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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.
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|Moderator: Steve Robinson|
|  Problem 1 ||  Imps ||  Vul: None ||  Partner Deals  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Four experts agree with me and signoff.
Hopkins: "4---I need partner to have significant extra values for slam (especially the Heart Ace), so I will subside unless partner makes a further move."
Cappelletti: "4---Show a minimum; I have already been a bit optimistic."
Woolsey: "4---This is a fairly minimal splinter even with the void. Given that, I don't believe I am worth a last train call of 4. If partner can make another move, I will cooperate."
Schwartz: "4---With only eight HCPs when I could have 13-15 I have to limit my hand despite my playing strength."
Five experts continue. Three minimum, two strong. Would make sense if partner's cuebid was 4.
The minimum advance. Cuebidding below game is a minimum advance.
Roman: "4---Happy to cooperate since we're still below game. We need very little from partner for a slam or even a grand (KQxxxx/Ax/A/xxxx)."
If partner had the above hand, he would have asked for Aces.
Adams: "4---Last Train. Not enough beef to this hand to unilaterally take control, and way too good for sign off."
4 is Last Train. Says nothing about hearts but says that you are still interested in slam.
King: "4---This is a great hand if partner has some help in hearts. This seems the only way to ask/show heart cards."
A diamond honor would be helpful. Then dummy would have an entry if partner could set up the hearts.
Two experts make a maximum slam try. Bidding above game is a maximum advance.
Parker: "5---I want to get partner to bid his heart ace, so I do not want to bid 4 now. Over 5 I will bid five notrump Grand Slam Force."
Gedik: "5---Partner's 4 shows that he is interested in slam and now I can continue to inform him even with my minimum. I liked his 4 bid and I have to show first round control, 5, and now if partner says 5, I can show the king bidding 5."
Your 4 splinter is unlimited. Partner must cuebid below game with anything but a dead minimum. If 4 was limited, then partner cuebids only with extras.
|  Problem 2 ||  Imps ||  Vul: NS ||  LHO Deals  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
I like the following. Simple. Bid what you think you can make.
Roman: "6---A brutal problem. Bidding what I think we can make."
Three experts agree with me and cuebid. If partner happens to jump to 6, we have an easy 7 raise. If partner bids 5, we can raise to six.
Hopkins: "4---I really don't know what to do. I will give partner a chance to help me out. I will probably end up bidding six notrump unless I can determine partner's clubs are very good."
Six notrump? If the clubs are not solid we will go down if RHO has a spade or partner has only one entry.
King: "4---As Al Roth always complains, this is not very realistic. There is a preempt and a free bid at the four-level and I have twenty-one HCPs? Partner must have every point in the deck outside of spades and the one's I have. The only question is how long are his clubs and does he have zero or one spade. I will start with a cuebid and then decide how many clubs or notrump to bid."
Three experts try four notrump. I hope partner doesn't pass.
Cappelletti: "4NT---Probably on our way to 6 which might make off two aces."
Woolsey: "4NT---Crude, but knowing how many aces partner has just might come in handy. I can't think of any other call which gives me any information of value at all."
How can partner not have exactly two aces?
Gedik: "4NT---Looking for the aces, probable spade void and club queen. I assume partner has six good clubs or seven clubs."
Adams: "5NT---Grand Slam Force. I have no RKC bid available. One thing is clear, if we play a club contract, they will not cash a spade on the opening lead, as either partner is void, or opening leader is void. Partner with a fairly limited hand in high-card points, rates to have a really good club suit for his bid. Five notrump is slightly safer than 7, though for all practical purposes we will get to 7. Lots of winners if partner can pull trump and ruff out spades. I can not think of an intelligent way to be sure partner has diamond ace, so I just assume he does. Even then, if preemptor has it we might be OK on non diamond lead, as partner would have spade Ace."
How do you ask partner if his clubs are very strong? AQJ seventh or better. Any less and you want to be in six.
The following expert negates partner's probable spade void.
Parker: "6NT---We may have a grand but it is too hard to find out if partner has first round controls and solid clubs. He must have two aces to bid at the four-level. I am afraid if I bid 4 to get him to look at his controls we may play it there."
Are the clubs solid? The following expert says yes.
Schwartz: "7---Unfortunately I can't ask for aces(and voids) as four notrump should be to play. With the lack of bidding room I will not convince partner to bid a grand on his own with him missing so much. At this vul I am playing for the clubs to run as 4 shows a good hand. If West has seven spades, then either the opening leader or partner is void. If partner has the stiff then it might get pitched on the hearts(maybe with a red suit squeeze. Is it too much to play him for x/xx/Axxx/AQJxxx?"
When the opponents preempt, be conservative since suits don't always split.
At the table, partner had a minimum 4 overcall. 6 was makable since there was a club loser. Six notrump was a big loser since partner had only one entry outside of clubs.
|  Problem 3 ||  Imps ||  Vul: None ||  Partner Deals  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Agreeing with me.
Schwartz: "2NT---Forcing. I want to give partner room to bid out his hand naturally without confusing matters by bidding another suit. If he shows a stiff diamond, I have a moose."
If opener bids 3 over two notrump, responder can ask for keycards. If opener has two keycards, 6 ought to have play. Partner is limited by his failure to jump to 3 so that 7 would be a stretch.
I don't know what the six experts who bid 3 are hoping for. 3 shows diamond values and asks partner to bid three notrump with a spade stopper. If partner has a spade stopper, he'll bid three notrump otherwise he'll bid 4. If partner has Qxx/KJxx/xx/AKxx or Q10xx/KJxx/x/AKxx, he'll bid three notrump over 3. If partner has xxx/KJxx/Jx/AKxx, xx/KJxx/Jxx/AKxx or xxx/KJxx/x/AKxxx, he'll bid 4 over 3. Over two notrump however, opener raises to three notrump with a balanced hand, rebids 3 with a singleton diamond or rebids 3 with a singleton spade. Isn't it better to find out what partner's shortness is?
Parker: "3---I will bid 4 over three notrump. We should be able to bid at a low enough level to determine where to stop. Slam seems very probable."
Roman: "3---Natural, game forcing, possibly lead inhibiting. What's not to like?"
Would you rather have a spade lead thru your KJ?
Hopkins: "3---I make my most natural and forward going bid and see what partner has to say. I am most interested in whether partner has spade honors and second round diamond control so we can get to the best contract of three notrump, 5, 6 or 7, all of which could be possible at this point."
What response to 3 shows spade honors and second round diamond control?
Woolsey: "3---I plan to bid on if partner bids three notrump. This hand has definite slam potential."
Gedik: "3---I simply show my distribution and wait to see whether partner has anything else. This bid does not deny my extras. Even if I can not find some spade control from partner then my spades are worthless and slam is distant."
If partner has four little spades, slam will go down only if East leads a spade and West has the AQ.
King: "3---It may be naive, but I will try to start a show of slam interest by cue bidding my lowest first round control."
We are not in a slam auction. Since three notrump is still a possibility, 3 shows diamond values which could be QJxx.
Two experts want to bid slam unless they are off two keycards. This brings up another important point. clubs are trumps. If responder has to bid four notrump in order to ask for keycards, a 5 response would be embarrassing. If you want to upgrade your game, you should play Kickback where one over the trump suit at the four-level asks for keycards. In this case, 4 asks for keycards. If clubs are trumps, any 4 call by either asks for keycards. 4 response shows zero or three keycards. 4 shows one or four. Since 4 is low, asker can ask for the queen below 5 and then ask for kings by bidding 5. All you lose is a 4 cuebid.
Cappelletti: "4---Gerber whatever 4 (RKC?). All who play inverted minors have a Gerber auction - usually 4."
Adams: "4---Bids below three notrump will not show my extra values. Close between 4 and 4. Partner should not have a singleton, else a splinter, thus I should be in a reasonable position to judge level based on partners's response to RKC. If partner is specifically 2434, I could get us too high, but even then a stray heart Jack could be enough. Hoping for 2425."
I like two notrump. If partner bids 3 showing short diamonds, then I would bid 4. 4 would either be Kickback asking for keycards or a cuebid in a slam going auction. This way opener knows my intention.
|  Problem 4 ||  Imps ||  Vul: Both ||  Partner Deals  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Four experts agree with me and make the one-flawed call.
Roman: "4---Different from problem one in that there's no room between 4 and 4 and I don't want to goad partner to the five-level. If he moves over 4, he'll like this hand. If he moves over a 4 bid, I'll be nervous. Is 4 fit-showing in Stevie Standard."
Woolsey: "4---This hand just isn't strong enough to splinter. If we splinter and partner has something like AKJxx/xxx/KJx/Ax he would be fully justified in driving to a slam by himself."
Gedik: "4---Partner's problem in this case will be more likely competitive decision than slam decision. He must know that I have got five spades. In case the opponents bid 5, he can decide more easily to compete or not. 4 is wrong because for splinter I don't have enough points. If partner has got spade AK(when partnership has ten trumps), then my queen is valueless and also the value of club queen is in doubt."
Schwartz: "4---4 overstates the hand and the only way to get partner into the picture is to show clubs and spades which I can't do conveniently. Hopefully by giving them the first problem, I won't have a five-level decision."
Two experts cuebid showing a limit raise or a three-card forcing raise.
Parker: "3---Limit raise or better. Not good enough for a splinter."
Cappelletti: "3---I'd rather have them bid 4 than have 5 passed back to me. I'd rather play 4 than stampede them into 5."
Sometimes West has enough to bid 4 or to double 3 but not enough to bid five. If West has enough to bid 5, no bid will stop him. What you don't want is to make it easy for East to find out that West has some heart values.
Two experts splinter. I would agree if I held the king of clubs instead of the queen.
Hopkins: "4---I have just enough playing strength to get away with this one. Hopefully partner will use KCB to avoid an ignominious result at the six-level."
King: "4---At least I can set trumps and show my heart shortness. I wish I could also ask about clubs, but maybe I can do that on the next round. If 4 were fit-showing that would be a possible alternative, but I don't think it is in our methods."
Some players play jumps in competition as fit showing. Shows four spades, five clubs and at least game invitational values. However, we are playing weak jump shifts in competition. If we were playing fit jumps, the following bid would be an overbid.
Adams: "4---Fit showing. Leaves partner to decide over 5, and gives us a chance at slam."
Sometimes you have to give up science in order to buy the contract at a low level.
|  Problem 5 ||  IMPs ||  Vul: None ||  LHO Deals  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Two experts agree with me and get their lead director in.
Parker: "3---What is east doing doubling two notrump? Why did he not show a spade raise? He must have a strong hand and a club stack. Well, lets make him happy and allow him to double 3. I can get my lead director in if they play in spades. I will bid 4 if they arrive in three notrump. Partner needs just a little sense of humor."
Adams: "3---I want a club lead against 5. Maybe just maybe I can catch them in a too low momentum double. The other alternative, 5, planning to double 5 for the lead, risks partner not having a diamond entry, and having my double holding them to five."
If you bid 5 and an opponent bids 5, why would a double be lead directing? Couldn't you just think they're going down? Couldn't you have a spade stack?
One expert makes his lead director at the four-level. The higher the level, the easier it will be for East to figure out whats going on. If East has five clubs, you can't have your 4 jump.
Cappelletti: "4---Essentially walking the hand to 5 (which might make) and then doubling 5."
Five experts bid their real suit. Four or five diamonds?
Roman: "4---I admire the sneaky ones who get their club lead-director in here, but this may just be our hand."
If you think its our hand why not cuebid? 3 should be a game try in one of the minors.
King: "4---If partner has the diamond ace, then five could be a phantom save. (I don't think 5 will make if the double shows good clubs. I would rather bid 4 and then double 4 to get a club lead." Two points. Point one. If partner holds club strength, KQJxx for instance, then 5 would be a phantom. To have a good save we need partner to have good diamonds and weak clubs. Point two. If you held QJ10x/xxx/AKxx/xx and bid this way, your double of 4 would ask for a club lead? I don't think so. The only way to get a club lead is to bid them.
Schwartz: "4---Partner's minor suit strength is the key on whether we should be saving or doubling, so I have to get some input from him. 4 should suggest a save."
Jumping to 4 allows partner to bid again especially with diamond strength.
Three experts jump to game. Reasonable since we don't know whose hand it is so make everybody guess. However, partner could hold Qxxxx of one minor and AKxxx in the other. Don't we want to give him a choice?
Hopkins: "5---The old rule of bid what you think you can make seems to apply. If they bid 5, should a double by me be lead directional (which partner could read since the standard meaning of the double is penalty holding at least one of our suits)."
Woolsey: "5---Why not bid the full value of the hand immediately? There are plenty of hands where one or both sides make a game."
Gedik: "5---We have ten diamonds. According to the law, 4 seems good, but anyway they'll bid 4. Hence no need to wait and I directly bid 5. We probably go one or two down at 5 but perhaps we'll push them to 5 and one down would be good score. If some hopes to defeat 4 with the club ruffs, and only bids 4, it is a good hope but seldom works."
At the table, I bid 3 and then bid 4. East surprised me and reopened with 4. Partner saved and 5 doubled turned out to be the best type of save. It made.
|  Expert / Problem  ||  1||  2||  3||  4||  5||  Score|
|  Steve Robinson ||  4||  4||  2NT||  4||  3||  500|
|  Hasan Gedik ||  5||  4NT||  3||  4||  5||  460|
|  Robbie Hopkins ||  4||  4||  3||  4||  5||  440|
|  Kit Woolsey ||  4||  4NT||  3||  4||  5||  440|
|  Alan Schwartz ||  4||  7||  2NT||  4||  4||  420|
|  Jeff Roman ||  4||  6||  3||  4||  4||  400|
|  Fred King ||  4||  4||  3||  4||  5||  390|
|  Mike Cappelletti ||  4||  4NT||  4||  3||  4||  360|
|  John Adams ||  4||  5NT||  4||  4||  3||  340|
|  Steve Parker ||  5||  6NT||  3||  3||  3||  340|
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