Problems from Bridge Week 2015

Today's Panelists: Kenneth Rexford, Len Vishnevsky, David Grainger, David Caprera, Mike Shuster, David Weiss, Dan Hugh-Jones, Barry Rigal, Bobby Bodenheimer, Kent Hartman, Fred Curtis, Ed Davis, and John Jones
  1. MPs, favorable, you hold
     S:x H:10xx D:Kxxx C:J109xx

    LHO CHO RHO You
    2S: Dbl 4S: Pass
    PassDbl Pass?


    KENNETH
    4NT
    LEN
    [Pass.] I don't feel strongly about pass vs. 4NT. At matchpoints, I pass comfortably. I'd probably bid 4NT, prepared to lose 9. [The scoring was matchpoints, but it seems as if Len thinks it's IMPs. --Jeff]
    DAVIDG
    4NT. much harder at unfav.
    DAVIDC
    4NT. A two horse race. It isn't clear to bid, but if you do bid it is clear to bid 4NT. This is a different auction than (2S:)-P-(4S:)-DBL-(P) where partner has to double with all sorts of offshape good hands. The second double confirms a more classic takeout double. I think the opponents have too many spades.
    MIKE
    4NT. Seems so obvious it must be a trap.
    DAVIDW
    4NT. It's unlikely we can beat 4S:. If partner has enough to do so, we might even make five of our minor. I am a strong believer in taking out takeout doubles.
    DAN
    4NT
    BARRY
    4NT. No second choice.
    BOBBY
    4NT seems right with some useful offensive strength.
    KENT
    Pass. Partner didn't bid 4NT.
    FRED
    5C: (just ahead of 4NT) but my opponents have been lucky when they pass, but if I do it we have double fits and they have singletons.
    ED
    4NT. I don't think we will make anything at the five-level and might beat them in 4S: but I don't like the odds. They have too many spades (10+).
    JJ
    Pass. At MP I think the percentage action is to pass. This would be a tougher problem at IMPs. [I think the opposite. At IMPs, if either contract is close, we bid. That is surely the case here. At MPs, if both are down, a lot of matchpoints will be lost by bidding, so the problem is much harder. --Jeff]
    WINNING ACTION
    Bid. Partner held  S:x H:AQx D:AQxx C:AKxxx. 5C: doesn't make, but no one is doubling. 4S: is cold, because clubs are 3-0.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Pass.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass4
    4NT9
    5C:1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I wonder how many panelists thought the scoring was IMPs. At IMPs, 4NT is just obvious. At matchpoints, this is a problem. I think five of a minor rates to go down well over 50% of the time and 4S: rates to go down well over 50% of the time. But I need both to happen. I think it's over 50% that both will happen, but I don't really know.

    Looking at partner's actual hand, I want to be in 4S:x. Looking at dummy, I want to be in 5C:.


  2. MPs, both vul, you hold
     S:x H:Q10xxx D:xx C:K10xxx

    CHO RHO You LHO
    1D: 1S: Dbl 2S:
    Dbl Pass3H: Pass
    3NT Pass?


    KENNETH
    4C: as a cue with club control and spade control.
    LEN
    Pass
    DAVIDG
    4C:. you showed a bad hand with hearts, but partners first double sounds flexible. If double was penalty for some reason (instead of cards), I would pass 3NT.
    DAVIDC
    I abstain. (I have never done that before. It was fun.) 3H: is a bad bid. 2NT as two places is clear. (That is "clear" two answers in a row. More fun.) Now you made a mess and you have to sit in it. [I'm not sure 2NT is two places to play, but I don't see how you can avoid the major at matchpoints. --Jeff]
    MIKE
    4C:. Partner has doubt about NT. I am sure it is wrong.
    DAVIDW
    4H:. In my partnerships, opener's double showed three hearts. So 3NT offers a choice of games, and I think the choice is fairly clear. If partner merely showed extras with the double, then I would not know what to do and would throw up my hands and pass.
    DAN
    4C:
    BARRY
    4C:. 3NT is not right maybe something else is? With a stiff spade and no diamond honor partner could have two spade stops and we can make five of a minor, but not 3NT.
    BOBBY
    4C:
    KENT
    Pass. Bob and I had a similar auction, where he felt that delaying 3NT like this expressed doubt. I also have doubt, but six diamonds, the C:A not stiff, and a spade trick are enough.
    FRED
    Yuk. Maybe 5C: as 4C: now tends to sound stronger and I am assuming 3NT was natural (Hamman's rule) while CHO's double did NOT promise three or more hearts. (If it did systemically, I revert to 4H:.)
    ED
    4C:. My preference is for partner's double to show three hearts and extra values. The 3H: bid presumably showed five hearts without enough values for game. 3NT by partner is probably a balanced 18+ HCP hand with a single secondary spade stopper (not the ace) giving me a choice of games. I reject notrump and bid clubs just in case partner does not have three hearts.
    JJ
    4H:. Partner has around 18 or 19 with three hearts and is giving me a choice of games. Picking hearts assures that neither of my suits gets lost.
    WINNING ACTION
    4H:. Partner was 3352 and 4H: was a (somewhat lucky) make. 3NT was down.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Pass. I thought that since 2NT would have been Good/Bad, partner didn't have to have three hearts to double. He thought double still showed three hearts and was giving me a choice of games.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass3
    4C:7
    4H:2
    5C:1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I think partner's first double can't promise three hearts (what else do you do with 3244 and no spade stop?) but I think that the sequence double then 3NT pretty much does. Why didn't he bid 3NT (or Good/Bad 2NT then 3NT...what's the difference?) last time? Could he have  S:Kx H:Kx D:AQJxx C:AJxx? If the sequence doesn't promise three hearts, then I like 4C: now. If it does, then why bid 4C:? 4H: scores more, and if you are going to be in 4H:, why tell the opponents about your hand?

  3. IMPs, both vul, you hold
     S:10xx H:A10x D:A10x C:J10xx

    RHO LHO
    1NT (12-14) 2NT (nat)
    3NT Pass

    What do you lead?


    KENNETH
    Fourth best club
    LEN
    Small spade
    DAVIDG
    S:10. Any heart could easily be right, though. Just random.
    DAVIDC
    Second highest spade. Don't try to blow a trick when it is obviously a close contract. Don't lead from aces. Lead a major. David Bird will agree.
    MIKE
    S:10. Is this safer than S:x? Unclear. [I think they are about the same. They blow a trick some of the time if partner has the queen or king, rarely otherwise. --Jeff]
    DAVIDW
    Small club. I have no conviction about this; any lead could be right. I am hoping that my tens justify passivity.
    DAN
    My fourth-best club.
    BARRY
    Middle spade or low club. Preference in that order.
    BOBBY
    With no clear idea, I lead a low club. Sometimes I might gamble and lead a low spade, but usually I will just lead a club.
    KENT
    Small club. Second choice is a small spade. H:10 if right is for the Bulletin.
    FRED
    IMPs small club (certain at MP) but not happily at IMPs. A spade is a clear 2nd choice and is tempting. While others could win, it would be sheer guesswork and more likely to blow a trick.
    ED
    S:10. The only other considerations are a small spade or a small club. There is too great a chance that one of the opponents has four clubs for me to want to lead clubs. The S:10 will probably work out badly if my RHO has four spades, but at least partner is likely to know my values are outside of spades and will defend accordingly.
    JJ
    C:J. I changed my mind three times on this one, also seriously considering the S:10, the C:10, and a C:x. I want to go neutral here, but it isn't obvious what my best neutral lead is. I also don't want partner using a club honor unnecessarily at Trick 1.
    WINNING ACTION
    anything but a club. Partner has a small singleton, and the club trick is declarer's ninth. Partner had  S:xxx H:xxxx D:KQJxx C:x.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Small club.
    CONSENSUS
    SuitVotesCard
    C:8Jack: 1 Low: 7
    S:6High: 3 Middle: 2 Low :1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I think a club is clear. The idea "I don't have a five-card suit, so let's lead partner's" does not apply when you hold two aces, since you only need three other tricks for a beat. I think a club is about as safe as a spade (I'd like a spade lead much more from 9xx), but doesn't have the upside of a club lead. If you catch S:KQxxx, 3NT is still probably making. If you catch C:KQx, 3NT is probably going down.

    I can't see any difference between which spade to lead, assuming you have Smith available. I don't like the C:J. If partner has C:KQx or any other short honors, you block the suit, and three club tricks is one of the reasons to lead clubs.


  4. IMPs, both white, you hold
     S:xxx H:K10x D:KQ9x C:AKQ

    CHO RHO You LHO
    PassPass1NT 3C:
    Dbl Pass?

    Dbl was negative. 3C: was undiscussed.


    KENNETH
    Pass
    LEN
    Pass
    DAVIDG
    3NT. Might pass vs. some players.
    DAVIDC
    Pass. Take the money. Partner is a passed hand and double doesn't promise the world. No assurance that 3NT is a make. On a good day I bring back 300 opposite a part score. On a really good day I bring back 800 opposite 430. If I don't beat them, this will keep partner from making that sort of double again.
    MIKE
    3NT. LHO, with topless clubs, probably has a twist. Or eight of them.
    DAVIDW
    3NT. I do like to take out those takeout doubles. I trust three club stoppers will be enough to make my game.
    DAN
    Pass
    BARRY
    3NT. I donít know what to do. 3NT looks middle of the road.
    BOBBY
    Pass
    KENT
    Pass. If declarer has eight clubs and the H:AQ and catches a high spade in dummy (or the equivalent), rats.
    FRED
    Pass. Given more than half my hand is in their suit, take the money I hope as in order to show clubs at this vulnerability, opponents frequently take liberties.
    ED
    Pass. We will usually make 3NT but no guarantee. (Maybe the opponents lead spades and win five spade tricks or four spades and an ace.) We will probably beat 3C:x two or three tricks.
    JJ
    Pass. Only easy problem in the set. If this wasn't given as a problem, I would think pass was automatic.
    WINNING ACTION
    3NT. Partner has  S:xxxx H:Axx D:A10xxx C:x, and those spots are key with diamonds 4-0. Since your D:AKQ get ruffed, you only beat 3C: one trick, but there are nine in 3NT. The overcaller was  S:KQ109 H:xx D:C:J109xxxx.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    pass.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass10
    3NT4
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    My reasoning was that partner was a passed hand, so game isn't likely to be cold, especially with half my values having no combining value. But upon reflection, I'm a bidder, for Mike's reason: with a jack-high suit, overcaller probably has a twist, so my chances of getting 300 aren't too great. On the other hand, bad breaks might defeat 3NT. In fact, all of those issues were relevant, but partner's D:10 had us covered.

    Against a known madman, passing is easy. I suppose it also matters what methods they are using. If DONT, where they could get to 2C:, it's more attractive to bid; against Hamilton, say, where playing 2C: is not an option, it is more attractive to pass.


  5. IMPs, both vul, you hold
     S:K H:AKx D:AKQ10xxxxx C:

    LHO CHO RHO You
    1C: PassPass?


    KENNETH
    5C: as a self splinter
    LEN
    6D:. 3C: might tell you something useful, but I'm not sure what.
    DAVIDG
    6D:. Can't imagine anything else.
    DAVIDC
    6D:. Bidding what I think I can make. I would bet that 1D: won't pass out but double could, and I don't think I like that. I considered 3C: followed by 4D: but I can't see how I will learn much. (Nor do I have any agreement as to what that sequence means. It would be nice to say, "GF, diamonds as trump, please cuebid," and perhaps it should be that but I could end up in 4D:, so let's not do that.)
    MIKE
    Double. I don't like double with shortness in spades, but there has to be an upper limit to bidding a suit. I have a 2-loser hand. Second choice: 6D:. In fact, that might well be my next call, but meanwhile partner might show strength.
    DAVIDW
    6D:. No scientific auction will help me with this decision. I hope partner will be clever enough to hold the little something I need. The deal might even belong to the opponents.
    DAN
    6D:
    BARRY
    3C:. Not sure where I'm going yet. Something forcing looks like a good start.
    BOBBY
    1D:. The danger of its going all pass at this point is small in my experience, and it allows me to follow with 5D: regardless of what pard bids, which gives partner a better idea of my hand than opening 5D:.
    KENT
    This was to see if I'd answer all bidding questions with pass, right? 5D:. Should have play. Should double jumps below game in the balancing seat be forcing: close to the equivalent of this hand minus a major suit king? If LHO bids 5S: over 5D:, I have no idea what I'll do after two passes.
    FRED
    6D: because five is being a wuss (as opposed to hero), and they must have a fit which is good. This could win in so many ways...or lose a game swing, of course.
    ED
    1D:. Maybe they will bid 2C:, and I can then bid 6D: and aggravate them by making it. Then they won't compete any more for the rest of the match. [Poor Ed. At the other table, my counterpart bid only 1D:. Ed bid a normal 2C:, which was severely punished. --Jeff]
    JJ
    6D:. I think 3C: followed by 6D: is a little stronger, and 3C: followed by 5D: a little weaker. This seems about right. The clown holding this hand at the other table tried 1D:. 1D: would be tough to beat!
    WINNING ACTION
    probably just about anything. Even my counterpart's choice of 1D: worked out. My teammate saved him by bidding 2C:. Talk about punishment... pass, pass, 6D: making. Ouch. Double might not work out, but probably will. Partner would have to make a pretty speculative pass with two 4-card majors to bury us.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    6D:. I bought  S:10xxx H:Qxxx D:C:KJ87x. RHO had the hearts and LHO the aces, so the limit was 12 tricks.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Double1
    1D:2
    3C:1
    5C:1
    5D:1
    6D:8
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    OK, 6D: was obvious and easy. But it's a fun problem. This is my third 9-card suit lifetime. All three were in diamonds.

    I don't know the difference between starting with 3C: (which must be forcing) and just blasting 6D:. There is not a lot of literature about bidding huge hands unsuitable for a double in balancing seat.


  6. IMPs, both white, you hold
     S:AKx H:AKx D:98xx C:K10x

    You CHO
    1NT 2D:
    2H: 2NT
    ?


    KENNETH
    3C:
    LEN
    4H:
    DAVIDG
    4H:. 3NT could be right, but not bidding it with this, could make 6H: and go down in 3NT. 2S: art inv over 2H: then 3D: showing max + three hearts will let partner make a more informed decision.
    DAVIDC
    4H:. Does this sequence promise "balanced"? [No. --Jeff] What is 1NT-2D:-2H:-2S:? [Something stupid. --Jeff] Assuming your answer is, "2S: is something else," and this is my only invite, I won't gamble on 3NT which could be really wrong (give partner  S:Qxx H:QJxxx D:x C:QJxx for example) and bid 4H: which has play. To those bidding three of a black suit, I hope you play there (or get raised if spades).
    MIKE
    3C:. I'll try to be scientific and get partner to help choose between NT and hearts. If I had to choose now, I'd choose hearts.
    DAVIDW
    3C:. With a maximum, I am of course accepting the invitation. While 3NT is a temptation with my distribution, I am worried that partner could have a hand with shortness in a minor (picture  S:Jxx H:QJxxx D:KJxx C:x or  S:Qxx H:QJxxx D:x C:QJxx). My call will allow some degree of investigation, and might have the ancillary benefit of inhibiting a club lead.

    I state unequivocally that 3C: does not show a club one-suiter with no interest in hearts; if I really felt that strongly about avoiding a heart contract, I could have bid 3C: over the transfer. ( S:AQ H:xx D:Kxx C:AQJxxx; yes, I would have opened 1NT with that.)

    DAN
    3NT. It's pretty close, though. I'd put it at about 55/45. Those prime cards will work beautifully in spades and when pard shows up with shortness instead of the hoped-for diamond values, I am going to look silly. Marshall would have bid 3NT [Marshall would have bid 3NT if his red suits were reversed, too. --Jeff]
    BARRY
    4H:. how boring!
    BOBBY
    I think aces and kings outweigh flatness, so 4H:.
    KENT
    4H:. I have become a simple soul on these auctions. Play in the major with three or more. (Pass—I have seven losers—is a thought.)
    FRED
    4H: not because I am oblivious to 3NT making (while 4H: fails), but because it can lose so badly in the post-mortem. My hand is controls and although I expect hearts to run, I will look really silly if CHO has a singleton diamond or the hearts do not run. Although CHO is ostensibly balanced, he may be 5422/5413 with invitational values and despite my lack of ruffing values that does not preclude his having one. I prefer to "mastermind" only when all the pre-conditions are set. I think it is part of partnership bridge! I would be more tempted by 3NT were my cards slower. (Yes, I know the counter-arguments about 9 tricks.) If it was MP, the choice would be much harder and more likely influenced by the state of the game pushing me to 3NT.
    ED
    I'll guess 3NT instead of 4H:.
    JJ
    4H:. What's the sound a cow makes? "Moo (I assume everyone knows the Howie Wolff story). What's the sound a rooster makes? "cockadoodledoo". What's the sound a cat makes? "meow". What's the sound a goat makes? "......" why that would be the sound of me putting the 3NT bid on the table. I'll let Jeff finish describing the debacle.
    WINNING ACTION
    4H:. 4H: is a (very lucky) make. 3NT is bad vs. partner's stiff D:A, and duly went down. [I'm not showing partner's whole hand, because I overbid by a fair bit. --Jeff]
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Wasn't there. Partner actually chose 3NT, so let's call that a vote. I thought it close at the table, though a little less so now.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    3C:3
    3NT3
    4H:9
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    With some partners, I play "ASBAF," which stands for "all strange bids are forcing." Playing that, I like 3C:. But these days, folks open 1NT on all sorts of random crap, and it seems more useful to play 3C: is just to play on the theory that 2NT should be forcing on a six-card suit. It might also get us to 3NT for the right reason if responder happens to have a fitting club honor. So without discussion, I think bidding 3C: is too dangerous. As between 4H: and 3NT, I like 4H:. If partner had jumped to 3NT, then I'd pick the 9-trick game, because partner is known to be balanced. When he rebids 2NT, he can easily be unbalanced, so I prefer the safety of a trump suit.


Jeff Goldsmith, July 18, 2015