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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Jul/Aug 1999

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Clyde Kruskal who came in first with a score of 490. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for second were Dave Smith and Terry Carpenter with a score of 470. Fourth was Thomas Hoi with a score of 440. Tied for fifth were Burt and Lynn Hall, Don Berman, Sam Gumbert, Barbara Ames, Leon Letwin, David Milton and Stanley Scheiner with a score of 430. Tied for twelfth were David Rodney, Natalie Arohsohn, Bob Klein, Rhoda Prager and Arthur Hayes with a score of 420. The average solver's score was 365. The average score of the experts was 402.

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 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 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1     Pass     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     1     3   
  2     90     5     45   
  3     60     2     4   
  1     50     2     18   
  Pass     40     1     8   
  2 NT     20     0     1   
  Dbl     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
When I looked at this hand, I thought that I would need very little to make 4. xxx/xxx/AQxx/xxx and Jxxx/xx/Axxx/Kxx are examples of hands where 4 is an excellent contract. Since partner has to have something on this auction, jumping to 4 accomplishes two things. It removes any possible bad judgement by partner. How could he know that minor honors are better than major honors? It also preempts the opponents just in case its their hand. LHO with a good hand and four spades can bid 1 over 1 or 2 over 2. It would be very dangerous for him to bid 4 over 4.

Five experts bid 2. 2 is an intermediate jump overcall showing an opening bid with at worst a one loser six-card suit. What happens if the opponents compete? Partner would expect you to have some defense outside the heart suit and could misevaluate the defensive prospects. I would expect another king.

Roman: "2---If intermediate (as I play) this is a minimum, if weak (as some play) a maximum, either way, it weighs 2."

Fan: "2---Showing good hearts, opening hand. Hopefully it serves to block opponent's spade fit as well."

Nachtwey: "2---(I presume that in Washington Standard, this is intermediate). I'm very close to just shrugging and bidding 4, but my trump spots aren't good enough. If partner has the minor suit kings and some heart support, he'll chirp, and I can bid a game."

Hopkins: "2---I have the playing strength to justify my bid. If partner has a weak notrump or a heart fit with a few cards, we can probably bid and make game in notrump or hearts, respectively. The only downside is the opponents may find spades and compete effectively, since partner is not likely to hold five of them. However, there is no reason partner couldn't hold KJ97 of spades and be able to deal effectively with competition in spades."

But wouldn't partner like to deal effectively at the four- level.

Schwartz: "2---Assuming this is intermediate in Washington Standard, my playing strength and diamond spots justify the bid. It also preempts the opponents."

One expert keeps it low.

Parker: "1---Good values but not enough strength for a jump to 2. Keep it low so you can listen to what partner has to say."

You'll also get to listen to what the opponents have to say and with them having at least an eight-card spade fit, you might not be happy.

Closer to my 4 bid but I would expect a seven-card suit. 3 doesn't promise defense.

Woolsey: "3---Since partner didn't overcall 1, the opponents almost certainly have at least eight spades, and I'm not going to give them a chance to find their fit at a cheap level."

Adams: "3---This is an overbid, but the opponents have a Spade fit. Hard for partner to know how little I need for game. Absolutely no defense in case the opponents find spades, so 2 is out of question."

The following bid could make partner very happy if he holds Axx/x/xx/KQ109xxx. However, if he holds a more normal 4243 twelve count, he will be very surprised when the opponents make some clubs with you cold for 4.

King: "Pass---Where are the spades? Partner did not overall so either he lacks spades or he has almost no points. In either case they have a much better spot than 1 and I don't want them to find it."

The reason why partner passed over 1 might have been that he was short in hearts, QJxx/Jx/AQxx/Kxx for instance.

I know that you're not supposed to put specific cards in partner's hand. But the preemptive value, the opponents holding at least eight spades, and the strong possibility that partner will have enough to make game, makes 4 a standout bid.

  Problem 2    Imps    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     3     Double     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3 NT     100     7     46   
  4     90     3     19   
  5     50     0     11   
  Pass     20     0     4   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
One is taught to bid vulnerable games at IMPs because the upside, you win ten IMPs if it makes, is more than the downside, you lose six IMPs if it goes down. However, this is assuming that if you fail, you are down only one and are not doubled. The number one answer, three notrump, has many faults. The spade stopper is K42. You have no spade spots, you can't hold up, and if LHO leads a grape and RHO wins and leads a spade they'll take the first eight tricks. Even if you win the first spade trick, you won't be able to run the clubs unless partner has the Ace. How do you like your chances in three notrump if partner holds x/AKxx/AQxx/QJxx, an above average takeout double?

However, seven experts go for the brass ring. However, there's good chance they might fall into a mud hole.

Parker: "3NT---I have had good success bidding three notrump with six-card minors after partner doubles. Give him x/AKxx/Qxxx/Axxx or reverse the hearts and diamonds and we are cold. Any hand with the Ace of clubs gives us a good play."

What about x/KJxx/KJxx/AQJx? Down two if they lead a spade, down five if they lead a red card.

Roman: "3NT---This might not work, but the pass from RHO is encouraging. 4 is out of the question, hand is too soft for 5. I'll bid 4 over 4."

Fan: "3NT---In IMPs, we want to bid a game with this hand. I don't see 5, and I want to protect my spade king as well."

Nachtwey: "3NT---4 or 5 might work, but I think three notrump probably has chances opposite more of partner's kinds of hands for a takeout double of 3. Other vulnerabilities, I might well pass since they are certainly going down, probably two or three. But red against white I think I have to guess which game to bid. And while partner may have enough to make a slam, if I try to look for one, we could easily get too high if partner is not all primes."

If partner is not all primes, you'll not make three notrump.

Schwartz: "3NT---The most likely game. A questionable King of spades with clubs as trump."

Adams: "3NT---Bid with greatest reward if I get lucky. Potential to make opposite club fit. Without club fit we have no plus score anyway."

Two experts agree with me and go conservative.

Hopkins: "4---This seems safest and most flexible. If I were behind, I would try three notrump and pray partner had AJx of clubs or better and we could run nine fast tricks for a possible pickup. If partner tries 4, I can try 4 expecting a red-suit oriented hand. Of course there is the possibility we have game/slam in clubs. Partner may be able to move in this case."

King: "4---It is tempting to play partner for just the right cards to make three notrump, but partners never have just the right cards."

If you give partner a 1444 opening bid, three notrump fails more often than it makes. If when it fails, it goes down only one, I would jump in and bid three notrump. However, when three notrump fails, it really fails which makes 4 the percentage bid. At the table, three notrump went down three.

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     2     Pass  
  2     Pass     3     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     9     45   
  3     40     1     12   
  3 NT     40     1     19   
  3     20     0     5   
  What is your bid? 
Misfit! Partner has bid clubs, clubs, and more clubs. I'm going out on the limb and guess that he has a long semi-solid club suit. Is 3 forcing? Your hand is unlimited so any bid you make after 2 that sounds forcing is forcing. Both 3 and 4 by you would be forcing. If you had twenty HCPs, how else could you create a force? However, 2 limited partner's hand. He can't have twenty HCPs and rebid 2. You are therefore allowed to unforce the force.

Eight experts agree with me and unforce the force.

Parker: "Pass---Partner could bid 2 with anything that would have a play for game opposite this misfit. I know I have created a forcing auction, too bad."

Nachtwey: "Pass---I've heard enough; partner could easily have something like Kxx/xx/xx/AKQxxx (or even less), and 3 is the limit of the hand. Even vulnerable at IMPs, I make our chances in three notrump well less than the one in three or so they ought to be for me to bid on."

Hopkins: "Pass---I'm going for the plus score. This appears to be a total misfit."

Woolsey: "Pass---If partner couldn't bid 2, two notrump, or 3, it is hard to see how we can have a game."

Schwartz: "Pass---What looked like a game force now doesn't look like a game invite. No game should have any play even with partner having a max."

King: "Pass---Partner has a minimum hand with just clubs. Where are we going to get tricks from in three notrump or any other contract?"

Adams: "Pass---Since 2 is limited, it is not too large a violation to pass after my own game force. Three notrump could be doubled for 1100 if partner has clubs and out."

Adams has a point. RHO with club strength might double on the sound of the auction and it would be bloody. We've seen how light opening bids get.

Two experts keep on bidding. I hope they have insurance.

Fan: "3NT---1 then 2 is forcing to three notrump. We have several possible games here and three notrump is the most reasonable one I can see. The shortcoming of three notrump is the club void and weak spades. But it is better than the waiting 3. Basically, unless partner can fit my diamonds, the best shot of this hand is three notrump. I don't want to emphasize my not-too-good diamond suit. Partner may still bid his clubs or diamonds after my three notrump."

Roman: "3---I'll pass three notrump, and raise 4 to five."

If three notrump is cold, partner would have done something different. One - Two - Three is passable if two is limited.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     2     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     2     4   
  2     80     5     50   
  2 NT     80     1     4   
  3     70     2     1   
  3     40     1     21   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Another misfit. Partner has shown at least nine, probably ten cards in the minors. Give partner an average plus minor-suit holding, AKxxx/AQxxx and what do we have, a hand which will probably take from seven to ten tricks in notrump and from nine to eleven tricks in diamonds. One thing is clear, fourth suit is game forcing in Washington Standard. What's not clear is the meaning of 3. Unusual jumps in Washington Standard are splinters so that should be the meaning of 3.

Four experts force to game.

Parker: "2---This better be forcing, I guess I should read your book. 3 should be forcing with a good 5-5. 2 followed by 3 should be invitational."

Hopkins: "2---I believe I could invite with 3 natural, 5-5 invitational but this hand might play in diamonds where we should at least have a 5-3 fit. We may get too high but at least we should play in the right strain, be it spades, hearts, or diamonds."

Woolsey: "2---Am I missing something? Even if 3 is natural (and many would play it as a splinter), I think I would bid 2. Why not make the cheapest call when it is potentially descriptive and gives partner plenty of room to describe also."

Adams: "2---Fourth suit game forcing. Were 3 forcing, this would be choice, but bid is invitational."

One expert invites in notrump. Two notrump allows partner to signoff with a distributional minimum, raise to three notrump with extras and pass with a balanced minimum. Two notrump has the same advantages as 2, you play in your best fit. What's better is that you're not forced to game.

Fan: "2NT---2 is the fourth suit thus forcing to game. I want to bid 3 to show my 5-5 majors and invitational hand, but afraid partner might take it as splinter. Two notrump should do well, except I didn't show my five hearts."

Is 3 a splinter or is it natural?

Nachtwey: "3---2 would be artificial and forcing, and leave me a round behind in trying to describe this monstrosity. I'll bid diamonds over partner's next call, and he should have a pretty good picture. If he's 1255 and passes 3, at least we're in a playable spot and will probably get some matchpoints for going plus."

When partner alerts and says 3 is a splinter, you won't have to go far to get a director to work things out.

Two experts invite in diamonds. I don't think partner is going to figure out that you have so much strength in hearts.

Schwartz: "3---With light distributional bids in vogue, this is not close to a game force. There is still hope of getting to hearts if partner bids his fragment."

Roman: "3---2 (assuring we play the right strain) close second. I'll be sorry if partner is 1354 (4-5!) with a minimum and passes, but this hand could play really badly. Its matchpoints, so I go conservative."

If you really want to go conservative, why not go super conservative. I really like 2. If partner passes 2, will game be that good?

King: "2---A serious underbid, but it could be our last plus if partner has a misfitting minimum."

Why can't partner have in the minors what you have in the majors, 3/32/AQ876/KQ952 for instance. Opposite this hand 2 is a very good contract. If partner has an extra King, he will bid again and you can get to game.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1      Pass     1 NT     2   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     3     11   
  4     60     4     24   
  4     60     0     1   
  3     50     1     10   
  3     50     3     27   
  3     40     0     6   
  Dbl     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Sometimes your partner has control of the hand. Partner asks, you answer. Other times you have control. You ask, partner answers. There are a few hands where you don't need input from partner. When you opened this hand 1, you had visions of slam. However, your partner's one-notrump response put a damper on slam. So now the problem is which game. Give partner -/xxx/A10987652/xx, an exaggeration I know, you can make 420 in your 6-0 fit and only 400 in your 8-5 fit. Your partner has eight more diamonds than spades and its right to play in spades. So how could any matchpoint player even think about playing this hand in diamonds? If its better to play in spades when partner has eight diamonds and no spades, why even introduce the diamond suit. One bids diamonds when one wants to play in diamonds.

Agreeing with me are two MAJOR experts.

Fan: "4---First, this hand is worth bidding game - it only needs partner to have length in diamonds and spades (or merely spade Jack, diamond ten, diamond ace). Second, it's almost impossible that we have tools to look for slam while stopping at a safe level. Third, its matchpoints, 4 seems surely to score better than 5."

Schwartz: "4---Slam in diamonds will be difficult to bid with confidence even if it is cold, and partner might be hard pressed to take a preference with a stiff spade if I jump to 4. The main benefit of 4 is getting partner in the picture if they bid 5."

Six MINOR experts bid diamonds.

Parker: "4---Shows shape and strength. Partner with two spades should correct."

Since when does 4 show six spades?

Roman: "4---Let's spades (check), jump in diamonds (check) ahhhh...bridge is an easy game..."

Let's see. Play 4 yes, a 5 a minor ?????. Jump in diamonds whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Hopkins: "4---Put partner in the picture about my two- suiter. The risk I take is a preference to 5 when partner has specifically two spades and three diamonds. Partner should be able to judge the auction from here on very well. Of course, if partner has ten cards in the round suits, all the judgement in the world may not help."

Woolsey: "4---Must drive this hand to game, and diamonds could easily be right. If partner isn't sure of the strain he can pass the ball back to me with 4, and I will pick spades. Bidding 4 is unnecessarily unilateral."

If partner has three diamonds and only one spade, he knows that he belongs in diamonds.

The following experts voted for Reagan(conservative) as Lublin would say. Give partner xx/xxxx/xxxx/xxx, all 4 needs are good breaks and you are playing 3.

Nachtwey: "3---Once again, if partner has to pass, we're at least going to go plus. Over the 3 preference or a raise to 4, I'll bid 4 on the way to game; over three notrump I'll content myself with 4."

King: "3---I expect to bid spades over the opponents likely 3 or 4 bid. I don't expect the bidding to end here and I want to get my secondary suit mentioned as partner is unlikely to have more than two spades. With the right seven count we could be cold for 6."

Why do you expect the auction to continue? You have seventeen HCPs. If RHO has thirteen and partner has six, LHO does not have much to contribute. Partner with a 2443 seven-count will have no qualms about passing 3.

Adams: "3---Who knows. At least I am in a game force so partner can't pass my 4 rebid. Can find out if partner has at least two spades, or heart wastage."

Partner, without a heart stopper will tend to bid any four- card suit rather than support with two. If you plan to bid 4 next, I like your cuebid. If you plan to bid diamonds next, your sequence is no better then the original diamond bidders.

When you have a major suit that will play opposite a void, you have an obligation to play in that suit. Diamond bids only serve to confuse matters and deserve bad scores.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Robinson    4   4   Pass   2   4   490
  Alan Schwartz    2   3NT   Pass   3   4   470
  Robbie Hopkins    2   4   Pass   2   4   420
  Ruoyu Fan    2   3NT   3NT   2NT   4   410
  John Adams    3   3NT   Pass   2   3   390
  Steve Parker    1   3NT   Pass   2   4   390
  Matt Granovetter    1   3NT   Pass   2   3   380
  Fred King    Pass   4   Pass   2   3   380
  Millard Nachtwey    2   3NT   Pass   3   3   380
  Jeff Roman    2   3NT   3   3   3   360
  Kit Woolsey    3   Abs   Pass   2   4   350

Don Berman, Web Master.