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
- 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
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 sendhim a check for $28.95 that includes $3.95 for priority mail.
The Bidding Thus Far
The Panel's Votes
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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.”
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
Four experts agree with me and double.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
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
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
What you bid depends upon how many spades partner expects you to have if
you bid 4.
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
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
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.”
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.
How the Experts Voted
- Sep/Oct 2004:
Expert / Problem