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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Mar/Apr 2001

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Chris Miller who came in first with a perfect score of 500. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel and I will play with him at a future Unit Game. Tied for second were Dick Schreitmueller, Sven Pride, Ed Kinlaw, Seymour Baden and Clyde Kruskal with a score of 460. Seventh was John Lawrence with a score of 450. Tied for eighth were Terrone Carpenter and David Rodney with a score of 440. Tied for tenth were Alice Miller, Rick Eissenstat, Marc Umeno, Sam Gumbert, Jim Murphy and Arnie Frankel with a score of 430. Tied for sixteenth were John Ferman, Millard Nachtwey, Nikola Tcholakov and David Milton with a score of 420. The average solver's score was 347. The average score of the experts was 416.

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: Both    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     1  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     5     45   
  2     60     3     16   
  Pass     50     2     43   
  2NT     40     1     19   
  3NT     30     0     3   
  1NT     30     0     3   
  Dbl     20     0     2   
  3     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
We have twelve HCPs and partner opened the bidding. We have enough HCPs to be in three notrump. Partner would need extra distribution or extra strength to play five-of-a-minor. Give partner a normal minimum 4243 or 4144 opener and three notrump is probably the only game having play. Eight-card fits with two minimum opening bids do not usually make five-of-a-minor. If we do play three notrump, we should play from partner's side protecting his major suit honors. I have a suggestion on how to get partner to bid three notrump no matter what he has in hearts. First start with 2, a cuebid showing a diamond raise with at least limit raise values. Only one diamond short. Now assume partner bids 3. Since three notrump is still a possibility, we have two calls left, 3 and 3, as three notrump tries. What should be the difference between the two calls? When there are two forcing calls below three notrump, neither of which is needed to show length, the cuebid should show a stopper. 3 shows a heart stopper and 3 denies a heart stopper. Partner bids three notrump with Qx, stiff queen which is great. He also bids three notrump with a stiff small heart which breaks even. Since spades have never been bid, one doesn't worry about spade stoppers. This is the same principle as when the opponents have bid two suits. One cuebids the suit one has strength in. Bidding 2 obligates us to get to three notrump. If partner has opened a dog which is not opened at the other table, and we go down we will probably lose IMPs.

Two experts join me in raising diamonds. Simplifies the auction since we are playing in either diamonds or notrump.

Adams: "2---There is little point in trying to nail them in 1 when they have a known eight-card spade fit. If I was sure 1 doubled would be a good score I might try. 2, limit or better in diamonds."

Lublin: "2---Diamond limit raise. Don't want partner passing 2."

Another thought is to go after East and try to collect a penalty. The opponent's have at least an eight-card spade fit which lessens the chance of getting a big penalty.

Schwartz: "Pass---I am one card short of showing either minor. Showing either minor could get us to five-of-a-minor in an eight- card fit. Thus I can pass for now and either double or cue bid spades (depending on the level) if opponents bids them. If 1 doubled comes back to me, I will chance defending."

Roman: "Pass---Spade nine. This is an opening lead problem, right?"

Another thought is to bid natural. Just as we are one diamond short for a diamond raise, we are one club short for a 2 bid. Freebids at the two-level show at least ten HCPs and at least a five-card suit. However, bidding clubs complicates the auction. We can now play in either clubs, diamonds or notrump.

Woolsey: "2---We probably belong in three notrump, but there is no rush to get there. Perhaps a 2 call will get a 3 splinter or a 3 rebid or something exciting from partner and we can get to a minor suit slam. Three notrump won't run away from us -- if we bid it later partner will shut up."

Olson: "2---I would really like to bid 3 which is more exciting."

Parker: "2---Not good enough spots to sit for 1 doubled, not enough diamonds to cuebid, not enough stoppers to bid two notrump, not enough spades to double. I bid 2 and let the auction develop. I can find out how many diamonds partner has and make an intelligent decision."

Only if partner jumps to 3 will you know how many diamonds he has. I would expect partner to rebid 2 showing anywhere from 4243 to 4162. So what are you going to bid over 2?

Berman: "2---Any bid lies about something. 2 says I have at least ten points and at least five clubs. I am one club short but have some compensating values. In addition, I am prepared for the most likely continuations. Over 2 I bid 3. Over 3 I bid 3. Over 2 I bid two notrump and over two notrump, I raise to three notrump."

Hopkins: "2---I wish to show the strength of my hand, take away a cheap 1 bid by the opposition, and get a natural response from partner."

Playing notrump from the wrong side.

Cappelletti: "Two notrump---Which also tends to silence opponent's spade suit."

Update your methods so that some cuebids show stoppers. Western cuebids, when only a cuebid is available, ask partner to bid three notrump with a stopper. Eastern cuebids, when two forcing bids are available, demand that partner bid three notrump.

  Problem 2    Imps    Vul: Both    You (South) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  1     2     Dbl     3  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Dbl     100     9     67   
  4     60     2     17   
  3NT     40     0     25   
  3     30     0     4   
  3     30     0     1   
  3     30     0     14   
  4     30     0     2   
  4     30     0     1   
  Pass     30     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
Good hand but no clear direction. Three notrump with only one club stopper seems like suicide. Bidding a three-card major could lead to a bigger disaster. Remember partner does not promise both majors with his negative double. He would double 2 with AKxxx/xxx/xxx/xx. So how do we advance? There are two ways to show extra strength without a clear direction. Double or cuebid. When the opponents have bid and raised a suit, a double shows extra strength telling partner to do something intelligent. Since one of partner's intelligent options is to pass and try to defeat the opponents, double has an advantage over cuebid. If partner has three clubs, he can pass knowing the opponents are in an eight-card fit.

Cappelletti: "Double---Book bid showing extras and might even enable partner to bid game."

Adams: "Double---I hope partner finds a five-card suit to bid. If not hope to beat them."

Roman: "Double---A textbook action. By the way, I approve of not opening one notrump with this moose, and we are being rewarded for our good decision by being so perfectly placed now."

Woolsey: "Double---I'm not on top of Washington Standard, but I assume that when the opponents bid and raise in a low-level competitive auction that a double just shows extra strength rather than being penalty. I will be happy with anything partner does, including pass."

That is a reasonable bridge assumption about doubles.

Schwartz: "Double---I am prepared for any response including pass. With likely nine clubs, four-of-a-major on a 4-3 will likely play better than three notrump. I can bid three notrump later to show doubt."

When there are two ways to get to three notrump, the indirect path shows some doubt. If you really want to play three notrump, you could bid it directly over 3.

Parker: "Double---Responsive. I would have opened one notrump and not had this problem. I guess I will close my eyes and raise his major to four when he bids one."

Berman: "Double---Responsive after opponents bid and raise. Says I have extra but no clear cut bid. Partners double these days with as little as Kxxx/Jxxx/xx/Q10x. This holding might punish 3 when we can make nothing."

Lublin: "Double---Make responsive double and raise partner's major to game."

Two experts cuebid to get partner to make a choice. Cuebids are like doubles except that they can't be passed.

Hopkins: "4---I hope partner bids a five-card major if he has one, tries his only four-card major if that is the situation, or puts me in game in diamonds. I think the cuebid should express uncertainty."

Olson: "4---Holding 4-4-3-2, partner can comfortably bid 4, which I'll raise to five. Holding 4-5-2-2 or 5-4-2-2, partner can bid his five-card major, which I'll pass. With extra values and a singleton club, a good partner will bid 5, and I'll bid 6."

Doubles of bid and raised suits show extra strength.

  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: Both    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     2     Pass  

 (new suits non forcing)
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  5     100     4     31   
  4     70     3     14   
  3     60     4     30   
  2 NT     30     0     34   
  2     30     0     1   
  4     20     0     1   
  Pass     20     0     7   
  4     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     4   
  What is your bid? 
We make only 3 when partner holds xx/KQJxxx/xxxx/x. When partner holds 10x/KQJxxx/xxx/xx, we make 4. When partner holds an Ace, we make 5 assuming we don't lose two spade tricks. How do you find out if partner has an Ace? You can't. Bidding 5 gains when partner has an ace or when the opponents either can make 5 and are frozen out of the auction or can't make 5 and enter the auction. The diamond situation makes 5 the percentage bid. Bidding spades is not the way to go. Unless partner has four spades, playing in spades would be a disaster. The opponents will lead diamonds forcing you to ruff. By the time both black aces have been knocked out, you have been forced to ruff three times. Every expert bids clubs. Three experts agree with me and jump to game.

Woolsey: "5---I'm never going to be able to find out if partner has an ace, so with a possible vulnerable game at stake I might as well shoot out 5. Even if this doesn't make, it is possible that the opponents can make a lot of diamonds."

Schwartz: "5---They might make a lot of diamonds so put opponents to a guess. Obviously 5 might make too. Even opposite three-card support, 4 could play badly with diamond taps."

Hopkins: "5---This contract should have a play anytime partner has an Ace as I will likely get a diamond lead and be able to discard my losing heart if partner has the diamond ace. I can't think of any sure way to try for the miracle 5-3 spade fit, so I will bid the most likely game and that one least likely to be doubled."

Three experts bid 4. 4 being forcing will get the same result as 5 but will make it easier for the opponents to bid diamonds.

Cappelletti: "4---Better than even money that partner has an ace or can pass 4 if it goes 4 - 4 - 4."

Adams: "4---Tough call. Give partner xx/AKxxxx/xxx/xx, and 4 is likely limit. 4 is still not forcing, but encourages partner to bid again and then I can try 4. Tempting to bid 2, knowing partner will raise with three, but too easy to go minus when partner passes and we lose control."

Berman: "4---If partner has the hoped for three spades, say 1075/KQJ976/Q43/4 do we really want to play in spades. Diamond tap force out an Ace, diamond tap ... help! Will partner raise 3 with as little as the AQJxxx in hearts and a singleton club? I doubt it. He should raise with xx/AQJxxx/Qxx/xx and even here 5 is not a sure thing. If partner has 10xxx/KQJxxx/Kx/x he might bid 4. At least I can dream."

Four experts take a plus score. However, 3 allows the opponents to get into the auction and they could make a lot of tricks if they have some distribution. Even though 3 is not forcing, partner could raise with a maximum for clubs, for instance x/Axxxxx/xxx/Axx.

Roman: "3---Very unlikely to have a game other than 5, but I like my chances of later bidding spades over diamonds by the opponents, perhaps showing five. If 3 ends the bidding, at least I'm going plus."

Parker: "3---I will be conservative for now. The opponents can always get in and then I can show my spades. spades will get tapped out and I may never see my clubs."

Lublin: "3---Then spades over 3."

Olson: "3---If partner passes, at least we'll have a plus score. If partner rebids 3, I'll bid 3; he'll get the picture. If partner's second bid is 4, I'll roll the dice and bid 5. It is IMPs after all. At matchpoints, I'd probably pass right away."

This is a bidders game. 5 could go down if you look at all four hands, but the opponents don't have the hand records and might let a trick go away. If it does go down, the opponents could make a bunch of diamonds.

  Problem 4    Matchpoints    Vul: Both    You (South) Dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  1     Pass     1     Pass  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  2     100     7     54   
  3     60     2     39   
  2     40     1     8   
  4     30     0     11   
  3     20     0     4   
  4     20     0     16   
  4NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
If partner was barred, I would bid game. However a jump to game shows a good hand and partner has a right to expect more HCPs. Even a jump to 3 is an overbid. If partner held AQxxx/xx/KQJ/KQJ, he would bid keycard over 3, find out you're missing two keycards and signoff in 5. He would be very unhappy going down in 5. Sort of like opening a strong notrump with ten HCPs. Partner is going to raise to three notrump with ten HCPs and you will be too high. The opponent's silence means that partner is not broke. Partner probably has enough strength to make at least a game try. You can accept partner's game try.

Six experts join me with a minimum raise.

Cappelletti: "2---If I make a bigger bid, partner might get too excited with the wrong cards (noting opponent's silence)."

Adams: "2---I have few enough points that someone is bidding again. Do not need to plant slam thoughts. If partner tries after my minimum response, I'll cooperate."

If partner makes a game try which could be a slam try, you can temporize by rebidding your hearts. If partner tries with three- of-a-minor, bidding 3 will not turn him on. If he makes a further slam try, your failure to cuebid will slow him down.

Roman: "2---Four-card support and a minimum opening bid. Sometimes a plan just comes together."

Woolsey: "2---I can't afford to bid more -- partner may get carried away. If it goes all pass, which is very unlikely, it is not clear that we will have missed a game."

Schwartz: "2---If it goes all pass, partner is likely to be 4-4-4-1 and 2 could be the limit of the hand. If partner bids again, I can try 4 as a 7-1 fit can easily play better then a 4-4 at the game level."

Parker: "2---I opened this hand because I thought it was an opening bid. I have four-card trump support so I raise. Simple hand once I opened it."

Berman: "2---As we are playing Flannery a raise to 2 implies 16+ point with 4-5. Partner may get us too high unless he has the perfect hand, i.e., no wastage in the minors. If partner can support hearts the hand will play better there than spades."

Playing Flannery where an 2 opener shows four spades and five hearts with 11-15 HCPs, a raise to 2 should be a three-card raise with a minimum opener. Playing Flannery, one does not respond 1 to 1 unless one is willing to be raised with three.

Hopkins: "2---Wow! Now I have my opening bid. I don't want partner to get too excited so I will go quietly for now."

The following experts could get too high.

Olson: "3---With 6-4 bid more, so with 7-4 bid evermore (quoth the Raven). If partner has a good hand which he probably has, given the opponents silence, we won't miss game or slam no matter what I bid. The problem is that, with some minimums that will make game, such as Q10xxx/xx/Axx/xxx, partner will pass a 2 or 3 call. If partner has a minor suit ace, and a bit extra AQxxx/x/Axxx/xx, he should, after 3, show it and we are on our way to slam."

Lublin: "3---Tough hand but bid 3. Have choice of splinters but won't use them."

You could bid four cliamonds and show both splinters.

Be careful bidding distributional hands. Getting too high is just as bad as stopping low.

  Problem 5    Matchpoints    Vul: Both    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1      Pass   
  1 NT*      Pass      2#      Pass   

  * - Forcing
  # - Could be only three
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Pass     100     6     65   
  2     70     3     57   
  3     60     2     11   
  What is your bid? 
Three choices; pass, preference 2 or raise to 3. A raise to 3 should be a weak raise. There are two ways to raise to 3. A direct 3 or 2 which is an artificial good club raise. If you had spades, you would have bid 1 over 1. Therefore 2 can't be natural. Passing 2 could be right if partner has a bad hand. Preferencing 2 could be right if partner has good hearts and hearts split well. Give partner xx/AKJxx/xx/AQxx and hearts will play as well as clubs and guess which strain scores better? Give partner x/AJxxxx,Ax/AQxx, 4 is cold and 6 is on a heart finesse and a 3-2 heart break. However, give partner Qx/Jxxxx/Ax/AQxx and hearts will play horribly.

One expert agrees with me and raises clubs.

Woolsey: "3---Even at matchpoints, it pays to play in the longest trump suit. Plus scores count. Passing with five-card support makes it too easy for the enemy to get back in."

Six experts pass. I know partner could have three clubs but he could also have five. Passing allows the opponents to back into the auction and they have at least one eight-card fit. If partner has five clubs, the opponents have a nine-card fit.

Cappelletti: "Pass---Wrong cards to make a two-way 3 raise."

Adams: "Pass---In close situations of pass or preference I ask myself if I would be happy if partner bids again. This time the answer is no, so I do not give partner the chance. At IMPs I'd be happier about my choice."

Isn't 4 cold opposite x/AKxxx/Kx/Axxxx?

Roman: "Pass---Good problem. I pass since this is matchpoints (safety and a plus score first). Would bid 2 at IMPs most likely game...willing to risk getting too high."

Lublin: "Pass---Pass and bid 2 over 2 balance. Partner will know I have five clubs and two hearts. Will bid 3 over 2."

Hopkins: "Pass---This will turn out best if partner is minimum and this is the contract with best chances to make, or go down the least, say -100, when other contracts like 2 go down or go down more than 2 does. 2 might not be as good as 2 when partner is goodish, fifteen or sixteen HCPs, and we make +130 in clubs, but get beat by the +140 scores of those in hearts. Since minimum hands occur more frequently than goodish ones, I will take my best shot at a plus score."

Olson: "Pass---Play the guaranteed eight-card or sturdier fit, in preference to the known seven-card fit, even at matchpoints."

Three experts preference hearts. Will be right if partner has good hearts.

Schwartz: "2---If partner has the right distributional hand, game is still possible and I can make this bid without showing any values. It also makes it more difficult to balance against by not disclosing the club fit by passing."

Parker: "2---We are playing matchpoints. I can always bid 3 if they come in with spades or double. That should show two hearts and possible five clubs."

Berman: "2---Hopefully in tempo. At matchpoints the major scores more."

Two points. When partner needs a little extra to make game, give him that room. Don't give the opponents an easy chance to get into the auction especially when they have at least one eight-card fit.

How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Robbie Hopkins    2   4   5   2   Pass   460
  Kit Woolsey    2   Dbl   5   2   3   460
  John Adams    2   Dbl   4   2   Pass   430
  Steve Parker    2   Dbl   3   2   2   430
  Alan Schwartz    Pass   Dbl   5   2   2   420
  Steve Robinson    2   Dbl   5   2   3   420
  Mike Cappelletti    2NT   Dbl   4   2   Pass   410
  Jeff Roman    Pass   Dbl   3   2   Pass   410
  Glenn Lublin    2   Dbl   3   3   Pass   380
  Craig Olson    2   4   3   3   Pass   380
  Don Berman    2   Dbl   4   2   2   380

Don Berman, Web Master.