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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Jan/Feb 2000

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Marvin Elster who came in first with a score of 450. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for second were Jeff Roman and David Rodney with a score of 430. Fourth was Mike Polunin with a score of 420. Tied for fifth were Arnie Frankel and Ben Shapo with a score of 410. Tied for seventh were Dave Smith, Mark Cohen, Lee Bauer, Millard Nachtwey, Nancy Thpmpson and Ed Lewis with a score of 400. The average solver's score was 296. The average score of the experts was 406.

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    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     3     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     5     40   
  3NT     70     3     35   
  3     60     0     19   
  4     40     0     2   
  4     20     0     8   
  5     20     0     1   
  Pass     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
We have nine HCPs which added to partner's sixteen gives us enough for game and enough to try to get to three notrump. Do we belong in three notrump and if so how do we get there? We could bid 3 or 3 to get partner to bid three notrump or we could just bid three notrump. The problem with 3 is that partner might think we have better hearts. The problem with 3 is that partner will not know which black suit we have stopped. The problem with three notrump is that we don't have a spade stopper and the spade lead will be thru partner's holding. Give partner Z/x/AKQJxx/Z where Z represents AQx. If Z is spades we belong in three notrump from partners side, if Z is clubs we belong in 5. Nothing is clear so when in doubt make the cheapest call.

Four experts agree with me and make the cheapest call. 3 in theory shows six, but partner should make allowances. If partner has solid diamonds, he should try his best to get to three notrump. If partner does not have solid diamonds, we could belong in 4.

Adams: "3---I'd like to have six hearts for this bid, but three notrump looks silly. Unless you play a system where 3 denies three-card support, 3 must be bid on some of these hands."

Granovetter: "3---Stuck."

Cappelletti: "3---Forcing. If partner bids 4 or three notrump play it there. Over 3 bid three notrump. Most other bids lead to 5."

Hopkins: "3---This is the most flexible call. Hopefully partner can either bid three notrump or try 3 in which case I will try three notrump or perhaps even raise to 4."

Two experts bid new major. Does 3 show spades, does it ask about spades or is it a transfer to three notrump?

Parker: "3---I can construct very few hands that partner does not have stoppers in spades and clubs. He will surely bid three notrump, which should be the best spot from his side of the table."

Cherniavsky: "3---Enough HCP's for game. Try to right-side the contract. Simulations show three notrump will play better from partner's side. Also if partner has three hearts, this is the only way to get to 4."

Three experts bid what they think can be made, but it could be from the wrong side.

Olson: "3NT---Why? With 25-27 HCPs in the partnership, the field will be in game. But which game? It's matchpoints. If there is a game, I think my chances of earning 430 are the same or only slightly less good than they are for earning 400 (5 making five) or 420 (4 making four). Partner is likely to have something in spades because his points have to be somewhere. If there is no game, the penalty for going down in a nine-trick game is not likely to be worse than the penalty for going down in a ten-trick game or an eleven-trick game. The lack of a spade overcall probably means that neither opponent holds a long spade suit. So, even if partner has no spade stopper (unlikely), the opposing spades might be 4-4 or I might be able to hold up twice to combat a 5-3 spade split. If there are only eight tricks available in any contract, I'd rather be -100 than -200 or -300. The only other call I considered was 3. If 3 would elicit a three-notrump bid from partner (holding AQx/x/KQJxxx/Axx), the three-notrump contract would be right-sided. But partner will think I hold six hearts (or five much better hearts) and will likely bid 4 with AQx/xx/AQJxxx/Ax or with KJx/K/KQJxxx/Axx."

If you bid three-of-a-major, partner will stretch to get to three notrump.

King: "3NT---I play that 3 would show a spade stopper and show doubt about clubs. I just have to guess when I have clubs and would like to ask about spades."

Schwartz: "3NT---The lack of a spade overcall increases the odds partner has strength in spades(or they may be 4-4). Bidding 3 will get us to an unsatisfactory 4 too many times."

How to continue is just a guess. 3, the cheapest call, lets partner place the contract. Maybe his guess will be best.

  Problem 2    IMPs    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     1     Dbl     1  
  Pass     1 NT     2     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     4     6   
  3     70     1     4   
  3NT     60     2     21   
  3     50     3     22   
  Pass     20     0     10   
  2     20     0     15   
  2NT     20     0     25   
  3     20     0     2   
  4     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
What is 2? A takeout double of 1 followed by a free bid of 2 shows hearts and shows a better hand then a direct 1 overcall. The fact that East bid 1 doesn't change the meaning of 2. If partner wanted to cuebid, he could have cuebid 2. If partner has five hearts and more than seventeen HCPs, we belong in game. Bidding 4 seems clear to me. hearts might not split but at least partner will be prepared for it. West has to have at least one heart for his one- notrump call, hearts can be 4-1 but they can't be 5-0.

There are other answers.

Three experts raise. Wouldn't you raise with the same hand minus the Ace of hearts? You're supposed to bid vulnerable games at IMPs so will partner with eighteen HCPs play you for eight?

Parker: "3---No matter what partner has this should work out. My gut feel is that it should be natural so I raise. If it is a cuebid I show a stopper. How can this bid lose? I am sure Mr. Robinson will tell me."

This bid can lose if partner passes and he makes ten tricks.

King: "3---How did we ever reach this problem point? Why isn't this a clear one-notrump bid? By passing you have created a situation where it is impossible to show your hand. Partner's heart bid should be natural and I will raise to 3."

Hopkins: "3---With no other obvious meaning in sight, I will treat partner's call as natural and showing a good hand."

One expert cuebids.

Adams: "3---Why did I not bid one notrump the first time? Partner has 18+ and hearts. 4 and three notrump both too unilateral. Show my hearts, then bid three notrump if partner bids 3 to show diamonds under control. Partner can worry about blacks."

Maybe you didn't bid one notrump the first time because you were vulnerable and you did not have any hope of tricks outside of diamonds.

Three experts agree with me and bid game.

Olson: "4---Partner's double promised the majors and/or a big hand. West's one-notrump call indicated a semi-balanced hand (at least one, probably two hearts). Partner's 2 call promised at least five hearts and extra strength. I've got three hearts. Thus, with at least nine hearts accounted for, East can't have more than four hearts. Actually, I think East is psyching because there are hardly enough points in the deck for East to have had a legitimate 1 call. Give West twelve HCPs for his opening bid and partner at least seventeen for his free bid over one notrump. With my eight points, East can't have more than three HCPs. Partner's call has flushed out the psych. Partner is probably 4-6-1-2. East is probably 4-2-4-3. I should trust my partner and accept his invitation to bid game. At matchpoints, I might be more timid and bid only 3, but at IMPs I must bid game."

Granovetter: "4---Perhaps 3 as a strong 3 raise is better, but he doubled and bid hearts, so it's likely to make opposite most hands, and 4 is less confusing."

Schwartz: "4---I know RHO has psyched, partner doesn't and is bidding 2 anyway vul."

With your length in diamonds, it is very unlikely that RHO has psyched.

Two experts try three notrump. The opponents can't run the diamond suit but neither can you. Who owns the club suit? In hearts, your doubleton protects against the clubs being run. Partner holding AQ109/KQxxx/Ax/QJ for instance.

Cherniavsky: "3NT---Partner probably has hearts and a singleton diamond. Three notrump is still best because of the diamond holding."

Cappelletti: "3NT---I would have bid one notrump on my first bid. Now I must bid three notrump to show my eight count and red stoppers."

Simple hand. Bid 4, a game try. Partner tries to make game.

  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  2     Pass     2     Pass  
  2     Pass     3     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     5     32   
  4     70     2     5   
  3NT     60     2     21   
  3     50     1     44   
  4     50     1     5   
  3NT     50     1     7   
  3     40     0     4   
  4NT     20     0     9   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Partner has shown a 5413 hand with sound values. He could have AKQxx/Axxx/x/Axx and you can make seven spades with a little luck. He could have AKQxx/xxxx/x/AJx and six spades is makeable. He could have Axxxx/AKxx/x/Axx and you'll be lucky to make five spades. He could also have Qxxxx/KQJx/x/AJx and you'll be lucky to make four spades. So what bid can we make which will get us to the correct level. I like a simple 4. You've bid diamonds, spades and clubs and that's what you have, diamonds, spades and clubs. 4 tells partner that his heart honors are not worth much. It also gives partner a chance to invite slam below game with a middle of the road hand.

Four experts agree with me and show club values.

Adams: "4---Bid where my stuff is, let partner be captain. 3 is not a cuebid. Jump to 4 could result in disaster."

Granovetter: "4---Not sure what he has, but this is descriptive."

Schwartz: "4---Don't have enough to drive past game, so I will describe my shape to partner to let him describe. 6 could be the right slam."

Cappelletti: "4---I must show a possible club fit/cards since partner took the trouble to bid 3. But without a big spade honor, I intend to sign off in 4 over 4-of-a-red-suit."

One expert bids 3. Bids below game are length and strength description. I would bid 3 holding AKx/xx/KQJxx/xxx. Keycard is used to make sure you have enough aces for slam.

Parker: "3---Cuebid waiting for more clarification. If partner has good spades we should have a slam. If he is 5404 we can get back to clubs after I try Key Card Blackwood for spades next."

One expert signs off. Signing off does show bad trumps and Jxx is bad. If partner has AKQ of spades, he can bid on.

Olson: "4---spades are trump, we are in a game-forcing auction, partner has announced first round control of clubs (most likely the club Ace rather than a void), and has asked me to cue-bid something if I am interested in slam. But am I interested in slam? I have a medium good two-over-one hand. Although my high honor cards are not in partner's long suits, they should all be "working." However, my hand has a big weakness - poor trump support. Unless partner's spade suit is headed by AKQ, we are likely to have a trump loser, especially since one or two of my trumps will probably be needed for heart ruffs. If partner has something like AQxxx/KQxx/Jx/AJ or AKxxx/KJxxx/J/AJ we probably have at least two losers - a trump and at least one heart. If, on the other hand, partner has AKQxx/Axxx/x/Axx or KQTxx/AKxx/Qx/Ax, we should be in slam. I'm going to play this one conservatively. Fast arrival discourages, so I'm leaping directly to 4. If twelve tricks are available and we stop in 4, I'll settle, in matchpoints, for an average minus. Also, partner still has another bid left to re-inquire about, or insist on, slam. If he does so, I will, of course, cooperate."

The following call describes your singleton heart. That's assuming partner is on the same wavelength. There are three problems with 4. One is that partner can't make a slam try. He has to either sign off or bid above game. Second is that your trumps are bad. Third is he might pass 4.

King: "4---A splinter. Second choice would be 4 so I have finished bidding out my pattern."

Cherniavsky: "4---Splinter. Show the singleton heart. With no wasted values in hearts, partner may be able to go on to slam."

Hopkins: "3NT---I believe in showing where my values are. This may be good or bad news to partner, but at least it should be correct news. I can even picture hands where three notrump is the best contract (Qxxxx/KQJx/Q/Axx)."

Partner didn't show heart honors when he bid 2, he just showed four hearts. Three notrump will play well if partner's hearts are strong but what if they are weak, Jxxx for instance.

Because of the bad trumps, this hand is worth only one slam try. One forward going bid, 4, followed by signoffs is what this hand is worth.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  - Void 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     2     2     Pass  
  3     Pass     4     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  5     100     5     50   
  Pass     70     2     14   
  4     50     3     32   
  5     20     0     9   
  6     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Since partner hasn't supported hearts, he has at most one heart. This means that he has spades and diamonds. So what do we do opposite a spade-diamond hand? Our heart suit can play opposite a void for two losers, but what will we do with our clubs? The only fit we have is diamonds. It seems clear that we belong in diamonds. The problem is level. Partner could have AKQxx/x/AKQxx/xx and we might make six diamonds. Partner could also have AQxxx/x/AQxxx/xx and we'd be lucky to make 3. He could have any hand in between. I think we belong in 4 and one expert agrees with me. The only way to get to 4 is to pass a forcing bid.

One expert agrees with me and ends the auction. Not for the weak at heart.

Adams: "Pass---I only get to do this playing with Steve. Most partners are unforgiving of passing a forcing bid, but sometimes you need to try to go plus in a situation that looks otherwise hopeless. If partner is good enough for game and I bid, we probably get to six going down."

Five experts bid on. If you're not going to play 4, maybe you can play five.

Parker: "5---Do I want to play with this partner again? If so then I better bid on, if not I pass. I have bid hearts enough."

Granovetter: "5---To cuebid 5 is a bit much with nothing in either of his suits and only three small trumps. 4 is also a possible rebid, but he almost surely has a void or singleton."

Cherniavsky: "5---Can't pass partner's forcing bid, and you do have two aces."

Schwartz: "5---Ugh, would not have opened. What else, take a preference on a void?

Hopkins: "5---I believe it best to bid as if partner has a pointed two-suiter. If partner had something else in mind, I will re-evaluate."

Three experts try 4. Unless partner has quick tricks, your clubs are going to be losers.

Olson: "4---Objection, your honor!!! I have been unfairly brought before this court by your having forced me to open, in first seat, a hand with nine HCPs plus a hand without a single card in the master suit -- spades. There is no law that says any old hand with two aces has to open. Opening hands must anticipate rebids. With this hand, it could easily be anticipated that partner would respond in spades, forcing me to rebid at the three-level with the same miserable nine points I started out with. I would have passed!!! Now we have a real mess. Let's analyze the situation. What is 4? It is either natural (with a strong 2-suiter) or it is an advance cue-bid, agreeing hearts as trump. Until I get clarification from partner by some subsequent bid, I have to assume it is natural. Second, where are the spades? Partner did not rebid spades over 3, so he should have exactly five spades. LHO overcalled in clubs, rather than doubled, so he should have fewer than four spades. That means Silent Sam (aka RHO) has a spade stack, making partner's spade suit of dubious value. Third, where are the remaining hearts? If 4 is natural, partner is either void or has a singleton. This means LHO probably has at least one, if not both, of the missing heart honors (since he has to have some points somewhere for his overcall). Fourth, the strength of partner's hand is still not well defined. Regardless of the meaning of 4, he has to have a fairly strong hand. His hand might be only modestly strong - KJxxx/x/AKxxx/Kx - or it could be quite strong - KQxxx/x/AKQxx/Kx. But it can't be a monster since LHO has to have some points for his overcall. So, how do I get out of this mess? When faced with a likely misfit, try to get out as cheaply as possible. Hence 4. If partner can't stand hearts (or really likes them) or has a much bigger hand, he still has another bid."

King: "4---I can't pass and I assume I was given all those intermediate cards in hearts for a reason. 5 could be right, but at match points I might get 420 at hearts and only 400 in diamonds."

Cappelletti: "4---Per force - any other bid is worse! You can't bid 5 because partner might want to play 4 or 4."

At the table, I passed 4. The bad news was that we made five. The good news was that partner would have bid six so 4 was our last makeable contract.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     Pass     Pass  
  Pass     1      Dbl      2   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Double     100     6     30   
  3     90     2     10   
  2NT     80     1     9   
  Pass     50     1     40   
  3     40     0     16   
  4     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Who's hand is it? If partner wasn't a passed hand, it could be our hand. However, we have eight opposite at most eleven HCPs and they have at least nine spades probably ten. The opponents are going to bid more spades and are going to buy the hand so the best we can do is set up the defense. I like the lead directing 3. I usually preach that when partner makes a takeout double, you bid a major even if you have a longer minor. This hand is an exception to that rule.

One expert agrees with me and makes a lead director.

Adams: "3---I'd mess around with double or two notrump if I thought I'd get the chance to rebid. Unfortunately they have enough spades that 4 is going to be the next bid. Might as well get partner off to a club lead against 4."

Six experts double. Double is responsive showing both minors. If you had hearts, you would bid them.

Olson: "Double---Responsive, showing the other three suits. The only alternative is 3. Partner probably has four hearts, but he may also have a five-card minor suit. I have four hearts, but they are nothing to write home about. Doubling gives us the opportunity to find a nine-card minor suit fit. How about Pass? Does it seem too wild to force the bidding to the three-level when vulnerable and with eight points opposite partner's passed hand? Not in this case because, we are odds on to have a double fit (hearts and a minor). If partner has Jxx/Axxx/AJxxx/x or xx/KQxx/JTxxx/Kx, I have good play for nine tricks in diamonds. Even if we do not have LAW protection with a nine-card fit in a minor, the LAW still says never let the opponents play two--of-a- major when they have a known fit. Also, the opponents will probably not sell out to our three-level call. RHO's call of 2 should show exactly three spades and five to eight dummy points (he would redouble with three spades and an invitational hand and bid three or 4 with more than three spades). But LHO must have at least six spades because partner's double indicates spade shortness. So, LHO is not likely to pass whatever three-level bid we make. (For this reason, if we were not vulnerable, I might jump to 4.)."

Parker: "Double---Responsive, what better hand could you ask for to make this double. I do not want to bid 3 to get partner off to that killing lead if we defend 3. Maybe I should bid 3, assuming they will get to 3 and I have made the best lead director."

Granovetter: "Double---Good hand for the responsive double, since we can play anywhere and don't want to commit to 3 on such a poor suit. Partner is a passed hand as well, so we are just trying to push them up to 3, where we might have a small chance to beat them."

King: "Double---I won't let them play 2, and while this responsive double would usually deny four hearts, I don't want to have partner lead a heart because I bid them. I expect them to bid on to three or even four spades, so maybe I should bid 3 to get that suit led."

Cherniavsky: "Double---Responsive. Trying to get partner to lead a minor when they buy the contract in their ten-card spade fit."

Cappelletti: "Double---Responsive. Let partner pick the suit since three-of-a-minor might play better than 3. And partner might not make a disastrous heart lead into three or 4."

One expert tries two notrump. Since you're both passed hands, it doesn't make sense for two notrump to be natural. If two notrump is not natural, it must be for minors.

Hopkins: "2NT---I expect they will bid more spades and I really don't want a heart lead so I give the impression of having the minors. I don't want to compete at a high level opposite a passed hand partner whose pattern is likely to be reasonably similar to my own so I prepare the defense. A responsive double would probably be OK, but I really don't want to hear partner make a gambling pass on a semi-balanced hand."

This game is too tough if you have to worry about partner passing a low-level responsive double.

One expert passes.

Schwartz: "Pass---I expect the opponents to make whatever they bid. If they stop to double us they will be right as this is not a good offensive hand. Let sleeping dogs lie."

How can the opponents with at least nine spades between them stop off and double you?

There are many reasons to bid. Try to get to game, try for a save, push them up, lead director. This one is lead director.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Matt Granovetter    3   4   4   5   Dbl   500
  Steve Robinson    3   4   4   Pass   3   460
  John Adams    3   3   4   Pass   3   430
  Alan Schwartz    3NT   4   4   5   Pass   420
  Mike Cappelletti    3   3NT   4   4   Dbl   410
  Ellen Cherniavsky    3   3NT   4   5   Dbl   390
  Robbie Hopkins    3   3   3NT   5   2NT   380
  Craig Olson    3NT   4   4   4   Dbl   370
  Steve Parker    3   3   3   5   Dbl   360
  Fred King    3NT   3   4   4   Dbl   340

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