx,Jxxxx,-         Arlene Goldstine's hand
  Jim Vessell gives partner the K or QJ of hearts, the KD, and any
      6-5 or 6-6 hand.

  Geoff: I think partner has fallen in love with a 2 suited hand with
         no high card points, probably 1-7-6-0, or 1-7-5-1

The bidders didn't know if it was making, but they figured it
was the right bid:

  Dave Jerviss: It will either be a make or a good sac!
  Mark Wilson: Thinks it's making
  Dave Plank: Thinks it's making
  Jim Vessell: Shows us insight into his thinking:

    1.. What 5 or  6 pt can my p have?  Looks like the KH & KD.
        Or maybe QJxxxx of h and Qxxxxx of d.
    2.. He prob isn't anything less than 6-5, mabye 6-6 
    3.. If he is 1-6-5-1 we lose 1s,2h,1d for down 3 , not good
    4.. If he is 0-6-6-1 we lose 2h,1 dia for down 2
    5.. If he is 1-6-5-1   5s goes down.
    6.. Therefore i think a pass is best here.
    7.. But I don't always do the best thing: I'm bidding 6 diamonds!

The passers all figure that the opponents are a level higher than
the field, but may make 6.  Who knows, but that's good enough:

   Brooks: You've pushed the opponents to the 5-level, and that's
           your victory here.  Woolsey's book on matchpoints stresses
           that you try to give the opponents the "last guess" on
           competitive hands.  Another bid violates that maxim.

   Jo Anne: Don't want to push them to a makeable slam.  
            4D means opener's probably void.  
            East doesn't have to bid 4s after your double.

   Paul Haas: You have pushed them into making a guess;  
              hope that they have guessed wrong.

   Glenn Reider: If there are only 10 or 9 tricks available to them
                 we have already gotten a good score, because our
                 bidding and their confusion have pushed them to the
                 5 level.  If there are 11 tricks available to them
                 then I certainly don't want to double us into a
                 bottom. Their bidding suggests that there are not 
                 12 tricks available to them.

   Norma: The five level belongs to the opponents

   Mike Waters: 1) 5 level belongs to the opponents, 
                2) a plus score is a happy score ... therefore PASS

Some comments on the situation and how it affects your bidding:

   Brooks: Bidding here requires guessing what's right on the hand,
           and also guessing what's right in terms of the event.  I
           may just need to avoid a zero to win, or maybe I need a

           I'm not a fan of decisions based on this thinking.  At
           best it distracts one's focus from the bridge problems at
           hand.  Some will argue that this type of analysis is part
           of higher level bridge skill.  Personally, I think that is
           usually just an egotistical and self-serving view.  Save
           it for the barometer pairs.

    Geoff: First off, the first few paragraphs of the "quiz" are
           useless information.  It doesn't matter that's it from a
           sectional.  If doesn't matter if they fixed you on the
           first board.  And it certainly doesn't matter about the
           second hand.

           The only time I want to see people trying to "engineer"
           good boards is when they are playing AGAINST me.  Blind
           squirrel and acorns aside, it rarely works.  Bid your
           hand, dammit.

    (Jim:) I put it in just for grins.  In the actual tournament, I
           knew we were having a good game, but no idea if we were
           at 55% or 68%.....

General Slander:

    Geoff: Bottom line, I'm letting them play 5 spades, undoubled.  6
           diamonds is a bid you dream your opponents will make.

           And tell Plank I figured all this out and still bid in tempo.

And finally, some of the more lengthy comments from Brooks, Mike:

        From the auction, it appears that the 4D bid was intended
        to show shortness.  But without agreement, the explanation
        was acceptable.

        I suppose 6D could be right _if_ they were making 5S, and
        _if_ 6H goes down less than 3. Alternatively, double could be
        right if 5S is going down.  But I'm not prescient, and
        there's a good chance 5S making 5 or 6 is the par spot.

        Depending on partner's conservatism, I suspect that 6H may go
        down 1 or 2 tricks a majority of the time, but won't 5S go
        down quite a few times when this is true?

        What would it take to make 6H? Partner could have Void AQxxxx
        JTxxx xx, or maybe QJTx xxx or QJTx JT9 in the minors.  Then
        a fortuitous lie of the cards might bring home the phantom

        As far as the opening lead, it's just possible that partner
        needs a club ruff to set 5S, but again I think that's a

    Mike Waters: 

        1. Given opponents "power" bidding and your two aces, it
           suggests that partner has limited values - 10 points at
           most, with majority of assets in hearts - with 2 or fewer
           spades, making it unlikely that your side is cold for 5
           diamonds and certainly casts serious doubts on the wisdom
           of a 6-level save.

        2. You have a holding partner could envision, if not expect,
           and partner didn't save, so neither should you.  If
           partner is leaving the decision up to you, pass is an easy
           call.  If partner has 2 spades and 1 club, pass.  If only
           2 black cards, partner would likely save with a void, so
           pass!  Besides, if you are making 5, the opponents may be
           as well, and it's doubtful you can double for 800, so why
           gamble on a possible -850 ... AND don't forget: opener DID
           cue bid 4 diamonds (but no clubs, meaning North holds club
           control), so who's to say tha t opponents aren't cold for

        3. Partner certainly holds stonger hearts, if not more
           hearts, than diamonds, and the heart bid likely was a lead
           director of sorts.  The key to the hand is LHO's holding.
           What kind of hand does he hold to make a forcing raise and
           bid on to 5-level, yet one that he didn't/couldn't cue
           bid.  very curious.