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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

May/June 1998

Moderator: Steve Robinson Due: August 6, 1998

    Congratulations to Lloyd Rawley who came in first with a score of 490. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Andy Gofreed with 460. Tied for third were Michael Richey, Dave Smith and Sam Gumbert with 450. Tied for sixth were Al Rosenthal, Josh Sher, Fred Steinberg and Rossi Lindstrom with 430. Tenth was John Kelly with 410. The average solver's score was 371. The average score of the experts was 414.
    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    Imps    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     -     Pass  
  Pass     Pass     1    2  
  Pass     4     4    Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     4     27   
  4     90     1     13   
  5     50     1     0   
  5     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

This is a good hand for Washington Standard. You don't have to guess how many hearts partner has. Partner has exactly four. Since partner didn't double 4, he should have at most two spades. Partner's most likely distributions are 2-4-1-6, 1-4-1-7, or 1-4-2-6. Knowing all this, do you want to play a 4-3 heart fit or do you want to play in an eight-card black suit fit? Partner has to have either two spades, six clubs or both. He could even have seven clubs. If you bid 4, partner will pass with two spades and bid 5 with fewer than two spades. He could hardly expect you to have seven spades.

Only one expert agrees with me and refuses to play a 4-3 fit. However, he doesn't allow for the possibility of playing 4. Don't you want to play in 4 if partner has two spades?

Parker:"5---We must have at least eight clubs and hopefully nine. Partner will not get tapped out. In hearts he may never see many club tricks. He opened 1club for a reason, with six clubs and five hearts he may have opened 1."

With six clubs and five hearts he would have opened 1heart.

Four experts try the 4-3. Not only do you have to worry about getting tapped and losing control when trumps are 4-2, you also have to worry about the 5-1 heart split.

Avery:"Pass---Partner didn't reopen with a double so he likely is 2-5-0-6 something like Ax/AQxxx/-/AKxxxx. Some days we may miss a slam, but the handling charges could be too high for a twelve trick contract. Opponents' preempts get more undisciplined as time goes by, so key honors may not be where one would suspect. Partner never holds the perfecto either."

I should subtract points from anyone who even mentions the possibility that partner could have five hearts.

Granovetter:"Pass---Partner may have two spades -- so what? Partner may have six clubs, so what? The J-10-x of hearts, how bad can that be?"

Hopkins:"Pass---I can picture many hands when the 4-3 heart fit is better than the 6-2 club fit especially since the latter is one level higher. Also, we are not doubled yet and need only slide past one more opponent. Partner should not be 4-3-1-5 or 3-4-0-6."

Woolsey:"Pass---I would expect my partner is likely to have a five-card heart suit, but I know Robinson thinks 5-6 hands should be opened 1. Ok, so maybe partner has A/AKQx/xx/AKxxxx."

If partner has very good hearts, the 4-3 will play well. If partner has poorish hearts, the 4-3 will play badly.

  Problem 2    Imps    Vul: EW 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     3     Pass     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     4     24   
  3NT     90     1     0   
  4     50     1     4   
  Double     50     13     1   
  What is your bid? 

Short diamonds says bid. 3-3 in the majors says pass. So who do you listen to? If you listen to your short diamonds and decide to bid, what do you say. If I were to guess what partner has, I would guess that partner has a weak notrump, a balanced hand with 11-14 HCPs. The fact that partner has a balanced hand along with the general rule on preempt defense (the general rule on defending against preempts is that if 3NT is a possibility, bid it) makes 3NT a standout bid. 3NT puts your six-card club suit into play, makes a bid which is very hard to double (the opponents can't have a trump stack) and puts you in a position to get a significant plus score. East doesn't think his side can make 3NT, so maybe its our side that can make it. I'm bidding 3NT since East didn't. If East had diamond fillers along with outside stoppers he would have bid 3NT.

Four experts pass. Isn't pass an insufficient bid holding a singleton diamond?

Avery:"Pass---Too weak to balance since partner will be very disappointed in my majors. I'd want another club to venture 4."

Granovetter:"Pass---After a long huddle, I'm sorry to say. I wanted to bid (not bid, double), but after giving partner numerous hands he might have, I realized my dummy would be a great disappointment most of the time."

Hopkins:"Pass---Not enough likelihood of good things happening. Partner needs either a quite good hand with a five-card major or a sound penalty pass."

Not true. All he needs is KJx/QJx/AJx/J10xx for 3NT to be makeable. If he had less, the opponents would be in 3NT.

Woolsey:"Pass---Partner's silence means that game is very unlikely, and since I have only three cards in each major a takeout double by me would probably lead us to a losing major-suit contract. It makes more sense to simply assume that the hand has already been bid to the proper competitive level."

Two experts agree with me and make a sufficient bid. But are they headed in the correct direction?

Parker:"4---You must reopen with short diamonds. I have no desire to watch partner slowly get killed in a bad splitting 4-3 major-suit fit."

4 avoids a 4-3 major-suit fit but it also avoids 3NT and a penalty pass.

My second choice is.

King:"Double---Not ideal, but I don't want to pass with such short diamonds and 4 could easily lose a major-suit game or a penalty against 3."

I still like 3NT, the perfect preempt defense.

  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     -     1  
  Pass     Pass     Double     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     4     7   
  1NT     60     2     15   
  2     40     0     11   
  2     40     0     3   
  2     40     0     1   
  3     40     0     1   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

This is a simple hand which is an unusual occurrence in this column. Partner has made a takeout double showing support for all of the unbid suits and promising shortness in the opponent's suit. You have a four-card unbid suit to bid and you don't have a stopper in the opponent's suit so what can be simpler? Anything other than 2 is a distortion.

Three experts agree with me and make the obvious call.

Granovetter:"2---Can later mention that lovely club suit, given the chance. Anyway, if he passes 2, we are not missing anything."

Parker:"2---I discount my spade Q. If partner makes some noise I can always catch up by cue-bidding or raising his suit if he rebids a new suit."

Woolsey:"2---Long experience has shown that it is usually best to start out quietly on hands like this. If partner passes we could easily be in the right spot, and if he bids on we should have little trouble reaching the best game. Any stronger bid by me would be misdirected in some way."

Two experts need lessons on takeout doubles. Maybe they misread the problem and thought the auction went 1 - Pass - Pass to them. This wouldn't be a problem in balancing seat since one notrump is clear.

Avery:"1NT---Right on values - eleven quacky but with three tens opposite a balancing partner. 1NT doesn't unequivocally promise a full stopper. In this auction, partner probably has three or four spades since we haven't heard spades again. East won't have more than six and West won't have four. Partner often has a strong notrump with which he had to double first. He could also have Jxx, Kxx, Axx, Ax, Kx of spades in a 3-4-5-1 or 2-4-5-1 and plan to convert a club bid to diamonds. If he's just got balancing values, 1NT may be as good a place as any, even if they can reel off five spades on the go."

Why do you expect partner to be long in spades?

Hopkins:"1NT---Least of evils. I am a little heavy on count and a little light on stoppers. I hope partner has three spades with an honor. Impossible problem."

One notrump should promise a stopper when you are sitting behind the bidder.

Easy hand. Bid what you have.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     3     Pass     Pass   
  Double     Pass     4     Pass   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     1     3   
  Pass     90     5     25   
  4     40     1     10   
  5     20     0     3   
  What is your bid? 

You doubled 3, mainly hoping partner would pass for penalties but partner surprised you and bid 4. Now what? Don't you wish you had balanced with 3? How can it be right to play in 4 when spades will probably score more. Partner figures to have two spades more often than not. Passing 4 can't be a matchpoint efficient bid. Since passing 4 is not going to get you a good matchpoint score, you have no choice but to bid again. The opponents are willing to play in only 3 so partner should have some values. Give partner a typical 4 hand, Qx/xxx/KJxxx/J10x, and where do you want to be at matchpoints? I've been in worse 4 contracts.

Now that you've figured out that I think its wrong to pass 4, what do we do? 4 shows a stronger suit. 5 bypasses 4. The answer is 4 which is a choice-of-games cue bid. Over 4, partner bids 4 with two spades or bids five-of-a-minor with fewer than two spades.

Five experts play for leasties.

Granovetter:"Pass---Can't imagine bidding 4 here, a surefire way to go for a number."

Parker:"Pass---Partner would most likely bid 3 if he had two, I see no reason to start looking for a better spot. I wonder where all the strength is since partner did not sit for the double."

The heart strength is with West. The remaining 30 HCPs are split thirteen, nine and eight.

King:"Pass---I asked partner to pick a suit or convert for penalties and he did so. If I want to unilaterally bid spades, I should have done so at the last round."

Bidding 3 would be wimpy since partner could have a penalty pass.

Hopkins:"Pass---Partner is likely to have five or more diamonds. I will play for a plus score. This would be harder at IMPs because I would have to consider 4 or 5."

At IMPs, +130 or +150 is as good as +140 or +170. At matchpoints there is a big difference.

Woolsey:"Pass---I don't understand this problem. We virtually can't have a game in spades, and 4 is probably where we belong if we aren't too high already. Any further bid looks ludicrous to me."

Avery:"4---I made my bed when I decided to reopen with a double instead of 3. So now I have to lie in it. I was planning to pass 3, 3NT, or 4, but partner's diamond bid improves my hand since Q10x of diamonds now pulls full weight. Presumably with a bad hand and xx in spades, partner would just have bid 3. With an intermediate one-suiter, presumably he'd have doubled and then bid 4 over 4. With 1-4-4-4, even weak, presumably he'd have sweated out a penalty pass - it's matchpoints after all. So he either has a stiff spade and five + diamonds in which case 4 could be ugly or xx in spades with a five-card diamond suit and decent values. Pass could be right technically, but even if I go +130, I may lose to anyone who chose to reopen 3 and played it there for +140. So, since there are many hands that will bring home ten tricks in spades, I'll hope they're all +170! Might as well go for the ten trick contract that pays better when it makes. My only true loss is when 3 is going down and 4 makes. Hard to imagine."

At matchpoints, when you are in a below average position, it costs very little to gamble and try to get in an above average score. What do you have to lose?

  Problem 5    Imps    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     1     2   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     4     16   
  Double     70     2     7   
  Pass     40     1     14   
  3NT     30     0     1   
  4     20     0     1   
  2NT     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 

How do we show seven-card club suits? Do we double and then bid clubs, pass and bid clubs if partner reopens or just bid the club suit. I'm for simple. You have a long suit, bid it. At least partner will know what you have. If you double and partner bids 3, then what. If you pass and partner passes, well I guess you lead your stiff spade and hope you're not missing a game. Sure we could get overboard but we should get to the correct strain.

Three experts agree with me and make the obvious call.

Granovetter:"3---For now, don't see the problem. We can't pass with this hand. Besides I've passed three times this set already!"

King:"3---A good hand for negative free bids. Over 3 I can bid four non-forcing clubs and I can pass 3NT knowing I have a good source of tricks, even if the high cards are a little low."

Hopkins:"3---Natural and forcing one round. Seems like a reasonable start. Only if partner bids 3NT will be put in a quandary as to pass or repeat my clubs as I originally intended."

One expert passes. Holding only two hearts, I would be worried that partner holds a 5-3-3-2 weak notrump and passes 3 and we are cold for 3NT.

Parker:"Pass---If partner reopens with a double I will bid 3 and hope we don't make five. If we are playing negative free bids would bid 3 now."

Two experts double. Is this the type of hand partner expects from a negative double?

Avery:"Double---This feels like a Bridge World Problem D - it continues pass, 3..... I can handle all continuations. If partner rebids 2, I can bid 3 and he should be in the picture. I'll raise 2NT to 3NT. Over 3, I'll bid 4 holding my nose, and again he ought to be in the picture. No 3 asking for stopper since if he's got a heart stopper, he's likely to be short in clubs. Given a single side entry to dummy, this does not bode well for setting up and running clubs."

Woolsey:"Double---Too weak to bid 3, but I'm afraid the auction may die in 2 if I pass. I'll just have to bid clubs next round at whatever level we are at and hope to survive."

How bad can it be to bid a seven-card suit? Seems simple.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Matt Granovetter    Pass   Pass   2   Pass   3   490
  Steve Robinson    4   3NT   2   4   3   480
  Kit Woolsey    Pass   Pass   2   Pass   Double   460
  Steve Parker    Pass   Pass   1NT   Pass   3   450
  Robbie Hopkins    Pass   Pass   1NT   Pass   3   380
  Kevin Avery    Pass   Pass   1NT   4   Double   370
  Fred King    ---   Double   ---   Pass   3   ---

Don Berman, Web Master.