Neil Kimelman

2012 CNTC A Final

No one Vul., IMPs, you hold as south: ♠QJ87652 ♣KQ10965

West          North          East           South
pass           pass            1♦                 ?

1) What is your plan?
2) What would your plan be if east opened 1NT, 12-14?

As some of you know I just returned with our team from a very successful Canadian Bridge Championship (CBC). Along with my teammates, Bob Todd, Doug Fisher, Don Pearsons, David Sabourin, and Jonathan Steinberg, we came second in the CNTC A event.

Although we are not representing Canada at the World Bridge Olympiad, we are all very proud of our performance and lost to a better team.

One of the key differences between playing in this type of event versus playing at the club is that the hands are much more distributional, thus exciting. ‘Flat’ hands are usually removed from play as they do not generate interest, swings, or determine the better team (the latter point is up for debate).

Here is the most extreme example, a hand from the 6th of 8 schedule 16 boards segments of the final. When I held this hand my priorities in order, were to:

1) Show my suits
2) Show my extra distribution and playing strength,
3) Deny a lot of high cards, and
4) Assuming I can do all this, let partner make the final decision

Fortunately we were playing Klinger. Unlike Michaels, I can show all my two suiters in one bid. Here 2 shows spades and clubs. The bidding continued:

West           North       East         South
Wolpert    Pearsons  Amoils     Kimelman

pass            pass         1             2
2♠1             pass         3♥             4♠

1Limit raise or better in support of diamonds.

So my first bid achieved my first objective. My 2nd bid achieved my 2nd and 3rd objective.

By bidding game in spades I show a very strong playing strength hand, with no extra high card strength. Since my first bid described at least 5-5 in our partnership, 4♠ described exactly 7-6 shape, since I didn’t bid 4, which I would call with 6-6. Also, with 16+ HCPs I would double first, and then bid 4♠. So I was in good shape as far as describing my holding. Before I continue this saga, here is the full deal (hands rotated):


          ♠AK                          ♠J4
          A653                      K1097
          J7543                     A962
          ♣J8                          ♣A74


The bidding then took a much unexpected turn:

West           North       East         South
Wolpert    Pearsons  Amoils     Kimelman

pass            pass         1             2
2♠1             pass         3             4 

4 !!           pass!!!     pass          4♠!!

I assume Darren Wolpert accidentally bid 4, thinking my spade bid was at the three level, not the four level. For some reason my partner chose to accept this bid. He would have been better off to call the director and Wolpert would have likely made his bid sufficient by bidding 5. When it got back to me I decided to make sure partner knew my distribution and repeated my previous call. The vugraph operator now had the biggest problem at the table, as she had to figure out how to show this ‘illegal’ auction!!

The story ends with E-W bidding 5. My partner doubled and we beat it three for +500. We lost 3 IMPs as the bidding at the other table went:

West        North      East     South
Fisher     L’Ecuyer Todd   Demuy

pass         pass      1NT1      3♠
3NT         pass       pass      4♣
Pass        4♠ double    All pass

1 12-14.

4♠ is cold.

Lessons to Learn

1) It is important to be able to show your suits at the earliest opportunity.

2) It is best to play two suited overcalls as either weak or strong. With around an opening points, bid your suits naturally.

3) If you have strong suiter, you must double at your next opportunity, so partner knows you have some defence as well as offence.

4) Know your rights when the opponents commit an infraction, such as an insufficient bid. North did not take enough time to consider the bidding and his options on this hand.

5) Notice that Demuy in the other room accomplished the same goals by showing in weak hand with the 3♠ call, and then showing his extreme distribution with his next bid. However, he didn’t quite show this extreme a distribution.

6) Distribution is extremely powerful, and can neutralize strong high card holdings, as on this deal.



Bridge in Philadelphia IV

Both vulnerable, playing Matchpoints, you hold as South:  K107642 A94 A643 void. What do you bid on this auction?

 West       North     East      South

                   –               –      1           

   Pass       2       2NT1         ?


 Making it to the final of the Open Pairs was very exciting, and an accomplishment for our partnership, especially as we are usually much better playing IMPs.

 This deal was taken from the 3rd final session. Well, this is a good hand with a lot of features. Heart fit, 1st round control in both minors and a 6 card spade suit. You have a lot to tell partner, but probably not a lot of time.

 The 2NT bid is ominous. I expect a lot of clubs to be bid on my left, and my next call will be at least at the five level. The bid I made at the table was 4, splinter. This tells partner that I have at least 3 hearts, shortness in clubs and at least enough points to force to game. I chose this bid because I believe it relays as much information as possible for partner to bid intelligently. The bidding continued:

West       North     East      South

                 –           –            1           

 Pass       2       2NT1      4

 5         Pass       Pass       ?

 Now what? As expected west bid 5. But what about partner’s pass. What does it mean? Well first this is a forcing pass situation. Partner could have doubled which is discouraging, but didn’t. He could have bid 5 which says I want to play 5, and am not really interested in defending 5  or bidding a slam.

 So partner is encouraging you to bid. Despite a dearth of high card points I think 5  is the right call. Partner might need to know if you have the A. Sounds like it, as the auction continued:

West       North     East      South

                –               –         1           

Pass       2       2NT1       4

5        Pass       Pass        5

Pass       5        Pass          ?

 What is 5? Good question. Is it the A, or just support giving you a choice of slams. This is uncharted waters but partner probably has spades. Do you have a grand slam? If so, you should show your 1st round control in clubs of which partner is unaware. And while you are thinking, which suit should play better?

 All very good questions. The full deal (hands rotated):


Vul: Both






















 I bid 6. First I didn’t want to take the chance that partner only had Ax in spades. Secondly the 2NT bid indicates that there likely will be some bad breaks. Thirdly, I couldn’t tell definitively which contract would be better, and who I wanted on lead! Lastly, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of Eric Kokish, who was kibitzing Katz – Nickell!

We made 6 for 39 out of 70 matchpoints. We were very lucky as we bid the wrong slam, but east led a club. This is a reasonable lead at matchpoints because east knew I had the A, and wanted to take their club trick as we could easily have all the tricks otherwise. Ah, matchpoints!

 Lessons to Learn

  1. Try to anticipate the bidding, and make the call that will be most helpful to your partnership over the course of the bidding.
  2.  In forcing pass auctions a pass by partner is encouraging, and here implies either long hearts or a spade fit.
  3.  North had hidden four card spade support. A better bid with the hand would be 6♠ over 5♦, because he knew about the big fit, his hearts were poor and spades will probably play better. This bid would allow the partnership to get to 7 if right, i.e. KQ10764 AQ4 A643 void.

Bridge in Philadelphia III

Being my first World’s I and my teammates chose to be very diligent in ensuring we understood and complied with the Conditions of Contest, as well as the Supplementary Conditions. it was a time consuming but worthwhile process.

That was until our 2nd match in the Rosenblum when we came up against an Italian pair. I introdued myself as I did during all my matches. My screenmate did not understand what I was saying. Ok, so her English was not very good. Unfortunately her Convention Card was not as comprehensive as the  Conditions require. So I was left with struggling to understand their methods, which  happened to be very foreign to me – they were playing a ‘relay’ system.

The fifth hand in, after asking many questions, I realized that their relay responses could be made on 0 HCPs. I called the Director who informed me that this is very common in his country when someone is playing a relay system. I said I was unfamiliar with this system. I then when on to say that no where on the card does it say this, and when I asked what the bid meant I received the  response, ‘relay’. I complained that I was not fully informed and was damaged from an incomplete explanation. My screenmate then said that I have been asking questions on all their bids, and as result, we were in danger of not finishing our boards in the allocated time period.

The Director, after consulting with a 2nd director notified me that their methods and disclosure were perfectly fine, and that any lateness penalties would be completely assessed against my partnership!

I was completey taken aback from this information. The issues that I had were:

1) I did not receive full disclosure.

2) I was being potentially penalized by my opponents lack of complete Convention Card.

3) The directors effectively said, ‘don’t ask questions of things you do not understand.’

My screenmate could not communicate with me in English on her methods. She spoke to her partner in a language that was not English, which is expressly forbidden in the Conditions.

I was very frustrated and angry. Although I tried at least 10 times to discuss my concerns with Max, the director-in-charge, he was never available when I asked other directors where I could find.him. This was usually just before or just after a match, or pair game.

So I took my Supplementary Notes that I had carefully and painstakingly completed and threw them in the garbage!

Bridge in Philadelphia II

Yesterday I gave this problem from the Rosenblum:

None vulnerable, playing Matchpoints, you hold as North:  A108762 AQ K7 A87. What do you bid on this auction?

 West       North     East      South

                   –                        Pass          

Pass           1♠         Dble        2♠1

Pass            ?



I am an agressive bidder but do no think much of our chances for game on this hand. It is a 7 loser hand, with the high cards mostly behind me. I don’t expect partner to cover four of my losers. I am not vulnerable. The only plus is that the double has given me information as to how to play the hand.

Despite this I make a help suit game try of 3, which partner rejects by going back to 3 . although 3NT is a  decent practical bid, I decide to pass. The full deal:



























 As you can see 3NT and 4  make if you guess the spade Q, with hearts 3-3 with the K  onside, and the spade 4  as a late entry to enjoy the hearts.


I found that a reocurring theme in both the Rosenblum and the five sessions of the Pairs final was that many contracts were makeable with an unlikely like of the cards. Pairs who stayed out of game on this hand were rewarded wih a 6 IMPs loss in a number of matches.

Bridge in Philadelphia

None vulnerable, playing Matchpoints, you hold as North:  A108762 AQ K7 A87. What do you bid on this auction?

 West       North     East      South

                   –                        Pass          

Pass           1♠         Dble        2♠1

Pass            ?


My 1st Rosenblum Cup was a major disappointment. Our team did not play well early. I will share the full deal tomorrow, including a theme this hand represents that continued throughout the five sessions of the Pair’s Final.  


Rebid by Opener

    N-S Vul. As North you hold:  ♠K  J105 A875 AJ953



West North East South
1 1 1
1NT P P 2
P ?    


What do you bid?

Solution to December 29th Problem

No one vul as south you hold: A1085 J A963 A832. The bidding:


West North East South
P 21 P 2♠
P 2NT P ?

1Inverted, usually 5+ and 11+HCP.    What do you bid at teams? At Matchpoints?

After an inverted minor response opener tries to describe their hand type and strength. A suit bid will normally indicate a 2nd suit. No-trump bids show balanced hands. Some play new suit is a cue bid, but I do not recommend that choice.

2NT or 3 by responder shows a minimum, and can be passed. Even though south has a minimum in terms of high cards, they have very good distribution. The best call is a natural 3♣. It describes your hand very well and partner should be able to place the contract.

The disadvantage to the bid is that it pinpoints the heart shortness, and may help the opponents defend better. Despite this, I would bid 3♣ at matchpoints or teams. When you can’t make the final decision involve partner!

At our last sectional some pairs bid 3NT and regretted that choice when east led the 2.

The full deal from the Friday pair event:




West East
 K3  QJ76
 A98654  K1072
 7  54 
 10954  Q76


Lessons to learn from this hand 

  1. Any time you can bid naturally partner will be better able to evaluate how well their high cards are working. The same principle is why splinters are so popular.
  2. If a bid is helpful to partner make it, even though the opponents may also be able to use this information to  their advantage.
  3. Notice north’s 2NT bid. They have a tough hand to evaluate in terms of minimum or game forcing, balanced or unbalanced. I like the 2NT bid as it give the most space for south to describe their hand. This became very valuable on this deal as any other bid would not allow south to be able to bid a descriptive 3♣.
  4. What should north bid over 3♣? If noth’s queen was in spades it would be an easy 5 call. At teams I would still bid 5. At matchpoints I would bid 4 and expect partner to bid 5 with their three aces. Unfortunately the club queen is offside and 4 is the limit of the hand (Declarer can make the hand by stripping the side suits and throwing west in with the K♠, if he doesn’t unblock).

Weekly Offering

As a new year’s resolution I will attempt to contribute blogs on a regular basis. Either hands of interest, or articles aimed to support the development of intermediate and advanced players. I currently publish a weekly column on the Unit 181 Website, ‘Kimelman’s Corner’. 

Here is my first column. I will post my answer tomorrow.

No one vul as south you hold: A1085 J A963 A832. The bidding:

West North East South
P 21 P 2♠
P 2NT P ?

1Inverted, usually 5+♦ and 11+HCP.    What do you bid at teams? At Matchpoints?

Only One

 Here is a hand that I declared against David Turner and Roy Hughes in the round-robin

of the CNTCs. The contract was 3 doubled on the following bidding, E-W vulnerable.


West North East South
  2(1) Double 3
Dble (2) All Pass    

(1) 5-5 in hearts and a minor, 3-10 HCPs.

(2) Responsive.

David led the 6.  The full deal:





West East
985 AQJ2
A84 Q6
A543 KQ97
Q105 J32


I fairly confidently played the K, expecting the lead to be from Axx. If I duck

and lose to the Qx, three rounds of hearts will leave me with 5 losers. Unhappily, I

saw the king lose to the ace. Fortunately for me the defence played two rounds of diamonds,

allowing me to set up clubs with a ruff, and eventually score my K for +530.


Despite this result David found the only lead to have a chance at defeating the contract.

This hand just reinforces the theory that when you have the majority of high cards lead

trumps to cut down on any extra tricks declarer can make by ruffing in the short hand.

Defending with an 8 card suit – solution?

I  guess the first question to ask is what does the double show? Is it a strong preference to defend, with a good/wasted diamond holding, or can be made with a hand like AQxxx x xxx AQxx? My discussion with other peers is not conclusive. Personally, I think pass should say ‘I don’t have anything to say at this point’, while a bid or double is highly suggestive.

The winner on this hand was passing. Partner was 5-5 in spades and diamonds. RHO had KJ9xx in hearts.

My partner Marielle Brentnall found a pass at the table! This is just one hand, but I find this type of situation both interesting and important.