BBO Prime bidders challenge: and the winner is….

The Top Bidders for January 2021

This month’s competition winner, with a score of 73/80, is:

Luwen Koh (BBO: XReborned) from Singapore

Luwen learned to play bridge twelve years ago as a junior college student and he has recently qualified as a World Bridge Federation Assistant Tournament Director.

Congratulations to Luwen who wins 50 BB$ and a 1 month subscription to Prime!

Also on the January ‘Roll of Honor’, and thus early leaders in the annual competition:

  • with a score of 70/80: Kurt Schaeffer (BBO: specialkfs) from Lakeville MN, USA
  • with a score of 66/80: Peter Hudson (BBO: p_t_red) from Coppell TX, USA, Bradley Johnston (BBO: Nohk) from Dunedin, New Zealand and Thomas Gardner (BBO: thomasg_16) from England.

Honourable mentions also go to those who at least matched any of our expert panellist’s scores:

  • 65/80:  Ben Bomber, Aldo Gerli (BBO: tendenz), Anup Duttaroy (BBO: anup)
  • 64/80:  Alex Kolesnik (BBO: kolesnik), Gjivo Tikvica (BBO: KhazadDoom), Mr Elwindra (BBO: GabriaLsew) and Stuart Carr
  • 62/80:  Kevin Podsaidlik and Barbara Giesbrecht (BBO; BabsG) 
  • 61/80:  Ricardo Cardoni
  • 60/80:  Paul Dubois (BBO: pottsca), Carla Vega (BBO: 01vega), Harry Gordon, Dave Bugay and Marc Casteleyn

More than 100 BBO members entered the January competition, so congratulations to all of those who made it onto this month’s honor roll.

Remember, if you win the most challenges this year, you can win 200BB$! So come on down to this month’s hands to participate!

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See the experts comments for hand 1 below and subscribe if you want to see all comments and compare yourself to bridge experts!

Experts comments from the first hand!

HAND 1.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
3 NT101047
2 :hearts:735
3 :clubs:636
2 NT2023
3 :diamonds:0011
4 :diamonds:003
4 NT002
2 :diamonds:001
4 :clubs:001
5:diamonds:001

A sizeable majority, with two-thirds of the panel choosing 3NT, showing a hand too strong for a non-forcing jump to 3. Some were content with their choice:

BRINK: 3NT. Usually this shows long diamonds and a hand like this.
BOCCHI:
3NT. Normally shows these cards, perhaps with the additional J.
CHAGAS: 3NT. Maybe my diamonds could be a little bit better, but I can find no other bid to describe my length and strength.

Whilst a couple had misgivings about the choice of opening bid:

VERBEEK: 3NT. I wish I had opened the hand with a strong 2♣. Now I am hoping we do not miss slam. Such a nice hand.
COHEN: 3NT. Way too strong for only 3, so it is this (which would typically be more in diamonds, less on the side), or a phony reverse or jump-shift. I think a 2♣ opening then 3 would have been more comfortable.

Some settle for the majority choice as they like the alternatives less:

ROBSON: 3NT. It’s either this or fabricate 3♣, which is not my style. I like to play Gazzilli here, so 2♣ showing any 16+. 3NT is not ideal: we may miss a slam, and my spades are better than partner may expect, but that may work to my advantage if West leads a studious ♠K from ♠Kxx, dummy tabling ♠Qxxxx
DE WIJS: 3NT. Feels like a good hand to play a strong club system because of the good slam potential. I hate fake 2/3♣ bids, so I am stuck with 3NT for now.
BIRD: 3NT. I don’t see how bidding a false 2 or 3♣ is any better than this. Indeed, both those efforts look risky to me. I considered 2NT, but it’s surely better to advertise the good diamonds. 

David is the only panellist to mention 2NT, although that was the choice of nearly a quarter of competition entrants. Of course, it shows the general high-card strength, so I have awarded it some marks, but it does not get across the extra playing strength afforded by the long diamonds. Partner will just raise to game, never thinking about a diamond slam with two low cards in the suit. So, what of those much-despised alternatives?

BROCK: 3♣. I have the agreement that if partner raises and I go back to diamonds, then I don’t really have a club suit. I want to make a forcing bid that leaves me as much room as possible. Second choice 3NT.
WANG: 3♣. I like 3NT to show a singleton or two small spades, and the diamond suit needs to be a bit stronger.

Zia also wouldn’t have started from here.

ZIA: 3♣. I would have opened 2♣ and rebid 3NT showing a long minor. I now bid 3♣ as I am too strong for 3NT. (In my system 3 shows a forcing jump in diamonds.)

Brad offers an observation often proposed in these forums.

MOSS: 2. The least of all evils. When in doubt, make the cheapest bid.

Thomas also makes a very valid point.

BESSIS: 2. I am too strong for a 3NT rebid, so I have to “invent” a second suit to start a forcing process. 2 leaves us way more room than 3♣, so that’s my bid.

Eric delves deeper into the options.

KOKISH: 2. 3NT shows solid diamonds and a stiff spade for many (most) of us, and whether one prefers the “safer” 3♣ to the cheaper force of 2 is a personal choice. A heart raise would confirm 5+♠ and so would not be tragic, but this complex hand needs room to grow and that risk is worth taking. 3♣ often forces a strain choice on responder when his diamond support is modest. If 3 were the default continuation with no clear direction and strain issues, I’d like 3♣ a bit better.


Make of the debate what you may, but we have a clear majority for 3NT amongst our experts. When the hand occurred at the table, partner held Kxxxx/xx/xx/Axxx so 6 was a better contract than 3NT (2-2 diamonds or 3-3 spades in 6, whereas you need diamonds 2-2 in 3NT). Diamonds were 2-2, so 3NT and 6 were both making. If you were going to stop in game, though, you wanted to be in 5, but I suspect that 3NT would probably have ended the auction most of the time. Whether the alternatives would have fared any better is not clear, although perhaps 3♣ would have highlighted the heart weakness. Readers’ options which failed to score include 3, which is clearly not enough on this hand, and 4, which usually shows primary spade support, something like AKxx/Qx/AKQJx/xx, so not this hand at all.