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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club

Jan/Feb 2002


Moderator: Steve Robinson


Congratulations to David Chechelashvili, Mark Chen, Ellen Cherniavsky, Rick Eissenstat, Paul Krueger, Ransome Price, Fred Steinberg and Kefu Xu who tied for first with a score of 490. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Tied for ninth were Seymore Baden, Sam Gumbert, Leo Lasota, and Dave Smith with a score of 480. Tied for thirteenth were Art Hayes, Lorraine Jarboe, Ken Kaufman, Ed Lewis, Tom Musso, Lloyd Rawley, Noble Shore and Pete Whipple with a score of 470. Tied for twenty-first were Steve Carton, Mark Laken, Jim Murphy, Mette Smith and David Rodney with a score of 460. Tied for twenty- sixth were Ivan Brendler, Manuel Paulo and Mark Shaw with a score of 450. Tied for twenty-ninth were Kent Goulding, Larry Kahn, Jim Mates and George Zolvick with a score of 440. The average score of the 149 solvers was 377. The average score of the experts was 410.

The following scores were omitted from my last column. Jian Jian Wang had 450 and tied for first. Helene Fournier had a 420.

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: Both   LHO (West) dealt  

South Holds


-Void
-K10876
-AJ765
-1032

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

1

1

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

1NT

100

6

38

Pass

90

5

77

2

50

1

32

2

20

0

1

  What is your bid? 
Is this a misfit where the object is to avoid going for a large number? Does partner have the values that will allow you to go plus in either diamonds or notrump? There is no correct answer to this problem. Give partner AQJxxx/x/xx/Jxxx and 1 is high enough. If you bid, partner will rebid his spade suit and you will be one level higher. Give partner Jxxxx/Q/KQxx/AQx and you could possibly make 5. Give partner AQJ10xx/-/Qxxx/KJx and 4 is a reasonable contract. Give partner KJxxx/Qx/Kx/QJxx and one notrump is where you belong. Passing is the best chance to avoid going for a large number. West will pass with a minimum since he probably has spade length. If West does reopen, passing will discourage partner from bidding again.

Four experts agree with me and give up on this hand.

Adams:"Pass---Any bid I make risks getting higher in spades. Pass risks playing 1 undoubled at 100 per trick. Since the rest of the room has a problem, will settle for smaller minus score. Hand is not notrump oriented, and 2 risks large minus (either partner bids again, or opponents sniff out misfit. If partner has a good hand, this might be the only way to go plus."

Sarangan:"Pass---I'll bid 2 if 1 gets doubled."

If 1 gets doubled, it might be right to offer partner a choice of other strains.

Hall:"Pass---In tempo; Get out of misfit auctions smoothly and hope opponents reenter."

Roman:"Pass---Clearly best if they balance and not necessarily bad if they don't. Second choice is one notrump. 2 with no hand and no suit is out."

One notrump might be a better spot but wouldn't partner rebid a six-card spade suit? This is probably the best reason to pass 1.

Parker:"One notrump---How about 2 transfer to 2? Transfer responses to overcalls really do work well. Not using them, my choices are to pass and then run to 2 if they double or go down slowly in spades, bid 2 and hope partner stays quite or bid one notrump and hope to find a better fit. I will try to get out with one notrump."

I'm not sure about transfers in this situation since you have to give up playing either one notrump or 2.

Woolsey:"One notrump---I'm not going to pass and play a possibly silly 5-0 spade fit. 2 is possible, but notrump scores more and I do have a pretty good heart stopper."

So you play a silly 6-0 fit at the two-level instead.

Lublin:"One notrump---Bid one notrump and run to diamonds if doubled."

Wang:"One notrump---I would like to improve the contract, though may get worse if partner rebids spades."

Hopkins:"One notrump---Well, this is about right on HCPs. If partner passes or names a new suit, my improvement gamble will have paid off."

Schwartz:"One notrump---Down a few vulnerable in 1 probably won't be a good score. LHO might not be able to balance with spade length."

One expert raises the level and the stakes.

King:"2---Can't bid a notrump with a void and don't want to leave partner in 1 going down at 100 a trick. Hope I am going from fire to frying pan."

Stay low on misfit hands.


  Problem 2    Matchpoints    Vul: Both    LHO (West) dealt  

South Holds


-AK43
-543
-1065
-AK3

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East 

---

1

1

1

Dbl*

Pass**

1

2

?????

     

*Dbl shows spades

**Pass denies 3 hearts

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

2

100

4

17

3

90

5

38

3

60

1

2

2

60

1

15

3NT

50

0

0

2

50

0

33

Dbl

50

0

10

2NT

50

0

2

3

40

0

14

4

20

0

9

Pass

20

0

4

3

20

0

5

What is your bid?
A word about the double. If you had AQJxx of hearts, it wouldn't make sense to double 1 for penalties. 1 is forcing and a penalty double would slow the opponents down. By waiting, you might get a chance to double 4. It is better to play the double of 1 as takeout. This takeout double is called Snap Dragon Double. Double of the third suit shows the fourth suit with tolerance for partner's suit. Usually the double of 1 shows exactly four spades. Over the double, partner has to bid something. If partner has Qxx/xxx/AQxxx/xx, he has to bid his three-card spade suit. Therefore, you can't hang partner and jump in spades.

There are clues to partner's distribution and strength. He should have at least three hearts since the opponent's have not found an eight-card heart fit. 3352 is partner's likely distribution. West opened and East bid twice freely and you have fourteen HCPs. With everyone bidding, partner is probably on the light side, probably exactly eight HCPs. This is a partscore battle. Knowing this, what should you bid?

Three experts agree with me and support partner's diamonds. Why only 2? Partner knows what you have. If partner has four spades, he'll rebid them and then we'll play in spades. Since partner has a minimum overcall the limit is about nine tricks. If diamonds split badly or the king of diamonds is offsides, we might take only eight tricks.

Adams:"2---Would not surprise me to get a whack at a lawful 3 bid (therefore double is out). Partner will retreat to 2 with four, and game is unlikely without."

Adams has a good point. If the opponents bid 3, doubling will get +200 assuming that partner has one defensive trick.

King:"2---Will show support for diamonds along with the spades partner knows I have."

Hall:"2---Partner probably had just a lead-directing overcall and may have only three spades. We've shown four spades. Now, showing a double fit may help partner make the right decision."

Five experts bid 3. There's are two reasons why I don't like 3. If you bid 3, you can't double 3 and get 200. Also, West gets to make a lead-directing pass. Maybe East will lead a heart which, from my viewpoint, looks like the best start for the defense. Also, it seems that some of the 3 bidders are on the verge of going minus.

Lublin:"3---Seems automatic to show best hand and not hang partner."

Wang:"3---Three notrump is possible if partner has AQJxx+ in diamonds and opponents can't run five hearts."

And the diamond king is onsides and they split 3-2.

Sarangan:"3---Game in notrump has remote chances of making but even in matchpoints 4 has to be a better bet. I will pass partner's 3. If by chance partner bids 3 I'll bid 4. If he bids 3 I will raise to 4 giving him a choice of bidding game or passing (spade or diamond game)."

Parker:"3---I don't want to blast into game if partner is 4513 and has three heart losers and a diamond loser. Give him Qxxx/Jxx/AKxxx/x, three is the limit. Someone is light given all this bidding. My guess is that it is partner. 3 should not ask for notrump with a club stopper since I have shown spades with my negative double."

Hopkins:"3---I intend to follow with a raise to game in spades. The likely club opening lead may allow us to make it even when partner has the wrong hand such as QJxx/Qxx/KQJxx/x."

One expert jumps in diamonds. Even the 3 bidder says it's an overbid.

Woolsey:"3---I have to make some move toward game, but I'm not strong enough to bid game myself opposite one of those famous eight-point overcalls. This bid invites, as well as putting us in a playable contract if we don't have a game."

Schwartz:"2---If partner can't bid past 2 we are probably high enough. The lack of a support double is troubling. If partner bids 2 with three, the 4-3 spade fit might play well."

The next expert places partner with a specific eight HCPs. Partner never has the exact cards you want him to have. Just make the jack of diamonds the jack of hearts and three notrump has no play.

Roman:"Three notrump---MY partner is going to table xxxx/xxx/AQJxx/x."

My partner is going to table Qxx/Qxx/KJ10xx/xx.

When you show a suit and partner is forced to bid it, don't be surprised if partner bids the suit with only three.


  Problem 3    Matchpoints    Vul: None    You (South) dealt  

South Holds


-3
-543
-KQJ54
-KQ32

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

1

1

Pass

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Pass

100

10

82

2

70

2

53

Dbl

40

0

8

2

20

0

5

4

20

0

1

What is your bid?

The genie on your left shoulder says look at your singleton spade and pass. The genie on your right shoulder says don't let the opponents play at the one-level. Which genie do you listen to? If partner has xxxx/AQJ9/x/Axxx or AJ109/AQ109/xx/xxx you should bid. On the first you can make 5, on the second you can make three notrump. Partner won't be happy getting 50 points a trick defending 1. However, if partner has xxx/QJ10x/xx/J10xx, you should pass. Since partner could have either a weak hand or a good hand, passing assumes that the opponents have made a mistake. If I bid and push the opponents to their makeable spade game, I will be even with the field. I might be ahead of the field if bidding pushes the opponents into a normal contract and we defend one trick better. I might be ahead of the field if I catch partner with long clubs and we take a good 5 save. If I pass and West has made a non-field overcall, I will be behind the field. Another factor is, how strong can partner be to pass 1. If partner could have an opening bid, then passing is wrong.

Ten experts end the auction. They all ask where are the spades? Good players don't lose the spade suit. If East-West are good players, partner has the spades, the hearts and his share of the points. He is waiting in the bushes to pounce.

Adams:"Pass---Is this a joke? No defense, not much more offense, and the opponents are not in their best suit. Maybe I can script a hand where it is right to bid, but surely odds must heavily favor a pass."

Sarangan:"Pass---Aceless hand. Partner could not get to breathe a negative double. Either East or West has made some error."

Parker:"Pass---Where are the spades? I have nothing and partner should not have a penalty pass of 1 and spades too. He should double if he has a good hand and spades. I would pass if they had bid spades and it went Pass - Pass to me."

I think everyone would reopen if the overcall had been 1.

Woolsey:"Pass---Happily! I have a minimum, and the opponents appear to have missed their spade spot. Why go looking for trouble?"

Hall:"Pass---Partner may have hearts but they have spades."

Lublin:"Pass---Something is wrong with deck. Opponent's must have nine spades." Wang:"Pass---Strange, where are the spades?"

Hopkins:"Pass---If partner has a penalty pass of 1, we will at least be plus. If not, I see no reason to get into this auction."

Schwartz:"Pass---They rate to be cold for 4. Even if partner has an opening bid with a trap with hearts, it would be difficult for us to get to 4."

Roman:"Pass---It sounds to me like my opening bid has picked off their spade game (slam?)...balancing would be crazy."

One expert agrees with me and balances.

King:"2---I don't want to double with a stiff spade and so little for defense and don't want to sell out, although maybe I should ask where are the spades?"

Don't always assume that the opponents have made an error.


Problem 4 

  Imps    Vul: None    Partner (North) Dealt  

South Holds


-KJ32
-K43
-654
-432

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

---

1

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

2

100

9

105

1NT

70

2

17

1

20

1

27

What is your bid?
Three possibilities: Raise hearts strongly by bidding 2; raise hearts weakly by bidding one-notrump first and then supporting hearts; bid your four-card spade suit and then support hearts. Of the three possibilities, bidding 1 is last on my list. If you bid 1 and then bid 2, partner expects you to have five spades and only two hearts. You should not bid 1 over 1 unless you have at least three more spades than hearts. So how do we raise hearts? In Washington Standard, raising to 2 is constructive and shows that you would accept at least one game try. If I bid 2 and partner bids 3, would 3 be a happy contract? Give partner x/AQJxx/AKx/Qxxx, 3 is touch and go and partner might even bid 4. Its close but I don't think this hand is worth a raise. If partner makes a game try needing help in one of the minor suits, he's going to be sadly disappointed. Only a spade game try would make this hand worth a raise.

Nine experts raise hearts directly.

Adams:"2---Too good for one-notrump forcing, and 1 invites disaster. Another clear-cut bid."

Parker:"2---Show your fit as soon as possible. Plus if we are playing Flannery, spades should show five. This is too good a hand to bid one notrump and correct to hearts."

Woolsey:"2---What's the catch? This is a routine raise. Bidding one notrump on this sort of hand is just silly in my opinion."

Woolsey believes that you should raise with support no matter how weak you are.

Hall:"2---When you have just one bid, always support partner."

Lublin:"2---Not going to encourage by bidding spade first and too strong for forcing notrump and then 2."

King:"2---What's the problem?"

Hopkins:"2---I am slightly too good for a forcing notrump or 1 followed by a 2 preference."

Schwartz:"2---Don't want to take a preference with a decent hand holding three trumps if I bid something else first."

Roman:"2---I can't wait to read what I'm missing about this "problem"..."

Bidding one notrump or 1 and then bidding 2 is usually done on a doubleton heart. Tends to slow down the auction.

Wang:"1---Rebid 2 would be ok for this so-so hand. I would bid one notrump if a bit worse, direct 2 if a bit better."

One expert agrees with my evaluation.

Sarangan:"One notrump---This hand is so terrible I'll risk lying by bidding one-forcing notrump followed by 2. If partner jumps shifts after one notrump, I bid 4. Yes I realize my bid shows only two hearts but I will take that risk."

If you are not playing one-notrump forcing, you have to bid 2. No choice. Playing one-notrump forcing, you have a choice and a direct 2 is constructive.


Problem 5 

  Imps    Vul: None    Partner (North) dealt  

South Holds


-KQ102
-3
-7654
-A1032

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

---

---

1

Pass

1

Pass

4

Dbl

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Pass

100

6

37

4NT

80

4

40

5

70

0

36

4

50

1

19

6

50

0

5

4

50

0

9

ReDbl

50

0

2

5

20

1

0

6

20

0

1

What is your bid?
4 is a splinter. It shows a game-forcing hand, four spades with diamond shortness. Shortness means singleton or void. The singleton could be the singleton ace or king. You have three primary honors. The smell of slam is in the air. The least partner can hold is Axxx/AKxxx/x/KQx which just needs good splits to make 6. He could hold as much as AJxx/AKxxxxx/-/Kx. This is a reasonable grand. The simplest way to get to the right level is to bid Keycard. Keycard avoids cuebidding auctions which I despise. Keycard also avoids the problem that would arise if West bids 5.

Three experts agree with me and keep the auction simple. Hall:"Four notrump---Splinter suggests we're dealing with a 30-point deck, everything is working and slam is likely."

Hopkins:"Four notrump---I have strong trumps and controls. The optimal hand for partner is something like AJxx/AKQxxx/x/Kx."

Roman:"Four notrump---Partner has weak spades, so the rest of his hand is probably enough."

Six experts pass. With no slam interest south would bid 4. Pass is encouraging. Opposite a singleton showing bid, redouble shows first round control.

Adams:"Pass---We are getting to slam if not off key cards. Pass leaves room for partner to redouble or bid Roman Key Card. I've a wonderful hand for responding to RKC. I do not like 4, as I have no Ace or King (surely last train does not apply when a pass is available). I dislike four notrump RKC even more, because of void showing issues."

If partner shows a void, he wants to get to seven unless a keycard is missing.

Woolsey:"Pass---I have nice cards, but that missing fifth trump could hurt a lot. Give partner something like AJxx/AKxxx/x/KQx, and slam is only so-so. If partner can make a move I will cooperate, but if partner quits now I will also."

Lublin:"Pass---Hear what partner wants to do. If he bids 4 I'll Blackwood into 6. If he redoubles I'll bid 5. Key is to pass first."

Wang:"Pass---Without double, I would bid 4 as last train. With double, this pass should show some interest."

King:"Pass---This should be stronger than bidding 4 and lets partner redouble with a void or cue bid 4 if he so chooses. When opponents give you extra bids like pass and redouble, they should have meanings." Schwartz:"Pass---Thank you opponents. I have enough to suggest slam without getting overboard now."

One expert is very conservative.

Sarangan:"4---Partner is 4513 or 4603 or 4504. Hearts are probably not breaking. I see four spades, three hearts, two diamond ruffs and maybe two clubs. I am still fishing for the 12th trick. If I had a doubleton heart I would explore with four notrump or 5."

Jumping to five-of-the-trump suit is almost as bad as cuebidding. What does a jump to 5 ask for? Good trumps? Extra values? Who knows?

Parker:"5---Asking for second round control of clubs. Partner needs the club king to have a good play for slam. This seems to be the easiest way to find out about clubs. If he has Axxx/AKQxx/x/Qxx, we have no play but if he has Kxx of clubs we should make."

Try to avoid auctions where partner has to use judgment. Keycard does that.


How the Experts Voted:
  Expert / Problem     1   2   3   4   5   Score

John Adams 

Pass

2

Pass

2

Pass

490

Glenn Lublin 

1NT

3

Pass

2

Pass

490

Burt & Lynn Hall

Pass

2

Pass

2

4NT

470

Robbie Hopkins

1NT

3

Pass

2

4NT

470

Kit Woolsey

1NT

3

Pass

2

Pass

460

Alan Schwartz

1NT

2

Pass

2

Pass

460

Jeff Roman

Pass

3NT

Pass

2

4NT

430

Jian-Jian Wang

1NT

3

Pass

1

Pass

410

Steve Parker

1NT

3

Pass

2

5

410

Steve Robinson

Pass

2

2

1NT

4NT

410

Ram Sarangan

Pass

3

Pass

1NT

4

400

Fred King

2

2

2

2

Pass

390


Don Berman, Web Master.