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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Nov/Dec 2000

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Barbara Ames who came in first with a score of 490. She wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Ellen Cherniavsky with a score of 460. Tied for third were Tim Crank and Gerald Lerner with a score of 450. Tied for fifth were Larry Kahn, Fred Steinberg, Hy Chansky and Rusty Krauss with a score of 430. Tied for ninth were Jim Murphy, JJ Wang and Bob Rebelein with a score of 420. Tied for twelfth were Marvin Elster, Al Duncker, David Walker and Michael Mayer with a score of 410. The average solver's score was 339. The average score of the experts was 418.

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 $23.50 which includes $3.50 for priority mail. [[ More later ]]

  Problem 1    Imps    Vul: None    LHO dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     Pass     1     Pass  
  2     2     2     Pass  
  3     Pass     3     Pass  
  3     Pass     4     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     5     31   
  4     70     2     28   
  5     60     1     18   
  5     40     2     24   
  4NT     20     0     6   
  6     20     0     3   
  5     20     0     8   
  5     20     0     4   
  6     20     0     8   
  What is your bid? 
This is an easy problem once you think about the auction. Partner opened 1. He has at least five spades. Partner rebid 2. He has at least four hearts. You rebid 3. Since you didn't support either major, you denied holding three spades and four hearts. Partner bid 3. He has at least five hearts. You bid 3. You have exactly two spades and fewer than three hearts. Partner bid 4. Partner has at least five spades but he is missing the AK and at least five hearts. Since West bid 2, one would expect partner to have most of his strength in hearts. Wouldn't he bid this way holding Jxxxx/AKQJx/xx/x? He knows that you have only two spades and he is choosing to play the 5-2 heart fit where he is solid rather that the 5-2 spade fit where he could lose many trump tricks. Another reason partner bids this way is that he is 5-6, QJxxx/AQJxxx/x/x for instance. The only correct answer is to pass. Four experts agree with me.

Woolsey: "Pass---Partner presumably has five spades and six hearts with a minimal hand on which he chose to open 1so he wouldn't have to reverse. Therefore, I choose hearts. There is no safety at the five-level. A typical hand for partner might be QJ10xx/AQxxxx/x/x, not to mention the possibility of him having two diamonds and a club void."

Adams: "Pass---No way is partner 6-5, but could be 5-6. If 5-5-3-0, would be good to control diamond with low card rather than ruffing with Ace or King."

Levey: "Pass---He sounds like one of two animals: a guy who has misbid his 5-7-1-0, or a guy who opened one spade by mistake, either way, pass ought to work."

Schwartz: "Pass---Sounds like partner is weak with 5-6 in the majors. If there is an agreement to open Flannery with 5-6, then I would bid 5."

Four experts miss the point with two of them missing by a wide margin. They think that this is a slam auction. The first prerequisite for starting a slam auction is having a trump suit. A preference does not set trumps.

Roman: "4---We don't have a diamond control."

Hopkins: "4---If all partner needed was Key Cards, he would have tried Blackwood. I have about what I've shown."

Kivel: "5---Cuebid in support of longer major, showing super major suit cards and no diamond control. Partner knows I have at most two cards in each of his suits and might bid this way with QJxxx/AKQxxx/x/x. If that's his hand, we'd be cold for 6 with normal breaks, but 6would be problematic. So I show my club control and leave it to partner to decide level and strain."

Parker: "5---I have the AK of trump. Partner must have a good heart suit. If he has control of diamonds I am willing to play a slam. He can evaluate his 6-6."

If your last bid was three notrump and partner removed to four-of-a-major, then he would have at least 11 cards in the majors. Using the same logic, partner bids his best major over three notrump. It would still be right to pass 4.

King: "5---I believe this should ask partner to bid six if he has second round control of diamonds."

Getting to the right game is the number one priority of constructive bidding. At the table, partner had a 5-5 hand with good hearts and bad spades and wanted to play the 5-2 heart fit rather than the 5-2 spade fit.

  Problem 2    Imps    Vul: None    Partner dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     ---     1     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     4     43   
  Dbl     90     3     39   
  2     70     1     2   
  2     50     2     26   
  3     20     0     8   
  Pass     20     0     7   
  1NT     20     0     5   
  What is your bid? 
Dressed in a tux with nowhere to go or too many highcards with nowhere to go. If partner has a 4333 weak notrump, what can we make? Give him Axxx/Qxx/Axx/Axx and three notrump has play assuming the opponents can't run the heart suit. That's giving partner a maximum weak notrump with three Aces. Partner needs extra distribution or extra strength in order for game to make. I like the negative double. You find out at a low level, partner's strength and possible distribution. If partner bids 1, how good can game be. However, if partner makes any bid showing extra distribution such as rebidding 2, game chances improve and you can take off the brakes.

Two experts agree with me and make a negative double.

Kivel: "Double---I considered 2 but didn't want to watch partner play a 3-3 club fit at the three-level. At least we're in a 4-3 fit in spades. If partner bids spades, I'll correct to clubs and hope this shows an almost-opener with three cards in each black suit. Any other bid by partner is easy to handle."

Hopkins: "Double---I really, really hope partner rebids notrump! At least I'm likely to be playing a good 3-3 spade fit! I can raise if partner bids clubs, diamonds, hearts (cue bid), or notrump."

Four experts cuebid showing a club raise with at least limit raise strength. Give partner AJxx/xxx/AQJ/Jxx and where will you end up? My guess is three or four clubs. Playing 3-3 fits is not my cup of tea.

Adams: "2--- A little bird is telling me that 2 will get a very bad score, especially when partner insists on diamonds at the six-level."

What happens when partner insists on clubs at the six-level?

Woolsey: "2---This hand should function about like a limit raise, even though I am a club short. If partner has a heart stopper he will bid two notrump, and then I'll have to raise to three notrump (or pass if two notrump is non forcing, but I think it is forcing). If partner doesn't have a heart stopper and doesn't have extras, 3 will be quite high enough."

The following expert sees the trap but falls into it.

Levey: "2---I hate it, but maybe it will induce him to bid two notrump, in which case I'm off the hook. Otherwise, we may end up playing a 3-3 club fit at the three or four-level. Such fun. I haven't done that in years. Then again, I hadn't picked off a stiff king offside in years, either, until last week. When it rains...."

Schwartz: "2---Plan on passing two notrump or 3. Seems the least distortion."

I hope the following experts are going to enjoy playing a diamond contract opposite AJxx/Jxx/Qxx/AQx.

Parker: "2---This allows partner to bid notrump from his side. No use making some silly call of notrump when he can bid it. We may bassoon up to the 4 level before we can stop safely, but I will take my chances to get to the best contact from the proper side."

King: "2---Anything I do is a slight lie and I would rather lie about a fifth diamond than about a fourth spade or a fourth club."

The following expert is likely to get a plus score even if it is a 3-3 fit.

Roman: "2---If partner passes we are unlikely to have a game, and this leaves me very well placed for the rest of the auction. May goad opponents into trouble."

Six solvers jumped to 3. 3 should be a splinter showing a game-forcing club hand with a singleton or void in hearts. I think the Western cuebid convention is the worst. Cuebids below three notrump ask partner to describe his hand. That means bidding notrump with a stopper in the opponent's suit.

4333 opposite 4333 doesn't play well when there is a long suit out. Stay low.

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: NS    RHO dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     5     30   
  3NT     90     3     18   
  Pass     50     0     6   
  Dbl     30     2     73   
  2     20     0     2   
  2NT     10     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
All partner needs is xx/J10xxx/xxx/J10x to make three notrump. With a little luck, three notrump could be made on less. If one can make three notrump opposite nothing, maybe one ought to bid three notrump. Other calls are so flawed that three notrump is the standout bid. Doubling with a singleton in the unbid major is bad, bad, bad, very bad, extremely bad. I hope you get my point. You won't get any points in this column doubling with shortness in unbid majors. In this problem there are two ways to get to three notrump. A direct three notrump and double followed by three notrump. There should be a difference and the difference should be the number of hearts held.

Two experts agree with me and jump to three notrump. A good partner will put down a heart stopper and the J10 of clubs in dummy.

Adams: "3NT---Not really a classic hand, but I refuse to double with short hearts, and 2 is just wimpy. My bet is that one of the opponents will think I have solid diamonds and the other with think I have solid clubs. Someone will save, and 4 doubled should be tasty. If partner is the one with hearts, three notrump might just have a play."

Kivel: "3NT---Another hand with no good answer, so I'll try to guess the right contract. I don't need much from partner for three notrump to be cold. Double followed by two or three notrump should show heart tolerance, and double followed by 3 should show better clubs."

The other popular choice 2 is wimpy in my opinion. Are the following experts going to be happy if it goes 2 all pass? I don't think so. If RHO reopens with a double, then what? You don't want to encourage partner since he might bid hearts or support with a doubleton club.

Woolsey: "2---Making a takeout double with a singleton in the other major is guaranteed to work out badly, regardless of how strong you are. Pass is too difficult to recover from. The choices are 2 and three notrump. Both have downsides. 2 might get passed out, but then again if that happens it might be the right contract. If we bid three notrump we could go down on a heart lead, cold for five or 6."

Levey: "2---Enough for now. If partner raises this, I will get very excited. If he passes, I am pretty much where I want to be."

Roman: "2---Because it's the only bid that gets me to game when partner has a yarborough (and he preempts in clubs). Second choice is double."

Schwartz: "2---Too good and misdirected for one notrump, not good enough for three notrump. Maybe by not showing strength, they will balance and you will get another chance."

Hopkins: "2---If partner can raise, we probably can make a game. It might work out better to pass."

Two experts double. If partner has long hearts, momentum will get you to game.

Parker: "Double---I see nothing bad that can happen if things stay at a low level. I can bid notrump over hearts to show a real good hand. Over 2by them I will reevaluate."

I see partner bidding hearts, hearts and more hearts. Isn't that bad?

King: "Double---I know it is bad to double without heart support, but this hand is too big to bid only 2 in my view. I can correct any heart bid below game to notrump and show a hand too big for one notrump."

If you know a bid is bad, why do it?

Avoid making takeout doubles with shortness in unbid majors. It is written in the Bill of Rights that partner has the right to expect support for all unbid majors opposite a takeout double.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: NS    You Dealt*  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  

  * Partner passed out of turn.
     He must pass once.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3NT     100     5     62   
  Pass     90     2     2   
  1     70     2     28   
  1NT     50     0     12   
  4     30     0     24   
  2     20     0     1   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Every once in a while, partner gets careless. What's the best strategy in this situation? Two possibilities. Guess or hope. Guessing is bidding some game, usually three notrump, and hoping that its right. You could also guess that this is a partscore hand and bid one notrump or 1. This is matchpoints where a bad guess will get you a zero. At IMPs, three notrump making three is just as good as 4making five but at matchpoints three notrump making three would get you nothing if you could make four spades. Holding a semibalanced hand, you could belong anywhere. A second possibility is to hope that this is a trouble hand and pass. A passed out hand beats all minus scores.

Lets look at this from a matchpoint point of view playing on a twelve top. If we open three notrump and the field is in three notrump we get an average (six). Suppose we open three notrump and the field is somewhere else, either 4or any partscore. Now we get one maybe two matchpoints. If you pass, you don't have to guess where the field is, you just have to hope that they are up too high. You get one matchpoint every time someone sitting in your direction gets a minus score.

One expert agrees with me and hopes that this is a trouble hand. This is the mildest penalty, partner has to pass just once. Maybe an opponent will open the bidding giving us another chance.

Woolsey: "Pass---This is a well-known situation. Any game or part-score bid would be a blind guess, resulting in an average if we guess right and a bottom if we guess wrong. Better is to pass and hope that game doesn't make our way and that other pairs with our cards get minus scores. Also the opponents may feel they have to open and rescue us."

Any other call is a blind guess.

Parker: "3NT---I will assume he has his allotted eight or so points and take a crack at game. He put me in this mess, so I will bid what looks like it can make, if he has his pass."

Adams: "3NT---Take my shot. Wondering if there are unauthorized information issues to contend with as well; since partner failed to preempt I have minor distributional inferences."

Important point. You are allowed to base your call on the fact that partner has to pass at the next opportunity. When your partner has to pass at his next opportunity, don't open 2 strong and artificial with a game-forcing hand. However, you are not allowed to base your call on the fact that partner passed. You can't psyche for instance.

Roman: "3NT---Can't you just hear Al Roth now? How DARE you give us such a problem?"

Kivel: "3NT---What else? You give an impossible problem, you get the only possible answer. Besides, partner gets the blame if you're wrong."

King: "3NT---I bid what I would expect to make opposite a balanced seven or eight points. At least it is matchpoints so I can't lose more than a board."

Hopkins: "3NT---Go with the field."

But who knows where the field is going? Three notrump, four- of-either-major, five-of-either-minor or partscore.

Levey: "1---Why try to be a super-genius? There are two opponents. Either or both of them might be about to get into the auction. I'll know what to do if they bid diamonds (double for takeout). If they bid hearts, clubs or notrump, I can double for penalty if I'm feeling sprightly. If 1is passed out, it may be an average plus result. And if partner gets a second chance to bid, I'd very much like him to know that I have a biddable five-card spade suit. We can take it from there."

Schwartz: "1---Don't think the "book" bid of three notrump is right. Eighteen divided by three is 7 1/3, so the expected value of the partnership holding is fewer than 26 HCPs, and that doesn't take in account that partner has fewer then 12. In addition I would have to guess the right game. By bidding 1, the opponents don't know of my values and might balance. Then I have hopes of showing my hand to an alive partner."

At IMPs, open three notrump since making any game is an average result. At matchpoints passing not only gets you a matchpoint for every minus score, it allows you plenty of time to stare at partner.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: NS    Partner dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1      Dbl   

  * (If you bid 2 you'll get 0 points)
2 is 4-6 HCPs with 3-card heart support
2 is 7-9 HCPs with 3-card heart support
2 is 7-9 HCPs with 4-card heart support
3 is natural and non-forcing.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     5     27   
  Pass     70     1     26   
  3     60     2     43   
  1NT     60     1     16   
  ReDbl     40     0     8   
  2     20     0     8   
  3     10     0     1   
  1     10     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
There are three calls that closely describe this hand but each has a flaw. One notrump shows the points but is lacking in black suit stoppers. Second possibility is 3 showing diamonds but the diamonds are weak and it will be hard to get to hearts. With a minimum hand partner is going to pass 3 even if he has a six-card heart suit. diamonds is a minor and who wants to play in a minor at matchpoints when we could be playing in a major. Third possibility is 2 showing three-card heart support with seven to nine HCPs. The flaw is that we lack the third heart. So which flawed call do we make?

Four experts agree with me and make the flawed 2 call. The biggest problem with 2 is that partner, who consistently follows the Law of Total Tricks is going to bid higher than the Law allows. If partner feels that the opponents are in an eight-card spade fit, he is obligated to bid his eight-card heart fit at the three-level. He could be disappointed finding only two hearts in dummy.

Parker: "2---Seven to nine points and a heart fit. The KJ of trump should equal three little, plus I have an Ace. If they compete to 2I can bid 3."

3 should be an offer to play. One doesn't make a limited bid and then make a game try.

Woolsey: "2---A heart short, but otherwise an accurate description. Major suits are where matchpoints are scored, and a 5-2 heart fit could play fine."

Kivel: "2---3 doesn't do justice to this hand, so I'm lying about my heart length and telling the truth about my strength. Maybe partner will forgive me and play with me again if we miss a 6-3 diamond fit and play a 5-2 heart fit."

Schwartz: "2---KJ doubleton is about equivalent to three- card support. Matchpoints makes the bid even more appealing. Would make the bid even if a natural 2 was available."

One expert passes. Very reasonable and will definitely get another chance to guess which red suit to bid at the next opportunity.

Adams: "Pass---Redouble is tempting, but then I can never get to 2 (but maybe can play 2). 3 looks silly, given my poor diamonds and secondary hearts. Not my style to lie about trump length."

Two experts bid their long suit. Can't complain about bidding what you have. However, I don't think they'll get a chance to show heart support.

Levey: "3---It's where I live. It also gives me the chance to raise hearts next time without having lied and promised three of them. He'll work out that I have a strong doubleton."

King: "3---This looks too obvious, so I will see why it is wrong."

Two experts show their points.

Roman: "1NT---Don't like pass, and red at matchpoints I don't want to lead my law-abiding partner astray. Good hand for transfers. 2 (showing diamonds), now if partner bids 2 (saying he would have passed a non-forcing 2 bid), 2 shows 8-10 with a doubleton heart."

Hopkins: "1NT---If partner has six hearts, I want to play there. If not, I might be able to introduce my diamond suit. If I'm left in one notrump, there should be a play. In the old days (last week), I used to treat two honors doubleton as three cards and act accordingly."

Its best not to lie about trump length but when the alternatives are worse, a little lie is allowable.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Kit Woolsey    Pass   2   2   Pass   2   490
  Alan Schwartz    Pass   2   2   1   2   470
  Steve Robinson    Pass   Dbl   3NT   Pass   2   470
  John Adams    Pass   2   3NT   3NT   Pass   460
  Mickie Kivel    5   Dbl   3NT   3NT   2   440
  Bob Levey    Pass   2   2   3NT   1NT   430
  Robbie Hopkins    4   Dbl   2   3NT   1NT   420
  Jeff Roman    4   2   2   3NT   1NT   400
  Steve Parker    5   2   Dbl   3NT   2   320
  Fred King    5   2   Dbl   3NT   3   280

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