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In the first two questions of the Christmas Competition, you were asked to mark five possible solutions to bidding problems out of 10.

1) As South at love all, you held:

4A K Q 6

!9 7 6 5 4 3 2



West North East South

1# pass 1!

pass 14 pass ?

The choices offered were 34, 44, 22, 32 and 42 which I rate as worth 2, 6, 10, 7 and 8 points out of 10 respectively.

The trouble with the direct spade raises is that they both seem underbids. If partner is short in hearts, there could easily be a slam but, as he clearly has very poor spades, it is most unlikely that he will be able to cooperate. 32certainly has the merit of agreeing spades but, by suggesting some length in clubs, might easily cause partner to misvalue his hand, especially if he has, say, three small cards in the suit. 42, a splinter showing club shortage and healthy spade support, is nearer the mark but will still make it difficult for North. If you tell him that you are short in clubs, he may well not realise that you are equally short in diamonds.

On balance, I would plump for 22 - the fourth suit and forcing. As the South hand is difficult (impossible?) to describe, why not give North plenty of room to tell you what he holds? You might, for example, hear enthusiasm for hearts; the other options would have effectively ruled out the chance of playing in anything other than spades.

2) As South, with East-West vulnerable, you held


!J 10 7 4

#Q J 10 8

2K Q 6 4 2

West North East South

2# 4S ?

North's 2# is a Multi - either a West Two in a major or a strong three- suited hand. The suggested possibilities were 5!, 6!, 7!, 54 and 4NT. Few players will agree with me in this guessing game, but I rate their respective points as 6, 4, 2, 8 and 10.

Here you have to make a big assumption - has partner got a Weak Two in hearts? (a drawback of the Multi!). 6 and 7! both seem rather wild, but may work well, while 5! sounds rather feeble. 54 is a nice idea for now West has to take a position at a high level, but I prefer 4NT. This caters for the (remote) possibility that partner is strong, and may well persuade West that his partner is pre-empting with very long spades and does not have too strong a defensive hand.

3) South, dealer at love all, held:

4A (Y) 8 6 4

!A J 8 5 3

#7 4


You were asked what was the lowest value for (Y) in order to open the bidding. I shall be generous in the marking here: as long as you do not insist on (Y) being the king or queen, then full marks. I would start things off even if Y were the two! I am sure it pays off over the years if you hold both majors.

More answers, and all the winners, next week.