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|Moderator: Steve Robinson|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  * 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)
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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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.
|  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.