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Auckland Solvers The Answers Part 2

Welcome back to the second half of the Auckland Solvers problems. 10 problems came from one session of the Auckland New Year Pairs courtesy of Grant Jarvis. A panel of experts have given their views on what the best bid should be. Naturally, they do not all agree!  In this article, we feature problems 6-10. In each case we are South. So, down to business....

6. All Vul.
West          North       East                South

                   1Diamond-small          1Heart-small                 1NT

2Heart-small            3Club-small          Pass                ?

  Spade-small A92
  Heart-small A83
  Diamond-small J754
  Club-small 763

Our expert Panel of 15 produces no less than 6 possible solutions for this problem. Therefore, It must be a good problem! Meanwhile, our first bid came under close scrutiny too:

Burrows : “ Axx is the wrong sort of stopper for 1NT. I would have bid 2Diamond-small instead.

Kearney: “ Maybe I should not have bid 1NT..”
The shape certainly suggests 1NT though those aces make it look worth more than a 9 count. That’s now our problem. We need to show a good hand in the context of our 1NT response. Some are happy just to show preference, with some reference to under-bidding:

Livingston: 3Diamond-small “I would really like to know partner’s style on this one..maybe 5-5 and not showing extra values. Others will be quite constructive. I’m taking the low road and maybe missing a game.”
Braithwaite: 3Diamond-small “ A matter of style with 2NT stronger than 3Club-small. So, even with such good cards, I convert meekly. “
Burrows : 3Diamond-small “ What does 3Club-small mean? I play this as non-forcing, typically 5-5. With better hands, I have to double or play some form of Good-Bad 2NT. 3Diamond-small is only wrong if 3Club-small promises significant extra values and 3Diamond-small is not forcing. "
There may be a divergence of views as to what partner has shown but it is what is before my eyes that bothers me about giving simple preference. Seeing great cards are:
Denis Humphries.png
no messing for Denis

Humphries: 5Diamond-small   and expanding a little more:
Newell :   3NT
“At Pairs looks right. I cannot see any advantage in bidding 3Heart-small. With a shapely hand, partner can take it out as 1NT has limited my hand. Partner knows I must have some kind of fit for the minors given I didn’t double 1NT."

Yet is your  heart hold KQx or Axx? How does partner know?

Jones 3NT:
“ It’s Pairs, isn’t it?”
It sure is but that does not mean that we have to put all our eggs into a dangerous basket where we might not have 9 tricks without losing the lead, fatally. Keeping options open were:

Atkinson: 3Heart-smallIf partner has half a hold, we can be happy in 3NT..otherwise 5Diamond-small or even 6Diamond-small if we start cue-bidding.”

Jacob: 3Heart-small  “ I do not expect full values for partner’s 3Club-small bid. However, we have a decent enough hand to warrant going past 3Diamond-small. 3Heart-small should be a sharp rather than a solid stopper though I’m sure people will argue that it asks for a stopper..and they might be right.”

I agree with Nick’s first and last statements. There is, though, some doubt as to whether we are looking for a full or half stopper. Clearer in direction are:

Whibley: 3Heart-smallHand is huge in context. Will bid 4Diamond-small next. “

Yule: 4Diamond-small “Maximum raise”. Just invitational though not for
Brown: 4Diamond-small “ My hand could not be better having bid 1NT first time. (I assume 3Club-small shows extras).”

Another variation:

Kearney: 3Spade-small “ Maybe this should set clubs. In any case I want to show slam interest on the way to 5Diamond-small.”
A good question for your partnership is what your partner has shown for their 3Club-small bid…5 clubs? Extra values? Whatever the answer (and you can see that the Panel are not in agreement), your own hand seems too good for simple preference. For me, 3Club-small is just competitive. That does not mean we should now undervalue our hand.

 It irks me so much to go with a majority view that 3Diamond-small just has to be demoted in favour of those who at least invite game. As 3Diamond-small makes 11 or even 12 tricks, I can see South saying they should have bid more…and I cannot argue with that statement.

4Diamond-small              3                 100
3Heart-small              3                   80
3Spade-small              1                   70
5Diamond-small              1                   60
3Diamond-small              5                   50
3NT             2                   40

  1. Nil Vul.

West              North            East                South

                        1Spade-small             Pass                2Club-small                

2Heart-small                  2NT (12-14) Pass                ?

Spade-small 5
Heart-small 5

Yes, we should have said whether 2Club-small was Acol style or Game Forcing. Wayne is correct:
Burrows: 3NT "If 2Club-small is not game-forcing, then 3Club-small is non-forcing. I would play 4Club-small as slam interest. The choices here are 5Club-small or 3NT. Even opposite 3 aces, 12 tricks are far from certain. Since partner has spades and a heart stopper and I have something in diamonds, at match-point Pairs, I will gamble for an overtrick or two in 3NT.”
Matt agrees but is more ambitious:

Brown: 4Club-small suit-setting and will bid 4NT next time and slam opposite 2 key cards. If partner shows 1 (good thing we play 1430), we will do worse than everyone in 3NT.

Cartner uses 4Club-small as Minorwood. " will play 5Club-small if 2 key cards are missing.
 With varying degrees of optimism down to Livingston’s
“could be wrong!”, the majority go for 9+ tricks in 3NT. Newell makes a valid point:

Newell: 3NT “With short clubs, partner could have passed 2Heart-small.” which brings us on to the “investigators”;

Jacob: 3Heart-small “When in doubt, cue-bid. Right? I play this to show a shortage. There is no reason why partner could not hold Spade-smallAxxxx Heart-small Axx Diamond-smallAx Club-smallxxx. 12 tricks in no-trumps would not be a bad score but 13 in 6/7 Club-small is a tad more appealing."

Yule: 3Diamond-small “4th suit Forcing”.

Michael Whibley 19.jpg
Michael Whibley..on the way to game
Whibley: 3Heart-smallPartner can bid 3Spade-small with some sharp cards. Willing to pass 3NT.”

Others have already found their level:

Wilkinson: 5Club-smallseems a lot safer in clubs.”

Jones: 6Club-small "Who said “Never put down an 8-card suit in dummy.”
No doubt Barry can enlighten you with the answer. Rumour has it that he is hoping to receive a book on Blackwood for his next birthday. Even though there was no need to apologise to partner this time, there was no reason why partner should have more than one ace.

So, it is about time I sided with the majority. I might lose out to Nick Jacob’s hand but an average plus at Pairs is usually good enough..and if partner’s hold was a mere Heart-smallQxx and perhaps no hold at all, then we are still good for the post mortem!







3Club-small (GF)















3Club-small(not GF)




  1. Vul. N/S
    West    North            East                South

                        2Diamond-small1            Pass                ?
1 Weak 2 in a major  4-7 hcp 

  Spade-small JT954

Were we playing a 2 or 3-way Multi 2Diamond-small opener, this would be no problem. You would have to bid 2Heart-small and just hope that that will not be the final contract, doubled. You cannot risk missing game or slam when partner is strong by playing in 2Diamond-small.

However, here, we know partner has a Weak 2..and we would take a fair bet we know which suit they have. Our options are to take any medicine the opposition dish out by bidding 2Heart-small (pass or correct) or muddy the waters by passing 2Diamond-small.
For the 2Heart-small bidders, we have the optimist:
Cornell: 2Heart-smallI might even make it opposite good hearts.” … to the more realistic:
Whibley:2Heart-small “Partner’s hand is probably useless in 2Diamond-small. It feels more likely we will get doubled if we pass.
Kearney:2Heart-small “We probably have more diamonds “(between the 2 hands) “but I expect to take more tricks in hearts.”
Less optimistic about diamond length but losing her direction a little is:

Atkinson: 2Heart-small “Prefer the 6-0 to the 5-1 fit. Let partner play the hand.”
Only possible, Julie, if you vacate your seat and let partner (Patrick?) play the hand after your bid is doubled.

However, the majority are not bidding…though not with a lot of confidence:

Brown: Pass “It’s pretty random. I think playing 2Heart-small is guaranteed to be a poor score. 2Diamond-small could not be much worse but might be better. If partner had spades “(now, there’s the optimist!) “the opponents would probably bid hearts and then I could get back in.”

At least that does answer Jenny’s concern:

Wilkinson: Pass “I’d be weeping if partner had spades… but the odds say no.”

Other passers just hoped the opposition would sort it out…to our advantage.

However, two panellists mentioned an alternative but then came up with different conclusions:

Jacob: Pass “I prepared a lengthy argument in favour of responding 2Spade-small (Pass/ Correct) when I realised it is almost certainly correct to pass 2Diamond-small. The opponents may or may not have game on (suits are breaking badly). Passing 2Diamond-small gets us to our easiest good spot. It also messes with the opponents if East had passed with a good hand, planning on acting later.”
Nick’s 2Spade-small intention was semi psychic and required partner not to bid 3Heart-small but to bid other suits to show a weak heart hand…to avoid the weak 2 opener ever being declarer. I just hope they would not bid 3Spade-small to show a good weak 2 in hearts..all rather high!

Newell: 2Heart-small “I think it safer to start with 2Heart-small as I assume 2Spade-small is forcing” (pass/correct, Peter)” if not forcing, I would be tempted to try it. They may pass it out and collect 300 when they could get 400 or else bid 2NT.” The problem is to stop partner bidding when they have hearts.

If partner does have a decent heart suit, then 2Heart-small may not be doubled or even end the bidding. While passing stands to gain when the opposition cannot get into penalty double mode, it might just make it easier to penalise.
What seemed to be ignored is that where the opposition’s hearts break 4-3, the opponent with 4 hearts may be the one who has to act over 2Heart-small. You would thus be safe. However, the passers have it….

Pass                  9                      100

2Heart-small                   6                        80

2Spade-small                   0                        10

  1. Vul E/W
    West         North            East                South

                            2Club-small                 Pass            2Heart-small
         Pass          2Spade-small                  Pass            3Heart-small
         Pass         3NT                  Pass             ? 

Spade-small -
Club-small 82

This is a much nicer problem. We do not very often have a decent looking 9 card suit when our partner opens 2Club-small. We are surely heading to slam but how high and at which level? For many, it was time now to “up the ante”:

Brown: 6Heart-smallI wish I could set hearts and key card. I cannot think of anything else sensible to do. Maybe, now, with all the aces, partner can bid 7. “
For many, 4NT over 3NT would be a quantitative raise rather than key card for hearts.
Whibley: 6Heart-smallI wish I had bid 3Heart-small over 2Club-small.
That jump can show a 6-card suit to 2 of the top three honours. A 9-card suit is rather more powerful. Remembering his comment 2 hands ago where Barry would never put down an 8-card suit as dummy:
Jones: 6Heart-small “I know nobody ever said “never put down a 9-card suit as dummy” until now.” Barry does seem to have Julie’s problem of knowing the bridge rule that when you bid the trump suit first, you are the declarer! (or perhaps that is what he means!)

Livingston: 6Heart-small “Depends on agreements. If I could be sure that partner would take 4NT for key card in hearts, I would try that.” Don’t play with Matt Brown, then. We might be missing 7 but 6Heart-small seems safe. Explaining 6Heart-small a little more:

Newell: 6Heart-small “9 card suits are not easy to describe. I think this to be the best contract. Even opposite a heart void, we are about 50% to have only one loser. There is a reasonable chance we can take care of other losers. Even if we are missing 2 aces, they may lead the wrong minor. “

I do not think the 4Heart-small bidders intend their bid as shut-out. Perhaps, 2Heart-small showed 5 hearts, 3Heart-small 6 and 4Heart-small now at least 7. 4Heart-small does have the advantage of letting partner use key card. There are some criticisms of our bidding so far:

Atkinson (and Yule): 4Heart-small “Not certain why I did not bid 4Heart-small after 2Spade-small as I had already shown a positive.” Perhaps because your hand was too strong to do that. Denis thinks so:

Humphries :4Heart-small “stronger than 4Heart-small earlier.”

Braithwaite: 4Heart-small “I would have bid 3Heart-small then 4Heart-small to show this type of hand.”

in between the two camps are:

Wilkinson: 5Heart-small “With my 8 tricks, I really want to bid 6Heart-small but I am surely telling partner that I have at least 8 hearts.”

Jacob:5Heart-small “Would prefer a way to show a long, strong, self-sufficient suit, such as by jumping to 3Heart-small over 2Club-small. However, this way is fine, too. 5Heart-small here should be forcing. I do not know what I want to find out but hopefully partner has it!”
Indeed, they did, Nick…four aces, two kings and discards galore. As Mike Cornell put it:
Cornell: 6Heart-small “If he does not bid another with all the aces, he needs to visit his shrink!”
It seems easier to raise 6Heart-small one level rather than 5Heart-smalltwo levels. All good and will remain good as long as partner did not decide to go for the extra 10 points by bidding 7NT. The singleton ace partner held was an impediment rather than an asset!



















10. Nil Vul. 
   West            North             East          South
    2Heart-small                Pass            Pass             ?

Spade-small KQ9
Heart-small KJ974
Diamond-small AQ
Club-small AJ4

1 20-21 balanced or weak 2 in a major

There are two main discussion points here. Are we able to make a penalty double? (if the answer is “yes”, then surely there is no problem).

Then, if we cannot double for penalties, what action should we take?

  Oh, if we all agreed…
Michael Cornell.JPG
Michael Cornell wielding the axe

Cornell: x “100% penalties showing 20/21 with heart tricks."
Jones:   x “Not prepared to take 50 a trick.”

Jacob: 2NT “Double should be 20-21 but take-out oriented. It’s pretty easy why we do not want to do that here! It could be best to defend 2Heart-small undoubled for about +150 but it’s too soon to give up on game.”
Burrows: 2NT “strong balanced with a stopper. I cannot pass because partner might have moderate strength with no bid available over 2Heart-small and we will miss game: hence 2NT.
If double were for penalties, as we would like on this hand, then I have a problem on the much more common hand where I am strong but with a weak holding in hearts”
something like Spade-small AQx  Heart-small Jx  Diamond-smallAQxx  Club-small AKxx 
Honours even so far as to whether double should be take-out or for penalties. 
The bidders have not given up on game:
Yule: 2NT “May still have a game somewhere.”
Kearney: 2NT “Double is take-out “(2-3 to the "take-out doublers)) and pass too risky. It’s Pairs and I will be in the same position as the people who opened 2NT..but with more information”.
Whibley: 2NT The field is opening 2NT “(except in “Multi” Auckland),” not enough info to swing and pass.”
Wilkinson: 2NT “describing my hand. A shame they are not vulnerable as I would have passed but cannot bear to do that.” 
A question for the bidders. Where are your 8 or 9 tricks to come from? So ask:

Braithwaite: Pass “No source of, take the plus on offer.”

Humphries: Pass Partner will need a lot for us to make 2/3 NT with no heart tricks.”

Atkinson: Pass “Not many points for North and East. 2NT needs 8 tricks from my hand unless partner has spades (they might then have bid over 2Heart-small). Double would be strong but for take-out. “(2-4)

Worries of a different kind from:

Newell: Pass “I think it will be hard to get a plus score if I bid with the hearts and points sitting over me. I would expect rather more to bid 2NT and so hope we can beat 2Heart-small and cannot make anything. Going 1 or 2 down might be better than -110 but I will take my chances on defence.
Surely, we have enough power to defeat most 2Heart-small contracts? It is interesting who is “sitting over who” .Matt’s view was different from Peter’s:

Brown: 2NT “…with all West’s hcps, they will have to keep leading round to me.”

Matt also sees +120 as a better bet than +100. Obviously, a take-out doubler…2-5 for take-out.

All the uncertainties and frustrations are summed up:

Livingston: Pass “I think I’m taking this light.  Can’t double as that would be for take-out. “(2-6) I might be missing game but oh well.”

I cannot accept talk of North or East bidding as being very likely. You might be missing 4Spade-small by passing but you might be missing a plus score by bidding. The situation regarding double is similar to an overcall of a game-forcing 2Club-small. I would love to be on the side of the penalty doublers but they have to wait a long time to get 5 trumps which they probably need at the 2 level. So, put me in the negative double camp with 2NT just winning the day as the Panel’s choice:














I hope you have enjoyed reading these two articles. Thanks again to Grant Jarvis for the problems and to the Panel and Readers
for answering them. If there are to be more of such articles, then getting suitable problems will be one important factor involved. The top
Panel and On-Line Readers' scores were:

                 Panel                                     Readers


Matt Brown




Colin Carryer



Pam Livingston




Susan Steedman


2 =

Michael Whibley




Neil Hawkins



Nigel Kearney




Richard Lapthorne



Ken Yule




Anna Kalma



Wayne Burrows




Hamish Brown



Michael Cornell




Dean Sole



Jenny Wilkinson




Alister Stuck



Richard Solomon

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