ACBL Unit 147
American Contract Bridge League
Washington Bridge League
Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference
Solvers Rules and Instructions
Berman, Web Master
Novice / Newcomers
Washington Bridge League Solver's Club
- May/Jun 2004
Moderator: Steve Robinson
Congratulations to Jim Creech and Razvan Spiridones who tied for first
with a score of 480. They win a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited
to be on a future panel. Tied for third were Charity
Sack, Pete Whipple, Chuck Yaple, Jeff Pastaner, Curtis Bare
and Don McCarthy with a score of 470. Tied for ninth were Yi Zhong, Dave Smith
and Joe Lentz with a score of 460. Tied for twelfth were Walter Beckerman, Donna Rogall, Rick Eissenstat, Ellen Cherniavsky and
Don Berman with a score of 450. Tied for seventeenth were Alan Kravetz, Brad
Theurer, Barry Bragin, Rob Graves, Helen Solomon, Rich Uhrig, Enid Asherman and
David Walker with a score of 440. Tied for twenty-fifth were Al Duncker, Nikola
Tcholakov, Mike Zane, David Chechelashvili, Randy Thompson, Marvin Elster and
Sonney Taragin with a score of 430. Tied for thirty-second were Tim Wright,
Linda Gaylor, Monique Smith, Robert Cohen, Steven Ivins, Jean Franke, Barbara
Israel, Barbara Summers, Leon Letwin, Lyle Poe and Jeff Kosnett with a score of
420. The average score of the 265 solvers was 353. 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 email@example.com. WBL
Solvers Club uses Washington Standard as published July 1996.
The book Washington Standard
second edition is out. If you are a
serious bridge player, this book is a must.
You can purchase a copy from Steve for $25.00 at the Unit Game and at
tournaments or can send him a check for $28.95 that includes $3.95 for priority
The Bidding Thus Far
The Panel's Votes
What is your bid?
The opponents have at
least nine hearts since partner did not make a negative double. If your partner
bids 1NT in this situation when holding four hearts, it gives a distorted view
of his hand. Give the 1NT bidder a normal eight-point hand such as KJxJxxQxxxJxx. 1NT makes only eight
tricks for +120 if hearts are evenly divided 5-4 but diamonds will usually make
ten tricks for +130. Change the jack of clubs to the queen and 5 will be on a finesse and on
good breaks. Bids in competition do not have to be as strong as constructive
bids since it’s important to be able to compete. You have to be able to follow
the Law which means that you shouldn’t let the opponents play at a low level.
Partner should take competitive free bids, even reverses, with a grain of salt.
Also, partner can’t do too much since his hand is limited to ten HCPs.
Six experts agree with
me and show their second suit.
Woolsey: ”2---We aren't playing in
notrump with a stiff heart after partner doesn't make a negative double. I have
great playing value for either minor if we have a good fit, and partner will
know whether or not we have a good fit when I describe my hand.”
”2---Unless partner has five
spades, we have a minor suit fit. The opponents have hearts, and I have a good
hand, so I must find a way to compete. With my extras, I might worry about what
to do later, but this bid seems clear. I dislike 2. It shows values, but
nothing about my hand.”
Stone: ”2---I have a slight complaint about this problem insofar as an opening bid of
1 would seem far superior to 1. Having opened 1, however, I’m really locked
into reversing with 2♦, a slight overbid, but otherwise reasonably accurate.
Partner should be able to make an intelligent response based on his holding,
particularly in hearts, and should not play this reverse as necessarily game
forcing. But we might be able to bid and make game in notrump opposite
QxxKQxQxxxxxx or in diamonds opposite Kxxxxx♦QxxxxKx or in clubs
opposite Kxxxxx♦QJxKxxx. 2 is an inferior bid insofar as it doesn’t get
diamonds into play and eliminates notrump even when it’s right to play notrump.
The only reasonable alternative, I think, is pass, but pass is an unnecessary
crapshoot and is likely to lose in the play (I know that the opponents have at
least a nine-card heart fit and that East will be leading one) and may lose in
the bidding if the opponents compete in hearts.”
There is something
to be said about opening 1 but if you think this hand is worth a reverse, you should open 1.
Parker: ”2---Partner does not have
four hearts so the opponents should lead them. I will bid out my shape and let
partner decide on the best level and fit. My hand qualifies for a reverse with
all the primes. If he bids 3, do I
promise a rebid? I think not and will pass.”
”2---I guess this person
thought the hand was worth a reverse, that’s why it was opened with 1. I would open 1, so I have to follow
through. I hope to play in three-of-a-minor. Only if partner bids 3NT am I in
trouble and maybe hearts are 6-3 with no entry then.”
”2---I am going to give
partner a picture of my hand and hope we can work out a reasonable strain and
level. Partner could have anything from KJxxxxQxxxxKx where 6 has a play to Q10xxKQ10JxxJxx where even 2NT is in
Three experts pass. They are dreaming if
1NT gets passed out. If West bids 2 and East raises, diamonds
will never be brought into the picture.
is possible but unlikely, unless partner has great minor fit. Note that a 2
reverse would probably result in having three opponents at the table instead of
two. And 1NT might well produce a better matchpoint score than playing in a
minor, 120 to 110. But, in view of partner's not making a negative double, I
expect West to reopen, probably with 2, which
if passed around to me, I would then bid 2NT which should give us best chance
to get to the right spot. If opponents compete to 3,
I must certainly double which might help partner's heart holding.”
they bid 2, I'll balance with 2NT, showing clubs and diamonds. I would've
Lerner: ”Pass---2 is ugly especially if
partner is 3352 and will get RHO
to bid the six-card heart suit. 1NT making one or two seems the best place for
a good matchpoint score.”
One expert shows a singleton heart I hope
but it does show a game forcing hand. It also allows West to show his hearts by
”3---Partner should get
message and place final contract.”
The following bid could be a good save and
will probably shut out the heart suit.
King: ”2NT:---I’m mostly
concerned with making it as difficult as possible for West to introduce the
heart suit where they seem to have at least a nine-card.”
What is your bid?
Again the opponents have
at least nine hearts and the question is how many hearts can they make. The
best matchpoint strategy is to jump directly to 5. This will very likely shut
out the heart suit since the opponents have to introduce them at the
five-level. If 5 is going
down, jumping directly to 5 could
allow you to buy the contract undoubled. After all, neither West nor East will
know whose hand it is.
Four experts agree with
me and make the practical bid.
”5---Hard to imagine passing
over 4, so must
give opponents a guess. Might make also.”
Stone: ”5---This problem bears a resemblance to the previous one in that the
opponents apparently have an undisclosed nine+ card heart fit. But that is not
a certainty here, since partner might have chosen to preempt at this
vulnerability with something like xQxxxxJxxxxxx. The problem is that I
can’t play for that, and even if that were the case, I may have no defense
against 4 if West has six spades. Whether 5 will make depends on what partner
holds in clubs, so it might be tempting to temporize with 4. But if partner
has nothing in clubs, what confident defense do I have against my opponent’s
game? And 4 would make it much easier for West to get in with double or 4.
No, it must be right to follow my (and probably everyone else’s) first instinct
and blast to 5.”
might not make, but I'll bid it now instead of over 4.”
”5---Two-way action. May make
or they make 4.”
Four experts make game tries. The problem
is that it allows West to introduce hearts at the four-level.
Parker: ”4---We have ten diamonds and
need to be at the four-level at least. Once again the opponents have nine or
more hearts and have not yet bid them. No sense in letting them in at the
three-level. Partner may have xxxxxxxxxAJxx and we should make 5 which he will bid. If he
has values in hearts we will settle in 4.”
needs as little as xxxx10xxxxKxxx
to give me essentially a 50% shot at game. I mean 4 as a game try and will
hope partner reads it and reacts accordingly.”
”3---Club king and stiff spade
is enough for decent game, but more likely will get to 4 and should shut out
King: ”4---Again I want to make it
more difficult for West to introduce hearts.”
Two experts pass. Just like the previous hand,
you’re in a dream world if you think that hearts are not going to be bid.
Woolsey: ”Pass---Weak means weak. The bad
guys probably have a heart fit, but that doesn't mean they will find it. I'll bet we steal the pot right here.”
Lerner: ”Pass---A stiff spade, club honor
and five trumps is too much to expect. Take the plus.”
When you know the opponents have a good fit, make it difficult for
them to find it. They will find it eight times out of ten if you put your head
in the sand.
complaints about this opening bid but like tennis, he who serves at tennis or
opens at bridge has the advantage. So we’ve opened, and you have to live with
opening, and partner has made a negative double. We have three choices. Rebid
the nine-high diamond suit, bid a three-card major, bid notrump with a
sub-minimum hand or pass for penalties. I preach strongly that one does not bid
a three-card suit unless there is no other possibility. If I held AJxAJxQxxxxxx,
I would rebid 2 but I wouldn’t like it. A second choice
is rebidding 2NT but unless partner has an opening bid, you don’t want to play
in notrump with minimal values. You don’t want to encourage partner which is
what bidding 2 or 2NT would do. Partner has an
eleven-point hand and raises 2NT to three or raises 2
to four. Here there is a reasonable alternative action. Rebid your five-card
diamond suit. Unless partner has an opening bid, he will pass 2,
bid a long major or raise diamonds. Either way you will stay low.
agree with me and rebid their five-card diamond suit. Rebidding 2
also follows the - when in doubt make the cheapest call - theory. By bidding 2,
you allow partner to show a five-card major at the two-level. By bidding 2
you make the bid that is least likely to excite partner.
low. This is wrong hand for a 2 bid which might well turn on partner and
get us too high.”
Stone: ”2---I have an objection to this problem insofar as my hand does not merit an
opening bid. I know all about spot card values and the value of concentration
of honors, but those are more than offset on this hand by a lack of any honor
cards in my long suit. That said, I have a serious problem in how least
to mislead, and ultimately disappoint partner, at this point in the auction.
One possibility is to bid 2. This might play as well as, and score better than
2. The problem is that partner might raise with four hearts and will probably
raise with five hearts. In addition, we might end up playing in a 3-3 heart fit
rather than in our 5-3 or 5-4 card diamond fit with partner having
”A second possibility is to convert partner’s double
to penalties. After all, what values I have are primarily defensive in nature.
If partner has extra values and/or East has a singleton club or can’t be
reached twice to lead clubs, then we might be able to collect 200 versus our
part score or 500 versus our non-vulnerable game. The problem is that West may
be cold for 8+ tricks in clubs, and even if 2 is theoretically beatable with
best defense, partner may be giving away a trick or more by leading a diamond.
”A third possibility is to bid 2. The advantage of
2 is that diamonds is likely our longest suit; the disadvantage is that it may
not be our best contract because we could have four diamond losers opposite
partner’s possible Qx. What seems clear to me is that 2 is superior to 2NT.
With 11-12 HCP, partner will likely raise 2NT to 3NT, while he may go low over
my 2. Furthermore, over my 2, partner,
with 8-11 HCP and a 5-card major, can introduce the major at the two-level
rather than at the three-level which is necessary over my 2NT.”
Roman: ”2---This isn't the same as
rebidding diamonds, since partner asked me to pick a suit. I'm not bidding
notrump unless partner forces to game (if I bid 2NT and partner passed, it's
likely to be a terrible contract), and 2 is for heroes. It's
important that you and your partner agree to open this hand.”
Parker: ”2---Let’s see, no four-card
major, no opening bid so why would I ever bid a three-card major and get
partner excited? If I wanted to get in a lead director I would have opened 1.”
Five experts rebid 2. They deserve to find
partner with AKxxxxxxAxxxx and they will end up in 4 possibly doubled or AKxxJxxJxxxxx and they will end up in
Woolsey: ”2---Not quite enough in clubs
to justify passing. All bids (2, 2, and 2NT) risk getting to a
lousy contract. 2 will be
great if partner has five hearts, and quite likely best if he has four. Let's
hope we aren't playing in our finest 3-3 fit.”
”2---Maybe this will help the
lead if they win the bidding. Maybe it will be right strain. 2NT has no tricks,
really bad trumps, and Pass needs partner to produce a lot of tricks. Downside
is partner could bid again.”
Lerner: ”2---Least lie. At least we'll
be in a decent seven-card fit.”
Unless partner has three hearts also.
”2---Hope for the best. Too
weak to pass.”
”2---2NT shows values. 2 rebid shows only five but
not these five. Prefer not opening eleven with bad suits. Bidding with three
hearts safer than normal as the 2-bidder probably has values
to compensate for the poor club suit.”
Two experts try notrump.
I opened this hand and must therefore continue as if I had an opening bid. 2NT
best expresses the nature of the hand (balanced, Club stoppers, minimum) and
also shuts out the Spade suit if partner doesn't have four.”
King: ”2NT---I guess if your system calls
for opening hands this light, and I would never open it myself, then 2NT seems
the call to show a minimum hand with a double stopper in the suit.”
Sometimes you get too high when you open
light but more often you steal the hand when the opponents don’t know whose
hand it is.
What is your bid?
This is one of those hands at matchpoints
or even IMPs where you have a chance to get a very good score with little risk.
The opponents have bid a suit that is not splitting well. Partner could have
five or even six spades and would be very happy to hear your reopening double.
Partner couldn’t double for three possible reasons. One is that his double
could be asking you to bid your suit. The second reason he might not double is
the fear that you don’t have defense. Your one-suited double could be based on -KQJxxxQJxxxxx which might not deliver
any defensive tricks. The third reason is that he might be afraid that the
opponents have a better spot. If you double and partner passes, you have two
sure defensive tricks and two other cards that could also take tricks. You are
sitting behind the notrump opener. If you double and partner does not have a
spade stack, he can bid 2NT asking you to bid your suit or he could bid a
five-card minor which would be OK with you. It’s almost impossible for you not
to have to have an eight-card fit somewhere. Doubleing might drive the
opponents to 3 and it’s
always better to defend 3 than 2.
Three experts agree with me and try for
the brass ring.
Woolsey: ”Double---Even if there were
initially some doubt as to whether this is takeout or penalties (I definitely
think it should be takeout), partner will certainly be holding enough spades to
know. If partner doesn't have a penalty pass and doesn't have a long suit of
his own to bid, he can bid 2NT and now I can show my heart suit.”
Stone: ”Double---On the bidding, partner
must have somewhere between five and fourteen HCP, and he is likely to have
some useful values since he didn’t double (e.g., with KQJ10x in spades).
Therefore, it must be wrong for me to pass. The question is how should I
reenter the auction. The choices are 3
and double. I think double describes my hand well and has four chances to win,
versus only one for 3. First partner
may have an intermediate hand with good or long spades with which to convert my
double to penalties. Partner couldn’t immediately double with this type of
hand, because my original double could have been made with no defense, e.g.,
-KQJxxxQJ10xxxx. Second, double brings the possibility of a club or diamond
contract into play. With five or more clubs or diamonds and shortness in
hearts, partner should feel comfortable bidding his suit. Third, with no
singletons or voids, partner should bid 2NT, so that I can identify my long
suit; thus we will get to 3 when that is our best contract. Fourth, quite
possibly, the end result will be that the opponents compete to 3 since, in the
typical case, they will have nine+ spades between them, but we may be able to
beat that contract and in some of those cases partner will be able to double
after I have shown values by doubling 2.”
”Double---Partner's double of 2 would mean please bid your
suit, so my first job is to protect him. If he doesn't pass, I'll bid 3, of course.”
Only if partner bids 2NT. If partner bids
a minor, you have great support opposite a five-card suit.
Seven experts put their
heads in the sand. Not the way to play matchpoints or even IMPs. I would expert
partner to pass 2 doubled
about 80% of the time and most of those 80% you will get at least 300. Not bad
Partner wanted to hear my suit, partner could double. Maybe the 6-0 spade break
will be enough to get a plus score. If double were takeout, I might try it, but
since we have thrown out our bidding system on this hand, I can't know what
I would expect double of 2 is a takeout double.
”Pass---Lousy spots, no reason to
think partner has a fit.”
Parker: ”Pass---This could easily be a
misfit so why get to the three-level vulnerable and go for the dreaded 200.
They may go down with partner having a trump stack. This will not be the field
spot so why gamble on getting to a better spot.”
”Pass---Double is too likely to
get passed out as partner will expect a better hand vulnerable against not.
Also it might be difficult to get to our best spot if it's not hearts.”
could have bid 2NT if he wanted me to show my suit so I am going to hope
partner has trump cards and defend.”
King: ”Pass---I know it is wrong to sell
out at the two-level when the opponents have at least an eight-card fit, but
bidding seems too likely to lead to the deadly –200 or more.”
If it’s wrong to sell out when the
opponent’s have an eight-card fit, why do it?
One expert insists on playing in hearts.
If partner wanted to play in your long suit, he would have done something over
”3---Can’t let them play at
the two-level and don’t want to double and defend.”
It’s usually wrong to
sell out when you are short in the opponent’s suit when you’re not sure that
you have a fit. It is definitely wrong to sell out when you know that you have
What is your bid?
The one thing I
have learned is that if you pass with a very good hand, you will find it hard
to catch up later. The five possibilities are to overcall a four-card diamond
suit, overcall a four-card spade suit, overcall a heavy 1NT that includes a
singleton. You could also make a takeout double holding a singleton in an unbid
major and you know what I think of that. Or you can pass and hope to catch up
later. All have flaws. If you overcall 1 or 1,
it might go all pass. If you overcall 1NT or double, partner might insist on
playing in hearts. And if you pass, you might end up defending 1
at 50 a trick when you are cold for game.
agree with me and overcall a heavy notrump. If partner transfers to hearts,
maybe the Jack will help solidify the suit. The risk is when partner passes 1NT
and he has four spades or four diamonds.
jack compensates for missing heart.”
of slow tricks and no desire to double and hear partner compete in hearts. I
will bid 2NT over a transfer to hearts by partner. Second choice is to pass and
then double after they bid hearts. The notrump overcall may keep them out of
Four experts overcall 1. Hopefully someone will bid
hearts so they can get the spade suit in.
cut to keep bidding low and see if partner can respond. If partner bids 1,
I will bid 2.”
”1---Partner never believes I
am this good when I pass, so I bid. If I bid spades next, I will not have to
worry about partner expecting five. Double is out. 1NT is misdirected. 1 also leaves room for more
bidding, which is to my advantage.”
”1---I am going to leave as
much room as possible for partner to enter the auction.”
King: ”1---I can introduce spades
over hearts if the opponents bid and raise that suit.”
Two experts pass.
Suppose the auction goes well and the opponents bid and raise hearts. You
double and partner bids 2. Now what? Are you going to jump to game, hanging poor partner who is
possibly forced to bid a three-card suit. How are you going to tell partner
that you have 19 HCPs? If you bid directly and partner passes, you will know to
tread lightly. If you bid directly and partner makes a free bid you can force
to game. But suppose the auction goes by the opponents 1 - 1 - 1NT, you will be locked out of the auction. Since
West can respond 1 holding J109xxxxxxxxxx, you could be defending 1NT with 28 HCPs between
Woolsey: ”Pass---Any other action is
extremely distorted. Perhaps I'll be able to make a takeout double of hearts
later, or even continue to pass if the opponents bid any more of my
Roman: ”Pass---Second choice, 1.”
double. Unless partner insists on hearts, doubling could be right.
Stone: ”Double---Pass is wrong because (1) we may end up defending 1 at 50 points an
undertrick when we have a more profitable contract of our own; and (2) if the
bidding continues, partner will never play me for this good a hand later in the
auction, and ultimately I will have to guess the contract. For example, even if
the auction goes well with 1-P–1-P-2-D-P-2-P-?, how may spades should I
guess to bid? 1 and 1 are wrong because I will be misleading partner about
the nature, strength, and flexibility of my hand. For example, we might play
1, cold for 3NT, or 1, cold for 4.
”The real choices
are 1NT or double. Take away one of my queens, and I would bid 1NT. However,
with the hand given, I think 1NT is wrong on values, and therefore I must
double. I have a pure 19 HCP with concentrated honors everywhere (even the
singleton jack of hearts is potentially useful), and I am positioned favorably
behind the opening bidder. A balanced 5-6 HCP could easily produce game, but
partner would pass 1NT with that hand.
Furthermore, if partner has a weak hand, double is more likely to get
diamonds or spades into play as potential contracts. Both 1NT and double can
handle partner’s bidding hearts. If partner transfers to hearts after my 1NT, I
will reject the transfer and rebid 2NT instead. If partner bids 1 after my
double, I will rebid 1NT. In this case, doubling would allow me to show my
values while getting out at a lower, safer contract.”
bid notrump over 1.”
”Double---Both double followed by
1NT and 1NT encounter the heart problem. After double, partner might not rebid
a five-card heart suit as doubleton heart is not unlikely. Double also makes
finding a 4-4 spade fit more likely. Nineteen HCPs are close enough to the
range of either bid so that is not a major consideration. If they happen to bid
and raise hearts I can double showing these values. Partner shouldn't treat
double as penalties.”
When you bid 1NT and then double, that
double should be for takeout with usually a small doubleton. But if partner has
four, he might pass your takeout double expecting you to have two hearts.
they open on your right and you have a very good hand, it’s best to act immediately
even if you have to fudge on your bid.
How the Experts Voted
- May/Jun 2004:
Expert / Problem