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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Sep/Oct 1999

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Mark Umeno and Audrey Warren who tied for first with a score of 450. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for third were Alan Breed, Ellen Cherniavsky, Robert Cohen, William Gainer, Bob Klein, Kathy Kruskal, Ben Laden, Rossi Lindstrom, Alice Miller and Stanley Scheiner with a score of 440. Thirteenth was Hailong Ao with a score of 430. Tied for fourteenth were Hadi Abushakra, Betsy Crenshaw, Arnie Frankel, Arthur Hayes, Mike Kovacich, Gerald Lerner, Saul Penn, Johnny Petersson, Lyle Poe, Ram Sarangan, JJ Wang, Jay Weinstein, and Kefu Xu with a score of 420. The average solver's score was 381. The average score of the experts was 419.

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: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  Pass     1     1 NT     Pass  

  * System On
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     6     61   
  2     80     1     1   
  3NT     70     1     17   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Do you show your five-card heart? To show your five-card heart suit, you transfer and then bid three notrump. The second option is to show a four-card heart suit. That is, you want to play in 4 only if you have a nine-card heart fit. To show a four-card heart suit, you Stayman and then bid three notrump unless partner shows four hearts. The third option is to jump directly to three notrump. Your diamond holding suggests that notrump will play well. At IMPs, in order for 4 to be right, it has to play two tricks better than three notrump. Nine tricks in notrump scores the same as ten tricks in hearts. There are many eight-card fits which make three notrump but do not make four-of-a-major. There are no ruffs in notrump. Players underlead aces against notrump allowing one to take tricks with unsupported kings and two tricks with Qxx opposite Kxx. On this hand, give partner AQx/AQx/Q9xx/Jxx, three notrump is cold and 4 probably goes down two.

Six experts show their five-card heart suit. They didn't think much about their diamond holding and are willing to play in a 5-3 heart fit.

Lublin: "2---and then three notrump."

Parker: "2---Transfer to hearts. This seems pretty clear cut, the same bid I would make if partner opened one notrump."

Adams: "2---Silly me, but were this not a solver's problem, three notrump would not even occur to me."

Hopkins: "2---To be followed by three notrump choice of games."

Woolsey: "2---Not a hand to mastermind. We could be quite weak in the spade department. Partner is allowed to make the right decision if we transfer and bid three notrump."

In this auction, one doesn't have to worry about spades as much since even if East leads a spade, he won't have an entry.

Kruskal: "2---There seem to be three possible bids: (1) Just bid three notrump ignoring any chance of a heart fit, (2) Look for an eight-card heart fit with a Jacoby transfer, and (3) Look only for a nine-card heart fit with Stayman. The risk of playing in hearts is that the opponents could get a diamond ruff. This was infrequent and even when it did happen the contract usually made. The risk of playing in notrump was the opponents could run the spade suit. While this was not common (a very rough estimate 10% of the time when we have a heart fit), it is not worth worrying about."

One expert ignores the heart suit completely.

Schwartz: "3NT---Diamond ruffs are a concern if we are off a red ace so I can't give partner an option...Partner will never realize his K97x diamonds are three stoppers, not one."

I'm in the middle. I don't want to play in a 5-3 heart fit but I don't want to miss a 5-4 heart fit. I'm a Stayman bidder. If partner bids 2, I'll play 4 otherwise I'll play three notrump. One is first taught that the priority is to find your eight-card major suit fits. As one gets more experience, one learns that not all eight-card major suit fits must be played in four-of-a-major.

  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: EW 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     ---     1     Pass  

  Not playing 2-tier splinters
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     1     18   
  2NT     70     2     10   
  4     70     3     34   
  3     50     1     5   
  1NT     50     1     1   
  Pass     20     0     1   
  1     20     0     5   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  5     20     0     2   
  2     20     0     3   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Limit raise, forcing raise, splinter raise, preemptive raise are all possibilities. One could even go through a forcing notrump sequence. What's the minimum hand partner needs to make 4? If partner holds x/Kxxxx/Axxx/xxx or x/QJxxxx/xxxxx/x, 4 is cold. It must be right to force to game. On the other side, if you're an optimist, what's the minimum hand partner needs to make 6? xx/KQxxx/AKxxx/x needs only for diamonds to split 4-3 for 6 to make. Before trying for slam you have to see if there are hands partner might have where 4 is the limit but partner might get too high trying for slam. Give partner KQ/KQJxx/Axx/xxx and 4 is the limit. Give partner KQ/KQJxx/KQJ/Jxx and 4 can very easily go down. With these last two hands in mind, you don't want to encourage partner to go slamming above game. I think its right to bid just 4. If all partner needs are good trumps, he can make a move. I can't think of anything worse than getting to the five-level in a non-competitive auction and going down one.

Three experts bid 4, a splinter showing diamond shortness, an opening bid with at least four-card support. The big problem with 4 is that there's no room for partner to invite a slam. He has to either signoff in 4 or bid above game. There's nothing in between. He expects you to have an opening bid and he also has a right to expect you to have something in clubs. If I held KQJ/KQJxx/AJx/Qx and my partner bid 4, I would keycard and bid 6. 4 should promise an honor in each of the unbid suits.

Adams: "4---Many minimums that will produce cold slam, many others will require only a finesse."

Hopkins: "4---The diamond singleton with trump length is the prominent feature of my hand, so I am going to overbid slightly to show it. I can think of minimum hands where we have little play xx/KQxxx/KQJ/Qxx to where we are cold for slam Kx/KJxxx/Axxxx/x."

Would partner sign off over 4 holding KQ/KQJxx/Axx/xxx? You would be getting a minus score in a constructive auction.

One expert is a Law breaker. With a ten-card fit and some distribution, you bid to the four-level. Here we have an eleven- card fit and he bids at the three-level.

Parker: "3---Limit raise. After considering 4 splinter, 4 preemptive and two-notrump heart raise, 3 seems best. I am too good for 4, and not good enough for a forcing hand. If partner is 3523 we will have 2-3 losers with no place to put them. If partner has a really good hand he can make a move over 3 and I will be delighted to put down this dummy."

Two experts bid two notrump, a game-forcing four-card raise. If I held KQJ/KQJxx/AJx/Qx, I would take control and bid six notrump when I find out that we are off an ace.

Schwartz: "2NT---Tough one. 4 might get the opponents into the auction and partner will be disappointed with my hand if he RKCB's. At least with two notrump I can try to control the auction. Even considered 3, but many minimums can easily make game."

Two notrump allows the opponents to enter the auction at the three-level. Its very easy to enter the auction knowing the opponents have a nine-card fit.

Woolsey: "2NT---Too dangerous to splinter with no room for partner to maneuver. He could make a try which gets us too high. Jacoby is fine, since if partner has a singleton I can evaluate opposite that."

The next call has merit if this was a non-competitive auction. However, it allows the opponents to enter at the two- level. The opponents must have a fit and we probably have ten HCPs in hearts taking at most one defensive trick.

Kruskal: "1NT---I think this was the most difficult hand. Being an overbidder, my initial inclination was to splinter with 4. I am so weak, however, that partner will overbid with balanced, strong notrump hands when his diamond holding seems right. One notrump turns out to be a nice temporizing bid. Now, if partner shows extras I can push towards slam. Otherwise it probably is not there. (If partner sometimes opens one notrump with a balanced 15-17 hand, the splinter is more attractive.)"

After hearing all the arguments, I like my answer, 4, the best. Preempt the opponents, bid game, not get too high. Payoff only to those hands where all partner needs is a singleton diamond.

  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  2*     Pass     2     Pass  
  3     Pass     3     Pass  

  * Game Force
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3NT     100     6     57   
  4     70     1     5   
  4     50     1     10   
  4NT     40     0     2   
  Pass     20     0     5   
  4     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
Partner has shown four hearts and usually six spades. Be careful. If partner holds KQxxx/AQxx/xx/xx, he has to rebid 3. Partner must do something and the least of all evils bid is to rebid his five-card spade suit. Do we belong in three notrump? Only if partner has a diamond fit. If partner's diamonds are similar to our spades, where are we going to get nine tricks? Partner needs extras to make three notrump. If partner has enough extras to make three notrump, he might have enough extras to make a slam. If partner has his usual garbage, we belong in a partscore. I like 4. It doesn't sound forcing so if partner has garbage, he can pass. Give partner AQ10xxx/KQxx/x/xx, three notrump needs lots of luck and if it fails it really fails. If partner has extras AKxxxx/Axxx/K/xx, you will get to slam.

Six experts end the auction.

Lublin: "3NT---Ends all auctions."

Parker: "3NT---And hope not to get shut out of both hands. Sometimes an opponent has a doubleton K and you take a lot of tricks. Too big a position to pass or play a 4-2 heart fit."

Adams: "3NT---I can imagine going down quite a lot if partner is void in diamonds, but with one diamond, three notrump is not so bad."

Hopkins: "3NT---Maybe partner will have something nice like the singleton J and Qxx. I plan to struggle in this apparent misfit with the rest of the field and get a reasonable score for not getting too high."

Woolsey: "3NT---It's a dirty job, but somebody has to bid the notrump if we belong there -- and why shouldn't we? Sure it's a misfit, but nothing else figures to play particularly well either."

Kruskal: "3NT---There are two reasons to get beyond three notrump. First, 5 might be a safer contract. This turned out to be rare, and besides this is matchpoints. Second, slam is still a possibility. The two small clubs turn out to be very difficult to eliminate. You can sometimes ruff one of them or throw one on the spade ace, but not the other one. And there was typically another (likely) loser somewhere."

One expert forces to game.

Schwartz: "4---These type of hands don't play well in three notrump so am trying for 4 or 5. Partner is unlimited so pass is out."

I'm a 4 bidder. Whatever partner does I'm happy.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  Pass     Pass     1     Pass  
  1 NT     Pass     2     Pass  
  3     Pass     3 NT     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     3     6   
  4     80     2     8   
  Pass     70     3     66   
  5     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Will three notrump be a good contract or should we go looking for a better strain? What is the maximum number of HCPs partner can have for his 2 rebid? Seventeen. With more than seventeen, opener should either jump shift or raise notrump. Opener has a balanced or semi-balanced hand with somewhere between fourteen and seventeen HCPs. Typical hands for opener are AQJxx/Qx/Ax/Kxxx, KQJxx/Axx/Ax/Kxx. Can we expect that three notrump is going to be a good contract. I doubt it. The spade void, the longest suit being weak, the minimum HCPs all point against making three notrump. I'm a runner. Since I'm a runner, I might as well introduce the heart suit. Can't partner have Jxxxx/AQx/Ax/Kxx?

Lublin: "4---I wouldn't have bid 3 but if I did I would bid 4 here."

Three experts go down with the ship.

Parker: "Pass---Why second guess partner. Three notrump ends all auctions. I have described my hand."

Most players would have passed 2 so you have overbid.

Adams: "Pass---Seems the theme of this set is to find an excuse to not make the normal bid out of some strange fear. Not my style."

Hopkins: "Pass---I can only guess partner has sixteen-seventeen with a flat 5332 type pattern. I see nowhere to go unless I unilaterally elect to escape to our likely 4-3 club fit. A good hand for some variation of Bart."

Three experts agree with me and run from three notrump. At least the void will be worth something.

Schwartz: "4---Partner should have four clubs without three hearts. With my hand a passed hand, three notrump can't have much play. Wouldn't have bid over 2 to begin with."

Woolsey: "4---Hands with voids should generally play in a suit contract if there is a fit. Partner pretty much has to have four clubs. If he is 5-2-3-3 he would have either opened one notrump or rebid two notrump."

Kruskal: "4---My initial inclination was to pass. It turns out that I am so weak that three notrump will almost surely go down. The best hope for three notrump is that partner has ace doubleton of hearts, and they split. (Partner cannot have three hearts, or else he would have bid 3 rather than three notrump.) The best hope is that we can use our assets playing in clubs, the opposing shortness in the majors, and cross ruff the hand. It is possible that partner is 5-2-3-3 and we end up in our Moysian, but this risk turns out to be slight. (Once again, if partner might open one notrump with this shape the risk is even smaller.) This is one of the few auctions where I would play pulling three notrump to four-of-a-minor is natural and invitational."

Eight HCPs and a void opposite a maximum of seventeen does not spell three notrump.

  Problem 5    Imp    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1      Pass  
  1      2 NT*     Pass     3   

  * Heart and clubs
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3NT     100     3     10   
  4     80     2     25   
  5     70     2     20   
  4     60     1     11   
  3     20     0     1   
  Dbl     20     0     11   
  4     20     0     1   
  Pass     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
They say you need twenty-five HCPs to make game. But the twenty-five HCP game is four-of-a-major or three notrump. Here, there are only two possible games, three notrump and 5. We have the right number of HCPs to make three notrump. Since three notrump is a possibility, can we figure out if we belong there? We can't. There are only three calls that could get us to three notrump. 3 is out because 3 shows long spades and is non-forcing. Double is a possibility but if partner passes, our diamond and spade honors will take at most three tricks. We could gamble and bid three notrump but that assumes partner holds a heart honor. The other game contract is 5 but 5 requires eleven tricks and therefore needs extra HCPs.

One expert agrees with me and bids at the correct HCP level. With thirteen HCPs opposite a minimum, sometimes garbage opening bid, the four-level is high enough. Any missing diamond honors will be offside.

Hopkins: "4---I'll bid what I'm fairly sure we can make and see if anything develops."

Three experts gamble on three notrump. If partner has heart help, do we have nine tricks? Partner could have heart help and the club suit could be our downfall. QJx/Axx/KQxxx/xx for instance. Three notrump is the brass ring and sometimes you catch it.

Adams: "3NT---Last chance to bid this. Can't double with five cards in diamonds. If we stop hearts, this should make. Even if three notrump is going down, opponents might save."

Woolsey: "3NT---The best gamble. There might be no game at all, but I can't risk missing a vulnerable game with this hand opposite an opening bid. Since partner doesn't have spade support, the odds of him having something in hearts go up. 5 requires too much of a perfecto."

Kruskal: "3NT---There are really no pleasant choices. I could double to show values, but I do not want partner leaving it in: Given our big diamond fit 3 is too likely to make, or go down just a little when we have game. Furthermore, if three notrump is right I want to play it from my side. 5 almost never makes when three notrump does not also make, so there is little point in looking for it. That leaves three notrump. This will leave us in a silly contract a fair percentage of the time, but the good news is the opponents will not double. For IMPS you do not have to be right that often, especially vulnerable, to bid game."

Three experts bid game in diamonds.

Schwartz: "5---Any other conditions of contest would bid 4 with diamonds rated to be offside and a likely useless queen of hearts. Not good enough for 4."

Parker: "5---Good fit and prime cards better suited for offense than defense. Double may be big loser if partner has AKQ of diamonds and Kx of clubs."

Lublin: "4---I would bid 4 on the way to 5."

If I knew that I could take nine tricks if partner had a heart stopper I would try three notrump. I like 4 since partner knows we're vulnerable and can bid game with a suitable hand.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Kit Woolsey    2   2NT   3NT   4   3NT   470
  Clyde Kruskal    2   1NT   3NT   4   3NT   450
  John Adams    2   4   3NT   Pass   3NT   440
  Robbie Hopkins    2   4   3NT   Pass   4   420
  Steve Robinson    2   4   4   4   4   410
  Glenn Lublin    2   4   3NT   4   4   410
  Steve Parker    2   3   3NT   Pass   5   390
  Alan Schwartz    3NT   2NT   4   4   5   360

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

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