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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
|  What is your bid? |
If you are going to invite, do you bid Stayman looking for a spade fit or do you ignore the spades? Its easier to take nine tricks than ten tricks, therefore three notrump is the best shot at game. Raising to two notrump does not give the defense information about opener's distribution which could be worth a trick. Notrump avoids defensive ruffs and bad trump breaks.
Four experts agree with me and invite in notrump.
Miller: "Two notrump---I don't want to rule out the vulnerable game at IMPs even with this scrappy collection. Is it worth looking for a spade fit? Whether we find it or not, asking may help guide the opening lead. We are so flat that ruffing is unlikely to garner the two additional tricks we need to justify playing spades rather than notrump, and no reason to think a suit contract is safer."
I couldn't have said it better.
King: "Two notrump---I stretch for vulnerable games and three notrump seems the most likely."
Roman: "Two notrump---Two decisions here; Do we invite at all and, if we do, do we look for a spade fit. In a short match it would be acceptable to pass but I wouldn't do it. Stayman is out with such flat, scattered values."
Hopkins: "Two notrump---Just worth an invite."
Three experts bid Stayman. Four spades needs to avoid four losers which seems like a long shot. If I was going to bid Stayman, I would pass 2. Only if partner responded 2 would I be interested in trying for a 4-4 spade fit. I would then know for sure that partner is not 4333.
Lublin: "2---Stayman and raise spades or bid 2 over 2 because we are vulnerable."
Parker: "2---In the long run it pays to play in 4-4 major suit fits. This hand qualifies as a two notrump raise with the good club ten if partner does not have four spades."
Cappelletti: "2---Since you are vulnerable at imps, and other team is likely to make a game try; then, if partner has four spades, he might be weak in either red suit, which would make spades the best game."
Three experts pass. I guess they don't trust their partner's dummy play.
Woolsey: "Pass---Two notrump would be invitational to a minus score. This hand is about as bad an eight-count as you will find. Even if partner has a maximum I may not mind stopping at one notrump even vulnerable, and if he has less I will be very glad I passed."
Isn't the jack-ten of clubs worth more than one point?
Schwartz: "Pass---With only eight HCPs 4-3-3-3 and no aces, this isn't close although if partner opens one notrump with hands like problem four it might be."
Adams: "Pass---Stretch to accept, not to invite, especially since partner with a really good seventeen might open one-of-a- minor planning to rebid two notrump. It's OK to take plus scores at IMPs."
The percentages change when you are vulnerable at IMPs.
|  Problem 2 ||  Imps ||  Vul: NS ||  You (South) dealt  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Three experts agree with me and pass.
Woolsey: "Pass---What does partner have? Probably not too many hearts. If he has four spades and anything decent, he would have made a negative double. If he has diamond support and anything decent, he would have bid 3. Since he is very unlikely to have either four spades or diamond support, the conclusion is that he is broke. We may have a plus score here, but any call is likely to result in a minus score. Game? Forget it!"
Schwartz: "Pass---I could bid two notrump but since partner couldn't bid with likely short hearts, bidding is more likely to result in a minus score then getting to a good game."
King: "Pass---Partner is short in hearts and could not act, so I don't want to force us to the likely three level."
Four experts reopen with two notrump. Hope they're playing with someone who is conservative and has extra strength.
Miller: "Two notrump---South does not have four spades unless he has junk. He is not sitting with a heart stack hoping for a balancing double; if we double, we are choosing between playing what could well be a seven-card minor fit at the three level or unilaterally playing three notrump with no more information than we already have. Defending an undoubled non-vulnerable 2 is taking a very big view. I would want better spades to sniff at a 4-3 fit. If we bid two notrump now, partner is involved in the decision. The downside is that all of our finesses will be into the danger hand; but when notrump is right, it is up to us to bid it."
Parker: "Two notrump---I must continue my sequence to show this hand. Sometimes partner has values and sometimes you go down, but you can't mastermind these hands by passing. 2 would show more diamonds."
Roman: "Two notrump---The textbook call."
Adams: "Two notrump---Pass is tempting, but partner could easily have an eight-count and not be able to bid."
An eight-count but with length and strength in clubs.
Three experts double. What are the chances that partner has four spades? Very slim. Therefore double is forcing to three notrump?
Lublin: "Double---And over 3 bid three notrump. Don't want to miss the spade or notrump game."
Hopkins: "Double---I would like to play in partner's long suit, preferably spades."
Going to pass three-of-a-minor? Partner holds Qxx/xx/xxx/Jxxxx. 3 is going to be a great contract.
Cappelletti: "Double---No spots in hearts make double better than two notrump."
You do not always have to reopen in passout seat. You reopen if there's a good chance that partner has a penalty pass. You also reopen if there's a good chance of a plus score. I don't think either is a good possibility.
|  Problem 3 ||  Matchpoints ||  Vul: None ||  RHO (East) dealt  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Ten experts get notrump played from the wrong side. One or two notrump, with the lead coming through partner seems like horrible calls. Give partner KQxx/Jx/AQJx/Qxx. Three notrump from partner's side has good play. Three notrump from your side has no play with a heart lead.
Miller: "Two notrump---If partner has enough tricks to beat 1 (unlikely) we have a better spot elsewhere. Opposite a direct-seat double, I would bid two notrump. The balance could be anywhere from nine HCPs with shape to about sixteen HCPs if West is minimum and East is bankrupt. If partner has a full-value double, we want to be in game; that pushes me over the border to 2NT. Partner knows we can't have much better than this since we didn't act over 1."
Parker: "Two notrump---Partner is not a passed hand and may have good values. I would bid one notrump with an Ace less. This shows my hand."
Woolsey: "Two notrump---I have to make some kind of invitational call, and notrump is by far our most likely game. It would be nice to have some heart intermediates, but at least I have the suit double stopped. Nothing else seems even close to the mark."
King: "Two notrump---This seems the best description of my hand."
Roman: "Two notrump---Another textbook call."
Hopkins: "Two notrump---The value bid. I do worry that I have too many of my HCPs wasted in hearts."
Cappelletti: "Two notrump---Opponent might take five or six tricks playing in hearts when three notrump is cold. Lack of heart spots hurts defensive prospects."
I agree with the following. This is a bad twelve count.
Schwartz: "One notrump---With poor heart spots, the value of this hand is less than twelve HCPs. One notrump shows about 9-11 so this isn't a big underbid. At matchpoints will go for the plus score."
Lublin: "One notrump---If there is competition I will bid clubs. Not much chance of game since partner is passed hand."
Adams: "One notrump---Hope this has a play. Partner does not promise much other than short hearts for balancing. Without a known fit, must tread cautiously lest partner stop balancing. One notrump in this position shows values. With a known fit can be more aggressive."
Over partner's balancing double, a cuebid shows a weak notrump. Twelve to fourteen balanced with something in the opponent's suit.
|  Problem 4 ||  Imps ||  Vul: Both ||  LHO (West) Dealt  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Seven experts agree with and await further developments.
Miller: "Pass---Passing here feels analogous to an Unusual Over Unusual double. We may do best by doubling an eventual major-suit contract. 2 would let the opponents off the hook; let East squirm first."
Parker: "Pass---No need to bid in front of partner in case he wants to double them in their run out. I can always bid diamonds later if the opportunity presents itself."
Schwartz: "Pass---With a trump lead 2 shouldn't play that well if they play it there. Have to give partner a chance to double two-of-a-major. Can always bid 3 later. I think this hand is too good for one notrump."
Roman: "Pass---Lots of meat on this very good problem. I'm not letting them off the hook. I'd rather have four clubs for this, but these will do. I play that partner's double is forcing to two notrump (they can't play two-of-a-major undoubled), subsequent doubles by partner are penalty, by me are takeout, cuebids show stoppers in that suit. (A good structure for partner of the 2 bidder is: Pass=clubs, XX=diamonds, 2=pick-a-major)."
Actually I think redouble should be pick a major and 2 should be natural. In situations like this, pass should be to play and redouble should be to run. Why should you have to play a contract redoubled? For instance, LHO opens 1, partner bids two notrump showing both minors and RHO doubles. If you have QJ10xx/QJ10xxx/x/x, your best contract is probably two notrump doubled. You'll probably go down but why do you have to go down doubled and redoubled?
Hopkins: "Pass---Hope the opponents are in a misfit auction. Even if they have found something like their 6-1 fit, it might not be good enough. We should get 500+. And we should be well placed if the overcaller runs to one of the majors."
Cappelletti: "Pass---Expecting East to bid absent alert to the contrary."
Adams: "Pass---If partner has majors, they are in trouble. Why let them off the hook with 2? I have no reason to doubt the alert, because if LHO really has clubs then RHO would have bid a major!"
Woolsey: "2---It would be nice to know what West meant by his pass to 2. If he meant it to play, I can't very well pass. However, if he meant it as letting partner choose the major, it might be right to pass and give partner a shot at penalizing them. Since I don't know and they could well play in 2, it seems best to bid 2 and see what partner has to say."
Even if pass shows clubs, why do you expect the opponents to do well?
King: "2---West's pass should suggest a willingness to play 2 and they could well have an eight-card fit there. I will bid my five card suit."
Lublin: "3---Showing top of notrump and good diamonds. Partner will probably work out I'm missing a stopper in one of the majors."
When an opponent overcalls your notrump with 2 and partner doubles, don't automatically bid. Consider passing and forcing LHO to reveal himself. If 2 shows a one-suiter, maybe partner has four of them or maybe you have four of them. If 2 shows both majors, maybe one of you have four of them. Partner's double should be forcing to two notrump. At the table, 2 doubled would go for 800. 2 doubled would go for 1100. Much better than +630.
|  Problem 5 ||  Matchpoints ||  Vul: NS ||  RHO (East) dealt  |
|  South Holds
|  What is your bid? |
Miller: "6---Partner is asking us to bid slam with first-round club control. We should cherish a club ace and despise a guarded club king. diamonds may not run without ruffs; we may also be missing a control in spades or hearts. Maybe South has something like AQx/AQJxxxx/xx/x?"
Hopkins: "6---I believe partner should have something like a solid seven-card suit and a smattering of values. I bid 6 instead of six notrump in case we need a slow spade trick when my club Ace is dislodged. Partner could hold Qxx/AKQJxxx/x/xx or such. By not cue bidding the club ace, I give up on 7, but I don't put the opponents off the club lead and onto the potentially fatal spade lead."
Woolsey: "6---My club holding is good for slam purposes, particular opposite partner's likely singleton. I should bid 6, giving him the choice. If his hearts are solid, he can go back to 6. He might hold something like: QJx/AKJxxx/Jxx/x, in which case 6 is where we belong."
Schwartz: "6---With lack of bidding room, 5 should just be a general slam invitational. With such a good suit, have to suggest diamonds as trump."
Roman: "6---Cooperating towards a grand slam with the club Ace, diamond Ace, and not the spade ace. Perfect!"
Three experts miss the meaning of 5.
Lublin: "6---Partner probably worried if I have king or ace in clubs so I'll bid 6 to tell him I have the ace. Partner might correct to six notrump to protect my spade king."
King: "6---I think this bid asks me to bid 6 with second round control of clubs, so I will cue bid to show first round control."
Adams: "6---I have tricks? Partner should know I need more than solid trumps since I had bypassed 5."
Parker: "7---I assume 5 asks for club control. I have first round and running diamonds. Partner must have some hand with the spade ace and good hearts. I can ruff any heart loser in diamonds."
When you have two long suits consider playing in notrump. If both suits run, you'll have plenty of tricks. What you don't want is to play in the suit which doesn't split. In notrump, maybe one suit splitting will be enough.
|  Expert / Problem  ||  1||  2||  3||  4||  5||  Score|
|  Steve Robinson ||  2NT||  Pass||  2||  Pass||  6NT||  490|
|  Alan Schwartz ||  Pass||  Pass||  1NT||  Pass||  6||  460|
|  Jeff Roman ||  2NT||  2NT||  2NT||  Pass||  6||  450|
|  Christopher Miller ||  2NT||  2NT||  2NT||  Pass||  6||  420|
|  Fred King ||  2NT||  Pass||  2NT||  2||  6||  420|
|  Robbie Hopkins ||  2NT||  Dbl||  2NT||  Pass||  6||  410|
|  Mike Cappelletti ||  2||  Dbl||  2NT||  Pass||  6||  410|
|  Kit Woolsey ||  Pass||  Pass||  2NT||  2||  6||  400|
|  John Adams ||  Pass||  2NT||  1NT||  Pass||  6||  380|
|  Steve Parker ||  2||  2NT||  2NT||  Pass||  7||  340|
|  Glenn Lublin ||  2||  Dbl||  1NT||  3||  6||  320|
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