Swiss precision or rely on the Butler?

TO start, here are a few bidding problems for the newer members, who use the Standard American bidding system.

Answers at the end of the article. Feel free to disagree after you have discussed them with your partner.

A) N        S                        

    1D      1H

    1S       ?

You hold

S J103, H AJ1092, D 5, C K1098

B) N        S

     1H     1S  

      2H     ? 

S J942, H 8, D AQ53, C Q983              

C) N        S

     1S      1NT 

     2D      ?    

S 94, H Q73, D KJ73, C Q862                       

D) N        S     

     1S      2S 

     2NT    ?

S 9532, H K, D AQ62, C 7432

E) N         S  

     1D      1S

     2C       ?

S Q107543, H Q 8, D 3, C J1042

F) N         S

    1D       1H

    1S       1NT

    2NT      ?

S KQ4, H KJ82, D 1043, C 1092       

​Last session at the club, one member asked about the different formats that could be played in pairs tournaments.

When I first started, the day consisted of two rounds. The director would try to balance the fields, and at the end of the first session, players would be placed in the final, plate and one or two consolation sections, according to the number of players. Prizes would be awarded to both North/South and East/West in each section. 

This format is not used in club competition very much any more. The preference now is to play one or another movements which are called Swiss pairs. At our congress and others in the Central West, we play so that both N/S pairs and E/W pairs move so that the players in first and second position play each other; unless they have met before, when it is the closest other pair.

This isn’t the fairest way because the cards you get are more variable. My partner and I were playing in one such event and were lucky enough to play E/W, getting by far the best hands in the final round. This resulted in the top five E/W pairs leapfrogging all the equivalent N/S pairs and giving us the win. Playing in Blackheath recently, when Ed Barnes directed, we played a different format.

All the N/S pairs were stationary and the E/W pairs moved according to their position and that of the N/S pairs, so that the pair coming first in each direction played each other, etc - unless they had previously met, of course. So all the players in each direction had played the identical cards.

The final common format is called Butler pairs, which is mostly played in state competitions. The players are divided into sections and play eight or nine board rounds against all the other pairs in their section, usually over a couple of days. Several of the leading pairs in each section go on to the next round. 

Back to the answers.

A) Answer 1NT. If you bid 2 clubs, you are showing a stronger hand than the one you have got. I think some pairs would have an arrangement that if they bid their suit again at the two level that is a sign off. Discuss it.

B) Pass. Since opener did not rebid 1NT, raise spades or bid a minor. He should have six hearts, so 2H should be the best place.

C) 3D. Opener is using a reverse showing a better than ordinary hand. Show them support for their suit.

D) 4S. North’s rebid invites game in ether spades or no trumps. With four trumps and a maximum number of points for your 2S bid, and a singleton, go to game in spades.

E) Pass. Tempting as it is to repeat the six card spade suit, you don’t have many points, but you do have four clubs, so go for a positive score.

F) 3NT. A near maximum response, with good intermediary tens and nines. Raise to game.

Happy bidding.