District 8 Solvers Forum -- from the October, 1999 issue of the District 8 Advocate

By Mike Jones, Champaign IL


1.  IMPs, none vulnerable

West 
North 
East 
South
1D 
2C 
DBL 
?

What is your call as South holding:      S-Q942 H-K765 D-J103 C-A8 ?
 
  Action 
  Score 
 Votes 
  %Solvers 
RDBL 
100 
9
30
3C 
70 
4
5
Pass 
60 
3
47
2NT 
60 
0
12
2D 
50 
9
5

South seeks to show a hand with good high cards, secondary club support and a willingness to defend. Although some panelists were unsure of the Bridge World Standard meaning of a redouble here, most thought it did the best job of covering all the bases.

DODD: "Redouble. Itís unlikely weíll want to double anything at the 2-level, but I must show my decent strength and lack of a primary fit. Anything else begs for trouble later ó a 2D cuebid misstates your strength and club support, and 3C is short on support and long on strength. 2NT is dangerous without a diamond guard, and Pass leaves me guessing what to do after 2D-Pass-Pass."

KNIEST: "Redouble. The time to show values is now, not in a balancing situation. A redouble doesnít show great club support, since you had many other ways to raise clubs."

Some thought that the time to raise clubs was now.

HUDSON: "3C. Hoping to hear 3NT from partner, or a 3-level bid from the opponents, which Iíll double."

The direct raise here is sometimes intended as disruptive rather than constructive. I would normally expect more shape and less strength. Others decided they should stay out of the auction, at least temporarily:

ROTTER: "Theyíve bid my three best suits, so Iíll sit back and see what happens."

BOSWELL: "Pass. I have no evidence that either side has an 8-card fit. Itís best to look to defend unless further bidding shows otherwise."

Actually, most of our panel agreed that this hand appeared to be mainly defensive in value, but the redoublers chose to convey this information to their partner right away. If itís right to defend, doubled or not, why not bring partner in on the decision? I think this panelist had it right:

SENG: "Redouble. If you donít take some strength-showing action at this point, how will partner ever be able to judge your later auction? We may even have a game, and it will be virtually impossible to bid  it if I pass now."

2.  Matchpoints, both vulnerable

 West 
  North 
  East 
   South 
  ó 
ó 
1H
DBL
Pass 
2S 
Pass
?

What is your call as South holding:      S-AK6   H-   D-AQ1097   C-QJ93 ?
 
  Action 
  Score 
  Votes 
  %Solvers 
4S 
100
   5 
29
3D 
100
   5 
31
3H 
90
   5 
21
3S 
60
   1 
16

When we doubled with this hand, we would have liked to have had four cards in the unbid major. Indeed, partner may even be assuming we have them. It may not be an absolutely perfect takeout double, but who would choose anything else? I thought no one, until I read this objection:

MARSHALL: "3H, because Iím not convinced spades is the proper strain. But why canít players pass these hands originally and double the next time around, even if itís at the 4-level? Donít they teach discipline anymore?"

Finlay obviously still plays that a double of 1H absolutely, positively promises 4 spades, but Iíll venture that heís in the minority. Back to the problem as weíve forced it upon you: We have considerable extra values, and with partnerís jump, we should have game. Should we assume itís in spades, or look elsewhere?

WALKER: "4S. Thereís no reason to talk partner out of spades, which should be the right spot, even if itís a 4-3. A 3H cuebid is pointless unless you plan to pass his 3NT rebid, which doesnít look right. And if you convert back to 4S, partner will think you have the monster spade raise and he may keep bidding."

POPKIN: "3H. When in doubt, cuebid. Iíll pass whatever partner bids (except 4H, of course)."

And except for 3S, I hope! Or do you share the same pessimism as:

KESSLER:  "3S. Certainly not perfect, but Iím too good to pass, even at matchpoints. If he has four bad spades, he might be able to bid 3NT."

DODD: "3D, forcing. Any other call misstates the strength and/or spade length. Those jumping to the spade game should be forced to declare when partner shows up with a balanced 9-count and 10xxx of spades."

Can it really be that bad? If he had that hand with the heart stoppers youíre hoping to find, he probably would have bid 1NT instead of 2S.

Most of the 3D bidders seemed to think that 3D was a pretty good description of your hand ó extra strength, good diamonds, secondary spade support. Others, however, argued that this auction didnít necessarily suggest any spades ó that 3D here just promises a hand that was too powerful to overcall 2D.

WARD: "3H. 3D would be nice, but I doubt partner will play me for spade support this good, not to mention the fact that it will be hard to recover if he bids 5D. 4S is a close second, but slam is still a possibility."

If you buy that double-then-3D suggests some spade support, is this the right approach? The answer depends on how good youíd feel about passing 3NT, because thatís what partner will bid with almost any hand that has a heart stopper. On the other hand, simply raising to 4S commits you there when partner has four weak spades and a double heart stopper. I prefer flexibility, but the 4-3 will often be right ó and bashing away could be the best route to the best game.

3.  Matchpoints, NS vulnerable

  West 
   North 
   East 
   South 
 ó 
1C 
Pass
1D
3H 
3S 
Pass
4D
Pass 
4S 
Pass
?

What is your call as South holding:    S-A6   H-J2   D-AQ109643   C-84 ?
 
 Action 
   Score 
  Votes 
 %Solvers 
Pass 
100 
13
76
5C
60 
2
10
5S 
50 
1
7
4NT 
50 
0
7

Partnerís vulnerable bidding should guarantee at least 11 black cards. The panel thought that level was more appropriate than strain.

ROTTER: "Pass. A  7-card fit at the 4-level has to be better than an 8-card fit at the 5-level."

POPKIN:  "Pass. I can think of some hands where 5C would make, but Iíd rather keep it a level lower."

WALKER:  "Pass. This is how partner would bid a minimum 6-5, so Iím not going to hang him. He can probably make 4S with a 4-2 spade break, but that may sink 5C."

The argument for 5C is the fear that the 7-card fit wonít play well:

FEILER: "5C. On these massive two-suiters,  itís  important to play in your longer suit, since the play is generally a race to see if the defense can tap you out. The difference can be an overtrick in your 6-2 vs. down three in your 5-2."

For a change, weíre going to let you in on the real deal. Partner held S-K9764 H-3  D-2 C-AKQJ76 . If spades are 4-2, 5C  goes down and 4S makes. If  partner has better spades and weaker clubs, 4S will probably still make, even with a club loser. If partner is missing two club honors, though ó a hand like KQJxx, x, x, AJ10xxx ó Kent could have a point.

4.  IMPs, both vulnerable

  West 
   North 
   East 
  South 
 1D 
 Pass 
Pass
?

What is your call as South holding:    S-6    H-QJ95    D-5    C-AJ107653 ?
 
  Action 
  Score 
  Votes 
  %Solvers 
Pass 
100
 9 
21
2C 
80
 5 
47
3C 
70
 2 
31

For the life of me, I canít see why youíd want to bid here, but almost half the panel and Solvers waded right in:

POPKIN: "2C. I donít want to preempt partner. We may have a heart fit."

DODD: "2C. What else? Am I supposed to pass and hope they missed their spade game? We may be on for +600 or +620 in either of two suits, which at last count was gain of 12 or 13 IMPs, depending on how many overtricks they can make in 1D."

Bid here, Tom, and you may need a lawyer. For partner to have enough for us to make a club or heart game, weíre going to have to have a big double fit. And that means the opponents will have their own double fit ó in suits that outrank ours. Hereís another idea:

HUDSON: "3C, the pressure bid. Iím under-strength for it, and it may induce partner to bid 3NT, but I want to shut them out of bidding spades."

The preempt that isnít a preempt ... at least he knows what his bid is supposed to show. Many of our Solvers ó and even a panelist or two ó seemed confused by the meaning of 3C here. In the pass-out seat, a jump is not a preempt ó it shows a good, long suit and intermediate strength (around 14-16 playing points).

The majority of the panel found a much more obvious way to keep the opponents from bidding spades ó a four-letter word that we donít seem to use much here in the Forum.

FOGEL: "Pass. Where are all the spades? If partner has them and couldnít bid at his first turn, the opponents have certainly underbid. And if the opponents have them, Iíd rather they play in diamonds."

WALKER: "Pass. Itís highly unlikely we have a game, and there are too many spades and too many aces and kings out there for me to want to let them back into the auction."

KNIEST:  "Pass. I probably broke my wrist getting the green card out of the bidding box so quickly."

Yes, the club suit is tantalizing, and yes, you may have a heart fit.  But weíre outgunned on this hand, both in cards and the master suit, so why walk into the battlefield?

5.  Matchpoints, none vulnerable

 West 
   North 
   East 
   South 
ó 
ó 
ó
1D
1S 
2H 
Pass
?

 What is your call as South holding:   S-10542    H-Q5   D-AQJ85   C-A6 ?
 
  Action 
   Score 
  Votes 
  %Solvers 
3H 
100 
6
10
2NT 
90 
6
45
3D 
80 
4
25
2S 
60 
1
12

Our choices here are to lie about a heart, lie about a diamond, or lie about a spade honor. Whatís your poison? Hereís a sample from the panel:

WARD: "3H. This doesnít eliminate 3NT as the final contract, whereas 2NT will cause partner to think I have spade wastage. If he has short spades ó S-x H-AKJxxx D-Kxx C-xxx ó he may keep the bidding too low."

FEILER:  "2NT. 10xxx is a sure stopper! Well, okay, kind of sure. Who wants to play a 5-2 heart fit when partner will be immediately tapped and uppercut?"

Yes, partner could have a spade particle to stop the suit, or the spades could block (AQxxx opposite KJ).

HUDSON: "3D. If I had the spade 9, Iíd bid 2NT, but this holding is just too flimsy. Itís too soon to raise hearts."

Rebidding diamonds has the advantage of leaving you well-placed to raise hearts at your next turn.

KESSLER: "2NT. If hearts is the right spot, partner still has a bid left."

Mark has a good point. A notrump bid here doesnít set the final strain; with most six-card heart suits, partner will bid them again and you can raise. The main problem with 2NT, though ó as WARD  and other 3H bidders pointed out ó is that itís going to cause partner to devalue his possible spade shortness. Even thatís what he has, Iíve got a pretty good dummy for hearts, and I donít want to talk him out of looking for a slam.

6.  IMPs, EW vulnerable

  West 
  North 
    East 
   South 
ó 
ó
    ó 
1C
4S 
Pass
 Pass 
5C
5D 
6C
    6D 
?

What is your call as South holding:    S-4   H-KJ62   D-Void    C-AKJ109832 ?
 
  Action 
   Score 
   Votes 
  %Solvers 
6H 
100
 7 
36
7C 
80
  4 
24
Pass 
70
  4 
40
DBL 
70
  1 
0

A wild hand and auction, but one that offers some opportunities for a logical solution. With cheap insurance available, few people would actually pass at the table, as this grudging passer seems to acknowledge:

FOGEL: "Pass. I think Iíd pass at the table; I might even do it in tempo. But I wonít be surprised if 6H is the winning call."

Other passers hoped partner would solve the problem for them:

ROTTER: "Pass. Did I pass a third time in six hands? My partners will never believe this. Let partner figure out what to do."

MARSHALL: "Pass. I know my partner will be bidding again. I think I am safe in passing to show at least some unfulfilled ambition."

As much as I like the term "unfulfilled ambition" to suggest the values for a forcing pass, this canít be one of them. I canít imagine a hand partner could hold where he would know if itís right to double or take the save for you. You did, after all, open the bidding, and partner may think your pass suggests some defense.

The majority of the panel decided to take the bull by the horns. One approach was to bid clubs until the cows come home:

BOSWELL: "7C. Time to take out some cheap insurance. If they bid 7D, Iíd like to bid 8C!"

The plurality of our bidders, though, decided to bring partner into the picture and try to find a cheaper save:

SENG: "6H. Iím confident 6D is making; I wish I could have my 5C bid back. I was going to bid 7C, but I donít see any reason not to bid hearts on the way, in case partner has length."

KESSLER:  "6H. If you arenít sure if their slam is making, but you have a cheap save, you should take it. This could hit partner with 5+ hearts and find us a good save against even 7D."

DODD: "6H. Too easy to lose the match on a single board by passing, and those who double should sign up for a CAT scan. Unless West is a complete moron, he has 12, maybe 13, cards in the pointed suits."

There is, of course, some guessing here, and in real life, your choice might depend on the "table action". One thing we do know, though, is that you shouldnít trust my co-editor:

WALKER: "Double. The classic hand for a psychic Lightner double ó  warned of the impending spade ruff, the opponents run back to spades, which I can double for a real ruff. I realize this is no points in the Forum, but I swear Iíd do this at the table."

Sheís ready for her CAT scan, Mr. DeMille. They should put her in the newspaper if this works, and as it happens, it very well might have, as this was the full deal:

FEILER:  "6H. Iím not sure whether 6H or 7C is the right bid, but I do think  passing is wrong. Itís not a forcing  pass, and you canít let them play a vulnerable slam when you have a save at -100. This monstrosity occurred on okbridge. Here are the other three hands:

                  S-Ax
                  H-Q10xxxx
                  D-Kx
                  C-xxx

S-KQJ109xx           S-xxx
H-Void                    H-Axx
D-Q10xxxx             D-AJxxx
C-Void                   C-Qx


Thanks to all who sent in solutions to this interesting set. Congratulations to Don  Mathis, who scored a perfect 600, and to runners-up MasonMyers and Lisa Sievers. All are invited to join the December panel.
Details on our bidding system, Bridge World Standard, are at: www.bridgeworld.com/refernce.html
New problems for December are here. To submit your answers, send an email by October 22 to:
         Tom Kniest, 6300 Alexander, St. Louis MO  63105     Email: kniest@mo.net



How the Panel Voted   (Panel/Staff Average:  533)
 
1
 2
3
 4
 5
6
 Score
Mark Boswell, Belvidere IL         
Pass 
4S 
Pass 
Pass 
3H 
7C 
540
John Contarino,  Bloomington IL 
RDBL 
4S 
Pass 
Pass 
3D 
7C 
560
Kent Feiler, Harvard IL
RDBL 
3H 
5C 
2C 
2NT 
6H 
510
Micah Fogel, Aurora IL
3C 
3D 
Pass 
Pass 
2NT 
Pass 
540
Jim Hudson, Dekalb IL
3C 
3H 
Pass 
3C 
3D 
7C 
480
Mark Kessler, Springfield IL
Pass 
3S 
Pass 
3C 
2NT 
6H 
470
Finlay Marshall, Edinburgh, Scot.
3C 
3H 
Pass 
Pass 
2NT 
Pass 
520
Larry Matheny, Bloomington IL
3C
4S
Pass 
Pass
3D
7C
 530
Nancy Popkin, St. Louis
RDBL 
3H 
Pass 
2C 
2S 
Pass 
500
Bill Rotter, Granite City IL
Pass
3D
Pass
2C
3D
Pass
490
John Seng, Champaign IL
RDBL 
4S 
5S 
Pass 
3H 
6H 
550
Nate Ward, Champaign IL
RDBL 
3H 
Pass 
2C 
3H 
6H 
560
 
How the Staff Voted
Tom Dodd, Boerne TX
RDBL
3D
Pass
2C
3H
6H
570
Mike Jones, Champaign IL
RDBL
3D
Pass
Pass
3H
6H
600
Tom Kniest, St. Louis
RDBL
3D
5C
Pass
2NT
6H
540
Karen Walker, Champaign IL
RDBL
4S
Pass
Pass
3H
DBL
570

Solvers Honor Roll   (Solversí Average:  484)
Don Mathis, St. Louis                      600       Bob   Sievers, Champaign IL             550
Mason Myers, St. Louis 560 Midge Beiger, Champaign IL 540
Lisa Sievers, Champaign IL 560 Norm Athy, St. Louis 530
Leroy Boser, Elkhart IN 550 Ed Rauch, St. Louis 530
Judith Eaton, Carbondale IL 550 Dave Wetzel, Mahomet IL 520