Some Problems, 02/20

All problems at IMPs

Today's Panelists: David Grainger, Chris Willenken, David Weiss, Len Vishnevsky, Fred Curtis, Ed Davis, Bobby Bodenheimer, Adam Wildavsky, Dave Caprera, Kent Hartman

  1. IMPs, short matches, favorable, you hold

     S:AKJ9x H:K104x D:Jx C:Ax

    1S: 2D: 3H:* Pass
    4S: 5D: Dbl Pass

    3H: = H: + S:, 9+ cards in the suits, limit raise+ values

    Whoops, when submitting the problem, I had 3H: as 2H:. Most figured it out. I also forgot that CHO was the dealer, so "you" were third hand. That makes a fair bit of difference.

    Bid 5H: if partner actually bid 3H: showing this.
    I don't need much for slam ( S:Qxxx H:AQxxx D:x C:xxx), so 4S: is a major error. [True. I forgot to include that partner was a passed hand, and while slam is now possible, it needs a perfecto. --Jeff] I suppose if I sat in for someone who had bid 4S: the first time, I'd guess to bid 6S:.
    Pass. I think partner is warning me he has a doubleton diamond, so to make five of a major we must have no other loser. While that's possible, there are too many holes to be optimistic. Although the vulnerable opponent does not expect to get hurt badly, I expect down one, and down two is a possibility.

    I'm not a big believer in so-called insurance; all too often the premium is high. Especially in a short match, I try to be right when I back my (partnership) judgment.

    It's easy to give partner a good hand for grand over 2H: ( S:Qxxx H:AQxxx D:A C:xxx). This is even more likely with a 5D: bid on my left. Slam wouldn't be clear if I cue 3D: (say partner is missing the D:A), but at least I wouldn't be captain. double shows transferable values, so I hope 5C: is enough now, then 5H: over 5D: if I get that lucky.
    A very fine treatment after we bid game, is to utilise the hand which has shown shape to indicate length in the opponent's suit by a forcing pass showing shortage while a double shows length (at least 2) in the direct seat. My recollection is that it was written up circa 1978 Bridge World by Ed Manfield. [In one of the "High-Level Bridge" columns. --Jeff]

    Using that style (which is not mainstream) [It isn't? I thought it was pretty standard these days. --Jeff], a pass seems indicated as we are likely to hold 2 diamond losers off the top while we may even get a club ruff.

    I thought that the 4S: bid was insensitive at best (as slam was clearly possible on the minimum parameters indicated given opener's holding), and without an agreement of the sort noted above, the unexpected development has caused a problem. Note that even  S:Qxxx H:AQxxx D:x C:xxx gives a play for slam. [Agreed. --Jeff]

    South should have bid 4C: over 3H: (I assume it was really a 3H: bid) since a perfect fit would not be surprising ( S:Qxxx H:AQxxx D:x C:xxx), and it would be biddable if partner had a 4D: bid over 4C:. However, partner's double of 5D: says that is not the case and it is expressing the opinion that we should not bid on. But if partner has his cards in his suits (and that is the message delivered by a fit bid), we can still make 5S: even if we have two diamond losers.

    LHO's 5D: bid is pretty unexpected as he could have bid 5D: at his first opportunity and has not received any support from partner. Maybe LHO's hand got better on the auction — I suppose he might have  S:xxx H:D:AKxxxxx C:KQx (or he could be 8-4 in the minors and just not have bid 5D: over 1S:) making in either case. Since I think we will usually make it, I am going to bid 5S:. (Jeff gave us KT4x in hearts — just a random 4 in our heart suit or is it a clue that our hearts are not good enough to make 5S:?) [Yeah, my bad. Should have been an "x," as that clue was in fact the case. --Jeff]

    Given that I've misled partner with a terrible 4S: bid, the options are not good. First, it's possible that we have a slam; however, there's no principled way to get there at this point and so I think insuring a plus score in a short imp match is best — so no bidding 6 on my own. With the extra values I have counted against the fit with partner, they are probably still going down. However, the double fit also means that we are making game we'll probably have play for two overtricks, which means the five level is also reasonable. I think bidding at the 5-level is what I'll do.

    Now, as to strain — in the methods, if the 2H: bid would allow for something like 3-6-x-x, then it's probably best to bid 5H: to suggest an alternate strain. Otherwise 5S:. [3-6 is possible, though unlikely. I think you should choose spades, however, to avoid a possible spade ruff with RHO on lead. --Jeff]

    Pass. Unfavorable would be harder. Unless LHO's hand just went to the moon--void in one major, length in the other, good clubs, [Close! --Jeff] we should be able to muster three tricks on a trump lead. If I had bid 4C: instead of 4S:, I'd be much more confident about passing what I think is a warning double by partner.
    Pass. But my partner was a passed hand.
    Pass. Partner held  S:Q10xx H:AJ6xx D:Qxx C:x. Hearts were 0-4, so nothing makes at the 5-level. LHO was 1-0-7-5, which sort of explains his weird bidding. (Doesn't 4NT show that?...try to beat 5C:!)

    Chris thinks partner's hand isn't nearly pure enough for his initial fit bid. I agree—too much defense.

    Four bid, three passed. Pretty close.
    The one thing I would not do is bid 5H:. I do not want RHO on lead knowing to give his partner a spade ruff. Otherwise, I think bidding vs. passing is a crap shoot.

    Folks argue about whether we are in a force here and what double means. I think we are in a force. They appear to be saving. So while fit bids usually do not create a force, and in competitive auctions, jumps to game don't either (cue bid to set a force), I think think this one fits the "if they are obviously saving" rule. If LHO is "obviously saving" with 11 diamonds, oh well. If we are in a force, double doesn't show convertible values, but a defensive hand in context.

  2. Matchpoints, both vul, you are 3rd hand

    S: J108
    H: Q1063
    D: Q1054
    C: AQ
    S: AQ952
    H: KJ52
    D: 982
    C: 4

    CHO Dummy You Declarer
    Pass Pass 1S: 2C:
    4S: Pass Pass 5C:
    Dbl Pass ?

    Yes, they always seem to bid like this.

    a) Do you pass or bid?

    This wasn't serious. No one bid, and I didn't really expect anyone to. I just wanted to forestall any complaints.

    You lead 4th best and use upside-down carding.

    b) Let's say you pass. Partner leads the H:4, queen. What's your plan?

    Looks like declarer is 0427. I should probably let the H:Q hold, and hope CHO doesnt let him reach the D:Q later. [The way to help that is to give diamond count ASAP, on the run of the trumps. --Jeff]
    Duck—this has to be a singleton.
    I cover with the heart king, noting that dummy's producing the C:AQ shows him to be a better partner than I've got. The form of scoring seems unimportant here; we had better beat this audacious save. I can't really formulate much of a plan at this point. Partner likely has a singleton heart, and I can hope for a piece in trumps (Jxx, or 10xxx) that prevents declarer from drawing the trumps immediately. I will not duck any spades if one is led from dummy.
    Pard isn't doubling on spade tricks, trump tricks, or extra values. Maybe he has  S:Kxxx H:x D:AJxxx C:xxx and double was Lightner? The most realistic hand I can give declarer (with any chance of a set) is  S:x H:Axxx D:K C:KJxxxxx (or singleton S:K, I guess...). I plan to win S:A, cash a heart, give partner a heart ruff and, with the D:A, set the contract two.
    Nice dummy to buy.

    Partner's heart lead looks like a singleton — but does that really make sense? As a passed hand did he have fit-showing bids available? [This partner doesn't know them, so no. --Jeff]

    You want to duck this as it makes no sense to believe he underled the H:A but how are we going to get in with those clubs in dummy before opener draws trumps? Could opener really be 0-4-2-7 or 1-4-1-7?

    Surely CHO does not lead from an unbid 3-card holding here (which is about the only time it is mandatory to cover).

    Hope I have put my cards down and had a long think on seeing dummy as is of course standard for 3rd hand!

    Partner preempts, doubles the opponents and then leads an unbid suit. I know the lead is a singleton and so should declarer (but maybe he won't). Anyway, I play the 5 (echoing from two small). [I didn't think of trying to fool declarer. Getting partner to do the right thing, however... --Jeff]
    Duck this trick.
    I duck. The lead is surely a singleton and I have to hope declarer has a singleton diamond, something like  S:x H:A987 D:A C:KJT9xxx. Would partner double with  S:Kxxx H:x D:KJxxx C:xxx? He might — he has a good lead, only four trump, and the auction is unusual. He must suspect, though, that neither of his kings will take a trick. In any case, I see no advantage in covering.
    Partner is torturing me. [Welcome to my life. --Jeff] How are we beating this? Presumably declarer knows this lead is a singleton also, and I have no heart spots. If declarer is 0-4-1-8, I think 5C: is cold. If he's 0-4-2-7, he can't pull trumps ending in the dummy and lead hearts from the table. I'll play low on the first heart and hope that's the case, hoping for two hearts and a diamond.
    I covered without thinking about it. Oops. But it didn't matter much. Ducking T1 is clearly right, I think.
    none. Declarer had  S:H:A987 D:AJx C:KJxxxx.
    Duck T17
    Cover T12
    The panel gave considerable thought to their Trick 1 plays, but no one discussed how to make sure partner gets diamonds right. I think there's a second key play: give diamond count on your discards when declarer draws trumps.

  3. Matchpoints, favorable, you are 3rd hand

    S: J93
    H: 105
    D: A1076
    C: KQ52
    S: Q62
    H: A76
    D: 543
    C: 10943

    CHO Dummy You Declarer
    Pass Pass 1NT (15-17)
    Pass 3NT All Pass

    OK, they don't always bid at the 5-level.

    You lead 4th best and use upside-down carding.

    Partner leads the S:7, three. What's your plan?

    Why did declarer play low? Only logical reasons are she has Tx or partner led top of nothing, so if she's not incompetent, play the Q and plan to take the first six. Lead isn't consistent with declarer's having AK tight.
    Bizarre that the guy didn't play the S:9. Could he have  S:Tx H:KQx D:KQJxx C:AJx? I'll play third hand high.
    At IMPs I would play the S:Q, hoping partner has led from AKx7(x). I will do the same thing at matchpoints too, because if partner has unluckily blown up the spade suit by leading from a lesser holding, we are probably already booked for a poor result. [If partner has five spades, his lead seems totally normal, even if it's from some broken holding. --Jeff]
    Rule of 11 and dummy's T1 play suggest pard has S:AKT7x or S:AK87x. I try to win S:Q and continue spades.
    Simplest way to beat 3NT is if partner led 4th from AK8xx...or even AKTxx, and if I don't play my Q we have committed hara kiri, given potentially one spade, five diamonds, and three or four clubs. Sure I can construct hands where opener is Kx and partner has a side entry, but there is something called partnership confidence.
    It is often right to play small and then Smith Echo to encourage (catering to Kx in declarer's hand). However, it is surprising that declarer did not play the nine or the jack from dummy (he might choose not to do so with Tx or 8x in his hand). I'll guess to play the queen.
    I don't know why dummy played low here but partner has at most 9 points. If the 7 is top of nothing then what I play won't matter; if it's 4th best then declarer has K or T. Seems like if he had the K he would have played the J or 9 from dummy, so maybe he has the T (but I still don't know why he didn't play the J or 9). Play the Q, return spades.
    I play the Queen. If I don't and it is wrong Annie will go on tilt for the rest of the session.
    I play the queen. Partner can have four or five spades to the AK, and I don't want to explain how we didn't cash the first five or six tricks after partner found the killing lead.
    Duck T1. Declarer had  S:Kx H:QJ432 D:KQx C:Axx.
    wasn't there. My inexperienced partner found the duck. I have no idea how; she's never seen the position before.
    OK, not a problem. Not only does no one want to look dumb if partner has the S:AK, odds are at least 2-1 in favor of flying. But what if declarer had played the S:9 from dummy at T1?
    This is very hard. No one wants to look like a moron by ducking when partner has AK87(x) or AK107(x). But putting up the queen loses if he has A1087(x) or K1087(x). There's no way he has the last holding; declarer would surely have inserted the 9 (or maybe the jack, if she were desperate) with Ax. So it looks to me as if it is 2-1 in favor of playing the queen.

    Ought declarer play the 9 when he has Kx or 10x? I don't know. On one hand, playing the 9 from all three holdings reveals the least information, so in theory, I think that's best. On the other hand, not playing the 9 increases your chances of scooping a trick with the 10. If a mixed strategy is best, it depends on how frequently 3rd hand will play the queen vs. a small card if you play the 9 vs. if you play small. That's such an unknown that it's hard to compute a mixed strategy.

Jeff Goldsmith, Feb 26, 2020