ACBL Unit 147

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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club  -  Sep/Oct 2004

Moderator: Steve Robinson


     Congratulations to Hy Chansky who came in first with a score of 500. He wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. I will play with him at a future Unit Game. Tied for second were Bob Boorman, Larry Kahn, Jim Stormes, Ellen Cherniavsky, Piotr Gajewski and Walter Kerns with a score of 490. Tied for eighth were Sven Pride, Dave Abelow and Dave Smith with a score of 470. Tied for eleventh were Suzanne Abrams, Ted Guthrie, Razvan Spiridonescu, Clyde Kruskal and Tom Luther with a score of 450. Tied for sixteenth were Randy Thompson, Sonney Taragin, Sam Keiter, Katherine Loh, Wes Goldberg, Drazen Martinovic, Mary Baxter, Peter Whipple, Jeffrey Klema, Mark Laken, Steve Bunning and Mike Zane with a score of 440. Tied for twenty-eighth were Marshall Kuschner and Craig Olson with a score of 430. Tied for thirtieth were Curtis Bare, Zbych Bednarek, Enid Asherman, Andy Anderson, Jay Weinstein, Randy Beckham, Mike Richey, Barbara Summers and Ed Molner with a score of 420. The average score of the 261 solvers was 354. The average score of the experts was 416.

     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.

     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 sendhim a check for $28.95 that includes $3.95 for priority mail.


Problem 1 

Imps

Vul: NS

North dealt

South Holds


- AQJ8743

- J

- A6

- A93

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

----

1NT

4

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

6

100

4

107

5

80

3

42

4NT

70

1

24

7NT

60

1

12

6

50

1

0

6NT

50

0

5

7

50

0

20

5

40

0

9

Dbl

30

0

1

4

30

0

6

4

20

0

10

5NT

20

0

3

6

20

0

1

What is your bid?

Partner opened 1NT and we have sixteen HCPs. That leaves at most nine missing HCPs. If you give East at least three HCPs in diamonds, there are six missing HCPs outside of diamonds. We very easily could have the assets to take thirteen tricks. Give partner KxxAKQxxxKxxx and we have fourteen top tricks. But give partner KxKQ109KxKQJxx and we are off the ace of hearts. What tools do we have in our toolbox to help us work this out? Double, cuebid and Blackwood are three tools. Double, strength showing and negative orientated, should say that we have enough strength to beat them but if you want to remove the double that would be OK also. Since partner can remove the double, you can’t double 4 with xxxxxxKQJxxxx. The notrump opener can and probably should remove the strength showing double to a good suit. Obviously we can’t double 4 holding a seven-card suit. Cuebid, our second tool, should be choice of suits, probably with slam interest. However, if you follow up by bidding 6, 5 becomes a real cuebid. But double and cuebid are used to find strain. In this problem we belong in spades.

So what should 4NT, our third tool, mean? It could be to play but that is what double means. It could be for takeout but that is what 5 means. IfRHO bid four-of-a-major, then 4NT is best used as pick a minor, but in this case asking partner to bid a minor makes no sense. The best meaning for 4NT over four-of-a-minor is Blackwood. How many aces do you have? After 4NT, 5NT can show that all the aces are present and ask for kings. If partner has one ace and only two kings, you can stop in 6. If partner has one ace and three kings, you can gamble on 7 and if he has one ace and four kings 7NT is a lock. I like Blackwood for one reason. There’s no judgment involved. Count the number of aces and kings and bid to that level.

Four experts end the auction. No matter what partner has, he has to pass. Jumping to slam could be a gamble and since you have three aces, there is no hand opener can have which would justify bidding seven.

Parker:”6---Sometimes you just get fixed. Partner could easily have the right hand for a grand, but how do we find out? 4NT is not Blackwood in this auction. I could cuebid and then bid 6 but partner still can't play me for three Aces. Settle for no major disaster.”

If 4NT is not Blackwood, then what is it?

Cappelletti:”6---No way to find out about a Grand. If partner has sixteen of missing twenty-four points: then 2/3 likely to have a missing card (here both Ace of hearts and spade King about 4/9 times) not to mention other possible problems with grand.”

Adams:”6---This hand is really a guess. 6 risks a fast club ruff, or could go down with K10xx of spades offsides, but against that I might establish a pitch. 7 or 7NT might make also, but those contracts need average or better from partner. If I could ask for Aces and specific Kings on this auction, I would but do not believe most of my partners would read a 4NT, 5NT sequence that way.”

Hopkins:”6--- I'm hoping the opponents take the save at 7 (probably not very likely) so I can pass to indicate interest in 7. There are many hands partner could have without either the Heart Ace or Spade King so I am being conservative. It might be nice to have a five-above agreement = Ace Asking or some such understanding particularly showing Specific Kings in the second round.”

Six experts think about getting to seven. Five of them explore seven and one just bids seven. If East has the KQJ of diamonds, then South has to have all of the missing strength.

Schwartz:”7NT---They took away my ace asking bid, but opponents have 7-9 HPCs and some of that are in diamonds. Chances are we have the aces and the Spade King. No reason to risk a ruff in 7.”

Four experts try to get partner involved in the grand/small slam decision. Usually getting your judgment to match partner’s judgment is difficult.

Roman:”5---Partner may think I'm offering him a choice of strains, but when I follow with 6, he'll understand I'm making a grand slam try. This would be an excruciating problem if we switched my majors.”

Woolsey:”5---Clearly it is percentage to bid at least a small slam.  The question is whether or not we have a grand slam. I plan to follow with 6 over partner's likely 5-call. This sequence will make it clear that I have a diamond control and am interested in a grand slam, but I don't have the necessary tricks. Partner can look at his hand and very likely make the right decision.”

King:”5---We are probably headed for 7NT if partner has Ace of Hearts and King of Spades, but I think the best action is to start with a cuebid.”

I guess five sparts, shows the Ace of Hearts and the King of Spades? Rightttt.

One expert makes his own bid.

Berman:”6---What does each of the following sequences show: a direct 6, 5 followed by 6, or 6 followed by 6 given the chance. 6 gives partner no option. I think 5 should show both majors with a singleton diamond while 6 shows first round control which should get us to 6NT when partner has diamond cards.”

When 4NT is not needed as choice of suits, it should be Blackwood.

Problem 2

Imps

Vul: NS

East dealt

South Holds


- ----

- 65

- AJ654

- A95432

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East 

----

----

----

Pass

Pass

2

3

3

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Dbl

100

5

46

4

50

3

129

4

50

2

27

Pass

40

0

11

4

30

0

7

3NT

20

0

2

4NT

20

0

3

6

20

0

3

4

20

0

11

5

20

0

1

What is your bid?

As in most problems a flexible answer is usually the best answer. If you choose 4 you are going to play in 4 no matter what partner has. If you choose 4, you will play in clubs, hearts or possibly diamonds. Over 4, if partner has very good hearts, he’ll rebid them. If partner has poor hearts and club support he’ll bid 5. If you bid 4 or 4 and partner has KJ98AQxxxKxxx, you will probably go minus while missing a chance for a big number. On the other hand, if you double, partner has many choices. He can rebid a good heart suit. If partner has poor hearts, he choices include 3NT, four-of-either-minor or penalty pass. I would bet on penalty pass. If you double, you will not miss a good 4 contract. If you bid 4, you might miss getting a number.

Four experts agree with me and double.

Schwartz:”Double---Assuming responsive, usually don't like it with a void, but I can't commit to clubs or hearts. At least I have two aces. Sounds like partner rates to have good spades with the opponents bidding only 3 at favorable.”

Berman:”Double---As partner has five or more hearts, and at least two spades, there is not much chance of finding a minor suit fit unless partner bids one. The double gives partner the final say and maximum options.”

Roman:”Double---Partner might be 4-6(5?) in the majors and be able to go after them. A good question is what to do if he bids 3NT. I'm a passer.”

Cappelletti:”Double---Responsive.”

Three experts end the auction.

Woolsey:”4---Only 3 by East? That indicates that partner may have a few spades, which means there is little point in looking for a minor suit fit. A responsive double risks partner passing on the wrong hand. I think I have to just bid 4 and hope that it makes or that East makes the wrong decision when the auction comes back to him.”

Parker:”4---Once again I think the theme is to not get a disaster and settle for the best contract under the circumstances. If I bid 4, it should show some heart tolerance, but what do I do if partner raises to 5? Ten tricks might be much easier than eleven, and we might have twelve or thirteen.”

King:”4---Life would have been easier if this hand had been opened. Now I have to hope that 4 is not too much of an underbid.” 

Two experts give partner more options than 4. If 4 is right, 4 will get you there also. By the way, if partner has AKQxx of hearts he should treat it as a six-card suit since it will play reasonably opposite a singleton.

Hopkins:”4---Natural and forcing. I will pass 5, raise 4 to 6, and pass 4.”

Since you’re a passed hand, I’m not sure how forcing 4 is. 4 would definitely be forcing if you were an unpassed hand.

Adams:”4---Void has to act, and double will result in defending. Well placed if partner raises or bids four-of-a-red-suit.”

Usually the most flexible bid is the best bid.

Problem 3

Imps

Vul: NS

West dealt

South Holds


- KQJ765

- J109654

- ----

- 5

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

1

Dbl

Pass

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

4

100

8

131

Pass

50

1

45

2

30

1

17

2

30

0

18

3

30

0

19

4NT

20

0

2

6

20

0

2

4

20

0

3

3

20

0

1

5

20

0

3

What is your bid?

     Two options. Defend against 1 doubled or play the hand in hearts. I don’t like defending when I have length in the suit that partner has asked me to bid. This hand should play well in hearts. Another reason not to pass is that the opponents might have a much better spot. The last thing you want is for the opponents to run from 1 doubled and find a good fit in one of the minors. The best way to avoid that is to jump directly to 4.

     Seven experts agree with me and jump to 4.

Woolsey:”4---It is quite likely that West has a two-suiter, and I want to force him to guess whether or not to introduce his second suit at the highest possible level.  Anything else makes life too easy for him.”

Parker:”4---I'll take my chances on finding a way to get ten tricks. If partner has a good hand and good hearts he can bid again and we will reach a good slam.”

Cappelletti:”4---Red against white freak game.”

Adams:”4---We should be able to make this. I have three to four defensive tricks for spades. Not clear we will get rich defending. Switch colors and I go for it.”

Hopkins:”4---This is a distributional leap to game. I don't want to pass and let the opponents find a white fit in a minor. I should have enough distributional strength to make this contract.”

Berman:”4---4 figures to make but is not 100%. If partner has a concentration of strength in hearts we might not beat 1, and if we do, then only a trick. On average I think 4 is the winner.”

King:”4---If partner has four hearts, this is likely to make. Passing 1 for penalties could net only 300, not enough against a vulnerable game.”

One expert tries for slam. I don’t know how this can be followed up. If partner bids 3, minor-suit bids are natural bids, not cuebids.

Schwartz:”2---They rate to go for less than game if I pass as they have three spade tricks as starters. Slam is a favorite opposite as little as -AQxxxxxxxxxxx.”

Roman:”Pass---Chances for 800 are lively (they just get three trump tricks), and I would be surprised to get less than 500. If bridge was always like these first three problems, I'd quit and take up Chutes'NLadders.”

At this vulnerability, if you are going to pass it would have to be at IMPs where +500 is a reasonable score. +500 would be a bad score at matchpoints where game in hearts is very likely. Of course, getting a large number assumes that partner has a trump and leads it. This is the auction where partner usually leads a trump but if he can’t lead what he doesn’t have.

When partner makes a takeout double and you have length in an unbid major, it’s your duty to bid it.

Problem 4

Imps

Vul: NS

West dealt

South Holds


- AKJ95

- Q3

- KQ3

- KJ2

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

1

Pass

Pass

Dbl

3

4

Pass

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

4

100

7

90

4

80

2

13

Pass

60

1

51

5

50

0

84

4

20

0

1

4NT

20

0

1

What is your bid?

If you bid 4, how many spades does partner expect you to have? Would the auction be the same if you held AQ10xxxxAKxxKx or AQ10xxxxxAKxKx? Both of these hands are too strong to jump to 2, intermediate, over 1 passed. I guess the problem is if partner has xxxxAxxxAxxxx, can he pass 4? Can he pass 4 holding xxxxAxxxAxxxx? If you bid 4 and partner passes with a singleton spade, then maybe you shouldn’t bid 4. So how do you tell partner that you have only five spades and a good hand? I think that 4 in this situation should be choice of games. Cuebids can either bid choice of games or slam try cuebids. If partner bids 4 and you return to 5, then 4 was a slam try. Again the most flexible call is the best call.

Seven experts show their five-card spade suit.

Woolsey:”4---Once I choose to double with this hand I am pretty much committed to bidding my spade suit later.  There are plenty of hands North can hold consistent with the auction where 4 is the only makable game, and if I don't bid 4 we don't get there. No, I do not think that 4 is any kind of choice of games call.”

Woolsey disagrees with me about the meaning of 4.

Parker:”4---I did double so I should have club tolerance. Partner can always correct, but I should show my good five-card suit now. I also show a good hand rather than a weak double with this bid. (Don't the opponents ever pass?).”

     Why do you have to have club tolerance when you double and bid spades?

Cappelletti:”4---Might not end the auction.”

Adams:”4---No game bonus for 4. This bid is a little dangerous, there could be bad breaks, but partner should not misunderstand. With long clubs and shortness in spades, partner should correct.”

Hopkins:”4---I mean for this option to suggest I can support alternative contracts. 2 and 4 bids were available to me at my first turn.”

If 2 shows 13-15 HCPs and six good spades and 4 says that you will play in spades opposite anything, what do you do with other hands when you are not sure where you want to play?

Roman:”4---What else would I do?"

King:”4---This seems our best hope for a game. 5 could easily lose three tricks in the red suits.”

One expert agrees with me and cuebids. It makes sense that partner is supposed to look at his hand and decide whether 4 will be a good contract. Partner knows that you can’t have four spades. Over 4, its probably right to bid 4 holding QxxxxAxxAxxxx.  

Berman:”4---Partner did not act over 1 so can not have a great hand. Opener rebid at the three level so should have extra length. At least some one seems to be overbidding but I have half the deck and have not shown it yet. The cuebid should say I have a very good hand.”

Schwartz:”Pass---Partner didn't overcall so we rate to be off three tricks. 4 would show a suit and hand too good for a 2 bid in passout seat.”

What you bid depends upon how many spades partner expects you to have if you bid 4.


Problem 5

Matchpoints

Vul: None

South dealt

South Holds


- J102

- AK9854

- 10

- A54

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

1

1

2

2

3

Pass

4

Pass

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Pass

100

1

34

5

90

6

166

4

50

2

3

4

30

0

28

4NT

20

0

3

4

20

1

2

6

20

0

3

5

20

0

1

6

20

0

1

What is your bid?

Partner can have a hand as weak as xxxAKxxxKJxxx or as strong as -xAKQxxxKQJxxx. With the former you’d be lucky to make 3. With the latter you’d be unlucky not to make 7. So which hand does partner have? If the opponent’s have nine spades between them they might have competed to 3, which points to partner’s spade count being two. If partner has two little spades, his minor holding has to be solid in order for 5 to make. Another possibility is that partner has xxxAKxxxxKQJx. Would partner bid any differently? 5 in the 4-3, when he has to ruff the third spade, probably won’t fetch. Even   xxxAKxxxKQJxx needs luck to make 5 and xxxAKQJ10Kxxxx has no play for 5. 

Even though partner meant 4 as forcing and 4 is forcing in theory, the preemptive auction might have made him overbid to show his distribution. Also, this hand is not worth an opening bid in support of a hand with both minors. The King of hearts is worthless. I think pass is the percentage action. For every hand where partner has solid minors, there will be many more hands where his minors have holes. You’re not even guaranteed an eight-card fit. Passing might be wrong in theory when partner has xxxAKQJ10KQxxx, but clubs could be 4-1 and ten tricks will be the limit. Take away any queen and ten tricks will probably be the limit.  

The six experts who bid 5 did not consider what partner might have.

Woolsey:”5---Maybe I shouldn't have made the space-consuming 3 call, but that is another matter. Since partner is likely to have a singleton heart my king of hearts isn't pulling full weight, and I have only three-card club support, so I don't think this hand is quite worth a slam try in clubs.”

Parker:”5---Is there a problem here? I have rebid my six-card suit and have support for partner's second suit so I raise. I do not pass forcing bids.”

Cappelletti:”5---I probably have useful hand for partner.”

Schwartz:”5---Considered 4, but do I really want a preference to 4? Can't have a much worse suit for my bidding so far. Partner rates to have five-card Club suit.”

Hopkins:”5---Partner better be something like 1-1-6-5 with a pretty good hand.”

Roman:”5---I see no alternative here. 4 is forcing, what else would I do?”

Two experts take a false preference. Might be right since you usually promise four-card support when raising partner’s second suit.

Berman:”4---Partner will bid 4 with two of them and I will pass. If partner is 6-5 in the minors with a singleton or void in hearts, partner will bid 5, which I will pass.  If partner is 2164 and bids 5 it probably will be better than anything else.”

King:”4---This is really just a mark time bid hoping that partner will clarify his hand with his next bid.” 

One expert makes a strange bid.

Adams:”4---This minimum hand looks like a mountain in support of clubs.”

A mountain? 4 promises a spade control, your King of Hearts is wasted and you only have three-card support. Sounds more like a molehill.

Major-suit games require ten tricks. However, minor-suit games require eleven tricks. Auctions that are forcing to game should be forcing only to the ten-trick level.

How the Experts Voted - Sep/Oct 2004:

Expert / Problem  

1

2

3

4

5

Score

John Adams
6
4
4
4
4
370
Don Berman
6

Dbl

4
4
4
430
Mike Cappelletti
6
Dbl
4
4
5

490

Robbie Hopkins
6

4

4
4
5
440
Fred King
5
4
4
4
4

360

Steve Parker
6
4
4
4
5

440

Steve Robinson
4NT
Dbl                
4
4
Pass

450

Jeff Roman
5
Dbl                
Pass
4
5

420

Alan Schwartz
7NT
Dbl
2
Pass
5
340
Kit Woolsey
5
4
4
4
5
420