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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Mar/Apr 1999


Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Jim Houghton who came in first with a score of 470. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Robert Cohen with a score of 460. Tied for third were Ryoyu Fan, Sam Gumbert, Ben Laden and Rossi Lindstrom with a score of 430. Tied for seventh were Mark Chen and Jay Weinstein with a score of 420. Tied for ninth were Jim Creech, Mike Richey and Clyde Kruskal with a score of 410. Tied for twelfth were Bill Wilson, Jim Murphy, John Kelly, Mike Kovacich and Bob Henry with a score of 400. The average solver's score was 343. The average score of the experts was 393.

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 new problems to ensure that you can meet his next deadline. You can pick up a copy of the problems at the WBL Unit Game in Maryland and can send answers or requests for problems to robinswr@erols.com. 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 and at tournaments or can send him a check for $23.20 which includes $3.20 for priority mail.


  Problem 1    Imps    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  -AJ 
  -KJT2 
  -A987 
  -765 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1     1     Pass  
  1NT     2     2     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  3     100     2     22   
  3     80     1     4   
  3     70     0     1   
  3     70     3     9   
  4     70     6     26   
  Pass     70     0     8   
  3NT     50     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
Partner has overcalled and bid again but what does that mean and what does he show? In Washington Standard, partner's 1 overcall promises at least five spades and at least eight HCPs. 65432 is the minimum suit quality. I have found these methods to be very effective. Does this lead to big minus scores? Actually the few times I've been caught speeding (doubled for penalties) is when I've had opening bids. I love it when partner jump raises and the opponents have to continue from there. So what do we know now that partner has rebid his suit. We know that his suit is better. It could be 765432. Partner, following the LAW, assumes that you have two spades and therefore bids to the two-level in the assumed eight-card fit. So what can we make opposite Kxxxxx/Ax/xx/Jxx or Kxxxxx/xx/xx/AJx? Eight tricks could be the limit on either if these hands. This hand is worth an invite. If partner has his eight-point overcall he can pass and try to make 3. If partner has an opening bid, he will bid game. Simple! The last thing you want to do is hang partner when he makes a light overcall.

Two experts agree with me and invite. One expert agrees with me and simply asks partner if he has more than a minimum overcall. Remember partner knows that his minimum is eight HCPs.

Hall: 3---With extra values, we have to do something ... either a strong, invitational 3 or 4. We're electing 3 on the grounds that four of our points in hearts may be wasted in front of the opening bidder."

One expert makes a heart game try. 3 is a game try since you would bid 2 directly over 1 with a heart suit. Would partner bid game holding KQxxxx/xxx/x/AQx or KQxxxx/Qxx/xx/Ax? Qxx or xxx are usually not much help opposite a help suit game try.

King: 3---Partner will probably compete with any hand with six spades and more than a dead minimum. This should be a help suit game try in spades, as I would have bid 2 before if I wanted to play hearts. I think bidding 4 directly is too much and my hand is too good to pass."

Six experts bid game. Their partner's are hung.

Wang: 4---With such great controls and no waste in diamonds, game is on the line. Partner should have about an opening hand since he did not bid 2 at the first round."

A weak jump overcall is usually made with a good suit unless you're favorable and then anything goes. Given your AJ of spades, partner's suit could be weak.

Adams: 4---I probably would have lied initially and told partner that I had three spades with a 2 cuebid. At this point I am kind of stuck, having underbid by a King or Ace. I will bid game and hope partner has something with his six spades."

Schwartz: 4---I strongly disagree with the one-notrump call the previous round. Even with two-card support, the honor card structure makes this hand worth a 2 bid. Given the one-notrump bid, I can never catch up."

Do you really want to be in two notrump opposite an eight- point hand? Opposite Qxxxx/AQx/xxx/xx, six tricks is the limit and would be a good score since the opponents can make 2.

Hopkins: 4---Since I misbid originally (one notrump shows eight to ten HCPs with diamonds stopped), I can't expect partner to reasonably cooperate. Therefore, I must place the contract at the most likely spot. 4 should have a play if partner has as little as KQxxxx/Qx/x/Kxxx."

Parker: 4---Partner is probably 6-4 in the blacks. With a diamond lead he can play up to hearts and get pitches if things break OK. Even with six spades, he didn't have to bid again, plus he did not make a weak jump overcall."

Woolsey: 4---South's initial one-notrump call is one of the biggest underbids I have ever seen. Now he has a chance to rectify the situation and the auction has made his hand look even better, so 4 seems clear."

The following call, 3, is a good bid only if it is a game try. 3 allows partner to invite back with 3. With this hand, all you need is any encouragement to bid game. However, I don't think any of my experts are going to pass 3.

Umeno: 3---No need to rush into 4. This is a good hand for spades, but if partner bids three notrump, we might have nine tricks off the top."

Lublin: 3---Cuebid with two-card trump support."

One expert is trying for slam. Partner sometimes can't even make 2 and he finds himself in a slam auction.

Rogall: 3---Can partner believe he should come alive after my first underbid, when 3 sounds like a good hand, a stiff spade and a diamond stop looking for the right strain? Maybe after my 4 rebid with a slammish maximum such as: KQxxxx/Axx/x/KQx, or KQxxxx/AQx/xx/Kx. But the real reason for 3 is because when partner bids 3, slam in hearts is likely on several minimums without two quick losers. RKC next, risking two cashing clubs because 4 then might still be choice of games."

It is very important to be able to compete. If you're in constant fear of partner going crazy every time you compete, your competitive effectiveness will be reduced. I would not be happy if I found myself in game every time I followed the Law and overcalled 1 and then rebid 2.


  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  -Q54 
  -3 
  -10974 
  -108765 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East                       
  ---     1NT*     Double**     2  
  Pass     Pass     Double***     Pass  
  ?????  

  * 12-14
  ** Strong hand or 4card Major and longer Minor  
  *** Takeout  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     4     6   
  3     60     6     58   
  2     40     2     6   
  4     20     0     1   
  5     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
The auction makes this an easy problem, at least for me. From the opponent's actions, we can assume that partner has somewhere around half the deck. LHO has thirteen HCPs and you have two. If RHO has five, partner has twenty. Partner has a two-notrump opener. We have four trumps and we have a good lead. Partner is sitting behind the notrump opener. What more do you need to sit for partner's takeout double? This could be Christmas in June. How often are you in a position where you can get a top? Passing is wrong only if partner has all of his strength in clubs and spades.

Three experts agree with me and go for the throat.

Schwartz: Pass---They are running from one notrump doubled and partner shouldn't be void in diamonds. With a heart lead through the strong hand, they are very unlikely to make this."

King: Pass---I don't see game our way, and since I have four trumps and an attractive lead, I will go for the magic plus 200 or more."

Woolsey: Pass---If North has the 5-4 hand, I believe he is supposed to bid his major rather than double if he wishes to compete. Therefore, North has the big balanced hand. Simple trick-total analysis points toward the pass; the opponents have only seven trumps and we probably have no great fit."

Eight experts are wimps.

Wang: 3---Seems partner has five hearts, four spades, 16+ HCPs. Spade contract will be in trouble if partner has only four spades and facing a diamond lead. 3 gives the best chance for plus score, and partner may continue to bid 3 with strong 5-5 majors."

Adams: 3---Has partner's takeout double confirmed the strong hand? Long clubs? Only problem I see is if partner is 3-4-1-5 with good controls, 5 might play well. Without good controls, 3 is plenty high."

Hopkins: 3---I will bid my longest suit. I expect to have a fit since with a big major 5-5 or 5-6 hand, partner might have bid 4 over 2. If we don't, I would regard a 3 cuebid as a request to pick a major and we can find our probably playable 4-3 spade fit."

Parker: 3---Tempted to bid four or five. This might be a great fitting hand, no matter which major he has, but it is surely hearts."

Rogall: 3---Partner bid takeout of diamonds, so I bid my suit. 2, trying to keep the bidding low, will probably just encourage partner not to keep it low very long. Pass is too much of a mastermind when the extent of our or their fit is unknown, although it would keep the bidding low when partner has the expected semi-balanced moose. But, with one or two diamonds and no more than eight cards in the majors, we have at least eight clubs which I'll just keep bidding."

Two experts try 2. Partner doesn't promised four spades.

Hall: 2---A great opportunity in matchpoints to play in a major and remain at the two-level. The hand can be made by crossruffing hearts and diamonds or by setting up clubs and pulling trumps."

Umeno: 2---Definitely going to takeout to a suit. Yes, I am bidding my three-card suit instead of my five-card suit. What do I get for this? First off, we stay at the two-level. It is important to stay off the three-level as much as possible at matchpoints. Also, partner is almost guaranteed to have four or five hearts given that they have not run to that suit. Partner would have bid 2 with five of them unless the hand also contained four spades. So we are often going to buy four spades in the dummy. This is going to look really bad if partner has something like: KJx/AQxx/xx/KQJx."

How can anyone call themselves a matchpoint player if they don't play for a top in this position? Wimps get bad scores at the table and get penalized in this column.


  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  -J9 
  -A 
  -AKQ105 
  -Q10953 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     2  
  3     3     Double     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     6     45   
  4     70     3     16   
  3     50     2     8   
  5     30     1     2   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Partner has made a penalty double. I can't think of any other interpretation. He is looking at the vulnerability. He is looking at his hearts and his diamonds. Do we trust partner? I say yes. One doesn't pull penalty doubles in order to go fishing. Since we have no guarantee of finding a fit, pulling would be fishing. Why can't partner be 4-4 in the majors? LHO has seven hearts and made an error in judgement. The defense against 3 doubled is going to be easy. Partner will lead a diamond. We will cash the trump Ace, if necessary, removing dummy's heart. Then we cash diamonds.

Five experts agree with me and trust partner.

Wang: Pass---Apparently, partner has majors. Your game contract won't be easy, especially with communication problems."

King: Pass---I have defense and even some extra high cards. Won't the real problem be when West bids 3?"

Parker: Pass---With 5-5 you should usually bid again, but your clubs are weak and have some quick tricks."

Rogall: Pass---Even though it's matchpoints, red against white, I still like the plus score when we might not be making game. 3 is tempting to bid before they bid it, but it's somewhat ambiguous and three notrump may not make unless partner has two other outside quick tricks. 5 may make in those cases but may need to be played from partner's side which is unlikely. If they run to 3, I'll guess that the total trumps are higher, and try 4."

Umeno: Pass---The double is a penalty double and I have pretty good defense. No guarantee to go plus at five-of-a-minor or three notrump if you bid 3 or 4 instead."

Five experts go fishing. At least 3 lets partner bid three notrump.

Hall: 3---The danger here in passing is that a vulnerable game contract will outscore defeating 3. If partner can double hearts, he should have some spade values. A game is likely in notrump with a minor suit game or slam also conceivable."

Woolsey: 3---I don't know for certain what North's double means, so I'm not risking a pass. 3 keeps the three- notrump ball in the air."

Adams: 4---I hope partner doubled in tempo, because pass is a clear alternative. Partner is allowed to have a stack, or just values without diamonds. Either way, he should have clubs. 4 is not forcing, but partner should be in a good position to evaluate."

Four experts go fishing above three notrump.

Schwartz: 5---With an undisclosed five-card suit at this vulnerability, I feel I should bid and I assume the opponents aren't completely crazy so west should have some spade support or good hearts. I don't like bidding 5 off two spade tricks but have to show my extra values."

Hopkins: 4---90% of the time the 3 bidder will have spades to go back to. At any other vulnerability I would pass to await developments. Here I worry about the auction coming back to me in 4. If I double and we beat them one or two tricks, I will find out we are cold for five or six clubs. If I bid 5, we will lose two spades and a trump. So I choose to show my club suit now to indicate my type of hand and then I will not be unhappy doubling 4 if the opportunity presents itself since my partner will have a reasonable clue on what to do."

Why worry about spades? We can cross that bridge if it occurs.

Lublin: 4---Pull the double to 4. Opponents probably have eight trumps and we should have nine someplace."

The opponents might have eight hearts. They might also have only seven. We have the majority of the HCPs and West is going to have to play this out of his hand. Defending 3 should be fun.


  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  -Q7 
  -AKQJ8 
  -A9 
  -K1064 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     1     Double     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  2     100     9     17   
  2NT     60     1     2   
  3     50     1     33   
  3NT     50     0     3   
  4     50     0     1   
  2     40     1     0   
  5     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     8   
  3     20     0     5   
  4     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
When you hold nineteen HCPs opposite a negative double, you want to be in game. But which game? Playing matchpoints you want to do your best to get to either three notrump or 4. They are the highest-paying games. So start with a cuebid which sets up a game force and then try to work out if partner has spade help. If partner has spade help you want to be in three notrump. Since 2 is game forcing, partner doesn't have to jump or recuebid to show a good hand. Partner can bid 3 to show spades and a balanced hand or bid his longer minor to deny spades. If partner doesn't have spade help, you can try to get to 4. You can play in 4 even opposite a singleton.

Seven experts agree with starting with a game-forcing cuebid. This spade cuebid says nothing about spades.

Wang: 2---I have no problem here, but later you need to decide between three notrump or 4. 6 is also possible on a good day."

Hall: 2---There are several possible games or slams here ... three notrump or a heart/club game or slam ... but which one? The purpose of cuebidding 2 is to get partner to further describe his hand. Our next bid might be 3 forcing."

My thoughts exactly.

Adams: 2---A jump to 3 is not forcing, and a 4 contract needs too little to risk a pass. I considered 4, but three notrump will play well if partner can cuebid, showing something in spades."

Umeno: 2---I try to avoid cuebidding whenever possible, but I have good hand and am not sure that clubs is the right spot. We still have three notrump or 4 as possible contracts."

Schwartz: 2---With nineteen HCPs I have to force to game as the field will be there. Probably headed for 4 as three notrump from my side will be too difficult to reach when right. No point jumping immediately to 4 as slam in clubs is still possible."

King: 2---I want to be in game, but I don't know which one yet. 4 and even three notrump must be kept in the picture at matchpoints." Woolsey: 2---This hand is worth driving to game, since South needs very little from partner to make 4. The 2 call gives us a chance to sniff for three notrump. If North isn't interested, we play 4."

Rogall: 2---Game forcing. If partner bids notrump, I'll look for a club or notrump slam figuring we're not off two quick spade tricks. Over 3, 3 or 3, 4 for the extra matchpoints."

Game first, slam last. Until you have found a fit, all bids, including cuebids are used to try to find the best game. Only when you have found a fit, can you try for slam. Also, partner has to know that you have a fit.

Three experts go on divergent paths.

Hopkins: 3---If partner gives a 3 preference/game try, I will try 4. If partner tries 3, I will expect a partial stopper and shoot out three notrump. In my younger days I would try three notrump immediately and pray the defense believe me or partner covered me."

This is the way to swing!

Parker: 2---First inclination is to bid a safe 2, but at match points, hearts scores more. You will make at least the same number of tricks in hearts. If partner bids again you will know what to do."

One expert heads for one of the top matchpoint spots. This will work out great if partner has three spades to an honor. But what if partner has two small spades?

Lublin: 2NT---We have to have them stopped when their partner's don't raise."

The answer is to set up a game force and then get to the best game.


  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  -A7 
  -AQ3 
  -765 
  -AKJ76 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     3      Double     Pass   
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     7     29   
  4     50     3     15   
  4     40     2     11   
  3     40     0     9   
  3NT     30     0     6   
  5     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
Bid or Pass? Bidding works well when partner has xxxx/KJxxx/x/Qxx or xx/KJxxx/x/Qxxxx. Passing works well when partner has Kxxx/Kxxx/Kxx/xx or Kxxx/Kxxx/Q10xx/x. Since partner would make a negative double with all of the above hands there is no right answer. If it works its right, if it doesn't its wrong. If I knew for sure that we had a good fit somewhere, I would bid. since if there's any alternative, I don't like to pass negative doubles. At this level, partner does not guarantee both majors. He could be 5-3 either way or he could have one major and clubs.

Wang: Pass---With such a balanced hand, I will pass the double."

Hall: Pass---Again, a game or slam is possible in clubs or hearts but how can you pass up an equal vulnerability double on the basis of speculation. In any event, West will pay a high price for his 3 bid."

Adams: Pass---Pass and hope partner has not made a negative double with one diamond and club support."

Umeno: Pass---I have a feeling this is likely not to be our highest scoring spot, but I can't find out what the best spot is going to be. I'm going to apply the "best result possible" against "best possible result" cliche. I'd rather get +300 than go -50. If partner is 4-4-1-4, we might be cold for 5 or 6, 4-5-1-3, we might be cold for 4 or 6. But if partner's shape is 4-3-2-4 or even 4-2-2-5, we could be going minus. I hate going minus at matchpoints."

Parker: Pass---Quick tricks and no suit, why not go for a sure plus in a part score hand. Down two is a top."

Rogall: Pass---Looking for slam, and even just the right game, is too unwieldy. Anyway, I think the total trumps will average seventeen, so passing is right, except that if partner has a singleton diamond, it's a thirty-point deck for us. But, with no 4 raise, I'll bet against that holding."

Four experts bid. I hope they don't find their partner with 5-4-2-2 distribution. 4, choice of games, is the choice of three experts.

Schwartz: 4---Pass will teach partner not to double lightly with shape. Will pass 4 and bid 5 over 4. An immediate 4 bid is possible but why put my all my eggs in one basket."

Hopkins: 4---Gag. We could be in big trouble whenever partner also has three diamonds or if we only have 5-2 or 4-3 fits. I hope partner is 4-5 in the majors and not 5-4. We probably have enough HCPs not to get doubled. We might even make something if partner has a good 4-4-1-4 or 4-5-1-3 or such."

King: 4---I don't think there is a good answer here. Pass should yield a sure plus, but unlikely to be 500. We can often make 4 even with only a 4-3 heart fit if the suit doesn't break badly or if partner has a singleton diamond or we can make 5 or even 6. Even 4 could be okay if partner is 5-4-2-2 and has something like KQxxx of spades (along with King of hearts and Queen of clubs). I will bid 4 and hope to make game more than 50% of the time."

King could be playing the 4-2 spade fit. Doesn't 4 ask partner to bid his best major? Partner's supposed to bid 4 when he has four spades and only three hearts.

Lublin: 4---Jump to 4. Should be able to handle the Moysian."

Woolsey: 4---Seems like the percentage call. This hand will play Ok in a 4-3 fit even if the long hand gets tapped, because South can play the hand out of control since West won't have any entries. Defensive prospects aren't good enough to risk passing; seven tricks seem unlikely and we figure to have a game."

What about the 3-3. Couldn't partner be 4-3-2-4?

I could see bidding if there was a guarantee of a fit or if there was a guarantee that you would get to your best spot. There is no such guarantee so pass and hope the opponents are overboard.


How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Robinson    3   Pass   Pass   2   Pass   500
  Fred King    3   Pass   Pass   2   4   430
  Donna Rogall    3   3   Pass   2   Pass   430
  Jian-Jian Wang    4   3   Pass   2   Pass   430
  John Adams    4   3   4   2   Pass   400
  Burt & Lynn Hall    3   2   3   2   Pass   410
  Marc Umeno    3   2   Pass   2   Pass   410
  Steve Parker    4   3   Pass   2   Pass   370
  Kit Woolsey    4   Pass   3   2   4   360
  Alan Schwartz    4   Pass   5   2   4   350
  Robbie Hopkins    4   3   4   3   4   300
  Glenn Lublin    3   3   4   2NT   4   300

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

Don Berman, Web Master.