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Tales of Jaundiced Jim

by David Burn, London, England


These ten problems are taken from a recent third-round Gold Cup match. To put them in context, the score at the end of the match was 150-144 over 48 boards, a turnover that Microsoft would envy. My team was 34 IMPs ahead at the end of the first stanza, then 22 ahead, then 5 behind, then 12 ahead, then 31 behind, and won by six.

The bridge was wholly unspeakable. Tackle these problems, then, with confidence, for I will make you this solemn assurance. You cannot possibly do worse than the players who faced them at the table.

  1. Early in the match, with little indication of the horrors to come, your hand is:

    S K5 H J1092 D KQ10743 C J

    You are in fourth seat at Game All. Would you open the bidding after three passes, and if so, with what?

  2. A little later, with your side enjoying a healthy early lead, your hand at Game All is:

    S 643 H 4 D 1092 C Q109865

    The bidding takes this somewhat bizarre course:

    West North East South
    - You --
    -- 1H Pass
    1NTPassPass 2C
    2H ?--

    Your opponents are playing four-card majors and a weak no trump. Your partner is playing a sound and sensible game, though this is not going to last very long. What call do you make?

  3. Some of your early lead has been whittled away (a euphemism common among bridge writers meaning: you are now playing more like complete idiots than your opponents are, which has not hitherto been the case). Your hand, again at Game All, is:

    S K83 H A432 D KQJ1096 C None

    Your right-hand opponent opens 1S. You overcall 2D, and your left-hand opponent makes a negative double. Your partner bids 2H.

    Digressing for a moment, I am aware that these days, 2H (the suit implied by your left-hand opponent) would be a delicate cue bid implying diamond support. Diamond support could also be shown by bids of 2S, 3C (another inferential cue bid), fit-showing jumps at a wide variety of levels, the Good-Bad 2NT, and - if all else failed and partner were really desperate - by raising diamonds. I am assured by our leading young players that bidding when you have support for partner's suit is very difficult, and you must harness all available devices for this purpose, whereas bidding when you don't have support for partner's suit is extremely simple. You double for takeout.

    However, your present partner is a grizzled veteran of the Paleolithic school of bidding, and so 2H shows a heart suit. Right-hand opponent bids 3C, so the auction to date has been:

    West North East South
    --- You
    -- 1S 2D
    Dble 2H 3C ?

    What call do you make?

  4. The match is now almost level. Your hand at Love All is:

    S K109 H K8742 D 4 C AK103

    Partner opens 1S, showing 5+ spades and a hand limited to 15 points. Right-hand opponent overcalls 2D. You select 2H from among alternatives, and left-hand opponent bids 3D. Partner passes, and right-hand opponent jumps to 5D. What call do you make?

  5. Now a chance to shine in the play of the cards:

    . East
    S K4
    H KQ832
    D AK742
    C J
    [ ] S A1065
    H A105
    D 5
    C Q9653

    Having solved the bidding problem presented by this hand in keeping with the general standard so far, you have arrived in 6H from the West seat. North leads the CA, denying the king, on which South plays the C4 (reverse attitude, so an encouraging card). North continues with the C2, you try the nine, but South contributes the ten. You ruff, cash the DA, ruff a diamond, play a spade to the king, and ruff another diamond.

    North appears from the carding to have started with four diamonds, South with three. You cash the ace of trumps. After you have recovered from the shock of this holding the trick, you must consider your options.

  6. With eight boards to go, your side is in the lead by 31 IMPs. Your opponents have missed a laydown slam on the first board of the final stanza. This is your hand on the second:

    S Q65 H AJ74 D K87 C J74

    Your side only is vulnerable. Your partner opens 1H (four-card majors, strong no trump) and your right-hand opponent overcalls 1S. You bid 3H, an ultra-modern gadget designed to show heart support and about 9-11 points. This is passed back to your right-hand opponent, who bids 4C. You pass, left-hand opponent bids 4S, and this is passed back to you. Whether or not you agree with the chosen call of double will depend to a large extent on your opening lead, which is...?

  7. Back at Game All, with the match at a critical stage (and the kibitzers at a more critical one), your hand is:

    S 6 H K1082 D A87642 C A4

    Your right-hand opponent opens 2D, a standard Multi showing a weak two in a major or various good hands. Your bidding plan is likely to be one of the following:

    1. Overcall 3D
    2. Pass, and if the opponents come to rest in 2S, overcall 3D (weaker than an immediate overcall)
    3. As 102, but double 2S, intending to convert partner's 3C to 3D to imply diamonds and hearts.

    You choose plan 103 in this auction:

    West North East South
    --- You
    -- 2D Pass
    2S PassPassDble
    RedblePassPass ?

    What call do you make?

  8. Would you open this hand at Game All after two passes?

    S J H AQ64 D A973 C 10974

    Your system, should it affect your choice, is five-card majors, strong 1C, strong no trump, catch-all 1D.

  9. With the match on the line, this is your penultimate chance:

    S J H 104 D AKQ853 C AKQ8

    Your right-hand opponent opens 1S. Your side only is vulnerable. What is your bidding plan?

  10. Last ditch:

    S J43 H K109652 D J C J104

    Your side only is vulnerable. Partner opens 1D (four-card majors, strong no trump). You respond 1H, one of the better calls of the match thus far. Partner bids 1S. How will you continue your impeccable performance?

Before you read the answers, a word of warning. The bridge you are about to see was perpetrated by players of international standing. These people have trained for many years to raise their skills to the level that you will see exhibited. Please, do not try any of this at home.

See here for the answers

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