Apportion the blame.

September 20, 2009 at 9:17 am 15 comments

It’s off the topic, but I’d like thoughts on what went wrong here:

Board 19
EW Vul
Dealer South









EW’s system is Acol

3S……..All Pass


Entry filed under: bidding.

Is this statement true? A lot rides on this.

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chris Mulley  |  September 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I would double initially as East, but I can live with 3C. I would play that as establishing a GF, which would make the pass of 3S criminal.

    I would bid 3S as West over 3H, as it is definitely not a hand of which I am ashamed. If I do pass it and East doubles, I will then bid 4H as a “choice of games” bid.

    Blame? It’s too hard to tell without knowing if 3C was GF. If it was GF, I would assess 100% blame with East, as even if West could have bid the hand differently (and “better” in my opinion”) it was that final pass which prevented E/W from getting to the game that they should have.

    If 3C was not forcing, I have sympathy for the pass of 3H, because the two small hearts look like death. I think in a previous comment I expressed an opinion that I would play the double by East as simply establishing the GF … which means that nothing is wrong with 3S. Playing a more main-stream style, I would bid 4H as West to ensure we got to game. However, if West came up with 3S (non-forcing), I might well give that a nudge to 4S with the East cards.

  • 2. Nigel Kearney  |  September 21, 2009 at 11:13 am

    West 75% if they thought 3C was GF and 100% if not.

    I would play 3C as GF though East should double even if not. However East’s 3C and pass of 3S is not the main problem here. With club support plus an extra spade, West needed to start making descriptive bids directly over 3H – either 3S or 4C. Even if 3C was GF West’s sequence was not conducive to reaching the best game.

    After the double West is sort of endplayed in the auction as 3S could just be ‘nothing more to say’ and 4C is even more likely to be passed than 3S. Still West should have tried 4H instead of 3S after having passed over 3H, giving up on 3NT but at least ensuring some game is reached.

    • 3. cathychua  |  September 21, 2009 at 4:30 pm

      I think 4H is a really clever thought, suggesting that spades and clubs are both still in the ball game as options.

  • 4. Peter Gill  |  September 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

    Perhaps the choice of system also has to share in the blame. Playing Standard American, 3C would for most pairs set up a game-force. Despite playing Acol, where bidding suits rarely sets up a game-force. perhaps West thought 3S was forcing.

  • 5. Peter Gill  |  September 21, 2009 at 1:54 am

    I don’t understand West’s Pass of 3H. After partner bids clubs, West has a huge hand. Opposite Ax, x, xxxx, AJ9xxx, 6C is on a finesse, and if West passes 3H and North raises to 4H, EW might miss the boat altogether. 3S, 4C (over which East bids 4S to play) or Dbl if it is for take-out, anything but Pass with such a nice six loser hand,

    Having passed 3H, bidding only 3S in reply to partner’s Dbl seems misguided, when holding better than the best hand you could have. Alternatives are 4H (then pass 4S) or 4S.

    • 6. Richard  |  September 21, 2009 at 3:22 am

      I agree.

    • 7. Bill Jacobs  |  September 21, 2009 at 8:41 am

      I can see your argument, but how will you post-mortem the hand if East has:


      4C takes you past 3NT, and whilst 4S may be on, it’s now unlikely to be bid.

      This is one of those hands where you really need to be independently presented with the West and East hands (without the benefit of the full layout) to see how easy it is to miss a decent game – or bid the wrong one.

      • 8. Richard  |  September 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

        The obvious choice was 3S over 3H. West has a 6-loser hand, a 6-card suit where he has so far only promised 4 cards, and a fit with the suit his partner is bidding freely at the three level. If East has the hand you suggest and bids 4C, raising him to 5C doesn’t look wrong. The major suit aces may well be right on the bidding, as indeed they were. And if you would prefer to be in 4S, well I don’t always get to the right contract when the opponents are bidding. I do agree it’s easy to get such things wrong – but passing over 3H seems to give you no chance of getting it right.

        If West thought his 3S was forcing, I think he was just plain wrong. The pass followed by 3S sounds like a minimum opener with no club fit, and I don’t blame East at all for passing it. West has good news for his partner and needs to get the message out.

      • 9. khokan  |  September 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

        Reflecting further, it does seem that west has a good case for bidding 3S over 3H, over which east has an easy raise to 4S. However, I can understand the reasons for not doing so with such gappy spades and sterile shape. Also, on Bill’s sample hand, 4S could easily fail with 3NT on ice – east would surely bid 3NT with Bill’s hand.

        However, I don’t think there’s much to indicate that the SA is likely to be right – the opposite is more probable, notwithstanding north’s likely spade shortage. East is the one who knows his HK is working, whereas west doesn’t have the same positional inferences. It also looks like suits could be splitting badly, given the opponents’ bidding on few high cards.

        As to whether the pass over 3S is forcing, or otherwise, that is a matter for partnership agreement. I reckon that in the future, there will be far fewer genuine problems in bidding forums, as system, not judgement, will dictate one’s bid, more and more.

      • 10. cathychua  |  September 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

        Bill, I did wonder about that. Unfortunately I couldn’t decide which hand to give! I must say, on the one hand I think logically that East has set up a game-force with 3C. On the other I think that West is torturing partner not to do SOMETHING meaningful at some point in the auction.

  • 11. beterbieden  |  September 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    East. First, he should have doubled 2H. Then he could have bid 3S next. After that sequence West would have had no trouble bidding 4S (because all his points are working).
    Second, after having made a GF bid (3C), he passes 3S…

  • 12. phil markey  |  September 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    i blame west – after pard bids 3 clubs west has a clear view that spades is still a viable strain

  • 13. Bill Jacobs  |  September 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    West is blameless.

    East could perhaps look positively at his promoted heart king and filling spade queen and bid 4S. West would not have bid 3S with 5 mediocre spades – he either has 6 or a strong 5-card suit.

    • 14. cathychua  |  September 20, 2009 at 10:52 pm

      So, if 5332, he would bid what next? Supposing, for example, not appropriate heart values to make 3NT an obvious bid. Of course, in an ideal world one would open all 1NT openings 1NT, but I’m rather assuming that in the real world in an unfamiliar partnership, that isn’t the case.

      • 15. khokan  |  September 20, 2009 at 11:23 pm

        I agree with Bill’s assessment, even though I might have made a negative double on the first round and tried 3S over 3H. I can’t see Phil’s logic about spades necessarily being a viable strain. After all, what should east bid on the second round with a 1246 shape, particularly with indifferent clubs?

        With a 5332 and indifferent spades, west should bid 4C – east certainly doesn’t rate to have 3 spades for a takeout double. In an ideal world, west should look at the rest of his hand before deciding to open 1S or 1NT.


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