BBO Prime bidders challenge: October Panel Comments

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 21-10 – September-October 2021



Welcome to the tenth BBO Prime Bidding Challenge of 2021. We welcome back Hanoi Rondon as a guest panelist, on a run of at least three months as a guest, having both led the panel and also tied for the win in the competition last month with an impressive 78/80.

The question setter is on probation after this set, with five of the eight deals producing majority choices from the panel, two of those almost unanimous. This promises to be a high-scoring month, with the competition entrants’ most popular action scoring 10 marks on five of the eight deals.

Enough from me, so let’s get on with the show.

HAND 1.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
4 :clubs:101453
Dbl519
4 :hearts:3010
4 :spades:2010
5 :clubs:203
3 :spades:005
5 :diamonds:002
6 :clubs:002
3 :clubs: (insufficient)001
3NT001
Pass001
3 :diamonds: (insufficient)001
2 :clubs: (insufficient)001


This is the first of this month’s damp squibs. When I saw the hand played in the Alt, an expert West bid 4, but no panel member even mentioned that choice or commented on what it might mean. I suspect that would be viewed as a strong 4♠ bid, which is probably why East at the table bid 4♠ on his singleton, which was not a success. The panel felt there was only one real choice here, and a majority of competition entrants agreed, with more than half of them collecting maximum marks. Competitors still came up with a remarkable 13 different choices, though, three of them for insufficient bids.

MEYERS: 4♣. I play 4♣ is forcing here, so this is an easy call.
LAVEE: 4♣. New suits by responder are forcing.
SHENKIN: 4♣. Natural and forcing

Only Gabriel was in some doubt…

CHAGAS: 4♣: I hope this is forcing.

A number of panelist pointed out the flexibility offered by this choice…

RONDON: 4♣. It’s natural and forcing, and it doesn’t consume that much space. We can play in any of the three suits where I have cards.
BROCK: 4♣. This seems right for now, and it leaves all strains in the frame.
BIRD: 4♣. This cannot be anything other than natural. As such, it seems the obvious continuation, leaving all three of our suits in contention.

Wen Fei lays out her continuations too

WANG: 4♣. If partner raises to 5♣, I will advance with a 5 cue-bid. If she bids 4, I’ll agree her suit with 4.

Some even risked a prediction and were much closer than most panellists who express such views.

MARSTON: 4♣. I can’t think of an alternative.
COHEN: 4♣. I can’t imagine bidding anything else, but nothing good can come of making such a prediction in print.
ROBSON: 4♣. Expect unanimity. There’s a plausible trump suit that needs an airing.

Janice is the only one to mention an alternative…

MOLSON: 4♣. No support double, so partner has less than three spades. Still, I have 11 black cards. Doubling 3 for takeout could be right as I do have 3½ defensive tricks, but I just can’t bring myself to do that

Only Tim saved us from the dreaded unanimous panel…

Tim COPE: Dbl. Not one’s favourite bid with the void in their suit, but it should give the auction maximum flexibility. If partner bids 3NT, I will continue with 4♣ to show the extra strength, but over 3♠, 4♣ or 4, I can bid 4 as my slam try.



Partner had x/xxxx/AKQ9xx/J9 so ruffing a heart in dummy and two spades in hand to set that suit up gives you 12 tricks in diamonds without the club finesse (which also worked). 4♣ now and then 4 over partner’s 4 should set you well on your way to the good slam. At the table where I watched the hand played, West bid 4, over which East retreated to 4♠. This went one down whilt the slam was bid at the other table, so justice was well and truly delivered.

HAND 2.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
4 :spades:101441
4 :clubs:7010
4 :hearts:601
Pass412
3 :spades:3025
3NT0015
4NT002
5 :clubs:002
3 :clubs: (insufficient)001
2 :spades: (insufficient)001


The panel’s lack of variation was rather a disappointment, for reasons that will become clear later. For the majority of our experts (and competitors too), the question was just whether the hand was worth a jump to 4♠ rather than bidding only 3♠, and the panel’s verdict on that question was emphatic…

MARSTON: 4♠. I expect partner has a good hand with 5♠/6.
SHENKIN: 4♠. Partner has a good 5-6 in majors.
MARSTON: 4♠. I expect partner has a good hand with 5♠/6.

The majority thought that was enough to bid game, with varying degrees of expectation…

WANG: 4♠. I hope it makes.
BIRD: 4♠. Partner has painted a 5-6 shape in the majors, so our minor-suit cards may be worth little. Still, with Kxx support in spades, I can hardly bid just 3♠.
BROCK: 4♠. It feels like I have enough to accept the game try.
ROBSON: 4♠. Although I have wastage, and a singleton heart is no great asset, ♠K-x-x is so powerful I must accept.
MEYERS: 4♠. Partner is showing 5/6 in the Majors and enough to at least invite game, so I think this is an easy 4♠ bid.
MOLSON: 4♠. Partner is 5/6. I am totally bidding a game.
ZIA: 4♠. Partner has a good 5-6, so I have enough to bid game.

Larry sums up the case for the majority…

Larry COHEN: 4♠. Partner has a big 6-5 hand and I surely have enough to bid game, especially vulnerable at IMPs. I could have had xx/x in the Majors, and partner has driven to the three-level. How can I do less?



Only a couple of panellists even mentioned doing more…

COPE: 4♠. Partner is presumably showing extras with a 5/6 shape, but I feel that this is all the encouragement I can give with no minor-suit ace.
LAVEE: 4♠. Sounds like partner has 6/5, but the Q and ♣K-J don’t seem useful enough to bid 4♣ as a slam try.
RONDON: 4♠. Partner is showing a great hand with more hearts than spades. The alternative would probably be 4♣, but I have no idea how that would be taken.

Gabriel is ploughing a lone furrow, and the fact that he will be the only one in the right suit will be of little consolation without the vulnerable game bonus.

CHAGAS: Pass. It feels like he’s 6/4, and even if he is very strong I find it tough to count ten tricks.

This is the companion hand to one from Set 2021-3, when most of the panel voted to bid 3 on Axxxx/AKQJ10x/–/Qx. 6 is excellent, but probably impossible to reach if we do not show our club control now. That no one managed to get to the top spot or, even, play in the right suit, is testament to the fact that some combinations really are just too difficult to bid. At least they will get a plus score: with trumps breaking 4-1, even the five-level is too high in spades.

HAND 3.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
4 :spades:101124
6 :hearts:8419
5 :clubs:5014
4 :diamonds:503
5 :hearts:302
4 :hearts:2023
4NT008
Pass002
Dbl002
5 :diamonds:001
6 :clubs:001
4 :clubs: (insufficient)001


The panel produces another large majority and offered only two options, whereas the competition entrants are split fairly evenly between four choices. Bidding only 4 has been downgraded in the marking as everyone else makes a move of some sort towards slam. Let’s hear what the experts have to say.

MOLSON: 4♠. Cue-bid.
LAVEE: 4♠. Slam try for hearts.
ROBSON: 4♠. This must agree hearts and look for slam. Cue-bidding my club control instead runs the risk of partner huffing and puffing – and passing …

Many of the panel are thinking of even higher things…

RONDON: 4♠. The question seems to be how to get to seven. I’ll start with a cue-bid to show my fit and strong hand, and we’ll see what develops
SUNDELIN: 4♠. Not clear how to reach a grand slam if it makes, but it is worth a try even if I help them with the lead.
WANG: 4♠. Showing the heart fit and slam interest. Maybe we can make 7.
SHENKIN: 4♠. I intend to make a grand slam try with 6♣ over 5.
COHEN: 4♠. I am driving to at least 6. If partner somehow control-bids 5, perhaps we can reach a grand slam.
BIRD: 4♠. I don’t see any advantage in 5♣, bypassing my spade controls. If partner happens to bid 5 next, I will make grand slam try of 5NT (if available for top trump honors) or 6♣.
MEYERS: 4♠. Cue bid. I have a moose in support of hearts, so I am not going to stop short of a slam. If partner bids 5, I am bidding 5♠, and partner will play me for a club control, good spades, and looking for a grand. They should then bid it with the A-K.

Tim sums up the feeling of the majority…

COPE: 4♠. I am going to bid at least bid 6, and prefer the 4♠ bid to 5♣, as partner may be worried that they are lacking a spade control. If partner bids 5♣, I will still bid 6 so that partner can bid the grand with first round diamond control.

The rest of the panel gave up on the grand and bid what they expected to be able to make…

ZIA: 6. As the actress said to the bishop, screw you.

Others had sound reasons for preferring the bludgeon…

CHAGAS: 6. Quickly, before they find a diamond lead.
BROCK: 6. This doesn’t look like the sort of hand to go slowly, as I don’t think I am ever going to find out how well they fit. The benefit of getting there quickly is that South won’t know which minor his partner has for the opening lead.

And Paul surely takes ‘Comment of the Month’ honors for this gem…

Paul MARSTON: 6. Slam is 50-50. It either makes or it goes down.



Sadly, this hand was another that was always likely to prove too difficult. All of our expert panel joined most of those who went minus at the table in similar circumstances when partner turned up with x/K9xxxx/J/AJ10xx. A two-ace slam that is very difficult to avoid.

HAND 4.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
3 :hearts:10814
4 :diamonds:9414
4 :spades:6329
5 :diamonds:402
3NT2028
4 :hearts:004
4NT001
6 :hearts:001
Dbl (illegal)001


This was a tough problem for the competition entrants, with less than a third hitting either of the two top-scoring actions. Indeed, one of the two large factions scores very poorly, choosing a bid that none of the panel even considered, so there should be plenty to learn from the discussion…

WANG: 3. This should mean that I am worried about clubs.

Most of the 3 bidders echo this message…

ROBSON: 3. I think 3♠ would show four cards, so 3 is best. If partner bids 3♠, we’ll know we’re weak in clubs.
MEYERS: 3. I am endplayed into bidding 3, as 3♠ would show four spades and I cannot bid 3NT. If partner happens to have three hearts, we might even be able to play 4. My 3 bid will telegraph to partner that I cannot bid 3NT, so I must be lacking in clubs.

Janice MOLSON: 3. I can’t bid 3NT with three low clubs. I know this should usually show five hearts, but I will play the 4/3 fit if I have to. For all I know a 4/2 fit might even be fine.



COPE: 3. I assume that the 3 bid guarantees spades, as we would have other ways of making a GF on a diamond single-suiter. I do not really mind if partner treats this as a five-card suit, but I am more worried about being in a silly 3NT opposite a hand such as KJxx/xxx/AKxxx/x. Even the same hand with Jx of hearts and a doubleton club may make 4 a good game to be in.
LAVEE: 3. This shows five hearts, but caters to responder’s hand types. Responder can bid 3♠ without a club stopper or possibly raise to 4 with 4351.
COHEN: 3. I am afraid that 3♠ would show four of them. Partner would raise to 4♠ and then I wouldn’t know what to do. So, I’ll emphasize my good hearts and see where that leads.

Hanoi sums up for the majority.

RONDON: 3. I don’t want to bid 3NT without clubs, since partner just told the opponents that is our weak spot. 4 is the alternative but, with such a balanced hand, I want to give 3NT another opportunity.

There is also a lot of merit in the choice of the second-largest group on the panel.

MARSTON: 4. Support with support.
ZIA: 4. This hand is too good to do anything but play 5/6.
SHENKIN: 4. I have prime cards for diamonds. 3♠ from me now would show four spades.
BIRD: 4. I would bid 3♠ with 4-4 in the majors, so that bid is not available. I am not afraid of going past 3NT with such good cards in partner’s spade suit.

Although most of the panel tell you why they do not bid 3♠, a small group of panellists still choose that option…

CHAGAS: 3♠. Feature.
SUNDELIN: 3♠. In my system, this shows three-card diamond support and a good hand. (With spades, partner would have bid 2♠, FG, over 2, so spades are no longer our aim.)

Sally raises a point worth discussing for regular partnerships

BROCK: 3♠. Partner might think I have four spades, I suppose, but he knows I know he has four, so he should prioritise club stoppers and bid 3NT if he has one.

Partner had KJxx/xx/AK10xxx/x so 6 is decent but, with 3NT clearly hopeless, 5 is probably where you want to play this deal. Only those who bid 3NT now are likely to go badly wrong. Either 3 or 4 should lead to a sensible spot, whilst some of the 3♠ bidders may find themselves in a tricky 4♠ contract.

HAND 5.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
4 :hearts:10742
4 :clubs: 9524
Pass8228
3NT513
Pass5113
4 :diamonds:001
5 :diamonds:001
4 :clubs: 001
3 :diamonds: (insufficient)001


The panel had three primary options from which to choose, 4, 4♣ and Pass, and each had its supporters. With no majority from the panel, almost everyone scores well. The largest faction of experts opted for the most aggressive choice, as did nearly half of the competitors, so let’s start with that group.

ZIA: 4. Why not?
SUNDELIN: 4.
BROCK: 4. He has asked me to bid at the four-level, so I do as I am asked, although not without reservations.

The rest all highlight the upside of a vulnerable game bonus…

LAVEE: 4. There is a reasonable chance that game can make, and that outweighs the risk of getting doubled in 4 when a club partscore is best.
MOLSON: 4. What a horrible hand! Obviously, 4♣ could be the winner as partner doesn’t promise four hearts, but there is a game bonus.
COHEN: 4. Scary, but this offers the biggest payoff if I have guessed well. I hope nobody doubles. Maybe partner has the magical hand, something like xx/AKxx/AKxxx/Ax.

Barnet sums up the case for this group…

Barnet SHENKIN: 4. Risk and reward. Pass might work and 4♣ is safer, but this has the highest upside it I have guessed right.



At the other end of the scale, are the mice…

MARSTON: 4♣. Lacking the courage for 4.
WANG: 4♣. I am afraid that if I bid 4, it will be too easy for the opponents to double.
COPE: 4♣. No guarantees that partner has a four-card heart suit and, even if they do, is my hand good for 4? Unlikely. 4♣ seems much safer if partner is 1/3/5/4 or 1/3/6/3.
BIRD: 4♣. Partner may hold long diamonds, or some variation of 5-4-3-1 shape. In the latter case, he is no more likely to have four hearts than four clubs, as I see it. Bidding 4 now is an all-in bet on partner holding four hearts, which is less than a 50% chance. By bidding 4♣, I also allow us to stop in 4 when he holds long diamonds.

And Jill leads us neatly into the third of the main choices.

MEYERS: 4♣. This is tough. If partner has four hearts, I would want to be in 4, but partner would also have to double on a good 2-3-5-3 shape. Anything could be right on this hand, even pass, which I would take a shot at playing matchpoints.

ROBSON: Pass. Okay, Robson Island. But my only card is defensive and I reckon one down (they in 3♠) and two down (us in 4♣/) is very likely.

Not a completely deserted island, Andrew, and a fairly accurate prediction too.

RONDON: Pass. I’d rather try for five tricks than ten.

One man who is truly flying a lone kite…

CHAGAS: 3NT. Maybe he has solid diamonds and stoppers…

This would certainly be the winning option facing something like xx/AJ10/AKQJxx/Ax, which is certainly a possibility. On this occasion, partner had x/AKxx/AQJxx/KQx and, so Andrew’s assessment wasn’t far off the mark: 4♣ and 4 both go one down and the winning action is to pass and collect +200/500.

HAND 6.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
5NT10119
6 :diamonds:917
6 :hearts: 7216
5 :diamonds:6017
6 :clubs: 602
Dbl4122
5 :hearts: 4019
Pass004
4 :hearts: (insufficient)002
3 :diamonds: (insufficient)001
5 :clubs: (insufficient)001


A tough hand for the competition entrants, with 11 different answers (three of those not even legal) and less than 20% picking up one of the top two scores. Indeed, the two largest groups of competitors made no move towards slam which, the panel suggests, is a serious misevaluation of the hand. Having said that, we had a decisive vote from the panel, but did they also miss the point of this deal? On Hand 3, most were looking for a grand when the small slam was too high, whereas here they were concerned with which small slam to play, when the objective was to get to a grand. Let’s hear what they all have to say.

MOLSON: 5NT. Pick a slam
ZIA: 5NT. Two places to play, not necessarily spades!
ROBSON: 5NT. Pick a slam. If partner has choices, he can bid 6♣ and we can bid 6.
BROCK: 5NT. I hope this is some sort of choice of slam. I’d guess he’d bid 6♣ to show he doesn’t know either, and then I can bid 6. I think that’s more useful than it being a grand slam try.
BIRD: 5NT. This shows two places to play, and one of them should be hearts on this auction. Since I might be offering a choice of the red suits, partner will not bid 6♠ next.
COPE: 5NT. Pick a slam. Whilst I expect partner to have a goodish six-card suit for their 3 bid, why can it not be KJx/AJxxxx/Qxx/x? Now 6 is the only making slam, and partner with such a hand can throw the ball back in my court by bidding 6♣, asking me to choose.
COHEN: 5NT. I am dreaming of 6 by partner, but willing to play 6 opposite as little as, say, Kxx/AQJ10x/xx/xx.
MEYERS: 5NT. I’m driving to slam. I hope partner takes this as more than one place to play, rather than a grand slam force, which I don’t think should apply when we do have not firmly agreed trump suit.

Actually, Jill, you really do hope she misunderstands on this occasion.

WANG: 5NT. Although we didn’t discuss it, I think my partner should understand.

Gabriel hopes he is sending a more specific message…

CHAGAS: 5NT. Six or seven diamonds and another suit… That’s the message. Will partner get it?

Whilst Daniel is the only one to mention one of the alternatives

LAVEE: 5NT. Close to double, but many more hands can be constructed to make slam vs not make slam.

But only Paul takes that road.

MARSTON: Dbl. We might have a slam, but which one?

I am unclear why being unsure which slam to bid means we should settle for a modest penalty. Can we not at least bid our vulnerable game? P.O and Barnet just bid what they expect their partner can make…

SUNDELIN: 6. I am afraid partner might misjudge 5NT as offering a slam choice with Kxxx/AQxxx/xx/Ax, and we won’t find 6 anyway with xx/AQxxx/Qxx/Axx. Would he bid 7 with KJx/AJxxxx/xxxx/–?
SHENKIN: 6. Let’s take a chance. The diamond finesse is favourite to work. The problem may be how to get off dummy to draw trumps. Only Hanoi opted for what was the winning bid, found at the table…

Hanoi RONDON: 6. I hope partner understands the nature of my hand — I want to play a slam, great diamonds, something in hearts, and great hand all around.



Surely this jump to slam should show diamonds and at least some sort of partial heart fit, shouldn’t it? When I watched the hand, French star Alain Levy bid 6 in this position. His partner raised with KQx/AQJxxx/Qxxx/— and, although 13 tricks were easy in either red suit, they were the only pair out of 30-odd to reach a grand. Over 5NT, is partner supposed to bid 6♣ and then raise 6 with that hand? If he just bids 6, I assume that most (all, probably) intend to pass.

HAND 7.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
3 :diamonds:10746
Dbl9410
4 :diamonds:8218
4 :hearts:714
3 :spades:613
5 :diamonds:304
3 :clubs: 205
Pass005
5 :clubs: 002
4 :clubs: 001
3NT001
4NT001


This seems to be another deal that is just too difficult for most. I originally set the problem as what to do on the East hand over 3, but when I asked around everyone thought passing was obvious. The conclusion, therefore, was that the 3 bid must be wrong. Not so, say the largest groups of both experts and competition entrants. Let’s hear from that group first…

MOLSON: 3. I have no idea what to do. Anything could be right (except pass). I am guessing with 3.
SUNDELIN: 3. Even if 3♣ might strike gold.
COPE: 3. An underbid, but one that keeps the most options open. I assume 2NT would be some sort of competitive bad hand, so 3 will show extra values. I hope to get another chance to express quite how good this hand is.
MEYERS: 3. I know I have a strong hand, but I think my partner has a lot of major-suit cards, so my hand does not look as good.
COHEN: 3. South’s non-jump makes it likely my partner has five spades (and also some hearts), and so a bad hand for minors. Thus, I take the low road. Picture Q10xxx/Qxxx/x/xxx.

A couple allude to the most popular alternative with varying degrees of enthusiasm…

RONDON: 3. Doubling might get us to defend at the two-level, which doesn’t fit my offensive hand, I would say.
SHENKIN: 3. Double by me is very cute when partner has five good spades and can pass. I am too old for that, but if it is the popular choice I wouldn’t disagree.

So, what do those who are young enough to double have to say?

CHAGAS: Dbl. I wonder what a double of 2 would have meant…

Penalty oriented, presumably.

WANG: Dbl. I think it’s for take-out.

Some are not overly worried if partner converts.

ROBSON: Dbl. Take-out. Happy with any call from partner – even a pass would not upset me overly, as partner would be 5512 or similar. I’d lead a trump, obviously…

David BIRD: Dbl. Bidding some number of diamonds might miss a very productive club fit. If partner happens to pass the double, it will not be the end of the earth.



Usually in these situations, you cue-bid the suit in which you have something, so I am not quite sure I understand this choice…

LAVEE: 3♠. I am close to a 4 bid, but there is a chance of grand slam in clubs if partner has as little as Kxxxxx.

This seems better, but does it not sound like a hand looking for 3NT with something like x/Axx/AKQJxxx/Ax?

MARSTON: 3. Let’s get the party started.

Although not their intention, these guys would at least get to game.

ZIA: 4. Maybe 3♣ is better, but I want to hear LHO bid 4♠ and partner double it.
BROCK: 4. Hoping to jostle them into 4M, and then I’ll double.

Partner had xxxx/Kxx/x/KQ10xx. In the Alt, one West bid 3 and scored +170. The other doubled and got to 6♣ for +1390. A jump to 4 probably gets a raise from partner, and thus +620. Although some panelists mentioned bidding 3♣, which would also have worked, that should show at least 5-5 shape and surely cannot be right with this suit disparity.

HAND 8.


ACTIONMARKSPANEL VOTESCOMPETITORS ENTRIES (%)
4 :spades:10627
4 :diamonds:843
4NT6219
4 :hearts:5333
5 :clubs:3010
6 :clubs:002
6 :hearts:002
5NT001
5 :spades:001
5 :hearts:001
Dbl (illegal)001


A straightforward question of hand evaluation: do we look for slam or not? Yes, say most of the panel, which is why 4 is marked down, although the largest group of competition entrants did not see it that way. A note for those competitors who bid 4NT – those who commented that it was a response to Gerber are lucky to score some marks. 4♣ is NOT Gerber and, indeed, it was annotated as a splinter bid. Let’s start with those who sign off…

MARSTON: 4. Splinters 101.

Gabriel CHAGAS: . I am a natural chicken these days… Back in the 1980’s, I’d have bid 4♠.



COPE: 4. Yes, I know I have a maximum, and I know, even though partner has a singleton club, the ♣K-Q may provide useful discards. Against that, unless partner has good hearts, I may well not be safe at the five-level. Personally, since there are slam possibilities, in my own partnership I would bid 4 as ‘Last Train’, so feel free to change my answer to 4 if my esteemed partner would understand this bid.
COHEN: 4NT. Partner is very likely to have a diamond control, so I am driving to slam if we have the right number of key cards (and the trump queen). Club wastage, yes, but my clubs are still tricks and I have a super max. Picture Jxx/KQJx/AQxxx/x.
MOLSON: 4NT. Perhaps my ♣K-Q-10 are useless, but opposite ♠K-x-x-x they provide useful discards.

What about those who choose to cue-bid?

BIRD: 4♠. This is a great hand, and my club holding may still be productive opposite a shortage. A control-bid in spades, denying a diamond control, offers a perfect description.
RONDON: 4♠. I have so many values in clubs, but the hand is too good in prime values to just stop in 4.
SUNDELIN: 4♠.
MEYERS: 4♠. Cue-bid. I know I am loaded in clubs, but I have a ruffing value and I am so rich in controls that it is still worth a slam try. I hope my clubs will provide useful discards.

Daniel and Zia both mention the primary alternative…

LAVEE: 4♠. Not sure if Last Train is played. 4♠ clarifies any misunderstanding. To make slam, we need good trumps and a diamond control.
ZIA: 4♠. I bid 4♠ in a bidding challenge, but probably 4 in real life.

So, what about it?

WANG: 4. The last train.
BROCK: 4. Last train. I don’t want to go past game with so much wasted in clubs. On the other hand, at least they are tricks and I have a maximum, so I want to show some interest.
SHENKIN: 4. Last train. I know my clubs are a bit wasted but I could still have enough. We might need the ♣10 finesse as the twelfth trick.
ROBSON: 4. Worth a ‘last train’ despite the club strength. You have length in clubs and you are maximum with great controls. I’ll pass 4 though, as my hearts are poorish.

Partner held KQxx/KQxx/Axxx/x, so he would surely pass 4, yet slam needs little more than trumps 3-2, and may even survive a 4-1 break if the clubs produce four tricks.



A high-scoring set of deals this month, and congratulations to Jill Meyers, who leads the panel with an almost-perfect 79/80. Joining her on the podium are David Bird and our guest panelist, Hanoi Rondon, both with a very creditable 77/80. Behind them, we had a four-way tie on 76/80. Will Hanoi win the competition for an incredible fourth month in a row? Perhaps, although it is quite possible that someone will ace this set before the competition closes at the end of the month.



HAND 1: 4♣ 10, Dbl 5, 4 3, 4♠/5♣ 2
HAND 2: 4♠ 10, 4♣ 7, 4 6, Pass 4, 3♠ 3
HAND 3: 4♠ 10, 6 8, 4/5♣ 5, 5 3, 4 2
HAND 4: 3 10, 4 9, 3♠ 6, 5 4, 3NT 2
HAND 5: 4 10, 4♣ 9, Pass 8, 3NT 5
HAND 6: 5NT 10, 6 9, 6 7, 5/6♣ 6, Dbl/5 4
HAND 7: 3 10, Dbl 9, 4 8, 3 7, 3♠ 6, 5 3, 3♣ 2
HAND 8: 4♠ 10, 4 8, 4NT 6, 4 5, 5♣ 3
12345678TOTAL
Jill MEYERS4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:clubs:5NT3:diamonds:4:spades:79
David BIRD4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:4:diamonds:4:clubs:5NTDbl4:spades:77
Hanoi RONDON4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:Pass6:diamonds:3:diamonds:4:spades:77
Larry COHEN4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:hearts:5NT3:diamonds:4NT76
Daniel LAVEE4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:hearts:5NT3:spades:4:spades:76
Janice MOLSON4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:hearts:5NT3:diamonds:4NT76
Wen Fei WANG4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:clubs:5NTDbl4:diamonds:76
Zia MAHMOOD4:clubs:4:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:4:hearts:5NT4:diamonds:4:spades:75
Andrew ROBSON4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:Pass5NTDbl4:diamonds:75
Barnet SHENKIN4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:4:diamonds:4:hearts:6:hearts:3:diamonds:4:diamonds:74
P.O. SUNDELIN4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:spades:4:hearts:6:hearts:3:diamonds:4:spades:73
Sally BROCK4:clubs:4:spades:6:hearts:3:spades:4:hearts:5NT4:diamonds:4:diamonds:70
Tim COPEDbl4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:clubs:5NT3:diamonds:4:hearts:69
Paul MARSTON4:clubs:4:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:4:clubs:Dbl3:hearts:4:hearts:62
Gabriel CHAGAS4:clubs:Pass6:hearts: 3:spades:3NT5NTDbl4:hearts:57
TOP SCORES4:clubs:4:spades:4:spades:3:hearts:4:hearts:5NT3:diamonds:4:spades: