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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Jan/Feb 2001

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Don Berman and Craig Olson who tied for first with a score of 490. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for third were Rick Eissenstat, Jay Weinstein, Barbara Israel and Ellen Cherniavsky with a score of 470. Tied for seventh were Hy Chansky, Jim Murphy, Marvin Elster, Hailong Ao, Audrey Warren, Tim Crank and Bill Salvatore with a score of 450. Tied for fourteenth were Larry Kahn, Franklyn Taylor, Al Duncker and John Kiebler with a score of 440. Tied for eighteenth were Marshall Kuschner, David Chechelashvili and Millard Nachtwey with a score of 430. The average solver's score was 380. 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 $23.95 which includes $3.95 for priority mail.

  Problem 1    Imps    Vul: NS    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Dbl  
  1     2     Pass*     Pass  

  * denies 3 spades.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  3     100     12     104   
  Dbl     40     0     17   
  4     40     0     2   
  2     40     0     2   
  Pass     30     0     9   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
A simple problem. The opponents have at least an eight-card heart fit and they are at the two-level. That is good for them and bad for you. Therefore you must bid. Holding four-card support for partner makes 3 an easy bid. Since partner has at most two spades, he has to have at least four clubs. Deciding what to bid would be a bigger problem if the minor suits holdings were reversed or if you were playing matchpoints. At matchpoints, 2 could be an option.

The experts are unanimous. Bid 3.

Ames: "3---Partner has more clubs than diamonds, and does not have more than two spades, or more than four hearts. 3 rates to land us in at least a 4-4 fit, and pushes the opponents out of their eight-card fit. I am not willing to risk sitting out a double with such poor defensive values."

Parker: "3---Allows partner to bid three notrump with a heart stopper. I have too many clubs to reopen with a card showing double. Support partner with four. He must have at least four and probably five clubs, since he has two or fewer spades."

3 does not show values just club support.

Cappelletti: "3---Partner has four or more clubs but would not pass 2 with a lot of the hands that have good play for game."

Adams: "3---Must be something I am missing here. We have at least eight trumps, so do they. Worst case partner is 2434. If I double, partner will convert, and be surprised that I was not 5233 or 4243."

Roman: "3---What in the world else? Double shows one less club and one more heart (preferably the J or Q) and surely no one will pass."

Woolsey: "3---Partner is marked with at least four clubs if he doesn't have three spades. Assuming partner is in the weak notrump range, which is usually the case when he fails to bid anything on an auction such as this, 3 is likely to be the limit of the hand."

Lublin: "3---Law of total tricks. Partner rates to have four clubs."

Kivel: "3---A slight underbid, but doubling 2 and trying to get 300 when partner can sit with a heart suit is too remote a possibility with all this bidding going on. Can't force to game with 3 (and wouldn't want to if partner has the expected minimum). So 3 it is."

King: "3---Partner has at least four and probably five or six clubs. I don't want to double without a second heart as partner could pass with four hearts and their having an eight-card fit."

Schwartz: "3---Partner has to have four or more clubs. Not enough to invite game."

Hopkins: "3---Competitive. Partner should have at least four clubs 2434 is most likely. Who knows, partner may get to make an informed decision whether to double 3."

Don't let the opponents play at the two-level in an eight-card fit.

  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: NS    LHO (West) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     2     3     4  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl     100     6     61   
  4NT     80     3     34   
  5     50     2     27   
  6     50     1     0   
  Pass     20     0     8   
  5     20     0     2   
  5     20     0     3   
  5NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Do we want to defend or do we want to try finding a fit at the five-level? At IMPs doubling is clear since we figure to go plus. You have to close not exact. At matchpoints however, +500 might be below average. If LHO has KQJxxx of spades, this would be a normal sequence but suppose LHO has only five spades? This would be an abnormal sequence which occurs only at our table. Our only chance to salvage some matchpoints might be to bid and make game or to push the opponents to 5. I like four notrump. Four notrump, a takeout bid, is like shooting craps. We win when partner bids something and it makes. We lose when partner bids something and it goes down. We break even when the opponent's 4 bid has driven us to a point where out best possible score is below average. Somewhere in the mix is the opponents. They can still bid 5. Its better to defend 5 doubled than 4 doubled. Four notrump for takeout? Until a fit is found, cuebids, four notrump should be used to find the best strain, not used for slam purposes. This should be the case here.

Five experts agree with me and shoot craps. Matchpoints is like shooting craps. You have to make the next to the last bad bid.

Woolsey: "Four notrump---It's a good thing that in my partnerships we have the clear understanding that when the opponents bid to four of a major and we haven't established a fit, then four notrump is takeout, not Blackwood. If four notrump were Blackwood, I would have no idea what to bid on this hand."

Lublin: "Four notrump---For the two unbid suits. Can't be Blackwood."

Three experts pick their medicine.

Cappelletti: "5---Since I probably won't get rich doubling 4, I'm force to gamble."

Hopkins: "5---This leaves the most room and gives partner some easy options. If partner goes on to 5, I'll try 5 and hopefully partner can make the winning selection from Pass, 6, 6, or 6."

Ames: "6---Bidding what I think we can make. Too high for constructive bidding and I don't want to miss slam."

Even if Ames is wrong the opponents are still there to save her.

Six experts double. Double in this situation is a card showing double. How often are you going to have a spade stack on a auction like this? Partner is allowed to pull the double but only with extreme distribution. Holding x/x/AKxxxxx/KJxx, partner would pull but holding x/KJx/AKxxxx/Kxx, partner would sit.

Parker: "Double---I can't bid a suit at this level since it would imply a fit for partner. Four notrump should be Blackwood. I have two aces so I can't pass. Partner can pull if he wants and my aces should be very handy."

Why would 5 show a diamond fit?

This is the one problem with four notrump. Is it takeout or is it Blackwood?

Adams: "Double---They got me. We might have a slam, but bad breaks could scuttle and fit not guaranteed. Likely to get 800, and beat all the pairs not in slam or those going minus. If partner pulls my card showing penalty double, I will raise."

Roman: "Double---Shows cards and is enough for now. Not enough hand to bid four notrump and convert 5 to 5, not enough suit to bid 5."

Kivel: "Double---And tell partner later this shows a good hand with 5-6 in the rounded suits and a stiff Jack in his. Seriously, I wish we were playing negative doubles this high. 5, 5, or 5 might each might be right but they could be equally wrong too. That's what preempts do -- make you take your most logical (but not necessarily right) bid and live with it."

If partner has only two spades, we should have a fit. That's what four notrump would hopefully find. Partner should bid a three-card suit or rebid a seven-card diamond suit.

King: "Double---I hate to start looking for a fit at the five- level, so I will show some values."

Schwartz: "Double---Close, but hope some will go minus groping at the five-level for the best spot."

At IMPs take plus scores. +500 is close enough to +600 to be acceptable. At matchpoints, however, gamble a little. +500 is miles away from +600.

  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     2     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     7     44   
  2     70     5     68   
  3     50     0     8   
  2     50     0     11   
  2NT     20     0     5   
  What is your bid? 
If partner has a minimum opener, this is a partscore hand. But which partscore? We know we have a seven-card heart fit and a six-card spade fit. We probably have exactly seven hearts. If partner had six hearts, he might have rebid them. The number of spades is unknown, anywhere from six, partner being void, to nine, partner having three. Both extremes are unlikely. One spade wouldn't be that bad if it were an honor. Two would make this an eight-card fit. If partner has two spades, rebidding spades is the only way to get there. There is more potential in spades.

Four experts agree with me and hope this is a good day. They rebid their spades. If on a bad day when partner is void and passes 2, you will still score your small trumps. If partner has one spade, the 6-1 spade fit could play as good as the 5-2 heart fit. Add the 10 and 2 would be unanimous. Add the 109 and some would bid 3.

Lublin: "2---Slight underbid but partner can raise."

Kivel: "2---2 is too pusillanimous. I know 2 could easily get us to the wrong spot. Personally, I think this is another one of those hands with simply no good answer -- but I'll bet Stevie comes up with one, as usual (2NT maybe??)."

Ames: "2---Yuck. Misfit and soft values. This hand not worth ten points even if it is 6-4. Important to bid in tempo here in case partner has a good hand and wants to bid on."

Hopkins: "2---Conservative. I have the fillers and points for two notrump, but not the communications. If partner goes on, I will try the appropriate game (three notrump and 4 being the most likely)."

Seven experts support partner and play the guaranteed seven- card fit.

Parker: "2---No real fit and no spots in spades. If partner bids again we will know what to do, raise two notrump to three notrump, or raise a game try in hearts to game."

Cappelletti: "2---The contract most likely to go plus (noting misfits)."

Why is 2 more likely than 2 to go plus?

Adams: "2---This looks easy, especially playing Flannery. Partner knows I have but a doubleton Heart. NEVER bid 1 with simple heart raise! Partner can try 2 with a doubleton and any interest."

Adams makes a good point. Holding three-card heart support, forget about the spade suit and support hearts. Its very important for opener to know how many hearts responder has. This 2 bid should show exactly two hearts.

Roman: "2---Great problem. As always at matchpoints, plus score before game. I have a useful dummy for hearts, but spades might play like a lead balloon. Partner is still there if we belong higher."

Woolsey: "2---Slight underbid, but with no fit I don't believe the hand is worth more. On balance I believe hearts is likely to play better than spades, particularly if partner has a singleton spade. Also partner still may have a bid coming over 2 which will allow us to get to spades, but if we belong in hearts we probably won't get there if we bid 2."

What if partner has a 2524 sixteen count? With nothing in diamonds, he has to pass 2 knowing that there is no eight- card trump fit. However if you rebid 2 showing six he can raise with two. There would be an eight-card or longer trump fit. Qx/AKxxx/xx/AKxx needs only a 3-2 spade split to make 4. You would play 2 and I would play 4.

King: "2---This has the best chance of being sure that we at least get a plus."

Schwartz: "2---Two questions, how much to bid and what strain. With a known seven or more card heart fit, soft values in partner's suit and poor spade spots, hearts seems right. I like to give leeway for light distributional bids and leaves spades as an option. Also for obvious reasons, like to invite soundly, accept aggressively."

Since there is more of a possibility of an eight-card spade fit than an eight-card heart fit play in spades. Don't forget, you're declaring spades and partner is declaring hearts. That's worth a trick.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: NS    LHO (West) Dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     3     4 NT*     6  

  * minors.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl     100     6     92   
  7     90     4     32   
  Pass     50     2     9   
  7     40     0     3   
  What is your bid? 
This is a tough problem similar to problem two. The opponents have bid up to 6 which is probably a good save against 6. So how many matchpoints are we going to get if we double 6 and beat it three tricks? Not many. On a twelve top, we figure to get three matchpoints. So what do we to lose if we bid 7 and it goes down? Three matchpoints if they double and we go down one. What do we have to gain? We gain when 7 makes or the opponents take a 7 save. Give partner AQJxxx/KQJxx in the minors, a void in one of the majors and two small in the other major. If LHO leads the wrong major, 7 will make. If partner has six diamonds, you could pitch all of your hearts on his diamonds.

Three experts agree with me and make the practical bid.

Ames: "7---It's not as glamorous as 7, but why risk playing in a 5-1 or 5-2 fit at the seven-level when you have an excellent known fit? Double is out since if we have a spade loser, then the opponents won this board on their bidding. We won't take enough tricks against their contract at six-level."

Adams: "7---In tempo. Surely we have a small slam, thus 6 doubled will not score well. Fully expect to double 7 against mortal opposition, beating those pairs that double six, but still losing to those playing a small slam my way. If they get me in seven, unlucky, I was getting a bad score already."

Hopkins: "7---This is automatic at IMPs, tougher at matchpoints. A forcing pass (assuming your agreement covers raises of preempts when your side has shown strength) is a very reasonable action. I take a shot at our optimum spot because I'm not sure the auction will be as drastic at other tables and more information will be available to make an informed decision. I'm compensating for this lack of knowledge."

Five experts double which should end the auction.

Parker: "Double---There can be many hands where we have a major suit Ace to lose. Partner can be 6-6 and has his bid, but we go down at the seven-level. Good bidding by the rotten opponents."

Cappelletti: "Double---Just in case it goes down."

Lublin: "Double---And take plus score."

King: "Double---Partner doesn't promise first-round control of both majors."

Schwartz: "Double---Usually pass shows a first round spade control although partner is more likely to be short. Pass might also imply the ace of hearts too as I am more likely to have the length there than partner. So with neither first round control, can't invite partner. Can't trust the opponents not to have the ace of hearts on the bidding."

Kivel: "Double---Where do you get these hands? The seven level belongs to the opponents (sometimes), so I'll double, even though I have a lot of admiration for anyone who bids 7. I don't think pass is forcing here -- if I thought it were, that might help solve the problem -- except when they've bid to 6 on a ten or eleven-card fit -- and I've seen it happen. Besides can I really place partner with a spade void, the heart Ace and all the minor suit fillers?. Again, why do you give us these preempts to contend with where the correct answer is just a guessing game? If you know a book that can tell me what to do over all these preempts, I'd like to know what it is (and don't say your book, please)."

Two experts pass. Is this a forcing pass situation? Partner has not shown strength, just length in the minors. Partner could be holding QJ10xxx/KQJxxx in the minors and RHO could have Axxx/AKJ10xxx/Kx/- where 6 is a good gamble. If RHO was a passed hand however, this should be a forcing situation. If this were a forcing pass situation, how would partner know what he needs to bid seven. Would he bid on holding -/Ax/Axxxxx/KQxxx which would be good, x/-/AQxxxx/KQJxx which would be bad? Forcing passes are only forcing if both players play it as such.

Roman: "Pass---In unfamiliar situations like this, it is a good idea to work backwards from what MUST be. Double MUST be used to warn partner against getting us to the seven level, therefore pass MUST show willingness without the ability to get us there myself. At the table, my opponents demonstrated revoltingly good judgment and bid their laydown grand after pass."

Woolsey: "Pass---We are in a force by virtue of partner's jump to four notrump. I have some interest in a grand slam if partner does. My pass does NOT show first round spade control in this sort of an auction. It tends to show no wastage in spades and interest in a grand if partner is void in spades and has enough other stuff."

Why settle for a below average score. Bidding 7 has the potential to get you more matchpoints while risking little.

  Problem 5    Imps    Vul: NS    RHO (East) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     2   
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  4     100     5     21   
  3     50     3     23   
  Dbl     40     2     58   
  4     30     1     2   
  2     30     0     17   
  3     20     1     13   
  2NT     10     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
We have enough points for game since nineteen plus six is twenty five. Six? When the opponents preempt, partner is obligated to have at least six HCPs. So how do we get make sure we get to game and how do we get to the correct game? One way is to bid 4. Bidding 4 accomplishes two things. Gets us to game and avoids the spade problem.

Four experts agree with me and make the practical bid.

Parker: "4---I will probably have to make this bid if I double them and partner decides to bid his five-card spade suit to the three-level, so why not bid it now and stop the pain. I am short a heart but long on high cards."

Adams: "4---If 3 asked for stopper, might prefer that, but 3 is Michaels in Washington Standard. Will not double, as 4 would be final contract. 3 is too wimpy - no game bonus when partner has three HCPs needed to make game. Would give three notrump a higher score than double or 3. At least that has a chance to be right."

Lublin: "4---Partner will move with spade ace and diamond control."

Kivel: "4---The macho bid, of course, is three notrump, but LHO might lead a diamond. Usually, no one leads partner's suits but three notrump could go down even on a black suit lead."

Three experts make an inbetween bid. 3 is an intermediate jump overcall. It shows better than an opening bid and a six-card suit. Better than 2 but not as good as 4. 16-18 HCPs but non forcing. Would partner bid four holding the spade king and out? Remember he promised three more HCPs.

King: "3---I don't want to go past three notrump and this is only a slight underbid."

Woolsey: "3---This is a strong jump overcall over a preempt. My hand looks right on target. Anything else is a needless distortion."

Hopkins: "3---Maybe partner can bid three notrump or even raise. I have a few too many HCPs. I would love 3 here to ask for a stopper since I have eight tricks, but I believe it is light Michaels in Washington Standard."

Two experts double. LHO jumps to 4 and partner bids 4. Wouldn't that make you happy?

Schwartz: "Double---Have enough strength to withstand a jump in spades. Any other bid is too inflexible and am too strong for 3."

Cappelletti: "Double---Begin strong heart overcall."

One expert has the right idea but the wrong methods. This hand could very well belong in three notrump. However, 3 is Michaels showing at least 5-5 in the majors.

Ames: "3---Where are the spades? Opponents likely do not have them all. If partner has a diamond stopper we should easily make three notrump. If partner has a good hand, he can try for slam. Otherwise we have room to play 4 on power if partner has no diamond stopper."

One expert bids Leaping Michaels. 4 shows five or more clubs and a five-card major. I think he needs glasses. Six hearts and four clubs is not 5-5. A heart suit which can play opposite a singleton is a six-card suit. Partner with Kxxxx/x/xx/Jxxxx will raise clubs.

Roman: "4---I know, I know, but partner has a good idea of what my hand looks like in case lefty gets busy. Also, this is the way to get to spades if we belong there, since I'll know partner has the suit if he bids them."

Simple is good. If all partner needs is one trick to make 4, bid 4.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Steve Parker    3   Dbl   2   Dbl   4   500
  John Adams    3   Dbl   2   7   4   490
  Mickie Kivel    3   Dbl   2   Dbl   4   470
  Alan Schwartz    3   Dbl   2   Dbl   Dbl   460
  Fred King    3   Dbl   2   Dbl   3   450
  Glenn Lublin    3   4NT   2   Dbl   4   450
  Steve Robinson    3   4NT   2   7   4   440
  Jeff Roman    3   Dbl   2   Pass   4   420
  Mike Cappelletti    3   5   2   Dbl   Dbl   410
  Kit Woolsey    3   4NT   2   Pass   3   380
  Robbie Hopkins    3   5   2   7   3   360
  Barbara Ames    3   6   2   7   3   330

Don Berman, Web Master.