ACBL Unit 147

American Contract Bridge League

Washington Bridge League

Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference

Dick Wegman, President

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Don Berman, Web Master

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Washington Bridge League Solver's Club  -  Mar/Apr 2006


Congratulations to Donna Rogall who came in first with a score of 480. She wins a free entry to the Unit Game and will be invited to be on a future panel. Second was Rusty Krauss with a score of 460. Tied for third were John Klayman and Dan Koch with a score of 430. Fifth was Marshall Kuschner with a score of 420. Tied for sixth were Tom Fukawa, Arnold Kling and Mel Yudkin with a score of 410. Tied for ninth were Alan Kravatz, Bob Boorman and Sam Keiter with a score of 400 Tied for twelfth were Josh Dunn, John Horst, Earl Brown, Sam Gumbert, Sam Westgate and Barbara Israel with a score of 390. Tied for eighteenth were JJ Wang, Mark Shimshak, Joana Silva, Michael Polunin, Lloyd Rawley and Marvin Elster with a score of 380. The average score of the 144 solvers was 285. The average score of the experts was 386.

All readers are encouraged to send answers and/or new problems to Steve Robinson, 2891 S. Abingdon St. #A2 Arlington, VA, 22206-1329. 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, I 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. You can also see and answer the problems at the WBL web site. WBL Solvers Club uses Washington Standard as published July 1996.

I personally score all the problems. If a majority of the solvers vote for an answer, and the answer is reasonable I will give that answer 100 points. I will not give 100 points to an answer that I consider bad no matter how many experts vote for it. There are times when I want to make a point. I will give that answer 100 points and will therefore give the majority answer 90 points. For the other answers I consider how good the answer is and how many experts vote for it for its score. If you submitted an answer that got 20 points, that bid would get a bad score at the table. A good exercise would be to figure out why I gave your answer 20 points. You might have misread the problem.

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, at tournaments or can send him a check for $29.05 that includes $4.05 for priority mail.


Problem 1 

Imps

Vul: None

West dealt

South Holds


- J83

- 1082

- AJ65

- A52

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

Pass

1

2

Pass

Pass

Dbl

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

3

100

8

46

3

70

3

21

3

50

0

35

2NT

50

1

11

Pass

50

0

20

4

30

0

4

5

20

0

1

3NT

20

0

2

What is your bid?

Partner can have a wide range of strength for his reopening takeout double. Opener is supposed to reopen when he’s short in spades no matter what his strength is. The way you penalize them with a spade stack when you’re playing negative doubles is to pass and have opener reopen with a double. Holding KJ10xxAxxAQxxx, you pass 2 and then pass opener's reopening double. For his double, opener can have anywhere from xxAJxxQxxKQxx where you can make nothing to xAKJKQxKQxxxx where 6 is cold. If opener is strong, he’ll reopen with anything. The question is does opener have a good hand or a minimum opener? I don’t know but I’m going for the plus score. My thoughts are that opener can bid again with a good hand but a cuebid will get us too high if he has a minimum opener. Even if opener has a very good hand such as xxKQJKQ10KQJ10x or xxAKQxKxxKQJ10 you might not have a game.

Eight experts cuebid. Logically 3 shows what you have, a good hand with no clear direction. So what is opener supposed to do over 3 with xxAJxxQxxKQxx? I don’t think you have to worry about opener holding xKQxKQxKQxxxx since he would bid again over 3. Opener is about 50-50 to hold more than one spade since East did not raise.

Woolsey: ”3---I must have a good hand for this call of course. I can't have a spade stack or I would have passed. I can't have a spade stopper, or I would have bid notrump. I can't have four hearts or I would have made a negative double. I can't have four-card club support or I would have bid 3 at my last turn. I can't have a long diamond suit or I would be bidding it. The only hand I can have is this exact hand, and partner will know it and be able to place the contract. I risk getting overboard in 4, if he has a minimum, but the upside makes this risk worthwhile -- a laydown game or even a slam.  Would a hand such as xAKxKQxKQxxxx be such a surprise for partner to hold? And if he holds something like this he will have no difficulty placing the key aces in my hand and bidding game or slam.”

Lublin: ”3---To show a good hand that has no bid and denies four hearts.”

Parker: ”3---I can't have four hearts or I would have made a negative double to start with. I must have club support and at least four diamonds, so partner should have a good idea what my hand is. He can bid 3NT with a spade stopper. Pass is too risky even though they figure to go down at least one.”

Roman: ”3---Values, but no suit to bid.”

Landen: ”3---I don't know what else to do. When faced with choosing between underbidding and overbidding I typically overbid playing IMPs. I'm hoping partner can bid 3NT.”

Cappelletti: ”3---I either have to overbid or underbid. Partner could have passed with a bad hand. So with ten HCPs I am too good to make a bid like three-of-a-minor, which could have no points at all. Since partner might well be short in spades, 2NT could easily be down one off the top. And if partner happens to have ace of spades, notrump must be played from his side.”

Schwartz: ”3--- I have to show some values at this point having passed before. The odds are against us being able to make exactly three-of-a-minor. At least partner knows I can't have four hearts.”

King: ”3---We may not get to the right level, but at least we should get to the right strain!”

Two experts agree with me and go conservative. One of the reasons to go conservative is that there is no guarantee of a fit.

Adams: ”3---We should probably play better minor Lebensohl here. Then 3 would show a little something good. As it is, 3 or 3 could be right.”

Cherniavsky: ”3---Your hand plays well opposite a singleton spade, but West has not raised, making it more likely that North has a doubleton spade. In that case, with a spade stopper, even Qx, North could have bid 2NT with 18-19 balanced, but has not done so.  Opposite the likely 12-14 balanced with a small doubleton spade, 3 is high enough."

One expert makes a bid that can have two meanings. Natural is one meaning showing fewer than nine HCPs with a spade stopper. Not enough spade to pass for penalties. Another possible meaning is asking opener to choose a minor.

Hopkins: ”2NT---Well, I think this gets my pattern and values about right. I dearly hope partner has a Spade honor.” 

Without a known fit, make the conservative call.


Problem 2

Imps

Vul: Both

West dealt

South Holds


- AKJ

- Q4

- KJ9654

- 52

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East 

----

Pass

1

Pass

2*

Pass

2**

Pass

?????

 

 

 

* Game Force         ** 6+Hearts

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

2NT

100

2

0

3

80

10

43

2

60

0

51

4

40

0

37

3

30

0

10

3

20

0

1

3NT

20

0

1

3

20

0

1

What is your bid?

Some play 1 - 2 - 2 could be a five-card heart suit. Others play that it shows six hearts. This problem is for those who play 2 shows six hearts. The same can be said for 1-two-any-2. Some play it could be five spades, others play that it shows six spades. Give opener QxxJxxxxxAxAK. 5 is a bad contract since you are very likely to have three trump losers. Even if opener has Axxxxx of hearts, 6 is a bad contract. If he knows that you have only two hearts, he will be conservative when he holds bad hearts. However, if he knows you have three hearts he can be more aggressive. Your two small clubs strongly suggests that you belong in hearts. However, it’s important to tell opener exactly how many hearts you have. A direct 3 MUST guarantee three hearts. If you have only two hearts, and a hand that you know belongs in hearts, make a noise and then support hearts. That way your partner knows how many hearts you have. I suggest that the noise be 2NT. Bidding 2NT and then supporting hearts tells opener that you have only two hearts. Therefore 2NT shows two types of hands, a hand with two hearts or a three-suited hand with good stoppers in the other three suits. If opener raises 2NT to 3NT, you can correct to 4 on a hand where you want to play in hearts. Now opener knows that you have exactly two hearts, a minimum hand but a hand that you think belongs in 4. Supposed you have a better hand with exactly two hearts. AKJxAxAKJxxxx. After 1 - 2 - 2 - 2NT – 3NT, you bid 4, which tells opener that you have exactly two hearts with extra values. He will know that you don’t have a club control since you didn’t bid 4. There are very good reasons why raising hearts directly must show three hearts. Suppose partner has seven hearts. With ten hearts between you, the Queen of trumps is present. AJxxxx or A109xxx opposite Kxx is a reasonable gamble to pick up the entire suit. A109xxx opposite Kx is a very likely one-loser suit. AQxxxx opposite Jxx could have no losers. AQxxxx opposite Jx always has at least one loser. You don’t want to be in slam with Kxxxxx opposite Qx but you do with Kxxxxx opposite Qxx. You probably don’t want to be in seven with AKxxxx opposite Qx but you do with AKxxxx opposite Qxx.

One other expert knows how many hearts 3 shows.

Hopkins: ”2NT---2 is too risky as you might catch partner with a 4-6 hand. 3 shows one more trump. 2NT keeps the biding low and allows partner to further describe his hand. The only time I might be faced with a guess (to correct or not) is if partner bids a prompt 3NT.”

Ten experts violate the primary rule of constructive bidding. Misstating the number of trumps you have.

Woolsey: ”3---First rule of slam bidding is to set trumps as soon as possible. Bidding 2 may be cheaper, but it doesn't tell partner what is going on. He will think your subsequent heart raise is looking for the best strain, not a slam try.”

I’m sorry. First rule of slam bidding is to tell partner how many trumps you have. That’s why splinters and Jacoby promise four-card support. That’s why a negative double shows four cards in the other major. That why raising a second bid suit shows four-card support.

That’s why some play 1minor – 1major – 2major shows four. There’s a huge difference between a 6-2 fit and a 6-3 fit.

Parker: ”3---Set trumps as soon as possible. If partner bids 4  I will pass, but if he bids anything else I will look for a slam. He can now decide if his Diamonds work or not.” 

Roman: ”3---Set trumps and see what happens.”

Landen: ”3---I assume 4 would be some sort of picture bid or fast arrival. I like my hand, but not enough to bid 2 and then follow up by raising hearts. I could have a decent good play for 7 xxAKxxxxAxAxx, so I must show some encouragement.”

Four hearts shows a very bad two-over-one with three bad hearts. You shouldn’t have two trump honors.

Adams: ”3---With a few partners, this shows three trumps, but that is not standard. Inventing a 2 response, then supporting Hearts might lead partner to wonder if I have a stiff club. Set trumps for an easy auction.”

Cappelletti: ”3---Help partner by setting trumps. If you bid 3 first and then support hearts, partner might play you for a small doubleton. Do not even think about bidding 2, which accomplishes nothing."

You should not bid 2. If you bid 2 and then later support hearts you might have a singleton when you are weak in clubs.

Schwartz: ”3---Why not show support when I have mild slam interest.  Bidding 2 will only confuse matters.”

King: ”3---Set trump.”

Lublin: ”3---Set trump. Will Blackwood over 4.”

Cherniavsky: ”3---This sets trump and makes it easier to find out if the partnership is off a touching AK. On simulation, Qx turns out to be a remarkably good trump holding opposite a six-card suit, and partner often has either the ace or queen of diamonds.”

Qx might be good opposite some six-card suits but three-card support is good opposite more six-card suits.

After 1 - two-of-either-minor - 2, which shows six, bidding 3 shows three-card support. 2NT followed by heart support shows two-card support. Same after 1 - two-of-any-suit - 2, which shows six, bidding 3 shows three-card support. 2NT followed by spade support shows two-card support.


Problem 3

Imps

Vul: Both

West dealt

South Holds


- Q52

- 8432

- K9

- KQ86

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

Pass

1

1

?????

 

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Pass

100

5

40

Dbl

70

3

22

1NT

60

2

45

2

60

2

33

2

20

0

3

What is your bid?

Be aggressive when short in the opponent’s suit. Be conservative when long. With four small hearts, it’s time to be conservative. You can’t make a negative double since you don’t have four spades. You can’t support diamonds with only two and 2 leads to some awkward rebid problems. What’s left? Pass. I know pass is a four-letter word but sometimes it’s the best call available.     

Woolsey: ”Pass---If partner passes he will have at least three hearts and a weak notrump, so defending 1 will be fine. If he makes a takeout double I can then bid 2, just as in problem #1. If he does anything else, I should have an easy action. A negative double shows four spades, so is a no-no. All other bids are needlessly distorted.”

Actually partner could have four hearts if East overcalled a four-card suit.

Roman: ”Pass---Bidding 1NT could certainly be right (partner has a weak NT, we make 1NT, they make 1), the problem is if we belong in 3NT by partner.”

Landen: ”Pass---Consistent with my actions on board one!  I don't even have three of partner's minor (I would raise if I did) and I won't make a negative double with only three spades.”

Adams: ”Pass---Do not see the issue. I have no bid. I have length in Hearts and I've no stopper. I pass.”

Three experts make a negative double. If you play in spades and the opponents lead hearts, partner will find himself quickly shortened. And what if partner holds AxxxxAJxxxKxx? Partner could be playing spades in the 3-3 fit.

Cappelletti: ”Double---Hopefully your ten HCPs will make up for having only three spades.”

Lublin: ”Double---Although I don’t have four spades I have values.”

Hopkins: ”Double---I hope partner doesn't mind dummy-reversing a 4-3 fit, which is probably what will happen (whether partner wants to or not!) if we end up in Spades.  Even so, we would probably be OK as long as the Spade length is not with the Heart overcaller. I am well-prepared for most other continuations.”

Two experts bid 2. What are they going to bid at their next turn? 2 promises a rebid except if partner rebids 2NT.   

Schwartz: ”2---Shows my values and with interference I can easily have a hand this weak.  If I pass the next round will be even more difficult.”

King: ”2---This comes closest to describing my hand. Partner will expect another club, but no more than this number of points.”

Two experts bid 1NT. I can just see opener with K2 of hearts and an 18-point hand. 3NT is cold from partner’s side. If partner checked back for stoppers when you promise stoppers your auctions, the opponents will learn a lot about your hands.

Cherniavsky: ”1NT---Partner should have a sense of humor and check back for a stopper.  If you pass, you’ll never catch up. Simulation shows that this rarely wrong-sides the notrump contract.”

Parker: ”1NT---Typical problem with no good bid. This describes my pattern and high card strength. I don't want to double and show four spades and it will be too hard to catch up with after a pass. I may lose the first five hearts and take the rest for plus 120.”

You’re allowed to pass when no other call describes your hand.


Problem 4

Imps

Vul: None

West dealt

South Holds


- 10

- K743

- AKJ654

- 43

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

Pass

Pass

Pass

?????

 

 

 

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

1

100

8

58

3

70

3

13

2

60

0

22

Pass

60

1

50

3NT

20

0

1

What is your bid?

Do you open in fourth seat and if so what do you open? Fourth seat two and three bids are sound openings since with a weak hand you can and should pass it out. In deciding whether to open, some players use the rule of 15. The rule of 15 is --- When deciding whether to open in fourth seat, you add the number of spades to your HCPs. These are called Pearson points. If the total equals 15, KxxxxxxxAKxJx (four spades and 11 HCPs = 15 Pearson points) for example, you should open. If the total equals 14 you could do either. Open KxxxxxxxAKxxx since you have both majors. If the total is fewer than 14, you should pass. This applies only to marginal hands. Clear-cut opening bids should be opened. You wouldn’t pass ten solid hearts for instance. Your opening bid style also can influence your decision. If you open only good hands, you have to protect your partner by opening light in third and fourth seat. If you open light, then you need sound values to open in fourth seat.  

Seven experts agree with me and open 1. One of the reasons to open is that you might have a heart game or even a heart slam. A preempt would bury the heart suit.

Woolsey: ”1---Partner can have a 10-point had with four hearts and 4 can be a good contract, so I don't think I can afford to open 3 and shut out the heart suit. If the opponents have a spade fit they are going to have to compete to at least 3 to buy the hand, and with both of them being passed hands I doubt if they can make that.”

Roman: ”1---The "Rule of 15" is for when you're wondering if you should open the bidding, not for when you have an opening bid. We could easily have a heart game.”

Adams: ”1---I have a clear opening bid. Rule of 15 only applies for close hands. Partner has some spades, and some values. Fully expect this to be our hand.”

Landen: ”1---While opening might end up letting the opponents buy the hand in spades making, we could easily be cold for game in notrump, hearts or even diamonds so I won't open a weak-two bid.”

Cappelletti: ”1---I can push them to the three-level all by myself.”

If you open and the opponents play in 3 that would probably be good for you.

Cherniavsky: ”1---Players open light in third seat with spade length. Since this hasn’t happened, the opponents are unlikely to have a nine-card spade fit. Simulation shows we can make 3 or 3 most of the time. 1 lets us find the fit in either suit.”

Hopkins: ”1---It is conceivable we have a game (4 or 3NT) so I am going to give it a try. My suit should be strong enough to play in if we have misfiting hands. And, just because I have a Spade singleton, doesn't mean the opponents can make 4! “

Three experts preempt. Preempts in fourth seat are constructive hands. With garbage you can pass it out. The problem with two or 3 is that it buries the possible heart fit.

Schwartz: ”3---On hands where we make four hearts the opponents are likely to have a good sack in 4. Other hands it’s just too likely the opponents will be able to compete successfully in spades.”

Lublin: ”3---Where is the spade suit? We don’t have it but partner might have a stack so I open 3 and hope to beat three or 4.”

Parker: ”3---Bid what I think I can make and try and shut out the spade suit. Pass a close second choice.”

One expert will not go minus.

King: ”Pass---Clearly the opponents have the majority of the spades. If you count "Pearson points" this hand is not close to an opener. You could try two or even 3 to keep the opponents silent, but you can't be sure that is the right strain.”

If partner has xxxxAQxxxxxAx, you’ve passed out a slam.

Use ‘Pearson points’ to as a guide to decide whether to open in fourth chair. However, open opening bids.


Problem 5

Imps

Vul: None

West dealt

South Holds


- 10875

- 10

- AKJ654

- J10

The Bidding Thus Far

South

West

North

East

----

1

Dbl

3

?????**

 

 

 

** Dbl = Responsive

The Panel's Votes

Action

Score

Expert's

Votes

Panel's

Votes

Dbl

100

6

15

4

70

2

3

4

50

2

17

3

50

2

79

3

50

0

16

4

40

0

9

5

30

0

3

Pass

20

0

2

What is your bid?

How do you show an intermediate hand with four spades and longer diamonds? Double! The Responsive double shows two places to play. Usually it shows both majors. Holding four hearts and four spades, you don’t want to bid one of your majors and find partner with three of that major and four of the other. When you correct 3 to 3, partner will know that you have only four spades and that you don’t have hearts. You must have spades and diamonds. If your hand was stronger, you could cuebid, which also shows two places to play. If you have a five-card major, you should bid it. Over the Responsive double, if partner responds 3, you can raise to four or if partner bids 3, denying a four-card major, you can pass. Partner would expect you to have between six and ten HCPs. You don’t promise another bid so doubler will take that into account if he has a strong hand.

Five experts join me in giving partner a choice.

Cherniavsky: ”Double---Then over partner’s expected 3-response, bid 3. This shows four spades with longer diamonds. A direct spade bid would imply only one place to play. “

Lublin: ”Double---I would double because it sounds like partner has five hearts and I can correct to diamonds or spades.”

Roman: ”Double---I certainly want spades in the picture, but can't bid them at any level now.”

Landen: ”Double---I'll raise 3 to four and bid 4 over 3 showing a good hand (else 3 immediately). Even you, Steve, wouldn't bid 3.would you?”

Schwartz: ”Double---Leaves notrump and a spade contract open, I am not bidding past 4.”

Two experts bid 4. Holding two little clubs, there are many hands where ten tricks is the limit. 4 is forcing to game so you can’t stop in 4 when it’s right. Also 4 says its your hand so if west bids 5 partner will have to do something.  

Adams: ”4---This way I do not have to play 4 opposite a three-car suit.”

Parker: ”4---Then if partner bids 4 I will bid 4 which only shows a four-card suit. This will allow him to correct to Diamonds if he has a 3442 pattern.”

Two experts violate my rule about takeout doubles. Takeout doubles are used to find major-suit fits. Bidding a minor when holding a four-card major can cost you to miss a game. Give partner AKxxAxxxQxxxx and he will pass 3with five spades making.

King: ”3---While I know our most likely game is in Spades, at some point you have to bid your minor when it is so much better than your major.”   

Hopkins: ”3---I am in a very good position if the auction continues. For example, I can convert 3 to 3 and would pass a call of 3NT by partner. The only time I have made the wrong decision is if partner has the perfect mini such as: AQxxAxxxQxxxx and we can make 4, but are languishing in 3 when we buy the contract there for a loss of six IMPs.”

Two experts jump to 4. Do you really want to play in 4 opposite KQxAxxxQxxxxx? I would bid 4 if there wasn’t an alternative but why play in a 4-3 spade fit holding bad spades?

Woolsey: ”4---Unless the opponents are doing something weird, partner has five hearts. Therefore he is a virtual lock to have four spades, since otherwise he would have overcalled 1 (there is almost no such thing as a hand which is too strong to overcall). Opposite this, I'm quite willing to take my chances in 4. A lesser bid would simply be an underbid.”

Is it that weird holding xxJxxxxxQxxxx to bid 3 over the takeout double?


Expert / Problem

1

2

3

4

5

Score

John Adams

3

3

Pass

1

4

420

Mike Cappelletti

3

3 

2

1

4

430

Ellen Cherniavsky

3

3

1NT

1

Dbl

410

Robbie Hopkins

2NT

2NT

Dbl

1

3

370

Steve Landen

3

3

Pass

1

Dbl

480

Glenn Lublin

3

3

Dbl

3

4

420

Fred King

3

3

2

Pass

3

380

Steve Parker

3

3

1NT

3

4

470

Steve Robinson

3

2NT

Pass

1

Dbl

470

Jeff Roman

3

3

Pass

1

Dbl

480

Alan Schwartz

3

3

2

3

Dbl

410

Kit Woolsey

3

3

Pass

1

4

430