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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
May/Jun 2001

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Kent Goulding who came in first with a score of 470. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Sam Gumbert with a score of 450. Tied for third were Lyle Poe, Enid Asherman and Burt Hall with a score of 440. Tied for sixth were Ed Kinlaw and Arnie Frankel with a score of 430. Seventh was Rusty Krauss with a score of 420. Tied for eighth were Millard Nachtwey, Larry Angell and Fred Allenspach with a score of 410. Tied for eleventh were Marc Umeno, Mark Chen and Leo Lasota with a score of 400. The average solver's score was 332. The average score of the experts was 412.

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 robinswr@erols.com. 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 
  -J943 
  -K32 
  -K65 
  -J104 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1 NT     Pass  
  ?????*  

  * 2NT natural and invitational.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  2NT     100     5     40   
  2     70     3     45   
  Pass     60     3     65   
  3NT     20     0     3   
  What is your bid? 
We have been taught that when you are vulnerable playing IMPs you go out of your way to try for close games. You win ten IMPs when it makes and lose only six IMPs if it goes down. Is this hand worth an invitation? This hand is worth an invitation especially if you are going to open one notrump with hand four. The club ten and the spade nine increase the value of this hand. Give partner Q10x/A109/A109/A9xx, a fourteen count, and three notrump will make more often than not. The result of this hand depends on what the opponents, especially LHO, has. On bad days, LHO will have a five- card red suit to lead along with entries. On good days, LHO will give up a trick every time he is on lead. Overbidding works since its much easier to take all your tricks on offense than on defense. Seven experts agree with me and invite.

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 
  -K943 
  -A432 
  -AQ3 
  -AQ 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  1     2     Pass     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     4     13   
  2NT     70     4     42   
  Dbl     60     3     82   
  2     40     0     8   
  3     20     0     2   
  3     20     0     2   
  3NT     20     0     4   
  What is your bid? 
Listen to the auction. Partner, who is very likely short in hearts couldn't take any action. When you are short in the opponents suit, you make every effort to bid. Partner with Qxxx/x/Kxx/xxxxx, five HCPs but a singleton heart should double 2. Partner with AQxx/J10xx/Jxx/xx, eight HCPs but heart length should pass 2. If you do reopen and win the contract, what are you going to do for tricks? Six honor cards which could take tricks but there will be no long-suit tricks. No J10x that we saw in problem one. If partner has some strength, it will likely be in clubs since he didn't negative double or raise diamonds. Partner is very likely to be weak, so you will be playing this out of your hand. If LHO has KQJ9xx and an outside king, you'll be down at least one in two notrump. I guess if partner has J10x of diamonds and KJ10xx of clubs, three notrump will make but what if partner does not have the club ten?

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 
  -J6 
  -AK32 
  -1032 
  -A973 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     2  
  Pass     Pass     Dbl     Pass  
  ????? 
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  2     100     1     5   
  2NT     80     7     81   
  1NT     70     3     26   
  3     50     0     5   
  2     20     0     3   
  3NT     20     0     21   
  Pass     20     0     12   
  What is your bid? 
How do I show a weak notrump without four spades when partner reopens with a double? I cuebid! Usually cuebids are needed for choice of suits. In this case, however, the pass over 1 denies some of the hands which might be covered by a cuebid. If I had four spades and a weak notrump, I would jump to 2. I can't have a good hand and five spades. If I had a five-card minor, I could jump in that suit. 2 shows a weak notrump, something like what we have. This allows partner to set the contract and puts East on lead. That would be great if partner's heart holding were Jx. Over 2, partner bids two notrump, even without a heart stopper, with a balanced eleven or less and bids three notrump with more. I can't thing of a better description. When you hold aces and spaces, partner should play the hand.

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 
  -76 
  -QJ3 
  -AQJ54 
  -AK3 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     Pass     Pass     Pass  
  1 NT     2*     Dbl#     Pass  
  ?????  

  * Both majors.
  # Stayman but does not promise a 4-card major
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  Pass     100     8     40   
  2     60     2     62   
  3     40     1     28   
  2     20     0     6   
  3     20     0     2   
  3     20     0     2   
  3NT     20     0     10   
  2NT     20     0     3   
  What is your bid? 
West bids 2 showing both majors. Partner's double asks us to bid a major. Now if partner has at least one major and LHO has both majors, what does RHO have? A big headache. Since partner has at least an invitational hand, we have at least twenty- five HCPs between us. If the final contract happens to be 2 doubled, a trump lead will cut down ruffs. If LHO bids two-of-a- major and partner doubles, again, trump leads will cut down ruffs. Many IMPs will be on our side of the card. Since we have most of the highcards, we should take most of the tricks.

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 
  -K76 
  -32 
  -AKQ654 
  -AJ 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     3   
  3 NT      4      5      Pass   
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  6     100     4     35   
  6NT     90     1     12   
  6     80     3     18   
  6     70     2     50   
  7     40     1     0   
  Pass     40     0     32   
  7     40     0     1   
  5NT     40     0     2   
  7     20     0     1   
  7NT     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
What does a jump to 5 mean? Sometimes a jump to the five-level asks one to bid slam unless there are two losers in the opponent's suit or the unbid suit. If 5 asks about a heart control, partner must be solid outside. Looking at your hand partner would have to hold A/AKQJxxxxxx/-/xx in order for slam to be cold with a club control. Doesn't it make more sense for 5 to be a general slam invitation? Somewhere between a 4 signoff and a 6 blast. So if partner is inviting us to bid 6 should we accept? The hand is reasonable but the hearts are bad. If partner is looking for heart help, he hasn't found it. But could we have slam in other strains? diamonds could be a good trump suit or we could play in notrump. Notrump avoids ruffs and bad splits. If partner has Axx/AKQxxx/xx/xx, we need only one red suit to split 3-2.

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.


How the Experts Voted:
  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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