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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
May/Jun 2000

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Gerald Lerner 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. Also, since his answers matched mine, I will play with him at a future Unit Game. Second was Robert Cohen with a score of 470. Tied for third were Larry Kahn and Ben Stauss with a score of 460. Tied for fifth were Rossie Lindstrom, Dave Smith, Lyle Poe and Josh Sher with a score of 450. Tied for ninth were Hy Chansky, Mel Welles, John Ferman and Mike Kovacich with a score of 440. Tied for thirteenth were Lloyd Rawley, Arnie Frankel, Robert Kerchner, Ken Kaufman, Ted Ying, Ed Kinlaw, Fred Steinberg and David Genne with a score of 430. The average solver's score was 358. The average score of the experts was 446.

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     2  
  Dbl     3     Pass     Pass  
  4     Pass     6     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  7NT     100     5     29   
  7     70     3     76   
  6     60     1     1   
  7     40     0     2   
  Pass     30     0     18   
  6NT     30     0     9   
  6     30     0     1   
  6     20     0     5   
  What is your bid? 
If partner can bid 6 by himself, we can raise to seven. Partner must have at least six clubs to the KQJ and the Ace of diamonds. The question is which seven should we bid. If partner has six solid clubs and the diamond Ace, we can count twelve top tricks in notrump with excellent chances for a thirteenth. Any of heart Jack, diamond Queen or spade King would suffice. If clubs split, 7 makes but what if clubs don't split? In clubs, a bad club split would be a disaster but in notrump we might be able to survive. Give partner x/Jxx/AQx/KQxxxx, seven clubs goes down when clubs are 4-1 but seven notrump makes easily. Give partner x/Jxx/Axx/KQJxxx, we might still make seven notrump if clubs are 5-0. Another reason for bidding seven notrump is that partner passed over three spades. If partner's clubs were good enough to play even if clubs break badly, he might have bid 4 over 3.

Four experts agree with me and go for it all. Don't forget that when both seven notrump and 7 make, seven notrump gains two IMPs.

Adams: "7NT---7 could go down on a bad club break. If 7 makes, so will seven notrump. Partner surely has six or seven clubs. If only six, I need a trick somewhere, but I think I will find it. Too bad about forgetting to bid RKC, so I risk partner's diamond void. Master bid of 6 is just confusing. Could also win two IMPs VS 7 bidders."

Creech: "7NT---The worst hand I can imagine partner holding on this bidding is Kxx/xxx/Ax/KQJxx, and seven notrump still has a play. Nonetheless, I really suspect a sixth club, the AQ of diamonds, and no waste in the spade suit."

Cappelletti: "7NT---Should make opposite more hands than 7."

Parker: "7NT---I have no idea what partner is bidding on, but it better be long solid clubs and the Diamond Ace. Even without solid clubs we could still find thirteen tricks in the other suits."

Three experts put all their eggs in the club basket.

Woolsey: "7---Sure there might be hands on which partner has stretched and we are off a trump trick or the ace of diamonds, but more likely then not he will have good clubs and the ace of diamonds and the grand will be laydown. Since my hand is so strong it is certain that some slam will be reached at the other table, the normal argument against bidding a grand which isn't 100% to be cold doesn't apply."

What Woolsey means is that you don't want to be in a grand when your opponents stop in game. You've already gained eleven IMPs by bidding a small slam. If seven makes you gain three more IMPs, however, if seven goes down you lose eleven.

Hopkins: "7---The only possible bad hand for partner is something like Kx/x/Qx/KQJxxxxx and partner might have chosen just 5 with that one."

Schwartz: "7---Seven notrump is likely but partner can have KQJxxx of clubs and the ace of diamonds."

One expert makes an expert type bid. Let partner choose the grand and if it goes down it will be his fault.

King: "6---I want to be in a grand, probably 7, but I will let partner choose in case he has something like x/xxx/AQx/KQxxxx."

When holding two long suits, think about playing in notrump. Notrump might make when one or both of the long suits don't split.

  Problem 2    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     Pass     Pass     2  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     8     39   
  Dbl     90     1     48   
  3     50     0     5   
  3     50     0     34   
  3     30     0     11   
  2NT     30     0     2   
  4     10     0     1   
  4     10     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
There is a bid that could be used in this situation. It is called Leaping Michaels where a jump to four-of-a-minor over a weak two shows at least five of that minor and five of the unbid major. Similar to Michaels. The leap is not forcing so one would expect opening bid strength. This allows the cuebid, 3, to ask partner to bid three notrump with a stopper. But should that tool be used here? 4 works when partner has three hearts or club length but what if partner has spade and diamond length? Where do you want to be if partner holds Kxx/xx/Qxxxxx/Qx? Three notrump of course. I don't think Leaping Michaels should be used if three notrump is a possibility or if you can't play in four-of-the-major opposite Jx.

If you're not going to use the tool, then what? You can't bid 3 since that shows a long solid minor. Overcalling 3 or 3 doesn't seem right. Why not double. Doubling and bidding hearts shows 5.5 hearts (see problem three) and shows a better hand then a direct three-heart overcall. Doubling allows us to get to three notrump. Doubling also allows us to play 2 doubled. Don't forget that RHO was in third seat.

Eight experts, I think, abuse the tool.

Adams: "4---Showing hearts and clubs. Since I play this, I might as well use it."

Just because you have a tool doesn't mean you have to use it. You wouldn't use a screwdriver to bang in a nail.

Creech: "4---With a better hand, I'd cuebid. With a lesser hand, I'd overcall. With this hand, I'm jumping in clubs to show a good two-suiter, and hoping its part of Washington Standard."

Woolsey: "4---I assume we are playing that this shows 5-5 in clubs and hearts (if not, I would double). This is such a good descriptive bid for this hand that I think it is worth going beyond three notrump."

Cappelletti: "4---Leaping Michaels better with poor hearts (than 3)."

King: "4---This shows five hearts and five clubs and my hand is strong enough for this, but I don't think it is beyond the top of the range."

Hopkins: "4---Leaping Michaels. Am I missing something? This looks textbook."

Schwartz: "4---hearts and clubs. Three notrump might be right spot with the spade holding but it seems right to show both suits."

Parker: "4---As usual I expect this to be a convention partner knows. It shows hearts and clubs. Any other bid is a guess, at least this way I show my hand."

Parker has a point. Partner knows what you have. Whether or not he can make the best use of that information is another matter.

When three notrump is a possibility, try not to make a bid which keeps you from getting there.

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     3  
  Dbl     Pass     4     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  5.5     100     4     45   
  5.0     90     5     16   
  6.0     60     0     26   
  6.5     50     0     38   
  4.5     50     0     6   
  7.5     20     0     6   
  7.0     20     0     4   
  * I doubled and bid 4.
  How many hearts do you expect me to have
  to the nearest ½.
  (4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0 etc) 
If you believe that choice of games is more important then getting to slam, this is easy. There are two ways to get to 4. Bid 4 directly over 3 or double and then bid 4. You could say that doubling and then bidding 4 is stronger in highcards then bidding 4 directly. You could also say that bidding 4 directly says that you really want hearts as trumps. Doubling and then bidding 4 says that you're not sure you want hearts as trumps. Direct 4 says you can play opposite a singleton. Doubling and bidding 4 says you have alternate stains in mind. Choice-of-game believers use the second meaning. Since I'm a choice-of-game believer, I should have 5.5 hearts when I double and then bid 4. If I had 6.5 hearts or more, I would bid 4 directly.

The experts agree with me. This auction tells partner to move with a stiff heart. Five experts expect the minimum number.

Adams: "5.0---Can not have four, so 4.5 is out. With six or seven, I would usually just bid 4 directly. Even with a good hand, I'd bid 4 and stay fixed. Partner should take inference from my usage of the flexible double that I can tolerate other contracts than 4."

Cappelletti: "5.0---First purpose of double is to find right strain as opposed to showing big hand."

Parker: "5.0---I assume you can have a two-suiter with clubs and are offering a choice of contracts. With a strong one-suiter you can just bid it."

Hopkins: "5.0---You should have clubs and hearts with a tolerance for diamonds. 1-5-2-5 or 0-5-3-5 patterns are optimum."

Schwartz: "5.0---I don't like to double preempts with my own long suit as I want partner to be able to leave it in with balanced garbage. Thus I am bidding 4 on the way to 5."

Three experts agree with me and think there could be a little more. Maybe a six-card suit which look like five such as Qxxxxx. 1633 for instance where you want partner to rebid a long minor.

Creech: "5.5---I'd hope that partner would have a sixth heart, but won't be shocked to see only five appear during the course of play."

Woolsey: "5.5---Typically, this sequence shows a five-card heart suit and a flexible hand which can play elsewhere -- with just a long heart suit one should simply overcall 4. However the sequence might be made with a weakish six-card suit and some support for the minors. I would guess that you would have a six-card suit more than 25% of the time, so rounding to the nearest half we get up to 5.5 -- however, for my bidding decision I would be playing you for a likely five-bagger."

King: "5.5---I would expect five or six hearts."

The logic of takeout doubles is that they are flexible. There is no reason to change that logic just because you're doubling a preempt.

  Problem 4    Imps    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Dbl     ReDbl*     2  

  * 3-card spade support  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     6     71   
  5     70     1     3   
  6     70     1     2   
  4     60     1     31   
  2     60     0     9   
  6     60     0     3   
  6     40     0     1   
  4     30     0     3   
  3     30     0     1   
  4     20     0     5   
  3     20     0     2   
  2     20     0     3   
  3     20     0     6   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
We want to show five spades, five-card diamond support, first round heart control and first round club control. That's impossible. So, we have to decide which train to get on. A spade train or a diamond train and then follow it to the end. At IMPs, where there is no great advantage in playing the major, you just want to play the contract that makes more often. Even at matchpoints 7 making seven scores more then 6 making six. diamonds, since its at least a nine-card fit should play better then spades, an eight-card fit. diamonds should play a trick better since you'll likely get two pitches on the fourth and fifth spade. Give partner KJx/xxx/KQxxx/xx, seven diamonds is cold and you're unlikely to make 6. So the object is to get off the spade train and onto the diamond train. How do we make the switch? Maybe the answer is the Unusual over Unusual concept. They have two suits, hearts and clubs. We have two suits diamonds and spades. The lower of their two suits, clubs, could show diamonds, the lower of our two suits. The higher of their two suits, hearts, could show spades, the higher of our two suits. This allows a two-heart bid to show an invitational or better spade hand.

Five experts agree with my 3 bid, but maybe not for the same reason.

Adams: "3---Kxx/xxx/Kxxxx/xx looks to be a decent grand in diamonds. Any bid that precludes a grand in diamonds is therefore hopeless. This eliminates 6, game bids, non-forcing invites and club splinters/exclusion. Very hard to play diamonds after I tell partner that spades are trump. The only way to force in diamonds is to bid 3, then bid diamonds. If I am really lucky, partner will bid 3, then I can bid exclusion for diamonds. If I am unlucky, partner will bid three notrump (club wastage), and I must then bid 4 to set trump, but I am no worse off than I would be with other options."

I agree. 3 followed by 4 sets diamonds as trumps even if you don't have the Unusual over Unusual understanding. Since its your first opportunity to set diamonds as trumps, it must be forcing. If diamonds had been set as trumps, then 4 would not be forcing unless bid over three notrump.

Creech: "3---This is a hand where I need answers to specific questions. I thought about exclusion blackwood (if its an option), but what I really want to know about the diamond queen. So I'm hoping to have enough time to cuebid, set diamonds as trumps, and ask my questions through keycard."

King: "3---I want to create a definite game force and then support diamonds. That must be a nine-card fit and our best play at imps."

Parker: "3---I hope to get partner to bid diamonds again so I can get us in a forcing situation and discover key cards."

Schwartz: "3---Diamond slam could easily be the right spot so have to start with 3 first as 4 suggests spades as trump."

One expert shows club shortness. There are two problems with 4clubs. Partner will assume that spades is the trump suit and you have a void rather then a singleton.

Hopkins: "4---Show my shortness. Later I might suggest diamonds as trump and partner should be able to read it. Exclusion Blackwood might come into the picture also if available."

One expert tries Exclusion Keycard Blackwood (EKB). Answers to EKB are similar to Roman Keycard except that the Ace in the EKB suit is ignored. One uses EKB with a void. EKB is usually a jump to a bid higher then Keycard. Since four notrump is keycard in this auction, 5 being higher and being a jump is EKB. It must also be in a non-playable suit. One wouldn't want to play in clubs after LHO made a double showing clubs and RHO bid them. A jump to 5 would not be EKB since 5 could be to play. The trouble with EKB is that spades are trumps and there's no way you can find out about the diamond Queen.

Woolsey: "5---This must be exclusion. If partner bids 5 showing the king of spades, I will follow with five notrump (which I presume asks for specific kings), and then bid six or seven diamonds (or six spades if necessary) depending on whether or not he produces the king of diamonds. I would need to know exactly what our followup to exclusion is to be able to evaluate the chance of success for this approach."

One expert gives up on the grand. If six is on which suit West leads, this gives no information. Give opener Jxx/Qxx/KQxx/AJx, 6 could go down on a heart lead.

Cappelletti: "6---Why fiddle around or help opening leader."

If all partner needs is a six-count (Kxx/xx/Kxxxxx/xx) for seven to be cold, one should attempt to get there. Switching to diamonds could be difficult but its worth a try.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: NS 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1      Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     2     36   
  2     80     4     68   
  2     70     1     0   
  4NT     50     2     3   
  4     40     0     19   
  4     40     0     1   
  4     40     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     9   
  3     20     0     1   
  1NT     20     0     1   
  Pass     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
This is a simple hand. Take charge. Bid keycard and then bid to the level based upon the number of keycards. Two losing clubs you say? Even if the opponents can take the first two clubs, they still have to find the lead. The less information the opponents get, the better your chance of making the slam. If you were West holding xx/Kxxxx/x/Kxxxx, what would you lead if RHO shows a minimum hand with two keycards. If a direct four notrump was RKC, I would bid it, but my book says that you have to set trumps first. However, in competition four notrump would be keycard. So, bid two notrump, giving away no information, and then bid Roman Keycard. An interesting point about keycard. Suppose partner bids 5 showing zero or three keycards. Since partner could have Jxxxx/KQJx/xx/KQxx, you have to signoff in 5. Partner can't pass 5 with three keycards. If partner does pass 5, you are headed for a minus score. If partner bids five notrump showing three keycards without the spade queen, you can bid seven.

Adams: "2NT---Though I have a secret admiration for a 4 splinter, two notrump and four notrump are the normal bids on this hand. Four notrump is risky with some partners, as I might get a Blackwood response instead of RKC. Setting trumps first eliminates this risk. I dislike splintering on this hand. Why give away the singleton when partner can not use the information effectively."

Woolsey: "2---Stopping the club lead has to have highest priority. Since I have spade support, the auction can't get out of hand. I will follow with a spade raise and then keycard Blackwood probably, and it should sound like a legitimate sequence to the opponents."

The following experts have not read the book. Direct four notrump asks for aces not keycards.

Cappelletti: "4NT---With two key cards shoot out 6, with three bid 7."

Schwartz: "4NT---If I conduct an auction to make it easy for them to find a club lead when its right, I probably won't get a good score anyway."

Three experts describe their hand to partner. What partner knows, the opponents know also.

Creech: "2---I want to say, "I have trumps, a source of tricks, and controls." A jump shift into diamonds, followed by raising spades ala Soloway would have been a nice option, but I doubt that Washington Standard would allow that. For similar reasons, I'll show my source of tricks first, and hope I can convince partner that I have a fourth spade later."

King: "2---Bid my best suit and then support spades."

If partner holds AKxxx/Jxx/xx/Kxx, is he really going to bid a slam?

Parker: "2---We might have a grand or be off two club tricks. This way I can support spades and then bid five to ask about clubs."

Hopkins: "2---I want to go slowly and try to determine if partner has at least three of the black primes. I hope to get some cooperation from partner in finding out."

When you have a hand like this, take the bull by the horn. Why insert judgement in a hand where even a sloth with only three fingers can get to the correct level. Zero or one Ace stop at five. Two Aces bid six. Three Aces bid seven.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  John Adams    7NT   4   5.0   3   2NT   490
  Steve Robinson    7NT   Dbl   5.5   3   2NT   490
  James Creech    7NT   4   5.5   3   2   480
  Steve Parker    7NT   4   5.0   3   2   470
  Kit Woolsey    7   4   5.5   5   2   460
  Fred King    6   4   5.5   3   2   440
  Mike Cappelletti    7NT   4   5.0   6   4NT   410
  Alan Schwartz    7   4   5.0   3   4NT   410
  Robbie Hopkins    7   4   5.0   4   2   400

Don Berman, Web Master.