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|Problem 1||Matchpoints||Vul: None|
|  South Holds
|What is your bid?|
What is this hand worth? We have a hand that is a weak inverted raise or a strong preemptive raise. Somewhat in between. So which path do we follow? First let's decide if this hand is a preemptive raise. If you would bid 3 with x/xxx/QJxxxx/xxx and the problem hand, how is partner with a balanced 18-19 supposed to know when to bid 3NT? It makes sense that a non-vulnerable 3 should show a hand that will NOT make 3NT opposite a balanced 18-19 You could always bid 1NT with a hand that will make 3NT opposite a balanced 18-19. This hand probably will make 3NT opposite a balanced 18-19. Is this hand a strong diamond raise? If you bid 2, an inverted raise showing at least ten points, partner with a balanced 14 would expect to make 3NT and would bid it. If the opponents compete in spades he might double expecting you to have some defense. This hand does not fall in that category either. Since you can't raise diamonds, you have to bid either 1NT or a tactical 1.
Many experts were worried about keeping the opponents out of spades. If I had AQxxx of spades and eleven HCPs, I would feel comfortable coming in over a diamond raise where the opponents have a known fit. I wouldn't feel as comfortable bidding 2 over 1NT since the opponents might have a misfit.
Two experts overbid. Since both experts considered 1, they weren't very happy with 2.
Schwartz: "2---I play partner should pass 3 with 18-19. 1 is a possibility."
Pies: "2---Close enough to a good description. 1 is close second choice."
Six experts underbid.
Woolsey: "3---Close, but with no aces or kings outside of diamonds this underbid seems more accurate that the overbid of 2."
Granovetter: "3---Is this not a picture-perfect inverted raise 3 call?"
All depends on what partner expects.
King: "3---This hand is between a preemptive and limit raise. I play 3 shows this hand, but I prefer 3 to 2. My main interest is to keep the opponents out of Spades, but I don't know which bid is more likely to do that."
I wouldn't be too concerned about spades. The more spades the opponents bid, the more likely it is that partner had strength outside of spades and you will take more tricks in diamonds.
Hopkins: "3---I have too many losers and poor honor structure to suggest a limit raise or better."
Brecher: "3---Close, but at matchpoints, I'm more concerned about being outbid in a major than about missing a game."
Cappelletti: "3---Although a bit heavy, I'd rather risk missing a non-vulnerable game than letting the opponents in cheaply at two-level."
I have no problem with 3 if that what partner expects. One expert makes a tactical bid.
Parker: "1---I would bid 3 if this is allowed to show at least nine cards in the minors and 7-9 points. If it is not allowed 1 should lead to an easy auction. I can bid 2 over 1 or 1NT and pass 2."
I'm amazed that not one expert considered 1NT. 1NT shows 6- 10 HCPs and you have eight.
|Problem 2||Imps||Vul: None|
|  South Holds
|What is your bid?|
This is a tough problem. I don't think anyone knows for sure what partner is doing. If partner has heart support, he would have bid 3 over 3 so he can't have heart support. If partner has club support, he would have bid 4, either over 3 or 3NT so he can't have club support. Can 4 show diamonds? Unlikely. 4 can show diamonds only if it is logical that you could have a fit in diamonds. If partner has diamonds, he would have bid them over 3. The only thing left is that partner has spades and is too strong to sign-off in 4. What does partner do with AQJxxxxx/x/Kx/xx?
3 set up a game force which means that the four solvers who passed 4 should be sued for breech of contract.
Four experts raise diamonds. Since 4 could be natural, you have the best possible diamond support.
Parker: "5---I know that this will be a 4-3 fit but no one has made a non-forcing bid and 4NT doesn't seem to have any tricks if partner is smart enough to pass. Partner should have something good to bid over 3NT."
If 4 is natural, it must show more than four diamonds.
Granovetter: "5---I don't know what he has, but he should know what I have."
Makes sense. Partner should know that you do not have any spades.
Schwartz: "5---Partner should be at least 6-5. I am minimum in HCPs so I can't do any more."
Hopkins: "5---I hope partner is at least 6-5 in the pointed suits."
Two experts make the cheapest bid. Usually when you don't know what to do, make the cheapest bid and await developments.
Woolsey: "4---I'm not rebidding notrump, I'm not showing spade support on a void, and I'm not going to the five-level when I have no idea what partner is after. So this is what is left."
Brecher: "4---Waiting. Almost any contract could be right at this point. I rebid hearts because it can play well enough opposite honor-doubleton. If partner bids 4 I'll try 5."
Two experts signoff in 4NT.
Pies: "4NT---No fit. Conservative."
King: "4NT---An impossible problem. I think 3 was an overbid and a bid of 2 would have made this a lot easier. Now partner can pass or pick a minor. We might be best in 4, but I hate to bid it on a void when I have so few quick tricks outside."
The following bid makes a lot of sense. Clubs will play well opposite 10x or Ax.
Cappelletti: "5---Since 4 can be bid with a variety of hands, 5 is more informative than 4NT. If partner does not have solid spades, we may want to play this hand in clubs (so bid them again)."
This hand is not worth much if partner is making a slam try in spades. If I am wrong by bidding 4, I can always tell partner that he plays hands so well that this is all the support he needs.
|Problem 3||Imps||Vul: None|
|  South Holds
|What is your bid?|
There are three possible actions and all of them have faults. A negative double shows both minors but could be left in. However, if partner bids a minor, you will find your best fit. 4, natural and forcing, could get you too high if this is a misfit hand and does not allow you to play 3NT. If partner rebids spades after 4, you can safely pass since he will have at least six. Passing 3 will keep you out of trouble but could cause you to miss a game if partner is long in hearts, weak in HCPs, and passes 3.
Six experts double. There are two problems with double. One is that it could be left in. The other problem is you won't know what to do if partner rebids 3. Does partner have six spades or is he trapped with a 5332 hand. Wouldn't partner rebid 3 holding AKxxx/xxx/Kx/KJx? You need good splits to make six-of- either-minor.
Parker: "Double---Easiest way to show my suits. Sometimes partner passes and they make it, but I must bid with this distribution."
Woolsey: "Double---Yes, there is a big danger that partner will sit the double and they will make. However defending 3 doubled could be right, and any other call is a very large distortion."
Granovetter: "Double---Dangerous, but passing with 6-5 is cowardly."
Schwartz: "Double---Hope partner doesn't pass (maybe LHO will raise) but with shortness, I'm the one who has to act."
King: "Double---I won't be happy if partner passes, but I don't want to pass this hand and guess what to do if partner re-opens with a double. I expect partner to take out my take-out doubles."
Brecher: "Double---Least of evils - 4 risks going overboard, pass seems misguided. Double also leaves open the option of getting out at 3."
One expert agrees with me and bids out his pattern.
Pies:"4---Big bid. Hard hand."
Two experts pass. Unless partner has a monster, 3 will be the final contract. Wouldn't partner pass 3 holding AKxxx/xxx/Kx/KJx? You need good splits to make six-of-either- minor.
Hopkins: "Pass---I would not be happy if partner converted a negative double (my other choice) or if partner bids 3 or 3NT. Since these are all likely actions by partner, I am going to be conservative and await developments."
Cappelletti: "Pass---Pass avoids the negative double passout which could be a disaster and leaves you well placed if partner bids. Bid 4 if he doubles."
If there is any excuse to bid, any at all, I would never pass with a void in the opponent's suit.
Sometimes one has to overbid in order to get to the correct strain. This is one of those hands.
|Problem 4||Imps||Vul: Both|
|  South Holds
|What is your bid?|
What does the Law of Total Tricks say. The opponents have nine diamonds and we have eight clubs. You assume partner is 4414 for Law purposes. Seventeen total tricks. If they can make 3 (nine tricks), we will go down two (eight tricks) in 4. There's not much difference between -500 and -670. However there is a big difference if they can take eight tricks in diamonds and we can take nine tricks in clubs. We even gain if they can take nine tricks in diamonds and we can only take seven tricks in clubs. -670 is better than -800. Partner is prepared for a three-of-a-major bid or a penalty pass but might not be prepared for a club bid. We even have a good lead which is very unlikely to blow a trick.
One expert and twenty five solvers agree with me and follow the Law. They get the 100 points that they deserve.
Woolsey: "Pass---Scary, but so is anything else. I think we will beat them more often than not and anything I bid is likely to result in a minus score, possibly a large one, so passing the double appears to be the percentage action."
The following experts are not Law followers and don't deserve a perfect score.
Parker:" 4---They figure to have nine trumps so I can't pass and risk a vulnerable doubled game. I hope it goes all pass."
Granovetter:" 4---Not exactly my idea of fun."
Problems are never fun.
Schwartz:" 4---At matchpoints or opponents not vulnerable I would pass(the Law), but the vulnerable opponent should have a seven-bagger. My AK is in my long suit increasing the odds they won't cash and my diamond J probably isn't worth a trick with my 4333 distribution. Shouldn't get doubled by a passed hand in a partial if breaks are really bad."
King:" 4---It is usually right to take out take-out doubles and to bid one's best suit. At matchpoints I might just shoot out a pass."
Brecher:" 4---Yuck. At least any diamond ruffs will be taken in the short hand."
If I were going to pull, I would pull to three-of-a-major. At least partner is prepared for me to bid a major.
Cappelletti: "3---Penalty pass is too risky (especially at IMPS) opposite passed partner who rates to have 4-4-1-4 with ten HCPs."
The following calls will lead to a sure minus score. How can you expect to make 3NT or four-of-a-major with partner being a passed hand.
Hopkins: "3NT---And pray partner has a diamond honor or that partner rescues me with an highly distributional hand such as 5-5 in majors or 4-5-0-4, etc."
Pies: "4---Pass is probably right but 4 is what I would bid. I would pass partner's major. Even if suits split badly, we can cope."
I've said it before and I will say it again. Follow the Law.
|Problem 5||Imps||Vul: Both|
|  South Holds
|What is your bid?|
This hand is the reason why players still use 2 as weak. Whenever I play 2 as weak, I go out of my way to use it. I even do it with five-card suits. So now what? You have made an off shape takeout double and partner has punished you by bidding your short suit. Good partners bid black suits or bid notrump. Do you take your medicine and pass 2 or do you try for some more action? Partner needs four spades to have any chance for game. Give partner Kxx/Kxxx/Kxx/xxx, a maximum 2 bid, and 2 will be your last chance for a plus score.
Two experts agree with me and take their medicine. Since partner didn't jump, game is unlikely. Maybe partner can scramble eight tricks.
Parker: "Pass---Why did I double rather than bid 3. I don't think that this hand is good enough to double and bid clubs so I pass and hope partner has a sense of humor."
Schwartz: "Pass---I made my bed with double, now I have to sleep in it. Partner is very likely to bid again over 3 and we probably will go minus. Maybe we can scramble eight tricks."
Six experts bid 3. An overbid and if partner passes there is no reason to think that 3 will play any better than 2 and you're one trick higher.
Woolsey: "3---Don't see the problem here. This should show four spades, primary club suit, heart tolerance, and extra strength just what I have."
Pies: "3---Should show extras."
Granovetter: "3---A thrilling ending to a strange set of hands."
Hopkins: "3---Partner will get the spade-club message but I wish I had another club or more HCPs."
Brecher: "3---Just strong enough to make one forward-going bid here, and 3 may well be a better partscore than 2."
Cappelletti: "3---If partner bids 3NT he might make it whereas he might go down in 2. Be optimistic (AGGRESSIVE) with prime values over preempts."
King: "2---An experiment. I must have clubs as well, otherwise I could just bid two, three or 4."
2 does not show clubs. You could just as easily have a good hand with five spades and three hearts.
This is a tough problem. I'm passing 2 since partner needs a perfect hand to make game and there is no guarantee that 3 will play better than 2."
|Expert / Problem||1||2||3||4||5||Score|
Don Berman, Web Master.