Chuck Arthur


Yes, that is our own Doug Markovic there in the title. He gets credit for suggesting a scheme for bidding hands with one or both minors as responder, after partner opens 2 notrump (or rebids 2 notrump after opening 2 clubs, whether or not one goes through Kokish). Watch this convention in action. NS are vulnerable as West deals at matchpoints.



West North East South
pass 2nt pass 3nt
pass 4 pass 4
pass 6 pass pass


I was West, simply a spectator on this deal. This is not how the auction went, for NS were not playing Markovic. This is how I am suggesting that the auction should have gone if they were. North might well have upgraded his hand to a 22-24 HCP 2 club opening, followed by a 2 notrump rebid. 3 notrump relayed to 4 clubs. 4 diamonds was a RKCB response showing 1 or 4 keycards with clubs trump. That is the neat thing with this scheme: we show keycards just as if 4 clubs was Minorwood, even though nobody really asked. On another hand, South might pass 4 clubs, or bid 5 clubs (to play, not a Minorwood response). North knows that they are off a keycard and that partner is interested in a club slam if we have enough keycards. He has a super maximim most of it prime cards. He simply bids 6 clubs. It may not be cold, but it will have to be quite unlucky to go down. Here, it could not fail. Visit for the hand record and for a peek at the virtual traveller.

There is quite a bit more to this scheme than just presented. For anyone interested in a complete write up of this convention, email me or comment on this blog that you are interested. I will email you a Word document that lays out this scheme. For my email address, read my profile by hiting the  About Chuck Arthur link near the top of this blog.


In comments on a previous post to this blog, there were references to changes to the alert procedure. I have just spent the past hour going through the ACBL website looking for these and could not find them. Does anybody know where these are documented for the benefit of the hoi poloi?

You are West, vulnerable against non vulnerable opponents at matchpoints.


West East


West North East South
  1 pass 1nt
pass 2 pass pass


1 notrump was forcing for one round. Perhaps you would have acted on the previous round. Would you? If so, what did you bid?

What do you bid now?

Waiting rant

Now that I have your attention, I am going to take a few moments and preach about one of my pet peeves.

It seriously tweaks my ire to have one of my opponents open two clubs, responder says two diamonds, only to have the two club bidder announce “Waiting.” Wrong!

In the first place, waiting is not one of the alerts that is announceable. These situations are only four in number:

  1. A transfer, after a one notrump opening, from diamonds to hearts, or from hearts to spades. This seems to have been extended to include other notrump situations, like notrump overcalls and two notrump bids. I do not think this was the intention, but there you have it.
  2. One notrump response to a major opening, either forcing or semi-forcing.
  3. A minor suit opening that may be shorter than three.
  4. The HCP range of a one notrump opening.

That’s it folks… only four situations when one uses the dreaded announce procedure, and “Waiting” is not one of them. When I point this out, an opponent invariably replies that the ACBL changes the rules so frequently, they can never remember. There have been no changes in this area for at least ten years; it just about time that we learned the correct way. If you need a reminder, the situations requiring an announcement are printed in blue on the convention card. It was not the intention of the lawgivers at ACBL to have “Announce” replace the alert procedure at the whim of a player.

In the second place, the two diamond response is probably not waiting at all. “Waiting” is in black on the convention card and doesn’t require an alert of any kind if it is truly waiting. This is what I play with John Cunningham; we use the cheapest three level bid as a second negative where needed. Any suit bid as an immediate response shows a suit with two pair of pants. From my Hamilton days playing with Jack Shinehoft, we would use as a metric that it had to be a suit that we would expect to play for no losers opposite a doubleton high honour from partner. KQxxxx or KQ10xx would be just good enough.

Most of us play that two hearts is an immediate negative response. A two diamond response promises some values, varying slightly bewteen partnerships. This does require an alert. One does so by saying, would you believe it, “Alert.”


Somewhat surprisingly, this hand was the subject for debate at the pub after the game



Nobody is vulnerable in a club game at matchpoints. South deals.

“What’s the problem?” you ask. Bear with me. I shall continue the story anon. What is your opening bid?

This was originally posted on March 13, 2010,  without the North hand. I am publishing this update on March 17. There have been no new comments over the past two days, so we have probably heard from anyone who has something to say. This does not mean that I would not welcome any further comments after this date. It is just that your vote will not show up in the summary.
You now see the North hand facing the given hand; I was West. At my table, South did open two hearts. North simply raised to four hearts in typical rubber bridge style. The ace of clubs was onside and there was nothing foul about the layout, so 11 tricks were cold. Nothing much was said at the time. At another table, South (perhaps influenced too much by the advice of others) passed originally. The auction continued 

West North East South
pass 1 pass 1
pass pass dbl 2
pass pass pass  


Clearly North, who had not shaded his third seat opener, owed his partner a two heart response; they would have reached game easily, as South would have then bid game. They were given another chance when East tried to balance them into game, but NS were having no part of that.
This deal was played 21 times. The frequency distribution of the NS scores looked like this
+450   15
+200     5
+170     1
When I first thought of posing this question to my blog, I thought that the vote would be overwhelmingly for opening 2 hearts, with only a few misguided votes for one heart. If I were writing a textbook, I might have chosen this hand as a classic weak two, How wrong I was! A summary of the responses looks like this
1 heart   10
2 hearts   5
pass        2
vacillate   2
The above includes some votes expressed to me privately, so nobody need check my math. Incidentally, I think that it is quite alright to waver on an issue like this. It is more important to express the issues: to let us see the workings of your mind.
The KnR (Kaplan and Reubens) calculator evaluates South at 13.95 points; North is 11.85 points.
Thank you all who participated.

Exclusion Blackwood

This is not a poll or a quiz like MSC type entries, but I would like to hear from you, especially if you think that you have an answer to any of the questions posed at the end. First, here is the story that brought this on. I was merely a spectator for the whole ride on this one.

All are vulnerable as West deals.




West East
 AK104  QJ865
 K863  AQ105
 Q76  –
 QJ  AK65
  South  Chuck  


West North East South
1 nt pass 2 pass
2 pass 5 pass
5 pass 6 pass
pass pass pass  


5 diamonds was Exclusion Blackwood, agreeing hearts, showing slammish values, and asking about aces (or keycards) ignoring the Ace of diamonds. My partner led the Jack of diamonds. While everybody was inspecting the dummy, I asked as to the meaning of 5   and West told me that it showed 0 or 3 keycards ignoring anything declarer might have in diamonds. Clearly it was not 3. West muttered something about the possibility of their being too high if partner had zero, but I doubted that, since partner might have doubled with the AK. At the very least, he might have tried cashing at least one of them at he opening lead! The play was over rather expeditiously. West had blundered: she had shown 0 or 3 where she actually had 2 without the Q. While our opponents were straightening this out, I pondered what might have happened had West given the correct response. The auction might have gone


West North East South
1 nt pass 2 pass
2 pass 5 pass
5 nt pass 6 pass
6   pass 7 pass
pass pass    


I believe I heard the opponents say that they were playing specific kings continuation, so 6 would have guaranteed all 4 keycards and the Queen of trump, and asked partner to name each king she held, up the line, ignoring the King. 6 would have been bid with trepidation, but partner asked, so he must be prepared for that response. How ironic: here was probably the only pair in the room with the tools to be able to bid the cold grand slam, and they failed to do so only because of an error. We dodged a speeding bullet there partner. This board was absolutely flat: all 9 EW pairs scored 1460.

How do you play the responses to Exclusion Blackwood? 0123? 1430? Something else? Here, it was apparent that this pair was playing 1430. The person who taught me EB said that the responses should be 0123; when I asked why, he said that he could not remember, but that he would find out. I reminded him a couple of times, but he never could tell me. That was about 10 years ago, so I do not expect an answer from him now. Is it simply a matter of agreement, or is one scheme superior to the others? How does the Queen of trump fit into this scheme? I assume that we can use the first suit in the gap to ask about the Queen of trump if the response was ambiguous in that respect. What about contiuations? Do we ask about the number of kings or specific kings?


We were sitting around at the pub after the game, telling of our exploits. One of our members posed the question





West North East South
  1 Double ??

Immediately, sides were drawn and a debate ensued. Only two realistic answers were proposed: redouble or 1 heart.

If you redouble and the auction continues


West North East South
  1 double redouble
3 pass pass ??


what next? If you ask about 3 , you’ll be told “Not in the least invitational.” Would 3 be forcing?

If you start with 1 , what do you do after


West North East South
  1 double 1
2 pass   3  ??

what now?

Then somebody called out “Hey Chuck, why don’t you blog it?”

So here it is. What are your thoughts?


MSC is the Masters Solver Club, a contest feature of The Bridge World (TBW) magazine. They present a set of 8 problems to an expert panel and to its readers. Readers are invited to submit their answers. The expert panel members subit their answers to the panel moderator who assembles all the answers into an article published in TBW some two months after initially posing the problems to the panel. The moderator also scores the answers according to the number of expert answers received for each possible answer. These scores are used to rank the experts and readers.

 I used to run a mini MSC, not on any particular schedule, and only on one problem at a time. For one reason or another, I got away from doing this. Some have said that you miss me doing this. Actually, perhaps there were only two of you who said so. I thought that I might try again using this vehicle (the blog) to deliver the product: both the problem and the answers. You answer the problem by commenting on the blog entry.

IF YOU INTEND ON PARTICIPATING IN THE QUIZ, DO NOT OPEN THE COMMENTS UNTIL YOU HAVE DECIDED ON YOUR ANSWER. Doing so will rob yourself of the opportunity to post an answer not influenced by the answers of others.

Here goes with the first problem.

You are South, my partner, in second seat, not vulnerble against vulnerable, playing matchpoints in a club game.

                                   ♠ KJ86    QJ97643    —    A4


West North East South
    pass 1
2 3 4 4
pass 5 pass ??

What do you bid and why?

Bridge Movie

This entry is not terribly profound. Mainly, I wanted to see the efffect of imbedding a BBO style bridge movie.




West North East South
pass 1 pass 1
pass 2    pass pass 


West leads the 6 to East’s King, and Ace; you ruff the diamond continuation, West following with the Jack. Plan the play before reading on. Do not look for anything too esoteric. I shall insert some white space so that you do not accidentally see the whole hand before you are ready.






Keep scrolling.







You can follow the line of play by successively hitting tbe Next button immediately above.

Your plan should include the following thoughts. If the trumps are 3-2, then it looks as though we are okay; we are going to lose 2 trump tricks, the 2 diamonds that we have already lost, and the Ace of hearts. If the trumps are 4-1, then we are in a bit of trouble since we then have an additional trump loser. Perhaps we can steal a heart trick; hence the heart play at trick 3. West should not let us to get away with this as he is looking at a near sure set with 3 trump tricks to come and 2 diamonds in the bank. Still, sometimes you catch West napping. He has no reason to know that you have such a strong side suit (clubs). At least that is what he will try to explain to his partner during the post mortem.

Some declarers become frustrated when faced with the prospect of playing a trump suit of xxxxx opposite Axx. Let me make a suggestion. When it comes time to play such trump suit, first play a small card from either hand and duck it completely. When you next gain the lead, cash the Ace of trump; then go about your business in the other suits. Here, since the club suit is ready to roll, that technique works quite well. What you definitely do not want to do is to play ace and another trump. When trumps break badly, the opponent will finish drawing trump for you, then cash whatever diamonds they can reach. I know, on this deal, the diamonds are stranded; but you get the idea. Perhaps I should have had East Kamikaze his partner’s Ace of hearts at trick 3 to prevent him from taking a nap.

My First Bridge Blog Entry

The venue was a recent STaC event, Friday evening at Partners Bridge Club in Toronto. I was playing with one of my favorite partners, Ron Bishop, when this hand (board 12) came up. The compass directions have been rotated for the convenience of presentation.      


North: Ron
South: Chuck



West North East South
pass 4 pass 4
pass pass pass  



First a word or two about the auction, especially my 1 notrump opening. Many will find it offensive, because of the 6 card suit and it only has 14 HCP. It feels to me like it is worth more than that. It is a 5 loser hand; KnR evaluates in at 16.85 points. I of course did not have a KnR calculator with me when the hand came up, but checking after, I was pleased to find it agreed approximately with my gut feel. I do not much fancy opening 1 then rebidding 3 ; the hand is considerably short of the requirements for that action. There are a couple of things wrong with opening 1 notrump on a hand that is 2-2 in the majors. Partner might Junk Stayman the hand expecting me to have at least one three card major. I think that I can handle that one: I’ll simply “correct” 2 to 3 . He’ll shake his head and mutter a bit, but will probably pass. Another thing that might go awry is that partner might Weissberger the hand, again expecting me to have a three card major. I have been playing Weissberger for years, and I do not remember it ever coming up. On balance, I’ll open 1 notrump and let the chips fall where they may. I was not at all disappointed with the developments.

West led the 5, ducked in the dummy, to East’s 7 and I won the ten. You might like to decide on your line of play before proceeding. I gave it some thought, but not enough as will become evident. The game was matchpoints so overtricks were not to be ignored. If the trumps are 3-2 with the Ace onside, I’ll limit my losers in that suit to two by drawing trump. There is still that pesky spade loser that I would like to do something about. Perhaps I can take a ruffing finesse in clubs or ruff out the Ace of clubs later to set up a pitch for that loser. I crossed to the Ace of spades and led a heart to my King; LHO won her ace and continued with the Queen of diamonds. Oh dear! I seems that they forgot to lead a second round of trumps, so it looks as though I’ll have an easy time with my spade loser. I unblocked my King of spades, crossed to the dummy on a club ruff, and ruffed a spade with the 2; LHO overuffed with the 3!! Trumps were foul, so I still had to lose 2 more trump tricks: down 1. Curses! I was beaten by a 6-2 spade split. Here is the whole hand.




West East
106 QJ9752
AQJ3 4
Q5 8742
J10632 A4

Opening lead of 5 from Q5 doubleton! I’ll have to remember that one… not! The line of play that works is the easy one: win the diamond cheaply and immediately play King, Ace, and ruff a spade with the King! I needed to forget about matchpoints and pretend that I was playing rubber bridge. In retrospect, the key to the correct line was to evaluate the contract. Not every pair will find their way to 4 . It seems to me difficult to get there if my hand does not open the South hand 1 notrump. My opponents took care of my diamond problem at trick 1. The contract is excellent. I needed to find the safest route to 10 tricks.