Some problems from the Hollywood Park Regional

Today's panelists: Barry Rigal, David Caprera, Joel Wooldridge, Mark Bartusek, Len Vishnevsky, John Jones
  1. Matchpoints

     S:Qx H:Qxx D:KQJxx C:AQx

    Partner You
    1D: 2D: (inverted)
    2S: 3C:
    4C: ?

    4D:. If partner passes I can always find a new partner — or it might be right!  S:KJxx H:Jx D:A10xxx C:KJ

    No 4C: was obviously a slam try even if 3D: would have been forcing. My plan is to hear 4H: and bid 5D: and pass 5D:. After all, partner could have  S:A10xx H:x D:Axxxxx C:Kx.

    First issue is easy, even for me. 4C: established a game force so that 4D: would be forcing. 3H: was available for partner as a splinter over 2D:; but he may be too strong. However, I am bidding 5D: as a picture bid (not a fast arrival) — my cards are in diamonds and clubs. If slam depends on the S:Qx, too bad because I have no way of showing it at a convenient level anyway.
    4D:. This is forcing.
    4NT (RKC)... Partner should have heart shortness since 4C: tends to show 4-card support (but in a limited hand since he didn't splinter with 3H: or 4H:). This assumes that partner would either rebid 3C: or follow-up with 3D: or 3H: over my 3C: bid holding 3-2-4-4. Slam should be excellent as long as we're not off 2 aces (he could legitimately hold  S:KJxx H:x D:Axxx C:KJxx).
    5D:. If pard held  S:AKx H:xxx D:Axxx C:Kxx he'd have bid 3S:, so he should have third round heart control. 5D: shows my trumps and values.
    There are some questions I need to consider before bidding here. Does partner absolutely promise heart shortness? [That's up to you to infer. It's not a partnership agreement by any means. --Jeff] If yes, how does this sequence differ from splintering directly (assuming that was available)? [You tell me. --Jeff] What would 4NT mean in this sequence? [If I knew, I'd've tried it. --Jeff]

    I believe that pard should promise heart shortness. How does it differ from a direct splinter? It might be a hand that isn't big enough to splinter the round before (although there is a argument in favor of allowing splinters on minimum openers and having the auction be forcing only to 4 of our minor). It might also be more distributional. If it is a hand not good enough to splinter, say  S:KJTx H:x D:ATxx C:KJxx, then 5D: would be high enough. On the other hand,  S:AKJx H:x D:ATxx C:xxxx would be a good slam (better from my side though). Pard may have not splintered to place emphasis on his great spades. 4NT, no matter what it means (and I confess that it would be natural w/ extras in some of my partnerships and Blackwood in others) doesn't do the trick. Thus, I'll bid 4H:, a sort of Last Train/fake cuebid designed to let pard know there might be a slam. If he bids 4S:, I bid 6D:. If he bids 5D:, I pass. If he bids 4NT in partnerships where it would be natural (giving me a choice of 4NT or 5D:) then I will pick 5D:.

    6D:. Looked to me as if partner had a stiff heart, since he'd probably bid 3H: with two small, hoping to reach 3NT rather than 5D:. I'm also assuming he didn't splinter last time or this because he has a minimum in high cards, though it could be because he just didn't think of it. That means a grand is probably not in the picture, so I'll just bid the slam now.
    Drive to 6D:. Partner has  S:AJxx H:x D:Axxx C:KJ10x. Will he cue bid if you try 4D: or 4H:? I don't know, but I'd guess not, as he has low-roaded this hand the whole way so far, so there's no reason to expect that he won't continue to drag his feet towards a slam. I have no idea why he didn't bid 4H: instead of 4C:.
    I have no idea how to tell partner has his actual hand rather than  S:Axxx H:x D:Axxxx C:KJ10. He'd think the latter is stronger (he has another trump trick), but it provides essentially no play for slam, whereas slam is cold vs. the actual hand. In real life, I figured the chance of 4NT's being misinterpreted was larger than the chance of our being off two aces, so I didn't bid it. All in all, this looks like a guess. On the awful example above, maybe partner will have the S:J. Or maybe the fake finesse will work. Who knows?

  2. Matchpoints, none vul

    S: 8xx
    H: QJx
    D: A98x
    C: AQx
    S: AK
    H: A9xxx
    D: 10x
    C: KJxx

    1H: Pass1NT Pass
    2C: Pass2H: Pass
    Pass2S: All Pass

    T1: H:K-x-9-x (Upside Down signals)
    T2: C:2-A-x-x (Good job, partner)
    T3: S:x-K-x-7
    T4: H:A-x-x-x
    T5: H:x-x-S:3-x
    T6: C:x-x-J-x
    T7: C:K-x-x-x
    T8: ?

    What are our methods 3/5? [Yes. --Jeff] Which club did partner play at T6? [The higher one. --Jeff] I assume the higher spot. If he played the abonormal lower one I'll play a diamond, else I'll lead a fourth club. Only wrong if partner has S:6 left and D:KJ when he might have found the third trump as an exit not a club!!
    The high low in trump was helpful (there are all sorts of crazies who would bid their four card spade suit). So the question is whether partner has S:Q (or S:J and a misguess) or D:KJ. If he has both I can promote his trump to endplay him. Would he have bid as he did with  S:Qxx H:Kx D:HHxxx C:xxx? Yes. Would he have bid that way with  S:xxx H:Kx D:KJxxx C:xxx? Yes, as well. Would LHO bid on  S:JT9xx H:xxx D:KQ C:xxx? He paid his money. And  S:QJxxx H:xxx D:Qx C:xxx? Possible. So I think I am reduced to placing partner with one specific card (plus a misguess) or two. I will play him for S:Qxx and play a round suit. I can't see why which one can possibly matter.
    I think partner's high/low in trumps suggests 3 trumps. Since I don't think he should signal me 3 trumps unless he has better than 7xx, I'll continue with a heart.
    Diamond...Partner must have the Diamond King for his bidding. [Really? S:Q+D:QJ+H:K isn't enough? --Jeff] Either we play partner for the S:Q (the Jack isn't enough for an uppercut since declarer can ruff Queen and crash our trump honors) [If he so guesses. He'll feel really stupid if he lost to SAKJ onside. --Jeff] or the D:J. He is much more likely to have the D:J since LHO probably wouldn't balance in this auction with only S:J109xx.
    If declarer has  S:Qxxxx H:xxx D:Kx C:xxx (or D:QJ or D:KQ), it doesn't seem like we have another trick. With  S:Jxxxx H:xxx D:KQ C:xxx or so, we should give pard a heart ruff. With  S:QJT9x H:xxx D:Qx C:xxx, we should cash a spade and play a diamond. According to Rubens, pard's echo just showed three trumps, so it doesn't say he can ruff the 4th heart with the Q, and the latter hand looks more like a 2S: bid. I cash S:K and play D:10.
    First, this isn't a bidding problem, but it's somewhat relevant to the discussion of how to defend. I would have made an action double, not a pass. 15 HCP w/ 2524 shape is enough extras that I would not go quietly. I admit that with 7 of the 15 being in the opponents' suit that there is some offensive devaluation. So it's close. [I'm not convinced. There's no reason to believe this is our hand. Forcing to the 3-level with no known fit or forcing us to try to beat the opponents without much information is not winning matchpoint strategy. At IMPs, where the gain is much higher, I could be convinced, but not at MPs. --Jeff]

    Second, I asked about pard's black spot carding and and was given: "Partner's black spots were C:2, S:7, S:low, C:high, C:low". Partner's trump echo places declarer's shape as exactly 5323. His using the 7 to signal with indicates he can beat the S:8 in the dummy. If these are correct assumptions then a ruff/sluff must be at least break-even. Further, pard knows the whole high card layout of the hand when he ruffs in at trick 5. He has seen my 15 HCP and knows I can't have more (no Action Double). The only thing he doesn't know is the shape (I could be 2533 and declarer 5314). In any case pard's second club spot is suit preference, and he asks for a ruff/sluff. I lead a heart (no point in showing declarer the 13th club) to score pard's third trump. If declarer ruffs high and leads a trump we break even, still getting a D: trick if pard's D: are KJ or KQ.

    last club, looking for a trump promotion.
    Shift to diamonds. Partner had  S:xxx H:Kx D:KJxxx C:xxx.
    Only Barry solved the problem. Well done! If it is wrong to play for the trump promotion, partner has erred by playing a club at Trick 6 rather than a trump. John's arguments about partner's carding seem pointless to me; partner ought also know that if he didn't want a trump promotion, he could have prevented your trying to give him one.

  3. Matchpoints, none vul

    S: AK8
    H: 10xxx
    D: 10xx
    C: AQ2
    S: 9xxx
    H: KJ
    D: AKQxx
    C: 97

    Pass1C: Pass1D:
    2H: PassPass2S:
    Pass3D: Pass3NT
    All Pass

    T1: C:5-2-10-7
    T2: H:x-K-A-x
    T3: H:Q-x-C:3-J
    T4: H:9-?-C:6-?

    Over to you. Opponents play standard signals.

    Win H:10 pitch a spade, and lead D:10 from dummy, ducking when East plays the D:J [and run it if he doesn't cover.] I'll fall back on some finese/endplay at the end. Probably a club finesse.
    Couple of thoughts on the auction. Should 2S: be forcing? [It is in Walsh. --Jeff] I actually play it as not! And what would have double instead of 2S: have been? I think something like this hand.

    OK, so what kind of opponent looks at H:AQ9xxx at none MPs and checks then raises? A weak one? Or perhaps one with  S:QHxx H:AQxxxx D:x C:xx? Do I want to play for this specific hand and look foolish? I am in the normal contract. I got perhaps an unfavorable lead (others might have led a small H:). If I am wrong, I am going to get a goose. In my younger days, I would have won the H:, played D:10 and ducked the forced cover with the D:J. Win the return, untangle the C:A and squeeze RHO. But I am going with the field and cashing H:10 and D:AK. In a typical field, my subsequent endplay of RHO if I am wrong (and should have played for the squueze) will still net me at least an average.

    Win the H:, cash the C:A, run the diamonds - on the fourth diamond pitch the C:Q and squeeze LHO on the fifth. But I am probably putting too much trust in my assumption that LHO is 4=6. More likely the bozo missorted his hand and has  S:xx H:AQxxxx D:Jx C:Kxx.

    H:10, diamond to the A, club to the queen. I'm thinking LHO is either 1-6-1-5 or 2-6-0-5. If LHO shows out on my diamond to the ace, and RHO shows out on my C:Q, I'll cash the C:A, and complete the squeeze on RHO. I need a little correspondence to determine plays after club to the queen... [Since LHO shows out on the small club, things get a little simpler. Joel wins the C:A and runs diamonds. --Jeff]
    It looks like West is 6-1 in the rounded suits when he doesn't continue clubs through dummy's C:AQ. Why didn't LHO open 2H:? Perhaps he has a side 4-card spade suit? If he is 3-3 then nothing matters; but, if he has 4 spades then we can squeeze LHO in the majors after winning the H:10 at trick 4. Obviously the hand is a disaster if diamonds don't break.
    T3: H:10, D:x. Cash D:A lead a spade to dummy, covering with S:8 if possible. Win the diamond (?) return, unblock spades, and play a diamond to hand. Hope for 1H:, 3D:, 3S:, 1C:, and a minor squeeze. In real life I might play for 3-2 diamonds (or stiff J), but the carding does make the squeeze more attractive (in a problem, anyway).
    Again, I would have made an Action Double, not bid 2S:.

    However, 3NT is a fine contract. If diamonds divide, then 10 tricks is my goal. The opening leader has found a good opening lead, maybe 54 doubleton. I'm behind the field, but fortunately the field's squeeze techinque is frequently flawed. I win the H:10, play D:A, and if no D:J appears, I cash the D:K. If all follow then S:A, S:K and run the diamonds. If LHO has four spades and six hearts, then I needed to cash the C:A and play for a major suit squeeze. But its better to use clubs as the wheel suit. I believe the correct terminology is that this is a double squeeze operating as a single. If diamonds don't divide, it matters who has Jxxx. If LHO has four diamonds to go with the six hearts, then I use the spade suit to throw righty in for down 1. If RHO has 4D: then I will have to guess whether to play for him for S:QJ10, or S:Qxx with a misdefense. At IMPs that would be automatic. At matchpoints that line is problematic.

    H:10 pitching a spade, D:A, D:K, S:A, S:K, diamonds, playing for a double (possibly show-up) squeeze around clubs. If RHO has four spades or QJ10, that works.
    Major suit squeeze2
    Early Club Finesse1
    Duck a diamond1
    Double squeeze2
    Duck a spade1
    Squeeze LHO in the majors. He has  S:Qxxx H:AQxxxx D:Jx C:x.
    I like Joel's line best. It seems likely that LHO has the C:K, but when you find out he has a singleton, 4-6 in the majors becomes a heavy favorite, so the major suit squeeze is easy. Any of the three major lines, however (early club, double squeeze, major suit squeeze) seem rational. Even ducking a diamond can be the winner, but I don't like pessimistic lines at matchpoints.

    I don't agree with the suggestions that we should have doubled instead of bidding 2S:. Do we really want partner to bid spades first and get a heart lead through the KJ? And watch an overruff of dummy happen at T3?

  4. IMPs

    S: xxx
    H: 10xx
    D: Kx
    C: KQ987
    S: A10
    H: Q9xxx
    D: AJxx
    C: A10

    1S: Dbl*2S: Dbl*
    Pass3H: Pass3S:
    Pass4H: All Pass

    1st Dbl shows 15+ HCP, usually balanced.
    2nd Dbl shows four hearts, some values
    (yeah, he didn't have the hearts, no big deal.)

    T1: S:2-x-Q-A
    T2: C:A-x-x-x
    T3: C:10-x-K-x
    T4: C:Q-J-S:10-x
    T5: H:x-K-x-x
    T6: S:K-H:x-x-x

    Over to you.

    D:A and trump a diamond with the H:10. Can't see why not—this is a complex hand but this looks to be my percentage action. (I have to admit I've not thought about it for long!)
    If RHO has S:KQ and H:AKJx, I believe I would have known that at the end of the auction. It also gives LHO a really bad 3 count for his raise. If LHO has AJxx, then RHO doesn't have much of an opening bid. If I play D:K, D:A, D:ruff, S:ruff, D:ruff, I can go down when diamonds are 5-2 and hearts are 3-2 (AK8 opp Jx). So, I am going to be a simple fellow and play for 3-2. I guess to exit with a small heart.
    no guarantees on this one. I'm going to play on diamonds. D:K, D:A, ruff with the H:10. If everyone follows, I'll ruff a spade back to my hand, and lead the last diamond, and cross my fingers. However, I'll feel a lot better about ruffing with the H:10 if RHO has to overruff with the ace
    Crossruff...Sure, a 2nd round of Hearts works if they split 3-2; but, it's a disaster if the H:K was singleton. Playing three rounds of diamonds succeeds against practically all distributions [Big overbid. It loses to H:AKJ or H:KJ onside for example. --Jeff] (including RHO's holding 5-1-4-3). If RHO overruffs the third round holding H:AKx, then declarer can subsequently crash the Heart honors (I would be very impressed if RHO defeated me by playing H:K from KJx!).
    At the table I'd have a feel for whether RHO had H:AKx or H:AK. I'll lead H:Q or H:x and hope to make 5. If I guess wrong, I ruff the spade return (hearts must have been 3-2, right?) [Not this time. --Jeff] and play D:K, C:.
    I'll try T7: D:K
    T8: D:A
    T9: D: ruff low
    if the D:Q drops in RHO's hand I lead a trump now (trying to make 5)
    if the D:Q doesn't drop, then
    T10: S: ruff in hand
    T11: D: ruff with H:10 (probably overruffed but still making 4)
    cross-ruff. LHO was 3433.
    I think it's a guess. Ruffing the third round of diamonds with the H:10 is right if you are going to crossruff. Very hard hand. The two players faced with the problem in real life each tried the H:Q for down 1. That's not unreasonable. I don't see a way to cater to every position, so judge what is going on and play for it.

  5. IMPs, both vul

    S: Qxx
    H: 105
    D: J7542
    C: 1075
    S: 1097x
    H: AK83
    D: Q3
    C: A43

    RHO opens 1NT (12-14) and all pass.

    T1: S:10-x-J-K
    T2: S:x-x-Q-8
    T3: S:x-H:4-A-x
    T4: S:x-9-D:2-D:9

    Signals are standard.
    Over to you.

    D:Q. Can't work out why not. Partner wants me to lead them; I'll lead them.
    Partner said play a D:? I play a D:. Could declarer have started with D:Ax? Would partner pitch a D: from D:AK9x... maybe. Either way D:3.
    H:A. If partner completes an echo, then I'll lead a low heart next. If partner follows up the line, then I'll continue with the H:K, and the H:8. I think partner has 4 or 5 hearts based on the play up to now.
    H:K then low Heart...With H:Jxx, H:Qxx, or worse partner would certainly pitch a small Heart [He did. --Jeff] (so, declarer has exactly 1 Heart honor since he didn't attack the suit at trick 2; same play inference applies to declarer holding the C:QJ). Declarer must have either the C:K or C:Q; otherwise East would have pitched low cards in both Hearts and Diamonds. Thus, the Diamond honors are split. The only honor combinations declarer can have are AK / J / K / Q, [Bingo! --Jeff] AK / J / K / K, AK / J / A / Q, or AK / Q / K / Q. Since partner probably wouldn't pitch a diamond from Hxx, declarer is either 4-4-2-3 or 4-3-2-4. The odds are at least 3 to 1 in favor of partner's holding the H:Q (even more likely since declarer might have led the D:K at trick 2 holding D:K10). Thus, I will put partner on play via Hearts (not an immediate H:3 because we don't want partner's playing the H:9 from a remaining H:Q9 holding). Partner should then know what to do holding 2 Club Honors and D:Hxx (a diamond from Kxx or the C:J from KJ9x or QJxx). [Good start. Didn't manage the ending. There's no reason to cash the H:K in Mark's constructions. --Jeff]
    Pard has D:K1082 C:KJ9x(x). I play D:Q.
    T5: 3C:
    wasn't there, but I think I'd've played the D:3.
    D:4 or a small heart. Partner had  S:J8 H:Q94 D:A98x C:KJ98. If you cross to his hand without wasting the D:Q, he puts the C:J on the table and on the fourth club, declarer is squeezed:
    H: 10x
    D: Jxx
    H: AKxx
    D: Q
    H: Qx
    D: 8x
    C: 9
    H: Jxxx
    D: K
    and the good guys get all the remaining tricks.
    This time I am convinced that the winning play is called for. Partner's discard of the D:9 is rather telling (imagine you were playing upside down... it'd be far less helpful. How odd.) because it denies the D:10. So playing him for D:K109 is impossible, so we might as well assume he has the D:A, in which case, there is no reason to play the D:Q. If he had both the D:AK, he'd pitch a low heart and a low club, so the actual case seems to be indicated.

  6. IMPs, none vul.

    Anyone have tools to get to this grand with confidence?

    S: AKxx
    H: xxx
    D: KQxxxx
    S: x
    H: Axx
    D: A10xx
    C: AK10xx

    Dealer Responder
    1D: 2D: GF
    2H: min 2S:
    3C: some shortage3D:
    4H: (Void C:) 4S:
    5C: 5H:
    5S: 6C:
    7D: Pass

    Yeah right.

    Ultimate Club is easy. 1D:-2C:!-2S:!-2N!-3D:!-3H:!-3S:! and I think I have shown 4-3-6-0. Now responder can spiral for S:A, D:K, S:K and finally D:Q. Easy game that bridge. Similarly for other symmetric relay methods.

    But in my almost standard methods (I play a club system but 1D: is natural and my relay forcing raise of 2N doesn't do well with four diamonds and five clubs), I think the auction should go 1D:-2C:-2D:-3S:!-4D: (realizing that this is still a good slam hand) - 4H: (kickback) - 5D: (two with) - 5H: - 5S: (S:K) - 5N (serious try) - and I think I run out of steam (7D: is possible but not "confident"). I tried but could not do it. Kickback 4H: hurt on this auction (and hurts on many others). If I wasn't playing stupid kickback, then it could go 4H:-4S:-5C:-5S:-6C:-7D:(?). I have just about gotten to the point where I want to give up kickback.

    1D: 2S: (slamtry raise)
    3C: (shortness)3H:
    3S: 4C:
    4D: 4S:
    4NT (DI) 5C:
    5S: 5NT (trump Q and presumably the H:A or would just signoff)
    7D: Pass
    Easy using Soloway 3-way Strong Jump Shift:
    1D: 3C:
    3D: 3S: (shortness w/diamond support)
    4S: 5C:
    5D: 5H:
    5S: 6C:
    7D: Pass
    (100% confident that heart losers go on C:AK)
    I would expect your playing "compact" SJS to have a similiar auction?
    1D:2C: (GF)
    2D: (5+ diamonds)3D:
    3S:4H: (kickback)
    5C: (2 with)5H: (kings)
    Maybe, how about
    Dealer Responder
    1D: 3C: 1
    3D: 2 3S: 3
    4S: 4 5C: 5
    5D: 6 5H: 7
    5S: 8 6C: 9
    7D: 10 pass

    1. Soloway JS
    2. puppet for clarification
    3. Diamond support, stiff spade
    4. Cuebid S:A
    5. Cuebid C:A
    6. Signoff if H: aren't controlled
    7. Cuebid H:A
    8. Cuebid S:K, still interested in a grand
    9. Cuebid C:K
    10. 6 D: tricks, 2 S: tricks, 2 S: ruffs in dummy, plus C:AK and H:A = 13


    we ran out of steam and stopped in 6D: after starting with 1D:-2C:; 2D:-3S:. Opener brought it in a notch thinking his S:K was wasted and his club void wasn't a good thing. Responder was worried about hearts and trumps.
    We could have got there:
    1D: 2C:
    2D: 3S:
    4D: 4H:
    4S: 5C:
    5S: 6C:
    7D: Pass
    Opener can now count 13 tricks if partner has the D:A, which seems very likely. But he's still guessing somewhat. I see no way to get there with no uncertainty without relays or spiral scan.

    Starting with a strong jump shift seems premature. Partner might be 4432, so committing to diamonds might be very wrong.

  7. IMPs, Both vul

    RHO opens 2S: (7-13 5+ spades, any suit, any distribution other than that).

    You hold  S:AK10x H:D:Kxx C:AKJ108x. What do you do?

    6C:. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they'll save.
    3C:. Let me guess that 4C: is H:+C:. So my choices are double (I can't imagine that), 3N (I can imagine that but only imagine), or a heavy 3C:. When the opponents preempt, it can't be too wrong to bid your long suit.
    3NT and pray.
    5C:...Partner rates to cover a couple of my 4+ potential losers. If he has the D:A, Club support, and a stiff Spade he is likely to raise. I do not like NT bids with the Heart void and no assurance that my Clubs are running.
    3S:. I've never seen a problem quite like this. In the old days we might bid 4C: meaning about 9 or so tricks in C: with a distributional hand. Because that rarely came up and Leaping Michaels (which is important) does, we now all play Leaping Michaels and 4C: is out on this hand. Double is dangerous; pard won't envision how bad our support for H: actually is. 3NT could be right, but could go down with 7C: making. I'll try something weird: 3S:, implying a solid club suit and asking for a stopper. If pard bids 3NT, I'll be surprised, but carry on with 4C:, over which he should cuebid. If he has the expected no spade stopper, he will bid as if I had a solid club suit. In other words, he should bid 4C: without much for clubs, 4D: with help for clubs but not diamonds, 5C: with help for both minors. Much like we respond to a Gambling 3NT. I will pass if his response is 4C:.
    wasn't there. Partner bid 6C:. I'd've bid 3C:, praying someone would bid. I'd've been disappointed until I saw dummy.
    3C:. Partner had  S:xxx H:J109xxx D:x C:9xx and no game makes. 3NT is down a zillion with a normal heart lead and diamond shift and the D:A offside.
    Beats me. Without a natural 4C: bid, there's no answer. Take a shot according to your personality.

Jeff Goldsmith,, Oct 18, 2003