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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Nov/Dec 2001


Moderator: Steve Robinson

Congratulations to Ram Sarangan, Burt and Lynn Hall and Jian Jian Wang who tied for first with a score of 450. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for fourth were Kent Goulding and Jerry Miller with a score of 440. Tied for sixth were Ted Ying and Lee Bauer with a score of 430. Tied for eighth were Kathy Kruskal, Bernie Lambert, Ken Berg, John Potter with a score of 420. Tied for twelfth were Walter Kerns, Fred Allenspach and Terrone Carpenter with a score of 410. Tied for fifteenth were Ed Lewis and Phil Mittleman with a score of 400. The average score of the 162 solvers was 331. The average score of the experts was 390.

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    Matchpoints    Vul: None    LHO (West) dealt  

South Holds


-Q3
-AQ106543
-1092
-Q

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

Pass

Pass

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

3

100

5

37

Pass

80

3

61

2

50

2

41

4

30

1

5

1

30

0

18

What is your bid?

If you pass, you won't be outbid in spades and you won't get too high in hearts. On the other hand if you pass, you could miss a heart game or a heart partscore. If I'm your partner, you should pass. You have exactly ten HCPs. A light opening partner has at most ten HCPs. I'm a light opening partner. Therefore, the opponents have at least twenty HCPs. There could be a game, but it could easily be the opponents who have it.

To decide whether to open in fourth seat, add your HCPs to your spades. Fifteen or more open, thirteen or fewer pass. Use judgement with fourteen. Here we have twelve.

Eight experts hope to buy the contract in hearts. If I were going to bid, I would bid three hearts. 3 wins when hearts are 2-2-2 around the table. An opponent is very unlikely to bid when holding two hearts. 3 loses when an opponent has a good hand with 4144 distribution.

Cappelletti:"3---Partner has roughly ten points. We have about two-thirds likelihood of going plus. They are unlikely to balance since both are passed hands. If they do balance, we have even better chances of going plus."

Lublin:"3---I hope that I've guessed right. Partner knows that I have just under opener and is allowed to raise."

Fourth seat preempts show good hands. You expect to make 3.

Adams:"3---Same bid I would make without the worthless Queens. Put it to them. 4 will more likely put it to me."

Hopkins:"3---If everybody has about ten HCPs, this should be about what I can make. If the opponents get into the action, partner should be well placed to compete (or not) based on knowledge of my heart length and a reasonable assumption than I am in the ten HCPs ballpark."

Parker:"3---I see no fit in any other suit. Partner should have his share of about ten points. No reason to let the opponents in easily. With luck we go plus 140."

The following call is too easy to bid over.

Woolsey:"2---Too much playing strength to risk passing out, and opening a preemptive bid is more descriptive than opening a one bid as well as making it more difficult for opponents to enter. I prefer opening 2 rather than 3 simply because we might buy it here. I can always compete to 3 if necessary."

Schwartz:"2---We should take eight or nine tricks with the help of the diamond and heart spots. The fear is the opponents having an eight-card spade fit, but with partner having an average of 3.67 spades, that is less than a 50% probability. My short queens's should provide some defense to the opponents's possible contract so I can fool my partner to compete to one less than what the Law says."

One expert gambles that he can make ten tricks. If he can't passing it out would get him a better score.

Picard:"4---All 1, 2 and 3 bids are dangerous because opponents might find a spade contract, sometimes a game. Pass might be chosen but is a bit pessimistic. 4 might win (partner has ten HCPs) and opponents will probably not bid on it."

Two experts agree with me and pass.

Roman:"Pass---Those short black queens are a screaming warning signal. Either partner does not have a heart fit, in which case we have losers galore, or he does, in which case it's unlikely that the opponents can bid enough to find a minus score."

King:"Pass---I think I have a better than 50% chance of going minus if I bid."

Use the rule of 15 when deciding whether to open in fourth seat.


  Problem 2    Imps    Vul: NS    LHO (West) dealt  

South Holds


-KQJ7654
-J3
-AQ43
-Void

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East 

---

3

Dbl

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

4NT

100

5

17

6

70

3

39

4

50

2

79

7

40

1

0

4

20

0

22

5

20

0

3

3

20

0

1

3NT

20

0

1

What is your bid?

This is a great hand opposite a takeout double. Give partner Axxx/Axxx/x/Axxx and you will probably make 7. If partner has 109xx/AKxx/xx/AKx, you will probably make only 5. So how do we find out if partner has what we need? Ask for aces. If partner has no aces, signoff in 5. You don't want to be in slam off two aces. If partner has three aces, then ask for kings. If partner knows that you are interested in seven, he can bid seven if he has the right hand. If partner has Axxx/AKQx/x/AKxx, he will raise 6 to seven when you show him that you have two aces and spades are trumps.

Four experts agree with me and bid Blackwood.

Cappelletti:"Four notrump---If partner bids 5, then I will bid 5. Over any other response I will bid 6."

Woolsey:"Four notrump---The practical call. I'm never going to be able to find what I really need to know, but this will get me close. Opposite three aces I can bid a grand. Opposite two or one aces I bid a small, and while that doesn't have to work out the odds are in my favor."

If partner has three aces, the odds are that you can make seven. Partner has four spades and one diamond. However, you can't make seven opposite A32/A432/2/AQ432.

Adams:"Four notrump---Straight Blackwood. With three aces, we are in grand range, but not quite cold. Thus follow up with five notrump. If partner has even one king, grand should be good. I can't think of a way to set spades as trump and guarantee another bid, so looking for magic holdings without club wastage is beyond me."

Parker:"Four notrump---We can have a grand or go down in six (off the AK of hearts). The more I look at this hand the more it looks right to bid Blackwood (I assume this four notrump is Blackwood) over the double. If partner has three aces we bid seven. If he has two we bid six and hope they can't cash the AK of hearts. If we get into a convoluted auction it may allow west to get in a lead directing double of hearts."

Two experts bid 4. What do you bid over three diamonds holding Axxx/xx/xx/AKxxx? You bid 4, choice of games, and correct 4 to 4. This way partner can choose between the black suits. So what is bidding 4 going to accomplish? Partner is going to bid 4. What's worse is that now four notrump is keycard for hearts. The king of hearts is not the card you are looking for.

Lublin:"4---Followed by 6. Partner will raise with spade ace and stiff diamond."

King:"4---I need to explore for 7 so I start by establishing a strong force."

Three experts guess. 6 will make more often than not and there is no way to scientifically bid it.

Roman:"6---We're never going to be able to bid a grand with confidence, and I'm certainly not going to bid less. An important point of this auction is that 4 followed by 4 (over partner's presumed 4 bid) is best used as a slam try in spades, NOT 'please pick a black suit'. However, in the auction 3 - double - Pass - 4 - pass - 4 (by partner) - pass - 4 by us would be 'pick-a--major', NOT a slam try in hearts."

Isn't is best to have 5 as a slam try in spades?

Picard:"6---With a very good chance to win. I cannot avoid bidding a slam with such a hand. Grand slam might win but I can't see how to bid it safely. For example, after a 4 bid, the auction may not be clear and, anyway, partner has no chance to guess what my hand is."

Hopkins:"6---Bid what I think I can make and even if the heart lead is the killer, hope they won't make it because they don't have enough information. I would normally expect a diamond or club lead given this auction. I'm giving up on the perfecto for seven in partner's hand."

Schwartz::"7---A good grand might depend on partner having the nine of spades, and I might have trouble finding out which aces he has. Might as well bash it and keep the opponents guessing."

If you are going to bid seven, you can at least bid Blackwood and make sure partner has at least two aces. You don't want to be off the ace of trumps.


  Problem 3    Imps    Vul: Both    Partner (North) dealt  

South Holds


-K43
-KQ87
-J954
-54

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

---

1

Pass

1

Pass

1NT

Pass

2

Pass

2NT

Pass

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

3

100

5

17

3NT

70

3

54

Pass

40

3

88

3

20

0

2

4

20

0

1

What is your bid?

What can partner have to bid again over a sign-off? He must have a hand which got better when diamonds got supported. AQ2/J9/108765/AQJ for instance. To make three notrump, you need diamonds 2-2 and a little luck. However, if diamonds are not 2-2 and there is no luck, you will go down more than one in three notrump. There are only two correct answers to this problem. Three notrump if you think you can make three notrump, 3 if you don't think you can make three notrump. Passing two notrump can't be right at IMPs.

Four experts agree with me and retreat to 3. 3 has to be safer than two notrump.

Woolsey:"3---Two no what? Assuming partner hasn't lost his marbles or found an extra ace, what can he possibly have? Obviously a maximum with a long diamond suit -- a hand improved by the diamond fit. How does my hand look opposite this? A perfecto would be: Ax/xx/AK10xxx/QJx, although that is pretty strong for a one notrump rebid. Opposite that we would want to be in game, but that is a perfect hand. Simply switching the black suits makes game terrible. The conclusion is that three diamonds is high enough. The problem is that we have the wrong sort of heart holding for this sequence. We need fast tricks, not slow ones. A10xx of hearts would be much better."

Lublin:"3---For safety partner is probably 3244."

Roman:"3---Sounds like my 2 bid has excited partner to the extent that he couldn't bring himself to pass 2. The good news is that I have enough so that he'll make 3, but with no top diamond honor and no aces, I'm not going for it."

King:"3---I don't have enough for game and I think this contract is safer than two notrump."

Three experts bid game.

Adams:"Three notrump---What does partner have? How about 3-1-4-5 with sixteen HCPs? Opposite a 3-1-4-5 sixteen HCPs hand, three notrump may well depend on the quality of partner's stiff heart or the location of the Ace. Take my chances at IMPs."

Partner can't have an unbalanced hand. If partner had an unbalanced hand, he would have bid a new suit or raised diamonds and he would have rebid two clubs over one notrump. This sequence shows a balanced hand.

Schwartz:"Three notrump---I am playing partner to misbid or missort his hand as a fourteen count with a good diamond suit is worth a strong notrump. This auction is more likely over 1 as partner might be overvalued with a stiff spade. A stiff heart is much less likely. Partner should have the black suits locked up and we have a nine-card fit while the opponents shouldn't. Two notrump should be forcing to 3 with the known nine-card fit."

Picard:"Three notrump---This one is tough. Partner should have fourteen HCPs and something more (five diamonds). I have a maximum hand and should make a positive bid. Though I have difficulties to count nine tricks in notrump. It remains possible and, as we are vulnerable, I bid three notrump, hoping to find a hand like Jx/Axx/AQ10xx/Kxx and the king of diamonds."

Three experts pass two notrump. One should NEVER play two notrump if there is any alternative.

Cappelletti:"Pass---I would have passed one notrump (to end auction)."

Hopkins:"Pass---What else? I'm balanced, partner is balanced, and we don't have the HCPs for game. Partner should have twelve or so points in his three-card black suits. This looks like an Alert or misinformation problem."

Parker:"Pass---Partner must have only two hearts and therefore at least four diamonds. So what is he doing? He must have a good hand but less than a strong notrump. Since I am balanced two notrump should play fine."

An invitational sounding two notrump should be forcing for one round when there is a logical strain to play in. In this case you have a known diamond fit. Over 1 - 1 - 2 - two notrump, 3 has to be a reasonable contract. With a maximum either bid three notrump or make a forward going descriptive bid. With a minimum retreat to your long suit.


Problem 4 

  Matchpoints    Vul: None    You (South) Dealt  

South Holds


-J108765
-2
-AQ3
-K54

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

1

100

10

74

Pass

60

1

55

2

40

1

32

3

30

0

1

What is your bid?

A heavy 2, a light 1 or passing and hope to catch up later are the three choices. Passing and hoping to catch up later could cause you to miss a good game. Partner opens light in third or fourth seat holding KQx/Q5432/Kxx/J10, Axx/xxxx/KJxx/Qx or Qxx/xxxx/Kx/AQxx and then passes your 1 response. Partner could even have thirteen HCPs and pass your 1 response. The opening bid is like the serve in tennis. Big advantage to be serving and to open. When you open the bidding, nobody knows who's hand it is. The opponents save in 5 over your 4 bid and you bid 5. It turns out that the opponents are cold for 5 and you play 5 undoubled down two. Its the opponent's hand but each of them think that they are saving. You open 1 and LHO has a light opening bid with five bad hearts. He passes, partner bids 4 and you steal the hand. On the other side, partner leads the king of spades from Kx which costs a trick.

Nine experts agree with me and open 1.

Cappelletti:"1---Clearly enough trick taking potential to make an opening bid."

Woolsey:"1---This certainly isn't close to a weak-two bid, and it looks more like a 1 opening than a pass."

Lublin:"1---Would open 1 and keep bidding them but would pass three notrump."

Adams:"1---Just does not look like a non-vulnerable weak-two bid. Losing trick count and spade spots barely make this an opening bid."

Roman:"1---This is an important problem, not because of what you do (pass, 1 and 2 are all within reason) but a) What would your PARTNER do? and b) What does your partner expect YOU to do? My regular partners would open 1, and they would expect me to also. I believe 1 is the long-run winner. Yes, sometimes partner will drive to three notrump and have no play, but sometimes the opponents are now unable to bid THEIR game, and if it's a partscore deal you've gotten the first shot in."

Picard:"1---I don't like 2 because the hand is a bit too strong and HCPs are not in spades. I don't like passing because my side could miss something and I might have difficulties to find a bid if the auction comes back to me at the 3 level, for example."

Hopkins:"1---I have a six-card major, two quick tricks for defense, and am in first chair. I might consider 2 if all my HCPs were concentrated in the spade suit."

Parker:"1---A six-card suit and an opening bid = 1. What is the problem here?" King:"1---Too good to pass and I would never bid 2 with 90% of my points outside the suit."

Notice that not one expert opens 2, but some would if the hand was AQ6543/2/J43/K54. Only one expert passes.

Schwartz:"Pass---Suit not good enough for a two-bid, hand not good enough for one. Even Marty Bergin would pass with nineteen smoints."

When in doubt open the bidding. This is a bidders game.


Problem 5 

  Imps    Vul: None    LHO (West) dealt  

South Holds


-765
-32
-42
-J87654

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

1

Dbl

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

1

100

5

78

1

90

2

17

Pass

50

4

59

1NT

20

0

7

2

20

0

1

What is your bid?

Three choices. You could pass and hope to beat them. If they make 1 doubled, the score is only -140. You could bid 1 and hope partner doesn't hang you. The third choice is to bid 1. Partner is very unlikely to hang you if you bid 1. If you pass 1 doubled, partner has a right to think that you expect to beat the contract. He also has the right to think that you have values. Unless west has four good clubs or better, he will redouble to find another spot. Partner, assuming you have values, will start doubling or jumping. Unless partner has seven tricks, he will be disappointed.

Five experts bid 1. I don't like bidding three-card suits if there is any alternative.

Cappelletti:"1---If I pass 1 doubled, they will probably make overtricks. Or partner might think I have something if East runs, which could lead to greater disaster."

Adams:"1---Pass and 1 are tempting. Will be hard to stop partner if I pass or bid one notrump. Over 1, LHO might bid one notrump, warning partner. 1 tempting because I keep it low, make it easier to be outbid, and less likely for partner to stretch, just too painful when partner raises. Come to think of it, 1 is probably my best bid."

Roman:"1---Well folks, it's my fault we've been given this problem. A few panels ago, we were given some rock-crusher, doubled our RHO's 1 opening bid, and it went pass and partner bid 1 and it went pass back to us. I made the mistake at that time of saying that "since partner was 'known' to have a real spade suit..." My apologies...it turns out that partner is only OVERWHELMINGLY LIKELY to have four or more spades..."

If you bid 1 with this hand, your statement that partner was known to have a real spade suit would be correct. You would have to bid 1 if you have 765/J87654/42/54 and it went 1 - double - redouble.

Picard:"1---Hoping that partner will be discouraged. All options are scary. One might be interested in passing. But the dealer could redouble. My partner might then have difficulties to guess my hand (I would often have more HCPs) and the auction could run out of control."

King:"1---I take out this double to my longest suit outside clubs. I believe passing should show a better hand so partner can double any runouts by them with a strong hand. Besides 1 could easily make."

Four experts pass the double.

Woolsey:"Pass---This could be ugly, but I have found that when you respond a three-card suit to a takeout double partner invariably buries you. It's only 100 per overtrick in 1 doubled, rather than 200 per undertrick in some ridiculously high number of spades. In addition, there is a good chance that East won't have long clubs and he will run. When partner doubles their red-suit runout then I can bid 1, and I think partner will get the message and shut up."

Lublin:"Pass---Because any other bid will just get us higher and in trouble. Sometimes they don't make it."

Schwartz:"Pass---1 very dangerous as partner has a right to play you for four with two lower ranking suits. LHO fairly likely to have a balanced 18-19 count as RHO didn't bid out thus he might even run. They can't even redouble 1 as that should be for takeout."

I'm not sure I buy the not showing values by passing 1. Usually when you pass partner's takeout double, you expect to beat the contract. What happens when West redoubles and partner take an action based upon your assumed strength?

Hopkins:"Pass---It's not game and the opponents might rescue us (if needed) by going somewhere else to escape the bad trump split. I expect to be -240 or so. I do avoid the problem of partner's leaping to game in any artificial response I make."

One expert agrees with me and bids a two-card suit. While I don't like bidding two-card suits, the alternatives are worse. Unless partner jumps in spades, I can pass his next bid including 2.

Parker:"1---No way will I pass assuming we are about to go for a number and we can hold them to only -360 or so. I will let partner die at some low level, even 2 if that is his next bid."

If there is any alternative, try not to bid a three-card major. That's the one call which will excite partner and get him overbid.


How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score
  John Adams    3   4NT   3NT   1   1   470
  Steve Robinson    Pass   4NT   3   1   1   470
  Jeff Roman    Pass   6   3   1   1   450
  Mike Cappelletti    3   4NT   Pass   1   1   440
  Fred King    Pass   4   3   1   1   430
  Steve Parker   3   4NT   Pass   1   1   430
  Glenn Lublin   3   4   3   1   Pass   400
  Kit Woolsey   2   4NT   3   1   Pass   400
  Jack Lacy   4   6   3NT   1   1   370
  Robbie Hopkins   3   6   Pass   1   Pass   360

  Alan Schwartz

  2   7

  3NT

  Pass

  Pass

  270


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