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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

July/August 1997

Moderated by Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Audrey Warren and Walter Kerns who tied for first with 450. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Third was Mark Chen with 440. Fourth was Brad Theurer with 430. Fifth was Fred Steinberg with 420. Tied for sixth were Burt Hall, Lynn Rose Hall, Saul Penn and Arthur Keefe with 410. The average score of the solvers was 359. The average score of the experts was 417.  

All readers are encouraged to send answers and/or new problems to Steve Robinson, 2891 S. Abingdon St. #A2 Arlington, Va, 22206. In addition to the winner receiving a free play at the WBL Unit Game, Steve will play with anyone who gets a perfect score or who exactly matches all five of his answers. If you send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the above address along with your answers, Steve will send you a copy of the problems to ensure that you can meet his next deadline. You can also pick up a copy of the problems at the WBL Unit Game in Maryland or the Bridge Aces bridge club in Virginia. You can also send a request to to get a copy of the problems or send answers. WBL Solvers Club uses Washington Standard as published July 1996.  

Washington Standard, the book, is out. If you are a serious bridge player, this book is a must. You can purchase a copy from Steve for $19.95 at the Unit Game or at tournaments or can send him a check for $22.95 which includes $3.00 for priority mail.  

  Problem 1    Matchpoints    Vul: East/West 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     Pass     Pass     Pass   
  1S     2C     Dbl      3C  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4 Spades     100     3     8   
  5 Clubs     80     2     1   
  4 Clubs     70     4     20   
  4 Diamonds     40     1     10   
  3 Diamonds     20     0     7   

In constructive auctions there are usually two considerations, setting trumps and finding level. First you set trumps and then, once you have set trumps, you worry about level. In competitive auctions, one can use a cuebid to help find the correct trump suit. Holding a good 5-3-4-1 hand for instance AKQxx/Qxx/AKxx/x, you cuebid to get partner to bid a five-card or strong four-card heart suit. Partner could also show a diamond suit or a good two-card spade holding. Another use of the choice of games cuebid is to offer partner a choice between spades and diamonds by cuebidding and then correcting 4diamonds or 4hearts to 4spades, AJxxxx/Ax/AKxx/x for example. How would you bid these two hands if choice of games cuebid were not available?

In this problem we know what the trump suit is. This hand belongs in spades. If cuebidding is needed to help you find the correct trump suit, how can you use the cuebid as a slam try?

Two experts agree with me and bid what's in front of them.

Parker: "4spades---This should make opposite most hands with some fillers in diamonds. We may miss a diamond slam but at match points I'll settle for 4spades."

Boyd: "4spades---No way to find out if partner has the needed cards for slam. Odds are that he does not have enough. I'm hoping unfavorable passed opponents don't give us a guess at the five- level."

Four experts cuebid. If partner bids 4diamonds over 4clubs, what does that mean? Isn't partner supposed to bid 4diamonds with xx/Kxxx/xxxxx/KJ as well as Ax/xxxx/Axxxx/xx? Remember partner has to bid something over 4clubs.

The following expert might as well bid 6spades. Only if partner holds xx/KQJxx/xxxx/xx will he get to 4spades where he belongs.

Cole: "4clubs---Over partner's 4diamonds, I'll bid a slam. Over 4hearts, I'll bid 4spades and if partner corrects 4spades to 5diamonds, I'll bid a slam."

King: "4clubs---I would like a bid that was exclusion Blackwood for diamonds (even though I plan on playing in Spades), but I don't have one and so I will start by forcing to game and then hope to explore for slam if possible."

Schwartz: "4clubs---Admittedly I probably will have to guess later, but I have to force. Maybe LHO will double 4clubs. If the opponents were non-vul, I would chance 3diamonds (hoping to either get doubled later or to better describe my hand) since probably someone will bid, but I can't take that chance with the opponents vulnerable."

Hopkins: "4clubs---The goal is to bid a lot if partner has good honors in diamonds. I would like to be in a grand opposite A/Qxxx/Axxxx/xx but only 4spades opposite xx/KQxx/QTxxx/Qx. I believe thus I should make a strong bid, but one that has the flexibility to let us bail out if the mesh doesn't look good. Furthermore, I believe the cuebid implicitly confirms one of partner's suits. I believe the real bidding problem on this hand would be what to do if partner responds 4diamonds."

This is nice. Hopkins says that the cuebid confirms one of partner's suit but unless partner is a mind reader how is he supposed to know which suit?

The following bid makes a little more sense than 4clubs. No matter how partner interprets it, Exclusion RKC Blackwood (asks for keycards but asks partner to ignore the club ace) or splinter bid, partner will assume that spades are trumps. However, isn't partner allowed to make a negative double of 2clubs with xx/KJTxx/xxx/Axx? Opposite this hand partner would be lucky to make 4spades and can't possibly make anything at the five-level.

Frankel: "5clubs---This should be exclusion blackwood. If partner has a pointy ace I'll try 6spades, higher with right answer. Yes I know there are some hands making slam in diamonds and not spades but I don't know how to find that."

Woolsey:"5clubs---This hand is made for Exclusion Blackwood. Don't know if I'll gamble the grand if partner has two key cards outside of clubs, but otherwise exclusion figures to get us to the proper number of spades."

  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  -     Pass     1D     Pass   
  1H     2C     3H      4C  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Double     100     3     22   
  4 Hearts     90     6     15   
  4 Diamonds     40     1     8   
  Pass     20     0     1   

Is this a Law hand? Actually, all competitive hands are Law hands. If we have eight hearts and they have nine clubs, then there are 17 total tricks. If we can make ten tricks in hearts, they should be able to take only seven tricks in clubs. The Law says double. There are other considerations involved. If partner has six diamonds, there are 18 total tricks and we have a double fit. On the other hand, partner could have two clubs and there would only be 16 total tricks. If I had to make the final decision, I would bid 4hearts. However, I don't have to make the final decision. I can double suggesting that we defend. Partner is allowed to pull my double and should with six diamonds or a club void. If partner is 4-4-4-1 and there is no reason why he couldn't be, 4clubs doubled will be a bonanza.

Two experts agree with me and follow the Law.

Parker: "Double---This should show three clubs and ten points. This is a perfect bid for this type of hand. We should either be plus 300 or 420."

What else would a double of 4clubs show? I know you would like to have a spade honor instead of a diamond honor.

Schwartz: "Double---With only eight trumps, the law says double unless partner has six diamonds. Then he should pull. Also I have quicks outside the trump suit with clubs possible on defense, but not on offense."

Six experts violate the Law and bid 4hearts. I can't give 100 points to Law violators.

Woolsey: "4hearts---This is what I would have bid had East passed, and East is going in with his eyes open so he probably is safe enough at the four level. I figure to make 4hearts, probably can't set 4clubs enough, and they may even take the save at 5clubs."

You would have bid 4hearts if East had passed because you had nine HCPs. However, your club queen could be worthless on offense but a trick on defense and double is a suggestion not a command.

Cole: "4hearts---The double fit is enough to bid 4hearts. Partner rates to have 3-4-5-1 14 1/2 HCPs. If points are in his suits, this should play well."

The following two experts know the Law but don't follow it. Remember, partner does not have to pass 4clubs doubled.

Frankel: "4hearts---If we have eight hearts and they have nine clubs then 17 tricks should be available. If we can make 4hearts then 4clubs should be down three. But, I will bet the distribution is greater and bid game. I will know what to do if they bid one more."

King: "4hearts---I find this very close. The flat shape and the likelihood that there are only about 17 trumps imply that we should defend. However the double fit implies that one should bid on. Give partner a typical hand for his bidding such as Axx/KQxx/AQxxx/x and 4hearts should make most of the time when either red suit breaks 3-2. Besides sometimes they bid on to 5clubs."

Hopkins: "4hearts---My hand pattern says be conservative but my honor placement suggests being aggressive. Our combined honor holding in the black suits could consist of the spade king and club queen leaving us at the mercy of the opponent's distribution in the red suits. Assuming partner has no wasted honors in the club suit, I would expect to have some play for 4hearts. I bid it because I would rather have something like a 50% to get a really good score versus doubling and getting +100 or worse for a zero."

Boyd: "4hearts---My fitting diamond king is the key card. With spade king instead, I would double them in 4clubs."

The following expert is too optimistic. Partner has the right to play you for more than a seven count.

Pies: "4diamonds---Should be OK. Could have laydown slam Ax/KQxx/AQxxxx/x."

Following the Law wins more often than it loses. The Law says double so what choice do you have?

  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  1H     Pass     3H      Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4 Clubs     100     4     20   
  6 Hearts     90     3     2   
  3 Spades     60     2     16   
  4 Diamonds     60     1     0   
  4 NT     40     0     6   
  4 Spades     20     0     1   
  4 Hearts     20     0     1   

If partner has the right hand, you could take 13 tricks. If partner has the wrong hand, ten tricks could be the limit. So what's the plan? One plan is to bid 6hearts and hope. Sometimes 6hearts will make only if West has to make a blind opening lead or sometimes 6hearts needs a finesse. Give partner xxxx/KJxx/QJx/Kx and 6hearts is makeable unless the opponents lead a diamond.

Two experts agree with me and bash.

Woolsey: "6hearts---Obviously I can't bid RKC and get 5diamonds doubled. A phony cuebid might work, but it runs the danger of North bidding 5diamonds and getting doubled, or sounding suspicious when North signs off and I drive on. The leap to slam tells them nothing."

Schwartz: "6hearts---We have enough values for slam, but if I conduct a scientific auction to stop at five off two diamond tricks, the opponents will know to lead a diamond thus giving me a bad score anyway(unless its a natural lead). Psyching a cuebid might work, but the opponents might get suspicious with the subsequent auction."

Four experts bid 4clubs and attempt to start a scientific auction. However, there is only one bid between 4clubs and 4hearts so what is partner supposed to bid over 4clubs with heart king and club king? Two keycards are worth a slam move and the only slam move is 4diamonds.

Parker: "4clubs---Allows maximum room for partner to describe his hand. Give him xxx/Kxxx/Axx/Kxx and we have a Grand."

3spades allows maximum room for partner.

Cole: "4clubs---Shows values and is not a cuebid. Partner with heart king, diamond ace, and club king will know to move. If partner bids 4diamonds and invites back, I'll bid a slam."

King: "4clubs---I think it is more useful to show a second suit than to just start cuebidding with 3spades. We need partner to have a diamond control and also a good holding in clubs for slam to be a likelihood."

Hopkins: "4clubs---There are three crucial cards (heart king, diamond ace, club king) and two supporting cards (spade king, diamond king). Partner is limited to holding at most three of these five. I made a table and noted only one hand containing the diamond king offered a good play for slam. A similar result holds for the spade king. The combination of the two is the kiss of death. My bid of 4clubs should encourage partner to downgrade spade cards since I presumably don't have the spade ace, upgrade the club king and cuebid the diamond ace if he likes his hand."

I don't like the following call. If partner has the spade king-queen, he will be happy and those cards will do nothing for you.

Pies: "3spades---Partner will cuebid. That should be good."

Frankel: "3spades---Could bash 6hearts and hope. If partner bids 4diamonds, I will carry on to six. Intend to make a second try with 5clubs."

Once in a while the following call works.

Boyd: "4diamonds---Followed by RKC. 6hearts should have good play without a diamond lead. It helps to have a reputation as a straight forward bidder."

If cuebidding would always get you to the correct contract, you should cuebid. Since bidding 4clubs will either tell the opponents what to lead or not get the information needed, its much better to just bid what you think that you can make.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  -     -     Pass      Pass  
  1H     3S     Pass      Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     7     21  
  Double     40     2     14  
  4 Diamonds     20     1     11  

If partner has spades or diamonds, its right to reopen. However, doesn't partner figure to have clubs. If you reopen and partner bids 4clubs, you won't be happy. Since you are not barred from passing, what choice do you have.

Six experts agree with me and pass.

Woolsey: "Pass---No reason to think we can take ten tricks, particularly since we might not even have a decent fit. The enemy has competed to the three-level above our suits, so that is probably the level to which the hand should be competed anyway."

Parker: "Pass---I see no reason to bid on. Sometimes they are one level too high and we get plus 50 for a good score."

Cole: "Pass---With Ax of spades, partner doesn't rate to have a penalty pass. Partner has less than 12 HCPs, therefore, we are in a 1/2 deck situation. Law of Total Tricks would indicate they have eight or nine spades and we have eight or nine diamonds. We have no two-suited fit so why bid."

Frankel: "Pass---Chicken. Maybe they can make four."

I would expect to set 3spades at least one. Partner figures to have club values which is good for defense and bad for offense. Give partner Jxx/xx/Qx/AJxxxx and 3spades will go down at least one. However doubling will turn a likely plus score in spades into at least -100 in five-of-a-minor.

Boyd: "Pass---Game is unlikely. Let them rot. Double invites trouble."

Schwartz: "Pass---Obviously I can't double with a stiff club, If we can make 4diamonds, partner will bid 5diamonds. Just take our probable small plus."

Three experts bid. If you're going to bid, double has the advantage of being left in. However, you won't be happy if partner jumps to 5clubs.

Pies: "Double---Probably best to pass but can't bring myself to do it."

Hopkins: "Double---It would be optimal if partner were to pass for penalties. Failing that, I expect to pass if partner bids 3NT or four-of-a-red suit. I will convert 4clubs to 4diamonds and prey. This is a tough problem in that there may be no good strain to play and we might not have enough HCPs to protect us from the double."

4diamonds will work if partner has a diamond fit and will stop partner from jumping to 5clubs.

King: "4diamonds---Maybe we can make four-of-a-red-suit, or maybe they can make 3spades and we only go for 100."

Since partner will have clubs more often than not, passing is the percentage bid.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  -     -     -      Pass  
  1H     3C     4C      4S  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     4     10  
  Double     80     3     13  
  5 Clubs     80     3     14  
  5 Hearts     40     0     4  
  5 Diamonds     40     0     4  
  6 Diamonds     20     0     1  

This is a tough problem. You have first-round club control but you could lose the first three spade tricks. Since West is always going to lead a spade, spades becomes the initial problem. I think you must double 4spades to warn partner that a spade lead will not make you happy. Later, you will have a problem when the opponents run to 5clubs and partner doubles but you can cross that bridge later.

Two experts agree with me and double.

Pies: "Double---Four trumps should be good enough to double."

King: "Double---If East holds AKx(x) or AQx(x) of spades (I think this 4spades bid is a lead director with club support), we will go down in 5hearts and I want to double to suggest that defending at the five-level is best. If partner has first or second round control of spades, he can bid on."

Four experts pass. I hope partner doesn't expect a spade control.

Woolsey: "Pass---Partner is capable of looking at his hand and seeing if his cards are in the black suits or the red suits. I cannot see his hand, so I must pass the decision to him."

Parker: "Pass---This should show only five hearts and not shortness in spades. I hate to double with four small. Partner is forced to bid again so I can wait to see what he does."

Cole: "Pass---If partner doubles I'll cuebid 5clubs. If partner bids 5diamonds, I'll cuebid 6clubs."

If partner doubles either black suit and you pull, you'll be turning a plus score into a minus score. Why can't partner hold QJx/Kxxx/AJxx/Ax?

Schwartz: "Pass---Normally double shows no control, but with two suits bid it is more complicated. With a void in their primary suit(4spades is possibly lead directing), and possible shortness in partner(maybe a perfect fit), I'll hope partner won't play me for a spade control."

Three experts cuebid.

Frankel: "5clubs---Cuebid. Double is spade cuebid. Partner sees his spades. Yes partner could have three small spades and AKQ of clubs."

Hopkins: "5clubs---I am going to make a forward move. We could conceivably have a grand. RHO's 4spades is either natural which doesn't worry me since, even if LHO is short, partner is likely to be also, or lead directional. The latter case is the real danger. I think 5clubs is the best forward going move that doesn't commit us to slam unless partner cooperates. If he does so by bidding 5diamonds, I will raise to 6diamonds and hope partner works out my problem and intentions, protecting his presumed spade K."

Boyd: "5clubs---Partner made a slam try and it looks like all my cards are working. Club cuebid could be key. I'll bid 5hearts over 5diamonds since I don't have a spade control."

Double tells partner that you could have a problem at the five- level. Isn't that a perfect description of this hand?

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Parker    4spades   Dbl   4clubs   Pass   Pass   500
  Steve Robinson    4spades   Dbl   6hearts   Pass   Dbl   470
  Bill Cole    4clubs   4hearts   4clubs   Pass   Pass   460
  Alan Schwartz    4clubs   Dbl   6hearts   Pass   Pass   460
  Kit Woolsey    5clubs   4hearts   6hearts   Pass   Pass   460
  Peter Boyd    4spades   4hearts   4diamonds   Pass   5clubs   430
  Arnie Frankel    5clubs   4hearts   3spades   Pass   5clubs   410
  Robbie Hopkins    4clubs   4hearts   4clubs   Dbl   5clubs   380
  Fred King    4clubs   4hearts   4clubs   4diamonds   Dbl   360
  Roger Pies    4diamonds   4diamonds   3spades   Dbl   Dbl   240