Bridge: 2021 District 4 MSC (now also 2024)

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My first reaction was that 3D was a no-brainer, Now I’m thinking that could be right in a different sense: that any anyone with a brain should realize 3D is too much of an underbid, since my hand could hardly be better given the first round pass.

The heart Q is a great card opposite partner’s known 5. If I bid only 3D now, I would compete to 4D over 3S. Isn’t it better to bid 3S now? That’s how I’m currently leaning.

Does 3S imply a strong hand but no spade stopper? Does it imply diamond support? Heart support? Either? Both?

3D was my first instinct. Similar to you, thought it might not be strong enough. But 3NT feels like a losing contract. 5D feels like a preempt. And we are vulnerable. So maybe 4D, or 3D with the intention of bidding 4D if they overbid. But that gives them more opportunity to explore their suits.

Ok, back to 3D as my final answer. It gives partner information about my hand without over extending or missing 3NT if he has spades and clubs stopped.

It surely is diamond support. With heart support (and enough to reach the 4 level now) you would not have passed 1H. To have a 3S bid now the 2D bid must have improved your hand a lot.

Spade stopper situation is maybe not as clear, but very likely you don’t have one. Certainly on this auction you should put little or no value on the spade Q or J. Even the spade K may not be of value to partner. You might have the spade ace, but it’s very hard to imagine a hand with the spade A and enough value to insist on at least 4D that would not have responded to 1H.

Let’s consider what the doubler has as he obviously doesn’t have support for diamonds. Therefore he likely has extra values and a long suit. Evidence strongly suggests that long suit is clubs, and that he’ll be running that suit vs 3NT. I’m guessing we can each make ten tricks in our respective minor suits, and that 4D will sound invitational, just in case. So 4D. I’ll bid 5D myself if LHO bids 4S, since I’ll know partner is short, 4S likely cold, and 5D on a hook. If LHO bids 5C, the rest is up to partner.

On second thought, maybe the more likely possibility for LHO is 17-19 balanced (too good for 1NT, not good enough for 2NT), given that 3C was available (though maybe he thinks he is too good for that, with Ax Kxxx - AKQJxxx). In that case he is probably 3=4=2=4, and possibly 3D is enough. I’m still inclined to go 4D, though, especially as I might get to play 4DX making when 4S is also making.


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Ouch. Only 80. Not good for tiebreak purposes, especially since my other dropped score is also only 80, but at least at the moment I’m uniquely ahead among Solvers.

Looks like an awful guess. Fair, even good, chance of slam, but how to tell? Anyway, seems right to start with 3S at matchpoints and imps. It’s even to the point of “What else could you consider?” I guess at matchpoints you could conceivably be better in NT, but probably not, especially for slam. No reasonable chance you can tempt opponents to save in 6S, and very unlikely they’re going to introduce diamonds now.

In theory, 2NT is also forcing, but not sure how that will help. Bridge: Lebensohl over Weak 2-Bids says 2N now, then 3S, shows exactly 4H (and DENIES a spade stopper). It says 2N now, then 3N shows exactly 4H WITH a spade stopper, which has some merit, especially if partner does not have 4H and 3N is our best spot. It says 2N, then 4H is a one-suited slam try, which definitely overstates the hearts and slightly understates the overall values.

2N then 3N makes a lot of sense, especially as it gives partner a chance to bid something other than 3C with extras. If you bid 3S and partner bids 4 of a new suit, what do you do next?

Agree. 2NT-3NT line seems perfect.

Problem 1A
Steve White: Two notrump. Not sure how we’re going to reach the best spot, but perhaps partner will show extras. I still won’t know what to do, but at least I’ll expect to bid a slam. (Perhaps best agreement is that 3NT over 3C shows 4 hearts and a spade stopper. Then 4 spades over the likely 4 hearts should show slam interest with a spade stopper (and control) and exactly 4 hearts. If partner shows neither extras nor 4 hearts, playing 3NT seems good at matchpoints or imps)

Problem 1B
Steve White: Two notrump. Don’t see any reason to bid differently.

Why did I listen to you guys? 3S got the top score at each scoring. (Though the discussion did not convince me that it is better than 2NT).

The November problem:

Seems like a clear pass at matchpoints. 3NT might be making, but that’s too aggressive. 3D is likely making, but 9 tricks in diamonds scores less than 8 in NT.

The alternative to pass is Stayman. If partner bids 2D or 2H, you’ll be happy. If he bids 2S, you lose.

Gotta be pass. I like the idea of the Stayman gamble, and something I may do with the CPU.


Pass got 100. It was tied 5-5 with 3NT among the panel, but solvers preferred pass 12-2. 2NT (transfer to diamonds by agreement) and 3NT got 90. 2C got 80.

Is 6NT right at for both? At both, there is some chance that 7 spades makes, but also some chance it goes down. At imps, the chance 7 spades goes down is (I think) high enough that we want the safest 6, and that’s probably no-trump, with the heart tenace protected. (even though in NT we could go down several if spades are 4-1)

At matchpoints, an overtrick in spades could be huge, but I’m leaning toward it not being likely enough to justify playing spades, since if both make 6, NT wins.

Similar thoughts.
-7 spades seems like decent chance it makes
-6 NT almost surely makes and gets us the extra 10 points
-There doesn’t seem to be anything more to explore, partner doesn’t have the Kh, otherwise he wouldn’t have opened 2S, right?
-So might as well jump straight to the “right” contract to give the least away as possible.

I lean 6NT at matchpoints and 7S at IMPs. Why not, let’s gamble.

Problem set: December 2023
Respondent: Steve White (D4)

Problem 1A
Steve White: Six notrump. At least I’m playing the hand, so that heart can’t be attacked on the opening lead. Best case partner has 3 small clubs, making 6NT extremely likely to be the best spot. Even when partner does not have 3 small clubs, 7 spades may not be making with 6NT coming home.

Problem 1B
Steve White: Six spades. Who cares which we play if both make exactly 12 tricks? Yes, the heart Q is protected on opening lead in NT, but we probably still need 3 clubs tricks in NT if the heart Q is offside. The heart K may be onside, or opening leader may not find a heart lead, and 6 spades may make anyway. 6 spades is more likely to succeed that 6NT if an opponent has Jxxx of spades, and goes down less.

I sent this to the host by e-mail
Please add “The combined risks (hearts unfavorable, with a heart lead forcing a trick 1 decision), a spade loser, a club loser or long club not setting up), are enough that I don’t want to try 7S at either. Especially not at matchpoints, where just reaching NT may be enough for a fine score.”

I didn’t see this until just now, but I agree. In particular, bidding grand seems like a bad idea when six is far from cold and it is NOT a 5 or 7 hand.

Also, note that these days AKQJxx is too good for a 2S opening, so any grand starts by needing 3-2 spades, plus whatever else.