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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Nov/Dec 1999

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Ellen Cherniavsky and Craig Olson 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. Third was Jenny Rose with a score of 440. Tied for fourth were Gail Zamboni, Jerry Miller and Elliot Grant with a score of 430. Seventh was Lucy McCoy with a score of 420. Tied for eighth were Don Berman, Sven Pride, Kathy Paramore with a score of 410. Tied for eleventh were Ellen Klosson, Robert Rebelein, Don VanArman, Hadi Abushakra and Terrone Carpenter with a score of 400. The average solver's score was 342. The average score of the experts was 408.

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  
  ---     ---     ---     1  
  2 NT     Pass     3     3  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl     100     1     5   
  4     90     3     20   
  3     80     1     6   
  4     80     3     51   
  Pass     70     1     3   
  5     70     1     20   
  4     20     0     6   
  4NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Are we high enough? One expert passed. Should we be making a game try? Three experts voted for 4 and one voted for 3. Should we bid game? One expert jumped to 5. Should we be making a slam try? Three experts voted for 4, a cuebid. The only thing we know for sure about partner's hand is that he has more diamonds than clubs. I would expect partner to have two diamonds and one club, three diamonds and two clubs or three diamonds and one club. Lets discuss each case. If partner has two diamonds and one club, our offensive potential is limited. Unless partner has the stiff king of clubs, this hand won't play well especially with a trump lead. Only if partner has three diamonds to the queen or the king of clubs will 5 have play. So how do we find out how many diamonds partner has? What's wrong with double! Double tells partner that you have a good two- notrump bid and he should do something intelligent. Something intelligent is passing the double with the rest of the hearts, bidding three notrump with heart and spade stoppers that can be led through, bidding spades or bidding some number of diamonds. With partner being short in clubs, the club AQ10 should be good for defense.

One expert passes. This could work out well. If partner bids again, 5 should be a lock. If partner passes, no harm no foul.

Adams: "Pass---Pass or 4 could work. 4 is dangerous with the up side being if partner raises. The downside is if partner is 2-2 in the minors and the opponents double. Partner should respect that I have bid two notrump at unfavorable and compete with a fit."

Four experts make game tries. Seems like a good compromise. If partner retreats to 4, how good can 5 be?

One expert bids 3. 3 allows partner to bid three notrump.

Parker: "3---This must be a strong hand cuebid that keeps us from forcing to the five-level. Partner can evaluate any working cards and I do not have to guess what the proper level is to bid to."

Three experts raise diamonds.

Granovetter: "4---Worth another bid, but risky."

Schwartz: "4---With the degree of fit unknown, I can be risking a big minus to bid 5 on my own. Bidding 4 at this vulnerability shows a good hand so partner should be able to bid five when appropriate."

Warren: "4---I have a four losing trick count. Partner took a preference for diamonds. I want to invite giving him a chance to go to game or pass with a bad hand."

Three experts make slam tries. How can you make a slam try when partner could hold QJxxx/Jxxxx/xx/x? You'll be lucky to make nine tricks.

Woolsey: "4---This is such a descriptive bid, showing heart control and inviting slam, that I can't see any reason to do anything else. Partner should be able to key on the right things; in particular, cue-bidding the ace of spades. It is true that this may alert East to lead a spade, but if we are off two spade tricks and stop at 5 that shouldn't matter."

Hopkins: "4---We could have slam if partner has as little as Qxx in diamonds and the spade king. I'll make a try and hope partner can cooperate."

You'll still have two losing spades and what are you going to do with your clubs?

King: "4---I need to show the very strong offensive potential of this hand, especially now that partner preferred diamonds."

If partner made a free diamond bid, I would agree but partner was forced to bid something.

One expert bids game.

Umeno: "5---I really want to bid four and half diamonds. 5 could be making opposite as little as xxxx/xxx/Qxxx/xx. Also, opposite xxxx/xxxx/Txx/Jx, game is possible. If partner has something like KTxxx/Qxxx/xx/xx, 3 would be the normal bid. Since the response to two notrump was 3, I am hoping to buy a hand that has play. Of course, partner could have two diamonds and one club and I could be going for a big number, when we might going plus versus three or 4."

After thinking about the conservative pass, the middle of the road game tries and the aggressive slam tries, I still like double. Game try but partner can pass holding the majors.

  Problem 2    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     ---     1     2 NT*  

  * Minors
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4NT     100     5     25   
  4     90     1     1   
  3     80     1     28   
  3     70     3     36   
  Dbl     40     0     4   
  3     20     0     11   
  3NT     20     0     3   
  4     20     0     2   
  3     20     0     1   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
All partner needs is KJxxx/xx/Axx/Axx and seven notrump is cold. But what if partner holds Kxxxx/x/AQJx/QJx or 109xxx/xx/AQJ/AKx? The opponents can take the first two club tricks or can take two trump tricks. How can we invite slam but not get overboard if partner has two club losers or two spade losers. 4! 4 a splinter. Robinson, you must be insane! But think about what 4 means. 4 makes three points. It tells partner that you have spade support, AQx is good support. 4 tells partner that you're interested in slam which is obvious. 4 tells partner that he doesn't have to worry about two diamond losers. 4 will get partner to signoff with wasted diamond strength, and keycard with a good hand. 4 leaves partner room so he can invite with 4, the Last Train.

Four experts use the Unusual over Unusual convention. 3 shows hearts, at least five, with at least limit raise values. 3 shows spades, at least three, with at least limit raise values. The problem with both bids is that partner is going to evaluate his hand for game purposes. As far as partner is concerned diamond strength is the same as club strength. Partner is going to bid game when it will have play opposite a limit raise. If partner holds KJxxx/x/AQJx/QJx, he'll bid game. This hand should have play for game opposite a limit raise.

Three experts bid 3 showing hearts. The problem with 3 is that partner is going to have bad hearts with strength in the minors and will probably bid three notrump. Over partner's three notrump, then what?

Adams: "3---It would be great if partner would bid hearts in case of Kx of clubs. 3 showing hearts, followed by 3 is forcing. Heart Jack is deciding factor in looking for Heart contract."

Umeno: "3---I would like to play a heart contract from partner's side to protect a possible club tenace. I plan to bid three-forcing spades next, unless partner bids something other than 3. I need to start a cuebidding auction in case partner has something like KJxxx/xx/AQx/Qxx. If hear a club cuebid over 3, I get to bid RKC early. The five-level may be a problem, but this hand is way too good not to move aggressively towards slam."

King: "3---This is a strong hand with hearts. I can then support spades and show partner both suits. It is not clear that spades should be trumps because of the solidity of the heart suit."

I don't think the 3 bidders thought about partner's problem over 3.

3 is a better try. Trumps will be set as far as partner is concerned so he will just worry about level.

Hopkins: "3---I want to make a spade raise first and then make slam noises. If partner has the club Ace, I will definitely suggest hearts as an alternative strain for slam."

Five experts ask for keycards. Bad news since partner's likely response is 5, which puts East on lead no matter which major we play in. Of course that could be good news if partner has the club King. They don't worry about clubs.

Parker: "4NT---Why complicate an easy auction. If partner has two aces and the King of trumps we bid seven notrump. That is certainly possible for an opening bid."

Woolsey: "4NT---There just won't be any scientific way to determine if we are off two club tricks. It is simpler just to bid RKC. This gets us to a grand if North has them all, and lets us stop if we are off two key cards. More interesting is when North responds 5. Now North is declarer in hearts also. This is good if North needs to guard the king of clubs, but bad if East has the ace-king of clubs -- then we would want West on lead guessing. My solution: continue with five notrump asking for specific kings. As I play it, this doesn't promise all the key cards. If North shows the king of clubs, I let him declare. However if North doesn't have the king of clubs, I bid six notrump! Then if we are off ace-king of clubs West has a guess, and if we are off the ace of diamonds I protect my king in case West happens to have the ace."

Granovetter: "4NT---Assume this asks for aces, not keycards. Taking a tiny chance on two club losers, for the simplicity and accuracy of Blackwood."

Schwartz: "4NT---(RKCB for spades) I am willing to risk the unlikely possibility that we are off two club tricks as if I don't ask for Aces now,I might not be able to later."

Warren: "4NT---I have a four losing trick count opposite an opener. Where are my partner's points. I think in the minors We should have eleven tricks for sure and maybe twelve."

The first commandment of constructive bidding is to set trumps as soon as possible. Any spade bid, 3, 4 or four notrump is good. If you expect the opponents to bid five-of-a- minor, four notrump is best. If you don't expect competition, 4 is best since it might keep you out of slam off two club tricks.

  Problem 3    IMPs    Vul: EW 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     3     Pass     Pass  

  * If Dbl, Then what over
     3 by partner?
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl-4     100     2     16   
  3     80     1     20   
  Dbl-Pass     70     4     34   
  Dbl-3NT     50     1     8   
  3NT     40     1     5   
  Dbl-4     40     1     8   
  Dbl-4     40     0     16   
  Dbl-4     30     0     3   
  Pass     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
When holding five hearts and three spades one must show the hearts. You don't want to play in spades when partner has four spades and three hearts. With this hand one must either double and bid 4 or overcall 3. Doubling and raising spades or doubling and passing 3 risks playing in a 4-3 spade fit when you have a 5-3 heart fit. Its very important to get to your best fit. Doubling and bidding 4 accomplishes everything. Doubling allows partner to pass for penalties. Doubling and then bidding 4 makes sure we get to our better major. If we have a one-suited heart hand we should bid hearts, either three or four. Doubling and bidding hearts should show tolerance for spades.

One expert agrees with me and shows both majors.

Woolsey: "Double---Then four hearts. This risks getting overboard, but maximizes the chances of getting to the right strain (which could be any suit, including 3 doubled). I believe this shows extra flexibility rather than extra strength -- with a strong one-suiter I would simply have bid 4. Any other approach could easily land us in the wrong strain."

One expert doubles and bids three notrump. At least he suggests both majors. With 2-2 in the majors, he would have bid a direct three notrump.

Adams: "Double---Then three notrump, suggesting alternative strain to three notrump."

Four experts double and then pass. Reopening doubles can be made a little lighter and partner will take that into account. Partner can very easily have ten points. Doubling and passing would make more sense if you were in direct seat.

Schwartz: "Double---Then Pass. My King of diamonds is probably not worth much with the unfavorable preempt, so with only three- card support, where am I going? Partner needs a good hand with exactly 4-3 in majors to make 4 right."

Umeno: "Double---Then pass over 3 by partner. We are not vulnerable, so there is not as much pressure to bid game. If we needed a big pickup, I might be tempted to bid three notrump or 4 over 3, hoping to buy something like xxxx/KTx/Qx/Kxxx. Double has it all over 3, when partner has either KQxxx/x/Qxx/JTxx (4 is cold), Kx/xxx/QTxx/Jxxx (3 is going for a number), or Kxxxx/xx/xxx/T9xx (3 is making, or is the smallest minus). Of course, partner's hand might be Jxxx/KQx/xxx/KTxx, and you are playing 3 going down instead of 4 making. It's a guessing hand where any bid could be a big winner. If I knew which bid that would be, I would bid it. But since I don't know which one that would be, I go for the bid that lets me go plus most often."

King: "Double---Then pass. That is why people preempt, it makes us guess."

Warren: "Double---Then pass. To double over a pre-empt of three, I show 16+ points. If my partner has ten (or a good nine) HCPs, he would go to game....since he didn't, I should pass."

Double followed by a cuebid should be choice of games, but will partner bid a three-card heart suit?

Hopkins: "Double---Then 4. I think this type of sequence is best used for probing for the best spot as opposed to a massive spade raise. Hopefully partner will do something intelligent."

If you're not going to double and bid hearts, the following is best. It's important not to miss your 5-3 heart fit.

Granovetter: "3---Good point. Therefore, 3 is a better call. The chance of partner passing 3 doubled is lessened by the diamond king in your hand, in addition to the vulnerability."

One expert gives up on playing in a major suit. In order to make three notrump, partner needs a source of tricks. This is not the hand to be in three notrump without investigating majors.

Parker: "3NT---Correct on points and stopper (who leads an A against notrump). Partner can always do something right if this is not the best spot, but I expect him to pass."

Choice of games is very important especially when the opponents preempt. Double should show tolerance for unbid majors. Further bids should not change that message. Therefore double followed by 4 allows for all possibilities. Penalties or either major.

  Problem 4    IMP    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     2  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     8     35   
  4     70     1     2   
  4     70     0     4   
  2     50     1     59   
  Dbl     50     0     7   
  Pass     50     0     2   
  3     30     0     1   
  4NT     30     0     1   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
The first commandment of constructive bidding is to set trumps as soon as possible. Bidding spades or making a negative double violates the first commandment. What you don't want is to have partner not knowing what the trump suit is. You need lots of help figuring out what level you belong. Do you belong in slam or in game? Give partner Ax/KQJxxx/Axxx/x and 6 is where you belong. You have heart support so show it.

Seven experts agree with me and cuebid. 3 shows a limit raise or better with at least three hearts.

Adams: "3---Since 2 never scores well in a bidding competition, I guess I can't psyche a lead inhibitor. I have primary Heart support, with game going values. Other option, three notrump, could be very bad with Diamond lead."

Granovetter: "3---Axx of trumps is very strong, so show the support. If partner bids 3, we can try three notrump. Forget spades -- what's the point of bidding them."

Schwartz: "3---Passing for penalties not a possibility at this vul. spades are too weak to suggest that suit as trump."

Hopkins: "3---Show the heart raise first and then suggest notrump if partner bids 3."

Umeno: "3---Setting the trump suit (Ok, Mr. Robinson, I'm a believer). The other option, 2, will make the follow-on auction cumbersome. Incidentally, this hand came up for us during the GNT's in San Antonio. The other hand was a 3-5-5-0 good minimum. Both tables got to a bad slam for an ugly push."

King: "3---Establishing the support for hearts. I would like to have better hearts before I would splinter with 4."

Warren: "3---A forcing bid, showing a limit raise or better in hearts. Partner can decide."

One expert starts confusing the auction. When you later support hearts it could be construed as a preference.

Parker: "2---A splinter should show four trumps. We have lots of time to explore the right spot, perhaps three notrump. If 2 doubled is right sorry."

Another way to set trumps.

Woolsey: "4---Forget slam. Even if partner has everything we still have worry about a club ruff. I want this played in hearts so West doesn't have a chance to lead his likely singleton club. East's lead problem will be more difficult."

Follow the first commandment, show support. Once hearts are supported then you can suggest notrump, slam interest, whatever. At least partner will know what you are doing.

  Problem 5    IMPs    Vul: EW 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1      Pass  
  1      4      4      Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  5     100     0     1   
  4NT     80     7     63   
  Pass     80     1     10   
  5     70     1     1  
  6     50     1     12   
  5     50     0     3   
  5     50     0     19   
  6     50     0     1   
  Dbl     20     0     1   
  6     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Is this hand worth a slam try, a slam force or should we assume we're high enough? High enough, we pass. Slam force, we bid RKC. That's easy. What's difficult is how to make a slam try. Before making a slam try, we have to figure out if there are any hands partner could have where we might be in danger at the five- level. There's nothing worse then going down one at the five- level, voluntarily bid. What does partner's 4-bid show? An opening bid with four spades, with not much wasted in hearts. If partner's major suit holding is KJxx/xx, he bids 4 no matter what he has in the minors. Sometimes 4 make, sometimes 4 makes and 4 is a good save and sometimes 4 pushes the opponents to 5. Kxxx/Ax/KQxx/xxx, KJxx/x/QJxx/KQxx, Kxxx/Ax/Jxxxx/KQ are some minimum hands where partner bids 4 over 4. Notice that 5 goes down if suits split badly. If partner holds KJxx/Jx/Jxxx/KQJ, he might go down in 4. I'm a passer. When the opponent's preempt go conservative. Suits don't always split well and partner could be overbidding.

Nine experts bid on. So, if you decide this hand is worth more, what course should you take? Eight experts bid slam, assuming partner has the spade king or the heart ace. Remember, Blackwood's only use is to keep you from getting to slam off two keycards. So if partner has Kxxx/x/xxxx/xxxx and shows one keycard, you will be in slam. If partner shows two keycards (Kxxx/Ax/Qxxx/Kxx), you will try for seven. Bidding four notrump is the same as bidding a slam. Four notrump is not the way to go.

Before we get to the right way to go, we'll hear from the slam bidders.

Adams: "4NT---Partner might be saving, but I know of no invitational sequence where partner can accept with his 6-4 distribution with eight HCPs (Kxxx/x/KQxxxx/xx); Since I hold every control. With one Key, we will be in slam, sorry if we are too high. With two keys, I will invite seven."

If my partner invited with 5, I would bid six with Adam's eight-point hand!

Parker: "4NT---If partner has the missing key cards then five notrump. 7 is probably the right spot."

If partner holds KJxx/Ax/KQJxx/xx, 7 is cold.

Granovetter: "4NT---In modern style, we can show this by bidding five notrump next over the 5 response. Over five notrump, partner can show a king or signoff. If he shows a king, take a chance on 7. If he signs off over five notrump, we could miss 7, but not so likely. He might have Kxxx/Ax/KQJxx/xx. But he should really bid 6 over five notrump with this. The big danger is a stiff heart in his hand: Kxxx/A/KQJxx/Qxx. But what can we do? Is there a way to learn about this flaw."

Granovetter wants to be in 7 opposite Kxxx/Ax/Kxxx/Kxx. I wonder if he has a course on how to play Kxxx opposite Axxx for no losers.

Schwartz: "4NT---Followed by 6(with enough aces). If partner is saving, he should have no wastage in hearts. diamonds can easily play a trick better than spades with ruffs coming in the short hand."

Hopkins: "4NT---I will bid a slam if partner has at least one keycard. I might even suggest the alternative contract of 6 in case partner is 4234 without the club queen or 4252 without the club king."

Umeno: "4NT---I think there is a good potential for a grand, so I bid RKC. Partner could have as little as Kxxx/x/KQJTxx/Kx, but a more likely hand is something like KJxx/Ax/KJ10xx/Kx. Could have as much as KJxx/Ax/KQJxx/Kx. How am I going to find out about the diamond queen for the decision to bid seven or not."

King: "4NT---I don't plan on stopping below 6, but if partner has both the King of spades and the ace of hearts, my five notrump bid could get him to bid the grand with strong and long diamonds."

Is cuebidding the way to go? How many players would know what 5 means? I find cuebidding confusing. What does 5 show and what does it ask for? When my partner cuebids, I have to read his mind. I can't read partner's mind which is why I like Blackwood so much.

Woolsey: "5---If partner has enough for slam he will be able to work out that we can't be missing both minor suit aces and be driving to the five-level. Thus he will know we have both of them (since with one of them we would have cue bid that ace), and act accordingly."

One expert bids slam. Since partner probably has at least one keycard, 6 saves a round of bidding.

Warren: "6---My partner went to game himself, even if I only have six points. I have fourteen points (that he doesn't know about). Looks like a slam to me."

If I wasn't going to pass, I would bid 5 asking partner to bid a slam if he thinks he can make it. 5 asks about the opponent's suit, hearts, only if you've cuebid and found out that you are solid outside the opponent's suit. What are the chances that you hold AKQxx/xx/-AKQxxx where all you need is for partner to control the opponent's suit? Partner needs fillers to make slam and that's what 5 should ask for. Need Keycards use Blackwood. Need fillers invite. There are sixteen HCPs missing outside the heart suit that partner could have. He needs most of them to make slam makeable.

I still like pass but since nine experts bid on, I have to give the top score to a forward-going bid. The best forward-going bid is 5 so 5 gets the 100 point score.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Robinson    Dbl   4   Dbl-4   3   Pass   470
  Alan Schwartz    4   4NT   Dbl-Pass   3   4NT   440
  Matt Granovetter    4   4NT   3   3   4NT   450
  Kit Woolsey    4   4NT   Dbl-4   4   5   420
  Audrey Warren    4   4NT   Dbl-Pass   3   6   410
  Fred King    4   3   Dbl-Pass   3   4NT   400
  Marc Umeno    5   3   Dbl-Pass   3   4NT   390
  Robbie Hopkins    4   3   Dbl-4   3   4NT   380
  John Adams    Pass   3   Dbl-3NT   3   4NT   370
  Steve Parker    3   4NT   3NT   2   4NT   350

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

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