BBO Prime bidders challenge: June Panel Comments

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 21-6 – May-June 2021

Welcome to the sixth BBO Prime Bidding Challenge. We had joint winners of Set 21-4, so we welcome three guest panellists this month. Csaba Daday from Gottingen, Germany learned bridge from his parents in Romania, and he played regularly whilst living in both Iceland and the Netherlands. He has since given up club bridge and now plays mostly against robots, which he says he finds more reliable than real partners. You can catch him playing on YouTube at Earle Ferguson, from Halifax NS, says “I have been playing bridge for longer than I care to think about. I have tortured myself and others over the years, mainly with 2/1, and as with everyone, I’ve had good results and bad. These days I mostly settle for playing a variation I think of as good robot/bad robot.” These two have established themselves on the annual competition leaderboard and rate to be serious contenders for the title come, December. Welcome and good luck to all three.

We are also joined by a new expert panellist this month, the legendary Swede, P.O. Sundelin. Per Olof first represented Sweden at the 1976 Olympiad, and won his first European Championship the following year. He was a member of all of Sweden’s most successful teams at World Championship events, claiming bronze medals at the Bermuda Bowl in 1977, 1987 and 1991, and at the World Team Olympiad in 1988.

Only a small panel this month, but there are still pearls of wisdom aplenty.


4 :hearts:10532
2 :clubs:8110
4 :clubs:8319
5 :clubs:735
3 :clubs:513
2 :hearts:306
2 :spades:312
3 :hearts:306
4 :spades:207
3 :spades:004

Eighteen different actions, which must be close to a record for any problem ever set. There was little agreement on the expert panel, with eight different bids chosen, the most popular of which attracted fewer than a third of panellists. The competition entrants then came up with a further ten different choices, some of them more sensible than others. With such a wide range of views, I gave some marks to a large number of actions (14). Let’s start with the panel’s largest faction, such as it is:

ROBSON: 4. The practical bid on a hand that rates to play a lot better in hearts than spades.
BIRD: 4. I want to play in hearts and that will be difficult if I make a rebid such as 3♣ or 4♣ now. If I miss a cold slam and partner shakes his head wearily, it will not be the first time.
COHEN: 4. This hand won’t play well in spades if partner has only four (especially with bad breaks looming). While I have enough to insist on game (picture QJxx/Qx/Qxxx/Jxx for example), I don’t want to go slamming due to those bad breaks. Besides, 4 doesn’t show a bad hand. Partner can bid again. Lastly, I don’t want to leave them space to get together in a minor.
LAVEE: 4. I do not want to be in a spade fit with South implying short spades. Playing in hearts, there is a chance that potential spade losers can be discarded on partner’s high cards in the minors.
Wen Fei sums up for those who rebid their suit.
WANG: 4. I have an eight-card suit, so I will not support partner’s suit. His spade honors will be just as useful in a heart contract.
Although it attracted only one vote from the panel, Carla puts forward sound reasons for what I thought was perhaps the most flexible action.
VEGA: 2♣. South’s 1NT bid suggests bad divisions. There is a risk of a high jump by North (5♣, 5, 4NT), but my best chance seems to be to show a good hand and hope the opponents leave enough space for us to investigate. With luck, I may be able to jump to 5♣ (Exclusion) later, once I know which suit should be trumps.

This may be the best way to get to 7 when it is right…
CHAGAS: 5♣. Exclusion, I hope…
DE WIJS: 5♣. Exclusion Blackwood for spades. I don’t quite have the strength for this, but since it seems very likely we will not be playing at the four-level anyway (the opps will bid 5m) I might as well try for gold.
FERGUSON: 5♣. Exclusion Blackwood. If he shows two with the queen, I will bid 7♠. If we do not have exclusion available, Good Luck.

There are various problems with 5♣, though. Firstly, what do you do when partner shows one key card? Surely, you want to play 6 opposite QJxx/xx/Axx/xxxx, but even the five-level is too high opposite Kxxx/xx/Qxx/Kxxx. Also, are you sure that when you bid some number of hearts partner will understand you want him to pass?
This seems to be another reasonable alternative.

KLUKOWSKI: 4♣. Of course, it might be better to play hearts, but I believe 4♣ (splinter agreeing spades) is the best description of my hand. I might try to jump into 6 later, to convince partner that we belong in hearts.
DADAY: 4♣. A pretty annoying hand. This is probably taken to be a splinter for spades, but I hope that I can bid 6 next round. I don’t want to give them a cheap way of bidding a minor.

Jessica mentions 2: does this show a forcing hand with spades rather than hearts as opposed to a diamond control rather than one in clubs? She is even worried that it might be taken as natural!
LARSSON: 4♣. I wanted to bid 2 forcing with some spade support, but perhaps partner will still think it is natural and 5-5. It could absolutely be right to play 4 but, to give us the best chance of reaching slam, I reluctantly bid 4♣.

Yes, if we are going to commit to supporting spades, then 4♣ seems like the best way to start. Just settling for a raise to 4♠ seems both to risk playing in the wrong suit and missing slam. Both Alan and Eric make bids that I’m not sure I would risk with an unknown partner.

SONTAG: 3♣. Obvious splinter.
If so, then isn’t 4♣ ‘obviously void’ and, hence, a more accurate description?
KOKISH: 3NT. At least 4-6 in the majors, concentrated. Hearts forever afterwards. A tactical plan might be a gentle 3♣, theoretically a raise to 3♠ with club shortage, which might buy time to emphasize hearts without overstating the HCP while getting the club feature across early.
I’m not sure that 3NT showing primary spade support with good hearts is universal, but it certainly shows a hand too good for a non-forcing 3 rebid, so is not that far removed from a jump to 4. My only question, though, is whether partner is allowed to pass 3NT.
Then we have two panellists who choose to play a tactical game of cat and mouse with the opponents…

ZIA: 2. I want to see if partner can double or rebid spades over their minor-suit bids. Looks like a hand to try and get doubled later. That’s my forte!

SUNDELIN: 2♠. A poker gamble, suspecting there will be competition…

Well, make of all that what you will. At the table, partner had Kxxx/xx/KQxx/Axx so 6 just needed a 2-1 trump split. South was 1-1-5-6 so even the five-level was too high in spades. It is hard to tell quite which action, if any, will get you to the top spot, but the 4 bidders at least can be certain of a plus score, which may be enough to win the board.


5 :clubs:7230
4 :spades:003
4 :clubs: (insufficient)003

By contrast, the panel could only find three options here, and they are exactly split between the two most popular choices. With 9/16 choosing to play rather than defend, I have split the tie in that direction. Almost everyone scores fairly well on this deal although only a small number of contestants grabbed a ‘10’. Let’s start with those panelists who opt to defend:

CHAGAS: Pass. Partner had 4NT available. This is a “please shut up” double in my view.
COHEN: Pass. Who is to say they won’t get killed here?
LAVEE: Pass. I think it’s close between Pass and 4NT. Partner’s double shows values. 4NT seems like a practical choice with a source of tricks, Kx of hearts, and the unfavourable vulnerability. But at IMPs, I’m taking the plus score as there are more hands partner can have that would fail in 4NT than would make it.

Those seem happy enough, but this camp is not all so content.

SUNDELIN: Pass. I hope this is not preparing for 4♠, which will presumably be followed by two passes back to me.
KOKISH: Pass. This could be wrong as both 4 and our higher contract could be easy makes, but in theory this is a penalty double and my hand is not especially unusual despite the lovely clubs.
ROBSON: Pass. With an uneasy feeling.
Not that those who retreat to notrumps are all filled with confidence either…
KLUKOWSKI: 4NT. 4 might be making. Partner’s double shows points, so I’d likely go for 4NT, with unclear intentions – either to make, or to be down cheaply in case they are making 4.
WANG: 4NT. I hope I can make.
ZIA: 4NT. Partner’s double says it’s our hand. I’m guessing…
VEGA: 4NT. To play. They wouldn’t let us play 3NT, but maybe they’ll give up now.
They certainly will – they’ve pushed you just too high!

FERGUSON: 4NT. Going for +630 against 300-500 on defense.

And someone who remembers the hand…
DE WIJS: 4NT. I doubt we will get rich defending, so I will try for my own vulnerable game. (Yes, I recognize this hand and still manage to take the wrong decision now.)
And our final group.
BIRD: 5♣. This at least gives us a chance of finding a good 6♣.

DADAY: 5♣. I am guessing the opponents have a large spade fit and North is just trying to involve South in the decision next round. So let me try to involve my partner too.

As it turns out, the more marks you score here, the worse your result at the table would have been, so the 5♣ bidders can at least claim a moral victory. Partner had xx/xx/AK10xx/98xx. With clubs 2-1 and diamonds 3-3, only a heart ruff holds clubs to 11 tricks. 4NT, though, is one too high and you get +300 from 4-X.


1 :diamonds:1020
3 :clubs:60
4 :clubs:60
1 :hearts:27
2 :diamonds:07
2 :clubs:04
2 :spades:01

Comfortably the largest majority from the panel this month. By contrast, for the first time in this competition, the largest group of readers (more than a third of all entries) score zero. Why? Because 2NT is NOT unusual in fourth seat, it is natural, showing a strong balanced hand (around 19-21). Remember that a 1NT overcall here is around 11-14 or thereabouts, rather than the 15-18 it would be in second seat, so you need some way to show more ranges of balanced hand in fourth. There is also obviously no need to pre-empt in fourth seat as you can just pass with weak hands.

The assumption in features of this sort is that you sit down opposite an unknown expert with little discussion (although there is a basic system posted for anyone who cares to look at it). Simply adding ‘red suits; when you submit your choice does not make it so, just as if you bid 2♣ over partner’s 1NT opening and add ‘natural’ as a description, partner will still take it as Stayman. Similarly, the 2♣ bidders also score zero as, without discussion, that would be assumed to show both majors. Let’s hear first from the big majority on the panel…

DE WIJS: 1. A bit of a gamble, hoping I won’t get to play this. I can’t bring myself to double with this hand and don’t see an alternative (2NT would be natural).
LARSSON: 1. 2NT would be natural.
LAVEE: 1. 2NT is not Unusual in the balancing seat, but shows a strong balanced hand. Many experts play that 2♣ in this situation shows any two suits, not Michaels. Since I’m not on firm ground with 2♣ without discussion, I like 1 as the auction is very unlikely to end looking at only one black card. I plan to bid 4 next.
VEGA: 1. There is definitely something interesting going on! Double is nonsense. 2NT if it showed / may be okay, but I don’t think it does in this position. 1 seems best as I doubt it will be followed by three passes.
ROBSON: 1. There’s no bid to show the two suits so will start low and hope to guess well later.

Well, 4NT does presumably shows these two suits, although no panellist opted for that choice. Fergus gives a sound reason why…

FERGUSON: 1. The bidding is not over and I want partner to know that my diamonds are a lot better than my hearts when I next bid 4.

BIRD: 1. If this is passed out, I expect to wake from my dream shortly. Meanwhile, this seems to be the best available launchpad for the description of my hand.
ZIA: 1. Then 4. Hope it works
SUNDELIN: 1. Another hope for enemy action, maybe completely misjudged. KLUKOWSKI: 1. My first inclination was to bid 2♣ to show a strong two-suited hand, but I suspect partner will think it shows majors. I guess I have to start with 1.
WANG: 1. I really want to bid 4, showing +Major, but I suspect we do not have that agreement, so I will start with 1.
SONTAG: 1. This is unlikely to end the auction

Larry accurately sums up for the majority

COHEN: 1. Unfortunately, 2NT doesn’t show red suits in this position (otherwise that would be a standout). I could double, but partner might never stop bidding spades. I doubt it will go 1 all pass. Likely LHO has a strong hand and I will get to jump to 4 at my next turn.

There were just a few mavericks.

CHAGAS: 4♣. This should show a two-suited hand.

I’m sure it should. Will partner know which two, though? Similarly…

KOKISH: 3♣. Presumably diamonds and a major, as neither 2NT (natural) nor 2♣ (Majors) are available. My personal preference is to treat 2♣ as ANY strong two-suiter, but if I can’t do that, this is the best I can do.

Then there is the only man with a really strong stomach…

DADAY: Double. I’ll do my best to pull partner’s spade bids to diamonds. Not proud of this at all, but I have no idea how many diamonds to bid if I were just going to bid that suit.

At least he is honest 😊. There is also the possibility that a double might be followed by three passes, of course. How happy will you be then? At the table, partner had AQxx/Axx/Q/xxxxx so a grand slam was good in either red suit. However, only one pair out of 22 in the Alt got to the grand slam, and only a handful made it to the six-level (and one of those was in spades after a cue-bid was taken as majors). Should partner advance after 1♣-P-P-1-3♣-P-P-4? You bet, although a number of Easts did not do so.


4 :diamonds:203
4 :clubs:209
4 :hearts:002

Again, a limited number of choices. We have members of the panel choosing to pass 3NT, invite slam and force to slam, which suggests that the middle ground is probably the correct evaluation, so it should be no surprise that 4NT was the most popular choice. However, a large majority of competition entrants did not think the hand worth a move. Let’s hear from the majority first.

KLUKOWSKI: 4NT. Partner probably has long clubs, and I have good cards for him. I think I am worth an invitational raise to 4NT.
FERGUSON: 4NT. Natural invite
LARSSON: 4NT. Quantitative.

Daniel highlights the main reason why this hand is worth a raise.
LAVEE: 4NT. Partner could have a wide range for 3NT. He can have seven clubs to the AKQ and the Kx of diamonds and that’s it, or he could have a much stronger hand. I think 4NT caters to partner’s wide range of strength.
BIRD: 4NT. I wrote down ‘Pass’ at first, but this never seems to score well on panels. Maybe my ♣J will solidify partner’s long suit.

Zia raises the question of investigating a major-suit fit, but how would you do that?

ZIA: 4NT. 4♣ could be confusing. We can get back to a major later perhaps. It sounds like partner has long clubs.

Indeed, is 4♣ Stayman in this auction? Is 4, the cue-bid, Stayman here, or is it a transfer? Andrew points out a different reason for not investigating…

ROBSON: 4NT. I am worried about diamond ruffs in a major-suit contract. Besides, partner is likely to be bidding this on good clubs, and may enjoy my bare knave.
CHAGAS: 4NT. I do have a bit too much for his most optimistic expectations…
Some members of the panel disagree…
DE WIJS: Pass. Partner, for not doubling first, typically has long clubs and is too strong for 2NT/3♣. Obviously, slam might be making, but without a fit I go low here.
VEGA: Pass. Partner has obviously guessed to some extent, so why should I disturb him? If my grandmother had bid 3NT, I might summon up a raise to 4NT.
DADAY: Pass. Partner probably has no interest in a major for the 3NT jump, so it’s probably based on clubs. But if that’s the case, my hand suddenly doesn’t look that good. For all I know clubs won’t even run. I’d rather just play in a good game than look for a random slam.
WANG: Pass. Maybe we can make slam, but it’s far from certain.

Others feel strongly in the other direction…

KOKISH: 5NT. Four is not enough.

COHEN: 5NT. Pick a slam. Maybe I have some version of Stayman available, but this will do the same job. Amusing to see an actual natural weak 2 in a problem originating outside of the USA.

I would have thought it was the other way around. Aren’t you all still addicted to the ‘F’ convention whose name cannot be spoken?
SUNDELIN: 6NT. An impossible guess.

Only these three wise men would have reached the good slam. At the table, our West made a quantitative raise. Holding KJ/Kx/Axx/AKQ10xx, East passed 4NT, considering this a minimum for the original 3NT, and thus the slam was missed. At the other table, though, the opposition East doubled the 2 opening when it came around to him and the result was +1700, so you needed to bid the slam just to hold the loss on the board to 6 IMPs.


1 :diamonds:8325
2 :diamonds:739
3 :diamonds:502
1 :hearts:4121
2 :hearts:001
4 :hearts:001

The panel’s verdict is fairly clear, with more than half opting to pass and the remainder split between three choices. It does seem quite remarkable that competition entrants still came up with seven different possibilities for what seems to be fairly straightforward choice. We start with the bidders, and it makes a change to find our resident conservative in with the aggressive minority…

BIRD: 1. I need to mention the diamonds, so the choice is between 1 and 3.
KLUKOWSKI: 1. In my system I can open 2, showing hearts and a minor. I cannot do that here, so I open 1.
DADAY: 1. Not proud of it, but all the alternatives seem worse. I’d be much happier to preempt with the suits reversed. I don’t like opening 1 with such a big disparity in suits.

I agree with Csaba there for sure. Although it did attract a surprising number of contestants, I confess that I really hate this option…

LAVEE: 1. Eric Murray would open 1 planning to rebid diamonds.

And, our other Canadian…

KOKISH: 2. Not perfect, but if I pass in this feature, my remaining fans will desert me.
ROBSON: 2. If it works for Zia …
Not this time, Andrew…
ZIA: Pass. Opening a weak two and then bidding again is not as easy as pass and then cue-bid.
WANG: Pass.
DE WIJS: Pass. I don’t mind 1 or 1 in a limited system, but otherwise I think it’s better to pass and come in on the next round. Opening 3 might work here, but I don’t think it’s the percentage action.
VEGA: Pass. Maybe later I will get to show both suits with one bid.
COHEN: Pass. If the red-suit lengths were reversed, this would be worth opening (1), but why get involved with a messy, misdescriptive sequence when I can surely try to get in later.
FERGUSON: Pass. With touching suits, it will be easier to describe this hand later.
LARSSON: Pass. I considered 1.
Gabriel sums up for the majority…

CHAGAS: Pass. It doesn’t feel comfortable to open a weak 2 with five hearts, or 1 with a nine count and short spades.

Partner had AKx/x/Kxxx/Axxxx so both 3NT and 5 make, although it takes a heart lead to hold a doubled spade contract to eight tricks if the opponents find their fit. Those who open with a diamond bid will surely get to game. It is unclear how easy it will be if the auction starts Pass-1♠-Pass-4♠. Are you willing to back in with 4NT now? If your partner would overcall 2♣ with that hand (Yuk!), getting to your game is surely even less likely. I am firmly in the 1 camp, but I suppose it is a matter of style.


2 :clubs:1059
2 :spades:008
4 :spades:002
Redbl (illegal)001

Another split panel, with three of the four choices attracting close to the same number of votes. With 11/16 panelists preferring offence over defending, I have split the tie against the Pass. Again, middling scores for most of the competition entrants with few collecting the top mark. 2♠ and 4♠ also both score zero: presumably those bidding game mistakenly thought it was their partner who had bid spades, whereas those making a game-forcing cue-bid have seriously overvalued their hand.
Let’s hear what the panel have to say…

FERGUSON: 1NT. Tough. It is close between 1NT, 2NT and Pass. If we were non-vulnerable, I would be more inclined to defend, but I have no strong feelings about it.
SUNDELIN: 1NT. I really want to bid 1.5NT. I would gamble 2NT vulnerable, but cowardly hope for misfits now.

And those who go in the other direction…

KLUKOWSKI: 2NT. Too risky to pass, so I would bid 2NT.
CHAGAS: 2NT. Pass would be my second option.
LAVEE: 2NT. It shows 18-19 balanced, but I like it better than rebidding 2♣. The hand is worth the upgrade because of the excellent five-card suit and the spot cards.
DE WIJS: 2NT. Typically this type of hand. With 18-19 I would cuebid or jump to 3NT.

So, if you cannot decide between 1NT and 2NT, how about…

VEGA: 2♣. For now. If all partner can say is 2, I’ll pass, but over anything else I can show my extra values with a notrump bid.

Eric highlights an excellent reason for bidding rather than passing, and is rewarded for his truthfulness.

KOKISH: 2♣. Lovely problem. East is obliged to double with some very good hands containing exactly four hearts and thus 6 is still in the picture, so I’d rather not pass. Playing weak notrump, I could rebid 1NT to show this strength if not these hearts. The traditional plan is 2NT with unbalanced 16+-18- hands, forcing you to jump to 3NT with everyone’s 18+19 balanced. It would be safe for me to do that here on the assumption that this is the feature’s treatment too, but I’m going to bid 2♣ instead, because I’m an honest guy who believes 2NT should be as without the negative double. If partner passes 2♣, I can live with that.

No doubt the Mother Superior will be in touch with our next panellist: he opened a 9-count on the last hand and now he bids a three-card suit…

BIRD: 2♣. This bid is flawed, of course, but so are all the other cards in the bidding box.

Csaba summarizes the case…

DADAY: 2♣. I have one diamond too few for 2, I am too strong for 1NT, too weak for 2NT, and the opponents are too non-vulnerable for pass.
I am rather surprised to find so many very good players in what I thought would only be the maniac’s camp (so strange that neither Brink nor Klukowski are here)…
COHEN: Pass. I’ve had good luck with this sort of action. Also, it keeps your opponents from butting in if they know you might try to get them. Huge upside (800 or so) and little downside (-160 or so).
ROBSON: Pass. Looks best and, frankly, what do we bid if we decide not to pass?
WANG: Pass.
SONTAG: Pass. After the likely diamond lead, the defense will have the tempo.

I leave the final word to the man who held the hand at the table, and repeated here what he did there…

ZIA: Pass. It’s a winner, although the panel probably won’t understand.

You will be pleased to hear that you cannot lose the match on this deal. Partner had 108/K10xx/9xx/QJ10x. 1♠-X goes one down for +100, whilst you make eight tricks in clubs, diamonds or notrumps for +90 or +120, so just about any action you take turns out much the same. An interesting discussion, though.


2 :spades:622

A rarity, with both the panel and the competition entrants producing a majority for the same action. One group of competitors does score zero, though: 2NT: is just way too much on this hand, when partner has shown very little. The primary question to be answered here is whether partner’s pass of 2 is forcing. The majority say ‘no’…

SONTAG: Pass. The force is not with you, Luke.

Eric wins the prize (or he would if there was one) for ‘Comment of the Month’.

KOKISH: Pass. If we were forced, I’d have to choose among bad bids, but I’m not, so I won’t.
SUNDELIN: Pass. In spite of a friend’s conviction that this should be a forcing situation. What is partner supposed to do with KTxxxx/xx/xx/Qxx?
KLUKOWSKI: Pass. Partner’s pass is not forcing and I have neither extras nor diamond length, so I give up.
DE WIJS: Pass. For me this isn’t a forcing auction. My ♠Q looked great in defense to 1♠-X, but less so now. Apart from that I am minimum and only have three diamonds. No reason to think I should double
FERGUSON: Pass. Partner has five or six pretty good spades and maybe not much else. We have no fit in hearts and I don’t want to play spades. Let them make two or go down.
DADAY: Pass. I don’t think pass should be forcing here. Partner isn’t showing a huge hand by passing my original double, he just thought that 1♠-X was the best spot for us. My diamond holding is one of the weakest possible for my reopening double, so I have no reason to think this is going down if partner couldn’t double.
WANG: Pass. I wish I had opened 1NT.

I think they put forward a fairly good case. Let’s see what the rest have to say…

CHAGAS: Double. Hoping for a diamond lead…
COHEN: Double. Always an argument as to if this is forcing or not (what is poor partner supposed to do with ♠K10xxxx and out?). Anyway, because partner can lead a trump and we can get in at least two rounds, I’ll risk -180.
VEGA: Double. If partner cannot pass, he can retreat to either major at the two-level.
It sounds like Carla has a clairvoyant partner 😊

BIRD: Double. Partner might hold five or six spades and a 3-count, as I see it. Still, just in case he regards his third pass as forcing, it’s probably a good idea to say something.
ZIA: Double. It’s only a minor and I have good defense on a trump lead.

They do not sound anywhere near as convincing as the first group. There were also a couple of mavericks…

ROBSON: 2♠. Hope this is taken as it’s meant ie playable.
LARSSON: 2♠. To play, hopefully.
LAVEE: 2. Partner’s pass of 2 is forcing leaving this very awkward situation. I think Double should be four diamonds or three very good ones. Partner could double 2 as well and didn’t. Bidding 2 leaves the most room and flexibility, and it could be the last making contract.

This group of three scores a moral victory, even if they do not collect the most marks. Partner had AJ8xxx/xx/Jx/K10x. You can just make 2 or 2♠ and the opponents make at least eight tricks in diamonds.


2 :diamonds:6324
2 :hearts:003
2 :clubs:002
1 :diamonds:(insufficient)002

Only three sensible options to choose from here, and the panel are very closely split between their top two preferences. Those competitors who doubled saying ‘shows four hearts’ got lucky this time and collected 10 marks for the wrong reason. To clarify, this is NOT a negative double. Let’s start with the passers…

BIRD: Pass. This must be the exception to my ‘Pass never scores well’ observation. Indeed, what bids on EARTH does the Director expect us to even consider?

That sounds like a convoluted way of predicting a unanimous panel – sorry, David, but more than half of the panel and 75% of the competition entrants opted for something else.
COHEN: Pass. Opening bids aren’t what they used to be. Also, this hand might be hard to defend if partner doesn’t have any red-suit help for me.

VEGA: Pass. I’d love to say something, preferably a takeout double, but double is for penalties here, so I have to pass.
ROBSON: Pass. Not enough to double, and the danger of bidding 2 is it stops partner bidding 2♣ or 2.
Simon suggests a useful toy here…
DE WIJS: Pass. Tough. In my partnership I have the option to bid 2, showing +, but probably there’s a better chance going plus in defense. Not good enough to double in my book.
P-O raises a spectre for the doublers to consider, perhaps…
SUNDELIN: Pass. A double might be good, but it might encourage partner to rebid his spades.

So, let’s hear from the bullish half of the panel…

CHAGAS: Double. Too many 9s and 10s to be a chicken due to the spade void.
ZIA: Double. Screw them!
WANG: Double. This shows my points. I will be happy to lead the Q against 1NT-X.
FERGUSON: Double. I lead the Q.
DADAY: Double. A small sign of life and I’ll be done. Let’s see if opponents are on the same page about their runout scheme, and let’s see if they find clubs.
LAVEE: Double. Typically, when the responder doubles a 1NT overcall, it shows 10+ points and is penalty oriented. This hand is good enough with all four suits breaking poorly for declarer and an easy diamond lead against 1NT-X.
KOKISH: Double. Maybe they can’t run our spade suit.
KLUKOWSKI: 2. I want to play something but I dislike to double with a spade void and minimum strength.
SONTAG: 2. Two-of-a-minor is best played, in my opinion, as that suit plus the other Major, which would be ideal on this hand.
LARSSON: 2. Difficult. It could be right to pass if partner is going to bid 2♣/2, but I bid 2 as it may be a difficult hand to defend in 1NT.

Partner had K10xxx/AKxx/Jx/Ax so 4 was an easy make. Will he bid again if you pass? Surely not. Nor will be bid over 2 unless you have the useful gadget mentioned by both Simon and Alan. Probably the best you can do is to collect at least +500 from 1NT-X, a fair exchange for a difficult-to-reach game.

A clear win this month for Wen Fei Wang, with an excellent score of 76/80. In second and third place, we have impressive performances from two of our guest panelists, Canada’s Earle Ferguson with 73/80 and Poland’s Carla Vega with 72/80. No doubt we will be seeing both of them near the top of the annual competition leaderboard throughout the year, and perhaps back here as winners again in a future month. Remarkably, I can also announce that for the first time, three competition entrants have this month outscored the entire panel, two with a score of 77/80 and one with a perfect 80/80. We will be seeing him as our guest panelist for at least the next two months, as he also won last month’s competition.

David Bird may also be interested to note that passing throughout this month would have scored 54/80 – also a bidding panel record, perhaps?

Wen Fei WANG4:hearts:4NT1:diamonds:PassPassPassPassDbl76
Earle FERGUSON5:clubs:4NT1:diamonds:4NTPass2:clubs:DblPass73
Carla VEGA2:clubs:4NT1:diamonds:PassPass2:clubs:DblPass72
David BIRD4:hearts:5:clubs:1:diamonds:4NT1:diamonds:2:clubs:DblPass71
Simon DE WIJS5:clubs:4NT1:diamonds:PassPass2NTPassPass71
Larry COHEN4:hearts:Pass1:diamonds:5NTPassPassDblPass70
Michal KLUKOWSKI4:clubs:4NT1:diamonds:4NT1:diamonds:2NTPass2:diamonds:69
Jessica LARSSON4:clubs:Pass1:diamonds:4NTPass2:clubs:2:spades:2:diamonds:69
Andrew ROBSON4:hearts:Pass1:diamonds:4NT2:diamonds:Pass2:spades:Pass69
Zia MAHMOOD2:hearts:4NT1:diamonds:4NTPassPassDblDbl68
Gabriel CHAGAS5:clubs:Pass4:clubs:4NTPass2NTDblDbl66
Alan SONTAG3:clubs:4NT1:diamonds:4NT2:diamonds:PassPass2:diamonds:66
Casa DADAY4:clubs:5:clubs:DblPass1:diamonds:2:clubs:PassDbl65
Daniel LAVEE4:hearts:Pass1:diamonds:4NT1:hearts:2NT2:hearts:Dbl65
 Eric KOKISH 3NT Pass 3:clubs: 5NT 2:diamonds: 2:clubs: PassDbl 64
P.O. SUNDELIN2:spades:Pass1:diamonds:6NTPass1NTPassPass64
TOP SCORES4:hearts:4NT1:diamonds:4NTPass2:clubs:PassDbl 


HAND 1: 4 10, 2♣/4♣/3NT 8, 5♣ 7, 3♣ 5, 2, 4, 2/2♠ 3, 3/4♠ 2, Pass/3/4 1

HAND 2: 4NT 10, Pass 9, 5♣ 7

HAND 3: 1 10, 4NT 7, 3♣/4♣ 6, Dbl 4, 1 2

HAND 4: 4NT 10, Pass 8, 5NT/6NT 7, 4♣/4 2

HAND 5: Pass 10, 1 8, 2 7, 3 5, 1 4

HAND 6: 2♣ 10, Pass 8, 2NT 7, 1NT 6, 2 4

HAND 7: Pass 10, Dbl 7, 2♠ 6, 2 5

HAND 8: Dbl 10, Pass 9, 2 6