February 2018 English Bridge
onlooker, the post-mortem was not the least
fascinating part of the performance, no quarter
(1) Sound, 2 points. Whatever the score, there is no
point in bidding this hand other than normally.
(2) Sound, 2 points.
(3) Ill-judged, 2 points. Doubtful, 1 point. This is
not so much technically wrong as tactically
unwise. At the score, South's pass may mean
anything or nothing, and North's best hope of
eventually buying the contract is to show both his
suits and keep one move ahead of the opponents.
(4) Doubtful, 2 points. Sound, 1 point. East cannot
be sure how far his partner's double has been
provoked by the score. If it is very speculative, he
has some reason to fear that the bidding will rise
too high if he bids spades first and follows with
diamonds over his partner's expected heart bid.
On the other hand, he holds two quite good five
card suits and a contract at the 3-level in one or
the other should not end in utter disaster.
(5) Shocking, 2 points. Ill-judged, 1 point. West
appears to have lost his nerve and been more
influenced by North's confident redouble than
the evidence of his own eyes. He might at least
have ventured 1NT.
(6) Sound, 2 points.
(7) Sound, 2 points.
(8) Shocking, 2 points. However much North may
have tried to impress the table with the power of
this hand, South's cards are unfit for any
(9) Sound, 2 points. Doubtful, 1 point. In view of
East's second and voluntary bid, West could not
be criticised for bidding 2NT.
(10) Ill-judged, 2 points. North is not entitled to
place South with more than some distributional
support for hearts with only very meagre honour
strength. The lead against no trumps is awkward
and embarrassing discards may have to be found
early in the hand. If North thinks he is justified in
bidding again at this stage he should bid 3™.
(11) Sound, 2 points. East cannot possibly imagine
that West's hand is as strong as it is, and, as West
had previously passed 1t, a 3t contract should
be reasonably safe.
(12) Sound, 2 points. With no reason to suppose
that East has five spades it would be foolhardy to
take further action. And North may be tempted to
(13) Doubtful, 2 points. Having already made no
fewer than four strong bids, North might well
take the view that he has done enough.
Nevertheless, the opponents might be baited into
bidding further with profitable results.
(14) Shocking, 2 points. If West has steadfastly
refused to bid game hitherto, there is certainly no
reason for doing so now when North has bid
himself into a seemingly impossible contract.
(15) Sound, 2 points. It would certainly be
inconsistent for North not to double.
(16) Sound, 2 points. So what! If West is as crazy as
he sounds, it is of little use for East to apply his
reasoning faculties to the problem.
Marx was fond of questions which involved
commenting on the actions taken at the table. It is
difficult to comment constructively on this
particular auction since it involves so many
dubious (to say the least) actions. However, I'll
North was obviously one of those players who
cannot keep silent when holding more than his
share of the high cards and his successive
contributions to the auction brings to mind the
Mastermind television programme - 16 points
and no passes!
East totally distorted his distribution, his sequence
of diamonds … spades … diamonds being more
consistent with four spades and six diamonds
than 5-5 in the two suits.
I think that South was relatively blameless: he had
four-card support for his partner's second suit
plus a useful jack. Facing a hand such as
´AQ3 ™AK52 t 4 ®KQ1074
4™ would be a fine contract. Conversely, it can be
argued that the only sensible action when
partnering North was a vow of silence.
West veered from underbids to overbids, and I
would have preferred to reopen with 2NT on the
first round rather than double, but at least he
came up smelling of roses: perhaps he knew his
customer in the North seat!