Bridge: 2020 MSC discussion

This is a carry-over of the Outpost thread 2020 MSC

The Bridge World founded by Eli Culbertson in 1929, is the world’s leading bridge magazine. Monthly, almost from the beginning, they had monthly “what’s the best bid?” contests. Those contests are now called The Master Solvers Club. For many years now, it has been 8 problems per month, and almost always the last, (problem H of A thru H) is an opening lead problem, not a bidding problem. This months’s H is not typical.

Very important: bidding is based on Bridge World Standard 2017 a souped-up version of the 2-over-1 bidding style. If you don’t check meanings of BWS, some of your natural reactions are likely to be ridiculous.

Individuals can enter here Each month the announce the top 50 or so scorers (the Honor Roll). Similarly there’s an annual honor roll, which will be the top 100 or so for the year. That’s total for the 12 months, so you (as an individual) would have no chance for the 2020 honor roll starting now. You might make the honor roll for the November or December contest.

So what’s this thread for? It’s an opportunity to collaborate, and then I’ll enter our consensus choices. That’s the plan, anyway. I’ll be submitting answers by October 9 (deadline, if you want to enter your own, is 10 AM eastern time Oct 10). I choices only for myself and Been There Done That so far.

Generally, whatever I personally think, I submit the plurality choice, assuming it has at least 3 votes. The main exception to that would be if some other choices (like 2nd and 3rd) were similar, so it’s reasonable to think that their supporters would prefer either of those to whatever’s leading. Or, since the entry is in my name, I could always override the consensus and go with what I think will be best, but I don’t think that has ever happened. I also need to break some ties, trying to be guided by whatever comments were made all the votes.

Attached are the November problems, answers to be submitted by Oct 9.

Anyone is welcome to vote and will get included in our results summary. However, especially in the first few months on GoActuary, I may not strictly follow the overall voting as much as I would when I knew the normal participants. If you want to contribute to the GoActuary voting,here are the problems.

:swear: I can download the problems as a pdf, and do post those pdfs on the AO. I couldn’t see how to upload a pdf here. That means the problems won’t be available here beyond about Jan 10. (The problem link, starting Oct 10, will have the December problems instead. The scoring of the Nov problems, which will include the problems, will be available until about Jan 10.)

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                    2S     P   Dbl    6S    3H    3C     P    4S
BTDT                  2S     P   Dbl    5S    3H     P    2D    3S
veni vidi vici                                                    
Phileas Fogg                                                      

Only 2 voters so far.

This month’s problems don’t seem very dependent on knowing BWS2017. Note that on C and D, they’ve included asterisks to remind people about some aspects of BWS2017. They don’t include an asterisk on B to confirm that partner’s double is a negative double (or on A, that partner’s 2C is forcing and not showing clubs). If you wouldn’t have expected those meanings, you wouldn’t do well in the MSC.

I will post voting updates here and on the AO. I don’t plan to copy over all the comments between the two websites. Comments with votes are encouraged but not mandatory. Here are the comments I made on the AO

A. 2 S. OK, this one seems automatic. He won’t expect me to have 4 spades for this. Jxxx is not good enough clubs to bid NT. If I was guessing our best trump suit now, it would be hearts, but Jx is not good enough to raise yet.
B. Pass. Nothing is good, so take the choice that may get us a great score.
C. Double, and hope partner doesn’t decide to take the choice that may get us a great score, unless it does get us one. 3 D second choice.
D. 6 S. 5 S second choice and just 4 S not impossible. I’m assuming partner is showing at least 2 spades, while realizing 1=4=4=4 might also be possible, or possibly 1=(43)=5. If he has a least Jx of spades, we’ll make 6 if we have no diamond loser, as will usually be the case. J for sure, and we have a entry to play spades from dummy. 2 small, we can probably ruff 1 (and play spades from dummy) 4 small probably break. 3 small is the worst case, but they might break.
E. 3 H Enough, even though tempting to bid more.
F. 3 C Do we have a game, and if so which game? 3 S might be the limit, but there’s too much chance to more to just do that. 3 NT or 4 S are too committal. 2NT and 3 S should both be forward-going, but with the side aces we’re super-max. So I’m going to try 3 C and if he bids 3 S I’ll bid 3NT to give him a choice of games. This may also invite him to look for a new partner if he finds my sequence that objectionable.
G. Pass. See problem B.
H. 4 S Maybe the biggest advantage of 4 S is that you’ don’t have to find a lead. I should have some company, even if I would have more company for 3 S or pass. If I passed, I would lead the heart 3.

BTDT just posted bids not comments.

I need to find out how to do symbols for the suits on GoActuary.

OK here are the November problems for prosperity.mscproblemset202011.pdf (114.8 KB)

Here are comments Numbers Nerd pasted on the AO. He usually does better than our average AO contributer.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                    2S     P   Dbl    6S    3H    3C     P    4S
BTDT                  2S     P   Dbl    5S    3H     P    2D    3S
NN                    3H     P   Dbl    4S    4D    2N     P    3S
Leading                      P   Dbl                              

With only three voters so far, a choice would have to be unanimous to be leading. We do have 2 questions with leaders, but also 2 where not even two voters agree.

procrastinator’s answers, on the AO

and his comment

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        2N    3H    3C    4S    4H    3S    3D    3S
SW                    2S     P   Dbl    6S    3H    3C     P    4S
BTDT                  2S     P   Dbl    5S    3H     P    2D    3S
NN                    3H     P   Dbl    4S    4D    2N     P    3S
Leading                      P   Dbl                            3S

procrastinator ends any unanimity, but does create a 3rd question with a leader. He also left us with a question where no two voters agree.

If anyone has contact information for oirg, jeremiahsjohnson, veni vidi vici or bill18, please encourage them to vote, here or on the Outpost (you may have to help them get there), and to send me contact info via PM here or there. Same for Sweet Tooth and Klaymen, though I have some contact info for them so will try to reach them myself. We only have a couple more days.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        2N    3H    3C    4S    4H    3S    3D    3S
SW                    2S     P   Dbl    6S    3H    3C     P    4S
Klaymen               2S    P?  Dbl?    5S    4H    3S    2D   3S?
ST                    2S    3D    2S    5S    3S    3S    2N    4S
BTDT                  2S     P   Dbl    5S    3H     P    2D    3S
NN                    3H     P   Dbl    4S    4D    2N     P    3S
Leading               2S     P   Dbl    5S    4H    3S  2D??    3S

Klaymen only voted on the 5 where there were no leaders. That’s fine, but I recorded him as affirmatively choosing the leader on the other 3.

That gives us definite leaders on 6 of 8. It’s really a no-brainer to conclude 4H is leading on E: 2 votes for it plus 2 votes for game-forcing heart raises. If those two agreed on which game-forcing heart raise, we would have a tie, but they don’t agree.

That leaves G. For now I’ll say 2D is leading. It has two votes, plus procrastinator also voted to bid diamonds.

It’s unlikely I’ll hear from bill18 or oirg, but either could easily shift G if they voted, and E could be in play.

I submitted the leading ones. They’re all reasonable. I’m least comfortable on E, where we didn’t have anything with even 3 votes. Our submitted 4H may win, and is likely to beat my personal 3H pick, but if we were going to insist on game NN’s 4D could well be the best way. Despite the popularity of splinters, I’ll guess 4D will beat 3S, and 4H may beat 3S. Our results are likely available online tomorrow, along with the next problems.

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    2N     100 3H   100 3C   100 4S       80  4H   60  3S   100 3D   50  3S   100 690  
SW                2S     90  P    70  Dbl  80  6S       90  3H   100 3C   90  P    100 4S   90  710  
Klaymen           2S     90  P?   70  Dbl? 80  5S       100 4H   60  3S   100 2D   80  3S?  100 680  
ST                2S     90  3D   60  2S   90  5S       100 3S   60  3S   100 2N   60  4S   90  650  
BTDT              2S     90  P    70  Dbl  80  5S       100 3H   100 P    10  2D   80  3S   100 630  
NN                3H     70  P    70  Dbl  80  4S       80  4D   80  2N   80  P    100 3S   100 660  
Submitted         2S     90  P    70  Dbl  80  5S       100 4H   60  3S   100 2D   80  3S   100 680  

                  2N     100 3H   100 3C   100 5S       100 3H   100 3S   100 P    100 3S   100   
                  2S     90  P    70  2S   90  6S       90  4D   80  3C   90  2D   80  4S   90       
                  3H     70  3D   0   Dbl  80  4S       80  4H   60  2N   80  2N   60                
                                                            3S   60  P    10  3D   50                

Not a great month. Congratulations to me for our high score of 710, which was the lowest score to make the magazine’s honor roll this month.

If somehow we can get bill18, veni vidi vici and oirg to vote on the December problems, we can finish the year with a good month.

The December problems. Last chance this year. Deadline Nov 10, 9AM, but likely I’ll submit before that day.

mscproblemset202012.pdf (108.9 KB)


My answers. Only 3 of 5 match Sweet Tooth, and one of those I’m ambivalent on, so no reason to publish a vote summary yet.

A. Pass. This should make, and I’m not strong enough to look for slam. At matchpoints hearts could be better (more tricks), but not necessarily. Since hearts might go down, stick with NT.
B. 2D. Sure, it’s a lot of points, and sure, it’s a lousy suit to overcall vul at the two level. But Doubling with only 2 spades is worse. Could 1NT be the winner, despite extra points and no heart stopper (but help)? I prefer 1NT to double.
C. 2N. Like B, this may reflect too much playing with bots.
D. 2C. Take out takeout doubles, even though passing could be a top. Too likely it makes.
E. 1H. Don’t force us to the three level (though at matchpoints Sweet Topth’s 2NT has some appeal, since selling out below 3D is unlikely to be right.)
F. 1N. Disciplined, but seeing a lot of merit in 2D and some merit in 2C. It’s very unlikely that 1NT is a better contract than 2D (partner doesn’t have a 4-card major unless the has a game force, so he’s likely to have 5 diamonds if he’s passing 2D). 2C is somewhat sick on only 5, but 2C does not show a fit, so they are less likely to balance over 2C than 2D.
G. 2H. Wow. This in on another planet from Sweet Tooth’s 3C. Yes, we do have strong 3-card holdings in both partner’s suits, and a stiff in the opps suit, and the heart ace where partner is likely short. So 2H is a huge underbid, but 3C could get us too high.

H. Club J. Can’t imagine anything else. Second choice is the spade ace. It’s a fairly distant second, though the appearance of dummy could lead to a successful red suit play at trick 2.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                     P    2D   2NT    2C    1H   1NT    2H    CJ
ST                     P   Dbl    2C     P   2NT   1NT    3C    CJ
NN                    4D   Dbl   2NT   1NT    1D   1NT    3C    CJ
Leading                                            1NT          CJ

3 voters so far, but a leading choice on 2 questions where all 3 agreed. There are also 2 questions where no two voters agree.

Sorry I’m late!

A) 4H
B) Dbl
C) 3H
D) Pass
E) 1D
F) 2D
G) 2H
H) Spade Ace. Had my fingers on the Club Jack, but then got scared that I’d be thrown in with the SA.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                     P    2D   2NT    2C    1H   1NT    2H    CJ
ST                     P   Dbl    2C     P   2NT   1NT    3C    CJ
BTDT                  4H   Dbl    3H     P    1D    2D    2H    SA
NN                    4D   Dbl   2NT   1NT    1D   1NT    3C    CJ
Leading                    Dbl                     1NT          CJ

Not many voters, so hard to get even 3 people voting the same. There’s now a leader on three. I’ll need to submit Monday evening.

a) Pass. With heart spots so bad, and more likely bad splits given the preempt, don’t think slam is likely to be percentage. For 4H to be meaningfully better than 3NT at IMPs, has to be two tricks better. Does not seem too likely to me, and possible we could turn to clubs for tricks in NT if bad heart split.
b) 1NT. Tough one.
c) 2H. Matchpoints, and I have seen partner’s openers.
d) 1NT. 2C second choice. Passing in front of the hears at the 1 level not my cup of tea,
e) 1D. I am kind of tempted by 2D. With partner a passed hand, seems likely we are defending, want the lead, don’t need to tip off distribution.
f) 1NT. If partner is weak, and we are playing here, neither opp overcalled, so hopefully spades 44, and clubs will provide tricks. If partner is strong, think showing the general nature of my hand is good.
g) 3C. We should have a playable strain, willing to force game to find the right strain.
h) Blech. Ace of spades. Second choice = ace of hearts.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator         P   1NT    2H   1NT    1D   1NT    3C    SA
SW                     P    2D   2NT    2C    1H   1NT    2H    CJ
ST                     P   Dbl    2C     P   2NT   1NT    3C    CJ
BTDT                  4H   Dbl    3H     P    1D    2D    2H    SA
NN                    4D   Dbl   2NT   1NT    1D   1NT    3C    CJ
Submitted              P   Dbl   2NT   1NT    1D   1NT    3C    CJ

We didn’t have a clear leader on C or D, nothing with 3 votes, but I submitted something that had 2 votes for each.

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    P      60  1NT  50  2H   100 1NT      70  1D   100 1NT  90  3C   100 SA   70  640  
SW                P      60  2D   40  2NT  30  2C       40  1H   40  1NT  90  2H   40  CJ   40  380  
ST                P      60  Dbl      2C   70  P        100 2NT  80  1NT  90  3C   100 CJ   40  540  
BTDT              4H     30  Dbl  100 3H   40  P        100 1D   100 2D   60  2H   40  SA   70  540  
NN                4D     50  Dbl  100 2NT  30  1NT      70  1D   100 1NT  90  3C   100 CJ   40  580  
Submitted         P      60  Dbl  100 2NT  30  1NT      70  1D   100 1NT  90  3C   100 CJ   40  590  

                  4NT    100 Dbl  100 2H   100 P        100 1D   100 2C   100 3C   100 HA   100   
                  P      60  1NT  50  2C   70  1NT      70  2NT  80  1NT  90  2H   40  SA   70       
                  4D     50  2D   40  3H   40  2C       40  1H   40  2D   60           CJ   40       
                  4H     30           2NT  30                                                        

Not a good month, especially for me. Procrastinator’s 640 was our best score. He would barely have missed the magazine’s honor roll (650 minimum).

On to 2021!

Our consensus had 7940 for the year 2020, good for 38th place in the annual honor roll. Can we top that in 2021?