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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Jul/Aug 2000

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Jeff Roman and Hasan Gedik who tied for first with a score of 480. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Third was Burt and Lynn Hall with a score of 470. Tied for fourth were Barbara Summers, Fred Allenspach, Dan Moore, David Rodney and Mark Steele with a score of 460. Tied for ninth were Bob Henry, Merril Hirsh, Hy Chansky, John Kelly, Al Duncker, Mike Kovacich, Dave Carmen and Tom Musso with a score of 450. Tied for seventeenth were Hailong Ao, Audrey Warren and Rick Eisenstat, with a score of 440. Tied for twentieth were Lorraine Holub, Lee Bauer, Sam Bowlin, Tad Yoshikawa, Jim Houghton, Enid Asherman, Arnie Frankel, Mark Chen, Bill Salvatore and Ed Kinlaw with a score of 430. The average solver's score was 392. The average score of the experts was 430.

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     Pass     4*     Pass  

  * Splinter  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     3     5   
  4     90     7     105   
  4NT     50     0     10   
  6     30     0     2   
  5     30     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
What is this hand worth? Signoff, slam invite or slam force? This hand is minimum in HCPs but its a good minimum. We have a good holding opposite a splinter. Length with very little strength. A good minimum is when you are left with an opening bid outside the splinter suit. A minimum is when you are left with almost an opening bid outside the splinter suit. Great trumps makes this hand a good minimum. Afterall, you could have opened 1 holding Jxxxx/xx/AKQJ/Jx. Give partner 10xxx/AKQJ/x/Axxx and slam is cold. Take away the heart jack and slam is makeable unless the opponents lead two rounds of trumps.

Two experts agree with me and make an encouraging sound. Since 4 is the only call between 4 and 4, it must be used to show encouragement. The inbetween bid is called the Last Train. Says nothing about hearts. Why encourage? Think about partner's hand and his problem. He is holding bad trumps, either Jxxx or 10xxx. If your trump holding is Qxxxx, there is grave danger of losing three trump tricks. This will stop partner from bidding above game even holding AK AK.

Cappelletti: "4---Invent cuebid to show medium hand and give partner a chance to minimize with 4. Partner has no values in spade or diamonds, so if he has two aces and any good hand, we should have decent play for slam."

King: "4---At first I thought this is an awful hand, especially after a splinter in diamonds. But then I thought that given the strength of my spades, all of partner's values should be in hearts and clubs and with an ideal hand Jxxx/AKxx/-/AKxxx we could have a good shot at seven. Of course with a worse hand such as Jxxx/KQxx/K/KQxx, then even five goes down. So 4 should just be some general try. Besides, if we were supposed to just say "I only have eleven HCPs and two of those are wasted, so I bid 4" would this have been presented as a problem."

Seven experts signoff.

Adams: "4---Five-level is not safe. With trump leads, I need to find five side winners and no losers. Even xxxx/AKxx/x/AKxx could go down on a trump lead, and that hand is too good for a splinter."

Two points about the previous comment. Splinters show opening bids in the range of twelve to fifteen or fifteen HCPs. Eleven and sixteen are possible. Therefore I don't understand the comment about a hand that's too good for a splinter. I agree that the HCP range of a splinter in the suit directly below the trump suit should be very narrow. Bidding 4 does not force the hand to the five-level. Partner, holding bad trumps, needs a very good hand to bid above game. Partner does not have to bid his values twice. If partner does bid above game, RKC should stop you from getting to slam off two aces and you should be safe at the five- level.

Woolsey: "4---Give partner a perfect maximum J10xx/AKxx/x/AKxx and slam is still down on a trump lead. Therefore, this hand isn't worth even a last train move."

Woolsey assumes that opponents always find the best lead.

Granovetter: "4---I may have a play for game."

If partner holds Jxxx/QJxx/A/KJxx, game is on a club guess.

Parker: "4---Partner has to have a monster to make a slam. Even with AK, AK in my doubletons what am I going to do with all my diamonds. He can always bid four notrump or 5 with a great hand to ask about trump."

Lerner: "4---Seems clear. If partner has perfect hand with controls, he'll bid RKCB. Otherwise, 4 is high enough."

Schwartz: "4---Even J109x/AKxx/x/AKxx isn't enough with the marked trump lead. Enough said."

Hopkins: "4---Many hands where partner has tenaces in the round suits (AQ or KJ combinations) will put us in jeopardy at the five- level. Thus it would seem prudent not to go looking for the miracle hand: J10xx/AKxx/-/Axxxx."

Two points. A hand with good trumps is always worth a slam try. Last Train cuebids do not promise a control in that suit.

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

  * If pass, then what do you bid
  when partner reopens with double?  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass, Pass     100     2     5   
  Pass, 2     80     4     33   
  Pass, 2     70     2     25   
  Pass, 2NT     50     0     3   
  2     50     0     4   
  Pass     50     0     18   
  Dbl     40     1     11   
  Pass, 3     40     1     1   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     3   
  1NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
There are two questions. What do you do over 2? If you pass over 2, then what do you do over partner's reopening double? This is what I call a marginal hand. With marginal hands, pass when long in the opponent's suit, bid with shortness. Two or fewer is shortness. Three or more is length. If partner passes out 2, how bad can that be? If he passes he has length in their suit and a minimum hand. I think it is clear to pass and all but one of the experts agree with me. The question therefore is what to do when partner reopens with a double. Do you bid your four-card diamond suit, preference partner's hearts or take a shot and pass for penalties. We have a chance for a top. Take six or more tricks on defense and we'll get a great score. If we take eight or more tricks on offense, we get an average score. If partner has enough strength to make game, we should kill them. Events are not won with average scores.

One expert agrees with me and goes for the throat.

Adams: "Pass, Pass---I rate us to be better than even money to beat this, especially if I find partner with two clubs. Could be really ugly for them. If fifteen trumps, Law says tricks split eight and seven, so even opposite stiff club pass will work whenever 2 is plus. There might also be modifiers to the law (fewer total tricks) due to my T9xx of clubs and fillers in diamonds."

Two experts bid their long suit. If I wasn't going to pass 2 doubled going for the throat, I would bid my long suit. I can ruff clubs in partner's hand and ruff hearts in mine.

Woolsey: "Pass, 2---Any alternative to passing is a big misdescription. When partner asks me to bid my best suit with his takeout double, I generally do so unless there is some pressing reason to do otherwise. I can't see any such reason on this hand."

Schwartz: "Pass, 2---Playing for a sure plus score. Penalty pass a reasonable action if a good score is needed late in a session."

Four experts preference hearts. The problem with playing in hearts is that repeated clubs leads could cause you to lose control.

Cappelletti: "Pass, 2---If I had a point or two more, I would bid 2 on 10x, and double 3 (if I have opportunity)."

Granovetter: "Pass, 2---Can't double with three spades. Pass of 2 doubled might work. That's a guess."

Parker: "Pass, 2---At matchpoints we should go plus 110 or 140 in hearts but may only get 90 or 110 in diamonds."

Lerner: "Pass, 2---Don't want to play 4-3 fit in matchpoints. I'd pass and then bid 2 if IMPS."

One expert thinks this is a very good hand. I don't agree.

King: "Pass, 3---This should show a hand with some values but no clear direction. Second choice would be to bid 2 right away, figuring it is better to be short a heart than to make a negative double and be short a spade. Partner doesn't have to reopen with a minimum."

Partner reopens with a minimum if he is short in clubs and has support for all of the unbid suits. AQxx/KJxxx/Qxx/x is an example of a minimum reopening double. How high do you want to be opposite this.

One expert bids directly. Light, offshape and long in opponents suit. Sounds like three strikes and you're out. Not my cup of tea.

Hopkins: "Double---With my regular partners, I have the agreement that the negative doubler is allowed to take liberties (with shape), but partner is not! Even without this understanding, I believe it is best to compete early rather than guess later. If partner jumps in spades, I expect at least a 16+ Flannery pattern which should play reasonably on HCP and crossruff lines."

Two points. Be conservative when long in opponents suit. When opportunity knocks, take advantage. +200 will be golden.

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: Both 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     2NT  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl     100     4     44   
  Pass     80     5     33   
  3     70     1     44   
  3     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
Around here we play that if you double Michaels, Unusual Notrump or any artificial bid and later double, that is a four-card penalty double. If you redouble a takeout double and later double, that is also a four-card penalty double. Double or redouble promises another bid. Partner can sit for your double with shortness. Partner is supposed to double the opponents holding four trumps. On the other hand, if you pass Michaels, Unusual Notrump or any artificial bid and later double, that is a three- card penalty double. If you pass a takeout double and later double, that is also a three-card penalty double. A three-card penalty double is optional. Partner should pull with shortness. So getting back to this hand, how bad can it be if they play in 3, doubled by you, or 3 doubled by partner? Three-of- either-minor doubled will be a bonanza. If you don't have a bonanza, you can always play in hearts.

Three experts agree with me and go for the throat. AQ1087 of clubs is powerful.

Adams: "Double---Sometimes partner can double diamonds. Law wrong for bidding."

King: "Double---If either opponent bids 3, I am happy to double. If LHO bids 3 and partner doubles, I am happy to pass. If LHO bids 3 and partner passes, then I will bid 3. If LHO passes and RHO bids 3, then I have to pass (which I think should be forcing) and partner can double or bid 3 or take some other action."

Hopkins: "Double---If they bid 3 and partner doesn't double, I can try 3 which is a slight overbid but should not be read as forcing."

Double creates a one-round force so that if 3 comes back, you must bid 3. If your major suit holdings were reversed you couldn't double. You would have nothing to bid. Partner with 20 HCPs and a singleton club has to be able to pass 3 knowing it won't go all pass.

Six experts let the opponents off the hook even if they are going to play in clubs. Remember, if the opponents have two seven- card minor-suit fits, they are going to play in clubs.

Woolsey: "Pass---When they land in three diamonds, I'll take my chances and smash it. This sequence typically shows a three-card holding, so partner knows not to sit with a singleton. On a bad day they will make or run to three spades and make that, but on a good day they could be going for a large number with my club holding."

What do you do if they land in clubs? You double and partner, holding a stiff club, will pull.

Cappelletti: "Pass---Why bid and encourage partner to compete further on a potential basket case for opponents. I would bid 3 after 3, passed around."

Granovetter: "Pass---For now. Partner won't be able to double 3, so double of two notrump is useless and partner may think there's more high cards here for a contract our way."

Lerner: "Pass---I don't see the problem this round."

Schwartz: "Pass---They might not be able to find their best fit. It doesn't give up on a penalty if partner doubles 3. Don't want to over encourage partner with all my stuff in minors and the Law says pass unless there are undisclosed extra trumps."

One expert supports hearts giving up on any penalty.

Parker: "3---Weak raise. Partner has spades and they will bid diamonds if I pass, so why not get it out of my system now and shut them out."

Once again, when opportunity knocks, take advantage. +800 will be golden especially if you can't make game. At the table 3 doubled was the final contract.

  Problem 4    Imps    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     1  
  Dbl     Pass     1     Dbl  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     7     43   
  4     90     1     13   
  2     50     1     25   
  2     40     1     7   
  ReDbl     40     0     26   
  Pass     40     0     6   
  4     40     0     6   
  2     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Takeout double? Not the standard 4414 distribution but it does have at least three cards in all of the unbid majors. So what is this hand worth? Twenty years ago 2, showing a 16 point raise, would be the winning answer. Today, however, 2 shows four spades. Axxx/KJxx/x/Kxxx is today's raise to 2. Passing tells partner that you have only three spades. Bidding or passing tells partner how many spades you have so he can follow the Law of Total Tricks. Therefore, to show this hand you have to bid at least 3. If you can give partner a zero-count, xxxxx/xxx/x/xxxx for instance, where game is makeable you ought to bid game. I like 4. Combines preemption with bidding what you think you can make.

What is important is that you don't confuse the auction. You must set trumps and the only way to set trumps is to raise spades. Redoubling, cuebidding or passing should deny four spades.

Seven experts invite.

Adams: "3---Invitational. 2 is probably blocking here, but even if not, 3 should encourage more."

Woolsey: "3---This looks about right. Two spades just doesn't show the playing strength of this hand. A cuebid is silly, of course."

Cappelletti: "3---I choose the "fast" auction (rather than redouble) because the opponents might not find a big club fit."

Parker: "3---Length and strength in spades. diamonds in the right spot, partner needs very little to bid and make game. I would have overcalled 1 rather than double. What do you do over clubs by partner."

Schwartz: "3---Would bid 1, one notrump or pass before I would have doubled 1. My partner isn't so kind and would have bid clubs. Just make a value bid, no reason to cuebid with primary support."

King: "3---I have an awful lot of playing strength opposite a spade bid, with all the values on my right, but I don't think I should bid 4 as we could lose a club, two hearts and the ace of spades too easily. With an ace I think partner should bid four."

Hopkins: "3---My heart king should be well placed and the hand should play well so I am suggesting game if partner can produce anything."

One expert makes the old fashion bid.

Granovetter: "2---Did we really double 1? This is going off the deep end, I think."

The following expert confuses the auction. If partner holds xxxx/xxx/x/xxxxx, he will bid 3. If he has xxxx/xx/xxxx/xxx, he will rebid 2. What will that tell you? Set trumps.

Lerner: "2---All partner needs is Jxxxx to have a play for 4, and he won't move over 2."

Opposite nothing, all 4 needs is some luck so why not bid it.

  Problem 5    IMPs    Vul: None 
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     Pass     Pass     2   
  Dbl     Pass     3*      Pass  

  * natural 8-11  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     2     19   
  3     90     5     93   
  3     80     2     4   
  4     50     1     5   
  3NT     40     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
Should we try for game and if so which game? There are three possible games on the horizon. Three notrump and 5 are the most obvious. If partner has a diamond stopper, three notrump. Of course, partner with a diamond stopper and long clubs probably would have already bid three notrump. We might belong in 5 if partner doesn't have a diamond stopper but has long clubs. There is a third possible game, 4. Give partner Qxx/xx/xxx/AKJxx or Qx/xxx/xxx/AKJxx and 4 where you would like to be.

One expert agrees with me and bids 3 trying for all possible games. Partner will assume that 3 shows five and bid accordingly. With spade shortness, partner will bid three notrump with a diamond stopper, very unlikely, or bid some number of clubs without a stopper.

Schwartz: "3---Seems like a good time to try for the 4-3 with potential ruffs being taken in the short hand. Also leaves three notrump or clubs as a possibility. If this is Challenge the Champs, partner will have Qx/xxx/xxx/AK10xx." Five experts try for three notrump. If we belonged in three notrump, wouldn't we already be there?

Adams: "3---Stopper please."

What answer do you expect?

Cappelletti: "3---What else? A pessimistic pass is too unilateral."

King: "3---Three clubs could be the limit for this hand, but I think I have too much to pass. The 10 of diamonds could be a key card if partner has Kxx or Kx and LHO has Qx or Jx of diamonds and the suit is not led."

Granovetter: "3---Asking for trouble."

Gets half credit for knowing that he's making a bad call.

Hopkins: "3---Showing a good hand and letting partner make a constructive move."

Two experts give up on game. Makes sense since if partner has what we need to make game, he might have bid it.

Woolsey: "Pass---Hard to see just what game we can expect to make, and this could easily be the limit of the hand."

Parker: "Pass---Partner would have gone out of his way to bid notrump with good clubs and a stopper. Good points but no real source of tricks. Go for a plus non vul."

One expert gives up on three notrump. At least partner will know that you have club support. Playing equal level conversion, partner might have been conservative since he has to worry about the takeout doubler holding a stiff club.

Lerner: "4---I assume partner's failure to bid two notrump followed by three notrump denies good clubs and a diamond stop, so I invite the club game. Fear is partner has three small diamonds and 5 is also down."

If you hear the auction, you know that partner can't have long clubs and a diamond stopper. 3 will accomplish nothing.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  John Adams    4   P P   Dbl   3   3   480
  Steve Robinson    4   P P   Dbl   4   3   470
  Robbie Hopkins    4   Dbl   Dbl   3   3   460
  Mike Cappelletti    4   P 2   Pass   3   3   450
  Steve Parker    4   P 2   3   3   Pass   440
  Kit Woolsey    4   P 2   Pass   3   Pass   440
  Fred King    4   P 3   Dbl   3   3   430
  Alan Schwartz    4   P 2   Pass   3   3   420
  Matt Granovetter    4   P 2   Pass   2   3   390
  Gerald Lerner    4   P 2   Pass   2   4   320

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