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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

July/Aug 1998

Moderator: Steve Robinson Due: September 17, 1998

    Congratulations to Rossi Lindstrom and Stanley Scheiner who tied for first with a score of 470. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for third were Michael Richey and Jerry Lerner with 440. Tied for fifth were Jim Stormes, Marvin Elster, Christa Mcintyre, David Milton, Al Rosenthal, Burt and Lynn Hall, John Kelly, Ashok Dhareshwar, Fred Steinberg and Bill Salatore with 420. The average solver's score was 367. The average score of the experts was 388.
    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  
  1    Double     1NT     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     2     8   
  4     70     2     13   
  2     70     5     34   
  2     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 

Which suit to bid is easy. Level is the problem. In order to decide the level, we have to know the meaning of partner's one notrump call. If West had passed, partner bids one notrump with five or six point hands to keep the auction alive on hands that could produce a game, xxx/xx/QJxx/Kxxx for instance. Partner also bids one notrump to improve the contract, xxx/x/QJxxx/Kxxx for instance. In competition, partner doesn't have to bid one notrump with five or six HCPs to keep the auction alive or to improve the contract. The opponents could have 23 HCPs between them and they could apply the ax. If we have a powerhouse, we will get another chance to bid and 1heart is not going to end the auction. Therefore one notrump is a constructive bid. One notrump shows a very good seven to a bad ten. You don't bid one notrump on a misfit or on garbage. If you're 4144, isn't it better to let the opponents play the hand? Since one notrump is constructive, usually with two hearts, I like 3. If game is cold opposite K10/Jx/Kxxx/Jxxxx, how can you not invite game. Partner with good points will bid game. Partner with garbage points will pass.

One expert agrees with me. They pay bonuses for vulnerable games.

Hopkins: "3---Partly constructive and partly obstructive. I expect partner to hold a spade card and a likely heart doubleton for his one notrump call. Partner will evaluate his hand to play in hearts. Partner should move with a heart card and primes. Kxx/Kx/K10xx/J10xx would be optimal but most hands holding a spade and heart honor will offer some play for game. Also, if the opponents have a big club fit and a possible sacrifice or make, this will make it harder to find."

Parker: "2---My worry is that partner will start doubling them if they compete at the three level. Then do I pull to 3?"

Schwartz: "2---The takeout double, holding four spades and East's pass scares me. East refusal to bid two of a minor with a probable decent hand implies heart values. If the opponents now compete, I might reevaluate. Second choice is 4 since partner won't be able to evaluate holdings like the K9x of spades."

Granovetter: "2---Is this a joke? I would have opened 2. Now that's scary to some of you, I suppose, but no less scary than opening this 1 and trying to find a suitable rebid. In any case, partner's hand probably doesn't match well, and if it does, we may hear another call."

You're right, that is scary. Game is cold opposite AKx/Jx/xxxx/xxxx and you're opening a weak two.

Rawley: "2---Natural and obvious; any other bid would cause partner to overestimate the strength of my hand."

Lublin: "2---Hand devalues over the double."

Two experts try game with their five loser hand. Partner needs two winners which he should have, but does he have the right two winners. However, this makes more sense than the wimpy 2 call.

Adams: "4---Who knows what we can make or they can make? Even if 4 goes down, EW might be stampeded into a foolish sacrifice."

King: "4---I am torn between bidding two and bidding four. With the right cards in partner's hand (10xx/KJ/Kxxx/xxxx) we could make 4 and they could be shut out of a making 5. With the wrong cards xxx/x/Q10xx/KJ10xx we could go for 800 against a part score. I will choose the aggressive action."

If you're torn between two and four, what about three?

One should be aggressive when partner makes a free bid of one notrump.

  Problem 2    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     Pass     Pass     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  1NT     100     7     33   
  Pass     60     0     7   
  Double     40     2     8   
  2NT     20     0     2   
  2     20     0     7   
  What is your bid? 

A strong notrump without a spade stopper. How do the experts handle that? One notrump, pass and 2 are legal bids. Double, holding a doubleton heart, is an illegal bid. One does not make a takeout double with shortness in the other major. Holding a maximum notrump with East a third seat opener are good reasons to overcall one notrump without a stopper. In third seat, East sometimes has only four spades. You are strong enough that if you pass, you could miss a cold game. If you are going to enter the auction, its better to enter now when you can describe your hand. It will be impossible to describe this hand if you pass.

Seven experts overcall one notrump.

Hopkins: "1NT---Right on HCPs and distribution. I can only hope partner has Qx or better in spades if we get to three notrump."

Parker: "1NT---Get it off your chest. If you pass then you will never know what is right. Besides I hate being end played five times on the same hand. I would rather play the hand and have my fate in my own hands."

Adams: "1NT---Pass and Double are out of the question. 2 is as flawed as one notrump. One notrump promises a stopper, so when partner bids three notrump without one, this will be my fault, but most other possible outcomes are good."

Rawley: "1NT---This hand is perfect for the bid except for the lack of a spade stopper. Any other call has more than one flaw."

Lublin: "1NT---Shows the strength and partner usually has stopper."

The following is an illegal bid. One cannot double one major without support for the other major. What are you going to bid when partner responds 2?

King: "Double---All bids have problems, but partners don't always respond in hearts and AQ is not awful support. I don't like to bid one notrump without a stopper, but that is my only other choice."

Overcalling one notrump makes this hand easy to bid. If you do anything else, you will have problems every time its your turn. For no other reason, that's why one notrump is best.

  Problem 3    IMPs    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     2*     2  

  * 2 is weak  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     2     19   
  3NT     50     2     12   
  Pass     50     2     8   
  Double     50     2     16   
  3     50     1     2   
  What is your bid? 

I thought this was a simple problem. Partner has opened a vulnerable weak two. We have a good hand but we don't have a good fit. How do we handle that? Since partner could easily have AKJ10xx or AQJ10xx of diamonds we have to think about three notrump. However, partner could have KQJ10xx or QJ108765 where we have to play in a partscore. How do we find out which hand partner has? Simple! Invite.

One expert agrees with me. Two notrump has to be natural and forcing for one round.

Rawley: "2NT---Invitational; we belong in three notrump if partner has a maximum."

Two experts bash three notrump.

Hopkins: "3NT---Hope partner is serious about his vulnerable weakętwo. If LHO has long hearts, I may be able to shut him out and if RHO has them, they might not be led."

Adams: "3NT---If I invite, I give the defense information on strength and the best lead. Therefore I sacrifice science to improve chance of making game. How will partner know which hand produces game? x/Qxx/KQJxxx/xxx has little play, T/xxx/KQJxxx/J9x has a good shot, and x/xxx/AKTxxx/xxx is excellent on a spade lead."

Schwartz: "Double---Partner should be allowed to pull at this vulnerability with close to running diamonds."

King: "Double---This problem depends on how sound partner's weakętwo's are at this vulnerability. I have almost five tricks in my own hand and a clear lead. Even if partner has good enough diamonds to make three notrump, we could collect at least 500."

Two experts pass.

Parker: "Pass---At matchpoints I would double without thinking twice. Here I will go for plus 50-100 and be happy. Since not everyone bids 2 weak, the opponents have been put in a situation not everyone will face, so I will take advantage of the swing by not being overly aggressive."

Granovetter: "Pass---Chicken. But you never know. West is still there."

What is this? In problem one, you said that you would open the 4ę7 hand 2. On this hand, you don't even see if partner has the top diamonds.

One expert tries to get a number.

Lublin: "3---Want to get them up."

If you had to make the final call, three notrump would be a good try. However, you can test the waters. At the table, South jumped to three notrump, got doubled and went for 500.

  Problem 4    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     1     2     Pass   
  2     Pass     2NT     Pass   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     4     41   
  3     90     2     1   
  Pass     70     3     8   
  3NT     20     0     7   
  What is your bid? 

Is two notrump forcing? 2 is not game forcing in competition. You have to have some way to show a tenępoint hand with clubs. Since partner could have forced with 2, two notrump is not forcing. Do we want to be in game? Not one expert forced to game which answers that question. If I thought this hand was worth a game bid, I would bid 3. AKQxx plays like a six¬card suit and with partner's spade stopper preventing us from getting tapped, we could very easily make 4. For this to happen, partner would have to have a diamond fit. Partner bid clubs and then notrump, so most of his strength will be in the black suits which doesn't do us much good. Therefore which partscore? Two notrump, 3 and 3 are the choices.

One expert agrees with me and supports partner. This puts the singleton spade to use. 3 is the cheapest call. If partner doesn't want to play in 3 opposite delayed support, he can always try 3 or 3.

Parker: "3---My first reaction was to bid an automatic 3 but partner is probably 4-1-2-6 or 4-2-2-5, so we should play in clubs so he can ruff spades in dummy and pitch on my hearts."

Hopkins: "3---I do not believe we are in a forcing auction so I am suggesting this as the final contract. I expect some support since partner would likely have rebid 3 with a six card suit."

Schwartz: "3---Allows a preference to 3(or 3 choice of games) if partner is inclined. If partner is minimum, should be safe spot. Would probably force with 3 if vulnerable."

One expert thinks 3 is forcing.

Adams: "3---Let partner know my extra distribution so an intelligent game can be reached. 3 is forcing."

Lublin: "3---Shows weakness but may have game."

If two notrump is not forcing, then corrective bids of 3 and 3 are also not forcing. To force, you reverse or cuebid.

Three experts pass two notrump. I don't see why two notrump is going to play well. Your heart strength is opposite partner's doubleton at best and your diamond suit is very weak. Since partner might have only one spade stopper, this hand will not play well.

King: "Pass---I can see good arguments for 3 or 3 also. If partner is 4-2-2-5, this contract seems best. If he is 3-1-3-6, then a minor suit contract is better. However, given the failure of East to raise spades it is more likely that partner has four."

East probably doesn't have any strength so how can he raise.

Granovetter: "Pass---Could bid 3, if he understands it as not forcing. 3 shows a good 5-5. But I doubt he will understand and I doubt we make anything anyway."

Rawley: "Pass---Partner rates to be 5-5 in the black suits since East didn't raise spades. This is a misfit so I should stop bidding."

  Problem 5    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  -     -     -     3   
  Pass     Pass     Double     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     5     24   
  4     70     2     4   
  3NT     50     0     2   
  4     50     1     22   
  3     40     1     5   
  What is your bid? 

There are two conflicting arguments about what to bid. Partner's double, which shows four spades, is asking you to bid spades, which you have, so that says bid. The Law of Total Tricks says pass. You assume partner is 4-1-4-4 for total trick computation. We have eight spades and eight clubs between us and they have eight hearts and eight diamonds between them. Sixteen total tricks. If we can take ten tricks in spades, they should be able to take six tricks in hearts. However, we have a double fit in clubs and they have a double fit in diamonds. This leads to an increase in the number of total tricks. If we can make four spades, which is a big if, we should get at least 300 against 3 doubled. Passing will be a big bonanza if we can't make game. If they make 3 doubled for 530, the Law says that 4 doubled will go for 500.

Four experts agree with me and make a penalty pass. This loses only if we can make 4 but get 3 doubled one trick.

Parker: "Pass---I have a singleton to lead, two or three defensive tricks and it sounds that suits are breaking badly. There is no sure game in sight so go for the biggest plus."

Schwartz: "Pass---The Law makes this clear, if we have game, should beat this enough to compensate. Also would have to guess what game to bid."

Granovetter: "Pass---Easy, since I just finished Larry Cohen's course on competitive bidding at Bridge Today University [] -- thanks for the plug."

If you're not going for the throat, then what? Two experts cuebid. This cuebid is a choice of games cuebid. Partner with four spades bids 4. With fewer than four spades, partner bids four notrump, choice of minors. This is the way you avoid playing a 4-3 spade fit.

Hopkins: "4---I hope partner bids something I can pass such as 4 or 5. If partner bids four notrump, I hope it means pick my better minor because that is what I will do. My only worry is that partner may get too ambitious."

Adams: "4---This hand is worth a 4 bid, but I might as well protect against partner not having a four-card major. Without one we will reach 5 (or 6 if partner has a good hand). Pass could be the right bid given the Heart ten."

Remember the Law assumes perfect defense. It could be right to lead your stiff diamond to try to get ruffs or it could be right to lead a club or spade in order to tap declarer. If you're a bad opening leader, 4 is a good bid.

One expert is wimpy. Not only does he not go for the throat, he's willing to play a partscore. He is not going to hang partner.

King: "3---Very wimpy, but partner is only balancing and should expect me to hold about this much. Three notrump, 4 and pass all have arguments for them, but could not only be wrong on this hand, but also discourage partner from re-opening in the future."

One expert bids what he thinks he can make.

Lublin: "4---Should be automatic."

Following the Law gets points in my column and gets points at the table. This problem is no exception.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Robinson    3   1NT   2NT   3   Pass   490
  Robbie Hopkins    3   1NT   3NT   3   4   420
  Alan Schwartz    2   1NT   Double   3   Pass   420
  Steve Parker    2   1NT   Pass   3   Pass   410
  Lloyd Rawley    2   1NT   2NT   Pass   Pass   390
  Glenn Lublin    2   1NT   3   3   4   370
  Matt Granovetter    2   Double   Pass   Pass   Pass   330
  Fred King    2   Double   Double   Pass   3   270

Don Berman, Web Master.