Some problems from the Pasadena Sectional, 8/04: Answers

Panelists: Len Vishnevsky, Ed Davis, Marshall Miles, Barry Rigal, David Caprera, Mike Shuster, Bobby Bodenheimer, John Jones
  1. IMPs, none vul, you hold

     S:x H:xxx D:AKQ10xx C:AKx

    1D: Pass1H: Dbl

    Support XX.
    Redouble showing three hearts. Lots to say, and it's nice to begin without taking up room or misdescribing my hand.
    rdble. You have a good hand with three possible (probable) games, 3NT, 5D: and 4H:. The support redouble shows three card heart support, and it is very unlikely that you will have a problem later. If opponents stay out of the bidding, partner will probably pass, the doubler will bid something, and you can jump to 3D:. More likely LHO will bid 1S: or 2S:. If he bids 1S:, and partner bids 2H:, partner must have at least five, and 4H: is a likely contract (although you would bid 3D: or 2S:). If 3S: comes around to you, you will bid 4D:, which invites 4H: or 5D:. [Does it really? How do you simply compete to 4D:, say with an ace fewer? --Jeff]
    Redbl. Support to be followed by diamonds at some acceptable level. Over 4S: will I wish I'd bid 3D: first? Possibly but then again I might miss hearts if I do not take this action. I can see cases for 3D:, 2C:, 3C: et al, but none of them seem perfect, When given this as a problem we know Redbl does not work and I am not wedded to it even now but I'd probably do it at the table.
    I was going to bid 3D: without the double, I don't think that the double changes anything. I am not a fan of redouble being a 3 card raise and I wouldn't use it on this hand even if it were my agreement.
    XX. I assume this is a support redouble. This accurately describes my level of enthusiasm for hearts, although not for the hand in general. I plan on bidding diamonds next, including 5D: if it goes 4S: P P back to me. The rank order of the suits makes this approach more attractive than an immediate 3D: call. 2C: is misguided as we would like to describe with this complex hand.
    Clearly between 3D: and support XX. I don't see the disadvantage of not making a support XX here; I'll be able to convey my strength and diamonds later, and it gives partner valuable information.
    3C:. This is an awkward hand to bid. I delayed answering this problem set because I kept changing my mind about this one. No bid on this round appeals to me. Before Support Doubles we all would redouble and then jump in diamonds or cuebid [How? --Jeff]. Redouble (support, but I wish it were good hand), may be just what pard needs to hear but it's not terribly descriptive. I don't want to emphasize my three card heart support because of my 8 trick hand in NT or diamonds. Pass and cuebid is great if the opps don't bid too many spades before I can bid again. 3D: is a distinct underbid, 3S: a splinter, so both are out. That leaves 3C:, a misdescription of my shape, but getting across the good hand message.
    none. If you get to 4H:, they'll bid 4S: for +100. If you bid 3D:, you get +130. Teammates didn't double and thus were -420.
    OK, I'm convinced. I don't think redouble shows any of the important facets of this hand, but upon reflection, 3D: is an underbid. 3NT is cold vs.  S:Axx H:Jxxx D:xxx C:xxx, and partner will surely pass 3D:. If 3D: were right on values, I think it'd be more likely to get us to a good spot. It's pretty likely that the opponents are about to begin a spade barrage. Since the most likely spot if so is diamonds, I think getting across the good diamond suit and the hand strength is urgent. But there's no way to do it. If RHO had overcalled 1S:, a cue bid would have been perfect.

  2. IMPs, none vul, you hold

     S:xx H:AKJ10x D:xx C:10xxx

    2NT Pass3C: Pass
    3S: Pass3NT ?

    Would 5NT here show a two suiter? I pass.
    Double looks pretty reasonable to me as partner is likely to lead a heart. He may be a bit perplexed if he holds the H:Q but I think double significantly increases our chances of defeating the contract.
    Pass. Too dangerous to double.
    Dbl. Yes I would not find it at the table, but in a problem I do like it!
    I don't. Not enough good things can happen. They may wrap it, they may rewind, it may give declarer the information necessary to make an otherwise unmakeable hand, they may run when its right, partner might not lead a heart. Let's just see if we can beat them. Who knows—partner might lead a heart anyway after my hesitation (only kidding).
    DBL. Doubling is really banking on partner holding the H:9 or the H:Q and not being able to successfully run. I think this is a good bet at IMPs...
    Double is too aggressive for me. I pass.
    Double. Too easy. I'd be a tad worried that RHO had extras, and pard had no quick entry and no H:9, (pard has between 0 and 8 HCP) but feint heart never won fair lady.
    pass. Chickened out.
    Double. Declarer has H:Qx. Only a heart lead lets you take the first five tricks.
    I think this is a really close call. You are very unlikely to beat 3NT without a heart lead and they are pretty unlikely to have anywhere to go. If you don't take the first five tricks, they are likely to make an overtrick for -650. That's lose six. If you beat them you win 11. I think it's less than 50-50 that you can (and will) beat them on a heart lead, but probably better than one in three. Real close, but probably worth a double. You'll have to stand a redouble, too, but will opener redouble with H:Qx as well as H:Qxx?

  3. any conditions

    1NT 2C:! Dbl!Pass
    2D: 2S: ?

    1NT is 15-17.
    2C: is any single suit.
    Dbl is Stayman.

    What do your calls mean here?

    I assume you mean absent further discussion.

    X is business or negative, however you play 1NT-(2S:)-X. 2NT is a balanced invite, 3m is natural and forcing, 3S: is probably western. 3H: might be a 3S: smolen hand with 4 low spades. Pass is forcing.

    I'd play that my previous bid showed at least competitive values and that suit bids are basically competitive... i.e., pass = NF, dbl = penalty, 2NT invite, suits bids non-forcing and 3S: asks for a stopper.
    2NT, invitational with 4 hearts. 3C: forcing and warning partner that you have club strength but not spades, 3H: good four card suit, forcing, 3S: spade strength but nothing in clubs. 3NT natural with values in both black suits
    All doubles after the first are pens. All suit bids retain original meaning; 2NT invites, 3C:/D: nat FG, 3H:?? 3S: stopper ask.

    [3H: is what partner actually bid.]

    ***Bastard partner! 4 good hearts forcing looking for 4H:.

    I actually did have an agreement that our version of lebensohl applied here. But I would say that is a very special agreement and absent that agreement, I assume that bids are "standard" with 2NT invitational, three level forcing, double penalty, and 3S: asking for a check.
    New suits are forcing, 2NT is invitational, 3S: needs help in that suit and double is business. Surely you didn't need me to tell you that though. [Mike thinks 3H: shows five hearts, presumably originally only looking for a 5-4 fit. --Jeff]
    In both cases my opponent hasn't taken any of my bidding room up. It seems to me that calls should be natural in both, i.e., double is penalty, etc.
    Pass is showing nothing
    Double is for penalty
    2NT is for TO
    3C: is competitive
    3D: is competitive
    3H: is unexpected, but probably competitive with 4S: and 6H:
    3S: asks for a stopper (may have long minor)
    3NT is to play
    4C: is vanilla Gerber
    4D: is forcing and natural
    4H: is unexpected but to play
    4S: is a splinter slam try in a undisclosed suit (but assumed to be C:)
    4NT is a natural slam try (promises spade control)
    5C: is to play
    5D: is to play
    5H: is natural slam invitational, and asking for a spade control
    5S: probably is pick 6 of a minor (0445 or close)
    5NT is torturing partner

    How about this auction:

    1NT Pass2C: Pass
    2D: 2S: ?

    Same, except X is business, pass is nonforcing (if you play garbage stayman).
    Same. Some simple basic rule should govern all these undiscussed sequences. My rule would be "non-jump suit bids competitive, must cue bid or jump to search for game or slam."
    2C: was relay; double would be pens all other actions nat, 2NT—do something intelligent?
    Same as above.
    I don't see the difference.
    This is tricky; there clearly is none. Moreover, few stated if a pass was forcing; only about half mentioned partner's actual call. I'll try some of the calls which are indicative of general approach, plus the one partner actually made at the table.
    Forcing 1
    Nonforcing 2
    Didn't Say 5
    Invitational 7
    Takeout 1
    Didn't Say 0
    Forcing 5
    Nonforcing 2
    Didn't Say 1
    4 Hearts 2
    5 Hearts 2
    6 Hearts 1
    Didn't Say 3
    This is less obvious than some of the panelists think. Some play pass is forcing; some play it non-forcing. Few gave an answer to the meaning of 3H:. Some play new suits forcing, some competitive. Is 2NT lebensohl, natural invitational, or a punt?

    What should bids mean? I think pass should be non-forcing; we may have been running. I have no idea about 3H:; four good hearts and shortness in spades is silly; having the long hand take the tap will make 4H: unplayable. Four good hearts and length in spades makes sense. Or a hand which was to Smolen, but has crummy spades.

    There are two general approaches the panelists use. (1) everything is the same as if they had passed, and (2) now that they bid, we have to be able to bid 3C: and 3D: to play when we couldn't have before. I only have one partner with whom these two approaches are in concert. Mike and I play Lebensohl 2NT in this position, even if RHO had passed. So it clearly applies here for us, and we get both approaches. Everyone else has to choose. It is not obvious without discussion which approach your partner will pick.

  4. IMPs, both vul

    S: Kx
    H: QJxxxx
    D: AJ10x
    C: x
    S: Axxx
    H: AKxxx
    D: x
    C: A10x

    1H: 2NT (Jacoby)
    3C: 3S:
    4D: 5C:
    5S: 6D:
    6H: Pass

    Assign the blame for missing the laydown grand.

    Would West open with  S:Kxx H:QJxxx D:AJxx C:x? [Of course. --Jeff]

    What is 1H:-2NT,3C:-3H:? A punt? Extras? Min? [Any of the above. 4H: shows good trumps and is a mild slam try. So 3H: is a catch-all. This assumes playing slow arrival, which I prefer. --Jeff]

    I think the auction should go 1H:-2NT (starting with a splinter won't ever describe this hand), 3C:-3H: (3D: is ok, but 3H: hints at the boss trumps and shouldn't deny extras), 3S: (mild slam try, unrelated to spades, otherwise 3NT/4C:/4D: control bid for S:/C:/D:)-3NT (spade control), 4D:-4NT (rolling, denying second round spade control), 5S: (spade control)-5NT (grand slam try), 7H:-P.

    East 100%, since 3S: ate up the extra room he needed.

    I'd rather describe the East hand with a strong JS in spades and then 3D: over the relay to show hearts and a stiff D: than use J2NT. East should realize that describing his pattern and the four key cards to West will be much more effective than asking West to decribe his hand. On this hand it is simple to get to 7H: if East jump shifts. J2NT is usually not the right approach with a singleton unless responder's hand is such that he can find out everything he needs to know by opener's responses. On this hand, East had no idea if they had a 3rd round spade loser (e.g.,  S:Kxx H:QJxxxx D:AJx C:x).
    I assume 4D: was serious and 3NT would have been less inviting... [I wish. We had actually discussed this before the session, but I was 99% sure that partner wasn't going to remember it. Right I was. --Jeff]

    If so over 5S: I bid 7H:, second choice 8H:. 100% East. Sorry if this is too demanding of East but what was he waiting for facing D:A and S:K? West cooperated with nothing in hearts really and a club stiff so the pointed suits are sure to be OK when East has no D:K—no 5D: call over 5C:!

    My reaction is that it is primarily East. The guy with 4 keycards and a singleton has to take significant action. But I need to know what 4D: was?—What would 3NT have been—serious, not to play? If 4D: showed extras, then I would say it is 100% East—West is bidding his behind off given a working 9-count. If 4D: was a random noise, then East's problem is a bit harder because with S:Kxx the grand would have no play. One alternative that would work well on this hand would be for East to have bid 2NT and then rebid 4D:! showing a splinter and a hand too big to splinter directly, and then follow that up with 4NT, 5NT showing all the keycards. That would have allowed west to bid the grand. I'm not a "point counter" but this is 11 opposite 15. I guess I score it 5-95.
    This is a tough hand. Even if West can be goaded into keycard, the singleton diamond will have yet to come to light and again the grand missed (via 1H: - 2NT; 3C: - 3S:; 3NT (friv) - 4C:; 4D: - 4S:; 4NT - 5D:; 5NT...). I don't see a good auction to it starting with Jacoby, although the one East perpetrated is probably as close as you can get and it wasn't sufficient to get West to bid 7, as West was concerned about trump quality (having never limited his hand... would East bid the same way with say...  S:AQxx H:Kxxxx D:x C:Axx?)

    If East were to start with a splinter and West used keycard (after 1H: - 4D:; 4H: - 4S: (not kickback); 4NT - 5D:... now West can count 13 tricks. That assumes a lot, especially in that East can splinter and follow it up with a spade cuebid which allows for keycard.

    Perhaps if East starts with a strong jump shift, as might be my choice...
    2NT (forced)3D: (stiff+primary hearts)
    That one has East's using keycard. Without knowing anything about the methods available, it is hard to judge the merits of this particular East's choice to bid Jac2NT (a reasonable bid in a new partnership).

    If this is a long-standing partnership with extensive methods, I give East 100% for 2NT. Otherwise, 50/50 as East's auction was intelligent and well planned yet insufficient.

    A tough bidding problem. I wonder if East had a strong jump shift in spades available. [Yes. --Jeff]
    would allow East to count to 13 more easily. Alternatively, with a splinter
    allowing West to be captain, then West can count to 13 tricks pretty easily.

    On the actual auction, I think West did a good job of showing his hand and his extra values. I don't think West can distinguish whether East has  S:AQx H:Axxx D:Kx C:Axxx or  S:Axx H:AKxx D:Kx C:Axxx, which makes a big difference in the level we want to play at.

    So, I think the blame lies with East. He chose the 2NT bid, which tends to shows a more balanced raise that might entertain NT, since he could have splintered, or SJSed). In any event, he asserted captaincy of the auction with his first bid.

    I confess to being West, and I truthfully don't think that the auction was all that bad. The grand was more difficult to bid than it might have otherwise been because we were: 1) leading the event, 2) winning the match, 3) playing a not so strong team who had a conservative flight B pair at the other table. Bidding a below 90% grand was not something either East or West wanted to do. I asked afterward and was told the other pair struggled to bid a small slam.

    The trick to getting to the grand and knowing it is cold is to have opener (West) Blackwood after finding out about the D: shortness. This is tough because East doesn't start out knowing that should happen. [East, holding four key cards, can't imagine ever getting his partner voluntarily to move towards slam, and I think he should drive there. --Jeff]

    Three sequences might work to get opener to bid RKC.

    Possible Sequence One:
    1H:4D: (splinter)
    this might not work because opener might be more worried about  S:QJxx H:Kxxx D:x C:KQJx than hopeful of  S:Axxx H:Kxxx D:x C:Axxx or similiar.

    Possible Sequence Two:
    1H:2NT (Jacoby)
    3C: (short C:) 4D: (short D:+extra values)

    Possible Sequence Three:
    1H:2S: (Compressed JS (jump shift in S:/C:/D:))
    2NT (puppet) 4D: (S: jump shift: H: support+D: shortness)

    [There is a stronger splinter: 1H:-4D:; 4H:-4S: shows about 19 dummy points and is nearly slam forcing. It's stronger than the compressed jump shift splinter, not necessarily different. --Jeff]

    On the actual hand West might bid the grand thinking that it might not be any worse than finding the D:Q. ( S:Axx H:AKxx D:Kxx C:Axx at minimum). Probably East's failure to bid 5NT indicates the H:A and H:K because with only one top honor he would frequently ask about trumps.

    Thus, some blame to both players, but still, no bid was ridiculous.

    I was East.
    It is not the case that Jacoby 2NT promises a balanced hand. Usually the bidder will have one because he has ways to splinter with shortness (possibly via a strong JS), but by no means does he promise one. We don't splinter into stiff aces or kings, for example.

    This hand shouldn't splinter because there's no last train available, so we'll be guessing about partner's hand and end up simply making a general grand slam try which partner will reject. If we splinter, then key card and bid 5NT, partner may be able to go all the way, but the odds on that seem slim. Remember, he thinks we have only four trumps; if he has four diamonds, trying to ruff three in dummy will pose enough handling problems that he'll not bid a grand.

    Starting with a SJS is better because we can get our shortness shown lower, except that I play compressed jump shifts, so we'd still be at the 4-level (1H:-2S:; 2NT-4D:).

    I think it's reasonable simply to take control and force partner to cue bid; in fact, I think it's substantially the best approach with the hand. The hope is to find out enough about partner's hand that we can make a good decision to bid a grand.

    Frivolous 3NT would have been nice. If I were confident that we had that available, I'd've just bid 7H: directly. I don't enjoy having my partner's faces turn red during the auction, though.

    So how about the last round of the auction? What is the meaning of 6D:? It's obviously a grand slam try. What can East want West to hold to bid the grand? Clubs? We already know the whole club suit. Diamonds? If East wanted to know about the D:K, he could have bid 6C: to find out about that card. Trumps? 5NT would have found any missing trump honors? The S:A? East has already shown it. The S:K? West has already shown it. The only possible problem is 3rd round spade control, and I think that's what 6D: expressly asks for. Is it too much to ask a random partnership to work that out? Yea, verily. I should have just bid the grand and not worried about it. Then again, in a swiss (this was), I knew the other table would be in a small slam, so we don't need to lose the match on this hand. I don't like to hear, "boys, six would have been enough." In fact, they almost missed the small slam.

    Note that I think the final grand slam tries are "asking," not "showing." When we run out of room, the player who has taken captaincy of the auction (Jacoby 2NT does that until further notice) needs to be able to ask specific questions, not show one more card to hope partner can bid the grand. So he leaves room for partner to make the bid he needs to hear. Yes, this is not standard, but with current methods allowing responder to describe huge numbers of hands with support, there needs to be a way for him to take control and keep it.

    Someday I'm going to learn and start playing Spiral Scan. It'd make mincemeat of this deal.

  5. IMPs, both vul

    S: Qx
    H: 10x
    D: J9xx
    C: KQ10xx
    S: AJ6x
    H: AQ97
    D: Ax
    C: 8xx

    1NT 2C:! 3NT All pass

    2C: showed some single-suiter.
    You get the opening lead of the H:2, 3rd and 5th. RHO will play the H:6 at T1. The x's are pretty small.

    Plan the play.

    What's their carding (primary signal at T1)? I win H:7 T1, and lead to C:K. If it loses, what happens? If it wins, I lead S:Q.
    Win H: in hand. C: to K. All follow small? Then H: to A and C: towards dummy's Q, intending to rise if nothing happens. Use S:Q as entry to dummy?
    I am not a fan of the 3NT bid. Win the H:, C: to K (assume it holds), H: to the A, C: up—if LHO plays a second small C: (only interesting case) I am playing Q. My rationale is that vul at IMPs with presumably H:KJxxx, he ought to have the nuts outside. I don't think I am going to make with 4-1 clubs, and with Ax RHO might have been right to win and play back a H: (he doesn't know his partner's hearts suck—even playing some sort of Smith, the C: play would have been count.)
    Win the H:9 and play a club to dummy's king. Assuming this wins, cross to the H:A and lead another club. Hopefully West will have a doubleton diamond honor and the S:K.

    [Later...] I'm not so sure about my line in 3NT. I think I get blocked out of my 9th trick even if the cards lie the way I was playing for. [Yup. Mike is the only one who realized this. --Jeff]

    Win in hand, lead low towards the C:K, intending to finesse the 10. Hook the S:J to get back to hand if it wins.
    I won't comment on the play since I know the entire layout. I was CHO on this hand, but RHO showed me her hand. I was fooled by the H:2 opening lead, thinking it must be a 7-card suit. What a great falsecard!!! It fools dummy but not declarer (who knows the H: situation).
    Win in hand, club to the king, duck a club.
    Win, lead a club, cross to the H:A, lead another club.
    The majority line was to lead a club up, come back to the H:A, then lead another club. The idea was to make if the S:K is onside. Most missed something. If West flies with the S:K and plays a diamond, you also have to guess diamonds, and they have to be guessable, or you have only 1S:+2H:+1D:+4C: for eight tricks. You need that H:A as a late reentry to the S:A.

    As the cards actually lay, playing a heart at T2 leads to instant defeat. The opening lead was a falsecard; hearts were 6-1. On the bidding, that seems pretty likely, no? So West can win the third club and clear hearts. Then even if he has the S:K and diamonds are guessable, the defense gets 3H:+1S:+1C: before you can reach nine.

    I thought that hearts were 6-1 at the table, and I think we have enough information to figure that out. Why is West overcalling a single-suiter with H:KJ8xx? Even if he has  S:Kxx H:KJ8xx D:K10 C:AJx, it's pretty silly to show the hand as hearts; few would. If he has anything less, he'd very likely pass, particularly vulnerable. No, hearts pretty much have to be 6-1, which makes playing a heart to the ace at trick 3 a really bad idea.

    What's better? I'm not sure. Probably either hooking the C:10 (wins if AJx on), pounding out the two top clubs (Jx in either hand), or high club and duck one (Ax). The last play has the advantage that you don't need anything else; you make regardless of the location of the S:K. Too bad you can't see RHO's signal before deciding. Maybe my line wasn't so bad after all. In any case, no one else made it.

Jeff Goldsmith,, Aug 8, 2004