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November 2020 - Solution
November Solutions
 
Our competition is marching on. This month it was all about whether or not one should be looking for a slam and, if so, how to do the looking. 
 
We managed to get the experts to diverge a little more than in our first set, and only two experts got the perfect 40 - John Currie & Tom Slater. 
 
Amongst our competitors, Peter Foster managed the same perfection. He was chased by Liz Ineson with 36 points and Steve Mattinson with 35 in what was a difficult set. 
 
In the overall standing, this took Peter Foster up in pole position with a total of 78. He has managed to get a length ahead of the chasing pack headed by Victor Ridding (69) and Ian Pendlebury (67).
 
It's still all to play for. 
 
The rules for scoring are as before, and my comments will be in italics. 
 
Enjoy!
 

Problem 1
 
Dealer: East
Vul: None
Pairs
 
North East South West
pass 1♣  pass
1  pass 2NT pass
?

 

♠ A7
 KJ97542
 72
♣ Q10
 
This hand is from my private halls of horror. We didn’t have any fancy check-back., I didn’t know if partner would take 3   as forcing (she wouldn’t – but she will now). 4NT would be quantitative and 4  or 3NT don’t call me, I’ll call you and for 6  ...? Let’s see what the experts have to say, and first the minority.
 

Irving Blakey: 3♣  Having passed with a hand which many would open at the one level(others at the 3 or even 4 level!),and where slam is possible opposite the right 17/18 HCP, 3♣  will fish for three card heart support and a 3♠  cue will then keep the pot boiling. Good thing you didn’t open as the TD would get to the table due to opening out of turn and who knows how this hand would have been bid

Joy Blakey: 3♣  I think this is fairly automatic; I'm looking for some sort of heart support, 6  is a possibility. 13 out of 16 Experts found something else to bid. When I run this hand by Jeffery Smith he said "Yes run it, if not for any other reason than to hear Joy say "6 I don't know what to bid, and at least it will stop Irving from bidding 7 !" "So Jeff don’t give up your day job in an attempt to put Psychic Sally out of a job!

Raymond Semp: 3♠ . With at least two hearts plus and 18/19 HCP opposite a good six-card heart suit and 10 HCP including the ♣Q there is a good possibility of a small slam. Therefore, I should make at least one effort in tempting partner. As it is unlikely he has four spades so I will offer 3♠ in an effort to see if we have a heart fit and bid 4♥ over 3NT

Let’s hear from the two Experts who have had enough of this hand

David Barton: 3NT Yes there could easily be a slam on but it is mp's and I want it to be played by partner. An ABBA fan in disguise - Winner takes it all!  

Michael Byrne: 4  At pairs it doesn't pay to push for thin slams, and all that marking time with 3  (which is forcing after a rebid of 2NT 18-19) seems to do is tip them off to the right lead (for example cue bids 4 , exposing club weakness). There are hands where 3NT is better, but I am not sure that even if partner bids it over 2NT I will be able to bring myself to pass it with a 9 card fit. (If partner has an offshape 2NT rebid with a singleton heart honour then 4  will definitely be superior to 3NT) A possible hand for partner is KQx, Ax, AQxx, Axxx, now slam is good needing the diamond finesse or hearts coming in (76% or so) but if he is a little softer KJx, AQ, QJxx, AJxx, then slam might have no play, now the aim is to make sure they lead a spade and let him discard my diamonds. The actual hand favoured Michael as   player for 1 trick more than NT.

The system in use states that “A minimum rebid in responder’s suit is weak, usually six cards”, so let’s see what excuses the majority have for diverting from this systemic treatment

Royce Alexander: 3 (5+ Hearts, Game Forcing) Might make 10,11,12,13 tricks depending on partner's controls. If partner cues 4♣ , cue 4♠  to highlight the 2 diamond losers.

Alan Jones: 3  Bidding 3  and then 4  (or 4NT) over partner's 3NT bid is a mild slam invitation, which is about how I rate the hand. And who knows, maybe partner will agree hearts and not bid 3NT! I like to dream. A jump to 4  would be sign-off of course.

Alan Mould: 3  This hand is an excellent example of why modern systems play basically everything over 2NT as Game Forcing (unless you have lots of toys over it). Games and slams are so much more important that part scores. Here if 3  is Non Forcing you have to find some weird distortion such as 3  or just punt the final contract. Bid 3  and see what pard does.

Jeffrey Smith: 3 (Forcing of course). There are slam chances so this helps partner's judgment when followed up by 4 . The alternative 3♣  is less effective. You want to tell partner about your hand rather than ask about his. I suspect slam is actually poor since partner needs a lot of suitable cards.

When I had this hand I jumped to 6 . Left Hand Opponent led the  Ace and dummy came down with AJx,x,AKxx,AKJ9x, and lefty switched to a club won in hand and when the  Queen fell under my  King I could pull the last trump with my Jack and claim 12 tricks - Who said crime doesn’t pay! 

To paraphrase John Rawls in A Theory Of Justice “A Bidding Systems first virtue is to be sensible, if it is not it has to be discarded or changed”. To discard it might be to cut off your nose to spite your face, but changing it so that 3  is forcing seams to be sensible. 

 

Bid
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
3 
10
10
9
3♣ 
7
3
1
3♠ 
7
1
0
3NT
6
1
2
4  
4
1
25
3 
2
0
2
4♣ 
2
0
1
6 
2
0
2

 

 


Problem 2

 

Dealer: West
Vul: All 
Teams
 
North  
East. 
South. 
West. 
3  
3♠ 
pass
4  
pass
?
 
♠ KQ108765
 KJ3
 A6
♣ 6
 
How far to go and what road to take? Or should we even try to continue this journey? Let’s see what those who pass say in their defence
 
David Barton: Pass. I stick with the bid I made at the table - or rather at my screen. There are 3 Aces missing and much will depend on there not being a   loser. Looking for redemption?
 
Michael Byrne: Pass. The old adage "When the opponents pre-empt, aim to achieve the best result possible, not the best possible result" springs to mind. Of course we could be cold for a grand slam (A, AQxxxxx, xx, Axx) but equally the 5 level could be in danger (x, Q10xxxxx, QJx, KQ). Partner's bid is not particularly strong - if he has 7 hearts and 1 spade (quite likely looking at my hand) then there is no reason he will want to choose a minus score in what he thinks is a seven card spade fit when an 8 or 9 card fit might exist in hearts. The honour structure is slightly dubious - the  Ace will be bumped off at trick one and now we will need some hard work to bring the spades in, probably needing him to use the 3rd round of trumps as an entry. Stealing quotes from S.J. Simon and giving good reasons to take the low road
 
Rodney Lighton: Pass. Difficult we could easily make slam, but five could be too high. I will settle for the plus score, if the minors had been reversed I would make a slam try.
 
If you want to take this hand further, the experts offer up two routes
 
Joy Blakey: 5  I like my heart fit so I'm giving partner a chance to get to 6. 
 
Irving Blakey: 5  Seems pretty automatic! This time it is hubby who is driving the automatic car.
 
Alan Jones: 5  I feel I am a bit too strong to pass and I think this is a general slam try rather than a specific control showing bid. Of course bidding on isn't safe, but then nor is passing.
 
Alec Smalley: 5  heart slam try with the control I think my partner wants to hear about
 
The most popular means of transportation is Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB
 
Royce Alexander: 4NT (RKCB in Hearts) Is partner 0-7-2-4, 0-7-3-3, 1-7-2-3? Is 6H making on a ruffing Spade finesse? I'll try 6H if 2 aces opposite, 5  if 1 ace opposite, and apologise if 0 aces opposite
 
John Currie: 4NT. Keycard, no guarantee that 6  will make if partner has two, but could miss grand if I pass 4 .
 
Espen Lindqvist: 4NT. Asking key-cards
 
Tom Slater: 4NT. Not much extra strength but partner has got the jackpot with KJx in trumps. No great way to cooperate.
 
I cannot see that one road offers much more that the other. If you think it is you who needs to get to know about partner’s controls so that you can decide, then 4NT is your man. If you like to tell partner what you have so that she can decide, then 5  is your woman.
 
How to score this draw? Had we had a draw between two non-pass bids I'd give them both 10. Here though we have 60%  in favour of bidding on, so moving on has to score higher than passing. Hence 4NT gets 10 and pass 7. Even though 5  has less votes than pass, bidding on has won the day and what remains is to give it 8 or 9. 
 
Bid
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
4NT
10
6
25
5 
9
4
4
Pass
7
6
12

 


Problem 3

 

Dealer: South
Vul: None
Team
 
North  
East. 
South. 
West
1♠ 
2 NT(1)
dbl(2)
3  
4♣ 
pass
?
(1) Minors
(2) Values
 
♠ Q7
 K52
 742
♣ AJ972
 
All the experts broadly agree that even though they have never come across this sequence, there is no doubt that partner is showing a void or singleton in clubs. From here, they start diverging. Some think a good spade suit with slam interest and others a major two suiter, so not strange that they disagree about what to do
 
Alan Jones: 5♣ . I think partner is trying to show a strong major 2-suiter with short clubs and will drool over my major suit honours when she sees them. Since I did NOT bid 4  she will not expect a diamond control so can sign off in five of a major if she does not have one herself. By the way, for me the double of 2N states that I can penalize at least one of their minors, rather than showing general values. Willing to risk the 5 level and in the strong two suited camp.
 
Royce Alexander: 4  (cue bid) Unless West has mis-bid 2NT (!!), South must have a very good hand with club control, so maybe 7-4-1-1 or 7-3-2-1. What can I bid? 4 , 4♠ , 4NT, 5♣  are conceivable. But I just have the 3 useful cards. If partner bids 4♠ , I'll pass.
 
Irving Blakey: 4  Difficult - the club Ace may not be an asset, but if South follows up with 5  (with two Diamond losers he would bid 4♠ ), I will bid 6.
 
Alec Smalley: 4 Partner is making life difficult here, but thats what partners like to do. How do we play 4C??? - self supporting splinter or good heart raise - whichever I will make life awkward for partner - I have a control or a H suit? I hope I can justify either. From one who knows, preparing for the post-mortem is as important as making the right bid, especially with a difficult partner! 
 
Now, let’s get it from the one who bid 4 :
 
Raymond Semp: 4  If you ask five Experts what defence they use after an Unusual 2NT bid over one of a major, you would get five different answers. But two things they all would agree on, the double and somehow to show support and/or the other major so 4♣ looks like a self-supporting major suit splinter. With my ♠Q7,  K52 and an Ace (Albeit in his obvious void but never-the-less a trick) I shall make one effort. o, we now know that 4♣  was a self-supporting splinter. 
 
With this knowledge, is the hand still worth a mild slam invite? Let’s hear from the slim majority
 
David Barton: 4♠ . Mysterious Partner has presumably got something like a strong 2 in Spades and a Club shortage. The AJ of Clubs are "wrong" values so I do not think I have enough to make a slam
 
Joy Blakey: 4♠  the 4♣  bid doesn't excite me.
 
John Currie: 4♠  Not sure if ♠ Queen  and  King are enough to show slam interest opposite a potential void.
 
Espen Lindqvist: 4♠ . I Don’t have any extras, but slightly afraid partner has something like 5-5 in the majors.
 
Alan Mould: 4♠ . Pard has made an auto splinter for spades. This does not help my hand. Pard needs a HUGE hand for slam AKJxxxx, AQJx, Kx, - or the like. I could bid 4  I suppose but it just seems too much.
 
So, it’s not 100% clear what the 4C shows, and even amongst those who got it right it is even stevens whether or not to send out mild invitational signals. 
 
Bid
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
4♠ 
10
8
25
4 
8
7
4
5♣ 
5
1
9
4 
5
0
1
Pass
1
0
3
 
 

Problem 4
Dealer: East
Vul: All
Pairs
 
North  
East  
South   
West
pass
pass
1♠ 
2♣ 
pass
2  (1)
2 
?
(1) Assume weak 2  openings
♠ -
 A75
 KQ92
♣ AQ10763
 
To Slam or not to Slam? And if so, how to Slam? Let’s start with the odd one out
 
Royce Alexander: 5  Given East’s silence so far, partner could well be 4-4-5-0 shape and West 6-4-1-2. Hope to cross-ruff or beat 5♠ Doubled. 
 
At the other end of the scale, we have those who don’t need to be asked more than once
 
Irving Blakey: 6  Eschewing the very possible Grand - let them guess what to lead - The scientific approach would be Voidwood/splinters/cuebids etc. 
 
Alec Smalley: 6  correct number of controls - loads of tricks - partner clearly has S's - and the hope is a 6 card D suit, if I run into a void club as well we maybe down. I don't wish to bid this scientifically as it will tip off a H lead instead of a S - apologies partner if you have AD + KC. 
 
Espen Lindqvist: 6  Might be a good grand. Making a practical bid, as it seems difficult to locate both the ace of diamonds and king of clubs.
 
Both hoping to avoid giving away the lead that could set a thin slam.
 
Now for the Scientific camp
 
Raymond Semp: 3  As East has not supported spades partner must have some, if one is the Ace with his Axxxxx (x) diamonds we have nine top tricks. He should also be prepared to play in 3♣ in case I am void in diamonds so with the ♣Kx with his Axxxxx diamonds we might have a slam on.
 
Not sure exactly what 3  would be. I’d read it as showing ‘something’ in H, looking for a ♠  stop for 3NT purpose. I guess the nature of it would be revealed in the subsequent bidding.
 
The majority of the experts are split into two camps. First, the space preservers.
 
David Barton: 3♠ This feels like another hand I held. Hoping to hear 4♣  in which case I bid 7  (hope partner has the A) or 4  when I will bid 6. Highly likely you have seen it as the problems are from games within the county over the last few weeks. 
 
Michael Byrne: 3♠  This is a really fascinating deal and I can think of several alternatives that I might bid at the table, including 6 , 7  and psychic blackwood to encourage the ♠ Ace lead. Partner's failure to open a Weak 2  is less suggestive that he has only a 5 card suit and more suggestive that he has 4 spades on the side, something like 4-2-6-1 or even 5260 is consistent with the lack of a spade raise (if Responder has 2 surely the opener can't have 7 and want to introduce hearts?) In that case the issue of whether or not we can make slam comes down to how good partner's trumps are, and whether or not he has a club to take the finesse and help set the suit up. I am almost certainly heading to 6  but 3♠  (which is a splinter bid, showing shortage and Game forcing) leaves some room for partner to show a high card in hearts or clubs, and gives us maximum space.
 
Rodney Lighton: 3♠  I have a huge hand in support of diamonds, I will show the spade control and make further slam tries.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 3♠  (splinter). Slam is likely and we need to encourage partner to show a club (♣ King) or heart ( King) value and ignore any spade value.
 
Now to those willing to give up space to create clarity regarding the nature of the control
 
Joy Blakey: 4♠ . if p only has Axxxx and ♣ King I'not stopping short of 6; this way we may find our way to 7 if p has  King,  Ace to six and ♣ King.
 
John Currie: 4♠  Showing diamonds and a void. I’ll ’bid 6  over 5 , 7  over 5♣ , and an odd number of keycards and a void over 4NT.
 
Tom Slater: 4♠  This extra jump must show a void, and I'd be delighted if partner then took control as my entire hand is keycards. If partner is not interested will still bid a sixth.
 
Now to the exclusionists
 
Alan Jones: 4♠  The change of suit by partner is constructive, not a rescue so I am expecting club support here. I am also expecting at LEAST the Ace of diamonds - making a constructive try by bidding a Jack-high suit just misleads partner. The 4♠  bid is exclusion Blackwood, of course, and I choose it to get my 10 points. I can then continue by asking for (specific) Kings and so bid 7  if she has the ♣ King (as opposed to Jxxx). But I should mention that in real life I would bid 4 , exclusion in hearts instead of spades. This because if partner does NOT have the ♣ King then I want to encourage them to lead a spade not a heart.
 
Alan Mould: 4♠  EKCB obviously. I don't care that pard has not opened a weak 2. xxxx, x, Jxxxxx, Kx is a slam and pard would not dream of bidding 2  on that. I will drive slam and if that tips off the killing lead well so be it. Maybe I should bid exclusion in hearts, but would anyone believe me?
 
The space consumer just has the balance of power, even though they bid it for slightly different reasons. 
 
Bid
Points
#Panelists
#Competitors
4♠ 
10
6
3
3♠ 
7
4
2
3 
7
1
1
6 
6
4
4
5 
6
1
17
4 
5
0
4
3 
4
0
6
2♠ 
1
0
4
6♣ 
1
0
1
4♣ 
1
0
0
 

 

Summary 

Experts

Problem 1
Problem 2
Problem 3
Problem 4
Total
Royce Alexander
3 
4NT
4 
5 
34
David Barton
3NT
Pass
4♠ 
3♠  
30
Irving Blakey
3♣ 
5 
4 
6 
30
Joy Blakey
3 5  4♠ 4♠
36
Michael Byrne
4 
Pass
4  3♠  
26
John Currie
3 
4NT
4♠  4♠
40
Rhona Goldenfield
3
4NT
4  4♠
35
John Holland
3 
Pass
4  6 
31
Rodney Lighton
3 
Pass
4♠  3♠  
34
Espen Lindqvist
3 
4NT
4♠  6 
36
Alan Jones
3  5  5 4♠
34
Alan Mould
3 
Pass
4♠  4♠
29
Raymond Semp
3♠  
Pass
4  3 
29
Tom Slater
3 
4NT
4♠  4♠
40
Alec Smalley
3  5  4  6 
33
Jeffrey Smith
3 
4NT
4♠  3♠  
37


Leaderboard November (Over 60% score)

Position
Competitor
Points
1
Peter Foster
40
2
Liz Ineson
36
3
Steven Mattinson
35
Eamonn Scott
35
5
Joyce Jones
34
Gerard Keary
34
7
Victor Ridding
32
Joyce White
32
Mel Pelham
32
10
Mary Green
31
Richard Acaster
31
Francis William Wetton
31
13
Barbara Lewis
30
Ros Moorhouse
30
David Fussell
30
Ian Hempstock
30
Val Hempstock
30
Paul Beckwith
30
19
Dhun Daji
28
Adam Wiseberg
28
21
Del O'Sullivan
27
Paul Worswick
27
Adrian
27
Rob Harris
27
Heather Saunders
27
Ian Pendlebury
27
Ann Thornton
27
28
Millie Lang
25
Michael Greaney
25
David Cash
25
31
Geoff Ashcroft
24
Andrea Knowles
24

 

Leaderboard Overall (Over 60% score)

 

Position
Competitor
October
November
Total
1
Peter Foster
38
40
78
2
Victor Ridding
37
32
69
3
Ian Pendlebury
40
27
67
4
Adrian
37
27
64
5
Joyce White
31
32
63
6
Liz Ineson
26
36
62
Paul Worswick
35
27
62
Mary Green
31
31
62
9
Joyce Jones
27
34
61
10
Adam Wiseberg
32
28
60
Richard Acaster
29
31
60
12
Steven Mattinson
24
35
59
13
Dhun Daji
30
28
58
Andrea Knowles
34
24
58
Ann Thornton
31
27
58
16
Rob Harris
29
27
56
17
Eamonn Scott
20
35
55
18
Barbara Lewis
24
30
54
Ros Moorhouse
24
30
54
David Fussell
24
30
54
Val Hempstock
24
30
54
22
Heather Saunders
26
27
53
Ian Hempstock
23
30
53
24
Andy Green
29
23
52
Michael Greaney
27
25
52
Geoff Ashcroft
28
24
52
27
Del O'Sullivan
24
27
51