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|Moderator: Steve Robinson|
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 email@example.com. WBL Solvers Club uses Washington Standard as published July 1996.
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|  Problem 1 ||  Imps ||  Vul: Both ||  Partner (North) dealt  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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
|  What is your bid? |
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.
|  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.