Return to: Solvers Rules and Instructions Return to: District 6 Home Page
Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

May/Jun 1999


Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Jeff Roman, Ryoyu Fan and Millard Nachtwey who tied for first with a score of 460. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for fourth were Lloyd Rawley and Rhoda Prager with a score of 440. Tied for sixth were Sam Gumbert and Betsy Crenshaw with a score of 430. Tied for eighth were Fred Steinberg, Kevin Avery and Ben Brill with a score of 420. Tied for eleventh were Sven Pride and Libby Kilpatrick with a score of 410. Tied for thirteenth were Patsy Parker, Yi Zhong, Hailong Ao, Jim Murphy, Burt and Lynn Hall and Aaron Rosenbaum with a score of 400. The average solver's score was 386. The average score of the experts was 399.

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 
  -76 
  -A65 
  -AK765 
  -765 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     2     2     3  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Double     100     5     35   
  Pass     60     2     4   
  4     50     1     6   
  3 NT     50     1     19   
  3     50     0     10   
  4     40     0     7   
  What is your bid? 
Tough problem. Partner has overcalled, you have eleven HCPs, but you don't have a clearcut action. There are four reasonable actions. You could raise spades hoping partner has good spades. You could make a responsive double and hope partner doesn't bid clubs. Even if partner bids clubs you can correct 4 to 4 showing diamonds with spade tolerance. You could bid three notrump. Three notrump would work out if you can hold up to the third round of hearts and find West without an entry. Or you could pass. Since partner is short in hearts, he will reopen if he has extra values. You need partner to have extra values or extra distribution to make something. When in doubt make the most flexible call. The responsive double, which shows the unbid suits, but which could be made on anything, is very flexible. Over the double, partner can rebid spades with six, bid a four-card or longer minor, or bid three notrump with a stopper. He could even leave it in, however unlikely that is when we hold three hearts.

Four experts agree with me and double.

Houghton: "Double---Responsive, I assume. Most flexible. Should deny three spades. I'll be happy if partner passes. I'll pass three notrump, correct 3/4 to 4. If partner bids 4, I'll pass and pray. At least I have three certain winners."

If partner bids 4, I would be ecstatic.

Woolsey: "Double---Maybe something good will happen, such as partner passing, bidding three notrump, or bidding 4. If not I can always get to 4 which might be a decent contract."

Adams: "Double---I doubt if three notrump will play well when partner has a stiff heart. I did not find this sequence defined in the Washington Standard book. If he pulls my penalty double thinking it is card showing, then I have the right hand."

Doubles of raised suits are responsive.

Two experts pass. With three defensive tricks we should go plus. But give partner as little as AKJxxx/x/Qxx/QJx, 4 is a good contract and we are collecting 100.

Parker: "Pass---Hopefully in tempo, and collect my 100. This is a very tough hand since double would be responsive in most systems. Three notrump could be hopeless since you have no fit and no source or tricks. Second choice is to raise partner on values, not fit."

Cappelletti: "Pass---Safest plus score (primes and misfit tend to defend); game unlikely (less than 1/3) unless partner can reopen."

One expert tries for the notrump game. This is flexible since partner can correct to 4 with an unbalanced hand.

King: "3NT---I think I can shut West out by holding up in hearts and have enough to make nine tricks. If partner is very distributional he can always correct to 4."

One expert bids 4. 4, by an unpassed hand, is forcing and should show either better diamonds or a better hand. Responsive double followed by 4 is a better way to show diamonds.

Hopkins: "4---Natural and forward-going. Partner can sign off in 4 with a minimum and a six-card suit. With diamond support, partner can raised directly or cuebid 4 or 5 with slam interest. Partner should not have a black two- suiter because Leaping Michaels would have been used."

Partner could be 6-4 so 4 should be natural.

When in doubt you want to make a flexible call or the cheapest call. In this situation, double is both.


  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  -3 
  -KQ54 
  -3 
  -AKQJ765 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     ---     ---     2*  
  ?????  

  * Weak
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  5     100     2     1   
  3     90     3     26   
  3     50     2     15   
  2     40     0     1   
  Double     30     1     35   
  4     20     1     2   
  4 NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
In order to solve this problem, we have to eliminate the impossible bids. A takeout double with a singleton in an unbid major doesn't get any points in this column. Double is eliminated. 4 would show the value of the hand but most players play and my book says on page 257 that 4 is Leaping Michaels, five-five or better in clubs and a major. Partner bids 4 to ask which major. 4 is eliminated. We can't bid 3 since that could and should be interpreted as Michaels showing five-five or better in the majors. What's left. The conservative 3, the aggressive 5 or 6 and the daring 2.

Three experts make the conservative call.

Lublin: "3---The auction isn't dying here."

Hopkins: "3---I probably can make it. If the auction continues, I should be well placed to describe my hand. If not, I hope partner has fewer than two aces so I don't miss a slam. I'm already resigned to missing game."

Ace of hearts, heart ruff, diamond to ace, heart ruff, spade to ace, heart ruff. Down one. Why did you bid so much?

Houghton: "3---Bid natural with strong hands. Very unlikely to be passed out, but if so, we may be in the right spot. Plan to bid hearts next. Doubling with a stiff spade is asking for trouble, as partner will not envision this hand when you correct his spade response to clubs."

One expert agrees with me and bids what he thinks he can make. Also, 5 stops both partner and LHO from bidding 4.

Woolsey: "5---Looks like the percentage call. If partner has two aces he might be inclined to bid the slam."

While 3 is not defined in Washington Standard, I would expect the hand type KJxxx/AJxxx/xx/x, to come up more often than the problem hand. Therefore 3 should be Michaels.

King: "3---I hope this asks him to bid three notrump with a diamond stopper."

Adams: "3---3 is wimpy, and double is sick."

The following expert violates the basic rule on takeout doubles. You can't make a takeout double without support for every unbid major.

Cappelletti: "Double---More good possibilities than bidding any number of clubs."

Right, partner jumps to 4. In your dreams! More likely is that partner jumps to 4 and then reads your club bids as cuebids.

Parker: "4---Strong bid. I have a great hand but need some help. A jump over a major shows the other major and the minor bid, this jump is usually not discussed so it should be strong."

Read page 257. You have a club in with your hearts.

Sometimes system takes away calls that perfectly describe a hand. When partner opens one notrump and you want to play 2, you have to play 3 instead. Here, you would like to jump to 4 to show a good hand with clubs or bid 3 asking partner to bid three notrump with a stopper. That's not part of this system so 5 is simple and to the point.


  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  -AQ2 
  -Q3 
  -AKQJ9854 
  -Void 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     Pass     1     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  3     100     1     3   
  2     80     5     46   
  3 NT     80     2     3   
  4 NT     40     0     6   
  3     40     0     7   
  5     40     0     2   
  1     40     0     4   
  6     40     0     6   
  4     20     1     0   
  5     20     0     3   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
You have a hand that's good enough to be in game, possibly slam. Actually, all you need is a spade lead and four notrump is a claim. 5 is another game possibility but this is matchpoints. You have to be +440 to beat the +430 in three notrump with a spade lead. Of course its hard to make three notrump when the opponents take the first five club tricks. The question is, what do you do now? Two forcing bids are available, you can jump shift into your three-card spade suit or you can jump shift into your void. Another thought is to bid what you think you can make. Bid three notrump if you think the opponents will lead a spade or partner has clubs stopped. Bid 5 or even 6 if you expect partner to have honors in the majors.

Five experts bid 2. This will work well if partner does not have four spades but when partner has four spades and raises, you will have to guess how many diamonds to bid and also have to hope partner doesn't keep correcting back to spades. Bidding 2 will not lead to a constructive auction. 2 will get you to game or slam in diamonds.

Cappelletti: "2---Standard American game-forcing jump (maybe less than four); any other bid could trap partner into unfortunate corrections."

Houghton: "2---We could belong in game or slam in diamonds, hearts, or notrump (or even spades), so make a forcing call at a low level to leave room to explore. I might have opened this hand 2, not because 1 might be passed out, but because then a rebid of 3 would have been descriptive (and forcing) without distorting my hand."

Opening 2 wouldn't solve all your problems. After 2 - 2 - 3, how does partner describe his many possible hand types? Opening 1 would work out very well if partner had responded 1. Then 2 would be clearcut with no negative factors.

Woolsey: "2---This hand is pretty much unbiddable if not playing Cole. (Playing Cole, you can bid 2, forcing, and then bid 3 to show a game-forcing hand, solid diamond suit, short clubs and fewer than three hearts --SWR). I hate jump-shifting in a non-suit, but this time my diamonds are so strong that I can override any spade bids by partner if necessary and get to 5. If partner doesn't have spade support perhaps we will have something resembling a decent auction."

Lublin: "2---I bid 2 and correct all bids to 5."

Why not jump directly to 5?

Adams: "2---I usually have four spades for this, but the bid does not guarantee four spades. Anyone for adding exclusion to Washington Standard? My guess is I will end up bidding RKC, but I do not want to do it directly for fear of having to play hearts."

Jump shifting into a short suit which is higher than your real suit could lead to problems. That's why I prefer jump shifting into clubs. After 3, partner with club support will still think about other strains. Who wants to play in clubs? Over 3, I expect partner to bid something at the three-level. I will then bid three notrump. This auction could stop LHO from finding a possible killing club lead. If partner has a minimum response, three notrump is a good gamble. If partner has an opening bid, he will bid again and 6 will be a good gamble.

Two experts bid what they think they can make. Three notrump will make if the opponents lead a spade or partner has a stopper in the club/heart suit that is led. Three notrump describes an unbalanced hand with a long strong diamond suit which is what we have.

King: "3NT---I think any hand with nine tricks should be opened 2 and then I wouldn't have this problem. I have to force and bidding 2 can be impossible to recover from. I don't think one should jump shift into a void. Thus I think three notrump is the most descriptive bid."

Hopkins: "3NT---I must produce a dazzling auction to describe this hand to my partner. If partner has a good hand, partner will have a reasonable idea about the diamond suit and total HCPs. If partner has a bad hand, please let them lead a spade."

The following expert makes up a bid.

Parker: "4---Roman Key card with hearts as the trump suit. I should be well placed over any bid by partner. Four notrump is 0-3 keycards so I can sign off in 5 and bid a grand over a correction to show three. I can bid 5 over 5 showing one and bid 6 if partner shows two. This will be cold or on a finesse (I hope) if partner has the ace of my void."

If partner bids 5 showing one, 5 would ask for the Queen of hearts.

Since you don't want partner to get carried away, made up suits must be lower than your real suit.


  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  -10 
  -J3 
  -Q10986 
  -QJ1052 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1NT     Pass     2     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     5     57   
  3     80     3     3   
  2 NT     40     1     4   
  2     40     0     17   
  What is your bid? 
You have gambled that partner would respond two-of-a-minor to your one-notrump call and have lost. Passing 1 is a reasonable action. So what do you do to salvage matchpoints? Do you pass 2 and play the possible 4-2 heart fit? You could preference 2 and play the 5-1 spade fit. Or you could try three-of-a-minor and if you're unlucky, play the 5-0 fit but if you're lucky you could play the 5-4 fit. You could bid two notrump and play this hand in notrump? The bad news is that you are probably headed for a bad score since many South's will pass 1. So unless you hit the nail on the head, you can kiss this board goodby. My hope is to bid 3 and hope partner is 5404 or 5413. If clubs are trumps, I will always take three club tricks even if partner is void.

Five experts pass 2. Passing 2 stops partner from making a game try.

Parker: "Pass---I am willing to get out as fast as possible, even in a 4-2. We may get a ruff in dummy and the opponents may back in. Correcting may only get partner to do something dumb."

Cappelletti: "Pass---Is this a misprint - certainly not a problem?"

Houghton: "Pass---We may have a better fit in a minor but how to find out which one? Anyway, partner might have five hearts, so pass and hope to take a small minus."

Woolsey: "Pass---Probably bad, but everything else figures to be worse. Incidentally I think South should pass the opening bid. When the only thing you are rooting for is for partner to rebid a minor, maybe you shouldn't be responding."

King: "Pass---Maybe partner has five hearts."

Two experts agree with me and try 3. Playing in clubs, you will take partner's aces and kings as well as your clubs. Playing in hearts, your hand might be worth nothing more than one ruff. The bad news is that you're increasing the level.

Lublin: "3---Maybe partner will bid 3 with a 5-4- 3-1 hand."

Adams: "3---Pass or 3 could work out. On this auction I expect the opponents to set up diamonds, so I might survive."

One expert tries two notrump. In notrump, trumps won't split badly, you have stoppers in all the suits and the opponents have to lead and therefore could help you. You'll just be too high.

Hopkins: "2NT---Well, this will work if partner passes or makes a pattern bid of three-of-a-minor or 3/3 because that is where we will play. If we do end up in three notrump maybe I will go down less than those who guess wrong with two-of-either- major."

The only eight-card fit we could possibly have is in a minor. On very good days partner has three clubs, on good days he has two clubs. Maybe today is a good day.


  Problem 5    IMPs    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  -AQ9 
  -Void 
  -654 
  -AJ108764 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     4   
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Panel's 
  Votes 
  Double     100     1     10   
  5     90     7     31   
  Pass     50     1     40   
  What is your bid? 
With a void in hearts, it doesn't seem right to pass. The choice is therefore between doubling and bidding 5. 5, an attempt to take eleven tricks with clubs as trumps, puts all your eggs in one flimsy club basket. There are four losers outside the trump suit, assuming only one spade loser. Partner could have a very strong hand but if he doesn't have club support, you could be up the creek without a paddle. If you bid 5 and partner has KJxxx/Axx/AKQx/x, partner thinks about seven. He cuebids 5 and then thinks long and hard about bidding seven over your 6 signoff. West has KQ9x of clubs and you can't even make 5. Double is flexible and doesn't rule out playing 5. It wins when partner has five or more spades, five or more diamonds or a heart stack. Double also wins when partner has nothing, passes the double and you are -590 rather than -1100.

Seven experts bid 5. The problem with 5 is that if you can make 5, you will usually be in six. 5 is an overbid. This hand is worth a 3 overcall of 2.

Parker: "5---I am short in the opponents suit and can't expect partner to back in with two or three cards in their suit. Sometimes if you bid a nice confident 5 no one doubles and partner has some values."

Short in the opponent's suit says bid. The problem is what to bid.

Cappelletti: "5---Seven-card suit (with good void) is certainly good enough to bid over preempt. Double with this type of hand could work - but is like rolling the dice against the odds."

Hopkins: "5---I bid my long suit. Pass, double, and 5 all could be right. On this vulnerability, I take the risk of bidding because the rewards are so great. We could be cold for a grand slam or go for 800 depending."

Houghton: "5---Either 4 or 5 (or both) is likely to make, so this is a two-way action. The ostensible benefits of a double are somewhat illusory: My hand is not too strong defensively; if partner bids 4, I won't know whether to correct to 5. Pass just puts too much pressure on partner to reopen when I am void in opener's suit."

Woolsey: "5---When void in the opponent's suit, bid one more than you think you should. This rule has proven right time after time."

Partner will then bid one more than you can make.

King: "5---It is probably right to pass as partner will bid on when five is the limit, but I am the one short in hearts."

Lublin: "5---I'm aggressive, I bid 5."

One expert passes. Better than 5, but you are void in the opponent's suit.

Adams: "Pass---How can partner balance with 4 when I have already bid 5? Why would I double when partner will never know about my clubs? Since partner needs a very good hand for 5 to be cold, I just go quietly and hope partner can do something even though he has the heart length."

If you are going to bid 5, why not double first. If you double, planning on bidding 5 over 4, partner can take you back to spades with five or more of them or correct to 5 with long diamonds.

When this hand was dealt, South bid five clubs. Partner had two red aces, three clubs to the queen, and a doubleton diamond. Down one in 5 doubled. If West hadn't doubled 5, partner might well have bid six. Guess how bad it would have been if partner had nothing. Of course, 4 was hurting, down at least two. When in doubt make the most flexible call.


How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Robinson    Dbl   5   3   3   Dbl   480
  Jim Houghton    Dbl   3   2   Pass   5   470
  Kit Woolsey    Dbl   5   2   Pass   5   470
  Glenn Lublin    Dbl   3   2   3   5   450
  Fred King    3NT   3   3NT   Pass   5   370
  Steve Parker    Pass   4   4   Pass   5   370
  John Adams    Dbl   3   2   3   Pass   360
  Mike Cappelletti    Pass   Dbl   2   Pass   5   360
  Robbie Hopkins    4   3   3NT   2NT   5   360

Don Berman, Web Master.