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December 2020 - Solutions
December Solutions
 

In what seemed to be an easy set for the experts, as many as 6 of them had a perfect 40, our competitors struggled, and for the first time not a single perfect score. Peter Foster did best with 37, followed by Barbara Lewis and Adam Wiseberg on 36. Over the 3 months to date, Peter Foster is in the lead with an impressive 115 out of 120 followed by Victor Ridding on 104 and Ian Pendlebury on 98.


Even though the experts did not find many options for each problem, the competitors seemed to have more imagination. There are many subtleties and a lot to learn from the panelists’ reasoning. I hope you will find this solutions’ page an interesting and entertaining read over the Christmas period, in between good food and with whatever company you have. 


I'd like to thank all the panelists and the competitors for their time and effort in 2020 and hope that 2021 will be a lot better for all of us than 2020 turned out to be for many of us. 
From the Competition Editor, a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Espen Gisvold



PS As usual, my inline comments below are in italics.

 
 
 

Problem 1
 
Dealer: East
Vul: E/W
Teams
 
West  North.  East.  South
  1   pass
1♠   pass 2  pass
?

 

♠ AQJ107
 A97
 J108
♣ J10
 
This is a thread of the mill bread and butter problem, but the competitors were all over the shop. The Panelists were almost unanimous, with one solitary outside voice. Let’s start with he who stands alone:
 
Espen Lindqvist: Without agreement of another forcing bid over 2 , i try 3♠ . Game in spades could easily be right even on a 5-2 fit. 
 
For many, this is a voice from the past as the rest of the panel regard a simple change of suit as 100% forcing, and most had a LOT to say:
 
Royce Alexander2  This looks easy. I have 13 HCP, three 10’s and a good 5 card Spade suit, so we have the values for game. But which game? 3NT or 4♠  are likely, but 5 may well lose 3 tricks despite a likely 6-3 fit. I have a balanced hand so why not just bid 3NT? Well, East has rebid 2, so should not have 4 clubs. So the opponents have at least 8 clubs. Does partner have ♣ Hxx to stop the suit? Does partner have 3 card spade support or ♠ Hx to make 4♠ a better contract? So what bid can I make? 2♠  is much weaker than my hand and non-forcing. 2NT is weaker than my hand and would usually have a club stop. 3NT does not show the 5th Spade and will be passed when 4♠  is a better contract. 3♠  would show a 6 card suit GF. What else is there I can bid? Well, I’m going to bid 2  which is forcing for at least 1 round, shows 4 Hearts (which I haven’t got) and 5 Spades and says nothing much about clubs. I hope that partner will bid Spades with Spade support, NT with a stop in the 4th suit Clubs, or else rebid his Diamonds. The only problem will be if partner has 4 Hearts with longer Diamonds and 11-15 and raises to 3 . If he does, I’ll try 3♠  and we might have a 5-2 Spade fit. Seems to cover all the bases and also identifies the weakness in the 2  bid - the lack of a biddable heart suit!
 
David Barton2 But which game? 3NT or 4♠  are likely, but 5 may well lose 3 tricks despite a likely 6-3 fit.
 
Irving Blakey2 Forcing and paving the way (who doesn't enjoy playing Moysian fits anyway!?)
 
Joy Blakey2Want to hear what partner will do now. Sounds menicing! 
 
Michael Byrne2 This should be universal, but lots of inexperienced players will scratch their heads and bid 2♠  or a crude 3NT. 2  is forcing for one round (gone are the days when you had to jump to 3  just because you had a 12 count) and will elicit spade preference or a club stopper from partner.There are several possible games, 4♠  on the 5-2 fit facing Kx, xx, KQxxxx, Axx when 3NT is down by leading a 5 card heart or club suit, 5  facing K, xxx, AKQxxx, xxx, 3NT facing xx, Qxx, AK9xxx, Kx or even 6  facing Kx, xxx, AKxxxxx, x.Anyone jumping to 3NT should a) look at the last hand I've put in and then feel bad and b) be shot. As for anyone giving 3NT full marks..... 3  is non forcing (far too much of an underbid and 3♠  is also nf in standard methods (and promises 6 cards) so those are also terrible bids. I do think that the death penalty is just a little bit too strong a penalty, just a bit though! Look at the disapproving dots!
 
Rhona Goldenfield2 between that and 3♣  if partner raises to 4 will have to play in 4-3 fit if he bds 3NT I am happy. Nothing better than a partner who is happy!
 
Rodney Lighton2♥ A question of finding the right game. Any of 4♠ , 3NT or 5  could be right a gentle probe with 2  (one round force) will help us find the best contract.
 
Alan Jones: 2♥ Normally I just bid 3NT on hands like these but that will end the auction and there are several alternative game contracts possible (4♠  if partner has Kx, 4  if partner has KQxx, 3NT with the lead up to partner's ♣ Kx; even 5 , although usually that is a bit of a stretch). So I bend the bidding. 
 
Alan Mould2♥ If anyone asks you why it is now universal to play change of suit forcing forcing in all auctions, show them this hand....
 
Raymond Semp2♥ With 13 HCP opposite an opening bid means game even after a weak rebid, but which is the problem here. Spades, Diamonds or NT is the question. I realise bidding 2 might hit partner with four and finish up in 4  but I am prepared to take that chance. If he responds with spade support I bid 4♠  if he bids 2NT i raise to 3NT, if he rebids 3 I raise to 5I hope most are now getting convinced
 
Tom Slater2♥ Not ideal with only three, but we need more information to find the best game. Short but accurate.
 
Alec Smalley2♥ My partner had this hand and bid the same(it will be interesting to see if he bids the same again)- it is forcing for at least 1 round so what can go wrong! easy game calls after partner bids 2♠ , 2NT, 3 . Easy descriptive bid over 3♣ . So what did I do with the other hand - I bid 3 , the only return that causes a problem - now very awkward - 3NT looks doomed so a toss up between 4  in the 4/3 fit or 5 . 
 
Jeffrey Smith2♥ Forcing of course. That should produce the most meaningful response from partner to decide which of the games (3NT,4S,5D) to bid or even a slam in Ds slam. Even if p raises the hearts, we go back to diamonds so partner will know our intention. So not keen on the Moysian fit
 
I allowed all the panelists a say on this hand. The competitors were all over the shop. In a natural system there will be many situations where you have to make a lie of sorts. The question is always what is the lie that causes the least damage to the possibility of reaching the right contract as well as to partnership confidence. If you are not going for the game forcing 3♠ the only viable option seems to be 2  
 
 

Problem 1

Score

#Panelists

#Competitors

2 
10
13
8
3♠ 
5
1
5
3 
5
4
3♣ 
5
3
5 
4
1
3NT
4
9
4 
3
2
3 
1
1

 


Problem 2

 

Dealer: East
Vul: None
Teams
 
West  
North   East South 
1NT(1) 

Pass 

?      
(1) 12-14
 
♠ 4
 KJ87
♦ 10876
♣ AQ62
 
The question here is: How strong is this hand? Let’s hear from the minority:
 
Michael Byrne: 2♣ Stayman. A straight forward choice between pass and 2♣ , and stayman gets the vote for the simple reason that your hand is worth 4  if you have a heart fit, and you aren't risking much if you don't. 1NT is truly a ridiculous contract facing something like Qxx, Qxxxx KQJ, Kx where we will go minus in part-score and make game comfortably.There is also the possibility that a minor suit game might be worthwhile, partner could have for example xxx, Qx, AKx, K10xxx where 5♣  is easy and 1NT in danger if a 6 card spade suit is led.
 
Alan Mould 2♣ If pard bids 2 , bid game, otherwise 2NT. Second choice pass (1st choice at Pairs).
 
Raymond Semp: 2♣ This is a problem hand, my first instinct is to pass as a 2  response would be a major disappointment. But success comes with some risk and I cannot afford to miss a vulnerable game.
 
Now let’s see what the majority have to say for themselves!
 
Royce Alexander: Pass We have a combined 22-24 HCP, which is not enough for 3NT, but my 1-4 shape in the majors means that 4  may be cold if partner has a 4 card suit.And if opponents at the other table are playing 15-17 5CM, they will find a 4-4 Heart fit. What is the likelihood of opener’s weak NT including 4+ Hearts? Across all hands,4-4-3-2 shapes are 21.6%4-3-3-3 shapes are 10.5% 5-3-3-2 shapes are 15.5% Despite most NT openings being 4-4-3-2 shape, the chance of partner having 4 Hearts is between 25% and 30% whereas, due to my singleton spade, I think the chance of partner having 4 Spades is over 40%). So if I try Stayman, I am likely to hear a 2♠  response, and end up in 2NT or 3NT going off.
 
David Barton: Pass Surely unanimous. The only alternative of 2♣  has too many downsides. Like getting to a sound 3NT or 4 
 
Joy Blakey: Pass. You say it best when you say nothing at all comes to mind!
 
Rodney Lighton: Pass Pushing for non vul games at teams is not a good idea. If partner has four hearts and a maximum Stayman could work well, but we would be too high if there is no fit. 
 
Alan Jones: Pass The only reason to move is that game could be on if partner has a heart fit with me. However, it is more likely that partner has spades and misfits play badly in no trumps. Even 2NT might fail. I might have tried Stayman had I been vulnerable when the break even point is a 37.5% success rate.
 
That’s it. I am rather shocked! Had the hand been 4441 instead of 1444 all the experts, I'm sure, would bid. Had it been 2443 with an extra Jack I'm sure they would go on as well. Here the majority count to 10, add it to 14 and say it’s too little. Is this hand a 10 count? Running it through Kaplan and Rubens hand evaluator it comes out as 11.45, or as one tends to say: a good 11 count! As I am prosecution, judge and jury I find the majority guilty of bean counting and not seeing the value of the 3rd 4 card suit - a 3rd possible suit to establish an extra trick from. At the table I did bid 2♣ and I did get the dreaded 2♠ response and my 2NT was raised to 3NT and it was cold! One hand is not enough, but play around with it as you like, for every hand you construct where 1NT is the limit I'll construct an equal number of hands where game is cold. Here the Majority always wins, but it is not always right! 
 
 

Problem 2

Score

#Panelists

#Competitors

Pass
10
11
20
2♣ 
7
3
14

 


Problem 3

 

Dealer: East
Vul: E/W
Pairs
 
West   
North   East.  South 
1♠ 
Pass
Pass dbl 2  dbl
2♠ 
3♣ 
3 
4♣ 
?
 
 
♠ QJ6
 53
 10984
♣ 10874
 

This problem reminds me of a deal from S.J.Simons’ book "Why You Lose At Bridge" where you have been forced to show preference between partner’s two suits at the 6 level holding Ax in one of partner’s suits - bid 7! When partner has shown a lot of strength, bid on with whatever helpful rubbish you might have.

As always, we let the minority have the first say:

 
Royce Alexander: Pass Partner is 5-5 or 6-5 in the majors, didn’t bid 4  at his last turn, and will have another bid. Trusting partner to save the day
 
Rhona Goldenfield: Pass I dont think suits will break well so let the oppo struggle in their contract. Expecting partner to fold
 
Alec Smalley: Dbl I don't rate 4♠  to make, so what do we know. Partner 5/5+, N likely 4  and 4♣  - South 4  and 4♣. The lengths are all in the right places and the club break is bad for them, if partner is 6/5/2 void I hope they pull it. If partners started to pull my penalty doubles, I might start looking for a new partner! 
 
Now we give the floor to the majority:
 
David Barton: 4♠ If partner is prepared to invite game, I am happy to accept.
 
Irving Blakey: 4♠They'll probably bid 5♣ at this vulnerability - and if you've never doubled a making contract, you don't double enough. Spoken by a someone who is willing to burn his hands in persuit of victory!
 
Michael Byrne: 4♠ A few points to note here. I assume double of 2  was take out, (since he didn't double 3 !) so if both opponents want to keep bidding normally so do I. Both my earlier bids were wrong (I should have responded initially and also bid 3♠  over the double of 2  to let partner know what I had) but now I have to make a decision. Partner has shown a 5-5 hand and given that I have shown nothing at all and he has forced to the 3 level he should have a playable hand. I don't see how he can possibly have less than AK109x, AKxxx, xx, x (it doesn't matter what way round he is in the minors but if he is void club then my 10  might come in hand) in which case we have ten on top.I am half tempted to double for penalties, since the cards don't appear to be lying well for the opponents, that will probably be the winner if partner has scattered values such as Axxxx, AKJxx, KJ, x, as the field won't be recording 620 and 4♣ X will go for a fair number but if partner has extra shape (6-5 or 6-6) then that would be silly.

Espen Lindqvist: 4♠ Expecting partner to be better than just AKxxx AKxxx in the majors. Thus 10 tricks should have decent chances.
 
Alan Jones: 4♠ Partner has bid to 3H all on her own, with my bidding so far showing no points and only promising xx in spades so I have quite a bit to spare.
 
Raymond Semp: 4♠ There seems no problem here. Partner has bid 3 times vulnerable opposite a possible Yarborough and 5-5 in the minors.
 
Jeffrey Smith: 4♠ The ♠ QJx and doubleton hearts are golddust here. There is a slight worry of psuhing opps to a making 5♣  but our club holding could be sufficient to beat that. To the point in my book - the hand fits well and has an offensive rather than a defensive character. 
 
 
Problem 3
Score
#Panelists
#Competitors
4♠ 
10
10
19
Pass
6
3
14
Dbl
5
1
1
 
 

Problem 4
Dealer: South
Vul: N/S
Pairs
 
West  
North.  East South
 
  1 
pass 2  dbl 3 
?
 

♠ 1064
 KJ6
 A62
♣ 10762

Again, a hand where the panelists are almost unanimous. Let’s start with the blood thirsty outlier:

Joy Blakey: Dbl Don't think we've got game on so hope to take this off - esp at this vul. If it’s right its right, if not, it’s not - all in!

Now to the majority

Royce Alexander: Pass (hoping partner will Double for takeout again which I will pass for penalties) I have a 3334 8 count with KJ6 in opponents’ bid and supported suit.Do I Double: is it responsive or penalties? The system includes responsive doubles, but doesnt mention this sequence. But I think it’s not for penalties. Bid 3N: hoping for 2 Heart stops and 7 tricks elsewhere? Pass hoping partner will protect with another Takeout Double that I can pass for penalties? The sneaky assassin

David Barton: Pass Partner may well be pre-protecting so may not be that strong. X would be inviting partner to bid a minor. I hope to hear another X that I can Pass for a magic +200. Good thing you are not playing this hand with Joy!

Michael Byrne: Pass I think they call this a staggering non problem. Even if I played double here as penalties (actually I think I do) this is not the hand for it, with only one certain heart trick and a partner who may be acting under pressure with hearts shortage. (No reason not to think the  Queen is in dummy)Although the most likely result of 3  will be one off, if partner can't bid again over 3  then we are not making game and have no plus score to protect.3NT is a long way off unless partner has a trick source and 4♣  is truly awful, it is likely to be a 4-3 fit and will play badly regardless. It might be a staggering non problem for an expert, but for the mere mortals, it clearly wasn't! 

Rodney Lighton: Pass This looks like a good hand for defence, we might want to try a penalty double if desperate for a good board, but double would be responsive (take out) anyway. Looks like the experts have to sort out what dbl is in this sequence!

Espen Lindqvist: Pass Any bid out of the question for me.

Alan Jones: Pass If partner doubles again I will try 3NT but at the moment I have insufficient strength to make a call. For me a double would deny four spades and show 10+ hcps and 3NT would be wildly optimistic, given that partner might be pre-protecting and not even have a hand with full opening strength. TThe only one with game ambitions if partner doubles - the rest are going for the magic +200.

Tom Slater: Pass  I want to defend 3H, and if partner has enough to double again, even better.

So, even if the Majority always win but are not always are right - more often than not they are! For those of us living in the minority, we have to find solace in Ibsen’s “Strongest is he who stands most alone” 

 

Problem 4
Score
#Panelists
#Competitors
Pass
10
13
14
Dbl
4
1
11
3♠ 
3
2
3NT
1
4
4♣ 
1
3
 

Summary 

Experts

Problem 1
Problem 2
Problem 3
Problem 4
Total
Royce Alexander
2 
Pass
Pass
Pass
36
David Barton
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40
Irving Blakey
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40
Joy Blakey
2 
Pass
Pass
Dbl
30
Michael Byrne
2 
2♣ 
4♠ 
Pass
37
Rhona Goldenfield
2 
Pass
Pass
Pass
36
Rodney Lighton
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40
Espen Lindqvist
3♠ 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
35
Alan Jones
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40
Alan Mould
2  2♣  4♠ 
Pass
37
Raymond Semp
2  2♣  4♠ 
Pass
37
Tom Slater
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40
Alec Smalley
2 
Pass
Dbl
Pass
35
Jeffrey Smith
2 
Pass
4♠ 
Pass
40

 

Leaderboard December (Over 60% score)

Pos
Name
Score
1
Peter Foster
37
2
Barbara Lewis
36
Adam Wiseberg
36
Peter Jones
36
5
Victor Ridding
35
Dave Audley
35
7
Dhun Daji
34
Ann Thornton
34
9
Paul Beckwith
32
10
Mary Green
31
Ros Moorhouse
31
Eamonn Scott
31
George Leigh
31
Ian Pendlebury
31
15
Rob Harris
30
Gill Butterworth
30
17
Paul Worswick
29
John Parsons
29
18
Steven Mattinson
28
Liz Ineson
28
Mel Pelham
28
22
Valerie Morgan
27
23
Ian Hempstock
26
24
Francis William Wetton
25
Andrea Knowles
25

 

Leaderboard Overall (Over 60% score)

Position
Competitor
October
November
December
Total
1
Peter Foster
38
40
37
115
2
Victor Ridding
37
32
35
104
3
Ian Pendlebury
40
27
31
98
4
Adam Wiseberg
32
28
36
96
5
Mary Green
31
31
31
93
6
Dhun Daji
30
28
34
92
Ann Thornton
31
27
34
92
8
Paul Worswick
35
27
29
91
9
Barbara Lewis
24
30
36
90
Liz Ineson
26
36
28
90
11
Steven Mattinson
24
35
28
87
12
Eamonn Scott
20
35
31
86
Rob Harris
29
27
30
86
14
Ros Moorhouse
24
30
31
85
Joyce White
31
32
22
85
16
Andrea Knowles
34
24
25
83
17
Joyce Jones
27
34
21
82
18
Ian Hempstock
23
30
26
79
19
Richard Acaster
29
31
18
78
20
David Fussell
24
30
23
77
21
Geoff Ashcroft
28
24
23
75
22
Michael Greaney
27
25
21
73
Val Hempstock
24
30
19
73