District 8 Solvers Forum -- February 2018

        by Karen Walker, Champaign IL
 


1.  Matchpoints, NS vulnerable     

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

3S

100

4 27
2S

90

3 12
4S

80

2 22
Pass

80

2 6
2D 60 1 10
4C 40 0 10
3C 20 0 10
  West      North      East     South  
      1S
DBL RDBL 2C ???

What is your call as South holding:  ♠AK98753  54  A1043  ♣Void?

The panel came up with five different ways to describe this hand, but they were all in agreement about the general direction they wanted to take the auction. They did a good job of describing the principles that apply in this situation:

BAKER: 3S. Shapely hand, no interest in defending, and I don't need much from partner for game. Passing and pulling would show more high-card strength.

GRANDE: 3S. A bid of 2S shows a weaker hand, while passing and bidding 2S over responderís penalty double shows a stronger hand. This hand is not weak with an ace-king and an ace, and it does have a reasonably good 7-card suit.

SOKOL: 3S, I have no interest in penalizing the opponents. 2S is too wimpy. 3S seems to fit the holding.

HINCKLEY: 3S. We won't be defending with this hand. A non-forcing 2S is out and a pass allows LHO to raise clubs. At IMPs, 2D would be more tempting to possibly reach a diamond slam opposite a good hand with five diamonds and a stiff spade.

To summarize, any bid by opener in this auction -- even a jump -- shows minimum high-card values and a distributional hand. A pass shows either a balanced hand or a distributional hand with extra values (a good 14+ high-card points),

A few panelists liked this 11-count enough to call it extra values and follow the pass-and-pull strategy:

WARD: Pass. Maybe partner won't double their run-out and we will be better off. I don't like 2S because my hand is too good, and it is not good enough for 3S, which also buries diamonds.

RABIDEAU: Pass. We'll be bidding a lot of spades later.

One panelist and a number of Solvers hoped to show everything by bidding diamonds now and spades and more spades later. As HINCKLEY pointed out above, that could work if diamonds is your only fit, but it will be difficult to convince partner that there's such a big disparity in your two suits.

The other vote-getters were 4C, a "self-splinter" for spades as trumps, and 3C, which shows ... what? With a strong hand, you should pass now and bid later, so the only possible meaning for 3C seems to be a stopper-ask, showing a minimum opener with long, running spades.

The second most popular choice was:

KAPLAN:  2S. I realize that with my void, partner may be saddened to not be able to put the red card on the table. But, with seven nice spades and a fine offensive hand, I need to show what I have!

KESSLER: 2S. Partner has to bid and now he knows we have at least six spades.

2S sends the same general message as 3S -- extra spades, minimum count -- but does partner really have to bid again? Most of the panel thought 2S was passable. When you have a minimum opener and partner has redoubled with a bare 10-count and no fit, you should be able to stop. Rebidding a low number of spades would be the way to do that.

This hand has so much more playing strength than a typical 2S rebid that I think you have to show it now. A jump to 3S is the right idea, but you might have just six good spades for that bid. To show the full value of this hand, how about this?

SPEAR: 4S. 2S would be non-forcing and passing and pulling partner's double to 2S would show good values. But I want to describe my hand type before any further bidding by the opposition and show that I am not willing to play in 3NT.

2. Matchpoints, both vulnerable    

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

2H

100

9 52
2C

70

3 15
2NT

40

0 9
Pass

30

0 4
2S 20 0 12
2D 20 0 6
  West      North      East     South  
      1H
Pass 1NT * Pass ???

* (Forcing NT)

What is your call as South holding:  ♠Q987   AKQ106   K10   ♣74 ?

GRANDE: 2C. Opener is supposed to bid 2C with 2-2 in the minors regardless of the strength of the suit. Curious why this problem is in the set.

It's here to tempt the panel into violating the system. Three-quarters of them -- and 85 percent of the Solvers -- took the bait.

SOKOL: 2H. Looks like a 6-bagger to me.

WARD: 2H. If my hand was slightly worse, I'd consider passing.

HINCKLEY: 2H. 2C is the system bid with 4=5=2=2 shape, but at matchpoints I'm not risking 90 vs. 110 with such heart and club disparity. I'd pass the "forcing" 1NT if this hand was any weaker.

It's that 14th point that makes passing so unpalatable. If you do it, partner will surely have a good 11-count, perhaps with a heart fit, and you'll miss a game. And be apologizing into the next decade.

WILLIAMS: 2H. I would have opened this hand 1NT as I knew I had rebid problems over a forcing 1NT response. So I'll lie and rebid 2H. I'm not passing and I'm not bidding a 2-card minor.

BAKER: 2H. The least annoying lie. I don't have the strength for a reverse (though the spots make it tempting), and bidding a 2-card minor doesn't appeal.

KAPLAN:  2H. Least of evils. Great spots!

A 2C rebid may well be an evil, but partner knows you might have this pattern, so it's not a lie. It can also be the winning bid. Sometimes, it will hit partner with six clubs, or give him room to bid a long diamond suit, or talk the opponents out of leading clubs if partner advances with 2NT. On other deals, of course, it might stick you in a 4-2 fit.  

Whatever they want to call their choice, the 2H bidders believe a well-reasoned lie is better than a flawed truth, and they make some good arguments. Your choice at the table may be influenced by what happened the last time you had this hand. The system bid has been good to this panelist:

SPEAR: 2C. My hearts are better than usual and maybe 2H is the winner this time at matchpoints, but the 2C rebid has worked okay for me in the past. I don't have to like it.

3. Matchpoints,  both vulnerable 

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

3C

100

6 24
2S

90

5 42
3D

50

1 11
3S 30 0 18
4C

30

0 3
  West      North      East     South  
Pass Pass 2D Pass
Pass DBL Pass ???

What is your call as South holding:  ♠J764    KQ   54   ♣AJ1062 ?

At the table, we seldom fail to notice partner's green Pass card. In a bidding quiz, it's easy to miss that first, "quiet" pass. It appears that's what happened when one panelist and almost a third of the Solvers chose the strong advances of 3D, 3S and 4C.

The rest of the panel noticed not just partner's pass, but also West's. They drew the same inferences from his silence, but came up with different solutions.

RABIDEAU: 3C. I'll go for the (hopefully) safer contract because West, holding his share of the deck, didn't raise diamonds. That suggests that partner holds a few of them and is less likely to have four spades.

GRANDE: 2S. Partner is a passed hand and probably has at least two diamonds based on Westís decision not to bid 3D. It is fairly certain partner has both majors and it is not clear we can make anything at the 3-level, thus making a 3C call an inferior choice.

WILLIAMS: 2S. Partner is most certainly 4-4 in the majors to come back in after passing. I am wondering why we didn't hear a 3D on my left, though. No game is likely, so let's play the best partscore at lowest level.

I don't understand the certainty that partner is 4-4 in the majors. I don't expect anything more than 3-3. If your requirements for a balancing double are that strict, you're going to lose a lot of partscore battles.

The plurality of the panel went for safety:

BAKER: 3C. Partner's a passed hand, so game shouldn't be on. Maybe 2S scores 140 when 3C gets only 110 or 130, but if partner is 3=4=2=4, spades could play at least two tricks worse.

KESSLER: 3C. Intending to bid 3S over 3D. It may not work out, but defending 3D is a losing proposition.

KAPLAN: 3C. Bidding where I live. (Yes, I realize it's matchpoints!)

Yes, it's matchpoints, where we usually want to play in a major. Then again, it's matchpoints, where we always want a plus score. Here, we have to find one holding barely half the deck, so I'm with:

WARD: 3C. I want to go plus, and playing in a bad 4-3 spade fit is a sure way not to.

4. Matchpoints, none vulnerable 

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

2D

100

6 37
2H

90

4 35
5C

80

2 8
3C

40

0 6
4C 30 0 5
2NT 30 0 3
  West      North      East     South  
1D 2C Pass ???

What is your call as South holding:  ♠Void   J10976   AQ63   ♣K1065 ?

The majority of panelists and Solvers chose to keep the auction low. Several were lured by the possibility of a 5-3 fit and decided to bid 2H (forcing or non-forcing but constructive, depending on whom you're talking to), then show their club support later.

BAKER: 2H. I'll be sick if this ends the auction (it probably won't - where are the spades?), but if we have a major fit, this is the only way I see to find it. Next round I can raise clubs.

GRANDE: 2H. Although the heart suit is weak, the positional value of the diamonds makes it sensible to try to reach a heart contract on the way to 3C. At this point, 4H, 5C and 3NT could all be viable contracts.

WILLIAMS: 2H. Will follow up any non-heart raise from partner by supporting clubs. 2H is forcing unless you are playing a very deep game.

Half the panelists thought the club support was too powerful to suppress and used a cuebid advance to show a good raise.

WARD: 2D. Even if 3S is a splinter, it is going to endplay partner. We will likely miss 3NT, as well as a 5-4 heart fit.

KESSLER: 2D. I'm going to establish a good hand and likely club fit before the bidding gets going.

Several of the 2D bidders suspected that what was about to "get going" was spades.

HINCKLEY: 2D. 3S would be a natural invitation and 2H is constructive but non-forcing. 3C is conservative, although it would help prevent any spade bids.

KAPLAN:  2D. While "going slow" may give the opponents an opportunity to find spades, I would not be surprised to find my partner with a fair amount of distribution. Despite my possibly wasted Q, I still feel I must cuebid.

RABIDEAU: 2D. Let's make a forcing bid, confirming the fit, then try to get hearts into the picture. But I think partner has lots of black cards.

Even if partner doesn't have a real spade suit on the side, it's a good bet that he has at least moderate length. That makes it unlikely he has a heart fit, as he would surely have made a takeout double with a 3-3-2-5 pattern (or even 3-3-1-6).

The concern about the opponents introducing spades is well founded, as that's what happened when this hand and a longer auction were posed as a problem in the January 1975 issue of The Bridge World Master Solvers' Club. In that problem, South made a 2D cuebid and the decision came at his second turn:
  
  West      North      East     South  
1D 2C Pass 2D
Pass 3C 3S ???

This panelist solved that potential problem in advance in the auction in our problem.

SOKOL: 5C. The opponents likely have 9+ spades and haven't found that out yet. I want to bid what I think might make. I'll pay off when partner has the big black hand.

I like this approach. I'm not settling for a partscore and I can't see making a slam, so I might as well make the inevitable bid now. Bridge legend Edgar Kaplan was of the same mind 43 years ago. An excerpt of his comment on the Bridge World problem:

EDGAR KAPLAN (1975): "The trouble here was caused by my foolish, if fashionable, 2D bid, which did not describe my hand, or elicit description from partner, or preempt the opponents. All it did was cast a warm glow over the auction. My sensible choices over 2C were 5C to shut out the opponents or 2H (forcing) to find out what we could make -- which could well be 4H."

5. IMPs,  none vulnerable     

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

2NT

100

6 10
3C

80

3 23
3D

60

1 18
3H

50

0 20
Pass 40 2 27
  West      North      East     South  
      1D
1S Pass 2S DBL
RDBL Pass Pass ???

What is your call as South holding:  ♠32   K432   AKJ9  ♣AK2 ?

Too bad this isn't party bridge, where you could spill your drink on your cards (and the opponents', if you have good aim) and call for a new deal. Here, all you can do is pick your poison, mutter "Thanks for nothing, partner" and be thankful you aren't playing for money.

The majority of the panel was focused on finding a safe landing spot. Process of elimination talked some into running to 3C.

RABIDEAU: 3C. Since partner has denied 4 diamonds (?) , let's hope he has a few clubs.

HINCKLEY: 3C.  Partner holds fewer than five hearts, four diamonds and five clubs or he would have bid. Bidding 3C now may imply 1=4=4=4 shape. Can I distinguish 2=4=4=3 from 2=3=4=4 at this point by bidding 2NT, then running to 3C when doubled?  Perhaps -- but they may not double!

Half the panel began rescue operations with 2NT. They don't want to play there, but when you have no idea what to bid, the safest retreat is often the cheapest possible bid.

GRANDE: 2NT. Partner is probably broke. I would expect him to bid 3C with a 5-card suit. Partnerís most likely shape is 3-3-3-4. 2NT should be takeout as suit bids at this point imply five cards.

KAPLAN:  2NT. Seems impossible for partner to have a penalty pass. So, I bid 2NT, hoping that partner will bid and choose wisely!

WILLIAMS: 2NT. I didn't see an Undouble card, so I'll make a takeout bid. There is NO way in the world partner can be making a penalty pass.

SPEAR: 2NT.  This sequence needs a discussed agreement by the partnership or could be a disaster. Without an agreement that the pass is penalty, I will try 2NT for partner to choose. (Partner's pass would be penalty over an unraised suit.)

They make good cases for their choice, but two panelists and more than a quarter of the Solvers were convinced that partner was sending a different message:

WARD: Pass. I'll take my 30, but partner's pass is for penalties.

BAKER: Pass. Behind the bidder, passing the redouble is to play. I hope. At least I've got quick tricks and they're not vulnerable. What's the worst that could happen? Minus -840?

It's true that in similar situations -- you double for takeout, your opponent makes a strength-showing redouble and your partner is sitting over the bidder -- partner's pass would be for penalty ("I want to defend this redoubled contract"). However, that meaning applies only when just one opponent is bidding the suit. When the suit has been raised, partner's pass is non-committal ("I have no idea where we should play.")

As SPEAR pointed out, it's a good idea to discuss these auctions. Absent a special agreement to the contrary, though, the default is that passing a redouble is noncommittal if both opponents have bid the suit or if the passer is sitting under the bidder.

In the auction here, you have extra evidence because you know partner has a weak hand with no more than three spades. His pass has to be just a punt to transfer the agony back to you. If he can be noncommittal, so can we, so 2NT it is. Double punt.

6.  IMPs, EW vulnerable      

 Action  

  Score   

 Votes  

  % Solvers  

Pass

100

7 32
5H

70

2 5
4H

70

2 40
4D

70

1 5
4NT 60 0 13
5NT 30 0 4
  West      North      East     South  
  1D Pass 1S
Pass 1NT Pass 3H
Pass 3NT Pass ???

What is your call as South holding:  ♠AKQ74   AQ1074   Q9   ♣4  ?

A slam was a realistic possibility when partner rebid 1NT, but most panelists lost interest after 3NT.

HINCKLEY: Pass. I showed a strong 5-5 hand with slam interest. If partner holds a 3-card major, he must have significant minor-suit strength with a hand not slam-oriented. Second choice: A quantitative 4NT invitation.

BAKER: 4H. Slam isn't too far away, but partner almost surely has something wasted in clubs. Happy to play game in whichever major partner prefers.

So the question becomes which game do we play? That was an easy decision for:

WILLIAMS: 4H. Another simple hand. I cannot imagine what other bid you would make with this.

Close your eyes and try to envision Pass as a possibility. More than half the panel chose that call. 

SPEAR: Pass. My 3H bid showed 5-5 already. Otherwise, I would have bid 2C (new minor forcing) over 1NT.

KESSLER:  Pass. I have my call. We'll assume partner has his. I have no reason to think he is wrong.

WARD: Pass. With partner likely 2-2-5-4, we need an absolute perfecta for 12 tricks. I'll stay low.

GRANDE: Pass. Partner probably has nine cards in the minors, yet rebid 1NT over 1S and 3NT over 3H. This seems to mark partner with Kx and reasonably strong clubs. I might try a diamond slam, but diamonds may be too weak and partner may have only four.

If you still think a slam could be in the cards, you might try a gentle raise to 4NT. Or this:

KAPLAN: 5H. Partner bid 1NT over 1S. Seems at worst he must have Jxx. Supporting diamonds with Qx seems wrong, and not trying for slam seems cowardly. Perhaps 5H will get us to one -- if we have one -- and won't be too high!

RABIDEAU: 5H. Partner should hold honor-third in hearts (or Kx at worst), so let's ask about the quality of his minor-suit cards.

Partner might have rebid 1NT with six diamonds or 5-4 in the minors, but like Peg and Larry, I suspect he has three hearts, which means that our hands may be fitting better than the auction has made it sound. If partner does have three hearts, though, the question is why is he hiding them? The inference is that he has weak hearts and is loaded with club stoppers, which are wasted values for a slam. That convinced me to give up on slam and let partner declare 3NT.
 


           ♠ February scores                ♠ New problems for April 

Thanks to all who sent in answers and comments for this challenging set of problems. Leading all Solvers with scores of 560 were Jeff Eisenberger of St. Louis MO and John Seng of Champaign IL. They're invited to join the April panel.

If you'd like to receive an email notice when new problems are posted, please send your request to kwbridge@comcast.net .

I hope you'll give the April problems a try (see below). Please submit your solutions by March 31 on the web form.

    April moderator: Nate Ward    Nate.Ward@dsvolition.com

Solvers Forum -- February 2018 Problems


1. Matchpoints, both vulnerable 

  West    North      East     South  
  1H 2C ???

What is your call as South holding:
♠QJ8765   6   K10843   ♣3 ?

2. IMPs, NS vulnerable           

  West    North      East     South  
    2H Pass
2NT * Pass 3H ** Pass
Pass DBL Pass ???

   * (Feature ask)
 ** (No outside ace or king)

What is your call as South holding:
♠KQ103   6   43   ♣J98543 ?

3. IMPs, none vulnerable      

  West    North      East     South  
      1H
Pass 1S Pass 2C
Pass 2D * Pass 2NT
Pass 3C Pass ???

* (4th-suit force, may be artificial)

What is your call as South holding:
♠10  J10984   K62   ♣AKQ8 ?

4. IMPs, EW vulnerable 

  West      North      East     South  
      1S
Pass 1NT * DBL ???

   * (Forcing NT)

What is your call as South holding:
♠KJ963   KQ43   3   ♣AK10 ?

5. Matchpoints, NS vulnerable      

  West      North      East     South  
  1D Pass 2C
2S Pass Pass 3D
3H DBL Pass Pass
3S Pass Pass ???

What is your call as South holding:
♠Q74   J   Q983   ♣AQJ102 ?

6. Matchpoints, EW vulnerable      

  West      North      East     South  
      1C
Pass 1D Pass 1H
Pass 2S* Pass ???

* (4th-suit-force; fewer than 4 spades)

What is your call as South holding:
♠J54   AJ82   K9   ♣KJ74  ?

Thanks to Mark Kessler for Problem 5.