Source: Australian Bridge Federation;  April 2001 Gaining advantages in competitive auctions is often geared to considering future problems when the opponents compete or are likely to compete in the bidding. Australian Junior, Nic Croft provided a fine example of planning ahead on this hand from the 2000 ANC. At nil vul, he held: Α 10 8 7 10 8 5 2 Q 7 5 3 6 After a 1opening on his left, a double from his partner and a 2response on his right, Croft had to decide how many bids he was worth, given that he was guaranteed to find a fit in one major or the other. He decided (rightly or wrongly) that the hand was worth competition to the three level. Rather than simply bid the lower major, Nic tried 2, not because of the better quality, but because he was now prepared for the next competitive bid. After 3on his left, passed back to him, he was now in a position to try 3. The action may be viewed as aggressive but when 3 was doubled and brought home, it was hard to be critical. Nic’s partner held: Q 9 2 Κ J 4 3  A 10 Q 8 5 3 Had he bid a routine 2 over 2, he would have had to rely on a raise from partner to win the auction or, if the length of the majors were reversed, his side would have sold out in 3 which would have probably yielded +50. At favourable vulnerability, you pick up: K 4 Α Κ Q J 9 3 J 3 2 6 5 After two passes at IMP scoring, it’s your call. If you open 1, you pave the way for a competitive auction which will push the opposition to 4 which is unbeatable, or provide them with the opportunity to double you when you take the push to 4. In third seat, hands with little defensive strength but good playing strength herald a vigorous competitive auction. In a 7 table Butler to select the 2001 South Australian Open Team, many players sensibly opened this hand preemptively, anticipating the difficulties that would have evolved from a slower and more competitive auction. With the vulnerability on your side and the sure knowledge that your lefthand opponent will enter the fray, a 4 opening becomes an attractive solution. In his comprehensive book, Becoming a Bridge Expert, Frank Stewart poses this problem: you have opened 1 (all vul) and LHO has overcalled 1. After 2 from partner and 2from RHO, what should you bid on: Κ J Α Κ 8 7 6 Q 10 9 8 5 J  ? I know a lot of young players (and not so young players) who would just take a fling at 4on these cards, no doubt hoping that a spade lead will get them home. The trouble is that the unsurprising 4 from the left side will leave you with a dilemma. You might think that you can muster enough defence to take care of their game, but what guarantees do you have? The more thoughtful bid of 3 gives partner a much better chance to judge the auction. In fact partner holds: 5 4 10 9 5 2 A J 7 3 6 5 4 and, with the knowledge of the double fit, takes the push to 5. When this hand occured in a US Teams Trials, one player bid 4 and conceded -620 when the subsequent auction left him with no option but to pass 4. On replay, the 3 trial gave partner a better picture and 5 went for just 200, gaining 9 IMPs. Anticating problems is a normal action in the play of the hand. Anticipating problems in the competitive auction is just as important and, as with cardplay, anticipation leads to better preparation which is always likely to yield better outcomes than remedial action.