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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Jan/Feb 1999

Moderator: Steve Robinson Due: April 1, 1999

Congratulations to Marc Umeno, Donna Rogell, Rae Dethlefsen, JJ Wang and Burt and Lynn Hall who tied for first with a perfect score of 500. They win a free entry to the Unit Game, will be invited to be on a future panel and if they want to, will play with me at some future game. Marvin Elster, Bob Henry and Dave Abelow tied for sixth with a score of 490. Ninth was Jerry Lerner with a score of 480. Tenth was Barbara Summers with a score of 470. Tied for eleventh were Russ Divens, Jeff Roman, Arnie Frankel, David Genne, Craig Olson, John Kelly and David Rodney with a score of 460. The average solver's score was 395. The average score of the experts was 444.

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. 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 $20.00 at the Unit Game or at tournaments or can send him a check for $23.20 which includes $3.20 for priority mail.

  Problem 1    Matchpoints    Vul: EW 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     4     32   
  4     90     1     6   
  1     80     1     3   
  Double     30     2     28   
  6     20     0     3   
  4NT     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

How do you show a good hand with six almost solid hearts and five clubs? One method is the unusual two notrump showing the two lowest unbid suits, clubs and hearts. There are two problems with showing both clubs and hearts when you have solid hearts. One problem is that partner with two or more clubs and one heart would prefer clubs over hearts. What would partner bid over two notrump holding x/xx/xxxxx/xxxxx? Do you really want to think about playing this hand in clubs? This is matchpoints and 4 making four scores better than 5 making five. Second problem is, two notrump allows the opponents extra room in case they have a very good spade or diamond fit. It also gives them more room to explore and find out that they don't have a good diamond or spade fit. I like a straight forward 4. I know it gives up on slam but how can you find out if partner has the club king or possibly the diamond ace? If partner bids clubs, does it show the king? Even though the club king figures to be onsides, how do you get to partner's hand to pick it up? If partner doesn't have the 10 of clubs, you might have to get there twice. Making 6 is a pipe dream. If the vulnerable opponents bid over my 4, I'll double to show a good hand. Partner will pass or bid depending upon his hearts.

Four experts jump to two notrump.

Parker: "2NT---I can show both suits and a power house by jumping to 4 if he bids clubs or cuebid if he bids hearts."

Granovetter: "2NT---This begins to describe hearts and clubs, but there's a long way to go."

Two notrump describes hearts and clubs but you have hearts.

Adams: "2NT---If partner bids 3, I can bid 4 RKC and pass a 4 response. If partner bids 3, I can bid 5 (second round control ask since I have know length in clubs)."

A reasonable plan assuming you're playing Kickback (if clubs are trumps 4 asks for keycards).

Schwartz: "2NT---First I should show my suits then I will decide how high to bid(probably 4 next)."

Two experts double. What partner has in spades will not help and partner's spade bids will only confuse matters. Making a takeout double with shortness in an unbid major will never get you a good score in this column.

Lublin: "Double---and bid 4."

Wilson: "Double---I'll cuebid diamonds over partners' likely spade response. If partner bids anything but spades, we're off!"

One expert starts low. I don't know what starting low is going to accomplish.

Woolsey: "1---The bidding won't die when I am this distributional, and if it does at least I'll get a plus score. My follow up will depend upon what everybody does, but I will have the advantage of having started by bidding my best suit."

If there was a way to find out what partner has, I would attempt to show my hand. Since that's impossible, I bid 4 which is what I think is the best contract. No chance of a misunderstanding and if the opponents possibly have something they have to start at the four-level.

  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     5     37   
  5     80     2     19   
  3     70     1     2   
  2     60     0     11   
  Pass     20     0     1   
  3NT     20     0     3   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

How many clubs? Two, four and five are all reasonable amounts. Bidding four or five assumes that its the opponent's hand. Bidding two assumes that its your hand. If partner bids three notrump over 2 and gets the lead before the opponents take five tricks, he will very likely be able to run the club suit and take at least nine tricks. I like a tactical 3 which shows a solid minor and asks partner to bid three notrump with a heart stopper. This preempts the auction if its the opponent's hand but allows us to get to three notrump if its our hand. Players have experience defending against preempts but they don't have much experience defending against 3 asking for three notrump. West's double of 3 says he wants a heart lead but says nothing about strength, number of hearts or possible other suits.

The panel bid large number of clubs with two experts jumping all the way to 5. Too high at equal vulnerability especially with the ace.

Parker: "5---This will be the field action so put the opponents under the same pressure as everyone else. We may go for a number but make them guess at a high level."

Wrong about the field action. Only eighteen solvers bid 5.

Wilson: "5---Lets see...What contract would I like to defend with this masterpiece. I say put the enemy on the guess."

Five experts try 4. Correct preemptive level at equal vulnerability.

Granovetter: "4---Willing to risk missing the perfect three notrump in order to preempt the opponents beyond the three- level."

Adams: "4---Though I have a secret admiration for 3 asking for a stopper. Other bids such as 2 and 3 hoping for a magic three notrump fail to put adequate pressure on the opponents."

One expert at least considered my call.

Woolsey: "4---A routine application of Woolsey's rule of four -- count the number of cards in your long suit, subtract four, and preempt at that level. Sure we might miss three notrump, but more often the extra level of preemption will result in a gain for us."

Schwartz: "4---Three notrump is unlikely our way with the opening bid in front of me and I want to make it tougher for the opponents. The singleton diamond makes it too much defense for 5."

Any number of clubs could be correct depending on the layout of the other hands. I still like 3 which gives the preemptive effect but allows for us to get to three notrump if its our hand.

  Problem 3    IMPs    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  2NT*     Pass     3**     Pass  

  * Game Force - Spade raise
  ** Shortness  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     7     45   
  4     60     1     1   
  4NT     50     0     16   
  3     50     0     3   
  4     40     0     4   
  6     40     0     2   
  4     20     0     1   
  5NT     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 

How does responder show various strengths after opener's shortness-showing rebid? Remember, opener could have a minimum opener or could be super strong. Responder's strongest action is to bid RKC (A). You can make slam assuming two keycards are not missing. Cuebidding twice is the next strongest action (B). You can make slam unless partner has the wrong minimum. Next is a direct cuebid followed by a signoff in 4(C). You can make slam if partner has a sound minimum. Then comes bidding 3 followed by a cuebid (D). You need partner to have something extra to make slam. If partner has a minimum he raises to 4 and no information is given to the opponents. Bidding 3 followed by 4 shows that your hand is not complete worthless (E). You need partner to have a reasonably good hand to make slam. Jumping directly to 4 is the weakest (F). Partner needs a mountain to make slam. Since RKC will keep you out of slam off two keycards, any ace or any king opposite length can be cuebid. You can even use the last train cuebid. Over a 4 cuebid, 4 shows extra values but doesn't promise anything in hearts.

So what is a hand worth when you have stiff ace opposite a singleton? This hand is a 'B' hand. Partner needs the right minimum to make slam. Give partner AKJxx/xxx/x/KQxx, KJxxx/Qxx/K/KQxx, Jxxxx/KQx/K/KQxx or AKJxx/Kxxx/x/xxx and slam is less than 50%. So plan to cuebid twice.

Six experts agree with me and start with the cheapest cuebid. Notice that the hands that are bad for slam are ones when partner has club values and not heart values. If partner cuebids 4 over 3, slam is likely. If partner cuebids 4 and then signsoff in 4 over 4 slam is poor.

Granovetter: "3---For now. The real question is how high to force if partner shows no interest. I think slam is most likely despite the short diamonds; only xxx or xxxx of hearts is bad for us. Maybe I can keep cuebidding until the 5 level and let partner off the hook there."

Adams: "3---Leave room for partner to temporize with 3. If partner bids 4 I will respect, otherwise I will cuebid again. Would prefer to respond to RKC than to ask. A direct 3 bid will put partner under pressure to cooperate, and with no side aces will have a problem. Besides, 3 will encourage a club lead."

Lublin: "3---Then RKC for spades."

Woolsey: "3---Slam is still quite possible despite the diamond duplication. I'll simply make a lot of cuebids and see if partner comes to life."

Wilson: "3---I have extras, partner could interpret this as first round control or a side suit, in either case, 3 works."

Schwartz: "3---The bad news is no ruffing tricks. The good news is probably no wasted diamond values. If partner doesn't bid 4(fast arrival), then I will force to at least the five-level."

One expert wastes space. What you really need to know is whether partner's bad hand is club oriented or heart oriented.

Parker: "4---Too bad we have the same shortness, but partner's cards all should be working. He doesn't need much for a small slam and a grand is still in the picture."

This hand would be much better if partner had made any other call other than 3. Even a minimum 4 call would be better.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1     1     Pass  
  1     2     2     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     3     36   
  3     90     1     10   
  4     80     3     17   
  3     70     0     8   
  Pass     60     1     3   
  What is your bid? 

Partner has overcalled and bid again but does partner show anything more then a minimum overcall? If partner has three-card spade support, and doesn't show it, the opponents could buy the contract at 2 and that would violate the Law. This means if partner has only eight HCPs but has three spades, partner must support spades. Therefore bidding 4 is hanging partner for following the Law. Give partner Qxx/KQxxx/xxx/Qx, a minimum but mandatory overcall in Washington Standard, nine tricks is the max. Partner would be violating the Law if he did not bid 2. Therefore, unless your overcalls are super sound, you must make a game try giving partner a chance to get out with a minimum. 3 is the perfect try. It asks partner to evaluate his clubs and gives him both red suits as counter tries.

Two experts agree with me and makes the cheapest game try. If partner can't bid at least three-of-either-red suit, game cannot be good.

Parker: "3---diamonds are wasted and partner needs a club fit to make game. A raise to 3 would show two but not this good a hand."

Schwartz: "3---Partner has a wide range of hands so I have to make a game try which I wouldn't make if I had cuebid and partner had signed off."

One expert tries to see if his diamond honor is worth anything.

Wilson: "3---Partner, I have a nice hand...Do we belong in game?"

One expert has seen his partner's overcalls before.

Adams: "Pass---Likely that the three-level will be too high. Partner has Qxx/AKxxx/xx/xxx. At IMPs I worry about Qxx/AKxxx/xx/QTx and invite with 3."

Three experts bid game. They expect their partner to have something when they overcall, so stopping short of game with an opening bid is not in their vocabulary. It should be minimum requirements for an overcall, not the fact that partner bid again.

Granovetter: "4---Hard to stop below game with such a good hand. Too many minimum overcalls produce game, so how can we ask him to judge this one?"

Woolsey: "4---Might not make, but if partner has something like Qxx/AQxxx/xx/Qxx he isn't going to accept an invitation and we would want to be in game. Also, those wasted diamond cards just might not turn out to be wasted."

What you bid over 2 depends on your minimum overcall strength. In Washington Standard where eight point overcalls are normal, a game try is necessary. Twenty years ago when overcalls were better, a game try would be unnecessary.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     Pass      1     Pass   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     7     46   
  3     60     0     9   
  2     60     0     3   
  3     40     0     4   
  4     40     1     7   
  2     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     3   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 

Since this hand could belong in clubs, spades or notrump, at the game or slam level, its very important to tell partner exactly how many spades you have. If you raise directly partner will assume that you have four-card support. I don't think you want to play a touch and go slam in a four-three fit. There are various ways to show eighteen point four-card raises. Direct splinters showing shortness and jumps to game with a balanced hand all promise four-card support. I'll repeat. Jumps to game and splinter raises promise four-card support. There is no direct way to show an eighteen point three-card spade raise. The usual method is to make a forcing bid in a lower suit and then show support. Reversing into hearts and then showing spade support is a popular way to show a good hand with three-card spade support. Six experts agree with me and use this method.

Parker: "2---This should work out well. If partner raises hearts he must have five spades. If he bids anything else I can raise spades to show three. Too good for 3."

If partner raises hearts showing four-card support, he must have five spades. If partner doesn't have four hearts, he will bid 2 showing at least five spades or bid something else denying five spades. Either way you'll know after partner's next bid if you belong in spades.

Granovetter: "2---Should fish out that 5-3 spade fit, especially at matchpoints."

Adams: "2---Since 2 is forcing, we can always get back to spades if partner has five."

Reverses are forcing and promise a rebid unless game is reached.

Lublin: "2---Then support spades at next turn."

Woolsey: "2---Much as I hate bidding a non-suit, it seems to be the most descriptive approach on this hand. Without special gadgetry such as Cole, anything else is way off the mark."

Schwartz: "2---Have enough to force to game and it leaves me well prepared for all responses."

One expert raises directly. Sounds like a broken record - direct jump raises promise four-card support.

Wilson: "4---Splinter. I love this hand, a gorgeous side suit, top two honors in trumps and first or second round control of every suit."

Not only is the number of trumps important for competitive auctions where we use the Law, its also important in constructive auctions where choice of strain is important.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Alan Schwartz    2NT   4   3   3   2   500
  Matt Granovetter    2NT   4   3   4   2   480
  John Adams    2NT   4   3   Pass   2   460
  Kit Woolsey    1   4   3   4   2   460
  Steve Robinson    4   3   3   3   2   460
  Steve Parker    2NT   5   4   3   2   440
  Glenn Lublin    Dbl   4   3   4   2   410
  Bill Wilson    Dbl   5   3   3   4   340

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

Don Berman, Web Master.