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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
Jul/Aug 2001

Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Jack Lacy who came in first with a score of 490. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for second were Daniel Kim, Hailong Ao and Brad Theurer with a score of 470. Tied for fifth were Paul Benedict, Andrew Brecher, Alan Kravetz and Millard Nachtwey with a score of 460. Tied for ninth were Mark Shaw, Molly Tinsley, Mark Chen, Lee Bauer, Fred Wagner, Larry Kahn, Tom Musso, Yi Zhong, John Ferman, Pete Whipple, James Pestaner, Arnie Frankel, Marc Umeno and Kevin Avery with a score of 450. Tied for twenty-third were Bob Bell, Gerald Lerner, Marvin Elster, Wes Goldberg, Bob Kerchner with a score of 440. The average solver's score was 374. The average score of the experts was 423.

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: None    LHO (West) dealt  
  South Holds 
  -2 
  -AK76543 
  -A43 
  -64 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     1     Pass     1 NT*  
  ?????  

  * Forcing.
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  2     100     8     64   
  4     70     2     49   
  3     50     1     26   
  Dbl     40     0     1   
  Pass     20     0     5   
  5     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  2     20     0     2   
  What is your bid? 
How many hearts do you bid? Seven experts say two. One says three. I say four! If all partner needs to make four hearts is J10xxx/Qx/KJx/xx or J10xx/xxx/Kx/xxxx how can you not bid four? I know that you are not supposed to put specific cards in partner's hand. Four hearts has the advantage that even if four hearts is wrong the opponents have to do the right thing. Suppose you bid 4 and catch LHO with six spades and a good hand. He has to guess whether to bid 4, pass or double. If LHO has a good hand, he has to make a strength double not knowing which of his aces and kings will cash. If LHO has a 5-5 hand, he has to guess whether or not to show his other suit. If RHO has three-card support and a weak hand, he might guess wrong and save. If RHO has a three-card limit raise in spades, he will have to bid 4. If either opponent uses bad judgement, you could get a windfall. On bad days, you could find LHO holding the other six hearts. RHO might have four, five or even six hearts but LHO could save you by bidding 4 or five-of-a-minor. However, the odds are that the hearts will be split around the table and that you will lose at most one heart trick.

One expert agrees with me and puts the pressure on the opponents.

Cappelletti: "4---Put pressure on opponents and put partner in position to make final decision."

Eight experts are wimps and bid 2. Its losing bridge to allow the opponents to describe their hands at low levels.

Adams: "2---Too bad 3 not intermediate. 4 too risky when partner could easily be loaded in spades."

Goulding: "2---Simple bids for simple minds. Nice spot cards."

Simple bids for simple wimps.

Parker: "2---So far this sounds like a possible misfit. 2 shows a good hand and if partner has something he can raise. I am afraid if I preempt 3 it will go double, or partner will not know what to do with ten points if they bid 3."

Does 2 show a good hand? Wouldn't you overcall 2 holding xx/KQJ10x/Kxxx/xx? I would.

King: "2---I have an extra heart, but I think I have too much defense for 3 and I hate to bid 4, which seems to always draw 4 and then I have to guess on whether to bid five or not. I'll start with 2 and compete with 3 if I can."

Too much defense? Last time I looked at the hand, there was one sure defensive trick.

Roman: "2---Could be the first unanimous vote I've seen in the forum...what else would we do."

Hopkins: "2---I am going quietly. If I were behind in the match, I might try a speculative double which I would hope everybody would leave in. Then I could surprise all by taking a lot of heart tricks. This is too unlikely to occur and I have too many losers for a 4 call, so I'll see what develops."

Lublin: "2---No reason to go for a number."

Schwartz: "2---With both defense and offense, see no reason why not to make the normal bid. 3 and 4 can work on any given hand."

One experts preempts. 3 is a better attempt to get the opponents to make a mistake. In this position, 3 is random. Sometimes preemptive, sometimes strong. Depends on what you are dealt.

Woolsey: "3---4 seems like too much on what is likely to be a misfitting hand. 2 makes life too easy for the opponents. 3 is just right. I don't know what I am rooting for them to do, so maybe they won't either."

Jumps put pressure on the opponents. That is winning bridge. Even if jumping to 4 would be a disaster, the opponents could save you.


  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: None    LHO (West) dealt  
  South Holds 
  -AKJ2 
  -K7 
  -AK982 
  -K4 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East 
  ---     Pass     Pass     1  
  Dbl     Pass     1     Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  4     100     8     64   
  4     90     2     2   
  2     70     2     50   
  3     40     2     21   
  4NT     20     1     1   
  3     20     0     5   
  2NT     20     0     2   
  2     20     0     3   
  2     20     0     3   
  3NT     20     0     1   
  3     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
I think the problem is - should we try for slam, not should we bid game? Give partner Qxxx/xxx/xx/xxxx and 4 is very likely to make since at least one of the missing aces will be onsides. So how do you try for slam without confusing partner? Two experts cuebid. Cuebids confuse me and I've been playing bridge for forty years. There is one bid which sets trumps and tells partner that you are interested in slam - the splinter. 4, a jump in the opponent's suit sets spades as trumps and tell partner that you are interested in slam. It also tells partner that you are not worried about two club losers.

Four experts jump to game. I like Woolsey's reasoning about why this hand is worth a jump to game. When in doubt, bid four-of- a-major when you know the opponents can't take the first four tricks in aces and kings.

Woolsey: "4---When we have a good trump fit and the bad guys can't take the first four, I bid game and ask questions later. Slam is very unlikely opposite a partner who could only bid 1spade, so there isn't much point in cuebidding."

Would partner jump to 2 holding Qxxx/xx/Qxxx/Axx? I wouldn't and slam is odds on.

Parker: "4---Aces should sit right and partner will not move over a cuebid and a raise with Qxxxx of spades and out. Sometimes you make it and sometimes you go down. This is too close to stop short."

Roman: "4---Partner is known to have a real spade suit here and there are all sorts of miserable hands he can have where he won't cooperate but will make ten tricks."

Real spade suit? Probably, but what would you respond to partner's takeout double holding xxx/xx/xx/Jxxxxx?

Schwartz: "4---Partner is very unlikely to have an ace so slam tries like a fake splinter to 4 won't get me anywhere. There are too many hands where he won't accept a game try to not bid game yourself, and its his fault if he has only three spades(can't play him for that)."

Two experts cuebid. Partner assumes that when you cuebid, you are trying to find an acceptable trump suit. I would cuebid holding AK2/KQJx/AKQ82/4 in order to find out if partner has five spades, if he has four hearts or if he has a club stopper. If partner rebids two spades showing five, I would now jump to 4. Suppose partner jumps to three notrump over your cuebid. You have just lost your ability to set spades as trumps and make a slam try. The only slam try over 1spade is 4.

Cappelletti: "2---On my way to 4. If partner shows a big sign of life, there might be a slam."

Lublin: "2---Followed by 4. Still could have slam."

I like the following answer. Sets spades as trumps and tells partner that you are interested in slam. How bad can that be?

Goulding: "4---I might have too much to only bid 4. Slam is possible opposite as little as one ace with a little help/luck. Any finesses needed are big favorites to work. Where is the heart suit? RHO didn't bid them, nor did LHO, nor did partner! Partner could easily be 5-4 in the majors, which starts to make my hand look even stronger. Is the perfecta Qxxxx/Axxx/xx/xx too much to hope for? Can I set trumps, force to game, and still have room to learn more about partner's hand without getting too high? I think it worth the radical "fake splinter" to see if partner will bid 4, after which I may well take the plunge and go beyond game."

More wimpy experts. A jump to 3 shows around eighteen support points. Would partner holding Qxxx/xxx/xxxx/xx raise? I doubt it.

King: "3---This should show a hand of about this strength and invite partner to go on with one cover card."

Adams: "3---Between 3 and 4. Do not cuebid as this denies support. 3 shows a pretty darn good hand, and opposite xxx in spades this could be quite high enough. Since 2 would already have been invitational, 3 begs partner to bid."

One expert overbids. Why get to 5 when partner holds xxxx/xxx/xxx/xxx?

Hopkins: "Four notrump---Count key cards and do what seems appropriate. When partner has none, I should have a play at the five-level if partner has either pointed Queen."

Set trumps as soon as possible in slam auctions. Splinters do that.


  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None    Partner (North) dealt  
  South Holds 
  -AK102 
  -KJ7 
  -10872 
  -54 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     1     Pass  
  1     Pass     1 NT     Pass  
  ????? 
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  2NT     100     6     81   
  3     90     4     25   
  Pass     50     1     21   
  2     40     0     1   
  3NT     40     0     10   
  2     40     0     8   
  2     20     0     3   
  What is your bid? 
Four possibilities. You can invite in notrump by bidding two notrump. You can invite in diamonds by jumping to 3. You can signoff in notrump by passing or you can signoff in diamonds by bidding 2. If partner has a maximum, partner will bid three notrump over a two-notrump invite or a three-diamond invite so the only hands we should consider are the partscore hands. Those hands where partner would pass two notrump or pass 3. Since we are playing matchpoints, making eight tricks (120) in notrump is better than making nine tricks (110) in diamonds. However, ten tricks in diamonds (130) is better than eight tricks in notrump. Partner has a weak notrump with at least four diamonds. Since he has a minimum, he has somewhere around twelve HCPs. Give partner xx/Qxx/AKxx/Kxxx and diamonds will make three or four depending upon who has the club ace. Notrump will make two if the club king makes unless the opening leader has five clubs.

There are two other things to consider which are both less obvious. First is to notice how many votes two notrump got. This means that if you bid two notrump your score will be around average. However, if you play in diamonds your score will be either very good or very bad. Average scores do not win pair events so bidding 3 is the way to play matchpoints. Second is your partner's dummy play. Four-four fits are the hardest contracts to play. Notrump is easier. Therefore if you don't have confidence in your partner's dummy play, play in notrump.

Three experts agree with me and invite in diamonds. That's what the two small clubs suggest.

Hopkins: "3---Partner should have at least four diamonds and could easily hold five. If we play here, we will do well if we are +130 versus those +120 in two notrump or +110 against those -50 in two notrump. Also, partner can move by bidding 3 (suggesting Club weakness) which I will raise, or 3 which gives me a tough decision (probably raising to 4 and hoping partner has a doubleton club so I can take the ruff in the short hand)."

Lublin: "3---Game invite. Might be missing the club suit in notrump."

Schwartz: "3---With weak holding in the primary suit for tricks and a hole in clubs, it seems right to invite in diamonds, not notrump. We rate to go plus if he rejects, can't say the same about two notrump."

Six experts raise notrump.

Adams: "Two notrump---Must be a trick question. I have a balanced invite, what other bid is there? At IMPS, might consider 3."

Cappelletti: "Two notrump---Normal - Why try to be a genius by passing or trying to find a 4-3 fit that might go down while opponents are making three notrump."

Goulding: "Two notrump---I fear I'm too dim to really grasp the problem here. Looks like plenty to invite, not enough to force, and diamonds not worth suggesting. I'd like a fifth diamond, a diamond picture card, and/or a stiff club to bid 3."

Parker: "Two notrump---Two tens makes this a reasonable push. Not worth raising diamonds at matchpoints."

Roman: "Two notrump---This one is close. The hand is worth an invite, but if partner opens garbage pass is reasonable. Good hand for two-way checkback: 2 (puppet to 2) - 2 - 3 (invitational with four diamonds)."

We don't need two-way checkback here. A jump to 3 is invitational and shows at least four diamonds.

Woolsey: "Two notrump---The two tens are just barely enough to promote this to a raise. If I pass, I would be too nervous watching the play as partner scores trick after trick."

The following expert is a lone wolf. He will not only lose when diamonds play better, he will lose when three notrump is cold.

King: "Pass---At IMPs I might bid 3, but at matchpoints diamonds has to play two tricks better than notrump to come out ahead."

It is not against the law to play in a minor-suit contract at matchpoints.


  Problem 4    Imps    Vul: Both    Partner (North) Dealt  
  South Holds 
  -K7654 
  -J87 
  -543 
  -54 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     2    Pass  
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  3     100     9     88   
  4     70     1     8   
  Pass     50     1     50   
  3     20     1     8   
  2     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
A good part of the answer to this problem depends upon who the opponents are and the state of the match. Can you push the opponents around? Do you need a swing? These are some of the factors which I use to decide what to bid. Another factor is partner's style. Could he have two defensive tricks? Do you expect partner to have KQ10xxx of hearts and out? Let's discuss 3, the most popular answer. Obviously West will have enough strength to bid. Since you hold five spades, there's a chance that West has fewer than three spades. If West has at least three spades, West can make a takeout double of 3 or can bid three notrump. If West has fewer than three spades he can bid three notrump. Now suppose you bid 4. West can no longer bid three notrump. He has to double for takeout since he has no natural notrump bid. What would you bid over 4 holding Ax/Axx/AKxx/QJxx? If you double partner would bid 4. You might just pass and hope that partner has nothing. If West has three spades and doubles, East might decide to bid a three-card spade suit. That would be real tasty. Only if West doubles and East passes, could this be a long afternoon.

Nine experts make the normal bid. This will be safe.

Adams: "3---Again, what is the choice? Can't pass and let them figure out if they have a slam or not. Can't bid 4 and go for the moon, and can't bid two notrump as this is invitational to game while offering little preemptive value."

Cappelletti: "3---The bid most likely to get opponents to not-enough-of-a-minor."

But 3 allows West to bid three notrump which is enough.

Goulding: "3---The law is on my side, but only this far. I'm content to eat as much of their bidding space as I safely can, then let them sort it out."

Parker: "3---No sense in bidding two notrump and having it go double, now they can bid at the three-level. 3 should cause them enough trouble and allow not to go for some large number."

King: "3---I would like to bid two notrump and then get out in 3, but if partner responds 3, I will hate to be in 4 when they may only have a part score in a minor."

Roman: "3---Take a level of bidding from them, but try not to offer them an easy 800-1100 in the process."

Lublin: "3---Let them find their way in."

Woolsey: "3---Preemptive, and relatively safe. I don't know that the opponents have a slam, so I don't want to bid 4 and go for an unnecessary number."

Schwartz: "3---It could be right to pass and not disclose the heart fit. But will make the bid that will probably be made at the other table."

One expert plays it super safe. He will not go for a number.

Hopkins: "Pass---We are high enough and I see no reason to subject us to the three-level on the remote possibility we might mess up the opponent's auction."

Just like problem one, jumps put pressure on the opponents.


  Problem 5    Imps    Vul: Both    RHO (East) dealt  
  South Holds 
  -QJ 
  -A10 
  -AK3 
  -AKQJ54 
  The Bidding Thus Far 
  South    West    North    East  
  ---     ---     ---     1   
  ?????  
  The Panel's Votes 
  Action    Score    Expert's 
  Votes 
  Solver's 
  Votes 
  3NT     100     6     25   
  3     60     2     22   
  Dbl     50     3     91   
  2     40     0     4   
  3     40     0     1   
  2NT     20     0     1   
  5     20     0     3   
  2     20     0     1   
  4NT     20     0     1   
  What is your bid? 
This hand says three notrump. Nine top tricks with stoppers in three suits and a partial stopper in the fourth. The contract that has the best chance to make is three notrump since all partner needs is 10xx of spades. 98xx or 9xx with LHO having 10xx would be enough. Even when partner has nothing in spades, LHO could believe that you are ready for a spade lead and try something else. LHO could be void in spades. Game in notrump needs a little luck. Game in hearts or clubs needs partner to have more and also needs luck.

Five experts agree with me and gamble. Good partner have spade length.

Adams: "Three notrump---I bet this makes more often than not. Sometimes they do not lead a spade or can't!; sometimes partner has 10xx or 9xx with LHO holding the ten; and sometimes they duck the first round to preserve communication. If partner has long hearts, we can still get to 4, a spot we might reach inadvisably if I start with a double."

Roman: "Three notrump---Good partners have 9xxx/xxx/xxx/xxx."

Hopkins: "Three notrump---It would be nice if partner had 9xx of spades and LHO had 10xx and this were the beginning of the match. It would frustrate the opponents no end. Obviously, I am playing for enough in the spade suit from partner to stop it. Every once in a while I get an off-suit lead in these situations and that will be fine with me."

Lublin: "Three notrump---Somedays I make it. Somedays they don't lead a spade."

Goulding: "Three notrump---Why mess around when all I need from my useless partner is Txx in spades (or 9xx if LHO has the ten - cute!) Is that asking so much."

The following call, 3, asks partner to bid three notrump with a spade stopper. 10xx is all we need but partner would not know it. If partner does not have a spade stopper, he bids 4 with a weak hand.

Cappelletti: "3---Just in case partner has spade stopper. Certainly worth a shot vulnerable at IMPs."

King: "3---This asks partner to bid three notrump with a spade stopper, although he will never guess that 10xx is a stopper."

Double????? One does not make a takeout double if there is any other option unless one has at least three cards in the unbid majors. Suppose you double and partner responds 2. Now what? 3? You could have an ace less and a heart more.

Parker: "Double---Too good for an overcall. I will bid clubs next. I guess partner could have 10xx of spades but how do you find out? 3 would ask for a stopper but there is really no room for any points in partner's hand."

Woolsey: "Double---Maybe something good will happen. If partner insists on playing in hearts, he might be right. A blast to three notrump is too much of a gamble."

Schwartz: "Double---Close to bidding three notrump, but partner will pass with a stiff spade. At this vulnerability, can't count on the opponents bidding 4 over three notrump with at most sixteen HCPs between them. By giving them more room to bid, might be able to judge whether partner has a stiff spade."

There are some hands where there is not a clearcut answer. Sometimes you have to guess. If three notrump is right, you will win IMPs. If three notrump is wrong, the opponents at the other table might get too high and you might push the board anyway. The bad news about this hand is that RHO had AK109xxx of spades. The good news is that RHO was void.


How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  Jeff Roman    2   4   2NT   3   3NT   500
  Kent Goulding    2   4   2NT   3   3NT   490
  Glenn Lublin    2   2   3   3   3NT   460
  Steve Parker    2   4   2NT   3   Dbl   450
  John Adams    2   3   2NT   3   3NT   440
  Alan Schwartz    2   4   3   3   Dbl   440
  Steve Robinson    4   4   3   4   3NT   420
  Kit Woolsey     3   4   2NT   3   Dbl   400
  Mike Cappelletti     4   2   2NT   3   3   400
  Robbie Hopkins     2   4NT   3   Pass   3NT   360
  Fred King     2   3   Pass   3   3   350

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