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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Sep/Oct 2000

Congratulations to Bob Levey who came in first with a score of 480. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for second were Jerry Miller and Josh Sher with a score of 450. Tied for fourth were Ben Stauss, Noble Shore, Rick Eisenstat, Penny Stoever, Jeff Parker with a score of 440. Tied for ninth were John Kelly, Dave Smith, Natalie Aronsohn, Jack Lacy and Elliot Grant with a score of 420. Tied for fourteenth were Joao Paes De Carvalho, Kefu Xu, Ed Kenlaw, Kris Miller, Yi Zhong, Kathy Paramore, Llyod Rawley and Betsy Crenshaw with a score of 410. The average solver's score was 361. The average score of the experts was 409.

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.

Moderator: Steve Robinson

  Problem 1    Imps    Vul: None    Partner Deals  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     2  
  4     Pass     4     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     5     59   
  4     70     3     43   
  5     50     2     16   
  4NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
When is enough is enough? 4 shows a game-forcing hand with four-card spade support and club shortness. A mild slam try. That's exactly what we have. Do we have any extras? We have extras only if the hearts can be set up and run. Lets see how this hand might be played? East is going to lead a club which dummy will ruff. If partner has the heart Ace, he can set up hearts and draw trumps. Suppose partner does not have the heart Ace. The opponents will win the heart Ace and make dummy ruff once again. Give partner KQxxx/x/AKxx/xxx. Slam will make if spades are 2-2 and hearts 3-3 with the heart Ace onside. Partner needs more than just no wasted club honors for slam to make. West's pass suggesting that partner has club length is a discouraging sign. Partner's non heart cuebid is discouraging also. There will be danger of club overruffs and the hearts will be hard to set up.

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 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     3     4     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     3     20   
  6     80     1     15   
  4NT     70     3     46   
  5NT     50     1     1   
  7     50     1     3   
  6NT     40     1     16   
  5     20     0     1   
  5     20     0     6   
  4     20     0     7   
  4     20     0     3   
  5     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
I pass partner's takeout double. I don't think West can make 3 doubled. Oh, partner overcalled. So now what? First we need to figure out what various bids mean and which of them are forcing. Secondly we need to figure out what minimum hands partner might have to overcall 4. Answering the first question. 4 is natural and forcing. 4 shows hearts, anywhere from five to eight, and is nonforcing. You want to play 4. 4 is a cuebid suggesting slam interest. Four notrump could be natural or it could be Blackwood. In a previous contest, I suggested that four notrump best be played as natural. Therefore four notrump could be passed. As to partner's minimum hand. How can partner not have at least the two missing minor-suit aces. -/xx/Axxx/AJ10xxxx or x/xx/Axx/AQ1098xx are minimum 4 overcalls. Since we know that partner is short in spades, partner could have a very minimum overcall. Even so, we have to be in the slam range.

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 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  2*     Pass     2**     Pass  

  * 2 is inverted (10+)
  ** 2 denied 3433,
         shows four hearts,
         and usually five clubs  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2NT     100     2     4   
  3     80     6     72   
  4     70     2     4   
  4     50     0     1   
  2     50     0     9   
  4NT     40     0     15   
  3NT     40     0     12   
  3     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
An inverted minor auction. 2 shows club support with at least limit raise values. Over any of opener's advances, responder could signoff in 3 to show a minimum limit raise. In Washington Standard, a 2 advance by opener denies a 4333 hand. You have one notrump - three notrump auctions where you don't check on stoppers so why not the same for 1 - 2 - two notrump - three notrump. Don't ask, don't tell. Let the opponents guess what to lead. 2 shows hearts and clubs usually four-five. Four-four hands where you have only club and heart honors or 4414 hands are exceptions to being four-five. Since 2 denies a balanced hand, we are forced to at least 3. The signoff response to 2 is 3, so responder can bid two notrump, forcing and showing extras or doubt, in order to let opener finish describing his hand. Responder wants to know whether opener is balanced or unbalanced. If opener is balanced, he raises to three notrump. If opener is unbalanced, he bids his third suit. Its very important to find out exactly why opener bid 2. In a constructive auction, the cheaper bid, two notrump, is better than 3.

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 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     2  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     5     38   
  3     70     2     30   
  4     70     2     35   
  4     50     1     4   
  3     20     0     10   
  3     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Limit raise, preemptive raise or splinter raise? I think the minuses of other calls make 4, the preemptive raise, the best call possible. There are two flaws with a limit raise. This hand is worth a limit raise in high cards but the distribution makes it worth forcing to game. You might have four losers, but there is no way to find out and sometimes the opponents misdefend and allow one of the four losers to go away. The second flaw with the limit raise is the level. Since the limit raise is 3, West could double allowing the opponents to more easily find a fit. There are two flaws with jumping to 4, a splinter raise showing heart shortness with four-card spade support. One flaw is that it allows West to show some heart support by doubling 4. Another flaw is that partner might think that you have a better hand. 4 has only one flaw. You would make the same call without the diamond Ace.

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 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1      2NT     Dbl   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     3     11   
  5     90     3     57   
  4     70     2     23   
  4     50     1     2   
  3     30     0     15   
  6     30     0     1   
  5     20     0     6   
  Pass     20     0     3   
  4     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
December is time to give presents so lets give East a present. East's double says that he wants to double one of North's suits and we can easily guess which one. Bidding 3 paves the way for us to get the maximum on defense if we are on defense. Once 3 gets doubled, (East was naughty so we have to take away his present) we will then have a problem about how many diamonds to bid but we can cross that bridge later.

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.

How the Experts Voted:
  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

Don Berman, Web Master.