Some Problems from the Atlanta Nationals: Answers

... all high-level competitive decisions.

All IMPs.

Today's panelists: Barry Rigal, David Caprera, Len Vishnevsky, David Weiss, Mike Shuster, Bobby Bodenheimer, Robb Gordon, Marshall Miles, Mark Bartusek, Lynn Johannesen, and John Jones

  1. none vul, you hold

     S:QJ98x H:K98xx D:x C:Qx

    LHO CHO RHO You
    5C: Dbl Pass ?


    BARRY
    5S:. no reason to bid spades not hearts except that facing a three-card suit spades plays much better than hearts. Second choice 6C: to get to the right strain (shows majors specifically with D: + major one bids 5NT).
    DAVIDC
    5NT and correcting. I would like to think that 6C: is stronger.
    LEN
    Pass. The five level belongs to them, LOTT, etc.
    DAVIDW
    5S:. I want to take out since I have lots of offense, but with no first-round controls I don't wish to commit to slam. Because of my internal semi-solidity, spades should be OK even if partner has 3 spades and 4 hearts, but the reverse might not be true.
    MIKE
    5H:. I take out my partner's takeout doubles. If this gets doubled on the right, I will bid 5S:.
    BOBBY
    Bid. I guess 5H:.
    ROBB
    5H:. Give him room.
    MARSHALL
    Pass. Not sure we can take 11 tricks in either major, and good chance of guessing the wrong one.
    MARK
    5NT. This shows 2 places to play. I think I just barely have enough values to force to slam, and 5NT will ensure that we play in the proper denomination.
    LYNN
    Pass. Second choice, 6C:. I don't want to play 5H:, possibly down on a spade ruff, when they are going for 500, as they easily could.
    JJ
    6C:. Hopefully confidently and in tempo. This will get us to the correct strain (I'm correcting 6D: to 6H:) This works much better at the table than it does in a problem solvers context. At the table the opps have to decide whether to save or not.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    5S:.
    WINNING ACTION
    5H: or Pass. Partner has  S:AK10x H:AJ10 D:AKx C:Jxx. Hearts are 0-5, but clubs are blocked, so 5S: goes down on two ruffs, but 5H: makes. A Vondracek hand. Pass nets 300; partner will be very unlikely to guess to give you a diamond ruff before giving up the lead, and after that, it's too late.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass3
    5H:3
    5S:3
    5NT2
    6C:1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I still like 5S:. I think it's extremely unlucky that 5S: goes down when 5H: makes; I'd guess that 5S: will make substantially more often than 5H: in general. I hate pass; if partner has  S:AKxx H:Axxx D:Kxxxx C:, passing could produce a double game swing. The big bids are too much; yes, we may make a slam, but when the auction is this jammed, settle for a game.

    In any case, great problem. Five different choices and none with more than 3 votes.


  2. favorable vul, you hold

     S:Q10xx H:Jxx D:xx C:KQJx

    LHO CHO RHO You
    5D: 6C: 6D: ?


    BARRY
    7C:; the clubs are just the right suit for offence not defence; yes could be passing up 100 to go minus; equally facing e.g.  S:AKxx H:x D:C:Axxxxxxx we might need to do this.
    DAVIDC
    7C:. It can't be wrong to raise with KQJx!
    LEN
    This is going too far. Did this really happen? I guess I have to trust the other three people and bid 7C:. BTW, I think pass is forcing here. Just curious who agrees. [Not I. --Jeff]
    DAVIDW
    7C:. At least we won't lose any trump tricks. [Wrong! --Jeff] Perhaps I'm being paranoid about the opponents' double fit (partner has, say,  S:AKx H:x D:C:A109xxxxxx), but vulnerable opponents tend not to offer up large numbers. RHO has more than a club void to tempt him into a slam. They might have to lead the right red suit to beat us (I think they will get it right), or our grand could be cold.
    MIKE
    Surely when holding KQJx of trumps I owe partner at least a single raise.
    BOBBY
    I think it's likely that 6D: is making. How many will 7C: go down is the question. I guess that we can probably take 8 tricks (I've got 3 if either CHO or RHO has the club ace) so I bid. 7C:.
    ROBB
    Pass. I want partner to have room to bid his second suit.
    MARSHALL
    7C: probably is a very cheap sacrifice. Too much to lose to gamble on a pass.
    MARK
    I just realized I misread the vulnerability. Given the favorable vulnerability I much prefer 7C:.
    LYNN
    This time I'll bite— 7C:. One of these contracts may well make.
    JJ
    Double. Hey pard, lead the suit I can ruff and hopefully we'll hold the contract to one overtrick for -1740. It looks easy to take the 7C: save. But how are we beating 7D:? If a blue card hits the table I'll highTAIL it to 7C:, not 6H:, 6S:, or 6NT. I don't want pard saving over 7D: if that occurs. If my double doesn't work, then I'll fire my bidding consultant, an APE named STRIPEY.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    7C:.
    WINNING ACTION
    7C:. Partner has  S:Ax H:KQxx D:C:109xxxxx. 6D: made and 7C: was only -500.
    CONSENSUS
    7C: was obvious. I didn't actually think this was much of a problem, but it's sort of neat to make one's first action a bid at the 7-level with a balanced 9-count!
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    Too easy. If pard can bid 6, I have enough to bid 7. I have no idea why he's bidding, but whatever his reason, if his choice worked out, so will mine.

  3. none vul, you hold

     S:Kx H:AQ10xxx D:C:K987x

    You LHO CHO RHO
    1H: Pass1NT 2D:
    2H: Pass4H: 4S:
    ?

    OK, maybe you bid 3C: instead of 2H:. 2H: worked out fine. Now what?

    1NT was semi-forcing.


    BARRY
    5C:. They got me; too much offence to leave partner to guess what to do. My expectation is 5H: is a good save.
    DAVIDC
    5C:. (It would be useful to know whether you were playing Flannery; i.e., do I know that 4S: was an 8+ card fit?) [Doesn't matter. Even not playing Flannery, typically one doesn't bid a 4-card spade suit when one has a heart limit raise. --Jeff] I want partner to participate in the next decision (even though that decision might have been to double 4S:). I don't object to the 2H: bid.
    LEN
    I suppose this is the time to bid 5C:, before LHO tries 5D:. Then I'll respect partner's decision and takeout his forcing pass.
    DAVIDW
    I would have bid 3C:, and don't agree that 2H: worked out fine. If we have a double fit we should be bidding on; if partner has diamonds, we should be defending. On this auction, I showed the sixth heart but partner doesn't know about my extreme shape. Therefore, he cannot participate in the partnership decision and I will have to make it alone. In the present predicament, I will bid 5C: to avoid the double game swing. Had I instead bid 3C:, I would have doubled at this point.
    MIKE
    I think that failing to bid 3C: is an error and the way the auction has developed a pretty costly one. I do have a good hand with hearts and clubs. If I'd shown that, I would feel comfortable passing this to partner. With my distribution such a mystery to partner, there is no way that he will be able to correctly judge this auction unless he has a huge penalty double. So I bid 5H: here.
    BOBBY
    5D:. I think this is the best bid to get partner potentially excited about the hand, and if they end up sacrificing, will help his lead.
    ROBB
    5C:. If we arenít defending, we should give partner the picture at least.
    MARSHALL
    6C:. I know this is terribly inconsistent, but I would have bid 3C: last time.
    MARK
    5C:. This will allow partner to compete to the 6 level if he has a nice Club fit with me. RHO's actions make me believe that this is not the end of the auction.
    LYNN
    5C:. Can't partner have  S:xxx H:KJx D:xxx C:AQxx? Or even  S:xxx H:KJx D:xxxx C:Axx? [No. He'd've bid 2H: his first time. He'll be stronger than this, of course. --Jeff] He won't get too carried away once I have rebid 2H:.
    JJ
    5C:. Assuming pard has a LR with no slow cards in D:, we could have a marginal grand,  S:Axx H:Kxx D:xxx C:AJxx , or be in trouble in 5,  S:QJx H:KJx D:Axx C:Jxxx. It would be nice if pass were forcing so that I could pass and pull pard's double to 5H: to make a general slam try. But pass isn't forcing in this situation so that's out. 5C: avoids placing emphasis on either D: or S: controls. If pard bids 5H:, I'm through.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    5H:
    WINNING ACTION
    pass or double. RHO had 3055!!!! and was in 1100 territory. Partner had  S:109xx H:98x D:AJ109x C:A, so we don't make anything.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    5C:8
    5D:1
    5H:2
    6C:1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    When I said that 2H: had worked out, I was double-dummy accurate. If I had bid 3C:, I'd've reached 4H: and had no way to make it. I can't predict RHO's insanity, but hearing his QJ10xx bid on his left seems as if it ought to encourage conservatism. Now we have the opportunity to pick up a big number.

    I agree, however, that 2H: was a bad bid, but not because one is anticipating a high-level decision; rather instead, partner could have something like  S:Axx H:x D:xxx C:Axxxxx and 2H: could easily make about 8 tricks while 7C: is laydown. I was thinking that bidding 2H: will get us to find our 6-2 heart fit; that's our most likely game. I think I set my sights too low.

    Bidding didn't seem as obvious to me as it does to everyone else. They mostly bid 5C:; I don't really see the reason for that. We don't want to be bidding at the 6-level. If RHO bids like this (he had no reason to know that 2D: wouldn't end the auction), there's no reason to believe his decision if he bids again. Since I don't think we can make at the 6-level, and I think we are playing lunatics, doubling them at the 5-level seems obvious. If I bid 5C: and partner bids to the 6-level, I doubt that'll be successful, so I'd stick with 5H: if I'm going to bid. A slam try is way too optimistic with bad breaks expected.


  4. unfavorable vul, you hold

     S:J10 H:AQJ10xx D:Axx C:xx

    CHO RHO You LHO
    1D: Pass1H: 2S:
    3H: Pass4H: Pass
    Pass4S: ?


    BARRY
    Pass, planning to pull the double to 5D: as a mild slam try. Might partner have  S:x H:Kxxx D:KQxxx C:Axx? Why not?
    DAVIDC
    In any event and regardless of vulnerability, my pass is forcing.
    LEN
    5H:. I know partner will X if I pass, and I have no reason to think that's right.
    DAVIDW
    Good opponents tend not to bid this way, as RHO did not know I was about to bid 4H:. So he is not expecting to make 4S: and is hoping to have found a [good] save. However, my hand is screaming that RHO made the right decision. On the other hand, partner might not agree.

    I would like to make a forcing pass, but this situation is somewhat obscure. However, I did bid a game voluntarily, and RHO is officially saving. so according to my notions the pass is forcing. I hope partner bids on, but if not I will expect to get them a trick (I lead heart ace) and not make 5H:. The old Blue Team used to get these right, usually choosing to defend while the Americans would invariably take the push.

    MIKE
    I'm not sure who was supposed to take the push. Probably this hand.
    BOBBY
    Pass and accept partner's decision to bid on or double.
    ROBB
    Pass.
    MARSHALL
    Assuming unfavorable vul, bid 5H:.
    MARK
    5H:. I don't see that we have much defense when we rate to have a double fit on this auction. I believe partner probably has spade shortness based upon RHO's belated entry into the auction.
    LYNN
    Pass. That's forcing by my rules, and it seems like enough. Partner will usually X with a doubleton spade, and that's probably right. I'm not sure I like 4H:, though. I think this was worth try, especially if I can bid 3NT as a frivolous slam try. If my only choice is 4D:, I'd still bid it.
    JJ
    Pass. The only problem of the set I really feel strongly about. Here pass is clearly forcing (at least in my written system notes) and making the decision from my side of the table takes pard out of play when I want his help. My doubleton spade argues for defending, my six hearts is better on offense, my D:A (in his suit) is better offensively, and my doubleton club argues slightly for defending. Thus, pard makes the decision on this one.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Pass (forcing) and passed partner's double.
    WINNING ACTION
    Bid 5H:. Partner has  S:x H:Kxx D:Kxxxx C:AQ109. LHO was 6115 and 4S: makes. So does 5H:. Partner will double 4S:; he's already overbid his hand.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVoid
    Pass7
    Pass (and pull)1
    5H:4
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I thought passing was clear-cut, and I still do.

    Looks like the problem was partner's 3H: bid. Most would not choose it. I didn't think it's that bad; this is a good hand for hearts, but upon reflection it was a bad choice. It's not that I could have four small hearts, but that it's unnecessary to distort the hand by bidding immediately. If we can make anything, I'll probably reopen, likely with an action double. Bidding 3H: commits to hearts unduly; would it occur to partner to find diamonds with  S:Axx H:Jxxx D:AQxx C:Kx? He'll just bid 4H:, and we'll be in the wrong spot.

    This time, partner's 3H: bid laid a trap for himself. Had he passed, I'd've jumped to 4H:, and then he'd know what to do over 4S:. Possibly RHO will bid 4S: immediately; I'd be end-played into to bidding 5H: successfully. That's mostly just luck, though. Surely one would think that we ought to get our auction right more often than one in which I had to make an immediate decision, but that's how things will time out.



Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@gg.caltech.edu, Aug 14, 2005