Tournament Focus: Winter 2011

Letters to the Editor

by Matt Betts

We received various emails after our last Tournament Focus was sent out:

Tournament Committee

Sandra Nicholson: "Well done to the Tournaments Committee for coming up with some excellent ideas on 'democratising' the National Pairs and the NICKO, as explained in the latest issue of Tournament Focus. I hope we will be able to make a big effort to get these changes across, not just to tournament players but to clubs, so they and their members can be encouraged to participate more widely in future. Just as important, we shouldn't lose this opportunity to show clubs that we are listening to their concerns."

Laws and Ethics Question

We also received a question for Jeremy Dhondy from Phil Cooke: "I was reading the Laws & Ethics part of the last Tournament Focus, and it says 'ONLY the following doubles are alerted: Up to and including a double of 3NT 1. if a suit is bid naturally then any double that is NOT take out.'"

"This seems to contradict what Jeremy said at the teachers' weekend, where he said that in the sequence 1 any -- pass -- 1NT -- X, the double was penalty, and if it was takeout it should be alerted. But in the sequence 1S -- pass -- 1NT, the 1NT is not a natural bid. It says nothing about shape or a wish to play there. So what is the actual situation?"

Jeremy responded as follows: "Up to and including 3NT there are just 3 rules and they are:

  1. If you double a natural suit bid and it is for take out then do nothing otherwise alert
  2. If you double a natural NT bid and it is for penalties then do nothing otherwise alert
  3. If you double an artificial suit bid (e.g. 1NT -- pass -- 2D Transfer -- X) and it is for the suit then do nothing otherwise alert
"In the case you mention (1S -- pass -- 1NT -- X) 1NT is, for these purposes, a natural bid. It typically shows 6-9 points. For sure it may not be perfectly balanced as there are some awkward hands that need to be included. I don't agree with you that it does not show a wish to play there. If partner has a relatively balanced hand and less than about 16 he will pass. Examples of this would be any 4-3-3-3 or 4-3-4-2 or 4-3-2-4 or 5-3-3-2 with any doubleton that are unsuitable for a 1NT opening which between them constitute quite a large percentage of potential hands. The lower the suit opened, the more likely it is to be a balanced hand.

"As it is a natural response, or at least deemed so, then a double for penalties is not to be alerted. It is quite common to play it as a take out of the suit opened (spades in this case) and in this case it needs to be alerted.


In Brighton, players are always handing in interesting hands, so if you have had an exciting hand from one of the EBU's recent tournaments, please let us know. Here's a nice comment from one of the readers of Brighton Focus, Millie Mills: "I love Brighton Focus, well done. It's a really fun, interesting, vibrant, colourful bulletin each time, so well done indeed. Keep up the good work, and make sure you keep producing such readable and wonderful stuff."

Please keep your emails/letters coming through. We welcome all comments, letters, emails and suggestions. So please let us know at our email address, or via snail mail to: Matt Betts, Tournament Focus, Broadfields, Bicester Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP19 8AZ.

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