BBO Prime bidders challenge: November Panel Comments

Conducted by Marc Smith

Set 21-11 – October-November 2021

Welcome to the penultimate BBO Prime Bidding Challenge of 2021. We welcome back Hanoi Rondon for his third consecutive spell as a guest panelist. Joining him this month is the co-winner of the September competition, Laura Mancini from Paris, France, who only narrowly failed to lead the field a couple of months earlier. To assist with this month’s problems, Laura met with three close friends. Between the four of them, she tells us, they have more than three centuries of life experience.

Some of this month’s deals were sent to me by members of our expert panel. Thanks to David Bird for Hands 4 and 5, and to Tim Cope for Hand 7. Readers are welcome to submit problems they would like to see discussed by the panel. The ideal problem has at least three sensible answers, rather than being a straight choice between just two options. That Hand 5 was a particularly good problem was quickly evident as the first seven panelists to send in their replies all made a different bid – I can tell that one is going to be fun to mark!

Talking of marking, it is usually accepted that the top mark goes to the action chosen by most panelists. There are exceptions, though, and a couple of hands this month illustrate why. Suppose, for example, that 7 panelists pass a 4 bid but the other 10 make various slam tries. The majority view is that the hand is worth a slam try, and thus the largest minority vote does not reflect the overall evaluation of the hand by panel but, because those making slam tries choose different ways of doing so, the passers are the largest single group. In that case, the conductor reserves the right to award the top mark to actions taken by those making slam tries.

The most popular choice of the competition entrants accords with the panel’s opinion on just Hands 2 and 6 this month, so there should be plenty to be learned from the views of our experts, so let’s hear from them.


3 :spades:101018
4 :clubs:8117

Even if my diamond stopper proves secure, nine tricks in 3NT seem unlikely. Only Hanoi chose that option, and he puts forward a good argument for his corner.

A majority from the panel, but a very tough hand for the competition entrants. Half of them, the biggest vote for any single action this month, choose a bid almost universally rejected by our experts. Let’s hear first from the majority:

ZIA: 3♠. This is an easy choice. It has worked for me for years.
SHENKIN: 3♠. On the way to 4.
LARSSON: 3♠. I take a chance on 3♠. What? I only have four of them? Sorry, partner, I had a club mixed in with my spades.

Andrew not only picks up 10 marks, but also produces a rarity, an accurate prediction by a panelist.

ROBSON: 3♠. I expect a big majority here, as partner rates to have spade length (probably only one diamond).
COPE: 3♠. I feel I have to take some action and this looks like the least lie. We are obviously hoping for four-card spade support opposite, but the risk/reward makes it worthwhile as even a Moysian fit may survive. If I have been fooled by a two-card diamond raise, I will congratulate the opposition, but a stiff diamond opposite plus a black king is not too much to ask for.

The rest don’t much like their choice, but have one or more bids they like even less…

WANG: 3♠. This may not be the best option, but I dislike either pass or double.
LAVEE: 3♠. We are in a terrible spot, thanks to the pre-empt. Bidding spades seems like the lesser of all evils. Partner likely has a singleton diamond so 3NT doesn’t seem right.
BROCK: 3♠. It’s either this or 3NT.
MARSTON: 3♠. This could go wrong, but it seems much better than trying to thread the needle with a double.
MOLSON: 3♠. I hate it, but my only other choice is Pass. Hopefully partner has a stiff diamond. If South has raised on a doubleton, he’s got me.

Going quietly was the choice of the panel’s largest minority group…

MEYERS: Pass. Perhaps partner can reopen.

Will you really be any happier if partner backs in with 3?

MANCINI: Pass. In my opinion the best is Pass, as Q-x-x in the opponents’ suit is rarely a good holding. Partner is playing too, and they may guess to back in after the opponents have bid 2 (weak)-3 (weaker). Unfortunately my friends do not support me in this choice – they prefer 3♠ or Double. David alludes to an option that may have been more popular with the panel had they known that it was non-leaping Michels here.
BIRD: Pass. Perhaps some use 4♣ to show clubs and a major, but there is no guarantee of a fit.

RONDON: 4♣. Non-leaping Michels, showing 5-5 in clubs and spades. Yes, I am showing ten black cards and I have only nine. However, this seems better than doubling and lying by two hearts, or bidding 3♠ and also lying by a card but showing only one of my suits.

We have three more mavericks…

COHEN: 3NT. With the usual shrug when they have pre-empted. Especially when white, there is no reason to believe them. Why can’t partner have, say, Kxx/Qxxxx/xx/KQx or the like (yes, they might still run diamonds).

And, perhaps the bravest of all…

CHAGAS: Dbl: I will attempt 3NT over 3 and pass if he jumps to 4.

He will jump to 4 and South will double. Yuk!

BRINK: Dbl. I’ll correct 3 to 3♠. I have too much to pass, and not the right hand to bid 3NT.

Partner had K10/Qxxxxx/xxx/Kx, and passing was the only way to go plus. They cannot run diamonds (South had A-K doubleton), but you still have only seven tricks in 3NT, although you probably go down in 50s. If you start with a double, partner bids 4 and South doubles with his KJ9xx. He then doubles again on principle when you retreat to 4♠. Either 4♠ or 5♣ doubled cost at least 300, but if you get there via a Michels 4♣ bid you are likely to escape the double.


6 :hearts:8842

The largest single choice of the panel is to bid on, but the majority (just) think that is the wrong option, although the vote is close so everyone scores well. I think the debate is clearly won by those who choose to defend, hence the marking. Let’s hear what the experts have to say.

MARSTON: 6. Who knows? Clearly not me.
BROCK: 6. How can I not? I have no idea.
MOLSON: 6. South again! What a pest. I bite
MANCINI: 6. It seems that South’s 6 bid told me that we would be making 6. If he had bid only 4, everyone would bid only 4 and we’d make two overtricks. Merci.

Barnet even considers making a grand slam try…

SHENKIN: 6. I could also pass and pull.
LAVEE: 6. It might go down with finesses in the black suits unlikely to work, but bidding 6 seems fairly automatic.
COHEN: 6. Story of a lifetime to “bid one more” on freak layouts. Likely trading a small minus for a small plus. Dreaming of something like AQ10x/KQxxxx/xx/x. Anyway, even if I am wrong, they might bid 7 and I’ll then get an extra 200 or 300.

Not that convincing, are they? Zia has perhaps the most realistic reason for bidding on.

ZIA: 6. I take the save in 6. It looks like the wrong lead may let them make this.

What about those who choose to defend?

BRINK: Dbl. What else? I have the ace of diamonds. Unanimous panel?

Not even close, Sjoert, although I also expected there to be far more doublers than there are.

WANG: Dbl. Although we have huge fit, making 6 will still be difficult.

BIRD: Dbl. Just for a moment, I reached towards the 6 card, but it’s not the right move with six losers in the black suits.
ROBSON: Dbl. The diamond holding says defend, as do the black holdings. Even if there are two 12-card fits, I’m betting the Law is miles out.
RONDON: Dbl. Why settle for 50 when we can get 100? The problem with doubling is that partner might try a weird lead or continue bidding. With so many black-suit losers, I doubt we can make 6, so passing would be my second choice.

There is also a small group who try to consult partner…

COPE: Pass. This is 100% forcing in all standard partnerships. I am worried that I might not be worth a forcing pass, as partner could easily be void in diamonds. The great thing about forcing passes, though, is that the last mistake belongs to partner.

Partner has an easy double this time.

MEYERS: Pass. This is certainly forcing. I can’t unilaterally bid 6 – I don’t even know if the A is of any use on offense.

Sadly, one choose to ask partner and then join the lemmings anyway.

CHAGAS: Pass. It must be forcing. Over partner’s double I will bid 6.

I think those who choose not to bid have much the best of the debate. Three players faced this problem in the Alt: one West bid 6 and two doubled. Partner had about what you would expect, AQxx/KQJxxx/x/Qx, so 6-X was two down (-500) and 6-X was one down, losing just two aces, (+100).


4 :diamonds:101320
3 :spades:728
3 :diamonds:516
5 :hearts:413
4 :hearts:2027
3 :hearts:0025
3 :clubs:001

Another large majority vote from the panel, but a tough hand for the competition entrants, with more than half raising hearts to some level without actually describing their hand. Our experts explain why this is not the right approach.

LAVEE: 4. This is a good hand for a fit jump, and then partner can decide whether to bid over their likely 4♠.
COHEN: 4. Presumably fit-showing, to help partner decide what to do over the inevitable 4♠.
RONDON: 4. Let’s show heart support with diamonds and let partner evaluate his hand when they get to 4♠. Ideally, my diamonds would be better, but this is what I have.
MARSTON: 4. Surely this is fit showing, helping partner to decide what to do over 4♠.
BROCK: 4. Fit-showing and consultative for me.
SHENKIN: 4. Fit jump.
BIRD: 4. I can go to 4, but not 5 unless partner particularly likes my fit-jump in diamonds.

Zia alludes to one of the panel’s alternatives, and explains why it is not the best choice.

ZIA: 4. Assuming that it is fit-showing, a jump to 4 seems like a clear choice. The alternative is 3♠, but that does not help partner much when North bids 4♠, as it surely very likely.
LARSSON: 4. Assuming that this is a fit-jump, it seems like the obvious choice.
MOLSON: 4. Lots of choices, depending on methods. If 4 is fit showing, that’s my bid. Obviously I wish the ♣A was the A, but what can you do?
ROBSON: 4. It seems weird to make this fit jump with most of my admittedly few high-card points outside my suit, but I must try to involve partner in the decision-making over 4♠, and this seems the most descriptive way of doing so.

Tim sums up the view of the majority.

COPE: 4. A fit jump, for which I would like better suit quality but we can’t have everything. The question we have to be asking, is how to help partner make the best decision if North bids 4♠.

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.


6 :clubs:101036
5 :spades:8313
6 :hearts:003
3NT (insufficient)001
Dbl (illegal)001

Only three real options to choose from here, and the panel had a clear favorite. A number of panelists were not happy with our double on the previous round, although you might have ended up in the same place had you passed too. Let’s start with the majority.

ZIA: 6♣. Oi veh!
BRINK: 6♣. And sorry to partner. La vie en dier.
WANG: 6♣. I hope I can make it.
BROCK: 6♣. It could be right to play in one of partner’s suits, but I’m gambling not.

Barnet and Tim both make the valid point about risk/reward.

SHENKIN: 6♣. It’s a guess, so I might as well choose option with the biggest reward if right.
COPE: 6♣. We may as well be hung for a sheep rather than a lamb. At least in 6♣ I can contribute some tricks. Even opposite a possible 6-6-0-1 shape, 6♣ may have play as my K is temporarily protected.
MEYERS: 6♣. I would not have doubled 5, so this is an unfair problem, but now that I did I am bidding 6♣. Partner is either 6/5 or 6/6: if I knew the latter, I would pass, particularly as we are not doubled yet.
LAVEE: 6♣. The double of 5 is crazy in my opinion. It sounds like partner has 6502 or 5503. Either way, 6♣ rates to be a better spot than a major-suit contract.
ROBSON: 6♣. If partner is 7-6-0-0, I have done the wrong thing. If partner is 6-5-0-2 I’ve done the right thing. Honestly, there is no practical alternative, is there?

The alternative choices each attracted the same number of panelists, so let’s see who can put forward the stronger argument.

COHEN: Pass. Maybe partner is 5-5-0-3 or even 6-6 in the majors, so I can’t see that it is clear to go back to spades. Not sure why I doubled 5.

I am not convinced that partner could be only 5-5 here. Surely, he is 6-5 or 6-6.

RONDON: 5♠. It is not common for opener to show preference, especially at the five-level, but it is what it is. I shouldn’t have doubled on the previous round.
MOLSON: Pass. This bidding is problematic to me. I don’t understand the double of 5. If it’s takeout with extra high cards, I guess I am forced to bid 6♣. If it’s meant to say I want to defend 5 (certainly not the way experts play today), I would pass 5, expecting partner to be 6/5 or 6/6. My life would have been much simpler if I didn’t double.
MANCINI: 5♠. It sounds like partner has 6♠/5. If he wants it, I’ll let him have it. It is a shame that our system is so poor: in France we can bid 1♣-(1)-then 4♣/4 to show a big two-suited hand with both majors. That might have stopped us getting so high on what looks like a misfit.
MARSTON: Pass. Partner is 6-5 or 6-6. The party is over.
CHAGAS: 5♠. In general 6-1 fits play better than 5-2s.

I agree with Gabriel if those are the choices. Last word goes to the man who gave me the problem.

BIRD: 6♣. If partner is 6-5-0-2, we have a fair prospect of 12 tricks. If instead he is 6-6-0-1, a Pass might work better. The fact that they just might go to 6 swings my decision.

Partner had AQ109xx/AJ9xx/–/xx, so giving preference to 5♠ seems most likely to produce a plus score. 6♣ also has some play and its success may depend on which way you take the spade finesse.


3 :hearts:9430
4 :diamonds:828
4 :hearts:813
5 :diamonds:209
4 :spades:201

The panel came up with seven different bids including all four NT bids from 3NT to 6NT. Does this not strongly suggests that the invitational 4NT, which was one of the two most popular actions chosen by the panel, is about right in terms of evaluation? I have marked down 3NT,the most popular choice of the competitors, as the vast majority of the panel either made a slam try or bid slam.
The other popular (if we can call 4/17 that) choice was the 3 cue-bid, which does not move things forward significantly but essentially allows you to delay committing yourself until the next round of the auction. Let’s start with that group.

RONDON: 3. I’ll show my strength first and hopefully we will have enough space to get to the best spot.
MEYERS: 3. I am eventually going to bid a slam in NT, but I am starting off by cue bidding, just in case we might have a grand.
LAVEE: 3. I think it’s close between 3 and 4NT. 3 might create some ambiguity later on in the auction, but it may allow me to extract more information from partner.
MANCINI: 3. Here we can see only two choices, either 3 or 4NT. To me, 3 seems better as we can then stop in 3NT or 4NT.

A couple choose to support partner immediately.

BIRD: 4. Even though partner might be (sub-) minimum for his game-forcing 3, I am too good to bid 3NT. (I find the 3♠ bid found by the original England West at the table incomprehensible.)

I agree, David, and no member of the panel even mentioned that as a possibility.

LARSSON: 4. I will probably take a chance on 6NT later.

Larry opted for a choice that many would not have available in their system, but seems like a reasonable option if you do.

COHEN: 4. Presumably this is RKC in diamonds. I will drive to 6NT if off a keycard, otherwise look for the grand by asking for kings. The hand is way too good to bid only 4NT invitational.

So, what of the various NT bidders?

BROCK: 3NT. I would actually like to bid a quantitative 4NT, but only playing with my regular partners. Others would think it RKCB.

You are assumed to be playing with an unknown expert, and surely they would not think 4NT Blackwood in this auction.

MARSTON: 3NT. Locking in our game.

Moving on up…

WANG: 4NT. A natural invitation to slam.
ZIA: 4NT. Natural, presumably.
ROBSON: 4NT. Quantitative (I hope).
BRINK: 4NT. Quantitative. I am too strong for 3NT, but not quite good enough to insist on slam.

The rest commit to slam, and it is only a question of strain.

CHAGAS: 5NT. Let him pick the slam.
MOLSON: 6NT. I started to bid 4NT but, frankly, my A-K-x means my partner is going to be worried accepting on his/her queen-high suit. 5NT pick a slam is my second choice, but I am going to protect my heart king and apologize if partner is void
COPE: 6NT. What can partner have for a game-forcing 3 bid. We might as well protect the K and bid what we think we can make.

4NT was the last making contract, so the 3NT and 4NT bidders go plus. I see a hidden problem with a 3 cue-bid that regular partnerships might want to discuss. If partner repeats his diamonds and we then advance with 4NT, is that Blackwood or does it still show a natural, invitational hand? You may think that partner was not strong enough for a game-forcing 3 but, as his only other alternative was to pass, I think most would probably accept his bid in the circumstances. He had K/Qx/QJ10xxxx/QJx, so there were two aces off a NT contract, and two aces and a heart ruff beats a diamond game. Tough layout! The 3NTers can claim a moral victory.


4 :diamonds:9725
4 :clubs: 9116
4 :hearts: 001
6 :diamonds:001

This is another deal on which it is unclear that the largest faction on the panel justify the top mark, with 8 passing 3NT but 9 bidding on. The vote was so close, though, that again almost everyone scores well on the deal. Let’s start with the passers.

MARSTON: Pass. No fit, no future.
WANG: Pass. No fit, no slam.
BRINK: Pass. I don’t see any other bid.
BIRD: Pass. Partner may hold 10 cards in the black suits. My void in spades advises even more caution than I usually employ.
SHENKIN: Pass. I am not wandering into unknown.
BROCK: Pass. I’ll let him have it!
MANCINI: Pass. All the friends say Pass. If it makes, all will be fine.
COPE: Pass. True, partner can have a perfect hand that includes Kxx in diamonds, but it is more likely they has something like AKxxxx/x/xx/KJxx, where anything above 3NT would be in danger, so I am not prepared to go to the four-level. This may be the last makeable spot.

The rest decided they were worth another move.

CHAGAS: 4. I cannot afford to pass yet.
RONDON: 4. It is tempting to passing when there is so far no evidence that this is not a terrible misfit. However, the hand is strong enough to hope for ten tricks in 4NT even if partner holds less than three diamonds.

Jill MEYERS: 4. This hand is just too good to pass, and a quantitative raise to 4NT does not give the greatest picture of my hand. If partner bids 4 or 4NT I will pass.

LAVEE: 4. Partner might have a terrible hand for us, but 4 or 4NT are still likely to make if that is the case. Maybe they have AQxxxx/x/xx/KJxx, but hopefully 4NT still makes. However, there is no reason why partner cannot have Axxxxx/x/Kxx/KJx, when slam is looking good.
ZIA: 4.
MOLSON: 4. I am sure many experts would bid 4♣, but I am not one of them.
LARSSON: 4. A bit pushy, perhaps, but I tend to bid a little too much.

Although Janice mentions the alternative, I am surprised to find Andrew alone on Robson Island with this admirable effort.

ROBSON: 4♣. Worth a little move, and keen to reach 6♣ if partner has 5♠/5♣, as is entirely possible. Bidding 4♣ also allows partner to bid 4 which will excite us.

Larry was also in his own lonely world in opting for the quantitative notrump raise.

COHEN: 4NT. Natural and invitational. I have a little too much to give up. Picture something like KJ10xxx/Kx/Kx/KJx opposite. Also, partner could still have three diamonds, something like: AJxxxx/xx/Kxx/KQ.

Partner held a remarkably suitable Axxxxxx/K/KJ/Kxx, so the bidders were big winners on this one. There were no horrific breaks, so 13 tricks were easy in diamonds, hearts and notrumps.


NOTE: Lebensohl applies in this auction

3 :spades:10619
3 :diamonds:9631
3 :hearts:6310
4 :diamonds:403
4 :hearts:2018
5 :diamonds:001

The panel is evenly split between those who just show an invitational hand with diamonds and those who force to game showing their four-card heart holding. The vote is perhaps confused, too, by those who go via Lebensohl to show the same hand type as the 3♠ bidders, although that is not the standard way to show this hand. There are also a few who just invite in hearts although. Let’s start with those who just show their suit.

RONDON: 3. I don’t think the bidding will stop here, so I’d rather show my best suit first.
WANG: 3. If partner bids 3NT, I will bid 4.

Sjoert, David and Daniel all comment on South’s failure to raise spades.

BRINK: 3. South’s pass is very surprising. The likely explanation is that partner is strong. I bid 3 (showing around 8-11 HCP) and if partner bids 3NT I will bid 4.
BIRD: 3. South did not raise, so my partner is quite likely to be strong balanced. This significantly reduces the odds that he holds four hearts.
LAVEE: 3. Not my first reaction, but South’s pass is concerning. It sounds like partner has 3+ spades, meaning they likely either have a strong balanced hand or a strong hand with long clubs. I think my partner is likely to be bidding over 3, so I do not want to distort my shape in case my partner rebids 4♣.

It sounds as if Paul thinks 3 is forcing.

MARSTON: 3. Let’s choose the right game. Sorry if it’s too high.

So, what of those who choose to invite in hearts instead?

COHEN: 3. I have to show some values and try for 620 in 4, where the money is.
ZIA: 3. I play that 2NT then 4 is forcing to game with four hearts and longer diamonds. Without that option, though, I would bid only an invitational 3, as South’s failure to raise makes it likely that partner has extra values with 3+♠.
MEYERS: 3. If I knew partner had four hearts, I would bid 4.

Now on to those who use Lebensohl and force to game.

SHENKIN: 3♠. Showing four hearts and no spade stopper.
CHAGAS: 3♠. This should mean I have four hearts, unless I have a much stronger hand.
ROBSON: 3♠. I’m not an aficionado in matters Lebensohl, but I think this shows four hearts and not a spade stopper.

Janice MOLSON: 3♠. So many choices. 3
and 3 are both possible, but I love my hand so I will force to game. I play 3♠ here is Stayman without a stopper.

BROCK: 3♠. I want to show only four hearts. Not quite sure how I do this, but when I bid 4 next, surely partner will think I have only four.

A couple tried to achieve the same effect by starting with a Lebensohl 2NT.

LARSSON: 2NT. If I can show a game-forcing hand with exactly four hearts and no spade stopper by bidding 2NT followed by something (3♠ perhaps?), I will do that. If not, I would bid a direct 4.
MANCINI: 2NT. Here is a clear clue, of course, 2NT Lebensohl is the best.

Final word goes to the man who held the hand at the table.

COPE: 3♠. The lack of a spade raise by RHO is disturbing, and this may mean that partner has a hand too strong to just overcall in NT (or clubs). I am assuming that 3♠ will guarantee four hearts and I will pass if he bids 3NT. I know the hand, and at the table I punted 4, which was not a success, as 3 was the last makeable spot opposite Kx/QJx/QJxx/AQxx. True, the opposition had done well not to raise to 3♠ pre-emptively, but they were also right as 2♠ was their last making contract.


3 :diamonds:5338
2 :diamonds:2019
2 :spades:003
5 :diamonds:003
4 :spades:001
6 :spades:001

This deal produced the largest majority of the month from the panel, with all but a smattering of our experts choosing to defend. The competition entrants were essentially split between three choices, but with less than a third agreeing with the panel’s assessment. I suspect that those who bid a large number of spades thought it was their partner, not LHO, who had bid that suit. For most of the panel, this was clear:

LARSSON: Pass. Even I cannot find a reason to bid on this, so I pass, for once 😉
SHENKIN: Pass. Let’s go for a plus score.
ZIA: Pass. How can I resist?
MARSTON: Pass. Easy to dream but better to lock in a plus.
BIRD: Pass. Partner is short in spades and yet did not speak. To advance boldly towards 3NT or

5 seems too adventurous.

MANCINI: Pass. One of my friends insists on bidding 2 (never let the opponents play at the one-level). With partner unable to bid despite short spades, though, it seems unlikely that we will be able to make a game, so there is nothing to fight for and defending 1♠ is likely to bring in at least +200.
MOLSON: Pass. My partner has a weak hand. This feels like our best defensive contract. A number of panelists raised the specter of the elephant in the room…
ROBSON: Pass. COMPLETELY clear for me. I expect to net +300/400 on defense and the opponents could easily be making 4.
CHAGAS: Pass. What happened to the heart suit? Partner couldn’t raise diamonds, so I have no place to go here…
MEYERS: Pass. Partner did not make a negative double which leads me to believe that the opponents may hold a lot of hearts. I don’t want to bid 2 and give my RHO a chance to show his or her hand. We don’t have a game, so I will defend and hope declarer can’t scramble seven tricks when we start tapping him with diamond leads.
COPE: Pass. Partner could not make a negative double, or even a timid diamond raise. Rather than hoping for a miraculous 3NT, we should rely on collecting 100s against their 1♠ contract by tapping declarer with diamond leads. As Obi Wan Kenobi said “May the force be with us”.
COHEN: Pass. Hoping for a diamond lead and +300 or +400. The colors make this easy.

Indeed, perhaps this would have been a better problem with EW Vulnerable, although I suspect the fear of the opponents finding a heart contract would still have made passing the most popular option. Sally sums up for the majority.

Sally BROCK: Pass. Maybe it’s ridiculous, but where are the hearts? Partner must have a pretty bad hand not to double here. On diamond leads there are good chances of punching declarer and we should go plus.

There were just three dissenters.

LAVEE: 3. Jumping to 3 should be a pretty strong hand. Rebidding 2 with many good hands will do fine as responder can make a free bid if they have 8-9 points, but not bid over 1♠. I think Doubling and then bidding 3 is worth discussing, and I hope one of the other panellists discusses that option.

No one else considered that option, perhaps because the risk of partner noticing that he had hearts in a hand such as x/Jxxxxxx/x/xxxx was too high?

WANG: 3. There is a small chance that we can make 5, so let’s try to get there. And, of course, Sjoert, who is used to being in a class of his own. If this was the Tour de France, he would certainly win the ‘Most Combative Rider’ award.
BRINK: 3. I don’t like it if the opponents bid 4, but I want to bid 5 when it makes. I guess pass is most normal, but I dislike it. It is for people without imagination. At the table, partner held 10/QJxx/xxx/Q10xxx so you could make 3 and the opponents could manage only eight tricks in hearts. Defending 1♠ was still best, though, as you get +200 on repeated diamond leads.

Andrew Robson leads the panel with an impressive 79/80. David Bird and Tim Cope tie for second spot with 75/80. Our thanks to all of our panel, who devote their time and efforts to give our readers an insight into how experts value hands and think about various bidding decisions.

Next month is the final leg of the 2021 competition, and we will crown a winner of the annual contest amongst the competition entrants. With only the best nine scores counting towards the annual competition, entering every month allows you to ditch your worst performances of the year, so be sure not to miss the chance to send in your entry every month.


HAND 1: 3♠ 10, Pass/4♣ 8, Dbl 5, 3NT 4
HAND 2: Dbl 10, Pass 9, 6 8
HAND 3: 4 10, 3♠ 7, 3 5, 5 4, 4 2
HAND 4: 6♣ 10, 5♠ 8, Pass 7
HAND 5: 4NT 10, 3 9, 4/4 8, 5NT 7, 6NT 6, 3NT 5, 5/4♠ 2
HAND 6: Pass 10, 4/4♣ 9, 4NT 7
HAND 7: 3♠ 10, 3 9, 2NT 7, 3 6, 4 4, 4 2
HAND 8: Pass 10, 3 5, 4 2

The BBO Prime Expert Panel:

Andrew ROBSON3:spades:Dbl4:diamonds:6:clubs:4NT4:clubs:3:spades:Pass79
David BIRDPassDbl4:diamonds:6:clubs:4:diamonds:Pass3:spades:Pass75
Tim COPE3:spades:Pass4:spades:6:clubs:6NTPass3:spades:Pass75
Jessica LARSSON3:spades:Dbl4:spades:6:clubs:4:diamonds:4:diamonds:2NTPass74
Wen Fei WANG3:spades:Dbl4:spades:6:clubs:4NTPass3:spades:3:spades:74
Sally BROCK3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:6:clubs:3NTPass3:spades:Pass73
Zia MAHMOOD3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:6:clubs:4NT4:diamonds:3:hearts:Pass73
Hanoi RONDON4:clubs:Dbl4:diamonds:5:spades:3:hearts:4:diamonds:3:diamonds:Pass73
Barnet SHENKIN3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:6:clubs:3NTPass3:spades:Pass73
Daniel LAVEE3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:6:clubs:3:hearts:4:diamonds:3:diamonds:3:diamonds:70
Janice MOLSON3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:Pass6NT4:diamonds:3:spades:Pass70
Paul MARSTON3:spades:6:hearts:4:diamonds:Pass3NTPass3:diamonds:Pass69
Jill MEYERSPassPass3:spades:6:clubs:3:hearts:4:diamonds:3:hearts:Pass68
Gabriel CHAGASDblPass3:spades:5:spades:5NT4:diamonds:3:spades:Pass65
Laura MANCINIPass6:hearts:3:diamonds:5:spades:3:hearts:Pass2NTPass65
Sjoert BRINKDblDbl5:hearts:6:clubs:4NTPass3:diamonds:3:diamonds:63
Larry COHEN3NT6:hearts:4:diamonds:Pass4:hearts:4NT3:hearts:Pass60
TOP SCORES3:spades:Dbl4:diamonds:6:clubs:4NTPass3:spades:Pass