Las Vegas Barometer '93: Problems

Here are some problems from a Flight A Qualifying Barometer final. Scoring is matchpoints, against very good opposition. (John Mohan and client were not seeds.) This was an amazing event; the cards ran psychotically and we were on or near the leader board the whole time. I think I'm going to include all the boards and let you play the whole session with us. We were in the event the whole time and generally had very good luck. We had decisions to make on nearly every board, and many of them are fascinating problems, especially if you like freak hands and torturing very strong opponents. Again, all your opponents have over 1000 masterpoints and about a third are experts.

Top on a board is 39. Your partner is either Mike Shuster or I, mostly Mike on the problems given because I had most of the strange hands.

  1. S: QJ6
    H: AK986
    D: J5
    C: 732
    S: K9874
    H: 2
    D: A102
    C: AKJ10


    * Drury

    What do you think of the bidding?

    You get a trump lead from Mohan. Plan the play. (Mike's problem.)

  2.  S:--- H:J9862 D:--- C:AKQ98753

    Board 2, right out of the box. White vs. Red, dealer. What is your initial action? What is your plan?

    End Round 1. We were in the middle of the pack.

  3.  S:A954 H:K7 D:103 C:QJ543 Vul vs not.


  4.  S:A10 H:105 D:KQ9732 C:543


    What is your plan?

    End Round 2. We are off the board by 4 matchpoints. They are computing the carryovers now, and since we Q'd with a 177.8, we shall have minimal carryover.

  5.  S:10 H:105 D:KQJ965 C:QJ95 White vs Red.


    If you pass or double, what do you lead?

  6. S: Q107
    H: J54
    D: 10643
    C: QJ7
    S: K5
    H: Q973
    D: Q5
    C: A6542

    ---2NT (20-22)

    You lead the C:4, which goes to pard's 9 and declarer's King. Small spade back. Let's say you duck smoothly. Declarer inserts the 10 and pard's Jack wins. He fires back the C:3. What's your plan?

    End Round 3. I blew a board, putting us below average. Things are looking grim.

  7. No real problem. They pass a negative double at the two level, and we get to play 2C: smacked with an 8-card fit. -500 wins vs. a red game for a near top. Another example: don't let the opponents play an 8-card fit at the two-level.

  8. Again, their problem. They had AQ9xx vs. 10xxx in trumps and played the suit technically right. (Which is?) This is one my normal bete noires and this time the burn got them.

    End Round 4. Finally they have posted the carryovers. We have 20.92 out of a max of 78. A good round has put us over average, but not in striking distance of the lead.

  9.  S:Q97 H:K854 D:K98 C:972 Red Vs. White (Mike's problem)


    What do you lead?

  10.  S:--- H:AJ10986 D:AK102 C:K106 Both vul. (Mike held this one.)


    Methods: double is takeout, 4NT is very shapely takeout.

    End Round 5. Climbing, but still out.

  11.  S:102 H:J62 D:K9865 C:K103 (Mike's)


    Early bids: 1S: is 4+, limited to 15 HCP. 1NT is not forcing.

  12.  S:--- H:8 D:KQ108653 C:AK943 They're vul.


    What do you do if they bid 5S: or 6S: later?

    End Round 6: A 31+ and a 32+ place us 10th and on on the board!

  13. Vs. Jeff Ferro. He plays a cold 3NT and uses his radar to hold himself to 3 only when the rest of the room is making 4 or 5. 33+, which seems unduly harsh on him. He says that the whole session has been like that--they've misguessed everything.

  14.  S:A96 H:K8543 D:Q4 C:A65 None vul. (Mike's problem)


    * After a long hesitation.

    End Round 7: Moved up to 9th after an OK round against the Junior team anchors. It could have been better.

  15.  S:AKJ82 H:KQ10965 D:J C:5 White vs. Red.


  16.  S:AQ6 H:KJ104 D:QJ75 C:Q3


    End Round 8: Oops. A 1 on board 16 puts us 4 matchpoints out of 10th place. We have fallen off the board. Goldman and Shugart look like a lock with a full board lead at the moment.

  17.  S:J632 H:109 D:4 C:KQJ874 None vul. (Mike's hand)

    Pass1H:Pass1NT (Semi-forcing)

  18.  S:AQJ1098 H:95 D:7 C:K1096 White vs Red. (Mike.)


    End Round 9: We stole both boards and Mike guessed the play well on one of them to get a 27 and a 26. (19+ is average.) We are less than half a matchpoint from 10th.

  19. South opens an 11 count and passes a forcing bid later in the auction, missing a vul game that is cold on a show-up squeeze. (The hook works, but the queen shows up.) We only get a 23+. TANJ.

  20. Opening lead problem for the bad guys. They blow it on an auction where I chose not to use a toy that shows strength in the other major with a limit raise. Lucky us. Another 28+

    End Round 10: Entering the home stretch, we are up to 9th. Goldman and Shugart are now almost two boards in front. We are about one whole board out of second. It is a dogfight.

  21.  S:A108 H:KQ875 D:753 C:63 White on Red.

    2nd seat, dealer passes.

  22.  S:J73 H:5 D:1098 C:K109764 Red vs White


    1 20-22-
    2 natural

    End Round 11: We hold on to 9th. A top and an average minus actually move us up closer to the leaders because Goldman-Shugart have a disasterous round and are now 2nd (by a hair) to Campbell-McLellan. Third is less than half a board away from us.

  23.  S:AK95 H:AQJ954 D:43 C:A (Mike's hand)


  24.  S:5432 H:J52 D:9854 C:Q10 None vul


    End Round 12: A top and a average plus put us in the running for the event. We are 6th, two matchpoints out of third and a half board out of 2nd. Campbell-McClellan are now a half board ahead of Goldman-Shugart, but are well within striking distance. Our last round will be against Paul Soloway and his client. They have moved into our normal 9th place and have a chance for the event, too, but a small one. They will probably go for it. If they do and fail, we can win the event.

  25.  S:Q102 H:1042 D:Q85 C:6543


    Your lead. Red vs. White.

  26.  S:A H:A4 D:AK983 C:K8542


    End Round 13: I got board 26 right, but 25 wrong. A 6+ and a 25 drop us back down to 9th and move Soloway up to 6th. If I get the lead right on 25, we get an additional 23 matchpoints and are 3rd overall. Campbell-McClellan hold on, but only beat us by a board and a half. This event was available. Let's see if you win it. Strangely, there was nothing at all to the play of the hands. This whole game was a bidding competition.


Jeff Goldsmith,, Feb. 9, 1996