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.
K5 J1092 KQ10743 J
You are in fourth seat at Game All. Would you open the bidding after three passes, and if
so, with what?
643 4 1092 Q109865
The bidding takes this somewhat bizarre course:
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?
K83 A432 KQJ1096 None
Your right-hand opponent opens 1. You overcall 2, and your left-hand opponent makes a negative double. Your partner bids 2.
Digressing for a moment, I am aware that these days, 2 (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 2, 3 (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 2 shows a heart suit. Right-hand opponent bids 3, so the auction to date has been:
What call do you make?
K109 K8742 4 AK103
Partner opens 1, showing 5+ spades and a hand limited to 15 points. Right-hand opponent overcalls 2. You select 2 from among alternatives, and left-hand opponent bids 3. Partner passes, and right-hand opponent jumps to 5. What call do you make?
Having solved the bidding problem presented by this hand in keeping with the general standard so far, you have arrived in 6 from the West seat. North leads the A, denying the king, on which South plays the 4 (reverse attitude, so an encouraging card). North continues with the 2, you try the nine, but South contributes the ten. You ruff, cash the A, 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.
Q65 AJ74 K87 J74
Your side only is vulnerable. Your partner opens 1 (four-card majors, strong no trump) and your right-hand opponent overcalls 1. You bid 3, 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 4. You pass, left-hand opponent bids 4, 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...?
6 K1082 A87642 A4
Your right-hand opponent opens 2, 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:
You choose plan 103 in this auction:
What call do you make?
J AQ64 A973 10974
Your system, should it affect your choice, is five-card majors, strong 1, strong no trump, catch-all 1.
J 104 AKQ853 AKQ8
Your right-hand opponent opens 1. Your side only is vulnerable. What is your bidding plan?
J43 K109652 J J104
Your side only is vulnerable. Partner opens 1 (four-card majors, strong no trump). You respond 1, one of the better calls of the match thus far. Partner bids 1. 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.