Congratulations to Kevin Avery and Lyle Poe who tied for first with a score of 480. They win a free play to the WBL Unit Game, and will be invited to be on a future panel.. Tied for second were John McAllister, Jack Feagin and Ram Sarangan with a score of 460. Tied for fifth were Jerry Pruzan, Shirley Meddaugh, Barry Bragin, Candy Clanton, David Genne and Lex Poot with a score of 450. The average score of the 93 solvers was 397. The average score of the experts was 450.
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, I 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also see and answer the problems at the WBL website, www.washingtonbridgeleague.org. WBL Solvers Club uses Washington Standard as published July 1996. I accept only the first answer from each solver unless it is clear that the solver wants to correct his answer.
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. To score the other answers, I consider how good each answer is and how many experts vote for it. 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, 2nd Edition (1996) is out. If you are a serious bridge player, this book is a must. You can purchase a copy from Steve for $25.00 whenever you see him or can send him a check for $30.60, which includes $5.60 for priority mail.
The rule of 20 tells you how light to open distributional hands. You add the number of HCP to the length of your two longest suits, and open the hand if that adds up to 20. Seven HCPs plus twelve adds up to only 19. If you had an extra jack, you’d have 20. However, three experts open 1♠. If partner has a fit in either black suit, you could take lots of tricks. How bad can it be to open distributional hands? The opening bidder has an advantage like the server in pro tennis.
Four experts join me and open 1♠. Opening 1♠ makes the opponents start at the two-level if it’s their hand.
Korbel: 1♠---How bad could it be?
Hopkins: 1♠---I hold the boss suit so should be able to deal with competition. I hope to find out if partner has a fit with either of my suits.
Theurer: 1♠---Any number of spades or even pass could be right, but with all this shape, spot-cards and controls, I think this is too good for any preempt. I want to start right away with bidding since the auction could get rather competitive fast.
Schwartz: 1♠---If I could show my exact distribution later, I could pass. As it is with an ace and a king so some semblance of defense and good spots, it's worth opening.
One expert opens 4♠. Opening 4♠ makes it difficult for the opponents if they have a red-suit fit. I’d be more inclined to open 4♠ if the opponents were non-vulnerable.
Woolsey: 4♠---Obviously this could turn out terribly if partner is short in spades and we have a club fit, or if the whole hand is a misfit. However, with spades outranking both red suits. the odds are in my favor that the opponents won't do the right thing, whatever that right thing is.
Two experts pass. They will be able to tell their story later but so will your opponents.
Quisenberry: Pass---I should have time to tell my story. Partner may have a big hand with distribution opposite my hand.
Parker: Pass---I hold spades so I won't be outbid. I’m sure I will be able to show both suits over the opponent’s bid, and if partner opens we will be able to find our best fit. Second choice 4♠ .
How would you feel if partner opens a red suit in third seat, you respond 1♠ and it goes all pass? Or if partner preempts in a red suit?
One expert does not play five-card majors. Would his partner ever believe that he has six spades? If his partner has Ax of spades, would he be happy letting him play in spades? He’s lucky that his 1♣ opening got 40 points.
Sontag: 1♣---You need to get both suits in the bidding. If you open any number of spades it will be difficult or impossible to comfortably show your club suit.
Who cares about showing the club suit?
The opening bidder has an advantage.
How do you show extra values in this competitive situation? In this situation, I play the “two-card double.” Double of 2♥ shows exactly two hearts with extra values. Two-card doubles occurs at the two-level when the auction could be passed out. This wins when partner holds four hearts and passes the double. Nobody has ever overcalled on a four-card suit or raised on only two! If you’re not going to double then you could bid either 2♠ or 3♣ as a game try. However, 3♦ is not a game try; it’s competitive. You don’t want to allow the opponents to play at the two-level in their assumed eight-card fit. ♠xxx ♥xx ♦KQJx ♣KQxx is a 3♦ bid. You might not bid 3♦ if your heart holding was Q doubleton.
Four experts join me and double. Except for Woolsey, their understanding is not the same as mine. Usually doubles of bid and raised suits are not ‘I got you’ doubles. They just show extra values.
Parker: Double---No clear understanding what this should show, but logically it should show a hand like this, a good hand with no clear bid.
Sontag: Double---You need partner to act aggressively if there is a game.
Woolsey: Double---As I play, this shows a doubleton heart and extras. If partner has the right hand to pass, that will be fine. Otherwise, we will probably end up in 3♦ unless partner has a maximum raise. If this weren't available, I would bid 3♣, since we could have a game opposite a maximum.
Theurer: Double---I think this should show extras but less distributional than bidding 2♠ or 3♣. Not a big fan of bidding notrump here with only Ax of hearts and slow minor suit tricks unless partner has both minor suit aces. If I bid notrump later, partner will know I have only one heart stopper. Opposite ♠Kx ♥xxx ♦Axxxx ♣Jxx, I need to be in 5♦, not 3NT. Also it's IMPs, not matchpoints, so I don't need take the risk of trying for the higher-scoring game.
Two experts bid 2NT. I think that a notrump contract needs a second heart stopper, since it’s likely that you have to knock out at least one minor-suit ace and there is a five-card or longer heart suit that will be led.
Hopkins: 2NT---This expresses the power and shape of my hand, and partner should be able to judge our prospects accordingly. Qx or JTx of Hearts would be much appreciated if we end up in notrump.
Two experts bid a new suit as a game try. Usually the cheapest try is the best try. This will allow partner to make a counter-try in the other suit.
Quisenberry: 2♠---I think this gives partner the best description of my hand.
Over 2♠, partner could bid 2NT with a heart stopper. If partner has a heart stopper, 3NT will be a reasonable contract.
One expert bids 3♣. 3♣ does not allow partner to bid 2NT to show a second heart stopper, or even bid 3♣.
Schwartz: 3♣---With lack of aces or long suits, I can't bash to game. Partner can still ask for a heart stopper.”
Consider playing “two-card doubles.”
Should you evaluate this hand as a limit raise, a game-forcing spade raise or a preemptive spade raise? I like 2NT, which shows a game-forcing four-card raise. Why wouldn’t you want to be in 4♠? Often there will be a play for game and it’s impossible to figure out whether partner has the wrong hand. The benefit of Jacoby 2NT is that if opener bids 3♦ (which shows diamond shortness), your hand grows in value. You could easily have a slam. 5-4-2-2 hands are worth more than 5-3-3-2 hands.
Three experts join me and think this is a game-forcing spade raise.
Parker: 2NT---Looks like a game-forcing hand with four or more trumps. Too good for a limit raise or 4♠ bid. Partner can decide how high we should go now.
Korbel: 2NT---This hand is obviously being driven to game, and it's more powerful than it looks with two doubletons. Imagine partner shows diamond shortness?
Sontag: 2NT---If that is your game-forcing raise. If partner has short diamonds, you may have a slam.
Three experts jump to 4♠, which is what you do when you have five-card support with a weak hand. The problem with 4♠ is that opener could have ♠Kxxxx ♥Axx ♦x ♣AQxx where 6♠ is 100%.
Woolsey: 4♠ --- I'm not going to stop short of game with this hand. Yes, we could miss a slam, but at matchpoints it is more important to shut West out of bidding since the opponents may have a good save or West may be able to make an effective lead-directing overcall that gets the defense an extra trick.
Theurer: 4♠ ---If I was playing something where 3NT showed a good raise to 4♠, I might do that, but here I think I have too many losers to bid, say, Jacoby 2NT. I also want to take up maximum amount of spade in case West is ready to bid something. The opponents could have a good save at these colors, and I'd rather make them guess at a high level.
If you bid Jacoby 2NT, you’re allowed to make minimum bids if partner gets excited.
Schwartz: 4♠---At matchpoints, a forcing raise could get us overboard. Different story at IMPs.
One expert makes a limit raise. If opener has ♠Kxxxx ♥xxx ♦Kx ♣Axx, which is not close to an opening bid, game is on a finesse. Make the king of diamonds the ace, and 4♠ is cold.
Hopkins: 3♠---My trump holding is a little overkill. Partner knows how to bid game with good controls knowing the trump fit is likely to be strong.
True about your trump holding; however, partner with at most AJxxx of spades is not going to be happy about his trump holding.
One expert bids a forcing 1NT. It’s true that if opener rebids 2♦, your hand goes down in value and you could show a limit raise.
Quisenberry: 1NT---Forcing. Partner could have hearts or six spades. If he bids 2♦, I’ll bid 2♠.
Force to game if partner can have a non-opener that will produce game.
(Your 2♦ bid shows 4+)
You’re playing a system where opener rebids 2♣ when he’s 5=3=3=2, which means that the 2♦ rebid shows at least four diamonds. There are three reasonable possibilities over 2♥. You could pass 2♥, rebid your five-card spade suit, or rebid your six-card diamond suit. If partner has ♠x ♥QJT9xxx ♦x ♣QJTx, a heart suit which will play opposite a void, you belong in 2♥. However, partner could have six or seven bad hearts. With ♥KJ9543, partner would have 3 heart losers playing in hearts. While partner is unlikely to have two spades, the spade suit will play well opposite a singleton. Partner may have two diamonds, which means that 3♦ would let you play an eight-card fit.
Five experts join me and rebid their six-card diamond suit. Partner usually doesn’t have two spades, so he figures to have a few diamonds. He could have three of them.
Parker: 3♦ ---I do have six of them. I guess the issue here is not to play 3♠ when partner corrects. So maybe I should bid 2♠ now. Nope.
Hopkins: 3♦ ---There is a very good chance partner has at least two diamonds, and I don't mind playing a weak long trump suit accompanied by a strong side suit.
Woolsey: 3♦ ---I'm not going to let partner rot in 2♥. We almost certainly have at least an eight-card diamond fit, so why not play in our longest trump suit?
Sontag: 3♦ ---If I had bid my suits in relation to their length, I would not have this problem. But, as constructed, I would bid 3♦ and hope partner would not take a preference to spades.
Theurer: 3♦ ---Yes, it's possible to pass 2♥, but with six diamonds and a heart void I will try for a better spot. Even though my spades are really nice, if partner has a stiff there and 2-3 diamonds, I prefer the security of my longer suit/fit, especially at IMPs.
Two experts pass 2♥. They think that if there is a misfit it’s better to stay low, and sometimes partner has solid hearts.
Quisenberry: Pass---Sounds like trouble brewing.
Schwartz: Pass---Unlikely to go plus so it’s time to get out at 50 a trick.
One expert rebids his strong five-card spade suit.
Korbel: 2♠ ---Passing or 3♦ could be right, but I can't bring myself to do either.
This is why bridge is great. Your guess is as good as mine.
(2NT by you here would be natural)
You have a 4-3-3-3 eight-count. Unless you have extra values such as two four-card suits or lots of tens and nines, the percentage bid is to pass 1NT. Usually, a 4-3-3-3 eight-count opposite a 16-count does not produce 3NT. Since partner could easily have only 15 HCPs, passing is percentage. The only extra values are the married JT and QJ which make them worth more than stand-alone honors. But you don’t need 3NT to be 50% for game to be good when you’re vulnerable at IMPs. Give opener ♠ATx ♥AQx ♦Q98 ♣AT9x, and 3NT is reasonable.
Five experts pass 1NT. You’re vulnerable at IMPs, which means that you don’t need game to be above 50% for it to be a good contract.
Parker: Pass---It seems partner cannot have a hand as good as the hand in Problem 2, so we are high enough.
Korbel: Pass---You can't trick me with the vulnerable at IMPs preamble!
You’re vulnerable at IMPs!
Woolsey: Pass--- I don't invite game opposite a 1NT opener with a 4-3-3-3 seven-count. No, I didn't mis-add. That is what the hand is worth.
Sontag: Pass---I know I am vulnerable but too sketchy to raise. If I had the 10 of spades, I would bid 2NT.
Theurer: Pass---Yes, I see that we are vulnerable at imps. But my hand is so flat and soft, so full of losers, that even opposite many maximum 1NT opening bids we might be in a poor game if I bid. I don't mind inviting on eight-counts if I have a five+ card suit or have primes or some distribution, but this hand looks like less than an eight-count. Sometimes it's okay to go low.
Three experts join me and try for the vulnerable game. At matchpoints or non-vulnerable at IMPs, I think its right to pass. But this is vulnerable at IMPs. However, if you’re going to invite do you ignore your four-card major? Two experts bid Stayman thinking that opener can have a semi-balanced hand with four spades. The gain for bidding Stayman is that opener could have four or five spades and an unbalanced hand. The loss of bidding Stayman is that 2♣ may get doubled, West may bid two of a red suit, or opener may respond 2♥ (stopping a favorable heart lead).
Hopkins: 2♣ ---Well, I do have a four-card major. And if partner fits it, I can raise to three which still allows the possibility of a final contract of 3NT if partner suggests that even after finding the 4-4 fit.
Schwartz: 2♣ ---I should invite at IMPs vulnerable. Might as well bid Stayman in case partner is unbalanced, as he can bid 3NT over a spade raise.
Lots of players do not bid Stayman when 4-3-3-3.
Quisenberry: 2NT---Looks textbook.
Be aggressive when vulnerable at IMPs.