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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

January/February 1998

Moderator: Steve Robinson

    Congratulations to Robert Cohen who came in first with a score of 440. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Richard Regardie with 420. Third was Rossie Lindstrom with 410. Tied for fourth were Leon Letwin, Ben Laden, Art Hayes and Clyde Kruskal with 400. Tied for eighth were Pat Foutz, Frances Knopf, Walter Kerns, Larry Kahn and Michael Meyer with 390. The average solver's score was 348. The average score of the experts was 425.

    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: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     -     1  
  Dbl     Pass     1     2  

  2 does not show extras  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     6     31   
  4     70     2     18   
  2     50     0     5   
  3     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     6   
  What is your bid? 

What is this hand worth? AKxxxx/AKxx/xx/x, the same fourteen HCPs is worth a jump to game. Game will make anytime partner has two or fewer hearts irregardless of the rest of his hand. The problem hand with the worthless QJof spades is much weaker. I would like to bid only 2 and if I was guaranteed that the opponents wouldn't compete, I would do so. This could very easily be the opponent's hand. 3 makes it more difficult for the opponents to compete. Whatever you do, however, you must bid some number of spades. You used to be able to bid 2 showing extra values. However, the modern theory is that 2 just shows four spades and could be very light, Qxxx/AQx/xx/Kxxx for instance.

Two experts jump directly to game.

Parker: "4---I have found that with massive trump support it is just best to blast since partner can never evaluate his hand. Kx of hearts, Ace of clubs with any doubleton heart equals game. Besides we have no defense against anything they bid so lets blast."

The no defense part makes sense however the opponents are not making much noise which makes it unlikely that partner is broke.

Woolsey: "4---Good partners never have a worthless hand. 3 is an insufficient bid -- partner's spades are so bad that he won't accept on many hands where game is gin. Also, the jump to game gives the opponents an opportunity to go wrong."

Five experts agree with me and invite game.

Poe: "3---2 is not enough. We might have a game if partner has the right cards. 2 also gives the opponents too much room. 4 is too much because we will then often be trading a plus score for a needless minus score when partner has few useful cards. We may well make 3 and if partner raises we may make that if we hit the right dummy."

Pies: "3---Bad hand for the system. Partner will never know that KQ of clubs are worthless. Still, hard to bid less."

Lublin: "3---Looking for extras."

Hopkins: "3---Partner has more spades than hearts which is good. However, I do need some help to get to ten tricks so I will ask partner if he has any useful cards. At IMPs I would just bid 4 and hope partner has Kx of hearts or similar useful feature."

Schwartz: "3---Not afraid of the opponents on this auction, we probably don't have game if partner can't bid. Maybe 3NT is right if partner bids it."

2 could very easily be the limit of this hand. Give partner 109xxx/xxx/xx/KQJ and eight tricks is the limit. The point of the hand is that the QJ of spades are worthless, since if you had AKxxxx the result will probably be the same. 3 is probably an overbid but if you can't take nine tricks, the opponents can probably make something.

  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     Pass     1     Pass   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     4     10   
  1NT     80     3     22   
  Pass     50     1     3   
  2     50     0     25   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

Two reasonable possibilities. Raising to 2 or rebidding 1NT is reasonable. I think you must have at least nine cards in the minors to open 1diamond and rebid 2, so 2 is not a reasonable possibility. If I were ever going to open 1diamond and rebid 2 with 4-4 in the minors, this would be the hand. Some players never raise without four-card support so they must rebid 1NT. Always having four pieces when you raise, allows partner to make a game try with eleven HCPs and four bad spades. It also allows partner to jump to game without giving the opponents any help. When should you raise with only three pieces? First of all, your partner must know that you can raise with three pieces. I raise with three pieces when I have an outside singleton. With an outside small doubleton, I like to have a trump honor. Again, partner must expect to be raised on three.

Four experts raise spades.

Parker: "2---I have found at matchpoints that it almost always pays to raise with three unless there is a very good reason not to. This shuts out hearts and may cause them to balance in clubs."

Its easier for the opponents to bid hearts when you have found a fit.

Woolsey: "2---When in doubt raise. Note that if partner has four spades he has at most three hearts, which bodes ill for a notrump contract from our side. Rebidding 2 is sick."

I say when in doubt, rebid one notrump.

Pies: "2---Don't want to bid notrump with good hand and two small hearts."

Lublin: "2---Have ruffing value."

Two experts agree with me and rebid one notrump.

Poe: "1NT---This and millions of other holdings illustrate the benefit of the Cole convention, in which you bid 2, forcing, then prefer spades to show a minimum with three-card support. Not playing the convention, I refuse to give up on the likely contract of 1NT. 1NT shows a balanced minimum without four-card support which is my hand. 2 is a possibility, but since system requires a 1 response with xxxx, I consider xxx inadequate support for an immediate raise. If the opponents back in with 2, I can compete with 2. If they don't back in we are more likely to belong in 1NT."

Hopkins: "1NT---Shows 12-14 HCPs and a balanced hand. Everybody loves to bid so much these days that, if there were a long heart suit on my left, I would have heard about it. I am very well placed if partner goes into a check-back sequence."

One expert passes. Couldn't partner have AKQxx/xxx/xxx/J10 where game is practially cold.

Schwartz: "Pass---With modern opening bid style game is less likely since many eleven HCP hands with five spades get opened. With a likely heart lead, spades should play better than notrump thus my second choice is 2."

Since I would open 1NT with one more jack, I see no reason not to rebid 1NT?

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     Pass     Pass     Pass   
  1     2     Dbl     Pass   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     4     42   
  Pass     70     2     3   
  2     60     1     10   
  2     50     1     1   
  2     20     0     4   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

I have found that 2NT does not play well when the opponents have a long suit to run. LHO leads a club from AJ10xxx, RHO gets in and they run five more club tricks plus whatever aces and kings are still out. You don't even have a source of tricks. I would rather play in two-of-a-major even if it is a 4-3 fit. I don't usually advocate bidding a three-card suit if there is any reasonable alternative but I don't consider 2NT a reasonable alternative.

One expert agrees with me and bids a three-card major. If you are going to bid a three-card major, which major? Since a negative double of 2 promises only one major, bidding 2 allows partner to bid 2 if he doesn't have hearts. Haven't you ever made a negative double of 2 with 5-3 in the majors?

Woolsey: "2---Difficult. Give partner a typical hand such as KQxx/KJxx/xxx/xx and I can't convince myself that 2 isn't where we belong. We just don't figure to have to horses to damage 2 and two notrump could easily get us way overboard."

Four experts rebid 2NT.

Parker: "2NT---I have double club stopper and a max. I don't bid three-card suits with balanced hands and see no need to rebid my four-card suit."

Lublin: "2NT---Would pass at matchpoints."

Poe: "2NT---What's the problem? Does this show extras? Does this show better than KQx of their suit? True, we could belong in some other spot at the two-level, but I won't mastermind the hand. Pass is ridiculous, as is two-of-a-major. 2 is an obscure choice but might work well by getting us to some makeable suit contract, but I think 2NT has as good a chance as any of being the right spot, and it correctly describes our hand."

Hopkins: "2NT---Seems to describe my hand fairly well. 12-14 HCPs balanced, with clubs stopped. Partner may only have 8-9 HCPs so a leap to 3NT seems overly ambitious."

Two experts go for the throat. Could be right but I don't like passing takeout doubles.

Pies: "Pass---I have three + tricks. 2 second choice."

Schwartz: "Pass---Mostly likely plus score with diamond lead. Bidding will most likely lead to a minus score. Even if they make its only -180."

When partner doubles 2, he assumes that you will bid a major. Why disappoint him.

  Problem 4    Imps    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     1     1   
  2     2     3     3   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3NT     100     4     13   
  4     70     1     9   
  5     60     1     9   
  Dbl     50     0     19   
  4     40     1     3   
  Pass     40     0     2   
  4NT     40     0     1   
  4     20     1     3   
  6     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 

Partner has made a free bid showing a six-card or longer club suit. He also denies three-card heart support. So what now? 3NT or support clubs? Since we have at best one spade stopper, we need to be able to take nine tricks in 3NT before they take five. If partner's club suit is not solid or partner is void in spades we probably won't make 3NT. Since I don't like seeing the opponents take the first five or six spade tricks, I'm supporting clubs. I like 4.

Two experts support clubs but I think they are overdoing it. Does two-card support make this hand worth jumping or cuebidding?

Woolsey: "5---Looks about right on values -- partner can bid a slam if he likes his hand. I'm not 100% sure that 4 is forcing (though I think it should be), and it doesn't appear to gain much anyway. Three notrump could easily be down if the clubs don't run, and we need to support clubs if we are to find a club slam."

4 must be forcing. One must be able set trumps. 4 is non-forcing only if clubs have been previously supported and an attempt to get to 3NT failed.

Hopkins: "4---I am going to go crazy by supporting clubs and suggesting a slam."

Four experts rebid 3NT. If 3NT was optional, that would make sense but 3NT usually ends all auctions.

Parker: "3NT---I have a great card for partner, hopefully to allow his suit to run. I have a stopper behind the overcaller and a good hand. I can't imagine we can't make 3NT and five-of-a-minor might be too hard. Partner can always pull with a distributional hand like 7-4. We should have a slam in his minor if he pulls. Close to raising and bypassing 3NT."

If you bid 3NT, why should partner overrule you and pull. Even with a void, he should sit.

Poe: "3NT---They cannot run the spade suit so 3NT should make. We might well have 6 but I don't know how strong partner is, and on some of the minority of hands where we can make 6, partner may bid again."

Pies: "3NT---Spades will block even if partner is void. Too hard to get to slam."

Why can't they run the spade suit? LHO leads a low spade from 10xx, RHO wins the K from AKQxx and returns a low one. Do you really have a spade stopper?

Schwartz: "3NT---With fitting club card and aces outside game is likely. Since both sides have at least eight trumps they would go down at most two when we make nine tricks thus double is probably not right according to the law. If partner is void in spades, 5 is probably better but maybe he would pull with 7-4."

The following answer makes no sense. Since you haven't found a fit, new suits are natural. Couldn't you be 5-5 or 6-5 in the red suits with a good hand.

Lublin: "4---Followed by 5."

What is wrong with a simple 4? Allows partner to cuebid with a good hand and signoff with a minimum.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     1     Pass     2   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     2     5   
  3NT     70     2     2   
  4     60     1     6   
  3     60     1     9   
  5     50     1     0   
  3     50     1     33   
  Dbl     20     0     6   
  What is your bid? 

This hand is a guess. Is partner broke and 3 is the limit of the hand or does he have enough to make game? If he has enough to make game, which game do we belong in? J10x/xxxx/xxx/xxx makes 3NT but doesn't make 5. xxx/Axx/xxx/xxxx makes 5 but doesn't make 3NT. I like 2NT which in Washington Standard is for takeout showing 6-4 in diamonds and clubs. I will then bid 3NT which cancels the minor-showing bid but shows that I have enough strength for 3NT but that I'm not sure we belong there. If I really wanted to play 3NT, I would bid it directly. If partner does not have something in either diamonds or spades, he should pull 3NT when proceded by 2NT. 2NT gets partner involved in the decision.

One expert agrees with me and rebids 2NT but I'm not sure he interprets 2NT the same as I do.

Poe: "2NT---Tough problem. We want to play from this side and suggest a game. Hopefully partner will have Qxx in both majors or something else good, or he will know to convert to 3 with a bad hand. This is another classic example of a hand type which is difficult to bid in Standard American after most responses to 1diamond."

Two experts jump to 3NT. In order to make 3NT, partner needs either a diamond honor or a second spade stopper.

Woolsey: "3NT---Partner needs one card in spades or diamonds to gin this, and why shouldn't he have it? Good partners never have a worthless hand. 3 simply doesn't do justice to this hand, and bidding two notrump is silly -- if we can make two, we can probably make three."

Hopkins: "3NT---Oh well. Partner will know the type of hand I have even though I have deviated from the norm as usual. If the doubling starts, I can redouble to express doubt. Partner will know he needs a working card to leave me in 3NT. This is probably my convoluted way of getting -100 when the field is +110 in 3 or +50 against 3."

Three experts bid diamonds. I like the way they agree on the level. First optimistic Parker.

Parker: "5---I would really like to bid 3 to keep the bidding alive, and then go back to diamonds, sort of K-S. I will be stuck after the expected 3 but feel obligated to at least push them there."

Middle of the road Pies. New place for him.

Pies: "4---Hoping partner has one card. Heart ace or diamond king."

Finally pessimistic Schwartz.

Schwartz: "3---Could bid 3 to ask for spade stopper but 3NT might still go down or partner might have diamond K and bid 4. We are not that likely to make 4 opposite junk thus with good defensive prospects against 3 so will just go quietly."

One expert cuebids.

Lublin: "3---Get notrump played from other side."

Shouldn't 3 show a solid diamond suit?

I like bids which are flexible. 2NT followed by 3NT is a flexible sequence.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Lyle Poe    3   1NT   2NT   3NT   2NT   480
  Roger Pies    3   2   Pass   3NT   4   430
  Steve Parker    4   2   2NT   3NT   5   420
  Steve Robinson   3   1NT   2   4   2NT   410
  Robbie Hopkins    3   1NT   2NT   4   3NT   380
  Glen Lublin    3   2   2NT   4   3   380
  Alan Schwartz    3   Pass   Pass   3NT   3   370
  Kit Woolsey    4   2   2   5   3NT   340

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