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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Nov/Dec 1998


Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Bill Wilson who came in first with a score of 480. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Ivan Brendler, Rick Bingham and Mike Richie tied for second with a score of 460. Tied for fifth were Kathy Paramore, Bob Bell, Larry Kahn, Marc Umeno and Walter Kerns with 430. Tied for tenth were Saul Penn, Eric Zhong, Mark Dahl, Eileen Houghton and Sam Gumbert with 420. The average solver's score was 360. The average score of the experts was 424.

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 robinswr@erols.com 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: Both 
  South Holds 
  -AJ 
  -987532 
  -Q2 
  -J54 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1     1     2  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Double     100     4     8   
  2     80     3     25   
  2     50     1     12   
  Pass     40     1     15   
  What is your bid? 

Do we want to compete and if so how? 2 is a possibility but the suit is not good enough to bid freely and we don't want partner to lead a heart. 2 is another possibility but we don't want to raise freely with only two. One gets in trouble with the Law of Total Tricks when one raises freely on a doubleton and really gets in trouble if partner has overcalled on a four-card suit. The Responsive Double seems made for this hand. If we later support spades, partner will not play us for more than two-card support. If partner responds 2 and we convert to 2, partner will know that the heart suit was not worth bidding freely. Lastly, if partner is on lead, he won't automatically lead a heart since we implied diamonds also.

Three experts agree with me and double.

Hall: "Double---Double for a new suit (hearts). If partner bids 2, we'll return to spades; if he rebids spades we'll pass."

If partner bids 2, bid 2 to give partner a choice between hearts and spades.

Schwartz: Double---Then convert diamonds to hearts thus showing a tolerance for spades. Don't want to raise spades directly as that would total trick partner."

King: "Double---If partner bids 2, then I will bid 2 which should show hearts, but also a willingness to play elsewhere. Since I pulled diamonds, this other place must be spades."

The following expert passes.

Adams: "Pass---If I double, they will bid 3 and partner will bid 3. Pass lets partner double back in with short clubs."

But would partner bid again with a 5332 ten-count? Probably not since he has no guarantee of finding an eight-card fit and no guarantee that the opponents are in an eight-card fit. Partner takes into account that you did not double so the odds that you have four clubs are vastly improved.

The following expert is a Law violator.

Parker: "2---This is a good hand for transfer responses to overcalls. First transfer to hearts and then support spades to show two. Without this available raise spades. You have good cards for partner."

At least the two spades are honors and that's the suit you really want led.

Three experts make a freebid.

Laden: "2---The only reasonable alternative is pass, but at matchpoints I won't let them play 2. Given that both opponents have bid and that I have failed to cuebid or make a responsive double, partner will not expect me to have a strong hand. I expect partner to pass or rebid spades, taking my free bid to show tolerance for his suit. He will not bid higher without three hearts and/or a very good hand."

Why does 2 show anything but hearts? If partner has an average overcall, he usually passes 2 even with a singleton.

Hopkins: "2---There is a reasonable chance partner could be short in clubs and hold some length in hearts. Game is possible opposite as little as K109xxAxxKxxxx. The down side to my bid is that I have little defense and do not want partner to lead a heart against a club contract."

Woolsey: "2---Gotta get my lead director in. Why shouldn't North have heart support, particularly since he figures to have at most two clubs. Yes we'll be ruffing with his high trumps, but it is still usually best to play in our longest trump suit."

I would think this hand is made perfectly for a Responsive double which says I hope we can find a fit somewhere and I don't want them to play 2.


 

  Problem 2 

  Matchpoints 

  Vul: None 

  South Holds 
  -QJ543 
  -53 
  -762 
  -AQ4 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  Pass     Pass     1     3  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  3     100     4     30   
  Double     80     3     21   
  Pass     50     2     9   
 

  What is your bid? 


When in doubt, bid when you are short in the opponent's suit, pass if you are long. The shorter you are in the opponent's suit, the fewer HCPs you need to bid. This is one of those when in doubt hands so since you are short in hearts, bidding is indicated. Which bad bid do you make? A negative double showing four spades or a freebid showing at least five spades with close to opening bid values.

Three experts agree with me and make a free bid. Non-forcing since you're a passed hand.

Hall: "3---A non-forcing bid, describing passed hand values."

Laden: "3---The main point of this hand is that I shouldn't let them play 3. I have five spades and invitational values, and can come in safely even at the three-level since I am a passed hand. I don't know where we belong, but since 3 is a good description of my holdings, partner should be able to make a good decision. Although 4 is a good bet opposite as little as K10x/xxx/AQJx/Kxx, we won't be able to bid it unless partner has a little extra."

Woolsey: "3---When they have hearts we have spades, some Washingtonian once said. I can't sell to 3, and a negative double won't get us to a 5-3 spade fit."

Three experts double. Doubling is not always going to get you to your eight-card spade fit. The only difference between a negative double and a passed-hand 3-bid is the fifth spade.

Adams: "Double---Right on values, wrong on spades. More flexible than 3."

King: "Double---I have too much to pass but not enough to bid a forcing 3, so I make a negative double with one more spade and one less club than I would like to have."

Since you're a passed hand, 3 is not forcing. If I weren't a passed hand, I would have to double also.

Hopkins: "Double---If partner is stuck for a bid, I hope he tries 3 on a three-card suit. I do not want to create a force by bidding 3 and I think passing is too timid."

Two experts timidly pass. Are you going to be happy if partner passes out 3?

Parker: "Pass---First impulse is to make a negative double, but if partner was just kidding in third seat why hang him. With a good hand partner will reopen and you will know what to do."

If partner is kidding in third seat, he will either have both majors, or will have a long diamond suit. Either way you'll survive.

Schwartz: "Pass---3 will get us overboard if partner has a weak notrump. Partner will raise to four when three is makeable. More tempting to bid if minors are reversed."

If three is makeable, partner will probably pass 3.

When in doubt bid with shortness in the opponent's suit. If you had three little hearts, passing would be clear cut. If you had one heart, bidding would be clear cut. Since you have two hearts, you bid if bidding is a reasonable possibility. Since you're a passed hand, 3 almost perfectly describes this hand.


 

  Problem 3 

  IMPs 

  Vul: NS 

  South Holds 
  -AQ9 
  -654 
  -A109654 
  -10 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     1     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  2     100     3     10   
  2     80     4     17   
  3     50     2     18   
  2     30     0     4   
  3     30     0     8   
  1NT     30     0     1   
  2NT     30     0     1   
  3     10     0     1   
 

  What is your bid? 


When you're vulnerable at IMPs you tend to make a slight overbid if game is a possibility. So what do we need for game? You need partner to have a diamond fit along with a heart stopper. Since partner has bid clubs and spades, there's not much chance that he would have both diamond support and heart stoppers. This is especially true if partner's 1 rebid promises an unbalanced hand.

Two experts agree with me and rebid diamonds.

Adams: "2---No fit suggests being conservative. Would consider 2, but I do not want partner second guessing if I have four-card support all the time."

Parker: "2---Not the right type of hand for 3 with such good spades. The poor diamond fillers make notrump a bad bet without a fit. The singleton club is a minus. Once again if partner bids again you will know what to do."

The following experts violate the 'you need four cards to raise partner's second suit' rule. Partner assumes you have four spades and his only thought is which level. Raising spades means that you will never get to three notrump when you belong there. Since partner knows he has an eight-card spade fit, he will overbid trying for the vulnerable game.

Laden: "2---This is a difficult hand. I have invitational values or better, but this looks like a misfit and game may not be a good bet if partner has a minimum. Since three notrump is possible, I considered bidding 3. But this would require that partner can stop hearts and has some diamonds or very good clubs. He is not very likely to have the right hand. Although partner is unlikely to have five spades, the hand may play best in spades. 2 is an underbid, but 3 is an overbid. Since declarer may be pumped in hearts, I will bid 2. If partner bids again, I'll put him in game. In response to 3, 3 or 4, I'll bid 4. In response to two notrump, I'll raise to three notrump."

Hall: "2---The best chance for a vulnerable game."

Schwartz: "2---Should be a reasonable contract if partner passes and shows approximate values."

Woolsey: "2---A compromise, with the lack of a fourth trump compensating for the extra high-card strength. It is quite possible that this is where we belong, and no other call does decent justice to this hand anyway."

The following experts would have been right at the table since partner held AQx of hearts and Kxx of diamonds but being right at the table doesn't automatically give you a good score in this column.

King: "3---I would like better diamonds, but I think 2 is too weak, especially vulnerable at IMPs and I can't raise spades with only three, bid notrump with these hearts, so only 3 is left."

Hopkins: "3---Invites and leaves room for partner to temporize with 3 over which I will show three-card spade support."

At matchpoints, raising spades is reasonable where the size of the plus score is important and partner does not overbid, but at IMPs where any plus score is good playing in diamonds is safer.


 

  Problem 4 

  IMPs 

  Vul: None 

  South Holds 
  -K3 
  -A10976 
  -2 
  -QJ984 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  ?????  

  3 = full splinter, short spades.  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  4     100     6     28   
  2NT     70     1     6   
  2     60     2     20   
  3     40     0     1   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  4     20     0     4   
 

  What is your bid? 


This would be a no-brainer if you were playing Two Tier Splinters. Using Two Tier Splinters, a jump to 3 shows four- card heart support, shortness somewhere with fewer than thirteen HCPs. Opener signsoff with no slam interest or bids three notrump to find out where the shortness is. A direct splinter shows at least thirteen HCPs. This way you don't get overboard. To make this a problem, you were not allowed to use this great tool. So our choices are; 4, a splinter bid showing diamond shortness and four-card heart support with opening bid strength, a natural 2 followed by heart support or possibly some other heart-support convention.

I don't like 4 since opener cannot invite slam. Opener has to either signoff in 4 or head towards slam. There's no middle ground. 4 should show an exact hand. Twelve or thirteen HCPs with four-card support. I don't like 2 since there's no way you can later show partner five-card heart support. A jump to 3 showing second-round spade control, which we have, is a possibility but we only have seven HCPs outside spades. What's left is the often misused Jacoby Two Notrump convention. If partner shows short clubs we have a good hand.

Six experts make the obvious bid. How high will you get if opener holds AQ/KQJxx/xxx/xxx?

Adams: "4---Too good for 3 (Two Tier Splinter), no point in 2 game force, since it does not promise long clubs anyway."

Parker: "4---A simple splinter describes this hand."

Laden: "4---Splinter in support of hearts. With solid heart support and a losing trick count of six, this hand is too good to be treated as a limit raise and 2, then supporting hearts, is not a good description of this hand either. If partner has a minimum with three controls, like Axx/Kxxxx/Axx/Kx, slam may be a good bet. Wastage in diamonds is the key information needed to decide whether to bid slam, and the splinter is the way to let partner know."

Schwartz: 4---With 3 not available, most descriptive bid as extra distribution could make up for lack of HCP."

Hopkins: "4---Splinter. Seems about right in playing strength and HCP. My main worry is that a double may let opponents find a diamond contract."

Woolsey: "4---The splinter bid will allow North to upgrade his black-suit honors and downgrade his intermediate diamond honors for slam evaluation. Other approaches may cause him to mis-evaluate."

Two experts respond 2. What are they going to do next? On many auctions, partner is not going to know how many hearts you have and is going to think that your club suit is better. How high will you get if opener holds AQ/KQJxx/xxx/xxx?

Hall: "2---There are several reasonable possible bids here, but 2 provides the most information and flexibility."

King: "2---I don't have enough in high cards to splinter (I could bid 3 if we were playing Two Tier Splinters), but too much to bid 4. I also wouldn't make a limit raise with only six losers and five trumps and I don't think two notrump is right for this hand. Instead I will bid 2 and then probably 4 next to describe where my cards are."

I don't like two notrump, but I like other calls less. If partner signsoff in 4 over two notrump, we will very unlikely miss a slam.


 

  Problem 5 

  Matchpoints 

  Vul: None 

  South Holds 
  -43 
  -K2 
  -KQJ103 
  -KQJ6 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1 NT     Pass      2 NT*     Pass   
  ?????  

  * Natural & Invitational  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  3     100     8     31   
  Pass     40     1     27   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
 

  What is your bid? 


First, why open this hand one notrump? When you open a hand one-of-a-minor, the one hand partner should never play you for is a balanced hand with 15-17 HCPs. A second reason to open this hand one notrump is to get to game opposite QJ10x/AQxx/xxx/xx. A third reason to open this hand one notrump is to steal the hand from the opponents when they have a 4-4 major suit fit. So that's why I open one notrump. Now for the problem.

This is a simple problem. Do you want to play two notrump holding only four major-suit cards with partner having denied a four-card major or do you want to play 3? I think its clear to retreat from notrump and play the safer 3.

Adams: "3---Not many eight-counts with no four-card major will play well in notrump opposite this. 3 is to play."

Parker: "3---Like hand two in last months problems, this shows a minimum and a long suit."

Laden:"3---Not forcing. Shows a good five-card suit and tells partner that 3 is a safer contract than two notrump. Since partner failed to bid Stayman, we're sure to get a major suit lead in a notrump contract and, the opponents are likely to run six tricks before we could set up eight tricks. Even if he has two aces for his invitation, we're unlikely to make two notrump. My one-notrump opening bid did not describe my hand very well. I should have opened 1."

Hall: "3---Aceless hand means loss of control and maximum trick taking by the opponents in our short suits. 3 is the best place to play this hand."

Schwartz: "3---With lack of aces do not expect to make two notrump. If its not convectional, what's wrong with opening 1 followed by 2. Am I so afraid of my opponents that I have to misdescribe my hand."

King: "3---I would never open this hand one no trump. If at all possible I think 5-4-2-2 hands should be bid in the suits. Here partner seems to lack a four card major, so they are very likely to be able to get at least four tricks in a major plus a minor suit ace and a major suit ace. I think partner will not take 3 as forward-going and I think it is a better chance for a plus than passing. (Of course on a good day partner has both minor suit aces and West underleads his ace of hearts. Then a bid of three notrump is right.)"

Woolsey: "3---If partner has invitational values and didn't bid Stayman, this is almost certainly where we belong. Not a close decision."

One expert goes down with the ship that he has built.

Hopkins: "Pass---And pray. I would not expect to make this contract and fear trying 3 could only get us in deeper."

So now you know what type of hand thirty one solvers and eight experts have when they signoff in three diamonds over your two-notrump invite.


How the Experts Voted:

  Expert / Problem  

  1

  2

  3

  4

  5

  Score

  Steve Robinson 

  Dbl

  3

  2

  2NT

  3

  470

  Ben Laden 

  2

  3

  2

  4

  3

  460

  Kit Woolsey 

  2

  3

  2

  4

  3

  460

  Burt & Lynn Hall 

  Dbl

  3

  2

  2

  3

  440

  Alan Schwartz 

  Dbl

  Pass

  2

  4

  3

  430

  John Adams 

  Pass

  Dbl

  2

  4

  3

  420

  Steve Parker 

  2

  Pass

  2

  4

  3

  400

  Fred King 

  Dbl

  Dbl

  3

  2

  3

  390

  Robbie Hopkins 

  2

  Dbl

  3

  4

  Pass

  350



Steve Robinson
2891 S. Abingdon St #A2,
Arlington Va, 22206

Don Berman, Web Master.