Some Problems from the Reno Nationals 3/04

Some problems from the spring nationals and elsewhere.

Some were less difficult than I thought, but some were doozies, mostly borderline judgment calls.

Today's Panelists: Barry Rigal, Mike Shuster, Robb Gordon, David Caprera, Lynn Johanneson, Fred Curtis, Dan Molochko, Ed Davis, Chris Willenken, Len Vishnevsky, Marshall Miles

  1. None vul, IMPs, long match

     S:10xx H:Axx D:QJxx C:J109

    CHO RHO You LHO
    1S: 3C: ?


    BARRY
    3S:. It would be facile to say WTP. A [negative] double followed by correcting 3H: to 3S: should be a better hand — and I think I ought to have more (cards/length) in hearts.
    MIKE
    I passed when I held this at the table, and still think it is the percentage action. This hand has excellent defense, but isn't as good on offense (particularly in the cases partner has a club honor). The lack of a spade honor is the final kicker. The real problem is that there is no way to show that I have a maximum pass later in the auction. But being non-vulnerable, I won't feel terrible about missing a good game once in a while. In exchange, we're going to miss a lot of bad ones and go plus much more often.
    ROBB
    Pass.
    DAVID
    I would rather overbid slightly with 3S: now than pass and bid 4S: after partner reopens with a double. This is not a negative double. If I bid now, we can still get to 3NT.
    LYNN
    I'd pass. If partner reopens with X, I'll bid only 3S:. However, I'd bid 3S: over 3C: if you switched my clubs and spades. Even Dale agrees with pass here.
    FRED
    Pass — if partner cannot re-open where are we going? I have only 1.5 [cover cards] (maybe 2 giving weight to D:J) and I don't have extras or short clubs.
    DAN
    Pass. No bid. Outty. When you ainít got nothing, you ainít got nothing to lose. In the immortal words of the immortal Neil Young, "Piece of Crap."
    ED
    3S:. Close to pass. Exchange the clubs with the hearts or the spades (best) and it would be a comfortable 3S: bid. The range for a 3S: bid should be this up to a bad limit raise. [My opinion is that it should be a little better than this up to a bad limit raise, but sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do; just because partner expects a little more doesn't mean he always gets it. --Jeff]
    CHRIS
    3S:. Easy, though minimum. Take pressure off partner.
    LEN
    3S:. A max 2S: raise. [I think Len's off by a queen. Make my clubs QJ10 and I'd bid 2S:. --Jeff]
    MARSHALL
    3S:. Very close, but if I pass, what do I do over a reopening double or rebid at 3 level by partner?
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    This was from our GNT final match. Partner chose a mildly conservative pass and bid only 3S: when I reopened with a double. I made five, though game is on a hook for the H:K through the preemptor, so if the opponents were to believed, it was a bad game. This was the first time they'd semi-psyched a heavy preempt in the match. They were to do it a bunch of times and every single one worked out.

    Instinctively, I would have bid 3S: at the table. Yeah, I hate 4333. I don't like the soft cards or the crappy trumps. But in competitive auctions, I like to support partner as soon as I can and if we reach a game going down, they have to beat it to get their five IMPs. But I can't argue with passing a ten-loser hand. This is a close call, and neither 3S: nor pass is wrong, in my opinion.

    CONSENSUS
    Roughly evenly split:
    ActionVotes
    Pass5
    3S:7
    WINNING ACTION
    3S:. Or bid 4S: over partner's reopening double. Game makes, though it was on a hook for the H:K through the preemptor, who had 11 HCP, six outside his suit.
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    Upon reflection, it's a toss-up. Which is why I included this as a problem in the first place.

  2. None vul, IMPs, short match

     S:x H:xxxx D:xxxxx C:Jxx

    RHO You LHO CHO
    1C: Pass1H: 1S:
    1NT Pass2C:* Dbl
    Pass2D: Pass3C:
    Pass?

    2C: was alerted and explained as two-way new minor forcing.

    a) do you bid 2D:?


    BARRY
    No the double of an artificial 2C: call is clubs not diamonds. With diamonds I believe one bids them — how quaint.
    MIKE
    2C: was artificial. Undiscussed doubles of artificial bids are natural, so I would have passed 2C:x. Partner should have something like  S:AJ10xx H:Kx D:x C:AQxxx.
    ROBB
    not on your life!
    DAVID
    No, I would have passed the double.
    LYNN
    No. Dbl shows clubs, and I have acceptable defense.
    DAN
    No. Why would I? Partner has the blacks; in that context I donít want to suggest diamonds as a trump suit or as a lead. She implied she could beat 2C:; sounds good to me!
    ED
    No. If 2C: is artificial, double should be natural, i.e., clubs.
    LEN
    No.
    MARSHALL
    No.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    I bid 2D:. Even if he had a penalty double of 2C:, they weren't staying there if they were going down. And I wasn't so sure he had one, so I played it safe. If he had clubs, he could bid them and I could pass next time.

    b) what now?
    BARRY
    Pass.
    MIKE
    Given that partner bid 3C:, he must have more distribution than I thought. Perhaps a more pure hand with a diamond void. Say  S:AJ10xx H:Ax D:C:AQ10xxx. The club finesse rates to be offside and I don't have enough trumps to establish the spades with confidence, so I think I can pass now. If I had a fourth club, I'd raise.
    ROBB
    Pass!
    DAVID
    My hand is good enough that I think he should make, but I don't think it is good enough to raise.
    LYNN
    Pass, of course. I doubt that partner has what he's supposed to have, but 3C: cannot be anything but clubs. (This is clear.)
    FRED
    Not sure about the "system", but if 2C: was natural, double should be takeout, whereas if it was artificial the double was clubs! If partner's double showed clubs my 2D: bid was awful, and obviously I pass now. If partner's double was takeout, his 3C: bid sounds like a big fit. Assuming he had Michaels available, I assume his only hand for 2-suiters was intermediate 12-15 or similar, and I convert to 3D:.
    DAN
    Pass. I must be missing something. Seems like both spades and clubs are breaking badly.
    ED
    Pass.
    CHRIS
    I'd be pragmatic and pass.
    LEN
    Pass
    MARSHALL
    Pass
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Now he must have clubs, right? Pass.
    WINNING ACTION
    Bid something. Anything. Partner has a 5440 moose. I don't know why he bid that way, but when I passed 3C:, he went bananas, screaming obscenities and (intelligently) leaving the room to cool down. Of course, he demanded I play it. I did well, taking 5 tricks. That's better than -180 in 2C:x because we'd also have a ZT penalty if partner couldn't leave the room. It's not as good as 5D: making, though.
    CONSENSUS
    2D: was silly. Passing now is obvious.
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    Bad problem. It was just a sanity check...I wanted to see if there was anyone who thought partner hadn't lost his mind. Nope.

    On the other hand...yes, 2C: was misinformation. It was in a sectional team game, though, so I chose not to call the director because:

    1. getting the board back would require partner's presence, which would lead to a big ZT penalty and possibly to our ejection.
    2. even if we didn't get a ZT penalty for partner's behavior after I passed 3C:, we surely would get one if he had to talk to the director in the state of mind he was in.
    3. given our ludicrous result, it seems as if an AC might not be too far out of line leaving us with our bad result because of a failure "to play bridge." The other side might get an adjustment, but I'm not paying a ZT penalty to ding their score.

  3. None vul, IMPs, long match

     S:AJ H:Qxx D:KQxx C:K1098

    RHO opens 2S:.


    BARRY
    Dbl. Not 2NT; with a doubleton spade I prefer showing the essentially take-out nature of the hand and not bidding 2NT.
    MIKE
    2NT. Seems obvious. Partner can have S:10xx. Even opposite S:xxx I can hold up, and this action hardly precludes arriving in hearts.
    ROBB
    Double.
    DAVID
    Double.
    LYNN
    I'd double. Dale would bid 2NT. I wouldn't criticize pass. Who knows—there is no right answer. [One of the best types of panel hands is the "fine judgment" type. Here there are three reasonable actions with little to choose between two of them. Which is best? Who can tell? So the panel vote should be interesting and maybe illuminating. --Jeff]
    FRED
    I don't love it but prefer 2NT to double or pass. This is a strong NT with 1.5 stops (Txx with partner makes 2 stops) and it is just too good not to take some action. The lack of the 4th heart and the spade honor combination AJ makes me prefer NT.
    DAN
    Double. Donít like 2NT for two reasons: the stopper is too short and so are the HCPs. To be honest, Iíd double even if the H:Q were the H:A. This will be fine as dummy in a Moysian. If weíre playing Lebensohl, that makes double even better.
    ED
    2NT
    CHRIS
    Double. I like to double when it's a viable option. [Me, too. Maybe that's why I'm always dummy? --Jeff] We can always get to 3NT if partner has some values, and I think a suit partial will more often be right than 2NT.
    LEN
    Double. 2NT is good (with all my fillers) if pard has S:Txx, otherwise I have a bad hand.
    MARSHALL
    Pass
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    This was also from the GNT final. I doubled. Partner Lebensohled into 3H: and got sawed off. Good play held the damage to -300.
    WINNING ACTION
    pass. Double gets you to 3H:x for -300. Pass gets you to 2NT down 3. Doubled or not, I don't know. Pass yields +50. At the other table, teammates (somewhat reasonably) opened 3S:, after which it is pretty obvious to pass. 9 IMPs away.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass1
    Double8
    2NT3
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I still don't know, but it's simply my style to double for takeout in close cases. I'll keep doing it, rightly or wrongly.

  4. None vul, IMPs, long match

     S:xxxx H:Qx D:109xx C:Axx

    CHO RHO You LHO
    1H: Pass1NT 2C:
    2D: Pass?


    BARRY
    Pass. If I wanted to accept a game try I'd bid 2H: (with the D:Q instread of the D:10), but here I'd like to stop low.

    [After seeing CHO's hand:] How absurd is 3D: from partner over 2C:?

    MIKE
    2H:. I will sacrifice the safer partscore for a better shot at getting to our most likely game. In/Out valuation — this hand is worth about 9 HCP (upgrade H:Q to an ace and D:109xx is upgraded opposite length). Keeping the ball rolling is indicated, so the question is 2H: vs 3D:. 11 is a lot of tricks, so I aim for 10.
    ROBB
    tempting, but pass.
    DAVID
    It should have play. (I pass).
    LYNN
    I'd bid 2H:. Dale would bid 3D:, and prefers P to 2H:. I think 3D: is too much of an overbid, but I want to keep the auction alive and give partner another chance, in case he's strong.
    FRED
    Notwithstanding how much the hand has improved I am stil inclined to Pass.

    I know my cards are all working H:Qx, 4 card diamond support and C:A but where are we going?

    I don't even really have to be as worried as I would be over a forcing NT that partner was bidding a short minor to inveigle heart preference. If his hand has not been clarified by the 2C: interpose sfficiently to warrant either a 3C: cue or a 3D: (surely less strong? bid), I cannot quite see game unless he has perfect cards 64.

    [After seeing the hand: ] Given the availability of 3C: cue, I reckon that opener's hand is marginal for 3D: — don't you?

    DAN
    Pass. Iím not nearly strong enough to raise diamonds and I donít want to false-preference as it seems diamonds will play at least a trick better than hearts. The danger of getting too high (by bidding 2H:) seems much greater than the danger of missing game.

    [After seeing the hand: ] I may have played too much Acol in my youth, but that sure looks like a 3D: bid to me. 100% partner's fault.

    ED
    Pass. Not enough for 3D: and a false preference to 2H: may result in a minus score when 2D: makes. If I had D:QT9x, I'd raise to 3D:.
    CHRIS
    3D:. Barely, but my cards are all good. If pard has big shape, we could easily have a game, and I have 3C: available for a strong raise.
    LEN
    3D:. Pard should have some shape and we might have game.
    MARSHALL
    2H:, so I can bid 3D: next round if opps compete
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Pass. If my ace were not the the opponent's suit, I'd bid 2H:.
    WINNING ACTION
    bid something. Partner has  S:xx H:AKxxx D:AKQxx C:x and either red suit game makes.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass7
    2H:3
    3D:2
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    It's closer than the vote seems to indicate.

    There is a theory issue. Several panelists suggested that since 3C: was available as a game force, 3D: should be invitational. I don't think that follows, and without discussion, 3D: is surely forcing. On the other hand, with a takeout double available (yes, I know this isn't standard, but most expert pairs play it), partner might have chosen that (if I pass, that's not too bad) and then corrected 2S: to 3D:. That might get across his power better than 2D:. This time, moreover, it would have got us to game.

    If 3D: is still game forcing, and complicated 3-suiters can make a takeout double, what's 3C:? Probably a Western Cue..."I was about to bid 3NT, partner, but I'm not sure about a club stop...what do you think?"

    The panel oft suggested that with the D:Q, it'd be enough to take another call. To me, if the C:A were the S:A, it'd be good enough. It's that close.


  5. Favorable, IMPs, long match

     S:xx H:KQJxx D:J9xxx C:x

    LHO CHO RHO You
    2C: 2H: Pass*?

    Pass forced game.


    BARRY
    5H:. If LHO is balanced he may have to double here. With spades I may not be able to close him out unless I bid 7...which does have some merits! But I know the deal of course.... [I showed it around in Reno. --Jeff]
    MIKE
    I'm not about to give LHO an easy rebid. So the choices are 5H:/6H:/7H: (or I can check their agreement by psyching spades, but I don't really think that will fool anyone and LHO may be coming in clubs anyway). It looks like 6H: is about right. I'm afraid 7H: will force them to bid a making 7S:.
    ROBB
    5H:
    DAVID
    How "straight" is my partner? I smell a funny. The value bid looks like about 5H: (perhaps 6H:). I am tempted to bid 2S:. I think it may not cost much. If it goes double-pass-pass, then I really am not much worse off than bidding 5H: directly. My current partner might try 4H:, hoping it goes 4S: all float. I like this problem. Put me down for 5H: without much conviction.
    LYNN
    6H:. I'm trying to buy it. If I were trying to keep them out of a grand, I think I'd try 5H:, hoping for 5S:-P-6S:. If I thought my LHO might believe that doubles or "cue bids" of my suits were all takeout, I might try 3C: now.
    FRED
    Does partner psych? [No. --Jeff] The straightforward call is 4H:, with clever calls of 4NT (to stop them BW and getting spades in), 5H: also possible. 4C: splinter suffers from the disadvantage of being low and that you have no cards outside hearts. 4D: fitshowing suffers from the lack of high cards in the suit. Either of those bids could work — as could 5H: or 6H: (but they exclude partner — presumably you won't bid on double-guessing him if they then bid slam will you???). A lot depends which gadgets and system you have available — but I quite like 4NT to stop them Bw (although I use a double of such 4NT bids as Bw personally!!!)
    DAN
    5H:. The right bid is 3S: (which seems eminently safe and disruptive) but Iíd never suggest such a thing in a public forum. This is a goldilocks hand; 4H: is not nearly enough and 6H: too much, as it doesnít leave (much) room for them to make the mistake of underbidding. 5H: is unlikely to go for more than 800, and 5H:X might well be the par spot
    ED
    2S:. If I was sure that 3S: would be interpreted and alerted as a fit bid, I'd try that.
    CHRIS
    5H:. Partner hasn't denied defense, so the 5H: bid will tell him that I have none. He should be well placed over further bidding. Plus, I may play 5H:x when they have an easy slam. 4H: seems all wet, and 6H: doesn't seem to have much upside — are they really bidding a grand after my 5H: bid? Pard can always save later over a small slam.
    LEN
    5H: seems obvious. Pass might work, though.
    MARSHALL
    5H:
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    5H:. I was torn between 5H: and 7H:.
    WINNING ACTION
    hard to say. They are cold for 7S:. Opener has  S:AKQJxxx H:D:x C:AKQxx and responder has  S:xx H:xx D:Axxx C:Jxxxx. At the table, 5H: gave opener lots of room for very strong slam tries, but opener didn't take his strongest action (pass followed by 6H:). Responder rejected and we took -1460. I mentioned that I considered 7H:. Opener said he'd pass that. I polled a whole bunch of people; no one did anything but double that as responder. I've concluded that passing 7H: is a mistake. Partner will never do anything but double. So you need to take the bull by the horns and bid 7S: yourself. You know 7H:x is a really cheap save, so the IMP odds are huge to bid 7S:.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    2S:1
    4H:1
    5H:7
    6H:2
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    At the table I only considered 5H: and 7H:. Fooling around might work great if they get confused, but it might allow them to pass a lot more information early. I think a big bid is called for early. 5H: seems about normal; there's just enough room for West to invite slam or a grand and for East to decline. The less they bid the better.

    Does anyone have useful agreements over the 2S: psych? I play 3S: is natural and forcing and double is a balanced big hand. I think 4NT should be key card in spades, but it never occurred to me before.

    Then again, I would never have had this problem in the first place. I play an opening 4NT is specific ace Blackwood. So my auction goes 4NT-5D:; 7S:. Ka-ching!


  6. None vul, MPs.

    S: AKQxx
    H: Qx
    D: K109xxx
    C:
    S: xxx
    H: xxx
    D: Axx
    C: J9xx

    West North East South
    1D: Pass 1NT Dbl
    2S: Pass 2NT* Pass
    3S: Pass 4D: All Pass

    2NT was Lebensohl.

    Spades were 3-2. Diamonds were 2-2. Making six on a club lead. Assess the blame.


    BARRY
    We had a similar auction, maybe with no double of 1NT — as happened at my table East should bid 4S:?
    MIKE
    This hand belongs in 4S:, not 5D:. I would have opened the West hand with 1S: [Me, too. --Jeff], as this sort of problem is quite predictable. Partner unsure that you are really 6/5 and lacking an honor in your suit (which shouldn't come as a surprise to you, eh?) will be hard to convince that the hand belongs in spades. I bet 3S: over 1NTx'd would have been a self-splinter. [Of course. --Jeff] So that leaves the much more normal approach of opening your 5 card major. Also, given the lack of high-card strength in the hand, it seems that reversing is going to predictably lead to a lot of poor 3NT contracts. And look what happened over Lebensohl — West couldn't bid 3C: so had to show even more extra values with 3S:!

    Still East should have bid 4S:, as with 4-3-6-0 West would bid 3H: and with 4-2-6-1 probably 3D:. So he should be 5-6. (Could he have  S:AKQx H:Ax D:KQxxx C:Kx? Probably bid 3NT with that — East must have believed that some sort of massive 4252 hand was possible though).

    West 55%, East 45%.

    DAVID
    I think east was "slightly chicken". Could have raised 3S: to 4. Hot at IMPs I think it would be clearer. But obviously neither game is a "lock".
    LYNN
    I'd raise 3S: to 4S: as East. Dale and I both think that's automatic, and neither of us can see a good reason for 4D: to be forcing. Dale also thinks West should bid over 4D:. I don't agree. East's auction seems consistent with  S:xx H:Jxxx D:Jxx C:KJxx, and no game is good.
    FRED
    East failed to appreciate the power of a double fit, and that huge D:A opposite a 6-5 hand. Ignore the H:Q in the West hand and how weak could it be? I appreciate that it was matchpoints and a not vul game but the bidding suggests misfit and exit. East should bid 4S: and hope over the 3S: bid. How much worse could West be?
    DAN
    East 100%. What were Westís alternatives? Some might open 1S: but thatís a huge mistake as the hand is certainly of reversing strength. As to the fourth round, is West supposed to unilaterally drive to game when partner has shown weakness twice? Bidding 5D: says, "partner, you donít know how to evaluate your hand, so Iíll do it for you." I would have been extremely surprised (not to mention dismayed) to see those spades hit in dummy.

    (I guess) I could understand Eastís passing 3S:, but 4D: seems weird. Maybe East thought it was forcing? Still...

    ED
    I would have passed 1D: but 1NT was the winning choice. West showed five spades with the 3S: call so East should have raised. If West didn't really have five spades, it would be his problem.
    LEN
    West certainly didn't underbid. East 90%, for picking diamonds instead of spades. South 10% for gumming up the works.
    CHRIS
    Seems like an easy raise to 4S:. Why not?
    MARSHALL
    Cannot understand failure to bid 4S: over 3S:.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    I was East. I thought 3S: was an unconditional game force. Any hand less than that bids 3C:. So you don't want to play 3C: with the West hand? And if partner holds  S:xx H:xxx D:x C:QJ109xxx you still want to play spades, not clubs? And if he has 8 clubs? With spades likely to be 4-1, I wanted partner to suggest spades one more time before we played 4S: instead of 5D:. Yes, partner could have garbage with only clubs and we'd want 4D: not to be forcing, but isn't that an "Intelligence Transfer error?" The reason we want 4D: not to be forcing is that we don't have our 3S: bid, not that it shouldn't be forcing opposite a significantly stronger hand.

    Chris argues against one of these points well: "Also, I have a theory about hands like these: when the opponents are not contesting the auction vigorously, these light games are more likely to make than otherwise. Over 2S:, might advancer not try three of some rounded suit with short spades?"

    Therefore spades are probably not 4-1. So 4S: is better than 4D:. Then again, if partner has  S:AKxxx H:A D:KQJxxxx C:, where do we want to be?

    CONSENSUS
    East should bid 4S:.
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    Chris convinced me that 4S: is better than 4D: because spades rate to break.

    No one has convinced me that 4D: isn't forcing. West made a game forcing 3S: bid. (With less, he bids 3C:.) This is not a "bail from 3NT with no stoppers" auction, so a game force is a game force. We are happily thinking that 4D: shouldn't be forcing because East could have no cover cards, but that is irrelevant. West should have nearly game in hand. With this shape, opening 2C: requires a total mountain, so why can't West be able to make 4S: or 5D: opposite the hands quoted? The fact that West is very light for his action doesn't change the meaning of the auction; it just confuses us because it sort of makes sense to play 4D: with West's hand opposite some garbage. But West can't have his actual hand, so that's an "if false, then..." argument. 4D: is forcing.

    If West can't stomach playing clubs because his spades are so good, he should have opened 1S: in the first place.


  7. Both vulnerable, MPs.

     S:AJ6 H:652 D:A1093 C:543

    LHO CHO RHO You
    PassPass2D: Pass
    PassDbl Pass?


    BARRY
    2NT, natural with no Lebensohl facing a passed hand! Second choice 2S:.
    MIKE
    Blech is an understatement. Unfortunately, weak 2's in Diamonds aren't all that common, so this isn't a field problem. I'll bid 2NT. I think we are more likely to take 7 or 8 tricks in NT than to take 6 in diamonds.
    ROBB
    2NT
    DAVID
    At first I was going to bid 2H:, but as I plan to play this on a cross ruff, I think I need play in spades to keep control. Even though 2NT should not be artificial, I don't want to play it there. 2S: may be harder for them to double if I am in trouble because I have honors. 2S:
    LYNN
    Pass, with absolutely no confidence. Dale and I play 2NT here as natural, not Lebensohl, but we'd still pass. Why not hope for six tricks on defense instead of eight on offense? (I'm leading the H:2.)
    FRED
    I know CHO is a passed hand but where are you going on this hand? Pass and hope: I assume that he won't be 5+5+?? from failure to open.
    DAN
    Pass. Iím a pretty big fan of taking out takeout doubles, especially when the opps have the balance of power, but this is a special case. They shouldnít make more than eight tricks, so Iím going to be -180 or better. If I bid, Iím probably -200 or worse. If I did bid, Iíd bid 2H:, btw.
    ED
    Pass. We'll probably beat it half the time and have a near top when we do. If they make 2D: (-180), we will still get some matchpoints from those that pull and go down one or more doubled or two or more undoubled when playing an inferior trump suit or getting a bad trump split. [Dreamer! When was the last time 2D:x -180 gave you anything but an awful score? --Jeff]
    CHRIS
    I'd pass, trying for the magic 200, although I know that bidding was the winner in real life. If I could make a responsive double of 2D:, I'd do that, but here I may pick the wrong strain if I bid (I'd guess to bid 2S: if I bid out).
    LEN
    I'm not worried about -180. I am worried about -580. 2H: (super-Vondracek). [Len obviously remembers the hand. "Vondracek" refers to "The Vondracek Phenomenon," an article from The Bridge World, in which the author suggests that with equal-length fits, often the weaker suit ought to be trumps. After years of research, the current answer to that question is, "with equal-length fits, the weaker suit ought to be trumps...sometimes." --Jeff]
    MARSHALL
    Pass. 50+% chance for a good board, 50-% chance for bottom. If I bid, my expectancy is less than 50%.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    Wasn't there. Partner passed and we went -580. If we had cashed our spade trick, we'd only be -380. It wasn't a zero. Some pairs doubled off 3D: and went -670. I would have bid 2S:, but I think it's close between 2H: and 2S:. If partner's off-shape, he is more likely to have longer hearts than spades, and he can equal-level correct over 2H: more easily than he can over 2S:. But 2H: could be a calamity with trumps this bad. My goal is to minimize the chance of calamity, and 2S: seems best poised to do that.
    WINNING ACTION
    bid something. 2H: is +110. 2S: is -100. 2NT isn't any good, -200.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass7
    2H:1
    2S:2
    2NT2
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    Again, closer than it looks with 7 passers and 5 bidders. I don't like 2NT at all. You know 2NT isn't making and rates not to be close. Partner doesn't have to have a 10-count to double here. That puts it in -200 territory.

    Pass looks pretty normal, but (a) I hate passing takeout doubles without trump stacks, (b) I hate passing takeout doubles when I think they are making, and (c) if they are cold for an overtrick when partner has a maximum, perhaps passing isn't right?

    I still think 2S: is best.


  8. None vul, MPs

    S: K1063
    H: A932
    D: 963
    C: QJ
    S: A52
    H: KQ5
    D: KQJ74
    C: 96
    S: Q7
    H: J864
    D: A82
    C: 8643
    S: J984
    H: 107
    D: 105
    C: AK1072

    South West North East
    Pass 1NT 2C:* Pass
    2D:* Dbl 2H:* Dbl
    2S: Dbl All Pass

    2C: = diamonds or both majors (Suction)
    2D: = pass or correct
    2H: = majors

    After trump ace, trump, declarer made ten tricks. Assess the blame.


    BARRY
    Double of 2S: was insane! East would have reopened with 2NT or 3D:, and normality would have ensued. [Unless South bid 3S:. --Jeff]
    MIKE
    West should have held down the second overtrick with a small trump lead. [Ooohh...that would have saved a lot of matchpoints! --Jeff] I assume the double of 2D: was natural, although takeout would make more sense... and I bet that even this West would have perpetrated such a double holding  S:AJ9x H:KQxx D:xx C:KQx (if my guess as to who was whom is right). But the double of 2D: should have actually helped on this hand. Double of 2H: is normal, double of 2S: seems like an error, despite the fact that a small trump lead stands out (although not to this West). Pass of the double is clear. Had West passed 2S:, East could double with some appropriate 3-card holdings and with a hand like he actually held, bid 3D:.

    Partnerships should strive to avoid defending 8-card fits at the 2-level if there is a decent alternative.

    West 100%. I don't see what East could have possibly done differently.

    ROBB
    West 100%. Pretty basic to have 4 trump (maybe 3 great ones).
    DAVID
    You have to give a bit of credit to North/South for being enterprising and having methods that worked on these hands, some blame to East/West for methods that did not deal particularly well with the NS methods, it was not the greatest defense, but "bridge blame" on west for doubling 2S: on A52. I view that as a bad bid. Advertisement - if double by either partner shows a doubleton, the partnership has an easy auction to the spot of 3D: (If NS go on to 3S:, west would be advised to lead the H:K). So I score N +10, S +10, E -10 and W -110 (not to be confused with his actual minus 870 or whatever)
    LYNN
    Very sad. I'm not inclined to be seriously critical of anything but West's final X. Axx just isn't enough. If West had passed, East might find the winning 3D: call, or a 2NT bid that West could convert. Also, I'd lead the D:K. If I really wanted to lead a trump, I'd lead low. East's X of 2H: was aggressive, but I suspect people who win more matchpoint events than I do would consider it routine. [I think it's routine --Jeff]
    FRED
    Standard defence is to assume that if a bid is correctable, the double is takeout. [True over Multi. Not true in general in the US, though the idea is quite reasonable. --Jeff] On that basis West's double of 2D: is hideous. Maybe they don't have that agreement, but if they did, West's double and subsequent pass is mandatory. West might have passed 2S: but given his length and strength in hearts was entitled to assume cards from partner. Once he did bid this way the very least he could have done was lead the S:2...Anyway unless the first double explicitly showed diamonds, 99% West (East gets 1% for playing with West). [The first double was undefined. Undefined doubles of artificial bids are usually natural, showing length and/or strength in the suit bid. See above. --Jeff]
    DAN
    West 45% / East 35% / methods 20%. Over 2C: suction, Eastís double should be "they made a mistake." East doesnít need Stayman, because if North has diamonds there will be a takeout double available and if North has majors, well, let them try to take eight tricks.

    Westís double of 2D: just shows a suit and doesnít imply any desire to double 2M. It lets East balance in 3D: with the appropriate hand (like the one in the diagram!). East misunderstood this, but even in a different context the double of 2H: is poor. Bad trumps, only two-plus tricks, too many diamonds. Westís final double is worse, though: only three trumps, and bad ones at that.

    ED
    If double of 2D: and 2H: were penalty in the East-West methods, then those are reasonable bids. However, West does not have a good defensive hand versus 2S: and double is not a reasonable bid. Had West passed 2S:, East would have passed or bid 2NT for a minus score or bid 3D: for a plus score. On defense, a small spade would have been a better opening lead than the S:A. However, as usual, the real gain or loss is in the bidding and West gets all the blame in my view.
    CHRIS
    West 100%. Double of 2S: is poor with no defense (KQ of hearts are horrible cards on the auction), and spade ace lead is lousy.
    LEN
    East 35% (doubling 2H: looks wrong) West 65% (doubling 2S: is wrong)
    MARSHALL
    West 85%. Only purpose in doubling 2D: is to suggest playing 3D:, and that seems unlikely. Double of 2S: seems clearly wrong. Perhaps East should have bid 3D: over double. Low spade lead better than ace.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    I was East. I vote 95% to West. He has an obvious pass of 2S:, which would lead to a great score in 3D: or a really rotten one in 3S:x. But maybe 100% is too much...if N/S bid 3S:, which seems likely unless West doubles 2S: and East pulls, E/W are doomed to a very poor score.
    CONSENSUS
    Bad problem. Everyone says West should not double 2S: and should lead a small trump.
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    I think it's less clear than everyone else does. If the double of 2D: is natural, should it require 5 pieces? If so, then opener does not have four spades and East should pull. Regardless, of course, West has a good offensive and a bad defensive hand, so he shouldn't suggest defending, but that doesn't mean that East's pass is completely clear-cut. I don't happen to agree with any of the givens, though. I don't think double is natural (it should be takeout), and if penalty, it needn't be 5 pieces, particularly since four good ones suggests strongly that North is about to bid 2H:, so with good defense against the majors as well as diamonds, it'd be good to double 2D: to get partner involved in crunching them. And get him off to a good lead perhaps against two of a major whacked.

    There's another issue...let's say that West passes and East bids 3D:. Isn't South going to bid 3S:? -140 is a disaster for E/W. Upon reflection, while I think West's bidding and lead were pretty bad, I don't think E/W had many matchpoints coming to them. So giving West a lot of blame isn't really fair. He was never getting a good result. His choice just looked ugly.


  9. Both, IMPs, short martch

     S:10xx H:Jx D:98x C:AKxxx

    1D:-(1H:)-?

    Sorry, double shows four spades.


    BARRY
    Pass. Hope to get out alive — reopen with 2NT over a heart raise?
    MIKE
    Pass. 1NT seems like an error and 2D: is too weird, even for me.
    ROBB
    Pass.
    DAVID
    You have no choice but to pass in standard. I play negative free bids in a strong club based system. I have other problems, but not this one.
    LYNN
    I'd bid 2D:, but I play weak NT. In standard, I think it's borderline between 2D: and P, and I'd probably choose P. I'd lie about a fourth trump to make a negative X on some auctions, but not on this one. I'd need another K for 2C:, given the five-card suit.
    FRED
    Hope the "system" has some compensating features. Under these circumstances Pass and hope — feeling ill with only a doubleton heart ...but if 2C: promises a rebid that is just too sick within partnership structure.
    DAN
    Pass. Iím not bidding 2C: because Iím too weak. If I bid 2D: thereís too great a chance of getting overboard (if partner made a game try over 2D:, Iíd want to show the clubs but my trumps are too weak to cooperate so thereís no vig).
    ED
    Pass. Why is this a problem? [Looks like it isn't. --Jeff]
    CHRIS
    Pass. No strong opinion between pass, double, and 2D:. With the heart jack in diamonds, I'd try 2D:.
    LEN
    Why would double show four spades? Does 1S: show this hand? 2D:, I guess, though pass is probably right.
    MARSHALL
    Dbl, even if it showed 4 spades. Dbl probably gains when partner bids 1NT, 2C: or 2D:, even 1S: if no one bids too much. Lots of bidding is unlikely when I have 8 points with a balanced hand. Double only loses when the bidding is wild like 3H: by LHO, 3S: or 4S: by partner.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    I bid 2D:.
    WINNING ACTION
    none, really, but passing leads to -80 and everything else is worse. Bidding 2D: led to a 3-3 fit and -200. A negative double will get us to 1S:. I don't know if that makes or goes down.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass8
    Double1
    2D:3
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    OK, 2D: was weird.

  10. MPs, both, dealer

     S:KJx H:10xxx D:AQ C:Qxxx

    Do you open?


    BARRY
    Don't care. My view is to open 12 counts with club length (the Drury corollary) particularly if clubs are good. Here I just don't care (copyright Irina Levitina).
    MIKE
    Yes.
    ROBB
    I don't but most do.
    DAVID
    Obviously a question of style and partnership agreement, but yes I would I and I don't need the H:10 to do so.
    LYNN
    Dale would, regardless of method. I think I'd pass playing standard, but open a weak NT if I'm playing them.
    FRED
    Yes weak NT : 12 HCP, normal distribution and 3+controls. Do I love my hand — no I don't.

    Even playing a strong NT, 5 card major system (yuk!) I open: My hand is a barely acceptable minimum, I am opening in my long suit and am happy to raise hearts, while otherwise my descriptive NT rebid will limit my hand both by distribution and shape...pity that it is not for the lead but then it is not my system...

    DAN
    Yes, if the bottom of my 1NT is any 15. If itís 15+ to 18, then no.
    ED
    No. This hand is not worth 12 HCP. Do you want to be in game if partner has the same type of hand, i.e.,  S:AQx H:Qxxx D:KJ C:Txxx? [One notrump isn't cold vs. those cards. --Jeff]
    CHRIS
    I'd pass vul. I hate -200 in 1NT, or even -100 instead of -90. Equal red is the passers' vul. [Good point. --Jeff]
    LEN
    No.
    MARSHALL
    Yes, but wouldnít criticize a pass.
    JEFF AT THE TABLE
    No.
    WINNING ACTION
    bid. It gets us to hearts (though a weak NT is no good here) for +110 and, more importantly, preempts their diamonds which made -110 against us.
    CONSENSUS
    ActionVotes
    Pass6
    Bid5
    Don't Care1
    JEFF UPON REFLECTION
    It's a toss-up. I open light hands with shape, but this one is balanced crap. I'm a little conservative on those. I'd open it a 12-14 NT too. Or a 10-12. Note that weak NTers and strong NTs open about as many hands. Just different ones. Weak NTers open more crappy balanced hands. They pass more unbalanced hands with minors. Shrug.

    You can put me in the "don't care" camp. If I can open it 1NT, great, whatever the range. If I can't, I don't care if we open or not. There are advantages to opening and advantages to passing. Who knows which outweighs the other?

    For what it's worth, K&R calls this 9.90. I think that's low. It looks to me like a bad 11 or a good 10. If I opened a 10-12 and partner invited in NT, I'd go. And expect to go down a little less than half the time despite 26 HCP.

    On the other hand, I've learned that at matchpoints, it's just wrong to downgrade any 15-counts that the field is opening 1NT. At IMPs, there's a reasonable chance that your judgment will allow you to stay out of a bad game or slam by doing so. At matchpoints, you much more often just end up changing the auction. That might get NT played from a different side or change the opening lead. Or let them get a lead-directing overcall in or the like. These things happen often enough that not opening 1NT is essentially rolling the dice, setting your side's matchpoint score pretty much entirely on your one decision. Personally, I'd rather have my score determined by my play of the hand and the opponents' defense or our partnership bidding when I hold a balanced 15, so it just doesn't pay to open one of a minor on those hands. Why take 50% when we rate to do better than that? Perhaps, therefore, this is a corrollary—if the field is going to open 1C:, just do it and don't worry about the fact that it's a mild overbid.



Jeff Goldsmith, jeff@gg.caltech.edu, Apr. 5, 2004