Bridge: 2021 MSC Discussion

Let’s see if we can do better than last year.

Minor rules change, for this group: Provided one choice has at least 3 votes, I’ll go with the plurality. There’s a good chance there will be only one choice that has 3 or more votes.

New: if nothing has at least 3 votes, I’ll go with whatever I think best, which does not necessarily mean my original pick. That makes it more important than in the past to post reasons for your choice.

The January problems:
mscproblemset202101.pdf (214.0 KB)
Absolute deadline is Dec 10, 9 AM, so I will likely enter on Dec 8 or 9.

I’ll give this a start:

A Pass. I think we can make 4NT, and we aren’t likely to have a fit for slam. If the hearts were a little better, I’d try 5H.

B 1H. I’ll miss the 5-3 spade fit. I’ll never get suits lengths at all right opening this 1S, since I am too weak to reverse. And I can’t pass.

C 2H. I’m allowed to have a maximum (if this even is a maximum).

D 3N. This would be an easy 3N at matchpoints. We don’t have a fit, and holding up once would usually shut out the preempter, since partner should have at least two diamonds for his double. At IMPs it’s tempting to take the cash just in case 3N is down, but the cash might be only 300 so at these colors I’m bidding 3N anyway.

E 5S. It doesn’t feel likely that partner will have what it takes to make 6, and double would be too likely to be left in.

F 1S. 2H would be too encouraging, and there isn’t much chance we should go beyond the two level without a double fit.

G SQ. It seems likely partner’s encouraging card is a singleton. Even if he has Jx, there could be two things going on: Either the DJ is an entry, in which case I need to find three tricks pretty quickly, and spades (K10xx or A10xx with partner) is most likely. If the DJ is not an entry, I don’t want to give a cheap trick to the SJ.

H. S10. The HQ is a close competitor, but if declarer has a doubleton heart that may just help him set up the suit. If hearts need to be led from my side later, I do have an entry.

A. Pass. I’m not going to consider a slam. 4NT might not make, but it’s not likely 5 of a minor would either. This will look stupid if partner has hearts and diamonds, but odds are he doesn’t. (If he has hearts and clubs, it’s likely 5C would be better than 4NT, but that’s also unlikely.)
B. P. At the table I would have to bid something, a pass in tempo being so unlikely. There’s a lot to be said for opening anyway, to take away bidding room. With the highest ranking suits, we can introduce them later without misleading partner about our defense.
C. 2H. Seems so obvious
D. 3S. Partner could have 4, or might have the diamonds to bid 3NT.
E. 5S. Seems so obvious, despite some risk it won’t make.
F. 2H. Barely enough with the heart Q and a singleton.
G. S2. So many possibilities: all four suits, and in hearts either the Q or 10. I don’t want to risk the spade J winning, but it might not be fatal and the Q also has risks (partner might have the spade A).
H. S10. We won’t set up spades quickly since partner did not overcall, but spades is our only real chance of many length tricks. This auction suggests opps have minimal game values, so passive is usually good. Diamond is safest, but QJ10 of hearts suggests they may be able to set up heart tricks if we go pure passive.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                     P     P    2H    3S    5S    2H    S2   S10
veni vidi vici         P    1H    2H    3N    5S    1S    SQ   S10

Nothing leading yet since nothing has 3 votes.
“Rules” change for 2021, since we have a smaller voting poll:
If nothing has 3 votes when I need to submit, I’ll choose whatever I think best, even if something else looks more like the consensus. (That doesn’t necessarily mean my personal choice in the initial voting.)

A. 5D.
B. 3H. White on red third seat matchpoints makes me do weird things.
C. 2H. Tough. If partner has an expected spade stopper and Qx hearts, we are up to 8 on a spade lead, and I think 1NT here should be something like 7+ to 10. But, if partner has xx in hearts, dont see how 3NT can be percentage.
D. Pass. Where I come from, when we are in a game force, double is penalty.
E. 5S.
F. 1S.
G. Yuck. Spade queen. Not that anybody asked, but I would have lead a diamond on the go.
H. Diamond 3. Partner did not overcall 1S, so if he has enough high cards to beat this, I expect spades 2443 around the table.

A) 5C
B) 1H
C) 2H
D) 3S
E) Dbl
F) 2H
G) Spade Q
H) Club 2

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        5D    3H    2H     P    5S    1S    SQ    D3
SW                     P     P    2H    3S    5S    2H    S2   S10
BTDT                 5CX    1H    2H    3S   Dbl    2H    SQ    C2
veni vidi vici         P    1H    2H    3N    5S    1S    SQ   S10
Leading                           2H          5S          SQ      

Approx 24 hours to go. Not much consensus

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        5D    3H    2H     P    5S    1S    SQ    D3
SW                     P     P    2H    3S    5S    2H    S2   S10                                          
ST                    5H    1S    2H    3S    6S    1S   H10   S10
BTDT                  5C    1H    2H    3S   Dbl    2H    SQ    C2                                       
veni vidi vici         P    1H    2H    3N    5S    1S    SQ   S10
Leading                           2H    3S    5S    1S    SQ   S10

With Sweet Tooth (who voted by e-mail). Now a consensus on 6 of 8. Still about 9 hours before I submit.

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    5D     90  3H   60  2H   90  P        100 5S   90  1S   90  SQ   100 D3   70  690  
SW                P      100 P    100 2H   90  3S       60  5S   90  2H   100 S2   70  S10  60  670  
ST                5H     40  1S       2H   90  3S       60  6S   100 1S   90  H10  60  S10  60  500  
BTDT              5C     80  1H   70  2H   90  3S       60  Dbl  50  2H   100 SQ   100 C2   100 650  
veni vidi vici    P      100 1H   70  2H   90  3N       90  5S   90  1S   90  SQ   100 S10  60  690  
Submitted         P      100 1H   70  2H   90  3S       60  5S   90  1S   90  SQ   100 S10  60  660  

                  P      100 P    100 3N   100 P        100 6S   100 2H   100 SQ   100 C2   100   
                  5D     90  1S   80  2H   90  3N       90  5S   90  1S   90  S2   70  D3   70       
                  5C     80  1H   70           3S       60  Dbl  50           H10  60  S10  60       
                  5H     40  3H   60                                                                 

Congratulations to procrastinator, for our high score (of the year!) of 690. That was the minimum score to make the magazine’s honor roll for the month.

The February problems, where I expect to submit our entry by Jan 9.
mscproblemset202102.pdf (114.4 KB)

Note: starting with the May contest, the deadlines will be earlier. Instead of the normal 10th of the prior month (April 10, for May) it will be the last day of the antepenultimate month (March 31). As now, I’ll try to enter the day before that.

By the way, 5S was only worth 80 on problem E, so the totals are off–procrastinator and I would have had 680, not 690.

Feb guesses
A 5H (Whatever partner needed me to have for any other action, I don’t have)
B 3C (surely shows length and no wastage, with D support)
C 2C (but 2N if I weren’t red at IMPs)
D 2S (WTP?)
E 3D (I’d like to make a control ask in hearts, but I can’t…)
F 1S (Normally I bid my suits in order, but sometimes I really am too weak for that)
G 2H (Yes, the suit stinks, but I’m not bidding a min 2N with neither a stopper nor tricks)
H HA (Sounds like the opponents have 5 hearts and maybe 3 clubs. This seems like the ace least likely to be ruffed. If partner doesn’t have HK, I hope he has enough stuff in their suits that we beat them anyway. Underleading the CA to get a H back certainly might be the only way to beat this. But more likely it’s the only way not to.)

A. Pass. Partner may have been messing around at these colors, and she is in charge, don’t see any reason to act.
B. 3C. My hand is awesome in context of a 1NT response and developments, hope this shows that. If partner thinks this shows club help, 9xxxx may be enough (i.e. opp Qx, it will be a slow stopper…of course we need the balance of the tricks after that…).
C. 2C. Yuck. All invitations leave such a bad taste in my mouth, will overbid to work on finding right strain. Good advertisement for xyz.
D. Double. Close, could be convinced Michaels is right.
E. 3D. Good problem - we could be in last making spot, or could have various games, or even slam opposite a perfecto.
F. 1S. Consider it close between this and pass. I am a big believer in opening 1m with 65 hands with 6 card minor, but will make an exception here.
G. Pass. I don’t expect a lot of points in the MSC club for this call.
H. Heart ace. RHO sounds like he has a lot of pointed cards, so hopefully if pd doesn’t have the heart king, it will be in dummy.

A. 5H. Very very strange. Partner may indeed have been messing around at these colors, but she was willing to get us to 5H, so I’ll treat this auction as forcing. With only 1 club, I’m bidding 5H.
B. 3D. Though after seeing the other votes for 3C, that’s likely better. But with only three diamonds, I’ll stick with that as my choice, planning if necessary to break any ties in favor of 3C.
C. 2H. This is a good bit short of a game force, but this might be one of those cases where it’s better to force to game to create room to establish the best fit. The more so since 2H is a significant underbid, but 3H an overbid with such a weak suit.
D. 2S. BWS allows wide strength range Michaels
E. P. We’ve all seen nonvul preempts. It’s tempting to bid 3NT as possibly making, and also possibly going down less than 3C. I’ll bet that 3NT doesn’t make, and 3C does no worse than 3NT.
F. 1S. Somewhat surprised to see this is unanimous so far, but it is the boss suit and the lead we want.
G. 2H. I do have 5 of them.
H. CA. Hoping it’s not fatal, holds the trick, and that I can figure out what to lead to trick 2.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator         P    3C    2C   Dbl    3D    1S     P    HA
SW                    5H    3D    2H    2S     P    1S    2H    CA
veni vidi vici        5H    3C    2C    2S    3D    1S    2H    HA
Leading                                             1S            


Before reading others’ answers:

A. 5D. Not sure exactly what the 4NT bid is supposed to mean, but presumably if he’s asking for Aces, he has a heart fit and slam aspirations despite knowing I have <10 HCP? In which case, we would likely set 5C, but should surely make 5H. But then he passed 5C, so I assume he is on the low end of his conveyed strength. I bid 5D to show him a feature and a potential trick. He knows I don’t have the Ace, presumably he thinks I have Kxx or QJx. He can convert to 5H, 6H or leave as 5D if he has strong diamonds. I also considered double or pass. With them vulnerable maybe we are more profitable setting 5C by a number of tricks. But I would think partner would have doubled the 5C bid.

B. 2NT. It’s aggressive. My club “stopper” is weak and it’s a risk. Again. Not positive what his 2D rebid means. Opposite no overcalls, I would assume 11-15 points, 5+D. With the overcall in there, it is less clear to me. I considered Pass (2D best chance), 3D to show diamond support and some strength. I’m assuming my 2NT shows decent strength in my range and stoppers in C, H, S, taking a chance for 3NT, he can convert to 3D if he prefers.

C. 2H. I think 2C is just a touch too strong. 2H tells partner I have 5 hearts, and not just 4, and enough to rebid.

D. Double. Maybe I’m not supposed to double with 2H, but it feels like it describes my hand the best. Outside of spades we have lots of options, and I have 12+ points, so I like that it is open ended on the top end. Presumably 2H is the other primary contender? Seems like both are strong? But are we two strong for 2H?

E. 5C. I strongly considered 4NT, but with clubs as trump, we may be in trouble if he’s missing the Ah, Kh, Kc/Qc. I considered 3D, but good chance partner passes.

F. 1S. This seems strong enough to open in 3rd seat. And 1D gives us rebidding problems to show spades. And if we’re going to open diamonds, it could have been 2D. Let’s show our nice major suit and we can rebid diamonds.

G. 2H. Seems straightforward to me. What am I missing here? Something creative?

H. AC. Maybe I’m too straight forward here, but we need 3 tricks, obviously want to maximize beyond that, but there is some risk we can’t get our 3. And I fear that we have a situation where there are extreme distributions with N-S holding a majority of clubs and hearts, clearly E-W is short in those suits and holds a majority of spades and diamonds. So I fear that they will be able to pull trump and then dump a singleton or even doubleton losers in hearts or clubs on diamond tricks. I considered the 5 of diamonds to short suit myself, but I don’t want to give control to E-W immediately. So I probably start with Ac, and then follow with 5d.

A) 5D
B) 1S
C) 2H
D) 3S
E) 5S
F) 1S
G) dT (in retrospect I think sQ)
H) sT

A) Pass, I can’t imagine bidding again here. I really expected this to be unanimous.
B) Pass
C) 3H
D) Dbl
E) 5C
F) 1S
G) Dbl
H) Heart A

Presumably, but not necessarily. It does seems certain enough that had the opponents been silent, you would have shown no aces, he would have signed off in 5H. But does it further follow that you should surely make 5H? What some of us fear is that partner has a weaker hand, with no possible hope of making 5H, but expecting the opponents could surely make a game, that 5H doubled would be a good save, and that 4NT would make it harder for them to figure out what to do. Still, if he has that, our hand doesn’t look like a good candidate to stop their game, and 5H doubled should be a good save.

BUT there are two further considerations (at least). Partner may have been anxious to sacrifice over their 4S contract, but now that they have bid 5C maybe we have a chance to set that? Or he may have been afraid they could make 6C or even 7C, and is overjoyed that they have stopped in 5? In which case he will not be happy when you push them to slam.

In my personal choices, I decided to treat it as if he wasn’t sure we could make 5H and was consulting me on whether we should play 5H or defend. I have very little confidence in that being right, and if this ends up tied, I’m going to go with the alternative. (Sweet Tooth’s vote is clearly AGAINST passing, but I might go with P anyway, depending on what else happens. I think Sweet Tooth is suggesting that perhaps our side should bid 6H anyway, which I think is surely the wrong thing for us to do. Or perhaps he is suggesting that if they bid 6C over our side’s 5H, partner should lead a diamond. He can’t think there’s any chance partner will think diamonds is our best trump suit.)